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COLUMN ONE

New Chapter in the Mystery of Marilyn: Her Own Words?

August 05, 2005|Robert W. Welkos | Times Staff Writer

Smith, who said he paid Miner a fee, which he declined to disclose, for use of the Monroe transcript, added: "I believe he is a man of integrity. I've looked at the contents of the tapes, of course, and, frankly, I would think it entirely impossible for John Miner to have invented what he put forward -- absolutely impossible."

Ronald H. "Mike" Carroll, a former L.A. County deputy district attorney who conducted the 1982 review of Monroe's death, said he and a D.A.'s investigator interviewed Miner for their report and, although he mentioned that Greenson had tapes of the actress, there was no hint that Miner had a transcript.

Carroll, the No. 3 prosecutor in the D.A.'s office at the time, who has since retired, said that had he any inkling that Miner was harboring the transcript, he would have obtained a grand jury subpoena to force Miner to hand them over so that he could include them in his report.

Miner said he couldn't speak about the transcript then because of his promise to Greenson. "Greenson ... was absolutely committed to protecting the privacy of his patients," Miner recalled. "He felt he could not let me see what she had said if there was any possibility that her privacy would be violated." So Miner gave his word.

When some suggested that Greenson himself was the actress' killer, Miner went to the psychiatrist's widow and asked for permission to be released from the promise.

Greenson's widow, Hildegard, told The Times this week that she didn't know if the tapes existed and never heard her husband discuss them. Still, she does not discount that Monroe may have given her husband such tapes and that he played them for Miner.

"That seems like something my husband would do," she said. "He might want to play it to show how she felt and what was going on with her." At the time of the recordings, Monroe was living an unsettled life. There was the rumor of a romance with Kennedy, fueled by her appearance at a birthday tribute on May 19 at Madison Square Garden where she sang the now legendary "Happy Birthday, Mr. President." Studio bosses at 20th Century Fox had dropped her from the film "Something's Got to Give" because of chronic lateness and drug dependency.

No one has established the exact date that the recordings were made, although the JFK reference would put it after her singing tribute, a little more than two months before she died.

Smith says his research suggests that Monroe gave the psychiatrist the tapes Aug. 4. According to Miner, Greenson's sole purpose in playing the tapes for him was to help establish her state of mind at the time of her death, "so they were made pretty close to the time she died."

Hollywood columnist James Bacon, now 91, who met Monroe when she was an unknown in 1949 and would later become a close friend, was at Monroe's house five days before she died.

"She was drinking champagne and straight vodka and occasionally popping a pill," Bacon told The Times. "I said, 'Marilyn, the combination of pills and alcohol will kill you.' And she said, 'It hasn't killed me yet.' Then she took another drink and popped another pill. I know at night she took barbiturates."

But Bacon added: "She wasn't the least bit depressed. She was talking about going to Mexico. She had a Mexican boyfriend at the time. I forget his name. This was the first house she ever owned. She was going to buy some furniture. She was in very good spirits that day -- of course, the champagne and vodka helped."

In the transcript, Monroe uses what therapists call "free association," saying whatever came into her mind. "Isn't it true that the key to analysis is free association?" she says. "Marilyn Monroe associates. You, my doctor, by understanding and interpretation of what goes on in my mind, get to my unconscious, which makes it possible for you to treat my neuroses and for me to overcome them."

"And you are going to hear bad language," she warns Greenson.

Although Monroe often came across on screen as a ditzy blond, in her tapes, she discusses Freud's "Introductory Lectures" ("God, what a genius," she remarks. "He makes it so understandable"), and author James Joyce ("Joyce is an artist who could penetrate the souls of people, male or female"), and says she has read all of Shakespeare.

She talks about her admiration for Gable, her co-star in "The Misfits": "In the kissing scenes, I kissed him with real affection. I didn't want to go to bed with him, but I wanted him to know how much I liked and appreciated him."

And she lambasted members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for not giving Gable an Oscar for "Gone With the Wind," noting that never was an actor on screen more romantic. She says she cried for two days after learning that Gable had died.

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