The Best of Everything
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from My Story, by Marilyn Monroe
Copyright 1974 and 2000 by Cooper Square Press.
NOTE: Many in the "Marilyn Community" discount this book, none of which was actually written by her. Click here to go to the bottom of the page for an excerpt on My Story from The Unabridged Marilyn.
I met Joan Crawford at Joe Schenck's house. She was an impressive woman. I admired her during dinner. I hoped that when I was her age I would keep my looks as well as she had.
Some movie stars don't seem like stars when you meet them, and some seem more like stars off the screen than on. I don't know which type is better, but Miss Crawford was definitely the latter type. She was as much the movie star at Mr. Schenck's table as she could have been electrifying a courtroom drama--- even a little more.
I was pleased to see I had made an impression on Miss Crawford. She said to me after dinner. "I think I could help you a great deal if you would let me. For instance that white knitted dress you're wearing is utterly incorrect for a dinner of this kind." It was the only good dress I owned. I wore it evenings as well as daytimes when I was going any place important, and I cleaned it myself everyday. I looked at Miss Crawford's beautiful evening gown and understood what she meant.
"Taste" Miss Crawford went on, "is every bit as important as looks and figure." She smiled very kindly at me and asked, "Will you let me help you, my dear?"
I said I was flattered to have her offer to. We made a date to meet Sunday morning in church. It turned out Miss Crawford and I went to the same church.
After the church service Miss Crawford said as we met coming out, "I'm so glad to see you. But you musn't come to church in flat heels and a gray suit with black trimming. If you wear gray you must wear different gray tones, but never black."
It was my only suit, but there was no sense defending it on that ground.
"Would you like to come to my house with me?" Miss Crawford asked. I said I'd like to very much, and it was arranged that I should follow her car in mine.
I was excited at what I thought was going to happen. Miss Crawford, I felt pretty sure. was going to offer me some of her old ball gowns and ensembles that
she'd grown tired of.
The house was very beautiful and elegant. We had lunch in the kitchen with Miss Crawford's four children and a beautiful white poodle. After lunch Miss Crawford asked me to come upstairs to her room.
"Brown would look very good on you," she said. "I must show you the things I've been knitting."
She showed me a number of knitted dickies in different shades of brown and explained that they were to be worn under different shades of brown suits.
"The main thing about dressing well," Miss Crawford explained, "is to see that everything you wear is just right--that your shoes, stockings, gloves and bag all fit the suit you're wearing. Now what I would like you to do is to make a list of all the clothes in your wardrobe. amd I'll make a list of all the things you need to buy and see that you buy the right things."
I didn't say anyting. I usually didn't mind telling people I was broke and even trying to borrow a few dollars from them to tide me over. But for some reason I couldn't tell Miss Crawford that she had seen my wardrobe in full --the incorrect white knitted dress and the wrong gray suit.
"It's so easy not to look vulgar," Miss Crawford assured me, when I was ready to leave. "Do make out a list of all your things and let me guide you a bit. You'll be surprised at the results and so will everyone else."
I don't know why I called Miss Crawford up again, except that I had promised I would. Maybe I was still hoping she would present me with some of her discarded ball gowns. I think, also, I had some intention of telling her the truth about not being able to to buy any fancy clothes. But when I heard Miss Crawford's voice on the phone, I had to start palavering as I'd done before. Had I made out that list of my wardrobe? No I hadn't. That was very lazy of me. Yes, I knew. And I would make the list out in a few days and call her up again.
"Good," said Miss Crawford. I'll be expecting to hear from you."
I didn't call Miss Crawford again. In fact, the next time I heard from Miss Crawford was in the newspapers. This was a year later. I'd gone to work at 20th Century Fox again, and the Marilyn Monroe boom had started. I was all over the magazines and movie columns, and the fan mail at the studio was arriving in trucks.
Among the honors that were now showering on me was the privilege of presenting one of the Oscars to one of the Award winners at the Academy's annual affair. I was frozen with fear the night of the Academy Award Ceremonies. I waited tremblingly for my turn to walk up to the platform and hand over the Oscar in my keeping. I prayed I wouldn't trip and fall and that my voice wouldn't disappear when I had to say my two lines. When my turn came I managed to reach the platform, say my piece, and return to my table without any mishap.
Or so I thought until I read Joan Crawford's remarks in the morning papers.
I haven't saved the clippings, but I have sort of remembered what she said.
She said that Marilyn Monroe's vulgar performance at the Academy affair was a
disgrace to all of Hollywood. The vulgarity, she said consisted of my wearing a
dress too tight for me and wriggling my rear when I walked up holding one of the
holy Oscars in my hand. I was so surprised I could hadly believe what I was reading. I called up
some friends who had seen me at ceremony and asked them if it were true. They
laughed. It wasn't true, they said. They advised me to forgive a lady who had
I have written out this accurate account of one of my "feuds" because it is typical. The feuds are all started by someone whom I have mysteriously offended--always a woman. The truth is my tight dress and my wiggling were all in Miss Crawford's mind. She obviously had been reading too much about me. Or maybe she was just annoyed because I had never brought her a list of my wardrobe.
Thank you to Cal for providing this excerpt.
by Randall Riese and Neal Hitchens
(Congden & Weed, Inc. 1987)
My Story by "Marilyn Monroe" Marilyn's "autobiographical" book that was, in actuality, probably penned by Ben Hecht from a series of articles that he did on Marilyn for London's The Empire News in 1954. The material was copyrighted, questionably, by Milton H. Greene in 1974 and was subsequently published in this form with Marilyn as its author. The material itself is hardly shocking or revelatory. The writing is simple, direct, and anything but the gospel truth. It was written at a time when Marilyn was atop a crest of popularity, and most everything has been glazed over with romanticism and sweetness. It opens, predictably, with the poor unwanted orphan waif who is never kissed by her foster parents and ends after Marilyn's triumphant tour of Korea and before her split with Joe DiMaggio. My Story is a storybook Cinderella fantasy. It resembles a studio-issued biography on the life of Marilyn Monroe---without the pain, poetry, or grit. And while it is not altogether believable, it does serve the image.
Thank you to James for providing this excerpt.