How Did “Joe DiMaggio,” “Arthur Miller,” & “John F. Kennedy” Affect Marilyn Monroe’s Life In ‘Blonde’?


Fiction and reality differ vastly in several ways. The fictional biopic “Blonde” about Marilyn Monroe’s life acts like a translucent wall separating them both. Some of her most authentic anecdotes, as well as some sugar-coated ones, have been depicted in the movie. However, we will not try to find truth or falsehood in it meaninglessly because Marilyn Monroe’s life has always been shrouded in mystery. Marilyn Monroe, one of Hollywood’s biggest stars of the 1950s, had reached the pinnacle of fame and carved a niche in the industry with her exceptional talent and alluring beauty. However, she did share the common desire to be a lovely wife and a caring mother but faced several challenges in pursuing all of her aspirations. At that time, men dominated society as well as the entertainment business, an actress like Marilyn Monroe had to sacrifice a lot to build her position. “Blonde” captures those tragic moments of her life when she came under the heinous gaze of a patriarchal society, both in her professional and personal life. Over and over, many toxic men came into her life, took her advantage, and departed. Towards the end of her wrecked life, she found no one to rely on.

Norma Jeane Mortenson, aka Marilyn Monroe, has always been in a jumble of erratic relationships. In particular, “Blonde” gives the disarray of her love life a literary expression. Norma Jeane (Ana de Armas) met Cass, aka Charlie Chaplin Junior (Xavier Samuel), and Eddie, aka Edward Robinson Junior (Evan Williams), when she decided to shift to acting from modeling. She had a weird sense of tranquility in her three-way relationship with them, but this eventually led to turmoil. Norma Jeane became pregnant with a child fathered by Cass. However, she decided to get an abortion because she did not want to pass her mentally ill mother’s genes to the unborn child. The movie doesn’t quite show how her relationship with Cass and Eddie ended, but it is apparent that the continuous demands of studio executives and the trauma of having an abortion drove her to seek mental stability. She desired a socially acceptable partnership that would satisfy her ambition to be both a wife and a mother.

The Ex-Athlete: Joseph Paul DiMaggio 

Marilyn met Joseph Paul DiMaggio (played by Bobby Cannavale), a former athlete. Joe DiMaggio was a well-known American baseball center fielder, albeit it’s ambiguous how he’s portrayed in the film. In 1954, following the divorce of his first spouse, Dorothy Arnold, he married Norma Jeane, who by this time was known as Marilyn Monroe. However, secrecy started to take hold after their initial talk. Marilyn hesitated to reply when Joe asked how she got the role in the movie. Her silence indicated that she was embarrassed by her earlier choice. She wished to maintain privacy to foster a positive connection. Eventually, the two were married, but peace did not last long in Marilyn’s life. Joe DiMaggio was fascinated by his wife’s popularity and beauty, but the patriarchal culture constrained his thinking. He favored a conventional life over a celebrity lifestyle. In the meantime, Eddie and Cass came up to him. They showed DiMaggio some of Marilyn’s exposed photographs from her modeling days. Joe understood why Marilyn hadn’t spoken that day. He began torturing his wife arbitrarily and even ordered her to play serious roles from then on. He did not want his wife’s private parts to be exposed to the public eye. Marilyn agreed to her husband’s suggestion to prevent her family from disintegrating, but being part of show business, she couldn’t lead a so-called “normal” life. Joe Dimaggio’s rage went beyond all limits when she performed her iconic skirt-blowing scene in her 1955 movie “The Seven Year Itch.” Marilyn had to endure great physical abuse from her husband just because of that. The couple divorced later in 1955.

The Playwright: Arthur Asher Miller

After her divorce in 1955, Marilyn Monroe met American playwright Arthur Asher Miller (played by Adrien Brody). Arthur Miller was a screenwriter and American playwright, whose famous works include “The Crucible,” “Death of a Salesman,” and more. In real life, Miller had divorced his first wife, Mary Grace Slattery, in 1956 and married Marilyn Monroe. Marilyn was content with her marriage to Arthur, and she spent some time with him away from the spotlight of the movies. “Blonde” depicts the soothing start of their relationship before it takes a tragic turn. Arthur was scouting a face for the role of Magda in his newly written play when he came across Marilyn Monroe. He was struck by Monroe’s brilliance as well as her stunning elegance during their short encounter. When she made a significant parallel between Arthur’s play and Chekov’s “Three Sisters,” Miller decided to cast her as his Magda. Monroe spent some time alone in the distant countryside with her husband. She became pregnant in the meantime, and life with her husband started to feel like a dream. However, one day she found their conversation on typewritten papers spread across Arthur’s room. She had always told her husband that she never wanted to be the subject of his writings. But her fears came true. When she saw that intimate conversation typed on a piece of paper, she felt that her privacy was violated by the man in whom she had put her faith. 

One day, when two of Arthur’s friends came to visit them, he asked his wife to come out to meet and greet, but Monroe felt uncomfortable. Arthur didn’t listen and brought her out with almost repeated requests. She accidentally fell while bringing a dish of food to the beach, which resulted in the miscarriage of her second child. Arthur was not a toxic husband, per se. However, he was more in love with Monroe as an icon than with the real-life Norma Jeane. He was mesmerized by her knowledge and charisma, but he could never sense her vulnerability. He eventually turned out to be one of those uncaring individuals who treated her with contempt. Although the movie shows that they parted ways sometime after her miscarriage, in reality, Arthur was with her for much of her celebrity life. From her red-carpet appearances to her sporadic shooting, he witnessed everything, even her rampant use of drugs and alcohol. In reality, Monroe and Arthur divorced in 1961.

The President: John F. Kennedy 

After Monroe’s divorce from Miller, she began to sink into darkness. As time progressed, Monroe’s drug abuse and mental anguish skyrocketed. During this time, she fell in love with Mr. President, John F. Kennedy (played by Caspar Phillipson), the 35th President of the United States of America. In the early 60s, there was much speculation about Marilyn’s secret relationship with the President. On May 19, 1962, Monroe sang the iconic “Happy Birthday Mr. President” song at Madison Square Garden, in honor of Kennedy’s 45th birthday, soon after which the news of their mysterious love affair began to spread widely. However, both of them never officially disclosed anything about them being together.

However, “Blonde” presents a horrible fictional portrayal of this relationship. Dozed and drugged, Monroe arrived by plane in New York to meet her secret lover, Kennedy. She was almost carried by two security officers to the President’s house. When Monroe arrived, eager to talk to her lover, he forced her to perform oral sex while talking on the phone. At this point, Monroe could not resist him, but the forceful intimacy almost rendered her unconscious. Previously, on her way there, when she had confirmed that her relationship with the President was spiritual and was not greatly impacted by sexual tension, she seemed like she was comforting herself. She might have had a deep-seated yearning to live her ideal life with him, but Kennedy certainly did not want that. Eventually, when Monroe was pregnant with the President’s child, she was forced to have her third abortion to maintain the secrecy of her affair with the President. Within a few months, in her Los Angeles home, an overdose of barbiturates ended Marilyn Monroe’s legendary life.

Marilyn Monroe’s life was plagued with toxic love, but at the end of her life, she suffered from a sense of void. I will not go into the sheer difference of what is true or false in this portrayal, but amid all the controversy, “Blonde” has highlighted an essential aspect of her life. It is true that in her films during the 1950s, Marilyn Monroe was only a faucet. The men of the film industry only desired a “bombshell blonde,” the attributes they had discovered in Monroe. She was genuinely alone despite having an endless amount of fame; all the guys in her life had taken advantage of her, whether her own husband or lover, or business executive. Under the demands of big studio executives, Monroe had to publicize her mother’s death, even though her mother outlived her in reality. Her love life is similarly traumatizing. Joe Dimaggio physically tortured her in order to lead a normal life; Monroe’s struggle meant nothing to him. He went on to follow the traditional norms of the generation, where he could have tried to break them in an effort to better understand his wife. Although Arthur Miller did not harbor toxicity in that way, he may not have attempted to comprehend Marilyn outside of his character Magda. He wrote about her despite her disapproval. Finally, John Kennedy came into her life, whose presence was the most agonizing. Marilyn could have been hopeful about the relationship, but Kennedy kept on taking advantage of her. Eventually, she accepted herself as the “Blonde” of the industry; she accepted her fate. Her relationship with Kennedy may have been somewhat of an attempt at self-harm, where she was aware that she was slipping into darkness, yet she gave up trying to survive.

See More: ‘Blonde’ Ending, Explained: What Happened Between Marilyn Monroe And John F. Kennedy?

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Poulami Nanda
Poulami Nanda
Poulami is an artist and an aspiring screenwriter both by profession and passion. Apart from writing stories, poems and songs, studying cinema is her obsession. She is also a freelance painter yet it is the world of cinema that fascinates her the most.

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