Remembering Norma Jean 50 Years later


Today is the 50th anniversary of the death of Marilyn Monroe. After all these years her life and death fascinates some folks including myself. I was only __ at the time; I (rather not give my age away) was very young. I really didn’t understand what the fuss was all about at the time. But as years passed I remember hearing about all the investigations and implications about her death at the age of 39.

I remember watching most of her movies in the company of my father who adored her as did many men and women from all over the world. My mother loved her too. She would always say Marilyn was “una belleza natural” and how she and Clark Gable made a nice couple.

My older sister still collects her memorabilia. So the fascination runs in the family. As I grew older I was intrigued to read more about the so called theories about how she died. But then again many Americans wanted to unravel the mystery surrounding her death. She was like the girl next door. I do not think that anyone wanted to believe that America’s sweetheart would ever think about suicide. This is a subject not too many people like to talk about or even think about. I became aware of what suicide was very early in life and so Marilyn became to represent the question everyone wants answered when someone like her decides to end it all.

I remember Joe DiMaggio’s homage to her as he made sure that a dozen roses were delivered to her tomb three times a week for many years to come. I was a teenager when I first realized that Joe DiMaggio manifested his love for her that way. It was heart-warming and so romantic to me. Then years later Elton John writes a song about the famed actress and these lyrics resound in my head and remind me not only about Norma Jean but about the loved one I lost to the same kind of lonely pain that resulted in suicide.

“And it seems to me you lived your life
Like a candle in the wind
Never knowing who to cling to
When the rain set in
And I would have liked to have known you
But I was just a kid
Your candle burned out long before
Your legend ever did”

I cannot believe that 50 years have passed. I remember the Life magazine my dad brought home with her beautiful face on the cover that read Memories of Marilyn. Although it is a cliché to say, but it does seem like this was only yesterday. Her legend is still alive and I want to dedicate my post to her today and to all those who have had such deep emotional pain in their lives that they would take their lives. As a society we have to face the facts about suicide in this country.

Photos by Melba Christie