Tuesday , May 1 – Attempting to face the camera on day one of “Somthing’s Got To Give”, Marilyn receives Jerry Wald who has just received a frightful threat not to purrsue “The Enemy Within” project. Marilyn procedes to go out to a waiting, hushed set – only to faint and then have to be rushed home.
Thursday, May 3 – Cherie Winters, a struggling actress with a strong resemblance to Marilyn, loses an audition for turning down a lecherous talent sccout, and wonders if she’s ever going to get a break. Stepping into Swamis, things will soon be changing for undiscovered actress.
Saturday, May 5 – Part 2 of Cherie Winters at Swamis – as she meets up with Tammy Tressler and the two agree to become room-mates.
The set awaiting Marilyn’s arrival was Fox Soundstage 14.
Where everyone was waiting – anxious to the point of delirium. Cast, crew, even many in the executive/administration departments had sneaked away and were lurking in the shadows of the cavernous soundstage – where workers had constructed easily the most expensive and elaborate indoor set ever attempted by the studio.
At a cost that was outrageously bizarre for the nature of the simple comedy.
Thanks to the ego and whim of director George Cukor.
The director, with a penchant for a grossly overstated and indulgent lifestyle – had early on simply decided what he needed to make the film work – to establish his directorial command over the domain of the production… and that was to insist the house needed for the main set would be replicated after his own sprawling Mediterranean villa.
And so it had.
An exact replica.
The same tile, the same identical woodwork, the same salmon-pink coloration to the stone masonry.
Even the swimming pool – Cukor had demanded must be built to perfectly match his own in size and shape – right down to the same matching baby-pink beach balls gifted to the director by Vivian Leigh.
And Cukor would not accept merely close. He demanded exactness. This was, after all, a George Cukor film. (Not a Marilyn Monroe production – not if he could help it).
As Monroe was chauffeured from Brentwood to the studio, a short drive of some fifteen minutes, the technicians were hurriedly painting the trees and bushes to the precise shade of green to resemble the shrubbery around the Cukor estate above Sunset boulevard.
High above on the scaffolding, electricians were installing new amber and blue spotlights – as everything would be shot inside and Cukor needed an exacting sense of ‘bright sunlight’. Tests had not given Cukor the proper sense of brightness and hence more had to be rushed into place.
The studio execs stood back in the shadows – rolling their eyebrows at such excess through out the set – which had cost the studio over $200,000! Just a few days earlier these same execs had received word from the corporate New York accountants – that at the current rate of reckless studio spending, the Fox coffers would be dry by early July.
Barely enough time to finish “Cleopatra.”
Barely enough time to start and complete “Something’s Got To Give.”
Or maybe not – maybe the studio was heading toward one, big financial blood bath!
Much, certainly, hinged on Monroe and her ability to deliver a product Fox could send to market.
Many silent prayers were being uttered on this particular morning as the waiting for Monroe began and intensified.
Inside the bungalow assigned to Monroe, the drugs were starting to kick in. Even so, Marilyn’s make-up man of many years Whitey Snyder had to frown to himself as he went through the transformation – Norma Jean into Marilyn Monroe. She did not appear healthy.
“Hey Marilyn…” Snyder said, “You don’t look so good…”
“Peach against the way I feel,” Marilyn returned.
“So why do it? Go home, rest – get better.”
Marilyn shook her head. “Need to do this. Got to get the show on the road. Y’know…” and she offered an exaggerated smile: “Showtime…!”
Snyder nodded. He knew she got a lot of bad rap from different elements at the studio. Guys who thought she was just a lucky dumb blonde – without any talent. But Snyder, who’d done many films with her, knew far better. As the one who brought the Marilyn look out for each film, he knew intimately and far better than most just exactly what a creation she had made in bringing Marilyn Monroe to celluloid life. It was, in many ways, as good and sharp and archetypal a creation as Chaplin’s little tramp.
How many actresses or actors could even come close to claiming that?
Cukor knocked and entered the bungalow. “Marilyn – everybody’s ready. Everybody’s been ready for two hours. Now – get your ass out there – or go home and pretend to be sick… but I demand you make up your mind so I can tell my crew what to expect. Now – what is it?”
Marilyn rolled her eyes to Snyder, who winked back.
“Be there in five minutes.”
“Make sure you are. Or I’ll shut down for the day!” Cukor fumed, leaving.
As Cukor departed, another face – far friendlier, appeared. Jerry Wald gave a look at Cukor’s expense and kissed Marilyn on the top of the head while Snyder continued.
“How ya doin’, kiddo?”
Marilyn tried to grin. “Trying to be a good girl. ”
Wald could tell right off Marilyn was struggling. He did not like what he saw.
“Whitey – give Marilyn and I a moment to ourselves.”
“Sure thing, chief…” and Snyder put a finishing touch on a perfect Marilyn – and excused himself.
Cukor saw Snyder coming out and alerted everybody. He glanced up to the electricians – and nodded for them to ‘lights-on’ for the dazzling bright daylight effect to begin warming up.
The set buzzed with that last minute, nor or never, this is it prep work.
And it was absolutely ready for Marilyn’s entrance.
“Something’s Got To Give” was finally going to shoot.
The executives in the back shadows smiled.
The grips and best boys started a countdown.
The assistant director readied to call out the magic words.
Cukor stood, legs apart – staring at the bungalow defying Marilyn to make her appearance.
Fox sound stage 14 held its collective breath.
Then Marilyn appeared – walking… very timidly across the exact salmon-tined tile – towards the waiting set and the pool.
She almost made it.
She almost made it poolside – with the cool, clean, cerulean waters….
And everybody – everybody –who saw her could not believe how great she looked. She’d lost weight, her face seemed to have matured, there was a certain glow about her that hadn’t been there before….she was breath-takingly beautiful.
And just as this was registering on the assembled collective consciousness – this astonishingly gorgeous presence –
Marilyn was rushed home.
She had tried, tried herbest, summoned up everything she had, pushed herself as hard as she could – to hit her mark and make the call.
But it wasn’t enough. She was still far too sick. Her body, despite the drugs, too weak to grit her through it.
Cukor, of course, was furious.
So were a lot of people.
Skouras went into a five minute tirade.
Wald was mad too, but not for the same reasons. And not because Marilyn was being rushed home to bed.
Somehow, he wasn’t sure – but the draft of the screenplay by Schulberg of “The Enemy Within” had gotten leaked, had been circulated.
“How – ?” Marilyn asked when told just before she’d gone out onto the set.
“That I do not know. Yet. But I wanted to check with you.”
“Jerry – my copy has never been out of my sight. Literally.”
“Only Schulberg, me and you – had copies. No one else.”
“And Aaron Townes.” Marilyn reminded.
Wald nodded. “Right. But he’s down in Mexico. No way.”
“Are you sure..? “ Marilyn, “I don’t see how?”
Wald nodded: “Unfortunately I have some very strong proof.” A picture came forth from his coat. She showed it to Marilyn. “There are people who have contacted me, warning me against making Bobby’s book into a movie. This is their second communication.”
The picture showed the screenplay’s title page – smeared in blood and a severed finger lying atop. Underneath, the words of warning: “Write another draft – and fingers will be severed!”
Marilyn face drained of all color as she looked at Wald, speechless!
“Marilyn – who comes to your house? Who was on the premises?
Slowly Marilyn tried thinking. “Really – only a few people.”
“Well… my housekeeper. My press secretary. Peter Lawford, and Pat. Dr. Greenson and his wife have been over. And their daughter, Joan. Oh, and Mike Pearl.”
“Don’t know him.”
“He’s my…uh… he’s a psychic. Reads my chart and stuff.”
Wald nodded. Another kook. Marilyn – always seeking multiple sources of guidance and advice. And it might well have ended there, but Marilyn added: “Mike’s also trying to become an actor. Hey – maybe I should introduce him to you… huh?”
Wald nodded – sure, why not. But he’d just been told something critical. Mike Pearl wasn’t a psychic – he was a struggling actor. And Wald knew what that meant.
Or what it could mean.
Marilyn took another look at the ghastly picture. “What are you going to do, Jerry. That’s pretty awful stuff!”
Wald wasn’t sure. He wasn’t a man to be toyed with. He was a pretty tough cookie in most all ways. But this was another level.
Cutting fingers off?
A deep chill shuddered through him.
And then he had heard the scream from outside – out on the set. He rushed to the window, peering through.
There was Marilyn – passed out on the tile by the pool – people rushing to her.
And even worse chill swept over him.
And up on the scaffolds of Soundstage 14, way up there – manning the lights for the daylight effect, were a pair of electricians looking down upon the scene – Marilyn lying there, people trying to help her.
“What do you think….?” one of them asked.
His friend just shook his head: “Cleopatra Two…!”
The sheets were soaked.
“Dripping wet…” Mrs. Murray whispered to herself. “Again.”
Marilyn shivered against the icy chill – clawing at her tired body, muscles aching.
“I can’t stand this anymore,” Marilyn hissed, “God….why can’t I get better?”
For eight days since returning from her New York escapade, Marilyn had succumbed to a severe, debilitating viral cold that had invaded both her lungs and sinuses – courtesy of the time spent with Lee Strasberg. The famed acting coach of the Actor’s Studio had warned Marilyn to stay away due to his awful cold – but she needed to get with him and go over the Nunnally Johnson script of “Something’s Got To Give.” She needed Lee to tell her which scenes to fight to keep in the re-write currently going on by Walter Bernstein.
Paula, Lee’s wife, also prepared to join Marilyn in L.A. – as her acting coach, as she had on Monroe’s last five pictures – at $5,000 a week!
Marilyn was angry and frustrated because she dearly wanted to get on with it – knowing that her missing the start date of Monday the 23rd, she was incurring more and more bad public opinion. A lot of people thought she was bluffing. A lot of people thought she wasn’t so sick as to delay the start of filming.
A lot of people simply didn’t believe Marilyn Monroe.
Headlines on newspapers and magazines:
“Bosses sick and tired of “sick” Marilyn”.
“All Fox wants is a healthy Glamor Girl.”
“Is Marilyn ill, or just ill-advised?”
For the past several weeks the long-dormant Fox lot had begun bristling with activity – readying for “Something’s Got To Gives” start. All departments were buzzing – everybody whistling, and priming, and just itching to get started.
Because Fox was in trouble.
Big, deep – desperate trouble.
A few days earlier, Milton Gould, chairman of the Twentieth-Fox executive committee had been informed that “Cleopatra”, the scandalously over-budget, Liz Taylor/Richard Burton catastrophe would end up costing the studio a scorching 42 million! To cope with the staggering excess –and without any current films in distribution, Fox had been forced to drastic measures: selling off the back lot in Century City for real estate development; mortgaging all commercial property, and borrowing deeply against all hard assets on the balance sheet – all just to keep “Cleopatra” solvent and afloat.
All just to keep Taylor awash in regal decadence – her grand, fourteen room villa, her Silver Cloud Rolls, her three hour wine-drenched lunches.
And her one million dollar salary. That was – starting in May – going into over-time at $10,000 d day! Doubting Fox’s ability to pay, Taylor insisted on being paid at the start of each day – or $50,000 at the beginning of each week.
Marilyn at a paltry $100,000, nevertheless did not want to disappoint, and the headlines she was reading were greatly disturbing.
So she fought her way out of the aching need to just flat-line herself for another day and made the resolve to play through the pain and get to the studio today. Mrs. Murray took her temperature – and found it to be 101. Her doctors were informed and ordered Marilyn to remain in bed.
She needed to get to the set.
Her mind made up, she ordered Murray to “…Go and make me some tea with honey, run her a bath – and don’t forget the drugs. Lots and lots of drugs…. (Antibiotics, amphetamines, pain killers…) …it’s going to be a rocky day…”
(Continue with Marilyn at the Studio as she attempts to begin filming on the next post)
Two days later, Joe Kennedy had a very good day. An extraordinary day. The kind of day that made his somewhat useless life bearable.
A report from Joey Woods.
Hand-delivered by Jackie. His courier in the arrangement. A secret they alone shared. The reports coming to Jackie in specially marked envelopes that she would recognize from all the hundred letters she received each week as first lady.
Jackie came and sat with him out on the porch – his favorite place to be. It was a fine day, plenty of sun and wind, a slew of boats out sailing. He liked it when there were boats out sailing and recollecting the old days on his boat.
He and Jackie talked a bit, she did all the talking actually – but Joe listened as she spoke of her activities, gently stroking his hands, chatting on about the kids – his grandchildren – speaking in that way that he found so endearing.
He really was, truly – coming to love his daughter-in-law.
They made a good team.
He nodded for her to read the report to him.
She read: “Dear Mr. Joe Kennedy:
The following report is from my trip to Miami with Sam. We stayed at the Fountainbleu. Also there was Frank Sinatra. More on that later.
The purpose of the trip was to meet up with the Mongoose people. Maheu. And to meet Dr. Rolando Cubela – a Cuban national who fought with Castro, but who has since been working with the CIA to remove him. The talk was mostly about how difficult it was proving to hit Castro. He is a tough target they all agreed.
Dr. Cubela then put forward another proposition for the effort to consider. I will try and paraphrase his conversation with Sam as best I can.
Cubela: “We’re going after a target that isn’t really there. Castro is so bloody elusive.”
Ggiancana: “Tough son of a bitch.”
Cubela:: “And yet we are both frustrated with the current administration.”
Maheu spat on the floor. “Got that right…way he fucked us over at the Bay of Pigs!”
Giancana: “Kennedy’s fucking everybody!”
Cubela: “Precisely. And I wonder if it has ever occurred to you, both of you – perhaps we are going after the wrong target.”
Giancana’s chin tilted: “What’re you saying?”
Cubela: “I’m saying that while Castro is indeed a thorn in our side and our mutual long-term goals for commerce on the island, he is not the only individual who merits consideration for removal. Isn’t there someone else who is far more advanced in attempting to take down the two of you?”
Giancana and Maheu exchanged interested glances.
Giancana: “Go on, Dr. Cubela.”
Cubela: Mr. Giancana… aren’t you currently facing a number of criminal indictments? A number of grand jury appearances? A never-ending probe into your business activities and connections. Not to mention making your personal life miserable?”
Cubela: “And are you not under constant harassment by the administration? Is it not their sworn goal to see you in prison? And not just you – but your friends, business associates – and even close members of your personal family?
Again, Giancana slowly nodded in agreement to Cubela’s assessment.
Cubela: “And is it not equally true…” and Cubela swung around to address Maheu – there as the CIA’s rep in Mongoose, speaking in a kind of smooth, faultless precision: “…the Agency bears an equal sense of anger and resentment toward the fracturing of its autonomy by the administration…so you are no longer capable of dealing with the legion of foreign responsibilities? That the Agency has become even threatened for its future existence? That in very real ways it is slowly being stripped of its sacred and cherished covert operations power? “
Maheu grinned with wicked agreement. It was so true… The Kennedy’s were rigorously pursuing a melt-down of the Agency.
“What did president Kennedy say following the Bay of Pigs – ‘that he’d like to smash the Agency in a million pieces….
“…And send them scattered to the wind…” Maheu finished the damning quote for him.
“Exactly. Which will begin shortly with the firing of Dulles, Cabell, and Bissell. Soon as he’s re-elected.”
Cubela looked to the two men – each pondering the truth and accuracy of his words.
“Gentlemen – unless something is done – something substantive and decisive, the Agency as it stands today – will cease to exist. And Sam – you and your world – will also cease to exist. Unless something is done.”
The words hung there in the room.
Cubela: “Is it not really, simply a matter of self-defense? Of survival. Of kill or be killed?”
He looked at the two men.
Cubela: “And if such were to be held true – would it not seem to make more sense for the Agency and the Mob to re-evaluate Mongoose and collaborate not on removing Castro – but to set their sights on an administration that is unquestionably attempting to destroy each of you? Would it not seem strategically more sensible and organizationally imperative – for mutual sustainability – to re-think…who is it we really want to remove? Castro, or Kennedy?”
Jackie put down the letter.
Joe turned from the sea – where his gaze had been lodged during the reading of the report. He looked at Jackie – deeply.
“What does this mean?” she asked her voice quivering, “what do we do…?”
He wanted to weep, but he would not allow that. He needed to secure his thinking and dead-bolt a course of action.
He couldn’t speak.
He couldn’t utter a bloody syllable.
But he looked at Jackie and his eyes shimmered with emotion, speaking volumes.
Joe Kennedy was not done yet!
Sam Giancana poured some more chianti into his glass and passed the jug for the others.
The meeting was drawing to a close, but there was still some food left – the lasagna from Bernie, and the wine. And the boys didn’t seem like leaving yet. Cigar smoke hovered above the round table. Baseball season was on so, of course, there was talk about the Cubs.
Giancana lit a cigar himself and blew a plume of smoke toward the ceiling. Which made him think for a moment of that prick, Castro – and how hard it had proven to get a decent shot at the bastard. The piss-off was surrounded by an elite corps of guards and every bit of food was tasted before going to him. And his schedule was never known in advance.
Giancana had to hand it – he was one tough target.
And Sam was running out of ideas.
Just then a call came in. One of his trusted aides, Joey Woods, took the call. After a moment, Woods came over to Giancana.
“Maheu – wants a chat,” Woods conveyed the message.
“About time,” Giancana puffed.
“Shall I?” Woods asked.
Woods then went into the back pantry to the drawer where Sam kept the rolls of quarters.
Five minutes later, Woods met Sam down at the pay phone by the deli with their bar-b-que chicken sandwiches. He handed Sam two rolls of quarters – for the call back to Maheu.
“Stick around, Joey,” Sam told the aide as he began tumbling quarters in.
Joey Woods nodded, and stepped down a few paces, his eyes wide and gazing around with a sharp, jerky alertness.
But if you looked carefully- it wasn’t watchfulness for Sam that had him so shaky and wide-eyed. It was pure paranoia.
Joey Woods had been with Giancana for four years. But he wasn’t working for him any more.
He was now and had been for the past four weeks, on the payroll of Joe Kennedy.
And reporting directly to him.
It was, quite frankly, a deal he couldn’t refuse.
Despite the enormous risk.
Joe Kennedy had offered him more money than he’d seen in his life, and more than he would see in his lifetime working as a secondary mob figure.
Trust fund for the children.
College fund, too.
But very, very quiet.
Nothing that would show.
Joe knew exactly how to set it up, invisible-like.
So nobody’d ever know the kind of money Joey Woods had come into.
Being a mole for Joe inside Sam’s circle wasn’t really something he wanted to undertake. He knew what would happen. He knew the risks. Not just death. But – most likely, a bloody, tortuous dying.
If he got caught.
But, truth was – he could get whacked easy enough just doing what he was doing. Way it was, this life. So why, Joey Woods thought, why not cash it in.
Because the money was too fucking good.
So he signed on.
Sam concluded his call to Maheu.
“They want me down in Florida. The Mongoose shit. Some guy wants to meet me. A Dr. Cubela. Y’ever hear of him?” Sam asked Joey Woods.
Woods shook his head.
“Anyway – says it’s important. Wants me down there – face to face.”
Woods nodded, but said nothing.
Sam eyed him closely. Joey hated when Sam did this. Made him think he was getting suspicious. Looking right into his soul – seeing something that made him think Joey wasn’t all his anymore.
”Ever been to Miami?” Sam asked.
“Book us. We’ll fly out tomorrow morning. Two rooms at the Fountainbleu. That ass-hole Sinatra’s playing down there. Boy, do I have a surprise cooked up for him!”
(Continue with Giancana and Joey on the next post)
They’d told him — 12305 Fifth Helena, the home recently purchased by Marilyn Monroe was a tough stake out.
But it had to be done.
Det. Sargeant Neal yawned, glanced at his watch and figured he’d give it another half hour before pulling the plug. Not that he expected anything would be happening. Or he needed more time to think. Christ, he’d been parked there a good six hours. So he’d done the mental. Done that good.
But another half hour and it would be good and dark and he needed to scope the street out for the night work.
Shit he learned a long time ago.
On a lot of other stake outs.
So you didn’t get whacked by an unexpected nuisance - when it counted.
Fifth Helena was a tight enough, little cul de sac – with seven homes spread around in a semi-circle. A little archipelago of quiet, unassuming residences. Which made it hard to be inconspicuous. Cop car, any car – would stick out – what’s it doing?
Sitting there all day.
Neighbors get a little curious.
So, he’d had to borrow the DWP van – make like there was some municipal work being done. That way there’d be no body wondering.
But the seat in the van was like hell. That was the hard part. Sitting in that god-damn van all day. Christ!
He saw a car approaching, passing the DWP van and pull into the driveway two doors down from Monroe’s. Neal picked up his small notebook and made an entry. That would be the lawyer.
That was the other thing – besides the visibility factor. He needed to get a feel for the come and go of the neighbors. The tick tock of the street. Were there any teenagers likely to come bouncing home in the early morning hours. Or someone needed to take the dog out in the wee hours.
Stuff like that.
The inside out.
Night and day.
You didn’t want the unexpected coming at you when it counted.
Not just the Monroe house needed casing – all of Fifth Helena. Which was stacking up to be your basic, residential neighborhood. Couple of doctors. A teacher. Architect. Some guy did manufacturing in Torrance. And the lawyer.
And, of course, one very famous movie actress.
He checked his watch – almost dark now at 6:15.
Marilyn, he’d been told, was in New York, doing something or other. What did he care. The house was more or less vacant – except for the older lady, the housekeeper, he’d been told. One other lady had visited, somewhat younger – stayed for about two hours. All of it noted in the little book of his. All the routines. That was about it. And one delivery truck – with a couple pieces of furniture.
One bourbon on the rocks and one champagne. The barman set their drinks down.
It was now near 1:00 am and the evening w as winding down.
This was their fourth round.
“So Mary…” Marilyn said, “I don’t believe I tol’ you ‘bout the light…Hem gave me… ‘member?” she slurred her speech deliberately.
“Of course, dearie… it was a great treasure. I hope it’s well cared for.”
Marilyn oozed a creamy smile and leaned into Mary’s ear: “girl to girl…Mary…?”
She nodded eagerly, sensing a secret coming forth from the movie star.
To which Marilyn whispered into Mary’s ear: “I gave it to Jack. “Cause we’re sleeping together. But don’t tell anyone. Promise?”
Mary looked at Marilyn. A giggle escaped the actress. And she put her finger to her lips: Sshh!
To which Mary nodded with a gleeful smile and offered Marilyn a hug.
“Wanna know ‘nother secret…? We did it, upstairs… right before we came down. “
“Fun and games, enjoy dearie, but be careful.”
“No, Mary – it’s not just fun and games,” Marilyn took exception. “It’s serious. It’s love. And it’s going to be the end…?”
“The end –?” Mary didn’t know what to make of that.
“Jackie. She wants a divorce. Then it’ll be Jack and me!”
At this, Mary raised an eyebrow, and bristled at Marilyn’s naivity.
“Dearie…I’m not so sure I should be the one telling you this…but… you probably need to hear it. Jack Kennedy is an incurable, insatiable adulterer. Who will never be faithful, will sleep around as much as he bloody likes, and no one will ever change him!”
“Mary…with Jack and me…it’s different. We’re special.”
“Hogwash. Believe me, I know. I was married to one of the best.”
Marilyn looked at her. They’d been drinking, but there was a sharp, resolute stare from Mary.
“There’s only one thing that will make them stop, “ Mary said glumly.
“Old age…” she said simply.
To which Marilyn began to sob, stung by the truth and sense of what Mary had said.
“Mary….” Marilyn looked up, eyes wet and glistening with tears, “If Jack were to cut me off – I don’t know what I’d do. I don’t know if I could take it….!”
“There…there…, dearie…” she tried to console.
“Don’t mind me, but did Hem – ever – want to take himself out another way. With pills, maybe…?”
And Mary, touched by the poor dear’s outpouring of grief (which, she supposed, she had triggered) nodded to the question: “This is probably the second thing I shouldn’t be telling you, but yes – he did…as a matter of fact…..”
Mary was right.
Jack wasn’t available later on. Jack wasn’t even around to say good night.
Or even good- by.
He was just gone.
Peter had found her and made some hollow explanations.
Taking her back to her place on 57th.
The dirty work of being the brother –in-law. Cleaning up afterwards.
Mary was right. About a lot of things, she guessed. She’d been with Hem a long time. You figure things out – after you’re with someone a long time. Someone like Hemingway.
“So – Marilyn,” Peter asked just before going, “ did Mary tell you anything…anything important? Anything I should tell Jack?” About the Hem pills? – his tone tried to imply.
Marilyn thought for a moment, debating whether or not to convey what Mary had told her. About the pills.
“No….just girl talk. You know, being married to famous writers stuff!”
Lawford nodded and bid her good night.
And they thought she was only good for light comedy.
Kennedy sat on the edge of the bed in the penthouse suite of the Carlyle – pulling on his socks.
Marilyn was in the bathroom adjusting her bra under the Jean Luis gown she had brought with her from L.A. for the night’s special fund raiser.
Jack had insisted on a quickie because he wasn’t sure of his time following the dinner. Jackie was in town and she might make an appearance.
“Need any help in there?” Jack offered. “I guess we should think about making an appearance.” The guests, he supposed, had been waiting for over an hour.
“The longer the wait – the sweeter it is…” Marilyn shot back lightly.
He stepped into the bathroom with a watered down scotch, took a sip – while admiring the beautiful creature beside him in the mirror. He rested the drink down and indulged himself – cupping her wonderful bosom from behind, while kissing her playfully on the neck.
“Mary Hemingway….” He stated.
“Yes,” Marilyn turned, kissing him on the lips. “shouldn’t be too hard. I’ve thought it out.”
“For starters – we’ve both been married to very famous writers.”
“Boy – would I love to hear that bitch session,” Kennedy quipped.
Marilyn smiled. “Nothing of the kind. You know, I met her and Hem in the 50’s.”
Kennedy smiled knowingly, bringing out the lighter she had presented him at Christmas – that was from Hemingway. “I remember very well.”
She hugged him, glowing inside to know he actually used it, and was a part of him now. “Good boy.”
“Whenever I light a cigar, and put it to my lips - guess who’s on my mind?” he asked gently.
“Pretty good with words yourself, Mr. President,” she complimented, “maybe that’s why they gave you the Pulitzer.”
“Maybe,” he joked back, draining his scotch.
“Zip me up,” she asked turning her back to him.
“With pleasure. And hopefully, I’ll have a chance to unzip you later…”
“Such a little boy.”
“What else on Mary?” he did the zip – and gave her fanny a little pat.
“I’ll steer a way from anything morbid, don’t worry. But I’ll ask about Dr. Cubela – at some point. See if it reglisters. And then, I’ll whisper in her ear confidentially – that the CIA wants to talk to me…about Sinatra…”
Kennedy nodded: “Nice.”
The best way…” Marilyn reasoned, “to make someone open up – is to make them think you’re spilling your guts.”
Marilyn sprayed on some Chanel and turned to him – with a camera-ready smile: “Shall we…. I do believe the guests have waited long enough…!”
Mary Hemingway was no stranger to alcohol. Or drinking. A lot. She and Hemingway could go toe to toe, and had on many an evening. For such a small creature, it was rather remarkable.
And tonight she felt like drinking.
She was not alone.
There were a lot of people vying for Marilyn’s attention, and made the effort to put themselves in front of her. But eventually, well after dinner ($10,000 a plate) she was able to maneuver herself over to Mary.
And introduced herself like a long-lost friend. Giving her a sweet hug and offering her heartfelt condolences about Hem.
“One of the best, if not the best,” Marilyn offered.
Too which Mary smiled, appreciating the obvious sincerity. “You are a dear,” Mary said, “and I do remember that evening we all shared.”
“…was never the same,” Mary smiled at the memory of a long and wild night of drinking with Marilyn, John Huston, Aaron Townes and Dietrich.
They decided to go to the bar to refresh their drinks.
Perfect, Marilyn thought. Mary was settling into a well-deserved, old fashioned night of drinking – and Marilyn handily seemed to be the pal at her side.
From across the room, Kennedy watched as the two women headed for the bar. Good, he thought to himself. Marilyn was on task. And on task meant, time for him -
To be on his task.
Of quietly pursuing a late night hook-up with a ravishing dish who was on the arm of Peter Lawford making their way towards him.
“Jack,” Peter smiled with that devilsh, old- boy glean, “I’d like you to meet a dear friend of mine…”
And Jack flipped on the charm, that warm, bright but gentle smile as he took the young girl’s hand in his and squeezed it in that special way that told the girl exactly what he had in mind.
In no uncertain terms.
Her smile back was generously promising.
He’d ditch Marilyn. She’d essentially served her purpose. And they’d already had their intimate time. He hoped she wouldn’t be expecting any more.
After all, he did have a lot of other people to take care of. Peter could do the honors – and find out if she got anything out of Mary.
It was a gala affair.
Black tie. Evening gowns. The cream of New York society. Plus a lot of other rich and famous from all over.
There to see Kennedy.
There to raise money.
And there to see Marilyn.
And it might even get off the ground – as everyone was expectantly waiting – waiting to get on with it. Everyone was there. Everyone except the president and Marilyn.
Mary Hemingway, Ernest’s widow – in town from the chilly climes of Ketchum, Idaho, made small talk with the head of advertising for Scribner’s about a re-isuue of Hemingway’s Cuban stories.
“When is Monroe going to be arriving…?” Mary complained. “It’s 9:30 and they haven’t even served dinner yet.”
The head of Scribner’s advertising offered the famous widow an agreeing shrug, but declined comment. The best way, he’d learned, to have a conversation with Mary was to let her do all the talking. So far it seemed to be working.
And therefore Mary’s stay in New York had netted her ample opportunity. With her years of living in Cuba, and her intimate terms with many of the island’s prominent, she was a hot ticket on the eastside’s cocktail and dinner circuit. People were fascinated with Cuba – and sought her opinions, insights, and stories of life in the land of Fidel Castro.
Most especially the CIA.
Who had for the past several weeks been actively gathering Mary’s insights into the Castro regime, the country itself and most significantly Castro himself.
From Mary, they had come to the belief that Castro rather enjoyed himself at Finca Vigia - the Hemingway estate, that had now been turned into a museum, thanks to Mary’s generosity. It was learned from Mary that Castro on occasion took relaxation there and that his normal steel-eyed security instincts were somewhat loosened during those occasions.
Only slowly did Mary come to grasp what her cordial chat sessions with the CIA boys were really about. That her recollections might be used to stage an assassination plot on Castro at Finca Vigia.
Which she found to be absolutely distasteful.
So when the particular topic came around to a recently recalled rumor (provided by Dr. Rolando Cubela – during his initial debriefing with the Agency) that there existed certain uniquely formulated pills which had in fact been devised by Hemingway to painlessly usher him onward to the next life – she coiled away from confirming such a thing, and vehemently denied such a ludicrous story. Calling it wishful thinking of the worst and unsubstantiated kind.
At no time, she told the CIA boys, had her husband commissioned any such pills and any claim otherwise was simply a big fat lie.
So ended Mary Hemingway’s chat time with the Mongoose faction of the CIA.
It did not end, however, the administration’s attempt to verify the claim.
From a most unlikely source.
For upstairs that evening, at the Penthouse suite of the Carlyle hotel, the Kennedy suite, Marilyn Monroe was being briefed by Kennedy on approaching Mary Hemingway and engaging the widow in some loose chat and try and see if she could get her to speak about the infamous pills. One way or another.
Marilyn as agent provocateur.
The call from the new producer of “Something’s Got To Give” Henry Weinstein concerned the screenplay.
Cukor had spoken. He wanted the NunNally Johnson draft scrapped. He hated it. He despised it. He wanted it thrown out.
Worse, the famed director felt collusion between Johnson and Monroe. That they had worked on it together. That Marilyn had unduly inserted herself into the re-write. That there were scenes added that he and Johnson had not agreed to nor even talked about before the veteran screenwriter had left in January for England to produce his draft.
Cukor smelled treason amongst the crew. And he needed to come down with an iron fist.
And he was right – Marilyn and Johnson had collaborated on the script prior to the screenwriter’s departure to England. They had discussed a lot and Marilyn had gone through the entire story with him and offered her ideas regarding her character. Many of which Johnson actually liked. Marilyn’s influence was in the screenplay because her suggestions had been well thought out shadings to her character and punched up the plot line as well.
And Johnson was too much of a consummate professional merely to allow an idea into his screenplay simply because the suggestion came from a beautiful lady.
Even Marilyn Monroe.
It was his name on it.
But Cukor sensed betrayal and he wouldn’t stand for it. Incidentally, the writer of the original story “My Favorite Wife” Garson Kanin was Cuukor’s best friend. And he wanted the current draft returned to the flavor and stylings of the original.
Cukor wanted to set an example from the outset who was in charge. Who was giving the orders. And who would not tolerate any dissension in the ranks!
Besides, Cukor had full script approval.
Marilyn did not.
And this is what Greenson now had been instructed, as a ‘consultant’ to notify Marilyn about.
That Cukor was throwing out Johnson’s draft and bringing in a new writer. Which meant, too – he was throwing out everything Marilyn had contributed and wanted in the script.
All of it – out!
“So who’s the new writer?” Marilyn asked when Greenson had informed her of the Cukor decision.
She asked calmly, directly, no sign of emotional bitterness. As he had expected.
In return, he answered straight forwardly: “Walter Bernstein.”
Monroe nodded:“What’s he done?”
He hadn’t done much. He’d penned four straight semi-disasters. The last a very failed “Heller in Pink Tights” directed by Cukor and thoroughly forgettable.
Not one good film to his credit.
“And who’s this new guy, just called. Weinstein?”
“The new producer.”
”Never heard of him.”
“He’s from New York. Did some theater.”
“How much,” Marilyn probed.
”I’m not sure,” Greenson answered guardedly.
There was a long moment of silence.
“And how did this Weinstein come into the project? At the expense of David Brown being excused?”
Greenson wasn’t sure how to answer this.
“Doc – how did Weinstein come aboard?”
“Well…” Greenson started, giving up trying to be circumspect. She’d find out eventually. “He’s a friend. I recommended him.”
Marilyn nodded quietly to herself.
“So let me get this straight, doc.” Marilyn nodded to herself, collecting the information she had just received. “You throw away the work of one of the best writers in the business – and bring in a hack who has yet to write anything decent. And you let a veteran producer go and replace him with someone who’s never produced a film and only a few theater people in New York have even heard of….”
She paused, her eyes narrowed on Greenson, who seemed to be squirming.
“And then they hire you – doc, to be the one to keep me grounded, while they do their best to keep sabotaging me…?! Is that what I’m seeing, doc? Is that what’s happening here?
“Marilyn, please – you’re over-reacting….!”
She stood up and paced around the couch, thinking…..it was suddenly becoming very clear to her now…what was happening…and there was only one word for it.
Pure and simple.
And the sabotaging efforts were clearly underway.
The new producer – who would only serve as a lacky, a ‘yes man’ for others.
And now Greenson seduced into the fold to manage her. To keep her under thumb.
All a betrayal.
Pure and simple.
“Doc, she said, “can I use your phone?”
Puzzled by the request, Greenson nodded to the phone on his desk.
To which she picked it up and dialed a private, very private number in Washington D.C.
As it rang through, she addressed Greenson, still sitting at his desk. “Doc – you wanted to know how the weekend went…. well listen in … this’ll probably give you an idea.”