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)