The tragic life of the Hollywood golden girl, who has been described as “vulnerable” and “easily destroyed”, has been examined by Pulitzer Prize finalist Anthony Summers. He began investigating the death of Marilyn Monroe in 1982 after being commissioned by the Sunday Express magazine to write an article about reopening the case. The 79-year-old conducted enlightening interviews with those around her and those who knew the truth about her life – and death. In the Netflix documentary, The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe: The Unheard Tapes, recordings of numerous conversations made by Mr. Summers are heard everywhere – including with the family of Marilyn’s psychiatrist, who treated her until her untimely death. .
Mr Summers also recounts the ‘breakthrough’ moment at which he received the notes taken by the Some Like It Hot star’s psychiatrist, Dr Ralph Greenson.
Speaking on the documentary, Mr Summers said: ‘When you’re tackling so-called mysteries, it’s tough. What happened? Was it suicidal? Was it an accident?
“Was it something more sinister?” So it was like tapping cement with your finger. And then I came across the family of the last psychiatrist. It was a breakthrough.
Dr Greenson started seeing Marilyn in 1960 at home – because she was ‘too famous’ to go to his office, Dr Greeson’s son Danny told Mr Summers.
He cared for Marilyn until her death from an overdose on the fateful night 60 years ago.
Mr Summers continued: “Dr Ralph Greenson, the Hollywood psychiatrist, treated and befriended Marilyn in her later years, just before her death in 1962.
“[At the time] Ralph was dead. He had left him a widow, Hildi, and his daughter, Joan, and his son Danny.
“These are really helpful interviews that gave me real insight.”
Dr. Greenson’s papers revealed that he had concluded that Marilyn was not schizophrenic, like her mother, Gladys, who was institutionalized when her daughter was young.
READ MORE: The ‘tragic’ life of Marylin Monroe discussed by Jack Lemmon
Instead, Dr. Greenson concluded that she was a “masochist”, someone who derives sexual pleasure from pain or humiliation.
Following the sending of her mother to a mental asylum, Marilyn was sent to foster homes and an orphanage which, according to Dr. Greenson, had marked her.
Dr. Greenson also described Marilyn as “abandoned”, a homeless child without sufficient food or care, apparently finding that her life began as tragically as it ended.
Mr Summers continued: “Hildi gave me access to many of Dr Greenson’s papers, his letters, which were gold dust.
“He thought that Marilyn had a tendency to paranoid reactions. However, she was not schizophrenic and her paranoid-like reactions are rather masochistic.
“Greenson thought that the tendency to act on the rejections of orphan girls seemed central to him. “She was an orphan.” Marilyn’s troubled childhood was a time the adult woman would never forget.
“She spent time in ten foster homes, two years in an orphanage, another foster home, four years with a guardian when her mother was sent to a mental asylum.”
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The documentary is based on Mr. Summers’ 1985 biography of Marilyn, Goddess The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe.
After his death in 1962, Los Angeles District Attorney John Van de Kamp reopened the case 20 years later.
However, it was closed again a few months later, with the coroner’s initial conclusion remaining the same – ‘probable suicide’.
A highly anticipated film about Marilyn’s life titled Blonde – starring actress Ana de Armas – is due out next month.
The documentary, The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe: The Unheard Tapes, is available on Netflix.