Goodbye Norma Jean

Dress from The Seven Year Itch

The absolute high point of the Rome trip was discovering that there was an exhibition of over 300 artifacts including scripts and film props, photographs, costumes, and personal items related to Marilyn Monroe on display at the Palazzo degli Esami. I hadn’t found any mention of the show in my pre-travel searches and had spotted a poster when we first arrived in the city.

Obsessed is not the word to use when speaking about my relationship with Marilyn, in love would be a better word,  it’s not a romantic love, I can barely explain it, just deep down I know her. I know I know her.

To scale copy of her hands in cement.

I have had two psychics and an clairvoyant acquaintance tell me, all on separate occasions and without previous knowledge or prompting, that I was her in a past life. I so want to believe this, and part of me really does. It’s the only way I can explain what I feel about her. Being a Libran though… the other side of me is still a total skeptic. This is my life though, I believe in magic and science and don’t believe them to be mutually exclusive. Our hands are the same though, same size and we both have the ‘double M’ on our palms.

I’ve seen a handful of Marilyn exhibitions, and have seen a few of her personal items on display in various collections and museums around the world, this however was by far the largest I had seen… also the most upsetting;


From the get go I felt uncomfortable, the website for the exhibition chose a photo of Marilyn with her ex-husband Arthur Miller(who she married June 29, 1956, after converting to Judaism) who not only wrote about her in his diary saying he was ‘disappointed’ and ’embarrassed’ by her. Arthur Miller is shit, fight me. I rank him at the top of the list of her SHIT HUSBANDS just above Joe DiMaggio who was violently jealous(he broke her thumb one occasion and was known to be physically and verbally abusive), and tried to force her to end her career and be a ‘good Italian wife’, which failed obviously and they divorced. DiMaggio was painted as a saint; inside the exhibition one panel praised him for how loving he was and how he had organised her funeral… it didn’t mention he banned and forbade nearly anyone from coming, including Marilyn’s closest friends. It didn’t mention him as an abuser, it didn’t mention any of her partners flaws or failures.

Dresses from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes/Prince and the Showgirl

I shouldn’t be surprised, the collection itself is owned by a man, and men can’t begin to understand the woman she was. She was complex; brilliant(almost entirely self taught having left school very young), a poet and writer, she was caring, she was political, she was a feminist, she was vibrant, but she was also sad, and trying to heal traumas that had left deeply wounded. Men were often her ‘saviours’, seeing themselves as knights in shining armour and her as a beautiful conquest or prize, not the supporters or carers or lovers she truly needed. To them she was Marilyn Monroe; the star and the sex bomb. A pretty little thing who’d risen to fame and stardom because of her looks and sex appeal. Not Marilyn Monroe, a woman, fierce and self made, a woman who had come from NOTHING, less than nothing, and over come so much and fought and worked so hard to be where she was. To them she was just the Bombshell Blonde…



Prescription written the night before her death(murder).

There is a depth of beauty and a mystery to Marilyn that I can’t put into words. I feel I know so much about her because so much of her struggles and her feelings are like my own; unloved, abandoned, not fully understanding people, what motivates them, feeling like an alien or a caged bird.

I was holding back tears the entire time I was inside this exhibition, partly of joy, partly for sadness, and partly for rage.

Goodbye Norma Jean.








Author: Gwendolyn Faker

There is no spot of ground, however arid, bare or ugly, that cannot be tamed into such a state as may give an impression of beauty and delight. -Gertrude Jekyll (29/11/1843 – 8/12/1932)

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