Past Imperfect

Past Imperfect – #530

Marilyn Monroe: “Arthur, I’m not really understanding this bit in your play right here, with the witches shrieking.”

Arthur Miller, off-camera due to clearance issues with his publicist: “Well, it’s an allegory about the Salem trials and McCarthyism and… why are you standing like that?”

Marilyn: “I’m posing in a glamorous manner.”

Arthur: “Why are you posing? I wasn’t even in the room and there’s no one else here.”

Marilyn: “It doesn’t matter. You should always do everything with style and purpose, even if no one else is looking, because life is too short and you might as well live it to the best of your ability.”

Arthur: “That’s an interesting viewpoint.”

Marilyn: “By interesting, do you mean naive?”

Arthur: “I didn’t say that.”

Marilyn: “You didn’t have to, your tone did.”

Arthur: “Look, I’m not getting into this argument again. We’re late for the awards ceremony.”

Marilyn: “Ah, yes, another awards ceremony for you. How lovely.”

Arthur: “And who has the tone now?”

Marilyn: “Fair enough. But do you understand why I have the tone?”

Arthur: “Because you’re trying to counter my own tone. This is a pattern that goes back to the caveman days.”

Marilyn: “And maybe it does. But I’m talking about now. You’re the celebrated playwright who writes the words, and I’m the lowly actress who only speaks those words, and everyone is making jokes about our marriage. But what I do does matter. And in the future, you might be an inspiration to a select group of people who admire those words you write, but I will be an inspiration to the rest of us who just want to validate themselves and they are willing to do what it takes.”

Arthur: “That’s a rather lofty aspiration you have, and I’d love to discuss the details, but we have a cab waiting. Blow out that candle and turn off the ceiling fan.”

Marilyn: “No, I think I’ll let both of those things be. Something tells me that someone named Elton will come along and be able to do something with those.”


This admittedly not-so-humorous post was inspired by the following quote:

“When I was five I think, that’s when I started wanting to be an actress. I loved to play. I didn’t like the world around me because it was kind of grim, but I loved to play house. It was like you could make your own boundaries… When I heard that this was acting, I said that’s what I want to be… Some of my foster families used to send me to the movies to get me out of the house and there I’d sit all day and way into the night. Up in front, there with the screen so big, a little kid all alone, and I loved it.”

Interview in Life magazine, 1962.


Make your own boundaries, folks. Every day.


Previously published. Slight changes made. Sometimes I serve these Crusty Pie slices a little warmer than usual, but this one has an underlying chill. A few weeks after the Life interview, she was gone…

Whatever you dream of doing, do it now, even if no one else is looking…


26 replies »

    • This is perhaps more trivia than you cared to read, but still: The candle and ceiling-fan reference is a cue to Elton John’s 1973 song “Candle in the Wind”, written specifically about “Norma Jean” (Marilyn’s real name) and generally about anyone who is taken in the prime of their life. (Elton re-recorded the song in 1997, with the words changed to reflect the passing of Princess Diana. That version of the song quickly became the best-selling single of all time in the UK. I’m not sure if that milestone still stands.) Elton’s long-time lyricist, Bernie Taupin, wrote the original version of the song after overhearing someone use the phrase “candle in the wind” in reference to Janis Joplin…

      And please, always feel free to ask anything you want here at Bonnywood. I often work sometimes-obscure trivia into my stories, little threads that reveal a bit more if you tug on them, like in this example…


  1. I agree with making our own boundaries and living right now, I just wanna know why she’s wearing a dish towel on her head, and what in the Hello Kitty is going on with “the girls”? It’s like a horrible wreck … I can’t look away.😱

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, her couture is actually a valid reflection of the times. The square of material in the hair (which admittedly looks like a dishtowel now that you mention it) and the bullet bra were very fashionable in this period. And these are two of the reasons why I rarely pay any attention to fashion….

      Liked by 1 person

  2. A sobering thought and post for a grim day. It’s snowing like fury here in the mountains. I’m now a bit melancholy and blue too. No fault or blame-shifting mind you. We write what bubbles to the surface and cast about for what’s at hand to use. Sometimes it’s more real than we like it too. I’m with Angie about one thing. What’s with the high beams if nobody is looking at her? Maybe the girls felt frisky and thought that a nifty way to get Arthur to put down his pen and come play for a bit. Or she’s looking at the tax returns for their household. A thing that wouldn’t excite ME, but we all have our trigger points I suppose..

    Liked by 1 person

    • This IS a very wistful and pensive post. And it’s not really a fair reflection of my state of mind right now, but I was looking for something else in the archives (I’m always doing that, searching for “that post” where I said “that certain thing”, and I stumbled across this one, and something spoke and said “do this one again”. So I did. I don’t even remember what I was originally looking for, but isn’t that what searching the archives is all about? The forgotten memories that suddenly spark…

      As for the high-beams? I’m the first to tell you that me own beams have a mind of their own, often startling me with an insistence that seems unrelated to anything I’m doing at the moment. Of course, this happens much less often than it did in my younger days, were almost always ready to lead a search for the Donner Party in a blizzard… 😉


  3. I agree. She has a dish cloth on her head while doing fitness with high heels. What is she thinking? Well, she’s beautiful no matter what she does or doesn’t do. Wish they had a longer marriage, even though I didn’t read Arther Miller and didn’t watch Marilyn Monroe much.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Personally, I think that Arthur and Marilyn found each other at a pivotal moment when they each thought they saw something they needed in each other, but then quickly realized that they were mistaken. And I’ve certainly been in that same position a time or three, so it’s not my place to judge…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I see her as achieving success in one of the few ways open to her, given the times and the narrow little box that women had to inhabit. She played the sexy bubblehead to get ahead, but then discovered that most people wanted to keep her there, even though she was outgrowing it. I think that her frustration must have been extreme – she was successful, yes, but at great cost to her intelligence and self-worth. She found herself to be neither fish nor fowl… Then the drug and alcohol induced self-soothing. Such a sad ending.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Perfect analysis. And to take that in a different angle, I think her frustration and yearning infused her performances, so that even if a viewer may have dismissed her at a certain level as a mere “sex symbol”, the tremulous pathos was so evident that you found yourself relating to her in a sometimes unrecognized way. She was all of us who hope for better. She just took a different bus than we might have taken to reach the destination…

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.