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Scene from the play

The name Dan Kpodoh has deservedly etched himself as one of the proponents and vanguards of the renaissance of live theatre performance in the city of Port Harcourt and by necessary extension the Niger Delta region.

By Don Kester Oshiarome

Through his Active Play House, Dan, a script writer, choreographer, artistic director, Festival curator and Event Manager, has produced and hosted with consistency performances in the last few years. Some of his productions which are usually laced with dance and music, include but not limited to; Bolobolo, _The Struggle_, Biokpo, _Unbroken_, _The gods are not to blame_, etc. His choice of scripts for productions reveals his artistic commitment to socio-economic reconstruction. Whereas he addressed the burning issue of domestic violence which I describe as the scourge of the marital space today in _Unbroken_, however, for the most part, Dan’s artistic endeavor tilts toward the ideological dramaturgy of the Osofisans and the Fatundes because evident in his thematic construct is the passion for the liberation of the Niger Delta from the shackles of depravity underdevelopment.

A scene from the play

On Sunday, 11th September 2022, Dan Kpodoh took another giant stride with his cast and crew to bring to live theatre enthusiasts in Port Harcourt and environs, one of Ola Rotimi’s classics in the comedy genre; _Grip Am_.  For those not familiar with this very popular script, it is an adaption from vernacular into Nigeria Pidgin English by Ola Rotimi. For some it may have been nostalgic entering the auditorium and perhaps with an air of predictability (that feeling of knowing what to expect). But with dexterity and artistic license, Dan Kpodoh tweaked this comedy into a musical somewhat, suggesting that the present transition in theatre development in Nigeria into Musical Theatre is gradually becoming a norm.

The play started at 05:07 pm; 1 hour 37 minutes from the earlier advertised commencement of 3:30 pm, at the Arena Event Centre, Tombia Street, GRA, Port Harcourt. No thanks to the heavy downpour. The hall was half full; comprising mainly of theatre practitioners, who came to show solidarity and support for one of their own. The main show was preceded by rib cracking jokes by the duo of Angel the Laff (pioneer, Port Harcourt Comedy Club) and Kunle Tatafo (of the Funky Four). They both reeled out spontaneous jokes which relaxed and prepared the audience for what was to come; more laughter and entertainment.

Scenes from the play

The play opened with a Sunny Neji’s hit track, _Tolotolo_; incidentally that was the name of Alabo (the protagonist) and Warri’s neighbor. The director set the play in the Niger Delta, judging from the names of the protagonist and his wife; Alabo (played by Alfred Fadar Otite) and Warri (played by Favour Nabofa). Tolotolo (played Doubra Agwana) is depicted as a ‘been to’ character, in her speech, nuances and mannerism. But we would discover later that all was for show, she’s never been anywhere but her community. Whereas the Arena is proscenium in orientation, Dan from the outset was not pretentious about his avant-gardist approach to directing in the manner he broke the fourth-wall, introducing his first character on stage from the audience. That singular act created a tacit intercourse between the audience and the actors on stage.

In terms of content, the director made superfluous insertions of social issues, phrases, words, jokes and malapropism into the original dialogue, all in a bid to evoke laughter and indeed it resonated with the audience. So we heard issues like PVC and its importance to good governance going forward. Songs like _Enjoy_ by Tekno, Alpha Blondy’s _Sweet Fanta Diallo_, and of course ‘Carry me dey go, carry me dey go my father house’ (from a skit creation that has gone viral on social media), etc, were freely but appropriately used to the delight of an appreciative audience.

There were three entrances that were innovative for me; the first was that of the Angel (played by Olivia Chinwendu Onyeji) heralded by George Frederick Handel _Halleluyah Chorus_. The Angel appeared on stage spotting a medicated  glasses, when asked why, she replies that she doesn’t see correctly. That generated guffaw on stage and in the auditorium. The beggars’ entrance was equally exciting, though unexpected; it added fervor to the dramatic piece with its sonorous songs. However, the entrance of Death (played by Jessica Oluebube Sunday) was the show stopper. Death was introduced with his team, all clad in black and danced in unison to a parody version of Michael Jackson’s track, _Billie Jean_. It was a lively performance. The landlord (was played with panache by Dan Kpodoh). His interpretation of the role held the audience captive especially with his phrase uttered in Yoruba-English; ‘Nor dey S’out’ (shout). Deinmoara James Profit played the typical Ijaw woman’s role effectively too, accent and all. Wisdom Edet as Skiddo, the landlord’s son gave a good account of himself in the few moments he graced the stage. Overall, the acting was excellent.

Don Kester Oshiarome

Ultimately, this was a successful show performance wise. Although there were deliberate attempts at slapsticks by some actors to elicit laughter, it didn’t take anything from the general performance. Alabo (Alfred Fadar Otite) didn’t manage his voice properly, he was shouting in an attempt to project, even with a lapel mic. That was a disservice. If this play ran for 3 days, I doubt he would have retained his voice. Also, the actors played for the most part on the same plane Down Stage, that wasn’t good directorially, as it robbed the play of the needed depth. The Set was as simple as austere as it can be but was too neat like a new project about to be commissioned. The technical director could have aged it a little though. The costumes and make up and sound were on point. The play ended with Kizz Daniel’s anthem; _Buga_.

Like we have always advocated, we should be collaborating and not seen as competing with each other. We should support one another. To that extent, I salute Crabites who defied the rain to patronize one of us. It is okay to acknowledge Boma Kiri-Kalio who single handedly bought 20 or so tickets to share to friends. Also, Mr Yibo Koko, gave an open invite to every member of cast and crew of Seki to attend the show at his expense. Indeed Dan was enthralled by the solidarity.

In all, the feedback attests to the fact that the audience had value for their time and money. Congratulations to Dan Kpodoh, Cast and Crew of _Grip Am_, and the Active Play House on another successful outing.


Finally, thanks Dan for asking me to do this review. It reminds me of what I consider the best definition of a critic yet; “critics are like manure, they smell but you need them to grow”. Dan is one who is ready to grow, and grow he will.

Don Kester is a creative arts critic and writer based in Port Harcourt

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The people of the beautiful Coal City, the capital of Enugu State, Nigeria, will today be treated to a colourful and sumptuous event celebrating the rich culinary culture and practices of the people.

Enugu as the regional capital of the South East of Nigeria that is home to the Igbo ethnic group, is a melting point of the Igbo culture. It is home to all Igbo as well as a large chunk of people from other parts of the country, the African continent and indeed the world.

Thus, from the core indigenous menus to the influence of the cuisines imported by the settled population of visitors, Enugu offers a wide range of tastes coming from its kitchens. This is what Enugu food festival seeks to celebrate.

However, according to Ike Ezeugwu, whose Hillheights Media Solutions is behind the event, the time has come for the real indigenous tastes, in foods and beverages, to be singled out for celebration. The people must be redirected towards the kitchen where the iconic Enugu foods are prepared and accorded it’s place of pride.

Ezeugwu acknowledged that foods like Abacha, Echicha, Okpa, Ayaraya, etc, and the ever popular palm wine, were already well known. However, Enugu food festival will definitely make them more acceptable, especially to the younger generation whose kitchen knowledge are not as diverse and traditionally inclined as was desired.

Food, he said, as an important part of a people’s culture should be a familiar culinary art, habit and practice, transited inter-generationally. And what can only guarantee that is when local staples and diets are given prominent slots on the menu, as Enugu food festival is intended to do.

The event will feature food talks bordering on safe food practices, food sampling, cultural displays, games, performances, networking, among others. Professor Charles Ishiwu, a food processing specialist from Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka, will be the guest lecturer. He will be talking about Food Safety and Food Malprocessing.

The event is holding at Amadeo Events Centre, Enugu. Red Carpet call time is 5 pm. Meanwhile, tables are still available for reservations.

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Perhaps Michael Jackson’s most significant achievement came with videos.

Michael Jackson may be the greatest music video artiste. Like magazine covers, Grammys, and radio, Michael Jackson’s plan to overcome colour barriers was, simply, to do something so good that MTV couldn’t resist it. When he saw the canal and the nascent art there for the first time, he was fascinated but felt it wasn’t close to the potential it had.

On the set of Billy Jean

“At that time,” he later wrote, “I looked at what people were doing with video and I didn’t understand why so many seemed primitive and weak. I saw children watching boring videos and accepting them because they had no alternatives.”

In fact, most music videos at that time were simply presented as promos or commercials. They typically featured some kind of montage of images or live performances. Jackson envisioned something different: he wanted to tell a story.

Michael’s first opportunity to realize this vision came with Billie Jean. With a then exorbitant budget of $75,000 paid by CBS, Jackson and director Steve Barron created a small masterpiece. There were the dance steps, of course: spins and twirls. However, it was the total transformation of cinematography and the mystery of the narrative that really impacted

MTV initially refused to air the video, citing its policy of only airing rock music. However, the president of CBS, Walter Yetnikoff, who had released a huge amount of money for the video, in addition to the interest of promoting the Thriller album, did not accept the refusal of his biggest artist. “I told MTV, ‘I’m pulling all our artists,’” Yetnikoff recalls. “’I won’t give you one more video. And I’m going to go out to the audience and tell them about the fact that you don’t want to play a black guy’s music. ‘”

MTV relented and would quickly put Billie Jean into heavy rotation due to audience demand. With that decision, the walls crumbled.

After the success of the Billie Jean video, Jackson upped the ante with Beat It. For this song, he had a specific concept in mind. He wanted the anti-violence message to be taken literally, but he didn’t want to be soft or didactic. To execute his vision he hired talented commercial director Bob Giraldi and brilliant choreographer Michael Peters. He also insisted on filming the videos on the streets of Los Angeles rather than in a studio. When CBS refused to pay for the budget, Jackson provided the money, his own.

The result was the most revolutionary and influential music video that MTV had broadcast up to that point. Inspired, in part, by the Broadway musical West Side Story, Beat It showcased both grace and courage. The group choreography, with Jackson leading in his iconic red jacket, became the blueprint for countless music videos to come.

Beat It was approached with a level of realism and ambition that made it completely different from other music videos of the era. The final product was original, provocative and innovative. MTV played the video even more than Billie Jean, as ratings continued to climb. The short film would go on to win numerous awards and honours, including Best Music Video of All Time, from Rolling Stones readers and critics. It, too, put the final nail in the coffin of MTV’s reluctance to play black artists.

And then came the video for “Thriller.” From the beginning it was treated more like a feature film, with an unprecedented budget of $500,000 (a number that would balloon to almost 1 million). Jackson attracted comedy director John Landis (known then for An American Werewolf in London) to direct the video. At the time, Landis didn’t know much about Michael Jackson, but decided the project sounded intriguing enough for him to embark on. Once work began, however, he soon realized he was part of a phenomenon.

“It was wonderful working with Michael Jackson at that time,” Landis recalls, “because it was the height of it — it was like working with the Beatles at the height of Beatlemania or something, it was extraordinary to be with him, because he was absurdly famous.”

The fourteen-minute video is now almost universally recognized as the most successful, influential and culturally significant music video of all time. Countless publications and research have recognized Thriller as the best music video ever made.

Michael Jackson definitively proved that music has no borders or colour.

Nations of Magic

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Marilyn Monroe by Frank Povolny/Twentieth Century Fox/Sunset Bouleva...

Plagued by demons––she reported hearing voices––Marilyn Monroe’s life was a catalog of trauma, sexual abuse, and intergenerational mental illness, which led to her many doomed love affairs, toxic relationships, and scandals. But before we celebrate Marilyn’s incredible and scandalous life, let’s take a look at her deeply troubled childhood to really get to know her…

Mommy Dearest

Marilyn’s mother, Gladys Mortenson, profoundly impacted her life. Gladys was born to a poor Midwestern family who had migrated to California at the turn of the twentieth century. When Gladys was 15 years old, she married the abusive John Newton Baker, and they had two children: Robert and Berniece. Gladys ultimately divorced Baker, but he kidnapped the children and stole them away back to his native Kentucky. 

Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

Gladys then worked as a film negative cutter in Hollywood. In 1924, she married Martin Edward Mortensen, but they soon split up. Two years later, on June 1st, 1926, Marilyn Monroe was born Norma Jeane Mortenson, not Norma Jean Baker. Her father was Charles Stanley Gifford, who had a brief affair with Gladys. When he found out Gladys was pregnant, he rejected her. Marilyn’s mother kept her father’s identity from her for years.

It Runs in the Family

Gladys had severe mental health issues. Within a week of giving birth to Marilyn, she tried to stab a friend in a delusional episode. As such, she struggled to care for an illegitimate newborn, so she placed Marilyn in foster care. The young girl spent her early childhood years with an evangelical Christian couple, Albert and Ida Bolender, in Hawthorne, Los Angeles. At first, Gladys lived with them, but when she had to find work, she moved out and visited her daughter at weekends.

George Rinhart/Corbis via Getty Images

By the time Marilyn was seven years old, Gladys was back on her feet and tried her best to look after her daughter. She bought a small house in Hollywood with a loan, which they shared with actors George and Maude Atkinson and their daughter, Nellie. But lodging with the Atkinsons turned out to be the worst environment imaginable.

Daddy Dearest 

When Marilyn was eight years old, Gladys showed her a photograph of her father for the first time. “Norma Jeane was enthralled by the handsome man staring from the photo with piercing eyes and a thin mustache,” wrote Charles Casillo in his 2018 book Marilyn Monroe: The Private Life of a Public Icon.

Apic/Getty Images

The photo became a meaningful symbol. She would spend the rest of her life desperately seeking fatherly love from almost every man she met. “Norma Jeane would spend a lifetime looking for this man in others, wanting to know him, loving him, passionately wanting him to love her back,” wrote Casillo. Around the same time, when Marilyn was aged eight, she was sexually abused for the first time in a boarding house. 


When Gladys learned her son Robert Kermit Baker died at 15 in 1933, she took her anger out on Marilyn. ‘Why did Robert have to die, not Norma Jeane?’ She lamented. More bad news came when Gladys’s grandfather hanged himself. By 1934, Gladys had lost her job and her grip on reality and was institutionalized in a psychiatric hospital, where she was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. 

Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

Marilyn kept living with the Atkinsons, who sexually abused her. She became withdrawn, developed a severe stutter, and her grades began to slip. Then, in 1935, she briefly stayed with Grace and her husband Erwin “Doc” Goddard––family friends who had taken over Gladys’s affairs after Marilyn became a ward of the state––and two other families. Eventually, in September ’35, Grace placed Marilyn in the Los Angeles Orphans Home. 


The orphanage staff believed Marilyn would be happier living with a family, so, in 1936, Grace Goddard became her legal guardian but she did not take Marilyn out of the orphanage until the summer of 1937. Unfortunately, Marilyn’s second stay with the Goddards in Van Nuys lasted only a few months as Grace’s husband Doc also molested her. 

PALM SPRINGS, CA - 1954: Actress Marilyn Monroe poses for a portrait laying on the grass in 1954 in Palm Springs, California. (Photo by Baron/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Throughout her adolescence, Marilyn was passed around foster homes like a puppet. In one house, a foster parent abused her behind a barn. In another home, she was attacked by her foster sister’s boyfriend. Luckily, she found a semi-permanent home in 1938 with Grace’s aunt, Ana Lower, in Sawtelle. But when elderly Ana got sick, Marilyn returned to the Goddards in 1941. The next year, Doc Goddard’s work relocated him to West Virginia, but Californian child protection laws prevented them from taking a foster child out of state. Marilyn faced the prospect of returning to the orphanage.

Teenage Bride

Eventually, Marilyn decided she’d had enough of being passed from pillar to post and being abused, so she decided her only way out was to drop out of Van Nuys High School to become a teenage bride and housewife. And so, on June 19th, 1942, just after her 16th birthday, she married her neighbor’s son James Dougherty so she didn’t have to go back to the orphanage. 

Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

In 1943, Dougherty enlisted in the Merchant Navy and was stationed to Santa Catalina Island. Marilyn moved with him but soon found herself “dying of boredom”, so she took up weightlifting and surfing. Then, in 1944, James was shipped out to the Pacific to fight in WWII for almost two years. Monroe moved in with her in-laws and began working at the Radioplane Company, a munitions factory in Van Nuys.

Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang!

In 1944, the stars aligned, and a date with destiny came-a-calling. To support the war effort, the U.S. Army sent photographer David Conover to the factory to shoot morale-boosting pictures of young attractive female workers. The auburn-haired beauty immediately caught the photographer’s eye. Although none of her photographs were used, Marilyn quit the factory to model for Conover. Then, defying her overseas-deployed husband, she signed a contract with the Blue Book Model Agency in August 1945.

Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

Modeling had lit a fire within Marilyn’s soul. No longer could she spend her days tolling in a factory married to a dullard, who was away at war. The only logical next step was to kick off a modeling career. Blue Book thought she was more suitable for pin-up than high fashion. Marilyn started modeling, but little did she know that her demons were about to reappear…

Pin-Up Girl

By 1946, Marilyn had modeled for Pageant, Salute, U.S. Camera, Laff, and Peek, usually using the pseudonym Jean Norman. But her new life was turned upside down when her unhinged mother showed up at her door. Gladys was released from the psychiatric ward and brought her many troubles with her. Though unemployed, Gladys dressed as a nurse and treated her daughter cruelly. Then, almost as quickly as she arrived, Gladys suddenly abandoned her daughter yet again while she swanned off to marry an already-married man in Idaho. 

Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

According to Blue Book’s owner, Emmeline Snively, Marilyn soon became one of its most ambitious, hard-working models. It was around this time that Marilyn became obsessed with her appearance. She exercised to lose more weight to make herself more employable. 

Her Plastic Surgery X-Rays Were Sold For Thousands

In 2013, records and x-rays were found that prove Marilyn had gotten surgery. Later that year, those x-rays and other personal records were sold for a whopping $62,500. These included a chin implant to correct what she called a “chin deformity,” as well as a “tip rhinoplasty” on her nose. Sadly, the records also detail Monroe’s painful recovery after experiencing an ectopic pregnancy.

circa 1954:  American film actress Marilyn Monroe (Norma Jean Mortenson or Norma Jean Baker, 1926 - 1962).  (Photo by Baron/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

The Hollywood Auction sold Marilyn’s private medical history from 1950-1962, her 1952 Redbook Award for Best Young Box Office Personality, and photos of her visiting American soldiers during the Korean War. It’s clear that Marilyn continues to be such an alluring figure decades after her death—the most private information about her life is heavily sought after. Yet, we wonder, how would Marilyn herself feel about this type of attention?

Hollywood Calling

In June 1946, Emmeline Snively introduced Marilyn to an acting agency. After an unsuccessful interview at Paramount, she screen-tested at 20th Century-Fox and won a six-month contract. Legend says she only won the contract because Darryl F. Zanuck wanted to stop rival studio RKO Pictures from signing her!

Herbert Dorfman/Corbis via Getty Images

In August 1946, she and Fox exec Ben Lyon selected the stage name “Marilyn Monroe”. Lyon chose the first name as it reminded him of Broadway star Marilyn Miller, while the surname was Monroe’s mother’s maiden name. The following month, she divorced James and Marilyn Monroe was finally free! She spent her first six months on Fox studio’s lot, learning to act, sing, dance, and observing the film-making process. 

She Had An Affair

The tuition worked, and she soon won her first minor parts. Fox also enrolled her in the Actors’ Laboratory Theatre. Talking about her time in the Laboratory, she said: “it was my first taste of what real acting in a real drama could be, and I was hooked”. Despite boundless enthusiasm, her tutors believed her to be too shy and insecure to have a future in acting, so Fox canceled her contract.

Harry Kerr/BIPs/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Finally, in 1948, Columbia took a chance on Marilyn, and she began working with the studio’s head drama coach, Natasha Lytess. According to Charlie Chaplin’s autobiography, when Marilyn wasn’t filming bit parts, she dated his son Charlie Junior. Unfortunately, Chaplin Snr. claimed that Marilyn’s and his son’s relationship ended in tatters when Charlie Junior caught Marilyn in bed with his own brother, Sydney Chaplin!

A Secret Daughter

In 2019, a broke 72-year-old woman made a surprising deathbed confession, saying, “I am Marilyn Monroe’s secret daughter”. Nancy Maniscalco Miracle claims Monroe had her when she was 20 years old following a secret relationship with a New York lawyer who has since passed away. Reaching the end of her life, Nancy wanted to share her story. Miracle explained, “My mother was very ambitious and thought that having a baby out of wedlock would ruin her career.” 



Miracle revealed that Marilyn and her boyfriend, Vincent Bruno, gave her to a wealthy New York family who raised her as if she were their own child. “Officially, I didn’t even exist,” Miracle said from her bed. It was only after Marilyn and Bruno passed away, that Miracle’s “adoptive” mother told her the truth. Miracle explained, “I don’t want anything from my real mother,” Miracle claimed. 

The Casting Couch

As an aspiring actress, Marilyn was at the mercy of sexual predators, including Joe Schenck, chairman of 20th Century Fox. The 69-year-old awarded her a contract on the condition she “serviced” him whenever he called.


File:Marilyn Monroe at a party, 1955.jpg
Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

After Monroe’s six-month contract was up, she hoped her days on the casting couch would end. But to renew her contract, another studio executive, Harry Cohn, offered her the same dirty deal. When Marilyn refused, the studio promptly declined to give her another six-month contract.



Beauty and Difficulty

Marilyn Monroe finally broke into Hollywood when she appeared in a hit musical romance, Ladies of the Chorus (1948), opposite actress Adele Jergens. Years later, Adele’s boyfriend, Milton Berle, claimed that he and Monroe had a brief affair while making the film.


George Rinhart/Corbis via Getty Images

Despite her stunning beauty, Marilyn’s journey to the top was plagued with difficulty. In 1949, after years of modeling and minor movie roles, she was broke. Desperate for work and money, Marilyn posed in a series of risqué nudes for John Baumgarth calendars using the name Mona Monroe. 

Plastic Surgery

A couple of years earlier, Orson Welles shockingly made his wife, Rita Hayworth, cut her long auburn hair short and made her dye it blonde for The Lady from Shanghai (1947). So when Marilyn arrived at Columbia in 1948, her hair was bleached platinum blonde. Marilyn often mentioned men holding her down to attack her at Hollywood soirees, and Orson Welles recalled one party where “Marilyn was surrounded by men, and one reached out and tore off her top, revealing her breasts … Marilyn laughed with the others at this indignity. Laughter hid her fury.”

George Rinhart/Corbis via Getty Images

In 1950, Marilyn had her front teeth fixed to make her appearance less goofy. She also had two painful plastic surgeries: A tip rhinoplasty to reshape the end of her nose and a chin implant. She also began to whiten her already fair skin with hormone cream, but this caused light blonde hairs to sprout all over her face. Even while sporting a fine, feathery beard, she refused to stop her skin-bleaching routine. 


One of Marilyn’s earliest film roles was playing Miss Caswell in All About Eve (1950), a role originally offered to Zsa Zsa Gabor. But her nerves and lack of acting experience meant she’d didn’t remember her lines and needed multiple takes just to get through a single scene. In addition, Monroe was horribly insecure and always felt she was doing a terrible job. Yep, even Marilyn Monroe had imposter syndrome! 

FilmPublicityArchive/United Archives via Getty Ima…

While filming All About Eve, Monroe’s beauty, charm and vulnerability made her irresistible to her co-star, George Sanders. So much so that his wife, Zsa Zsa Gabor, kept showing up on set to make sure nothing was going on between the two. The same year, Marilyn appeared in John Huston’s film noir The Asphalt Jungle (1950).

She Heard Voices 

Marilyn appeared in 16 movies in her first four years in Hollywood and all this hard work began to take a toll. Yet it seems to have taken a mental toll on her, as she confided in her acting coach that she was hearing voices. This was one of the first symptoms of the mental instability that would haunt Monroe for the rest of her life. In 1950, Monroe underwent more trauma.

Gene Lester/Getty Images

For the last two years, she’d been dating her agent, Johnny Hyde. He suddenly died of a heart attack aged 55. Monroe had been his protégé, and she wrote that she lost “her greatest friend.” Devastated, she wept for days and even howled his name at the funeral. After Hyde’s death, Marilyn’s acting coach found her unconscious on her bed with thirty sleeping pills in her mouth. She hadn’t swallowed enough to kill herself, but this wouldn’t be Marilyn’s only suicide attempt. 

Haunted by the Past

Amidst all this heartbreak, Marilyn worked hard filming her breakout role in Fritz Lang’s Clash By Night (1951). Appearing opposite Barbara Stanwyck, superstardom beckoned. Until, that is, journalists uncovered Monroe’s nude photos from 1949. After the leak, superstardom did arrive, but not for her acting talents. 

Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

After the photos leaked, she became an overnight sensation. While the scandal would have ruined anyone else’s career, this screen siren took her new seductress image in her stride. When reporters asked, “Marilyn, is it true that you had nothing on?” she quipped, “No, that’s not true. I had the radio on.” Her nude photos were later used as the centerfold and on the cover of the first issue of Playboy in 1953.

The Ultimate Rejection

In 1953, Marilyn finally decided to reach out to the man she believed to be her biological father: Charles Stanley Gifford. After searching for him for months, she eventually tracked him down and explained on the phone that she was his daughter with Gladys. Gifford callously shut her down by stating, “Look, I’m married, and I have a family. I don’t have anything to say to you. Call my lawyer.” 


Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

Her father’s rejection crushed her and led her to dark places. Marilyn’s friend, Casillo, wrote, “Marilyn confessed that she longed to ‘put on a black wig, pick up her father in a bar and make love to him.’ Afterward, she would ask, ‘How do you feel now that you have a daughter that you’ve made love to?'” Fantasy aside, this rejection became the catalyst for a string of disturbing and disastrous encounters with men.

She Was In Constant Pain

Her career may have been on the up, but her personal life was heading south. First, terrible, monthly menstrual pain warranted a clause in her contract allowing her to be absent from work during her period. Then, in 1952, after years of suffering from incurable endometriosis, she had to undergo surgery. 

Express Newspapers/Getty Images

Marilyn was always desperate to have children, so she taped a note to her stomach in a last-ditch plea to her surgeons, begging them not to remove her ovaries during the procedure.

She Hated Playing Bimbos

In 1953, she appeared in three hit movies: Niagara, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, and How to Marry a Millionaire. However, she could have done with marrying a millionaire because she earned just 10% of her co-star Jane Russell’s salary on Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

Studios wanted Marilyn to be their new blonde bombshell, which back then meant “dumb blonde.” She hated being typecasted as a ditz, but Marilyn knew that she’d have to play along to become a star. Unfortunately, around this time, she gained a reputation for being difficult to work with. She was still incredibly insecure and needed her overbearing acting coach with her all the time. Marilyn would demand to re-shoot the scene up to forty times if a scene didn’t win the coach’s seal of approval. 

Rocky Relationships

Amidst all this turmoil, Marilyn was busy in the romance department too. In her early Hollywood days, she dated On the Waterfront (1954) director Elia Kazan, Rebel Without a Cause (1955) director, Nicholas Ray and actors Yul Brynner and Peter Lawford. 

Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

In 1952, her agent set her up with retired New York Yankees baseball player Joe DiMaggio. His ex-wife, actress Dorothy Arnold filed for divorce in 1943, ­citing “cruel indifference”, but Marilyn fell for him. They eloped to San Francisco in January 1954. Marilyn told a friend: “Except for Joe, I’ve sucked my last c**k.” They honeymooned in Japan, and Marilyn performed for US troops in Korea. When she arrived home, she won a new Fox contract, a $100,000 bonus, and a starring role in The Seven Year Itch (1955). Wedded life was bliss until Marilyn found out.

DiMaggio was a Controlling Monster

Joe loved to stay at home, drinking, smoking, and watching TV. He wanted a traditional, stay-at-home housewife. Conversely, Marilyn was always on a self-improvement quest: psychotherapy, devouring books, and art. Joe hated her highly sexualized roles, so he laid down rules to approve her future roles. Furthermore, she was never to appear semi-dressed and must break out of her “dumb blonde” typecasting. Within weeks of tying the knot, he felt he was losing control, so he’d give her the silent treatment for days. 

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While filming her era-defining The Seven Year Itch scene, DiMaggio lost the plot. A crowd of wolf-whistling onlookers assembled and DiMaggio demanded: “What the hell is going on here?” After the shoot, they returned to their hotel room and got into a “yelling battle”. When Marilyn arrived on set the next day, her arms were covered in bruises. According to Joe DiMaggio Jnr, it wasn’t the only time his father beat Marilyn. 

She Only Wanted One Thing

Marilyn adored children and animals; while the crew took lunch on the set of River of No Return (1954), she’d cuddle her co-star, a raccoon named Bandit. The only thing she wanted was a child, and she was trying to conceive a baby with her husband. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be, as Monroe announced their divorce less than a month later.


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Married to a controlling man, Marilyn began drinking heavily and taking sedatives. She had an affair with her voice coach Hal Schaefer (pictured). When Joe discovered her infidelity, he called Schaefer who says he heard Marilyn screaming in the background. “Don’t come here!” she said. “He’ll kill you!” In the fall of 1954, Marilyn called time on their sham of a marriage after just nine months, citing “mental cruelty.”

Joe Stalked Her

Joe DiMaggio never wanted to split, but after the divorce, he stalked Marilyn. He’d wear a fake beard and wait in the lobby of her new home at Waldorf Astoria on Park Avenue. He had her phones tapped and would show up, hoping to catch her with other men. Beside himself, Joe turned to the one man who would understand his predicament: Frank Sinatra. Old Blue Eyes had hired a private investigator to trail his great obsession and soon-to-be-ex, Ava Gardner. 

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One drunken night, DiMaggio, Sinatra, and five henchmen drove to West Hollywood to dish out some mafia-style revenge to Hal Schaefer. Sinatra was alarmed by how enraged DiMaggio was but couldn’t calm him. Then, at 11:30 p.m., 50-year-old secretary Florence Katz awoke to find “her door broken down and Joe DiMaggio and Frank Sinatra hovering over her, ready to pounce.” She screamed, and the cops came, but they kept the stars out of their report. Sinatra paid Katz $7,500 hush money, but Confidential broke the “Wrong Door Raid” story. For the rest of his days, DiMaggio claimed he wasn’t there. 

Miller Time!

Marilyn Monroe rebounded by getting it on with Hollywood’s hottest young actor, Marlon Brando, and playwright Arthur Miller. Her affair with Miller became more serious in October 1955, when her divorce was finalized, and Miller separated from his wife. The studio urged her to end the affair, as Miller was being investigated by the FBI and House of Un-American Activities Committee for allegations of communism. Marilyn refused, so the FBI opened a file on her! 

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In 1956, Marilyn married Arthur Miller in New York and converted to Judaism. Variety’s headline was: “Egghead Weds Hourglass”, but the most unlikely marriage since the Owl and the Pussycat wasn’t to last. 

Curiosity Killed the Cat

The same year they married, Marilyn legally changed her name from Norma Jeane to Marilyn Monroe. When a fan asked her for an autograph, Marilyn had to ask how to spell her own name. This probably didn’t go down too well with her literary husband. Nor did her sexual history.

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Arthur Miller quickly regretted marrying the most beautiful, wanted woman in the world. He wrote unspeakably cruel things about her in his journal; she was disappointing, clingy, unpredictable, embarrassing… and he wanted to hurt her. Unfortunately, Marilyn found her new husband’s diary, gave in to her curiosity, and read his thoughts on their marriage. Needless to say, she was heartbroken. 

Marilyn Was Falling Apart

After the success of Bus Stop, Marilyn made The Prince and the Showgirl (both 1956). Stressed out on all manner of pills, her weight fluctuated so wildly; the designer had to create her costumes in multiple sizes. Marilyn fell out with her co-star and director, Sir Laurence Olivier. The English thespian hated her constant lateness and forgetting her lines. After years of trying to shed her bimbo image, Olivier yelled at her, “Just be sexy!” In three words, he’d found her Achilles heel.

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She and Miller conceived three times in 1956, 1957, and 1958. Tragically, Marilyn had two miscarriages and one ectopic pregnancy. After her third failed pregnancy, she stopped trying for a baby. For a woman who had always wanted children, the loss was devastating. 

The Crew Hated Her

In 1958, she filmed perhaps her most acclaimed role in Some Like It Hot. To get a grip on her fragile emotional state and insomnia, she took a swathe of medications: It took her 60 takes to deliver one line: “It’s me, Sugar.” Marilyn’s life spiraled out of control, and she often refused to come out of her or dissolved into erratic outbursts. Her tardiness cost the production half a million dollars in over-runs. 

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The cast and crew hated her; when Tony Curtis had to kiss her, he stated he’d “rather be kissing Hitler,” though he later claimed the two were having an affair. Marilyn was so despised, she wasn’t invited to the wrap party, and Billy Wilder started dissing her in interviews: “Anyone can remember lines, but it takes a real artist to come on the set and not know her lines and yet give the performance she did!” So, to wreak her revenge, Marilyn called Wilder’s home and asked his wife to deliver him a message: Billy Wilder could “go f*** himself.”


Monroe was all lined up to play Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)—but because of her behavior on Some Like it Hot, the studio refused to hire her. So, her next movie was––somewhat ironically––called Let’s Make Love (1959).

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Her marriage to Arthur Miller was on its last legs. His cruel behavior made her feel alone, unloved and ashamed, so she embarked on an affair with her married co-star Yves Montand and fell pregnant with his baby. Sadly, like all her previous attempts, this pregnancy did not go full term and all this took its toll. Her next movie––The Misfits (1961)––was a complete and utter disaster. The neo-western’s three leads, Monroe, Clark Gable, and Montgomery Clift, would all be dead within years of its release.


It’s no surprise The Misfits was a disaster. Director John Huston was an alcoholic who often showed up to work three sheets to the wind. Marilyn Monroe and Montgomery Clift both had crippling mental health issues and needed medication just to get them through the day.

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The film’s writer also happened to be Arthur Miller—meaning that the deeply miserable couple had to spend every day on set together. The plot sees a wounded young woman (Monroe) who falls in love with a much older man. Miller wrote The Misfits to give Marilyn a proper acting role in the hope they could reconcile. Instead, the experience ended their relationship forever. Miller had an affair with set photographer Inge Morath and cruelly exploited his wife’s insecurities by purposefully giving her last-minute script changes.

Terrible Pain

In terrible pain from gallstones and addiction to barbiturates, filming was halted while Monroe spent a week in a hospital detox. Yet, despite her many problems, she gave the performance of her lifetime. Director John Huston stated that when Monroe was performing, she “was not pretending to [have] an emotion. It was the real thing. She would go deep down within herself and find it and bring it up into consciousness.”

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Already deeply vulnerable, filming The Misfits pushed Marilyn over the edge and into despair. During production, she told her psychiatrist she was hearing voices again. To combat her ever-deteriorating mental state, she took three times the maximum dosage of sleeping pill Nembutal. The results were catastrophic.

Father Figure

One good thing did come out of filming The Misfits, however short-lived. Marilyn finally found the father figure she always longed for in the guise of Clark Gable. While the rest of the crew treated her with contempt, Gable was kind, generous, and nurturing.

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Sadly, Clark Gable had a fatal heart attack just days after The Misfits wrapped, which some attribute to the 59-year-old performing his own stunts. When he died, Marilyn wept for two days straight. By November 1960, Miller and Monroe announced that they had separated.

Suicidal Thoughts

In February 1961, Marilyn told a friend that she had thought about jumping off her apartment balcony. Soon, her psychoanalyst had her committed to a psychiatric ward. Believing she was going to a place to recuperate, the world’s most desirable woman was “forced into a padded cell and threatened with a straightjacket.” Forcibly institutionalized, Marilyn Monroe was diagnosed by two top psychiatrists as a paranoid schizophrenic just like her mother.


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Poor Marilyn’s experience at the institution was one of the darkest, most harrowing, and humiliating moments of her short life. In recently uncovered letters, Marilyn wrote of the “inhumanity” of the psych ward and being treated as sub-human. In a desperate bid to escape, she smashed a pane of glass and threatened to hurt herself unless she was released. Finally, an unlikely knight in shining armor rescued her when ex-husband Joe DiMaggio got her released.

Something’s Got To Give

She signed on for Something’s Got To Give (1962) but didn’t show up for the first two weeks of filming as her descent into drink and drugs worsened. Her makeup artist would have to apply her makeup as she lay semi-comatose in her bed, addled by barbiturates. In the end, something had to give, and the studio fired Marilyn Monroe. The film remains unfinished but was made into a short film. 

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Monroe still had so much star power that Fox immediately about-turned, re-opened negotiations, and gave her a new contract, including re-commencing Something’s Got to Give and a starring role in a black comedy. Sadly, she’d never get to make another movie as her demons got the best of her. The name of the film she never got to make was What a Way to Go!

Happy Birthday, Mr. President!

Yet as Marilyn plunged into the abyss, she still had enough moxie to date Joe DiMaggio’s best friend, Frank Sinatra! Over the years, the blonde bombshell also reputedly slept with Satanist Anton LaVey, actor Jerry Lewis, filmmaker José Bolaños, Darryl F. Zanuck, Howard Hughes. But her most famous fling was with JFK, whom she met at one of his sisters, Pat Kennedy Lawford, and her husband, Peter’s sex parties. 


In May 1962, she famously serenaded President John F. Kennedy at his 45th birthday party with her sexy, breathy version of “Happy Birthday”. So naturally, the press had a field day, launching rumors that the two were having an affair. Of course, those rumors were true, and it all culminated in a dramatic face-off with Jackie Kennedy.

First Lady

Christopher Andersen’s 2013 biography, In These Few Precious Days: The Final Year of Jack with Jackie, claims that Marilyn called Jackie Kennedy and told her that JFK had promised to marry her. As cool as a cucumber, the FLOTUS replied: “Marilyn, that’s great … you’ll move into the White House, and you’ll assume the responsibilities of First Lady, and you’ll have all the problems.” 

381091 71: President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy ride in a parade March 27, 1963 in Washington, DC. (Photo by National Archive/Newsmakers)
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But Marilyn wasn’t just sleeping with JFK; she was also bedding his younger brother Bobby Kennedy. As her mental health declined further, she found herself depending on the two brothers, but their lofty positions meant they could show her no loyalty. Believing she’d finally found two father figures to take care of her, Monroe became increasingly convinced she’d marry one of the Kennedy brothers but they both abandoned her. 

Driven to Despair

Being cast aside by both Kennedy brothers pushed Marilyn over the edge. She often stayed with the Lawfords and––high on pills–– would “wander into the couple’s bedroom in the middle of the night and stand at the foot of their bed, staring down at them. ‘Why can’t I be as happy as you two?’” She would ask them. Then, mere days before she died, Monroe told a close friend, “If it weren’t for Joe, I’d probably have killed myself years ago.” 

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On August 3rd, 1962, an upcoming young actor named Warren Beatty was allegedly one of the last people to ever see Marilyn Monroe alive. The 25-year-old met Marilyn at a producer’s house during a party. In a 2016 interview, the lothario revealed he and Monroe spent the evening together. He played the piano for her, and the pair took a moonlit walk along the shore. Marilyn Monroe reportedly spent her last night alive with mafia boss Sam Giancana, whom she was dating.


On August 5th, 1962, Marilyn Monroe’s body was discovered at her home in Brentwood, Los Angeles, by her psychologist. She was just 36 years old. She was found in her bed with her phone in her hands. Peter Lawford took a call from her that night and knew something was very wrong when, with slurred speech, she said “’Say goodbye to Pat, say goodbye to Jack (President John F. Kennedy) and say goodbye to yourself, because you’re a nice guy.” They would be the last words he heard from her. He was desperate to check in on her but was talked out of it, due to the potential political ramifications. 


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With many times the lethal limit in her body, the coroner stated Marilyn Monroe had committed suicide by overdosing on barbiturates. Conspiracy theories surround her death to this day, and even her ex-lover Marlon Brando believed she was murdered. The most famous conspiracy is that the Kennedys and/or the CIA, or even the Mafia, killed her and staged a suicide. The Kennedys certainly had a motive. This is what the autopsy report had to say.

Her Body Was Abandoned

After Marilyn Monroe passed away, her body was reportedly left alone and unclaimed in the mortuary for more than 24 hours. Her ex-husband, Joe DiMaggio, eventually came to claim her body. Allan Abbott, who was in charge of the funeral service for the actress, later described how “almost unrecognizable” Marilyn looked after her death.

9th August 1962:  The room where film actress Marilyn Monroe (Norma Jean Mortenson or Norma Jean Baker, 1926 - 1962) died.  (Photo by E. Murray/Fox Photos/Getty Images)
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“When we removed the sheet covering her, it was almost impossible to believe this was the body of Marilyn Monroe,” Abbot described. “She looked like a very average, aging woman who had not been taking very good care of herself. “Obviously, the circumstances surrounding her death had greatly exacerbated her poor appearance and she was unrecognizable.”


French artist Jean Cocteau stated Marilyn’s untimely death “should serve as a terrible lesson to all those whose chief occupation consists of spying on and tormenting film stars”. Former co-star Laurence Olivier said she was “the complete victim of ballyhoo and sensation,” and Bus Stop director Joshua Logan called Marilyn: “one of the most unappreciated people in the world.”

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Her funeral was held at the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery, Los Angeles, and arranged by Joe DiMaggio, her half-sister Berniece and business manager Inez Melson. Inside the open casket, she wore an apple green dress and held pink roses. Sadly, because her signature platinum blonde hair had been partially shaved for the autopsy, she sported a wig. Only around 30 people saw Monroe lying in her coffin because her funeral was limited to her close friends and family.

Good Old Joe

Speaking of Joe DiMaggio, remember the night he obsessively stalked Marilyn, and he and Sinatra kicked down the door of an innocent middle-aged secretary? Well, to Joe’s credit, this dark episode scared him so much he confronted his demons, stopped drinking, and started anger management therapy. Eventually, he and Monroe became close friends, and when she died, he was heartbroken. However, Joe always believed he and his ex-wife would one day reconcile and be together again, and rumors suggest they’d rekindled their love just weeks before her demise. 

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For twenty years after Marilyn died, Joe DiMaggio sent roses to her crypt three times a week. Despite the fact Joe outlived his beau by 36 years, he never re-married. He never got over Marilyn Monroe, and legend says his final words were apparently, “I’ll finally get to see Marilyn.” 


In the decades since she died, many artists have paid sweet tributes to Marilyn, notably Elton John’s “Candle in The Wind” and the many homages to Marilyn’s “Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend”. However, while Madonna based her entire schtick on Monroe, some other accolades are just plain creepy. For instance, did you know Playboy founder Hugh Hefner bought the crypt next to Monroe’s grave?

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Other tributes were just plain rude! Her ex, Arthur Miller’s 1964 play After the Fall, is a blatant portrayal of his time with Marilyn. And it wasn’t exactly a tribute. Iconic writer and civil rights hero James Baldwin walked out of the show saying that the character, Maggie––clearly based on Monroe––was written so cruelly.

One Final Dark Secret

Her ex-lover, John F. Kennedy, was assassinated in 1963, and Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in 1968. But that didn’t stop more bombshell revelations of conspiracy theories, intrigue, and cover-ups. In 1972, actress Veronica Hamel bought Marilyn’s old home, and when she renovated the house, she made a shocking discovery. 

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Hamel uncovered an extensive system of telephone wires. Upon further investigation, these wires turned out to be wire-taps. No one knows if the CIA, the FBI, or even Joe DiMaggio had bugged Marilyn’s home with help from Frank Sinatra and their Mafia connections. Maybe those voices she heard over the years weren’t in her head, after all. Perhaps they were the CIA tapping her phone.

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