Thursday, November 29, 2012

Heartbreaking Marilyn Monroe Letter Estimated At $30,000-$50,000

by Stephen J. Gertz

On December 18, 2012, auction house Profiles in History is offering an extremely poignant, rich and revealing, aching and intriguing two-page letter signed by Marilyn Monroe. Undated but written c.1954-55 and composed in her own hand on Waldorf-Astoria stationary, it provides an intimate peek into the troubled soul of Hollywood's most enduring and legendary sex symbol. This extraordinary letter is estimated to sell  for $30,000-$50,000.

In 1954, Marilyn Monroe fled Hollywood for New York City to study at The Actors Studio, sub-leasing an apartment at the Waldorf-Astoria for the duration. There she was reintroduced to playwright Arthur Miller, whom she'd originally met in 1950, and they began to date. Her neighbor in New York, Brooklyn-born playwright, poet, and novelist Norman Rosten, to whom the letter is addressed, was a friend of Miller's; Rosten and his wife, Hedda, became close to Marilyn after Miller introduced them.


By the mid-1950s Monroe's use of alcohol and prescription drugs began to get out of control in concert with her struggle with chronic depression.

With its many cross-outs, corrections, and sloppy and confused handwriting it is not unreasonable to strongly suspect that Marilyn was intoxicated when she wrote the letter.

It reads in full:

Dear Norman,

It feels a little funny to be writing the name Norman since my own name is Norma and it feels like I’m writing my own name almost, However—

First, thanks for letting Sam [photographer and MM confidant Sam Shaw] and me visit you and Hedda last Saturday. It was nice. I enjoyed meeting your wife – she seemed so warm to me. Thanks the most for your book of poetry—with which I spent all Sunday morning in bed with. It touched me – I use to think if I had ever had a child I would have wanted only a son, but after reading - Songs for Patricia [Simon and Schuster, 1951] – I know I would have loved a little girl just as much but maybe the former feeling was only Freudian for something…anyway Frued [sic]

I use to write poetry sometimes but usually I was very depressed at those times and the few (about two) people said that it depressed them, in fact one cried but it was an old friend I’d known for years. So anyway thanks. And my best to Hedda & Patricia and you— 

Marilyn M.


Monroe's mention in the letter of her desire to bear a child was a tragically unfulfilled dream. After her marriage to Miller in 1956 she suffered a miscarriage and an ectopic pregnancy followed shortly thereafter while she was living in a farmhouse in Amagansett, New York. It was at this time, in 1957, that her abuse of drugs and alcohol accelerated: Rosten received a call one night that year from Monroe’s maid in the middle of the night. When Rosten rushed over, Monroe had overdosed and her stomach was being pumped.

This letter was professionally washed resulting in a slight bleeding of the ink, the inadvertent effect of which dramatically heightens the content. It's as if she used a fountain pen filled with black tears.
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Images courtesy of Profiles in History, with our thanks.
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Of related interest: Marilyn Monroe: Avid Reader & Book Collector.
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