Marilyn Monroe myths debunked

Here are the most widespread Marilyn urban legends, but are any of them true?

A new exhibition opens this week at the Getty Images Gallery in London that will feature rare and unseen photos of Marilyn Monroe, along with dresses and other memorabilia belonging to the star. It follows last year’s Oscar-nominated film ‘My Week with Marilyn’ and shows that we’re more fascinated with her than ever.

And why not? Not only was she an incredibly beautiful and charismatic star from Hollywood’s golden age, but she lead a mysterious and bizarre life that ended prematurely in 1962, when she was just 36.  Since her untimely death, the myths surrounding her have moved into the world of legend, but have they any basis in fact? The deeper you dig the more you find that in fact, no, mostly they really haven't. Here are some of the humdingers...

[Related feature: Hollywood's most mysterious deaths]
[Related feature: Most bizarre conspiracy theories from the movies]

Pin-up... Marilyn works the camera (Credit: Getty)

The Myth... Marilyn was a modern day size 16


Though not quite as it sounds, it has long been rumoured that Marilyn was a voluptuous size 16 in today's exacting measurements. This is often thrown around as fact when arguments over body image get heated.

In fact, a UK size 16 is a US 12, so that automatically brings things into a little more perspective. But both are actually inaccurate. According to many of the dresses she had made for her, she hovered around a 22 inch waist and a 34 inch bust, which is unusually curvy. Around the bust she was size 8-10, but around the waist she was a tiny size six-ish. She still looked great though.

Source: The Times, Jezebel

The Myth... Marilyn was in a porn film

We’re not sure about this. One skin flick she reportedly appeared in, the charmingly named 'Apples, Knockers and the Coke Bottle', is almost certainly bogus.

In the 'stag movie', a certainly not dissimilar-looking actress rolls an apple around her chest and sips seductively from a Coke bottle. But it's not Marilyn. It’s actress Arline Hunter, a Playboy Playmate.

There’s another unnamed short film though, shot between 1946-7, that many believe does show the star ‘in flagrante’ – though many dispute it. One copy was auctioned in Buenos Aires last year, while another was sold in 2001 for £950,000.

Source:
Village Voice, The Hollywood Reporter

The Myth... Marilyn had six toes

For some people, there just had to be something wrong with the perfect Norma Jeane Baker. So when a snap taken during a shoot with photographer Joseph Jasgur on Zuma Beach in California emerged appearing to show Marilyn with an extra toe on her left foot, it was immediately seized upon.

Jasgur himself seized upon it to help the sales of his book, saying he could prove it with his pictures. Sadly, the widespread circulation of pictures of her with the more standard five seem to prove the point. The mystery sixth is believed by almost everyone as just a lump of sand and a trick of the light.

Source: For the most detail, check out this article on Snopes

The Myth... Tinker Bell was based on Marilyn

Nope. She was not. Marilyn was barely out of the showbiz traps when the 1953 Disney adaptation of JM Barrie's Peter Pan was released, having only played bit parts and supporting roles up until then.

Actress Margaret Kerry was in fact the real life inspiration for Disney's Tinker Bell, while her pin-up looks had more to do with the likes of Betty Grable.

Source: Disney

Girl on film... star poses for shot (Credit: Getty)

The Myth... She sang ‘Santa Baby’

Many attributed the saucy festive tune to Marilyn, but no reliable source confirms that she ever recorded it. Eartha Kitt, yes, Mae West, yes, Kylie, yes. Marilyn, no. The version attributed to Monroe on various dodgy file sharing sites is apparently Cynthia Basinet.

Source: IMDB

The Myth... Marilyn was murdered

This is the big one. Marilyn's death was deemed to have been a 'probable suicide', after she was discovered by her housekeeper in the bedroom of her home in Brentwood, California.

She died of acute barbiturate poisoning, but the first LAPD officer on the scene, Jack Clemmons, maintained that what he saw looked like murder. “It was the most obviously staged death scene I have ever seen,” he said. “The pill bottles on her bedside table had been arranged in neat order and the body deliberately positioned. It all looked too tidy.”

Ever since, wild theories, such as her relationship with the president John F Kennedy and the involvement of the Mafia have been touted as possible conspiracies, but nothing has been proven.

There have been investigations by the BBC, CBS, a bestselling book by Norman Mailer and millions of column inches devoted to the conspiracy. But sadly we may never know the truth.

Source: Exhaustive detail about the case can be found on CBS