A note to the Readers of the Electronic

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A Note to the Readers of the Electronic

Edition of Fragments

Fragments was original y formatted for hardcover

publication, and though every effort has been made to

simulate the original book’s layout and design features for

the electronic edition, the arrangement of the e-book text

does not always correspond to the original version. The

transcripts of Marilyn Monroe’s writing feature text in

various colors, indicating where editors have made

corrections for clarity; on a black and white device, the

alterations wil not be differentiated. Final y, to adapt the

book to an electronic format, image resolution has been

reduced. For higher resolution versions of al of the images,

please consult the hardcover edition.


Editors’ note

Personal note (1943)

Undated poems

“Record” black notebook (around


Other “Record” notebook (around


Waldorf-Astoria stationery (1955)

Italian agenda (1955 or 1956)

Parkside House stationery (1956)

Roxbury notes (1958)

Red livewire notebook (1958)

Fragments and notes

Kitchen notes (1955 or 1956)

Lee and Paula Strasberg

Letter to Dr. Hohenberg (1956)

Letter to Dr. Greenson (1961)

Written answers to an interview



Some books from Marilyn Monroe’s


The favorite photo

Funeral eulogy by Lee Strasberg


Literary constellation



Norma Jeane Mortenson was born under the sign of

Gemini, and she described herself as having two natures:

“Jekyl and Hyde, two in one.” Even the initials of her stage

name (which, according to one story, were suggested to

her by the clearly visible “M”s formed by the lines of her

palms) supported this duality, as did the pseudonym, Zelda

Zonk, that she used while escaping incognito from

Hol ywood to New York.

In her lifetime, under pressure from the studios, the

media created a joyful and radiant image of Marilyn

Monroe, even to the point of making her out to be a “dumb

blonde.” One remembers her parts in Gentlemen Prefer

Blondes, The Seven Year Itch, How to Marry a Millionaire,

a nd Let’s Make Love. Anything contrary to this artificial

image was not welcome. There was no room for a

melancholic Marilyn. The icon was not al owed to have an

opposite side.

Yet, like a medal, she did have two sides. The sunny and

luminous one of the sparkling blonde, and the darker one of

the excessive perfectionist who sought absolutes and for

whom life (work, friendships, and love affairs) could only

lead to disappointment. “I think I have a gay side in me and

also a sad side,” Marilyn confided in an interview.

Her friend Marlon Brando expressed perfectly the shock

people felt when her death was announced: “Everybody

stopped work, and you could see al that day the same

expressions on their faces, the same thought: ‘How can a

girl with success, fame, youth, money, beauty…how could

she kil herself?’ Nobody could understand it because those

are the things that everybody wants, and they can’t believe

that life wasn’t important to Marilyn Monroe, or that her life

was elsewhere.”

There are thousands of photographs of this icon. Her

image has been used in many, sometimes brutal, ways. But

in this book a new world of truthfulness and overwhelming

clarity is being thrown open. A hitherto unknown and

unseen Marilyn is revealed.

On her death in 1962, Marilyn Monroe’s personal

possessions were bequeathed to Lee Strasberg, and when

he in turn died in 1982, his young widow, Anna Strasberg,

inherited this large and uncataloged col ection, which

included dresses, cosmetics, pictures, books, receipts,

and so forth. Many years later, while sorting out Lee

Strasberg’s papers, she found two boxes of poems and

other manuscripts written by Marilyn. Not knowing what to

do with these, she asked a family friend, Stanley Buchthal,

for advice. Some months later, at an art col ectors’ dinner,

Stanley told Bernard Comment, a French essayist and

editor, about Anna Strasberg’s find in order to get his

opinion of the unpublished materials. That was the start of

the adventure that became this book.

As far as has been possible to determine, the texts are

placed in chronological order. Words printed in red are the

editors’ and correct spel ing mistakes, add missing words,

or suggest possible readings of indecipherable words. The

ordering of fragments of very disparate documents has

been an attempt at reconstruction and hence at

interpretation. The flow of Marilyn’s thoughts on individual

pages, and from one successive page to another, is

indicated by red arrows (black arrows are Marilyn’s own).

It is possible that other texts written by Marilyn wil

surface in the years or decades to come. For the moment,

this book contains every available text, excepting her

technical notes on acting. In any case, these writings reveal

a young woman who was dissatisfied with issues of surface

appearance and who was seeking the truth at the heart of

both things and people.

Only lovers of clichés wil be surprised that the

Hol ywood actress was passionately fond of literature,

although this fact cannot be il ustrated merely by the

pictures col ected in this book. (Stil : how many actresses

from that period do we know who sometimes took pains to

be photographed reading or holding a book?) In a 1960

interview with the French journalist Georges Belmont,

Marilyn recal ed the beginning of her career: “Nobody could

imagine what I did when I wasn’t shooting, because they

didn’t see me at previews or premieres or parties. It’s

simple: I was going to school! I’d never finished high

school, so I started going to UCLA at night, because during

the day I had smal parts in pictures. I took courses in the

history of literature and the history of this country, and I

started to read a lot, stories by wonderful writers.” Her

library contained four hundred books, ranging from such

classics as Milton, Dostoyevsky, and Whitman to

contemporary writers, including Hemingway, Beckett, and


Arthur Mil er played a part in her development as a

reader, too, recommending Carl Sandburg’s six-volume

biography of Abraham Lincoln, which she devoured. But

some years before they were involved, Marilyn had already

tackled James Joyce’s Ulysses.

As we know, Marilyn inspired numerous painters: Dalí,

De Kooning, and Warhol, among others. She also felt a

real interest in painting—in the painters of the Italian

Renaissance, such as Botticel i; Goya, especial y his

demons (“I know this man very wel , we have the same

dreams, I have had the same dreams since I was a child”);

Degas, whose bal et dancer she gazed at in wonder when

taken to see a private col ection; and also Rodin, whose

Hand of God she admired at length in the Metropolitan

Museum of Art.

From al these examples emerges a cultured and

curious Marilyn who had a strong desire to understand

others, the outside world, destiny, and, of course, herself.

She took notes, swiftly setting down her feelings and

thoughts and expressing her wonder. Some may be

surprised at her spel ing mistakes, in which, most probably,

a form of dyslexia is detectable. But readers of Marcel

Proust’s correspondence (Marilyn read Swann’s Way on

Proust’s correspondence (Marilyn read Swann’s Way on

the set of Love Nest in 1951) wil have seen worse. The

very Proust who, answering the question “to which failings

are you most lenient?” replied unhesitatingly, “spel ing

mistakes,” and who, in one of his letters, wrote this strange

and beautiful phrase: “Each spel ing mistake is the

expression of a desire.”

The col ection of documents revealed here is nothing

less than a treasure trove. We owe its appearance to Anna

Strasberg and her sons, Adam and David, who, during the

preparation of this book, have embraced the opportunity to

uncover a hitherto undervalued, even unknown dimension of

Marilyn’s personality. From beginning to end we have

shared their desire to create a book that, we would like to

think, would have pleased its author. Marilyn once

confessed to a journalist: “I think Lee probably changed my

life more than any other human being. That’s why I love to

go to the Actors Studio whenever I’m in New York.”

Perhaps Strasberg, more than other people, had sensed

who Marilyn real y was.

One of the remarkable insights these documents offer is

the sense that Marilyn was, until the end, planning for the

future. Among other projects, she hoped over time to play

the great Shakespearean roles, from Juliet to Lady

Macbeth. She also pursued her idea of creating a new

production company in association with Marlon Brando.

Some texts wil give rise to interpretation and comment.

But there is nothing dirty or low, no gossip in this book; that

was not Marilyn’s way. What the notes reveal is intimacy

without showiness, the seismic measuring of a soul. They

take nothing away from Marilyn’s mystery but rather make

the mystery more material. She was an elusive star with a

magnetic force that sent compasses haywire whenever she

got close.

To this day, her face, her eyes, her lips appear al

around the world. Innumerable actors and pop singers take

her as a reference, a definitive model: to sound like her, to

act like her, in advertisements and music videos and films.

Songs are composed for her—among them this famous

one, by Elton John and Bernie Taupin: “Goodbye Norma

Jeane (…) / Loneliness was tough / The toughest role you

ever played / Hol ywood created a superstar / And pain was

the price you paid / Even when you died / Oh the press stil

hounded you / Al the papers had to say / Was that Marilyn

was found in the nude.”

This book does not attempt to show her stripped bare

but, rather, simply as she was. Through these poems and

written papers, she’s more alive than ever.

Stanley Buchthal

Bernard Comment

Jim Dougherty and Norma Jeane, Catalina Island, fal of




Norma Jeane married James Dougherty when

she turned sixteen, the age of consent in California,

on June 19, 1942, thereby escaping the threat of

being returned to an orphanage when her foster

family moved out of state. Dougherty was born in

April 1921 and was five years older than she was.

At the end of 1943, the young couple settled for

a few months on Catalina Island off the coast of

Los Angeles, a fashionable resort before the war.

It is likely that this long note, uncharacteristical y

typed, was written at this time.

One can’t help being surprised, even impressed,

by the maturity of this seventeen-year-old girl,

whose feelings of disil usionment are plain from the

first sentence, as she examines her marriage and

what she expects from life, and faces the fear of her

husband’s betrayal. Nevertheless, the

disjointedness of the text reveals turbulent


The “other woman” she mentions might be

a reference to Doris Ingram, her young

husband’s former girlfriend and a

Santa Barbara beauty queen.

The couple were divorced on

September 13, 1946.

Marilyn during the filming of Niagara, 1952

Marilyn reading Heinrich Heine


Marilyn Monroe wrote poemlike texts or fragments on

loose-leaf paper and in notebooks. She showed her work

only to intimate friends, in particular to Norman Rosten, a

col ege friend of Arthur Mil er with whom she became very

close. A Brooklyn-based novelist, he encouraged Marilyn to

continue writing. In the book he wrote about her (Marilyn

Among Friends), he concluded, “She had the instinct and

reflexes of the poet, but she lacked the control.”

It is likely that the poetic form, or more general y the

fragment, al owed her to express short, lightning bursts of

feeling—but who could hear that frail voice, the very

opposite of the radiant star? Arthur Mil er wrote strikingly:

“To have survived, she would have had to be either more

cynical or even further from reality than she was. Instead,

she was a poet on a street corner trying to recite to a crowd

pul ing at her clothes.”


I am of both of your directions


Somehow remaining hanging downward

the most

but strong as a cobweb in the

wind—I exist more with the cold glistening frost.

But my beaded rays have the colors I’ve

seen in a paintings—ah life they

have cheated you

Note: Marilyn apparently wrote several variations on the

theme of the twofold course of life (“life in both directions”)

and the delicate, sometimes invisible “cobweb,” revealed

by dew and resistant to wind—in particular a poem entitled

“To the Weeping Wil ow” that was published in Norman

Rosten’s book about Marilyn: “I stood beneath your limbs /

And you flowered and final y / clung to me, / and when the

wind struck with the earth / and sand—you clung to me. /

Thinner than a cobweb I, / sheerer than any—/ but it did

attach itself / and held fast in strong winds / life—of which at

singular times / I am both of your directions—/ somehow I

remain hanging downward the most, / as both of your

directions pul me.”

Oh damn I wish that I were

dead—absolutely nonexistent—

gone away from here—from

everywhere but how would I do it

There is always bridges—the Brooklyn

bridge—no not the Brooklyn Bridge

because But I love that bridge (everything is beautiful from


and the air is so clean) walking it seems

peaceful there even with al those

cars going crazy underneath. So

it would have to be some other bridge

an ugly one and with no view—except

I particularly like in particular al bridges—there’s some

thing about them and besides these I’ve

never seen an ugly bridge

Stones on the walk

every color there is

I stare down at you

like those the a horizon—

the space / the air is between us beckoning

and I am many stories besides up

my feet are frightened

from my as I grasp for towards you

Only parts of us wil ever

touch only parts of others—

one’s own truth is just

that real y—one’s own truth.

We can only share the

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