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tv   Reframed Marilyn Monroe  CNN  January 22, 2022 7:00pm-8:00pm PST

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proposition. romantically and professionally for marilyn. he is a married man who was subpoenaed by the u.s. government. >> are you a member of the communist party? >> she doesn't realize she's heading into a storm. okay. really? she was one of the biggest movie stars of all time. >> she had looks, and sexuality. she was iconic. >> she became the goddess of the silver screen. people think she was the most beautiful woman in the world. >> when the camera starts, until it stops, i want to be perfect.
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>> marilyn monroe, blond bombshell. >> get out the fire house. >> hollywood super star. >> the late marilyn monroe. >> tragic victim. >> the story of marilyn monroe is an talentic tragedy. >> when we talk about marilyn monroe, it's always about poor marry listen, this vulnerable passive woman who is being destroyed by hollywood. >> that's the way the story frames her. >> after a reckoning in hollywood, it's time to reframe her story. now it can hit pause and roll it back a bit and ask ourselves, okay, what is it that we think we know? >> she was quite ahead of her time. and she was very much an architect of her own fame. >> you must think i was born yesterday. >> her performances are layered. they're funny. they're tenner the. they are human. they feel modern.
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>> she had a deep inner life. she was an artist. she was a poet. she was a business woman. >> what a power broker she was, renegotiating her contract, creating her own production company, getting films made. >> it's rather instruments straighting that people can't think about her in terms of her intellect. >> i can be smart when it is important. but most men don't like it. >> marilyn challenges what it means to have agency as a woman, and what it means to be a feminist. >> marilyn makes us ask, is a woman just her body? is it an attitude? is the political reaction, what is a woman. >> in the way, the way our culture talks about marilyn monroe and thinks about marilyn monroe is what it thinks about women. >> this is hollywood, a police,
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an industry, a state of mind. here, magic carpets fly. let's have a good look. >> i went to 20th century fox where ben lion was head of casting. and he says, who is this girl? >> in walked the most gorgeous young girl, 20 years old. i said, what's your ambition? she said, to be a film star. >> and then they made a technicolor test, which was unusual. but i think they had high hopes for me. >> she was to come in, walk across the room, sit down and light a cigarette. and smile. as soon as that camera started rolling, something magical happened. >> she has this kind of fresh-faced beauty and this kind of luminous prettiness on the
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screen. >> she could manifest the kind of magic. she came into the world with it. >> ben lion was very enthusiastic, said i looked so fresh and young. they said that i had a three dimensional quality having to do with sex. >> norma jean doherty lands a one-year contract with fox. the studio begins grooming her for stardom. >> she was what the studios called a product. someone that they could take, mold, shape, rename, and create as something to be consumed by the movie-going public. >> i said, i don't think you can use the name norma jean bowert if you are going to be a star, to me, you are a marilyn. but we couldn't find a second
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name. and she said, mr. lion, could i use my grandmother's name? i said, what was that? she said, monroe. marilyn monroe. >> now, that's a perfect name for a movie star. >> there is something about mmmm, those double m sounds are melodyious, lit flewous. >> this is a moment that doesn't get very much attention in the story about marilyn, but i think it is incredibly revealing. >> i wanted my mother's maiden name because i felt that rightfully was my name and true things rarely get into circulation. >> the fact that she chose monroe showed she wanted to have agency and control over her image right from the very beginning. >> it's not only her name that gets the hollywood treatment. >> every studio had a series of
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publicity men that we call flags who were out promoting the star. they made up stories about them. they created opportunities to get their names in the papers. they were getting them publicized. >> and the flax will create a rags to riches story of marilyn, the orphan girl. >> her story is one of struggle, hunger, and perseverance. she did a chore of baby-sitting one night and found herself guarding the offspring of a talent scout. >> that is not actually how it happened. she was not scuffed. and she wasn't baby-sitting. >> it's actually a really striking example of turning female ambition into something which is passive and fluffy and care taking. >> marilyn was not waiting for powerful men to come find her. she was pounding on the door of the studio. she was doing absolutely everything that she could to break into the movie business.
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>> what's fascinating about the creation of marilyn monroe is that i think she had more of a hand in it than people want to give her credit for. >> the truth about marilyn's background is something she's happy to bury. >> marilyn isn't an orphan. she's got a mother who is living in a mental health facility. but that doesn't necessarily read as well as an innocent orphaned girl. >> childhood was very difficult on marilyn. she was illegitimate mat. and that was a terrible terrible sin this the 1930s. she didn't know who her father was. and her mother had this horrible condition. >> her mother, gladys, is institutionalized when marilyn is 8 years old. >> the diagnosis that was given to marilyn's mother, of paranoid
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skrits trainia, was shameful at that time and the idea of somebody being in an asylum is not talked about. >> marilyn is sent to the los angeles orphan's home. >> they had to drag me. and i kept crying, screaming, i'm not an orphan. and i would ask where my mother was, but they said, well, it's better you forget about her. she's dead. >> but there is one place where the young marilyn feels happy and safe. ♪ >> movie going absolutely surged during the great depression. going is sort of an escape, and you could get a lot for a dime or a nickel. >> i watched all kinds of movies, like cleopatra with clautette corvair. and i would see it over and over and over and over again.
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>> she would just sort of lose herself in the fan tass, dashing villains, and femme fatales. it allowed you to dream, that if you could live in those movies, then your life would be as beautiful and problem-free as they are. ♪ ♪ >> reframed: marilyn monroe. tomorrow night on cnn. (man 1 vo) i'm living with cll and thanks to imbruvica
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>> she began to develop a very voluptuous body and a very pretty face. >> she said the world opened up to her and she started hearing men call out to her and the wolf whistles and she loved it. >> again, this is a little bit of home movie footage. that was taken in marilyn's last foster home. what you see is a girl who is moving exactly like a '30s model in the movies. >> we as women are constantly constructed: we construct ourselves. we collude in it. and you have to, as a woman, negotiate this, even if it's unconscious, every second of your life. marilyn learned the machinery of
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womanhood very early. >> marilyn was growing up absorbing that idea that being a beautiful woman could give you power. it was the thing that was going to make you rich and famous, and happy, and loved. >> come into her adult woman body was both a blessing and a curse. because she knew how to harness that body as a weapon, but it was also weaponized against her. >> and in 1942, marilyn's life changes overnight. >> when marilyn was just past her 16th birthday, she got married to a neighbor named jimboert, who she barely knew. >> the marriage is the idea of her foster mother, grace mckey. >> grace arranged it. she and her husband were going to west virginia, and herp going to -- and they were going to put me in a home, or i could marry this boy who is 21.
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check check the. >> she was a pragmatist. she had lived a difficult life, and that makes you a pragmatist. you look in front of you and you say, these are my options. that looks like the best one. i'll take that one. >> marilyn doesn't have much time to get to know her new husband. >> america is at war. >> jim enlists in the marines and is sent to the south pacific. across the country, men and women are being asked to serve. >> in war towns all over the united states women are called upon to leave their homes and take jobs. employers find that women can do many jobs as well as men. some jobs better. >> marilyn starts working in an aircraft factory outside of los angeles. >> there was a photographer who arrived to take pictures of the pretty girls. sort of morale-boosting shots. >> the story that marilyn told
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is that he came over to her and said "where have you been hiding? >> this is like a dream come true to her. even though she's on the assembly line, he gets to her and he takes her picture. and he kind of stopped and came back. because she was -- and he said, do you have another sweater or something? can i photograph you on your lunch hour? and she said, yes, of course i do. >> this association of bombs and bombshells is literal. what is a bombshell? it is a hollow ball in which gunpowder is stored to explode. so this was explosive. this is explosive sexuality. >> marilyn now has a calling card, and a new ambition. >> the rambling ambassador hotel.
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one of the world's great hostileries and the los angeles landmark of good living. >> at the iconic ambassador hotel, 19-year-old marilyn tries her luck with the blue book modelling agency. >> norma jean looked like the girl next door. and i thought i ka make her into something quite marketable in a short length of time. she was very beautiful, and had a clean cut, american wholesome way. >> marilyn is turning herself into a commodity, and a part of her, presumably, is also using it to reflect back on herself some sense of having worth. >> what i see is her excitement of being in front of a camera. this woman is so comfortable in her skin. ♪ >> it's christmas, 1945.
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marilyn takes a road trip. but not with her husband. >> she had been married for a few years to a guy that she liked but she certainly wasn't in love with. here comes this glamorous european photographer who is a man of the world. >> 32-year-old fashion photographer andre dedeanis. >> he is recommended to her. and he's immediately taken with her. so he takes her on a trip all around the southwest. >> they went into the desert. they went to old cowboy towns. they took hundreds and hundreds of photographs. >> she was working with a photographer to learn how to inject energy into pictures. not that she was saying how to make me look pretty. but she was saying, how do we make a good picture? >> and marilyn oh, my god, she
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was a pro at it. >> some of marilyn's best work was when she was just alone with a photographer she trusted and just herlet herself be free. >> there is a bit of a love affair that goes on between model and photographer. and you get the idea she was really wanting to give it, really wanting to turn you on, make you proud. they slept together during the trip. and i think that that shows that she was really looking beyond her marriage by that point. >> she was actually clearly seeing the doors were opening in front of her. you kind of see that in these pictures, these vistas that are opening in front of her. >> six months later, marilyn serves her husband with divorce papers and sets her sights on a new, exciting future. olay body wash hydrates
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reframed, marilyn monroe, tomorrow at 9:00 on cnn. and back pain relief.ilifg and get living. available at your local retailer. here you see the world's largest motion picture studio, with its acres of sound stages spread out under the bright california sun. now let's enter the gate. >> by the end of 1946, marilyn is four months into a contract with 20th century fox. in just a year, she's gone from
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young model to aspiring starlet. but if she's going to break out, she will need to impress studio head darrell zanic. ? ? many ways darrell zanic is almost cliche of an old school movie mogul. he's short. he's aggressive. and he's always chomping on a cigar. this is somebody who has a reputation as being exacting, and sometimes brutal. >> it's difficult to overstate how patriarchal the hollywood studio system was this the thifts, '40s, and '50s. it was absolutely male dominated. >> at the top of every one of the big studios is a very powerful, controlling man, the people that we call moguls. louie b. mayer, jack warner,
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darrell zanic. they are considered despotic mon monsters, and tough, tough businessmen, because they knew the things the public wanted were stars and stories. and they ran it like a factory. and they rolled those things out. four or five, six hundred of them a year. >> there were only a few large studios, and those studios made the movies, period. it was sort of like the mafia, in that they controlled everything. >> studio system operated a pool of aspiring talent, what they called stock contract players. >> being a contract player didn't mean that you were going to be a star. you were shuffled from one movie to the next. and often, you were an glorified extra, essentially. >> hollywood has always been a difficult place for women.
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hollywood treats women as disposable, as you don't bring any talent to the screen, you bring beauty. >> when you weren't working, they stuck you in front of the camera and you posed for all kinds of pin-up pictures. i didn't really feel specifically like a commodity at the time. it's only on looking back that i see that when i was referred to as, the girl. put the light on the girl, move the girl to the left. it's only when i look back on it now that i see that perhaps i was thought of as a commodity. >> i never heard a woman's brains praised during that. it took a while for women to be
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appreciated as thinking beings. >> to darrell zanic, marilyn is nothing special. >> darrell zanic -- basically, he didn't like marilyn. he called her straw head. he never got her message. and if a studio head doesn't like you, you got problems, honey. >> to begin with, zanic sees marilyn as, i believe he said that her talent was all below her naval and above her waist. basically, that she was tits and ass and that was it. >> if marilyn wants to keep her contract, she will have to fight for it. >> she kind of had a sort of whatever means necessary, i will
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find my way to this. that meant doing right photo shoots or taking acting classes. >> she wasn't just sitting idly by waiting for the studio to tell her what to do. she was going to fox every single day. >> i said, why do you work so hard? the other kids that are on the contract sometimes i call at 11:00, they are still sleeping from being out the night before? she said, mr. lion, i work so hard because maybe one day opportunity will knock, and i want to be prepared. >> the knock comes in 1947. marilyn lands a speaking role as evie, a waitress with a sharp tongue. >> hi, evie. >> high, small change. >> wait, i got money tonight. am i going the see you later? >> if i'm not too tired. >> i thought we had a date. >> look, this tray weighs a ton. >> she has confidence starting
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to emerge. she commands the screen when she's on it. >> she certainly has poise. you can see the beginnings of a bombshell, but nothing like the bubbliness that you would see later on. >> two double cokes. >> who is paying? >> i told you i got money. >> and now you are blowing it on two coax. >> double. >> my, my. >> it is now up to darrell zanic to decide whether to keep marilyn on contract. >> there are a lot of beautiful girls in the world and marilyn is still just a bit player. he's not that fond of her. >> he thought she was just another pretty face, and they are a dime a dozen and he had literally hundreds of other girls he thought were just as pretty. >> darrell zanic, a great spotter of stars, said no. and he dropped her. >> when marilyn was dropped by fox, she was devastated. but she was tenacious and vowed that she would work even harder.
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released by 20th century fox, 21-year-old marilyn monroe decides to pursue another one of hollywood's biggest players. >> joe skank had a huge estate.
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and he would just hold saturday night parties. and a lot of people from hollywood would be there. and marilyn is invited to his parties. a lot of contract girls are. >> it was understood tacitly among the studio heads that these girls were there for the men at studios to date. and then once their contract was up, they would be discarded and in would come a fresh new crop. >> as a pretty young girl, you learn that there is a lot of predatory men out there. our bottoms were patted. oh, sweet little thing, cute little thing. passes were made. >> this was completely normal in hollywood. it was something that happened all the time. it happened openly. >> i think marilyn accepted that she was going to have to date
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people in order to get what she wanted. and i don't think she ever should have had to choose that, but at least there was a decision in it on her part. >> marilyn knew that this party put on by joseph skank could be an opportunity to get ahead in her career. >> joseph skank was very, very prominent, powerful man in hollywood. and he understood how to make a female movie star. >> skank loved marilyn, thought she was amazing. >> and she became his favorite girl. >> marilyn knew that this was a very powerful connection to make. and the two ended up forming a sort of intimate relationship. >> she understood that you either said, i don't like these
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rules, and therefore, i'm not playing your game, and therefore, you give up your dreams of a career. or you recognize that those are the rules of the game, and you decide how you are going to deal with it. >> skampg is on the board at 20th century fox. but instead of pulling strings with darryl zanuck to get marilyn her job back, he puts in a word with another pal. the boss of a rival studio. harry cologne, who was the head of columbia pictures introduced, understood, and manipulated the star-making process. >> cohen offers marilyn a six-month contract. but he insists on big changes before he will cast her in a movie. >> i think the platinum blond was inspired by jean harlow. it was the ultimate hollywood look. the ultimate star image.
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>> it's almost unearthly. almost like an angel, with glowing hair. >> blondness is hugely valued in american movies and culture of the time. often associated to purity and innocence, but also associated to sexiness and sometimes even pornography. >> for marilyn, the platinum was the step into a different stratosphere of like, i am now this kind of created persona. >> cohen's same formula had transformed spanish dancer margarita can seento into hollywood scar rita heyward in the 1930s. >> she was what they will call ethnic in those days, meaning she was latina. they dyed her hair, she end went electrolysis to raise her hairline so she would look more
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waspy. and it turned her into a huge box office star. >> hollywood studios are pressuring people to meet an ideal. in some cases, it's about enhancing beauty. in other cases, it is about wiping away ethnic traces. >> for marilyn, going blond, it was like the hollywood scar building machine. and she saw what it could do for her. >> it gave marilyn an extra charge in her looks. it took her to another level. >> now that she looks the part, marilyn will make sure that she can play night most of the stories that are told about marilyn's career, particularly in the early years, are about the role that powerful men played in her story. >> but there were a couple of important women in her life as well. >> she was introduced to natasha lightis, the head of drama at columbia pictures.
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and they just instantly hit it off. i think in a tashy bringing with her wealth of knowledge about theater was enticing to marilyn. she wanted to get this kind of serious education about acting, about theater, and natasha was able to do that for her. >> she really saw something special in her as an actress. she just thought that marilyn had what it takes. >> she had been in the gate, and she was ready to run. they are going to have another march tomorrow. as we see it, it's going to go from bad to worse. there might be three or four thing that could be explored with the attorney general. one them would be preventing them to march a part of the way or agreeing some way.
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take two. >> within a month of signing with columbia pictures, 21-year-old marilyn monroe lands her first starring role, as a burlesque dancer in a low-budget musical. >> this was the most demanding role that she had had yet. and it required her both to sing and dance. ♪ >> marilyn just loved getting into the trenches there and
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working on her skills. >> during the musical number, i tried to be more outgoing because that's when i have to express. ♪ anyone can see i love you ♪ ♪ anyone can see i care ♪ >> it was the first time marilyn sung on screen, and she is quite remarkable. >> marilyn plays chorus girl peggy martin, who is courted by a love struck fan. >> you will be sure to send this right away, won't you? >> wouldn't you rather deliver it in person? >> no thanks, i -- miss martin? >> yes? >> it is a very sweet role. >> well, aren't you going to give me the ar chid. >> the orchid? oh, yes, yes. >> in spite of the fact shoo that she's a sexy strip tease
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dancer. ♪ >> it is somewhat of a creepy song. >> every baby needs a dad, dad, daddy to keep her worry free. >> she's being positioned as a gold digger. so the idea is that every woman needs a man to support her ♪ >> what is interesting about wanting a daddy is it's twofold. it's i am brazenly sexual, but i'm really just a little girl. ♪ every baby needs a dad, dad, dad, daddy ♪ ♪ could my dad, daddy be you ♪ ♪ >> he is the object in all the ways that she needs to be. but she's also making fun of it. ♪ >> and that is the moment at which marilyn discovered how this performance was going to work for her. ♪
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>> shortly after finishing "ladies of the chorus" marilyn is summoned to a meeting with the head of columbia pictures, harry cohen. although it was just a b movie, it was a movie, and she had the main role. and so i think she probably thought that it was going to be her big break. >> but renewal of her contract comes at a price. >> harry cohen invited her onto his yacht. and that is not a code that anybody even today requires any help deciphering. >> cohen was a major womanizer. oh, my goodness. par excellence. >> he often exploited young woman. and if they didn't return his affections, then he would make their lives hell. >> she knew that if she said no
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to him, that she would be thrown out. but she had integrity. >> she just asked him, will your wife join us? it was very pointed, and he was furious. and he threw her out of the office. then i think that's why he didn't renew her contract at the end of the six months. >> this is the patriarchy, this is how we do things little girl. you want to be famous. you know, play with me. >> it is not the case that she was simply sleeping with any powerful man that she encountered in order to get where she wanted to go. because she turned down harry cohen, who is one of the most powerful men in hollywood. >> it is not until four years later that marilyn will find the courage to speak out. >> in 1952, she coauthors an article with a journalist called "wolves i have known". >> it is a great title.
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and that will show you a woman that came up with that title, that's a poet. >> the first real wolf i encountered should have been ashamed of himself because he was trying the take advantage of a mere kid. >> kiss me. >> her wolves are sexual predatory men, and the drawing of a wolf is often the tongue hanging out, the eyeballs bulging, very open about the sexual desire. >> she already understands the idea of being hunted. >> i don't think that sexual harassment was a term in anyone's vocabulary in the 1950s. it was just something that you put up with. >> bring on the women! >> there is something very accurate about the feeling of being pursued by a wolf, how dangerous that that feels.
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>> he gave me a script to read and told me how to pose while reading it. all the poses had to be reclining. >> although the words i was reading didn't seem to call for that position. >> she really could have faced a serious backlash because of course the powerful men didn't want to be called wolves and didn't want their behavior to get called out. >> she exposed fissures in the cracks of society like nobody else. and that, to me s a trail blazing accomplishment. >> she said, watch out for the wolves in hollywood, honey. if they don't get what they want, they will cancel your contract. responder: the owner of this apple watch has taken a hard fall and is not responding to their watch. the emergency location is the owner of this apple watch
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♪ nobody cares if your heart is aching ♪ ♪ nobody wants to know that i cried the night before ♪
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♪ i drove down to headquarters. that's the way a lot of us think about schwab's drugstore. kind of a combination office, coffee clutch, and waiting room. >> immortalized in billy wilder's "sunset boulevard" schwab's drug store is a hollywood hang out every actor knows well. >> it was a place where people who wanted to break into movies could hang around and interact and exchange gossip. they would handle mail for people. people could leave messages for each other.
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>> we were young and struggling. we used to sit in schwab's drug store and fantasize about the future. having a glorious career and oscars. >> marilyn was at schwab's one day kind of waiting for a break. and somebody told her that groucho marx was casting for a new movie. she ran to the phone booth and got on the phone, found the producer and said, i hear you're casting. i want to get a chance at this part. >> groucho marx said that he wanted an actress who could make my elderly libido rise. he tested three different actresses. >> come in. >> then marilyn fit the bill. >> she entered the room with so much awareness of her sexuality and willingness to have it out there.
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>> her role is seconds and her job is to make everyone's jaw drop. >> is there anything i can do for you? what a ridiculous statement. >> mr. grunyan i want you to help me. >> i have a little sand left. what seems to be the trouble? >> some men are following me. >> really? i can't understand why. >> she was a product of the times. you couldn't show sex in any of its sort of natural form. >> i advise you to leave. >> i'll take you down to the bus station. if i'm not back tonight go ahead without me. >> so you got it in this exaggerated, unnatural form. >> that's been the history of all my romances. >> she was letting the world know she carried this aura of sexuality and everybody got it and went, wow. who's that? >> eager to capitalize on marilyn's scene stealing potential, the producers send
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her on a publicity tour to promote the film. this was to happen during the summer on the east coast but marilyn wasn't aware that during the summer it does get very, very hot on that side of america. she believed that it would be snow on the ground. >> marilyn arrives to the sweltering heat of new york wearing a thick, wool suit. >> marilyn and the publicity agent decided to make the most of her faux pas, gave her ice creams to hold and a fan and photographers captured her peeking out of the train. >> on the tour she knows exactly how to present herself and when to be funny. she is extraordinary. >> she's very, very smart about publicity and very funny. marilyn always seemed to know what publicists wanted, what photographers wanted. so whenever she was presented
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with an opportunity she made the most of it. >> she is just slowly walking up the ladder of success. >> before leaving new york marilyn finds time to meet with an old friend, photographer andre. >> they happen to be in the same place at the same time so they went to the beach and they just took photographs in the surf. since their road trip, four years earlier, marilyn has transformed. she's no longer a naive young model. she is a rising star. >> i see pure joy. you can just sort of see the
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comet. a little light up there in the skies is starting to twinkle. >> this is something unique, something in the way she and the camera related to each other. the camera was her lover, truly. >> people talk about these pictures as the moment when she was becoming marilyn. creating marilyn might be a more active way of putting it. she was finding her power, finding her talent. she was learning how to own her career. becoming marilyn means that she's about to get everything that she had ever wanted. becoming marilyn is not a tragedy. it's a triumph. >> next, on "reframed: marilyn monroe" -- >> her performances are like watching magic. >> i'm so sorry. >> she became the biggest actress in the world.
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she was just so comedically gifted. she began to understand that she could fuse it with sex. >> how do you put it around your neck? tiffany's. >> are you sure they won't recognize me? >> it could have ended her career. >> she ended up being the first centerfold of "playboy." >> we are all born sexual creatures, thank god. >> a hundred thousand screaming fans. >> it's j. lo before there was j. lo. >> romance that thrills the world. the marriage of marilyn monroe and joe dimaggio. >> joe dimaggio felt that once they were married -- >> isn't it delicious? >> her sexual appeal belonged to him. >> her third husband was playright arthur miller and they, too, separated. >> mr. president, marilyn monroe. >> and it's just like, oh, my god. i think she was playing with
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him. she stood up to the old hollywood guard. >> gee. >> we are not machines. we are not. >> women didn't make their own movies. are you crazy? >> i have director approval and that is true. >> she got everything she wanted. >> it's very interesting. >> people think "some like it hot" is the greatest comedy of all time. >> she was at the height of her success and all of a sudden the curtain came down. it's like, wait a minute. the movie's not over. ♪ ♪


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