Most people have a distinct reaction when you mention Marilyn Monroe. Whether it’s about her involvement with JFK or how she died, people often launch into their opinion on Marilyn. Few celebrities achieve the legendary status Marilyn has maintained for half a century. Her longevity has always intrigued me, because during her hay-day, critics weren’t kind, directors complained about her, and 20th Century Fox bemoaned having a contract with her. So what has immortalized her? Really, it’s easy to understand. She had a sex appeal like no other; she died tragically, mysteriously at a young age; and despite having worldwide fame and adoration, she endured multiple heartbreaks, was used by many, and died without having a fortune.
So in writing my story, one question I had was: Could Marilyn have been saved? Saved from her self-destructive habits, saved from those who were using her and / or wanted her silenced about her affair with Kennedy. I also toyed with the idea of, What if Marilyn wasn’t as erratic as the press made her out to be? Meaning, What if some of her behavior was magnified, simply to ‘prove’ her death was a suicide? She needed a hero to come along. Enter Dr. Charles Campbell, a reputable L. A. psychiatrist (and, keep in mind, fictional) who’s hired by the studio to subdue the actress, because her current doctor, Ralph Greenson, isn’t getting the job done. As you can imagine, a whirlwind of trouble ensues. Marilyn doesn’t want another shrink, or pills. Charles becomes convinced he can save her, help her get her life on track, but his own personal flaws and the state of his marriage are working against him. Weave in other unforeseen elements, and one secret that could ultimately destroy the Kennedy administration and put the U.S. at war with Russia, and the story quickly unfolded and took on a life of its own.
Spending time with Marilyn, and other famous stars who appear in the book, was easy. Unfortunately, I couldn’t write the ending for Marilyn that she deserved, and I couldn’t change her history. Still, it was nice to dream, at least for a little while, that there was hope for a better outcome for her, but her images and allure are forever cemented in our minds.
A founding member of Sisters in Crime Columbus, Ohio (affectionately dubbed SiCCO), Mercedes King can be found elbow-deep in research, reading, or enjoying the local bike path. Combining her love of pop culture with history, she created A Dream Called Marilyn, a fictional take on the last weeks of Marilyn’s life. With an unquenchable thirst for a bygone era, she’s also written O! Jackie, a fictional take on Jackie Kennedy’s private life–and how she dealt with JFK’s affairs. Short story fans would enjoy The Kennedy Chronicles, a series featuring Jackie and Jack before the White House and before they were married. Visit Mercedes’ website at www.mercedesking.com to find out more.
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