Past Imperfect – #530

Marilyn Monroe: “Arthur, I’m not really understanding this bit in your play right here, with the witches shrieking.”

Arthur Miller, off-camera due to clearance issues with his publicist: “Well, it’s an allegory about the Salem trials and McCarthyism and… why are you standing like that?”

Marilyn: “I’m posing in a glamorous manner.”

Arthur: “Why are you posing? I wasn’t even in the room and there’s no one else here.”

Marilyn: “It doesn’t matter. You should always do everything with style and purpose, even if no one else is looking, because life is too short and you might as well live it to the best of your ability.”

Arthur: “That’s an interesting viewpoint.”

Marilyn: “By interesting, do you mean naive?”

Arthur: “I didn’t say that.”

Marilyn: “You didn’t have to, your tone did.”

Arthur: “Look, I’m not getting into this argument again. We’re late for the awards ceremony.”

Marilyn: “Ah, yes, another awards ceremony for you. How lovely.”

Arthur: “And who has the tone now?”

Marilyn: “Fair enough. But do you understand why I have the tone?”

Arthur: “Because you’re trying to counter my own tone. This is a pattern that goes back to the caveman days.”

Marilyn: “And maybe it does. But I’m talking about now. You’re the celebrated playwright who writes the words, and I’m the lowly actress who only speaks those words, and everyone is making jokes about our marriage. But what I do does matter. And in the future, you might be an inspiration to a select group of people who admire those words you write, but I will be an inspiration to the rest of us who just want to validate themselves and they are willing to do what it takes.”

Arthur: “That’s a rather lofty aspiration you have, and I’d love to discuss the details, but we have a cab waiting. Blow out that candle and turn off the ceiling fan.”

Marilyn: “No, I think I’ll let both of those things be. Something tells me that someone named Elton will come along and appreciate the imagery they provide.”


This admittedly not-so-humorous post was inspired by the following quote:

“When I was five I think, that’s when I started wanting to be an actress. I loved to play. I didn’t like the world around me because it was kind of grim, but I loved to play house. It was like you could make your own boundaries… When I heard that this was acting, I said that’s what I want to be… Some of my foster families used to send me to the movies to get me out of the house and there I’d sit all day and way into the night. Up in front, there with the screen so big, a little kid all alone, and I loved it.”

Interview in Life magazine, 1962


Make your own boundaries, folks. Every day.


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