26 June 2016

Please help me!

Wishing to become a serious actress, Marilyn Monroe began to study 'method acting' at the Actors Studio in 1955 under the guidance of Lee Strasberg. Because of her shyness Marilyn was also privately tutored by Strasberg at his home, and she also got lessons from Strasberg's wife Paula (a former actress) who became her personal acting coach and confidante. The Strasbergs soon became like a family to Marilyn and were very important to her during the rest of her life and career. (When Marilyn died in 1962, she left the bulk of her fortune to them.)

Marilyn and Paula Strasberg
It was at the recommendation of Lee Strasberg that Marilyn underwent psychoanalysis to deal with her severe depressions. Her first psychoanalyst was Dr. Marianne Kris at whose suggestion Marilyn admitted herself to the Payne Whitney Psychiatric Hospital in New York on 7 February 1961. There she was placed on a ward with severely mentally ill people and was put in a padded cell which was a most harrowing experience to her. (Dr. Kris later admitted that the choice of hospital had been a mistake.) Fortunately, with the help of ex-husband Joe DiMaggio, Marilyn was able to leave the hospital after a few days and was moved to the Columbia University Presbyterian Medical Center where she recuperated. 

Shown below is a letter from Marilyn to Lee and Paula Strasberg, written in February 1961 while she stayed at the Payne Whitney Psychiatric Hospital. Crying out for help to get her out of this horrible nightmare, this is what Marilyn wrote:

Source: cursum perficio


Dear Lee and Paula,

Dr. Kris has had me put into the New York Hospital- pshichiatric [sic] division under the care of two idiot  doctors- they both should not be my doctors 

You haven't heard from me because I'm locked up with all these poor nutty people. I'm sure to end up a nut if I stay in this nightmare- please help me Lee, this is the last place I should be - maybe if you called Dr. Kris and assured her of my sensitivity and that I must get back to class so I'll be better prepared for 'rain'.

Lee, I try to remember what you said once in class "that art goes far beyond science"
And the science memories around here I'd like to forget- like screening women etc.
Please help me- if Dr. Kris assures you I am all right- you can assure her I am not. I do not belong here!

I love you both

P.S. forgive the spelling- and there's nothing to write on here. I'm on the dangerous floor its like a cell. Can you imagine- cement blocks. they put me in here because they lied to me about calling my doctor and Joe and they had the bathroom door locked so I broke the glass and outside of that I haven't done anything that is uncooperative.

Rain (referenced in Marilyn's letter) is a short story by William Somerset Maugham which was going to be adapted for television, starring Marilyn as the prostitute Sadie Thompson. The project never happened, as NBC wouldn't hire Lee Strasberg whom Marilyn insisted on having as her director. 

Marilyn flanked by Lee and Paula Strasberg (above); the Strasbergs attending Marilyn's funeral on 8 August 1962 (below).

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