MY MOTHER COULD’VE BEEN MARILYN MONROE’S THERAPIST – BY ELLIN CURLEY

In 1962, Marilyn Monroe was working on her last movie, “Something’s Got to Give”, by 20th Century Fox. One of the producers on that film was a man named Henry Weinstein. He was brought into the production because it was thought that he could relate to and handle the very difficult Marilyn.

Henry was a long time friend of my parents. He was also married to one of my mother’s best friends. Because both my parents were psychologists and practicing therapists, Henry talked to them about Marilyn’s problems and often asked for advice about her.

Marilyn Monroe and Henry Weinstein

At the time, Marilyn was in particularly bad shape psychologically. Henry knew she was mentally very ill and thought she was becoming paranoid as well. She also had extreme stage fright. She cried on Henry’s shoulder often. Henry had already come to her aid after a barbiturate overdose.

Marilyn was creating high drama on Henry’s set. And Henry was tearing his hair out. She showed up late, sometimes very late. Other times, not at all. She couldn’t remember her lines. She was needy, emotional, and had meltdowns on a regular basis. She would walk off the sets in tears. Lonely and alone, Marilyn was allegedly having an affair with the script girl.

Marilyn Monroe on the set of her last movie

None of this was good for Henry’s bottom line. He had to try to get the movie made on time. So he called my mother a lot, asking for help in dealing with Marilyn and her issues. He eventually asked Mom to fly out to L.A. to be Marilyn’s on set therapist. Mom refused.

My Mother believed Marilyn was too emotionally unbalanced to be helped by ordinary therapy. Mom had a delicate ego herself. She didn’t want to be known as the therapist who was called in to rescue Marilyn Monroe — and failed. Mom was also afraid Marilyn was suicidal and terrified she might kill herself on my Mom’s watch.

Henry begged Mom to come to L.A. to help him. She still refused. Henry ended up firing Marilyn in June of 1962 for excessive absenteeism. Two months later, on August 5, 1962, Marilyn died of another barbiturate overdose. Some people think her death was a suicide. Others think it was accidental. Regardless, the film was scrapped.

Who knows whether or not my mother would have made a difference with Marilyn short-term. She might have been able to help her through this specific crisis, but a fatal overdose inevitable — intentional or accidental. I doubt anyone could have saved her from herself.

Marilyn on the set of Henry’s film, shortly before her death

Here is an interesting, unrelated theory about Marilyn Monroe’s death. It has to do with the Kennedys. I read an article that talked about a book dealing with Marilyn and the Kennedy family. Marilyn had affairs with both John and Robert Kennedy. She began to get clingy and demanding. Started discussing going public about the affairs, which had been kept completely under the radar and out of the news. The Kennedy ‘people’ felt Marilyn was becoming a dangerous liability. So they banned her from seeing or communicating with either brother. She was expelled, cold turkey, from the inner circle.

Marilyn Monroe and Bobby Kennedy

This happened just a few months before her death. There are those who believe this expulsion along with the movie firing, significantly contributed to her final downward spiral. As evidence, Marilyn made several phone calls after she took her fatal overdose. One call was to Bobby Kennedy. Why? Maybe she was trying to get back into the Kennedy boys’ good graces.

We’ll never know for sure. It’s part of the mystery that was Marilyn’s life and death.

10 thoughts on “MY MOTHER COULD’VE BEEN MARILYN MONROE’S THERAPIST – BY ELLIN CURLEY

    • Both my parents were shrinks. My father was a doctor as well so he was a psychiatrist/psychoanalyst. My mom was a psychologist. Both treated patients into their 80’s. There was a saying that kids of psychologists were screwed up. I always said that that was true if only one parent was a shrink. The second therapist in my family counteracted the first and I came out normal!

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  1. An engrossing story, Ellin. Your Mom’s personal “link” gives it an added layer of sadness…another ‘what might’ve been’. I think your Mom probably made the right decision for herself. I’ll remember this when I watch a Marilyn movie again.

    A side note, Ellin. I tried to watch “The Misfits” the other night. I watched maybe 15 minutes and gave up. I have never been able to watch this film. You know how much of a movie maven I am.

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    • My mom probably made the right decision for her career. Except who knows? The publicity from treating Marilyn might have given her her 15 minutes of fame and more patients. Yet it might have tarnished her professional reputation. Seeing what happened to Marilyn, I think it might have been better for mom to have tried to help Marilyn than to let her devolve and die.

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  2. Marilyn was a gorgeous, interesting personality and one would think she had it all. Sometimes having it all isn’t enough. Your mother was wise not to step in on this situation, Ellin.
    Leslie

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    • I always thought that Mom made the right decision for herself. I just think that Marilyn deserved a better chance to recover and live. I don’t know if my mother would have been the answer, but I feel terrible that this was the end of Marilyn’s life. At 36!

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      • These decision are always heart-wrenching. Even if you aren’t a professional, when you have a deeply troubled friend — helping often doesn’t help and if they fail anyway, you are left torn with guilt. if you don’t help, you are STILL torn with guilt. It’s a lose-lose.

        I had a friend who committed suicide. I had JUST had Owen and she needed me to come and bring her home and take care of her. I was going to do it, but I need a week or two to settle Owen down to nursing and organizing. First baby, just back from the hospital … I just need a little time to get my end of life a little less chaotic.

        She didn’t wait for me. She was dead by the end of the week. I always wonder if I could have fixed her enough to go on and keep living. I’ll never know.

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        • People who are truly suicidal can’t be helped by a well meaning friend. They need serious medical and therapeutic intervention, possibly in a residential setting. You can’t fix that level of mental illness with TLC. With Marilyn, it’s not clear if she killed herself or not. I think it was an accident. She was on the phone shortly before she died and she may have been trying to get help when she realized what was happening. But I also think it was inevitable that she died young, either by her own hand or by accident. She might have gotten out of this particular downward spiral, but there would be more to come. It would have continued throughout her life, however long that was.

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