Top 10 Things Blonde Got Factually Right & Wrong
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Top 10 Things Blonde Got Factually Right & Wrong

VOICE OVER: Emily Brayton WRITTEN BY: Nick Spake
Being biographical fiction, "Blonde" got somethings factually right and wrong. For this list, we'll be looking at what's fact and what's fantasy in this adaptation of Joyce Carol Oates' biographical fiction novel about Marilyn Monroe, aka Norma Jeane Mortenson. Our countdown includes Joe DiMaggio was controlling, THAT scene with Monroe & JFK, Monroe's father contacted her, and more!
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Top 10 Things Blonde Got Factually Right & Wrong


Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Things Blonde Got Factually Right & Wrong.

For this list, we’ll be looking at what’s fact and what’s fantasy in this adaptation of Joyce Carol Oates’ biographical fiction novel about Marilyn Monroe, aka Norma Jeane Mortenson.

What are your thoughts on “Blonde?” Let us know in the comments.

#10: Monroe’s Father Contacted Her
Wrong


Although certain details are left out and tweaked, Monroe was raised by her single mother, Gladys Pearl Baker. As her mother’s mental health worsened, Monroe was placed in the Los Angeles Orphans Home. Gladys spent the remainder of her life mostly hospitalized, rarely seeing her daughter. It’s also true that Monroe’s father wasn’t in the picture, but “Blonde” takes some liberties. As Monroe rises as a star and sex symbol, a man claiming to be her father calls her on the phone. There are no records suggesting Monroe’s father ever tried contacting her. However, Monroe did make numerous attempts to get in touch with Charles Stanley Gifford, who she believed to be her father. In 2022, DNA evidence confirmed that Monroe was indeed Gifford’s daughter.

#9: Monroe Wasn’t Taken Seriously as an Actress
Right


Although now the definition of a screen legend, Monroe’s talents were largely underappreciated during her life. As depicted in this film, she was often typecast as the “Dumb Blonde” stereotype with the powers that be in Hollywood more fixated on her sex appeal than anything else. While the public and press couldn’t get enough of her (sometimes to an uncomfortable extent), people had trouble seeing past the Monroe persona on screen. Monroe was starving to be taken more seriously as an actress and to expand her horizons. While living in Manhattan, Monroe attended the Actors Studio where she learned method acting from Lee Strasberg, who recognized her untapped potential. It was also around this time that Monroe got seriously involved with her future husband, Arthur Miller.

#8: What Darryl F. Zanuck Does to Monroe
Maybe


“Blonde” has proved divisive due to its graphic nature. A key example is when studio executive Darryl F. Zanuck traumatically assaults Monroe in his office. What we know for sure is that Zanuck wasn’t especially ecstatic about Monroe’s screen test. Nevertheless, 20th Century Fox granted her a six-month contract, as Zanuch wanted to keep her out of RKO’s grasp. Beyond this, it’s hard to say precisely what happened behind closed doors. However, Zanuck was accused of being a sexual predator known for bringing actresses to his office regarding “business,” supposedly calling them “studio hookers.” Monroe was listed among Zanuck’s possible victims. Although Monroe didn’t single out Zanuck, she was familiar with the “casting couch,” which she tried to avoid.

#7: Monroe Was Difficult on the “Some Like it Hot” Set
Right


“Some Like It Hot” is Monroe’s comedic tour de force, but the production wasn’t always a barrel of laughs. In “Blonde,” Monroe argues with director Billy Wilder, accusing him of perpetuating her “Dumb Blonde” image. Falling into addiction, Monroe throws her biggest fit while shooting the ice pick scene. Although liberties might’ve been taken with some of these outbursts, Monroe reportedly was difficult to work with on the movie. According to co-star Tony Curtis, she struggled to learn her lines, showed up late, and drank a lot. Jack Lemmon recalled her driving Curtis and Wilder “crazy.” Wilder stated, “She may hold up production. But, when you finally get her in front of a camera, she has a certain indefinable magic which no other actress in this business has.”

#6: Monroe’s Terminated Pregnancies
Probably Wrong


In addition to miscarrying, “Blonde” depicts Monroe reluctantly enduring multiple doctor visits to quietly terminate her pregnancies. While Monroe did suffer multiple miscarriages and an ectopic pregnancy, the medical procedure scenes are based more on rumors than facts. Author Norman Mailer claims Monroe terminated numerous pregnancies in his 1973 book, “Marilyn.” He supposedly got this information from Amy Greene, wife of celebrity photographer Milton Greene. However, Mailer later said that he wrote his novel for money and that some of the accusations were grounded in speculation rather than research. Monroe’s autopsy showed no signs that she ever terminated a pregnancy. Aside from the lack of solid evidence, Monroe’s struggle to carry a pregnancy to term has called such rumors into question.

#5: Jane Russell Was Paid More on “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes”
Right


Jane Russell’s witty performance in “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” is truly underrated, but the 1953 musical comedy is best remembered for Monroe. Despite this, Monroe only received her standard contract fee of $500 weekly. Russell, who was more of a household name at the time, was paid $200,000, which Monroe revealed in her final interview. While Monroe technically wasn’t the lead, she reminded the studio that she was “the blonde, and it is ‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes!’” Some of the tabloids painted a feud between Monroe and Russell, but the two actually developed a friendship on set. Russell remembered Monroe being “very shy and very sweet and far more intelligent than people gave her credit.” Likewise, Monroe said Russell was “quite wonderful” to her.

#4: Charles Chaplin, Jr. & Edward G. Robinson, Jr.
Wrong


Monroe’s love life is a focal point of “Blonde.” While some of the relationships depicted have been well-documented, others are straight-up smoke and mirrors. The most notable example is Monroe’s three-way relationship with Charles Chaplin, Jr. and Edward G. Robinson, Jr. It’s been rumored that Monroe had an affair with Chaplin, Jr., which supposedly ended with him catching her in bed with his younger brother, Sydney. Rumors have also romantically linked Monroe to Robinson, Jr., but there isn’t much backing this up. There’s even less evidence suggesting that Monroe, Chaplin, and Robinson were ever a “throuple,” as “Blonde” portrays. Whether or not Monroe really was involved with these two, it’s safe to say that they weren’t all together at the same time.

#3: Joe DiMaggio Was Controlling
Right


History might remember Joe DiMaggio even more for his marriage to Monroe than for his 13-year stint as a New York Yankee. Although they initially seemed like the ideal celebrity couple, the relationship’s contentious nature surfaced in time. As “Blonde” portrays, DiMaggio reportedly mistreated Monroe physically and mentally. Uncomfortable with Monroe being a sex symbol, DiMaggio wanted a housewife rather than a movie star. Monroe solidified her star status with “The Seven Year Itch,” which is most iconic for a certain white dress and well-timed subway breeze. Even before the film came out, thousands of spectators showed up to observe the highly publicized subway grate shoot. Monroe’s marriage to DiMaggio was already on the fritz, and this scene essentially ended things after only nine months.

#2: THAT Scene with Monroe & JFK
Wrong


The life of Marilyn Monroe has spawned an assortment of conspiracy theories, many of which involved President John F. Kennedy. Beyond Monroe publicly singing, “Happy Birthday, Mr. President,” to Kennedy, it’s hard to get an exact read on their relationship. There are accounts suggesting that the two had an affair or at least sexual encounters. Yet, no records go into anything as graphic as what we see in “Blonde.” Taken to Kennedy’s room, Monroe finds the topless president in bed and on the phone. With the Mercury-Atlas 6 launch playing on the tube, Kennedy forces Monroe to… well, let’s just say this likely contributed to the NC-17 rating. Even if the rumors about Monroe and Kennedy’s affair are true, most describe it as consensual.

#1: Monroe’s Death
Right


The death of Marilyn Monroe has sparked much debate, but it’s generally accepted that she died of a barbiturate overdose at her L.A. home. The final act of “Blonde” centers on Monroe’s descent into substance use disorder and loneliness, resulting in her premature demise at age 36. It’s been speculated whether Monroe’s death was the result of an accidental overdose or if she purposely took her life. Most lean towards the latter, although “Blonde” keeps it ambiguous as we last see Monroe lifeless in bed. Some details are omitted like how Eunice Murray, Monroe’s housekeeper, stayed over that night and discovered her body early in the A.M. For a film that bends much of the truth, though, the ending is faithful to Monroe’s tragic fate.
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