Controlling Marilyn Monroe by Kelvin Reynolds

This Play is the copyright of the Author and must NOT be Performed without the Author's PRIOR consent



Rehearsal Studio Hollywood. 1946.

Film Producer LEO, seated at desk and Assistant Director, BENNY

standing, holding script, stage Right,

Two figures off stage left, heard in the wings, NORMA JEAN and

NATASHA. Low lighting. Sound of retching from stage Left.

Upstage, high table or bar, with bar stool in front. NATASHA is only heard off stage .

NATASHA (Off Stage) Come on Norma, you can do this.

Sound of vomiting again

NORMA JEAN (Off Stage. Stammering badly)'t do this..n..nn .not..not ready.

NATASHA (Off) Yes you can! Remember what we did earlier.


I'm hair's a mess...I wanna g..g...go home.

NATASHA (Off) Shh honey. You'll be fine.

Lights up, Stage Right. LEO has cigar in his mouth, bangs hand on table.

LEO How much longer is this broad gonna be? We do Jimmy a favour and he sends me some dumb ass blonde who can't even be bothered to turn up on time. (picking up notes.) And she's never even acted before, Jeez.

BENNY She's coming now.

A young woman, NORMA JEAN, is pushed forward onto the stage. She walks to centre stage, hesitant, looking very nervous.

LEO Don't you realise this is a film company? Time is money in this business, every second counts.

NORMA JEAN I...I I'm sorry...I'm ll..ate b..b..

LEO Just get on with it. Benny remind her what's she got to do.

BENNY So. Stand there on your mark. This is a silent piece OK? Just like the old silent movies. You walk forward, you walk back, you turn, you go to the bar at the back, you sit on a stool, pick up a cigarette, take one puff, stub it out. You got it?

NORMA JEAN Yy..yes no words?

LEO What don't you understand about the word silent ? (sinks back in Director's chair and sighs)

BENNY Ready?

NORMA JEAN (nods, hands visibly shaking) Um.

LEO Quiet on set!. Stand by. Rehearsal shot. Lights Camera rolling and Action!

The camera is not visible on stage. NORMA JEAN walks towards imaginary camera, Downstage, looks left and right, turns slowly, looks back over her shoulder, flicks hair, flaps arms, reaches bar, sits on stall.

She lights a cigarette, stubs it out, walks towards LEO and blows a kiss. Very poised, deliberate movements, slow confident, sexy, very aware. LEO stares at BENNY and removes cigar from his lips

LEO OK Norma, now bring it alive. Improvise that scene, use your own words.

NORMA JEAN (glances towards wings) I..have .have....n't rehearsed..

BENNY It's all right, be natural, say what you feel.

LEO Let's go again, Norma Jean. Rehearsal shot, Take two. Sound running. Camera, Action.

She walks through same scene as previous, same movements, speaking only when she sits on stool, and stubs out cigarette. Looks towards LEO and BENNY, She rises. Her diction, is clear, confident, softly spoken , no stammer.

MARILYN A wise girl knows her limits, a smart girl knows that she has none.

She blows kiss and exits stage left, then returns immediately, looking harassed, trying to stand on her mark. LEO gets up and walks to centre stage, cigar still in mouth.

NORMA JEAN Ss..sorry I shoul..should have..

LEO Shh! Shh.

He walks around NORMA JEAN, slowly, looks her up and down assessing her, then resumes his seat. Muffled conversation with BENNY. Looks up

LEO Right, my office Monday morning. 9am You've got yourself a contract for six months. And don't be late.

NORMA JEAN (shrieks) Thank thank you! I won't let you down.

She turns to leave

LEO No wait. I'm not happy with the name. Norma Jean Mortenson. Doesn't fit. Do you have any other names?

NORMA JEAN My mother's Monroe.

LEO Yeah. Norma Jean Monroe, doesn't work. Think bill boards, posters, credits. No. We need something else. (Rubs chin, pause.) I know. What about Marilyn? We'll call you Marilyn. Marilyn Monroe. Yeah, that sounds good, that fits. Right off you go and don't be late on Monday.


Excited, NORMA JEAN exits stage left )

LEO What do you think?

BENNY (blow cheeks) Wow! This girl will be another Jean Harlow. Something about her, Leo. She looks so vulnerable and innocent, and yet she radiates sex in every movement. So beautiful!

LEO Yeah, she's something else. Couldn't believe the transformation. Even the camera's got its tongue hanging out! Trouble is, what can we offer girls like that? Thirty second walk on parts? That's it. In six months time no one will ever remember Marilyn.. Mmmm Monroe...Haha.

Lights down


August 1962. MARILYN at home, relaxing on couch, casual outfit.

Reminiscing about her audition and name change shown in previous scene.

Small table with glass on it by her side, dial telephone white on table.

Lights up centre stage left

MARILYN So Marilyn Monroe it was. I didn't like it at first but kinda stuck with it. The girl. Yep, I guess it fitted. But my mother named me Norma Jean and I liked that, not sure she did, she gave me away after two weeks, told a friend that I got in the way. But my mother, she couldn't cope with me on her own and times were tough. I was fostered to.. (pause) I don't know how many families, lost count. But when I stayed with the Bolander family my mother used to come and visit. She took me to the beach or to watch the street performers, the jugglers and the fire eaters, loved all that. We had ice cream before I had to go back. And once she bought me a yellow parasol, I still have it.

Picks up and waves parasol above head, drops it on floor

MARILYN So I guess there were happy times. It was OK with the Bolanders, they cared for me, but they were really strict. I could never do anything right, they never praised me and I never felt good enough. It was all about church and praying everyday. Ida, my foster mother, told me movies were sinful, and if the world came to an end and I was sitting in a movie I would burn in hell with all the bad people. But one day I got to perform for the first time at the Hollywood Bowl. It was a religious pageant and we were all dressed up in black tunics and we formed a living cross. And then,when they gave us the signal we took off our black tunics and underneath we would all be wearing white. See, symbol of purity and light. Well, I was so excited to be there and I was so busy looking around that I missed the signal and I was the only child left out of fifty still wearing black!

Ida was horrified, she said I brought shame to the family. I heard her say once. 'I want to get rid of this girl, she makes me nervous.' And my mother stopped coming to visit me. I heard she was poorly again.

I guess I was a lonely little girl, but I loved making up games and playing by myself.

Split stage. Lights up stage right. Enter Young NORMA JEAN, aged 8-10yrs. Stage right. sings, and skips, plays hopscotch or similar.. May recite short song, or nursery rhyme to herself. MARILYN looks across at her

MARILYN Then Tippy came into my life. He was a stray. I found him in the street one day. I so loved him. He was lost and lonely too. He followed me to school every day and he would be there waiting for me when I came out. We had so much fun together.

Back to young NORMA JEAN

NORMA JEAN Tippy, fetch!

Throws ball off stage and follows, laughing, sound of dog barking

NORMA JEAN Good boy, good boy, my precious boy!

MARILYN But the neighbour didn't like him and complained about him barking all the time. Then one day when I came home....

Bang! Sound of gunshot

NORMA JEAN No. No ! Oh ,Tippy...(crying, NORMA JEAN on her knees. beside her dog) Wake up Tippy, please wake up!

Lights down stage right

MARILYN (pauses, visibly upset) I loved that dog, and he loved me. Two of a kind, I guess. The only thing in my life that was mine. It still hurts when I think of my Tippy. But then things got better. Mum got better and we bought a cheap little house that we got through the New Deal. I was happy. Mum and her best friend Grace, she was like an auntie to me. They worked at the studio. Oh, not very exciting, only the cutting room. But it was still Hollywood. In the day I sometimes went to the movies, sat up front and I loved it. I couldn't afford the popcorn. But watching all the films on that huge screen and seeing all the stars was wonderful. Jean Harlow was my favourite. It was magical. But Mum was ill again and getting worse, she was depressed and acting strange, she had to go into hospital. They said she had a breakdown. I didn't understand, cars have breakdowns not Mummies. So Grace took me in and looked after me. And it was Grace who changed my life. If it wasn't for Grace, Marilyn Monroe would never have existed.

Enter GRACE, Lights up, stage right with young NORMA JEAN. GRACE brushing NORMA JEAN'S hair, putting on make up

GRACE Hey, look at my beautiful girl! (turns NORMA JEAN'S head and inspects hair and face) Now let's see that smile. That's great, Now walk up and down, turn around, walk back again.

She walks and turns, smiles.

GRACE Hey, look at my princess! Norma Jean tell everyone what you gonna be.


Facing audience

NORMA JEAN I'm gonna be a movie star.

GRACE Louder!

NORMA JEAN I'm gonna be a movie star!

She puts arm around NORMA JEAN'S shoulder and points upwards.

GRACE One day you're gonna be up there on that silver screen, honey.

Light fades down Stage Right. Exit GRACE, Young NORMA JEAN remains, Stage right

MARILYN And I knew from that moment that's what I wanted to be. I was happy living with Grace until out of the blue she married Doc Goddard. Didn't take to him, he brought his daughter to live with us. She was very nice but we were poor and there wasn't enough room for all of us. Doc persuaded Grace to put me in the orphanage, said it would only be temporary, like all the things in my life.

Lights up, Stage Right, focus on young NORMA JEAN.

NORMA JEAN The orphanage was all right, they were nice to me but it wasn't my home. To start with Grace came to see me very Saturday. She would put my make up on and then she'd take me to the movies and the park. But then weeks would go by and she wouldn't come at all.

She looks up and down street then sits down, cross legged.

NORMA JEAN I told all the others in the orphanage that I wasn't an orphan. My Mummy and Daddy were wonderful and they were away on a long trip and soon they would come back for me. No one believed me.

Pauses, looks down, sad

NORMA JEAN My Daddy never came to see me. But Mummy showed me who he was. His picture was on the wall in our house. My Daddy was such a handsome man! he had a moustache and wavy black hair. I knew one day I would find him.

MARILYN And so I did. Kind of. I met him on set when we were filming The Misfits. Turned out he was my co-star, name of Clark Gable.(laughs) Yes that was his picture on the wall when I was little. And as for my real dad, I tried a couple of times but never did find him. Don't think I ever will. So I left the orphanage and off I went again to more foster homes. (Counts on fingers) Reckon at least twelve. It was so confusing. All those new places, all those strangers. But sometimes bad things can happen when you're a young girl on your own, things that should never happen.

Lights dim. Young NORMA JEAN on her own, Stage Right, a dark shadow falls across her, she turns, screams, runs off stage.

NORMA JEAN (Off Stage, crying) He...he .he he's true ..

WOMAN (Off stage) You Lying little bitch!

Sound of slap, NORMA JEAN cries out.

WOMAN Mr Kimmel is one of my best customers. Go to your room!

Back to MARILYN Centre Stage Left, who shakes her head)

MARILYN There are some things you don't want to remember. Best forgotten. You learn to blot it out. It's the only way to deal with it. Even Doc Goddard tried it on with me. No one believes you, anyway. By the time I got to high school I had a new foster mum, called Ana.

Lights dim, MARILYN looks across stage.

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