Tag Archives: Edith Sitwell

Marilyn Monroe and Rudolf Steiner

Hard on the heels of the Daily Mail’s re-hashing of a salacious story about Marilyn Monroe from sixty years ago as if it were the latest sensation, the anthropopper will not be outdone in recycling old news and is proud to reveal that … Marilyn Monroe was an anthroposophist!

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Photo courtesy of Harpers Bazaar

Intriguingly, this does appear to be a true story. The following quotation is taken from a biography of Marilyn Monroe called “Norma Jean: the Life of Marilyn Monroe” by Fred Lawrence Guiles, published by McGraw-Hill Book Company, New York in 1969. It appears on pages 331-332 of the 333-page book.

 “Some years before her death (in Dec. ’64), Dame Edith (Sitwell) had spent a winter in Hollywood. A meeting between the poet and Marilyn was arranged by a monthly magazine. It was thought their ‘opposite’ personalities would throw off some journalistic sparks. No one could have foreseen that they would become immediate friends, nor could anyone have known that their deaths would be marked in an almost identical way — while their legends were growing in their lifetimes, they had been taken seriously by too few, too late.

“By the time she met Dame Edith, Marilyn had come a long way. If she had not been moving in an atmosphere — much of it self-created — so removed from her beginning, they might have had nothing in common. But when the introductions were over, these new and unlikely friends were left alone and began talking of Rudolf Steiner, whose personal history, “The Course of My Life”, Marilyn was reading at the time. Dame Edith was to remark later on Marilyn’s ‘extreme intelligence'”

In Dame Edith Sitwell’s autobiography Taken Care Of, she tells of her meeting with ‘Miss Marilyn Monroe’, who she describes as quiet, with great natural dignity and extremely intelligent. She was also, she said, extremely sensitive. Dame Edith tells of a magazine article that she was commissioned to write about her visit to Hollywood and this included a face-to-face encounter with Miss Monroe, who she suspected the magazine moguls thought would hate one another on sight. They were mistaken.

‘On the occasion of our meeting she wore a green dress and, with her yellow hair, looked like a daffodil. We talked mainly, as far as I remember, about Rudolf Steiner, whose works she had just been reading. In repose her face was at moments strangely, prophetically tragic, like the face of a beautiful ghost – a little spring-ghost, an innocent fertility daemon, the vegetation spirit that was Ophelia.’

(Source: http://www.webcitation.org/5wozS1ofx)

Monroe and Sitwell

Edith Sitwell and Marilyn Monroe, 1953 Photograph by George Silk/LIFE © Time Inc.

Tom Mellett, a former Steiner teacher in the USA, has added the following comments:

“While living in Spring Valley in 1980, I had the good fortune of meeting the person who had sent Marilyn that copy of Steiner’s autobiography as well as a number of other Steiner books and lecture cycles that Marilyn requested over a ten year period from the Anthroposophical Library, then located at 211 Madison Avenue in New York City. I speak of the late Agnes Macbeth, wife of the late Norman Macbeth (author of “Darwin Retried”). Agnes worked for the library during the 1950’s, handling book requests and she vividly remembers the letters Marilyn posted asking for various lecture cycles. And although Marilyn had a reputation for tardiness and irresponsibility on her movie sets, Agnes assured me that Marilyn was very conscientious and punctual with her returns of the books.

Marilyn Monroe was introduced to Steiner’s writings and lectures by her favou rite drama teacher, Michael Chekhov (1890-1955), nephew of the playwright Anton, and fellow director with Stanislavsky in the Moscow Art Theatre early in the 20th century. Marilyn was introduced to Chekhov in 1951 by one of his devoted students, the American character actor Jack Palance. Marilyn opened herself like a sponge to water to Chekhov’s approach to theatre, which was so deeply influenced by Steiner that Chekhov left Stanislavsky’s method behind. And Marilyn opened herself very deeply to anthroposophy, not because she felt it would please her teacher, but Chekhov felt that it was one of the only times in her life that Marilyn did something out of her own free inner being.

The tragedy of Marilyn Monroe is that she opened herself up too much and became a slave, not only of the studio bosses, but also the expectations of a world that focused on her as such a fantasy object. Yet deep inside her inner being, which no one in the media and our popular culture even believed she possessed, she spent the last 10 or 11 years of her tortured life cultivating the delicate plant of anthroposophy.”

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