The Calendar Girl Conspiracy
by Fred Gardner, December 23, 2009
The Calendar Girl
Marilyn Monroe once said, “I'm selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle.” This easily would have qualified her for an ADHD diagnosis in California. If cannabis had been legal back in ’62, maybe the poor woman wouldn’t have been using all those prescription downers.
Why do men think of her as “sexy?” What do they mean by it? Why are big breasts so admired? That’s what I used to wonder at age 11 when I looked at the literally steamy “Marilyn Monroe calendar” on a wall of the barbershop situated between the locker room and the showers at the 92nd St. 'Y.’ The year was 1952. The calendar itself was on a small pad stapled beneath the famous photo, which was on view for 12 months. It showed a wavy-haired blonde, naked but with her legs crossed, leaning back against a red velvet drape, stretching to achieve the photographer's idea of a sexy pose. She did not look comfortable. And that's how Marilyn Monroe would always seem to me — straining slightly to achieve a pose that wasn’t quite her.
Until a few weeks ago, when I saw footage from a home movie shot in the mid- or late 1950s, showing Marilyn, obviously at ease, smoking a joint with some girlfriends. The clip was forwarded by Ellen Komp, who produces a tabloidish-yet-scholarly website called Very Important Potheads. VIP’s catchment area is vast — check it out.
The home movie of Marilyn and her friends had been publicized in early December by a New York entrepreneur named Keya Morgan, who collects and sells Marilyn memorabilia and is making a documentary about her sudden death. Morgan’s thesis is that U.S. government agents did the actress in to prevent her revealing — or continuing — affairs with President Kennedy and his brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy.
Keya Morgan told the media that he had learned about the existence of the home movie from an FBI agent he’d interviewed in connection with his documentary. The film had been shot in the mid- or late-1950s by a friend of Marilyn’s named Gretchen, who now lives in New Jersey. Morgan contacted Gretchen. She retrieved the reels of 8mm Kodachrome from her storage spot, and he paid her $275,000. Gretchen confirmed that she had rolled the joint Marilyn and friends were smoking, and that they had smoked marijuana on other occasions.
The media reported that Morgan intended to immediately re-sell the film on eBay, but I saw no subsequent accounts of an auction being held. Wondering if the whole thing had been a scam, I contacted Morgan Dec. 21 for an update. He said that I was reaching him in Beverly Hills. (He owns an art gallery and other businesses in NYC.) I asked about the fate of the home movie. “The original was never going on eBay,” he explained. “Some reporters confused the original with the copyright [permission to publish the image]. The original I’m never selling. It’s sitting in my safe.”
What else did the media get wrong or miss? Morgan said he had arranged a three-way call with Gretchen in New Jersey and reporters from CNN, Reuters and Fox. He expressed surprise that no reporter had inquired about the two women with whom MM was sharing the joint. “All they cared about was the marijuana… Those are her two best friends. They were the only two friends allowed at the funeral… Joe Dimaggio did not allow Peter Lawford and Pat Kennedy into the funeral,” said Keya.
He identified the handsome woman sitting next to Marilyn on the couch as “Mary” and the other woman as “Ann.” He said that Marilyn had phoned Gretchen two days before she died, fearful that people were out to get her. Ann and Mary had slept over at Marilyn’s house for two nights. They had seen Bobby Kennedy on the premises and on one occasion had seen Bobby smoke marijuana with Marilyn.
Keya aims to release his documentary, “Murder on Fifth Helena Drive,” on August 4, 2012, the 50th anniversary of Marilyn Monroe’s death. He has been doing research for many years. He says his sources include “my very close friend Jim Dougherty” (who married Norma Jeane Baker when she was 16); Arthur Miller (“a client at my gallery who became a friend”); and numerous FBI, CIA, LAPD and Beverly Hills PD operatives. He says he has former LA mayor Sam Yorty and police chief Darryl Gates on tape asserting that Bobby was in LA and being tracked. Spy vs. Spy!
It was the former “chief of the FBI for Southern California” who told Keya Morgan about Gretchen’s home movie. Agents who learned of the film’s existence in the 1960s had borrowed it from Gretchen to show to J.Edgar Hoover, Keya recounted. “Hoover was obsessed with Marilyn,” he said. “So was James Jesus Angleton of the CIA.”
The government snoops first got interested in her, according to Keya, “because she had met many huge Communists through Arthur Miller.” [Miller, the author of “Death of a Salesman” and “The Crucible” was a lifelong leftist who had been close to the CP in his younger days. He married Monroe in 1956. He wrote a movie called The Misfits that she starred in. They had split by January ’61.]
Her FBI file contains thousands of pages, Keya said, citing FBI.gov. “You’ll see hundreds of pages there about Marilyn’s affair with President Kennedy.” He also claims to have a source whose father observed JFK smoking marijuana “on numerous occasions.”
The “huge Communists” that Marilyn encountered included Frederick Vanderbilt Field and Nikita Khrushchev. Field was heir to a ruling class fortune — most of it withheld when he became a socialist in the late ‘20s. He was involved with numerous CP front groups and did some time in jail after refusing to tell a Congressional committee who had put up bail for four CP leaders who fled the country. In 1953 Fields himself moved to Mexico, where he took up archeology. According to Keya Morgan, Marilyn made “secret trips” to visit him in Mexico. Keya says, “Marilyn got very close to him. He had pictures of Lenin in his office!”
That she met Khrushchev during his famous visit to the U.S. in 1959 is no secret. Keya says that spymaster Angleton once saw a photo of Marilyn wearing a different outfit than the one she had on when she met Khrushchev in a public setting. The CIA honcho deduced that there had been another, private meeting, and assigned his agents to find out when and where. (Our taxpayer dollars at work.)
“You are hearing stuff no one has ever heard before,” Keya confided.
And you, dear reader, are reading stuff no one has ever read before.
I see it as two separate stories. Story one — Marilyn Monroe smoked pot — is small, finite and documented. Story two — Marilyn was murdered — is big, sprawling and unproven. Will Keya Morgan’s “documentary” change that? I doubt it. If one really had such a big story in the can, why wait two-and-a-half years to break it? The 50th-anniversary-of-her-death hook is redolent of show business, not journalism.
Calling something a “conspiracy theory” is an automatic put-down, but it shouldn’t be. Not all conspiracy theories are unfounded. Our corporate masters meet regularly in beautiful settings to plan their depradations. Jesse Ventura is about to host a TV show looking into various conspiracy theories. I wonder if he’ll look into this one.
The idea that Marilyn was offed and that the Kennedy brothers were involved, somehow, is not a new idea. Marilyn died of a drug overdose in August, 1962. Within a year an instructor in the government department at Harvard had paid for a four-word display ad in the Crimson — which was read in the JFK White House — asking, “Who Killed Marilyn Monroe?” The cryptic ad was meant to let the Kennedys know that people were on to them, the instructor confided at the time. Asked about the ad last week, he said he had no recollection of it. He added, “I have Jewish Alzheimer’s — all I remember are my grudges.”