November 09, 2012 10:30pm PT by Scott Feinberg
Amy Greene, Scene-Stealer of 'Love, Marilyn,' on Her House Guest Marilyn Monroe (Video)
One of the year's most engaging documentaries is Liz Garbus' Love, Marilyn, a film in which "Marilyn Monroe morphs back from an icon to a human," as I wrote after its world premiere at September's Telluride Film Festival.
Virtually everyone goes into the film thinking that they already know everything that there is to know about Monroe, who was probably the most famous woman of the 20th century, and remains instantly-recognizable to virtually every American 50 years after her premature death. But two components of the film disprove that assumption: (1) rarely if ever before seen archival footage of Monroe that Garbus managed to dig up, and (2) letters and diary entries of Monroe's that were only recently discovered, which are read in the film by a plethora of modern-day actors and contextualized by several people who personally knew Monroe at the time they were written -- none more colorful, funny, or insightful than 83-year-old Amy Greene.
Greene, 83, was one of Monroe's closest friends and confidantes. She was the Cuban model-turned-housewife of Milton Greene, a celebrity photographer who first photographed Monroe in 1953; hit it off with her; and had her as his and Amy's houseguest at their home in Weston, Connecticut, where they lived with their infant son, for four years (1954-1957) while Monroe, at the height of her fame, took a hiatus from living and working in Hollywood, and eventually returned on her own terms, as the co-chief -- with Milton -- of her own production company, Marilyn Monroe Productions.
Not long ago, I interviewed and lunched with Greene, and -- as you can see for yourself by checking out the video at the top of this post -- we discussed her life story plus, of course, all things Marilyn. Some highlights:
- How did Milton and Marilyn first meet? ("It was the week before our wedding [that he was to photograph Marilyn, who had seen and been impressed by his work]. He flew out, and when he walked in she said, 'But you're just a boy!' 'Cause he looked like he was 12 years old. And then he said, 'You're just a girl! Let's go to work.' They hit it off right away.")
- What was Marilyn's state of mind at this time? ("At this point Marilyn was such a recluse that no one in the industry really knew her or said, 'Oh, I saw her at a party,' 'cause she never went anywhere... Really all she did was eat, sleep, and work... She wasn't getting the life that she wanted in Los Angeles.")
- What appealed to Marilyn about moving in with them in Connecticut? ("She was excited because she loved the house, she loved our lifestyle... She would take walks in the woods everyday. Nobody bothered her... She felt protected. We cocooned her, whereas no one else had done that before.")
- What was it like to share a house with the world's most beautiful and famous woman? ("She was neat. She was clean... She was no problem whatsoever... She was a good sport... She was smarter than she looked... She read voraciously.")
- Was she ever concerned that Marilyn might tempt her husband? ("I was secure in my marriage and I was secure with her... There's no way she would shaft me to bang Milton.")
- What was the impetus for Marilyn Monroe Productions? ("[The idea of creating an independent production company for Marilyn so that she could break out of her typecasting and make films that she wanted to make was] Milton's Lew Wasserman's, and Jay Kanter's... She loved it. She preened. She said, 'I'm gonna be the head?!'... Milton owned forty-nine percent, Marilyn owned fifty-one.")
- What was the reaction of Marilyn's second husband, the baseball star Joe DiMaggio, as he watched hundreds of New Yorkers watch Marilyn shoot the famous dress-blowing scene in the 1955 film The Seven-Year Itch? ("I'm standing next to him, and the man is turning white as snow... He said to me, 'I can't take it anymore!'")
- What did she make of Marilyn's third husband, the playwright Arthur Miler? ("Arthur was a bore... son-of-a-bitch... creep. I saw through him the first time I met him.")
- Why did Marilyn Monroe Productions ultimately break up? ("Because of Arthur. Not only was he jealous of Milton, but he was jealous of the time that they spent together... Arthur said, 'It's either him or me.'")
- What was her relationship with Marilyn like after the split? ("We would speak on the telephone and, strangely enough, we met at their hairdressers.")
- What was the weird premonition that she had in July 1962 -- just a month before Marilyn died -- on the night before she and Milton were going out of town? ("I was given to a midwife who was a witch... Every once in a while I have these dreams where I can foresee something. This time I woke up and I said to Milton, 'Call Marilyn... just call her. She needs you.' He did call her, and they spoke for three hours.")
- What did the heiress Alicia Corning Clark say to the Greenes and Marlene Dietrich while drunk at a dinner the night before Marilyn died? ("She said to me, 'Well, how's your friend Marilyn?... Then she blurted out, 'Well, she's gonna die soon'... She said, 'Oh, I know that she's gonna commit suicide.'")
- What does she think really happened to Marilyn on the night that she died? ("It was a mistake. No doubt in Milton's mind, no doubt in my mind... That doctor was to be shot at dawn... he gave her the pills.")