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Authors: Adela Gregory

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BOOK: Crypt 33
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Special thanks to my husband, John Ohanesian for his sustained love and support; to my mother, Ruth Gregory Greulach, for her courage and personal integrity; to my oldest brother, Jake Gregory, Esq., who inspired my medical and investigation talents and without whose guidance this book would never have germinated; to Milo Speriglio, for his vast knowledge and his belief in my ability as an investigator; to my brother Dr. Andrew Gregory, for his unrelenting patience with regard to pharmacology and his spur to accuracy; to my sister Eunice Gregory deLeuw, for her love and critiques and her constant help; to my brother-in-law Jim deLeuw, who introduced me to film editing; to my sister Christine Gregory, whose love and encouragement kept me from quitting; to my sister Priscilla Gregory Agnew, Ph. D., for challenging my thinking process and for love and understanding; to Phoebe Gregory Heywood, for her love and the theater; to Calvin Gregory, who taught me perseverance; to my agent, Frank Weimann, for his dogged enthusiasm and his knowledge; to my kind, patient, knowledgeable editor Allan Wilson, who paced the writing of this book (without him it would never have finished); to the most wonderful, kind, and talented Allen “Whitey” Snyder, who understood my motivation and gave enduring love and patience in the discovery process and led me to understand why he was Marilyn's most precious friend, and to his gracious and talented wife, Majorie Plecher Snyder, who supported my quest unrelentingly; to Rudy DeLuca, who saved me so many times with his compassion and love and his ability to keep me laughing; to Joachim Hagopian, whose skills in psychology and ability to encourage me to tell the story, and for his consistency and patience in keeping me sane during the grueling process.
Additional thanks go to Louis A. Gottschalk, M.D., Ph. D; Robert H. Cravey; Cyril Wecht, M.D.; Leigh Weiner; George Barris; Elton Noels, Retired Sgt. Jack Clemmons; Joseph Mato; Joseph Davis, M.D.; Melvin Wulf, Esq.; Fanya Carter, Ph.D.; Steve Brodie; Irving Kushner, Ph.D.; Harvey Vernon; Kathy Shorkey; Dick Delson; Richard Sarafian; Sandra Harmon; Bill Fox; Leigh Weiner; Buddy Monasch, Esq.; Bernard “Bernie” Williams; Tom Tubman; Sue Solomon; Cecilia Korsen, Ph.D.; Hugh York; Catrine Pollette; Van Ditmars; Tracey Roberts; Joseph Vaynor; Nancy Giannos; Winnie Sharp for his wisdom and kindness; Reba Merrill; San Makhanian; Al Makhanian; Barbara Maron; Lisa Larson Levy; Harold Igdaloff; John Garbar; Milton Goldstein; Georgia Ferris; Sid Ceaser; Joey Averbach; Marian Noon; Irene Tedrow Kent; and Armen Markarian.
Special thanks in memory of Bob Kelljan, who opened my heart and whose belief in me inspired me to excellence and who taught me to how to cook; Paul Olsen, whose encouragement, love and understanding I will never forget; Lucille Bensen; Cheryl Clark; Dick Shawn, who kept me laughing; Eugene Tunick; Michael Schneider; and Elvis Presley, who was gracious and introduced me to superstardom.
And thank you, Marilyn.
For twenty years Nick Harris Detectives, Inc., in Van Nuys, California, conducted an investigation into the death of Marilyn Monroe, the longest running case in the firm's eighty-seven-year history and just one among more than one million successful assignments. As director and chief of this private investigation bureau, I was assisted by more than 130 investigators. Many were graduates of our division, Nick Harris Detective Academy, the world's oldest private-eye school.
For their parts in this work, very special thanks go to the academy's assistant director, C. J. Mastro; chief instructor and investigative specialist, Marc Laikind; the bureau's assistant director and chief, Marcus K. Joseph; and chief special agent Dale Upton; Lesli Poncher, who screened many calls from informants; and veteran private investigator Liz McVey, 1990 recipient of the National Female Investigator of the Decade Award.
Investigative reporter Al Stump, then with the
Los Angeles Herald Examiner
(now defunct), brought me into the Monroe case. He introduced me to Bob Slatzer, who had begun his own private inquiry into Marilyn's death. Bob turned his entire file on the case over to Nick Harris Detectives.
By 1982, ten years into the case, I was prepared to say that Marilyn Monroe had definitely been murdered, but the allegations of murder were made from a theoretical construct. The hard evidence would come later.
It was at this time that Theresa Seeger, cofounder of Marilyn Remembered, as association dedicated to preserving Monroe's integrity, first came to me. At the time, the nation was divided on how they perceived the actress's death. Theresa's first words to me were “Milo, I believe as you do, Marilyn was murdered.” She, too, had begun her private investigation, but years before I entered the case. The video producer interviewed me, using my first book about Monroe as a reference, and, after intense drudgery, pieced together
The Monroe Mystic: Magnificent Life and Mysterious Death.
David Conover, an army photographer and the man credited with discovering Marilyn, first talked to me when I entered the case, and we remained in frequent contact until his recent death. He agreed with me that Marilyn had been murdered. He provided background to what I later discovered about the starlet.
In place among the many autographed photographs of U.S. Presidents on the wall behind my desk is an eight-by-ten photo of Norma Jeane, signed by Conover and addressed to me. She is dressed in ski gear, but there is no snow—in the hottest spot in America: Death Valley. When I asked David to give me his favorite photo of Marilyn, this is the one he selected.
Jim Dougherty knew Norma Jeane, his sixteen-year-old-bride, better than anyone at the time. For several months he shared with me intimate stories of their union and permitted me to “look inside” the future Marilyn Monroe.
Bebe Goddard consented to several interviews with me. She loved her foster sister, shared her clothes with Normi (her nickname for Norma Jeane), and was on intimate terms with the teenager who would later become a star.
Mike Selsman, my television and movie agent, was a publicist in 1962 for the Arthur Jacobs Agency, which sent Pat Newcomb from New York to work with Marilyn. He provided much insight into the real Monroe and into the Marilyn-Newcomb connection.
Walter Schaefer, founder of Schaefers Ambulance Service, confirmed to me a most important fact surrounding Marilyn's death: she did not die in her Brentwood home.
One of Marilyn's favorite photographers and journalists was George Barris. His famous Santa Monica Beach film session, Marilyn's last out-of-studio production, will endure as art. Over the last two years George told me about the Marilyn he knew, off the set, when his cameras no longer were focusing on the actress and she became her real self.
When on assignment in Europe, Barris learned of Marilyn's death and flew immediately to Los Angeles to attend the memorial services. Joe DiMaggio refused the noted photographer a seat in the half-empty chapel. George's bestselling
, written with Gloria Steinem, was published in 1986.
Allen Abbott was one of the six pallbearers. It was he who drove her corpse from the coroner's office to the Westwood Mortuary. Allen spent much of the day and night before the funeral in a small room with her remains. In his interviews with me Allen related events only a few witnessed, including the visit by DiMaggio.
I have met or talked with almost all the authors of books about Marilyn. Most memorable was my meeting with Maurice Zolotow, in 1990. The author of
, the bestseller originally published in 1960, was on a publicity to promote a revised paperback edition. Bob Slatzer and I were flown to New York City to appear on the Geraldo Rivera show (my third appearance on the show, though I had no book to promote), and it was then that Rivera told me, over a beer in his dressing room, that he had been fired from ABC's
because of the major Marilyn Monroe news program that was canceled.
On the air, Zolotow stated that he believed Marilyn had committed suicide. He was entitled to his opinion. Then after the program, Maurice and I traveled together to the airport on our way back to Los Angeles. (Bob had decided to spend another day in the Big Apple.) He surprised me with a statement I never expected to hear: “I questioned the cause of death for many years, but you convinced me she was a victim of foul play.” The noted author said he could not go on record with this statement since it might affect sales of his book. Then this man who was very close to Marilyn for many years let me in on some secrets his pen never revealed. And he removed from his briefcase a copy of
and signed it: “To Milo, the Sherlock Holmes of the Marilyn Mystery.”
Some persons who gave me incredible information cannot be acknowledged by name here, in particular those informants who helped identify Marilyn's assassins. Others who will remain nameless are those persons who gave testimony about Monroe's death—former members of the Secret Service, FBI, Los Angeles Police Department, CIA, and other law enforcement and investigative agencies.
I want to thank actress Lana Wood, Natalie Wood's sister, for her insight into Marilyn; Ed Pitts for his documents; and former Los Angeles mayor Sam Yorty.
Allan J. Wilson, our editor, proved his reputation by treating us, as he treats all his authors, famous or obscure, with respect, helping to lighten the labors of writing and publishing this book.
To the hundreds of others who contributed, whether by talking to me or by assisting my coauthor, Adela Gregory, I thank you one and all.
IX. The Autumnal
No spring, nor summer beauty hath such grace,
As I have seen in one autumnal face.
Young beauties force our love, and that's a rape,
This doth but counsel, yet you cannot 'scape.
If ‘twere a shame to love, here 'twere no shame,
Affection here takes reverence's name.
Were her first years the Golden Age? That's true,
But now she's gold oft tried, and ever new.
That was her torrid and inflaming time,
This is her tolerable tropic clime.
Fair eyes, who asks more heat than comes from hence,
He in a fever wishes pestilence.
The Waif
ollywood's Sunset Boulevard winds lavishly through the pulse of broken dreams. On this Saturday night, on one small forgotten street in Brentwood, Rudy, a chauffeur, wrestled with the
Herald Examiner
's sports section. The radio blasted romantic tunes. Three hours of waiting on the dead-end street, even for Marilyn Monroe, was testing his professionalism. Once again, Rudy warily eyed Marilyn's front door. It was always a wait fraught with disappointment until the moment she appeared. Then the radiant Monroe would satisfy even the most seasoned admirer and employee. The driver could then expect her profuse apologies and promises never to be late again. Rudy was handsomely paid his standard $125 regardless of the waiting time, so he didn't seem to mind that much. Besides, there was always the leftover champagne and caviar she would customarily offer him, adding, “Save it for later.” Marilyn was quite cognizant of the need for a clear-headed driver.
Even though it was small and sparsely furnished, Marilyn Monroe was proud of her newly purchased Spanish-style bungalow, something she could finally call her own. Years before, her mother, Gladys Baker, had made gallant efforts but failed to create a comfortable home for her illegitimate daughter. Gladys had been abandoned by Marilyn's father when he had learned of her pregnancy.
Elvis Presley's “Can't Help Falling in Love With You” was blaring on the radio, John F. Kennedy was the youngest President of the United States, Uta Hagen had just won a Tony Award for her performance in
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf
? and Tennessee Williams's
Night of the Iguana
continued its long run on Broadway; the Beatles' “Love Me Do” was number one in England; and women in America who had taken Thalidomide were delivering deformed babies. The Vatican was talking about an ecumenical movement among all sects of Christianity; Rachel Carson wrote
Silent Spring
, the controversial expose on the harmful effects of pesticides; and Lieut. Col. John Glenn's triple orbit of the earth in
7 was beamed directly into 135 million American homes on television. A gallon of gas cost twenty-one cents and a loaf of bread was twenty-seven cents.
Marilyn Monroe had begun remodeling the cottage-size home at 12305 Fifth Helena Drive in late February 1962, with Mexican tiles she and her publicist, Pat Newcomb, had purchased a month earlier while on a Mexican holiday. Along with a few pieces of furniture, including a Mexican sofa covered with bright red fabric, a statuette of Carl Sandberg, a portable high-fidelity record player that constantly played Sinatra ballads, and a refrigerator filled with only champagne and caviar that the crooner had sent, Marilyn was eagerly building the only security she had ever known.
The tiny bedroom was furnished only with a single bed and a small night stand. The bed was unmade, blanket askew, and the full-length mink coat, which second husband Joe DiMaggio had given her, was draped over the bed. Marilyn enjoyed the touch of the silky fur; it brought back so many memories.
Marjorie, Marilyn's dresser and the fiancee of makeup man Whitey Snyder, returned from Twentieth Century-Fox's wardrobe department with the gown for the evening. Marjorie and Whitey were always trying to pick up the pieces each time Marilyn fell apart.
Marilyn did not keep much of a wardrobe of her own and borrowed her evening wear from two of Fox's in-house designers, Jean Louis or Bill Travilla. But tonight was unique. Marilyn was pregnant with a married man's child, and the President's brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, was the father. Marjorie's immediate dilemma was how to disguise the telltale bulge in the actress's belly. And as usual the actress was late getting ready for this evening's outing; her chauffeur was kept waiting nearly three hours.
Marjorie was concerned about Marilyn's well-being, hating to think Marilyn would experience disappointment, as she had so many times before. All of her pregnancies had turned into devastating abortions or miscarriages; each painful miscarriage bringing back the guilt of a previous abortion. The miscarriages tore at her fragile uterus, and doubts of realizing her womanhood arose. The feeling that she might turn out to be an inadequate mother was similar to what her own mother had felt in desperation. Having to be the breadwinner and the bearer of a child would bring too much physical, emotional, and financial responsibility for Marilyn. And pregnancy reminded her of her own deprived childhood, which began on June 1, 1926.
On that day, a very exhausted Gladys Pearl Monroe Baker Mortensen screamed for help as Dr. O. Casey kindly suggested she push harder in the stark delivery room of the Charity Ward of the Los Angeles General Hospital. At twenty-four years of age, Gladys had already borne two children by her first husband. This one was hers to keep, she thought, as she clutched the restraints that bound her wrists. As the painful contractions intensified, she looked for any sign of her repentant lover, hoping he had changed his mind at the last minute. But the handsome and debonair Stanley Gifford was nowhere to be found.
Unbearable as the pain was, Gladys pushed and prayed as the clock ticked past 9
Dr. Casey was reassuring as the baby's bald head emerged. “Push harder,” he encouraged her. Screams were heard throughout the bare delivery room. “It's a girl,” the doctor announced. Gladys decided to name her baby Norma Jeane, after the captivating and successful actress Norma Talmadge. How proud she would be to be the mother of such a famous woman. Little did Gladys know that her favorite silent film star was once married to Joseph Schenck, head of Twentieth Century-Fox, and that during her lean years her grown daughter would have an affair with this same man in his seventies. He would be kind and probably the instigator of her acting contract with Fox.
When Gladys was sent home, she enlisted her mother's neighbors, Ida and Albert Wayne Bolender, who boarded children, to look after the newborn so she could return to her job as head film cutter for Consolidated Film Industries. By keeping her child at a distance, Gladys wouldn't feel so devastated if her baby died or were separated from her, as her first two children had been when, after a bitter dispute, husband Jim Baker had kidnapped them.
Fortunately for Norma Jeane, her mother's friend Grace McKee, a film librarian at CFI, was a warmhearted woman who kept a watchful eye over her. The illegitimate child had a mother who still happened to be legally married, so Norma Jeane's surname was that of her mother's long-gone husband, Martin Mortensen. The baptism for the baby was held at the Angelus Temple in Los Angeles at the request of Gladys's mother Della, who worshipped with its minister, Aimee Semple McPherson. The fiery female healer christened the newborn child Norma Jeane Mortensen. Afterward, the broken family of grandmother and mother, with the child, strolled around Echo Park admiring the picturesque man-made lake lined by palm trees.
Black Thursday hit in October 1929, and Wall Street sustained a loss of $26 million. The Depression officially set in. The St. Valentine's Day Massacre rocked the nation as two of Al Capone's hit men, disguised as policemen, gunned down seven lieutenants of the Bugs Moran gang in an illegal liquor warehouse. Writer Ben Hecht established himself as a playwright with
The Front Page
on Broadway Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. Prohibition and the Depression raged on as Al Capone and Vito Genovese's partnership with Joseph P. Kennedy moved illegal shipments of liquor from Canada and the Bahamas into the United States.
The Bolender household was located in suburban Los Angeles near the Los Angeles International Airport on a street lined with California-style bungalows. The Bolenders believed in the Bible and the belt. Young Norma Jeane's devout foster father attended church twice a week, believed in capital punishment, and yet he still provided some gentle guidance. Her foster brother, Lester, was a delight. They played and fought with each other over the few toys given them. Norma Jeane would defend her right to use the toys like any able-bodied young girl, but was punished by the Bolenders with the strap. She never hesitated to tattle on her foster parents to her mother on Saturdays, Gladys's regular visiting day. Norma Jeane was schooled by the Bolenders on the Bible's teachings of honesty and she remembered them the rest of her life. She liked knowing and telling the truth.
Although the Depression left an indelible scar on American life, Albert Bolender's position as mail carrier was never in jeopardy. His small salary remained constant. Though the house was neglected, not so the appearance of Norma Jeane and Lester. Both were dressed immaculately, and Gladys made sure that her daughter had the most fashionable garments by providing Ida Bolender with the best fabric to create a dazzling wardrobe for this otherwise materially and emotionally impoverished child.
Not until Norma Jeane's seventh year did she finally receive a steady flow of her mother's love, affection, and commitment. When she and her foster brother contracted whooping cough, a serious disease, which at the time could be life-threatening, Gladys took an extended leave of absence to care for her child. No doubt she felt the loss of her older children when confronted with Norma Jeane's grave condition. The love for the girl, the guilt of not being a full-time mother to her, and the fear of possibly losing another child probably agitated her during the weeks of nursing Norma Jeane.
Gladys did everything any doctor or nurse could do for the child and more, attending to Norma's every need, keeping the child's forehead cool with compresses, and scrubbing, cleaning, and cooking—things she hadn't done before. She resolved to provide better for her daughter when she recovered.
Gladys's resolution was made good in 1933 when she purchased a California bungalow-style house situated near the Hollywood Bowl, a convenient location for the industrious, unconventional mother. Piece by piece, she filled it with secondhand furniture, her pride and joy a white-lacquered baby grand that had once belonged to the actor Fredric March. The piano made seven-year-old Norma Jeane happy, too.
The lyrics of
Jesus Loves Me
, learned at the Bolender residence, were replaced in her new home by dialogue memorized from Jean Harlow's movies
Red Dust
Hold Your Man,
with leading man Clark Gable. Norma Jeane fantasized about Gable, who resembled her real father. In
Hold Your Man,
Gable plays a con man who impregnates a stunning, tough-talking girl who falls in love with him and has his baby. Harlow patiently waits for his release from jail. In turn, Norma Jeane waited in vain for her own father to return, living daily with her unrequited love for him. She would spend hours fantasizing that Clark Gable himself was her fast-talking father and that he would return as he had for Jean Harlow. She imagined herself as Harlow, joking all the while, trying to get her man back and loving him no matter what the obstacles might be. Impressed by Harlow's drawing power over her leading men, Norma Jeane began to fashion herself after the platinum-haired siren. Gladys's best friend, Grace McKee, was an ambitious woman who encouraged Norma Jeane's hopes to be a movie star and live a charmed life.
Everyone around Gladys and Norma Jeane was being laid off or having to take cuts in pay, and Gladys became fearful that the newfound security with her daughter would disintegrate. She bought insurance by leasing the house to an English couple, both employed as Hollywood stand-ins, and their twenty-year-old daughter, who worked as an extra. Gladys reserved for herself the back two rooms upstairs in the house and shared the use of the kitchen and bathrooms.
What a liberating experience it was for the strawberry-blond waif to reside in a household that was not laden with religious restrictions. Drinking, smoking, movies, makeup, and dancing were not taboo. But Norma Jeane didn't forget the manners and the religious training learned at the Bolenders'.
Moviegoing, an inexpensive babysitter, was the rage not only in Hollywood but across the nation. Either Gladys or her roommates would send the young innocents off to a local movie house, their new home being within walking distance of Grauman's Chinese Theatre or the Egyptian Theater, where musicals of the day struck Norma's fancy. Her forever favorite, Jean Harlow, was a natural beauty who was not self-conscious about her looks. Norma Jeane grew up still idolizing Harlow's independence and confidence, qualities she wanted for herself.
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