Liz Smith: Vidal Still Gores at 85

cc Wikimedia

And more from our Liz: The frou-frou of Marc Jacobs … Cherie Blair empowers women around the world

“THERE IS no human problem which could not be solved if people would simply do as I advise.”

Thus spake Gore Vidal.

* * *

GORE VIDAL is, at 85, one of the grand old men of American letters, still the smartest, brightest, most cynical and greatest of American history writers, of gay fiction, of straight fiction, of the theater and anywhere else there has to be a scribble so that art can emerge.

They have just let him have his say in the New York Times magazine when his so-called Edgar Box mysteries were newly issued recently by Vintage. For instance, there was “Death in the Fifth Position,” which first appeared in 1952 under a pseudonym, Edgar Box.

Why did he write these potboilers under an assumed name?

Here’s Gore: “After ‘The City and the Pillar,’ which was a cheery tale of two boys who were in love … Orville Prescott of the New York Times, a very distinguished newspaper of yesteryear, said that he would never review a book by me, much less read one … it is kind of a lousy paper and deserves everything that is coming its way … Give my best to Orville Prescott in whatever retirement home you may find him. He caused more damage to American literature, well, than anything else.”

* * *

Was fashion designer Marc Jacobs simply kidding around when he showed his autumn/winter collection for Louis Vuitton in the courtyard of the Louvre Museum recently?

He had his models decked out in short shorts with lots of frou frou on top and rubber wellies and other types of ridiculous boots on the bottom.

But Jacobs said his autumn/winter collection was really for calling attention to what he referred to as “our inexplicable obsession with handbags, which have become like a fetish object.” Jacobs seemed to be asking if this was really an aspect of passion for fashion or just obsessional behavior?

And for controversy’s sake, he let Kate Moss come out with a lit cigarette on the runway. Sometimes fashion is just plain foolish, as it was in the Marie Antoinette era.

* * *

THE BRITISH public hated Cherie Blair when she was living at 10 Downing Street as the wife of the Prime Minister, but I wonder if any of them have changed their minds about her nowadays?

She is now outshining her husband in her charity work. His Tony Blair Sports Foundation generated about $500,000 during its first eight months of life.

Her Cherie Blair Foundation, which “encourages sustainable empowerment of women in the developing world” raised almost $2 million.

But the former P.M. is still ahead when it comes to his Faith Foundation, which did about $6 million.

* * *

CONDOLENCES to the surviving daughter of former L.A. prosecutor John Miner who recently passed away.

That’s the nice part of this item.

Mr. Miner was among the last of the Marilyn Monroe conspiracy theorists/fantasists who are now meeting La Monroe in the hereafter.

Mr. Miner made himself a major player in the Monroe myth by insisting the star had been murdered. He went on and on for years with his assertions and assumptions, culminating in his insistence that he had heard “free association” tapes Monroe had made for her last, controversial therapist, Dr. Ralph Greenson.

Miner claimed he heard these tapes, made notes of them, then couldn’t find the notes, but recalled it all for the author of a book on MM. (Vanity Fair magazine found Miner’s claims so sketchy they demurred on doing a story about him.) The tapes had been made, according to Miner, just days before MM’s death. And yet — quite oddly — Monroe explained her entire life to Greenson on these recordings. She’d been seeing Greenson for two years steadily. Surely by then he’d already heard her tales of Joe and Arthur, etc?

Miner claimed the tapes proved MM could not possibly have committed suicide. The so-called transcripts of the “tapes” would convince you otherwise — 36-year-old Monroe playing Juliet to Marlon Brando’s Romeo? This is crazy talk, and though troubled, Monroe was not crazy.

I do not believe Marilyn Monroe intended to kill herself. I doubt any such thing was on her mind the morning of August 4th, 1962. She indeed had many positive plans, including a resumption of the film from which she had been fired. Why, she was out buying plants for her garden the very day of her death? But she was, nevertheless, addicted to drugs, drinking too much and (as always) prone to leap from zero to a hundred, mood-wise, within minutes. At this juncture, she could go from ravishing to haggard in a matter hours, depending on her substance intake.

However it happened, it happened. Alone in her bedroom. Later, there were indeed delays, clean-ups and a coverup, as there almost always is in the sudden death of a famous person. (Whatever the extent of her involvement with the Kennedy brothers, it was enough to cause grave concern in the wake of her death.)

Today, most people believe Monroe was murdered, for all sorts of sordid reasons — including the threat of her “telling all” on the Kennedys. Like such a thing ever could have happened in 1962. Or that Monroe — not vindictive by nature — would have wanted that. She was desperate to salvage her career. She would have been the world’s biggest freak show after any Kennedy confession, employable only in Europe. To make her the loony blonde cog in a Byzantine murder plot robs this most human of stars of her humanity.

Rest in peace, John Miner. And explain yourself to the lady once you get where you’re going.

7 Responses so far.

  1. avatar Jay Gentile says:

    Count me among those who believe Monroe was murdered. Not much about her last day and night makes sense. I also believe she was mentally ill, either bio polar or schizophrenic. Her disease went largely untreated, and was made worse my her comsuption of alcohol and pills. She spoke extensively about hearing voices and the voices telling her what to do or simply degrading her.

  2. avatar Richard Bassett says:

    MM gone almost 50 years and the same stories circulate
    around the world. Alleged stories and we are never going to get a 100% truthful
    answer. The Kennedys, Castro, the mob, Peter Lawford, suicide, murderers,
    secret government plans and other such conspiracy stories are speculated and
    once in a while, someone reveals they do have another modicum of information…and
    the entire stories, albeit ‘now boring’ are brought up today. MM was an addict
    who forgot how many pills that she had taken, due to the fog of initially being
    on the pills, and took more. And died. There is no great mystery to that. It
    happens every day. Elizabeth Taylor once said that she would put all of her
    pills for the evening in a little pill box and if the pills were gone, she knew
    she had taken them all and took no more. That is one way of harm reduction but
    she eventually ended up at The Betty Ford Center. You just do not take the
    pills away and all is cured. Over the test of time, we have discovered that it
    takes a bit more than that. In 1962, MM did not have access to the psychological
    information that we have today. There is really no stigma today. Relapse does
    not discriminate. Everyone who has an addiction issue is susceptible. In the
    life of an addict, there are relapses and they are addressed. It is part of the
    battle with addiction and requires constant work. If MM was a candle in the
    wind, it was she who was creating the wind. Of course, she spent most of her
    time amidst a fog of haziness and there was no where there to help her. No one
    to tell her the truth about her destructive behavior. If there were
    consequences to addictions, they were swept under the table. Today there are a
    multitude of modes of treatment and people do recover. To keep this recovery,
    the addiction must be talked amount/ attended to even during the quiet times
    because that is when it usually slips in again. MM was an addicted without
    assistance to aide in recovery so she died, like most untreated addicts do. So
    now, even if a news story emerges stating that MM was from Mars, she was an
    addict from Mars. Unfortunately, her issue came forth in primitive times. Yes,
    she is an icon…I believe, but I wish that she would have reached out to a
    treatment that worked. Ironically, even if she did reach out…nothing would be
    there. Today, we have solutions and solid philosophies that are in place for
    those who reach out. The rest of MM’s life is secondary.

  3. avatar Steve C says:

    Through the years the tales about Marilyn Monroe being murdered have be come more and more fantastic.  As memories fade, people die, and the trail becomes more murky, fame mongers and healine seekers found it easy to make outrageous claims about Marilyn’s last days.  Countless people who merely had their photo taken with her claim an affair.  People who lived in her neighborhood swear she revealed all of her secrets.  People claim to see various visitors coming and going.  They claim to have seen her where she wasn’t.  Who can prove it after all this time?
    But anyone who seriously knows Monroe’s life knows she had both accidentily overdosed and had been rescued from suicide attempts at various times during her life.  There was no need to kill Marilyn in August 1962.  If the Kennedys or anyone with power thought she was a threat she could have much more easily have been committed to a mental institution.  Enough people would have testified she was fragile and unstable in those last months.   But she lived much of her life in mystery, kept many secrets…and she left many blanks that people could fill in.  So people choose to believe she was murdered.  It’s easier to think she was killed than to believe she was so sad, so self destructive (at times) that she could have intentionally thought of harming herself. 
    I believe it was an accident that night…but if not that night it would have happened in the near future.  Ultimately she was too torutured and troubled to live.  But it is a tribute to her beauty, talent and….well…MAGIC…that people still care.

    • avatar Mr. Wow says:

      Dear Steve C…oh, you said it perfectly.  If she hadn’t died that night it would have been some other night.  In similar circumstances. And had lived much longer  (like a second more ) we would not cherish her as we do.  To be chilly–her death was a great career move. 

      One need only look at the best of her films to realize she deserves her place in our hearts.  But her death was the period and the exclamation point to  her life and work.  It could not have gone on.  She was done.  And she knew it.

  4. avatar Baby Snooks says:

    Later, there were indeed delays, clean-ups and a coverup, as there almost always is in the sudden death of a famous person.


    There is almost always a coverup in the sudden death of a famous person? What on earth are they always covering up?

    There were too many who questioned too much.  Most questioned the autopsy. Which in itself raised most of the other questions that were raised. 

    No doubt you belieive Dorothy Kilgallen also “overdosed” even though she was found with a book in her lap.  With her reading glasses downstairs. 

    Must be nice to go through life with rose-colored glasses. Mine were knocked off a long, long time ago. And I put them back on once. Only to have them knocked off a second time.

  5. avatar Baby Snooks says:

    As for Gore Vidal we must be related. 

  6. avatar Chris Roberts says:

    “Thus spake Bore Vidal.”