A Dancer Who Cannot Dance

Marilyn Monroe photographed by Andre de Dienes in 1953

Dear Marilyn,

I was so deeply moved by watching this recent film about you called Love, Marilyn. A friend invited me to her house to watch it and it was just beautiful, beautiful to see how all these wonderful talented actors were speaking your words with such humanity and truth.

In one of your journal entries you said “I am like a dancer who cannot dance.” So many of your words revealed someone who longed to blossom but somehow felt stuck in the bud. In one striking reading you wrote about Lee Strasberg being the surgeon who could cut you open to reveal all that was inside and then later reporting tragically that he found nothing, nothing inside.

When I was a child, I loved this book called Jackaroo. It was a story about a legend of a man named Jackaroo who went around the countryside doing Robin Hood kind of deeds. A young girl stumbles on Jackaroo’s clothes hidden away in a house and decides to start assuming the role of Jackaroo. She finds incredible freedom in being changed by this costume, going out into the world, being brave, riding horses and fixing bad deeds. Later on she discovers that there are multiple Jackaroo costumes in multiple houses and that there might have never been just one Jackaroo.

I thought of this book recently because of Truman Capote’s account of asking you what you were doing in front of a mirror, to which you replied “I’m looking at her.” I feel a little like the girl in Jackaroo lately, trying on the Marilyn costume to see what superpowers come along. It seems you were aware of the power of this costume.

I have been studying your physical movements lately. I just love the way you run in the movies. There is this small step run that is kind of out of control and shows your internal quirkiness. I find a little of this free-wheeling feeling in your voice too, especially in Bus Stop and your last few interviews. I have been able to see your growth as an actress through the films you made, and although you might have been missing days and showing up late, there is a kind of a self-trust that develops. And you always seem to be dancing.

Love,

Alice

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