Lauren Reid Headshot

Marilyn Monroe was a media icon as soon as she stepped onto the scene. She started off by modeling and playing small roles in movies, her first two roles were as a mistress. Some say Monroe put Hugh Hefner’s Playboy magazine on the map when she posed to be his first ever centerfold. She broke society’s standards and, oddly enough, was praised for it. She created a reputation and name for herself that has lasted for decades. She left us with strong, feminist quotes, inspiration and controversy.

Monroe reached the level of fame where she was able to meet the President of the United States — not everyone has mutual friends with the man. At the time, this was John F. Kennedy. When the two met, Kennedy was obviously with Jackie and Monroe was married to Arthur Miller, a playwright. The introduction was rumored to be at a dinner party in 1961.

Rumors of Monroe’s alleged affair with Kennedy started brewing in 1962 after she performed a spicy edition of “Happy Birthday” at his 45th birthday party. It’s been ruled that the only plausible time the two could’ve had an affair was at Bing Crosby’s house party in March of that year. The rumors have continued to live throughout history. Monroe’s close friend and personal masseur, Ralph Roberts, has told reporters of a time Monroe called him asking for massage tips. Roberts claims to have heard a distinct Boston accent in the background before President Kennedy got on the phone himself.

It’s rumored that Monroe admitted to her close family and friends, including Roberts, about one sexual encounter with the president. According to Roberts, the bombshell made it seem as if it was a one time situation and that was it. Kennedy is said to have requested her birthday performance that night, and as mentioned previously, Monroe did go on to do so.

The only unedited, original evidence of the two being together is from the night of Kennedy’s birthday party. It comes in the form of a black and white photo of Monroe, John and Robert “Bobby” Kennedy — whom she was also rumored to have had a love affair with. Other than that photo, Monroe historians have struggled to find official evidence of the two.

So, how did the beloved sex icon end up dead? There are a few theories, but almost all revolve around Monroe knowing “too much.” Many think the FBI drugged and killed Monroe and some think the Kennedy brothers did it. On record, Monroe’s death was ruled as an overdose and possible suicide — with a known history of mental health struggles, this was easy to believe. She was found laying on her bed, unclothed, with her antidepressants spread around the room on Aug. 4, 1962. Ironically, Bobby Kennedy was in town that day.

Twenty years after her death, Monroe’s housekeeper, Eunice Murray, revealed information that fueled the fires of these theories. She announced that Bobby Kennedy had not only been in town, but visited Monroe on the day of her death. According to Murray, the two had an argument during his visitation.

Though some think Murray’s statements weren’t always credible, I think she told the truth on the matter. I’ve convinced myself she waited two decades out of fear of what the Kennedy’s could do — they were the first family after all. Monroe brought the wrong kind of headlines to the White House. She supposedly had been sleeping and/or partying with both brothers, was known to love drama and was constantly in the limelight herself. I’m not exactly sure how, but I definitely think the Kennedy brothers had something to do with her death.

Rumor has it … Marilyn Monroe knew too much for her own good.

Lauren Reid is a senior at UT this year majoring in journalism. She can be reached at lreid9@vols.utk.edu.

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