At first glance, considering Marilyn Monroe a lesbian seems like revisionist history projecting a modern issue back into the past. But lesbian rumors go all the way back to Marilyn’s lifetime. The lesbian rumors are relevant to a discussion of Marilyn’s death because they are so closely correlated to the first conspiracy theories. Author Ezra Goodman was making claims as early as 1963 that he had uncovered information that Marilyn was “dabbling with lesbianism” toward the end of her life.
The rumors began life while Marilyn was alive. They started early in her career when she briefly lived with her acting coach, Natasha Lytess. Natasha herself is likely the source of many of those rumors because of comments she made about Marilyn at the time. Further confirmation of their sexual intimacy comes from the lighthearted ribbing that Frank Sinatra gave Joe DiMaggio about the Lytess/Monroe relationship. The whole wrong-door-raid may have been a result of this ribbing in an attempt to catch Marilyn in the act with a woman. This was revealed by sources close to Sinatra. For some reason, DiMaggio thought that a public revelation of an affair would bring Marilyn back to his arms. If his goal was to end her career, bringing a lesbian affair to the attention of the public would do the trick. Hal Schaefer says the affair they almost uncovered was with him.
Marilyn’s affair with Lytess may have been nothing more than experimentation, but who can say for sure. Lytess, around the time of Marilyn’s death, would write a booking confirming the affair. It was never fully published and only pieces of her manuscript have become public knowledge. The pieces that she did make public in interviews were very carefully worded to insinuate an affair without actually confirming it. It’s almost as if she had agreed not to reveal the affair but still wanted the public to know the truth. I find this fact interesting. Lytess was dying of cancer at the time and was facing huge medical bills. Publishing her “tell all” book would have been very lucrative at a time she desperately needed money. The question that forms in my mind is: Who, or what family, would have a vested interest in the book not being published and would also have the financial ability to pay her not to publish? I think you know where I’m going with this. If Marilyn was having an affair with Pat Kennedy Lawford, the family would want any rumors of Marilyn dabbling in lesbianism kept quiet. Like her relationship with the Kennedys, the MCA case and the events at Cal-Neva, there was a concerted effort to downplay or ignore these very important parts of Marilyn’s last year.
Other lesbian rumors concerning Joan Crawford and Marlene Dietrich originated while Marilyn was alive. In the case of Joan Crawford, this rumor was even possibly confirmed by Marilyn herself. Other rumors that began circulation after her death concerning Lili St Cyr, Betty Grable, Judy Garland, Elizabeth Taylor and Bridget Bardot are most certainly revisionist history with no basis in reality.
There are other rumors that date back to Marilyn’s lifetime. One concerns Marilyn and her publicist Pat Newcomb. In Monroe’s final months the two were almost inseparable. Pat was working closely with Marilyn during the week, then spent weekends with her at her house. People began to talk. This is confirmed by a co-worker of Newcomb’s at the Arthur Jacobs agency.
There is also another rumor that was revealed in Anthony Summers’ book Goddess. He doesn’t give an exact date for this. His only clue as to when it happened is that he places this story after he had just been speaking of events which occurred in the fall of 1961. He tells of a woman who had to be paid off because she was about to reveal information of an affair with Monroe. This is how he describes it in his book:
“In the same period, the consultants were used to smooth over a bizarre matter involving a Hollywood woman who claimed to have had a lesbian encounter with Marilyn and who seemed likely to brag about it. The woman was silenced with a cash payment, though the facts of the matter were never resolved.” (Source: A. Summers, Goddess)
That’s all he says about this tantalizing tidbit and he doesn’t provide a source for it in his end notes. I’d like you to keep this story in mind as I tell you about another one. This story is found in a recently revealed document from the FBI concerning a Hollywood woman named Lulu Porter. Before we consider the FBI file, lets examine any possible connection between Porter and Monroe. There is no record in any biography that they knew each other, but could they have crossed paths? As we saw, Summers places this story in the last year of Marilyn’s life. What dominated that time period was negotiation for, then the filming of, Somethings Got to Give. Bob Mackie designed costumes for Marilyn for her role as Ellen Arden in the unfinished film SGTG. Mackie was gay and in later years would live with his life partner Ray Aghayan. But at this period in his life he was married to Lulu Porter.
Most of the files the FBI provides about Marilyn were released in the 1990’s. Almost all the information that the FBI shares is from informants, tipsters and press clippings. Most of it is nothing more than hearsay and gossip. That said, there is still important information that can retrieved from these files. The file I’m about to discuss, titled “Robert F. Kennedy”, didn’t surface until about a decade ago. We know it’s authentic because after it’s disclosure the FBI added it to their Marilyn Monroe files on the FBI website. The file appears to be the results of one of the first independent investigations into Monroe’s death. Most current commentators dismiss the file. Since was written to the FBI in 1964 with claims of a Monroe/RFK affair, many claim it to be from Frank Capell, the man who wrote what’s considered the first conspiracy book. I doubt this to be the case. There are many internal inconsistencies between the two works. Probably the most significant is that the author of the FBI letter claims the drug that killed Marilyn was the barbiturate Seconal. Capell knew it was Nembutal. Capell also knew the correct spelling of Pat Newcomb’s name, while the FBI document has an alternate spelling, Newcombe. There are similarities between Capell’s book and the FBI document, but there are enough differences to make it unlikely that they came from the same source. Unless the FBI leaked the information to Capell and he cleaned up the errors.
What’s relevant to this discussion are the references to lesbian affairs. Capell doesn’t come out and say that Monroe and Newcomb were intimate but he does imply it. In his book, Capell quotes Goodman about Marilyn “dabbling with lesbianism” late in life, and in a section about Newcomb he writes:
“At the time of Marilyn’s death Pat lived at 120 South Canon Drive, Beverly Hills, California, and frequently stayed overnight with Marilyn. Pat is now in her thirty’s and has remained single. It is no secret in Hollywood and Beverly Hills that Pat and Marilyn were very close and that, while Marilyn had male interests mainly, Pat was not given to romantic interests in men.” (Source: The Strange Death of Marilyn Monroe, Frank Capell)
It should be pointed out that Capell is a lying nut job that see’s everything through an “every leftist is a commie” lens. He was actually indicted for making untrue, homosexual smears against a politician. There are many inaccuracies in his book and he could be way off base on this. Fred Guiles was an author who worked closely with Newcomb on his screenplay, turned magazine article, turned book, Norma Jean. In that book he says that Pat was briefly married before working with Marilyn. I could find no other documentation of this marriage. Newcomb did marry (again?), although it was late in life. There is evidence to suggest Newcomb did “love” a man at this time. If that love was romantic or merely hero worship, only Newcomb can say. Was that love so strong that she would kill to protect this man’s reputation is also a question that you will have to ask Pat. That man, by the way, is Robert F. Kennedy. Jeanne Martin, the wife of Dean Martin implied Newcomb carried a torch for RFK for many years. Rupert Allan also made a comment that indicated Newcomb was interested in Bobby. My purpose in including quotes from Capell’s book is to investigate things that were being said at the time, not to substantiate them.
Now lets consider the three page letter sent to the FBI in 1964. The author considers the Monroe/RFK affair a known fact. The theory that’s set forth in this letter is that Monroe was induced to commit suicide. Several people are involved in this conspiracy including Newcomb. The letter states:
“It is reported the housekeeper and Marilyn’s personal secretary and press agent, Pat Newcombe, were cooperating in the plan to induce suicide. Pat Newcombe was rewarded by her cooperation by being put on the Federal payroll…” (Source: Marilyn Monroe FBI file, FBI website)
For the first page and a half of the letter to the FBI, the author develops this scenario right up to the call from Joe DiMaggio Jr, on the evening of Monroe’s death. Then the author abruptly changes topics. For one small paragraph he jumps to one year later and includes a few sentences about Pat Newcomb, along with White House press secretary, Pierre Salinger, picking Lulu Porter to represent the U.S. in a foreign festival.
After that strange, seeming unrelated news, he starts a new paragraph whose topic is a lesbian affair. That paragraph starts with this sentence:
“Marilyn was as also having an intermittent lesbian affair with XXXXXXXX
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX.” (Source: FBI file)
The X’s in the above excerpt represent a portion of the text that has been redacted. It’s much longer than just a name. It would be very interesting to find out exactly who is being referred to. My hunch is that it’s a name with a further identifying characteristic. Could it be something like this: Patricia Lawford, sister of the president? At first glance this may seem highly improbable. So what would lead me to make such an outrageous assumption? Allow me to explain. The next sentence in the FBI letter is about JFK coming out to California for sex parties. The rest of the letter is devoted to details of the Kennedy involvement in the cover up of the circumstances that led to the death of Marilyn Monroe. We have a three page letter outlining a conspiracy involved in Marilyn’s death. In the middle of this document are parts about Lulu Porter, and that information is immediately followed by the lesbian affair line. Both subjects seem oddly out of place. In the authors mind they must both be relevant to the theme of he letter, which is there was Kennedy involvement in the death of Marilyn Monroe.
There is a precedent for Pat Kennedy’s names showing up in FBI files which detail the sexual escapades of the family. I’m speaking of a document that can be found in Ted Kennedy’s FBI file. This one comes from the east coast and has received some notoriety. Because of it’s salacious content, many Marilyn authors have commented on it. It involves orgies at the Carlyle Hotel in New York. When it was first released in the 1990’s it had several names blacked out. When it was re-released online in 2012, one of the names on the list that had been redacted was now visible, it was Mrs Peter Lawford. But what does Pat Kennedy have to do with a singer selected for a foreign film festival? Is there anything that connects Pat Kennedy Lawford to Lulu Porter? For that answer let’s take a closer look at Lulu Porter.
It turns out that this letter to the FBI is correct about Porter being selected by Pierre Salinger to represent the United States in a cultural exchange program with Poland. Pat Newcomb, in her role with the U.S. Information Agency is also involved. Lulu Porter wasn’t well known at the time. She was very young. She had never made a record and wasn’t even known as a singer, she was just another Hollywood starlet. She had only been in one movie, The Brass Bottle, and in that she did not sing, she did a belly dance. Her appearances on television had been limited to a few local stations. So when she was selected to represent the United States it raised some eyebrows and reporters naturally inquired how it was that she was chosen.
She admitted that she never auditioned for the State Department and she claimed she didn’t know (or wouldn’t tell) why she was chosen, but she does offer up an explanation for how.
What follows in quotes is from the August 6, 1963 issue of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
“Miss Porter has only one clue to explain her selection. This was an event that occurred in April or May. At that time she was singing in a small nightclub in Beverly Hills, Ye Little Club. She had won an audition there that eventually brought her a five-week engagement. One night, after she finished her 25-minute act doing nine songs with a three-piece combo, she was congratulated by Pierre Salinger, President Kennedy’s press secretary.”
This was not a single story in one newspaper. It was an UPI story that was picked up by local papers. On the same date the Kansas City Times runs a similar story but includes quotes from her manager, who says, “the first he knew about the Polish festival was in June. I found a message to call the State Department.”
As for why Miss Porter was awarded this “plum” assignment the articles states: “Miss Porter’s manager, Jerry Fonarow, filled in a few gaps in Miss Porter’s success story without being able to solve the mystery of his client’s selection as the U. S. representative of pop singing. Fonarow ‘discovered’ Miss Porter the night she auditioned at Ye Little club, where he did publicity.”
So is there any reason to connect this story with Pat Kennedy Lawford? The Post-Gazette article goes on to reveal there was someone with Salinger and Newcomb the evening they “discovered” Porter in the nightclub:
“Salinger had been at the club with one of the President’s sisters, Mrs. Peter Lawford, and Pat Newcomb, Marilyn Monroe’s press agent at the time of her death.” (Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, August 6, 1963)
Now that a connection of Pat Kennedy Lawford to the Lulu Porter story has been established lets return the FBI letter. Immediately following the information about Porter comes the line about Marilyn’s lesbian affair. It’s reasonable to assume the author felt the two were connected. Who Marilyn was having an affair with has been redacted. The name probably wasn’t Lulu Porter or Pat Newcomb because their names were not redacted in the preceding sentences. Besides Salinger, Newcomb and Porter the only other person publicly connected to this story is Mrs Peter Lawford. With that established, is there anything that connects the Porter incident to a lesbian rumor? I believe there is.
Before I began the section about the FBI letter, I asked you to keep in mind the small tidbit of information that Summers reveals about a pay-off to a woman who had an affair with Marilyn and was likely to brag about it. My working theory is that the woman Summers is referring to is Lulu Porter. My hunch is that Porter had been paid off while Marilyn was alive, but after Monroe’s death she knew she was sitting on a major story and wanted more. Perhaps she felt like Marilyn had felt early in her career when she didn’t want money, she wanted to be wonderful. Lulu may have been more interested in a big break, the kind of publicity that could kick start her lack luster career. It may be that Pat Newcomb and Pat Kennedy were instrumental in orchestrating that big break. Is there any proof this was a payoff. For that answer let me direct you to the online John F. Kennedy archives.
This information is available online for anyone that’s interested to read it. It’s an interview of Lucius Battle conducted in 1968 by Larry Hackman. Battle served as Assistant Secretary of State for Education and Culture and worked in some sort of oversight capacity of the program that sent Porter to Poland. The interview is available in the archives under the title, “Third of Three Oral History Interviews.” I’m going to provide an excerpt of the interview below. I want you to notice how Battle appears to be a little tongue tied in his answer and how he chooses his words very carefully. Battle is answering questions about press criticism of the program. The program had received bad press a few times but there was only once it had received some flak from within the government. Here’s a portion of Battle’s response to the issue of press criticism:
“BATTLE…We got no really bad publicity after that, except there (sic) case involving Pierre Salinger [Pierre E.G. Salinger] that got a lot of low flak at the time. It involved—I can’t remember the details of it—it involved a singer named Lulu Porter, I think was her name. Glen Lipscomb is the one I mentioned that objected to Jesse Unruh. He was the one also who got on this particular girl who went to some competition which she won. She had some sort of—she wasn’t given grant by us, as I remember, but she was given facilitative service, but had the blessing. It was done in a way that I felt…. It was when I was in Bogotá because I read it in the press when I landed in Miami; that’s the first time I’d heard of it. And this caused a great deal of flak because Pierre Salinger was given credit for—he and Pat Newcomb were given credit for having selected her at a night-club they’d gone to. And I do not recall, my recollection is that the case, it was a borderline case, where we had not done much to help but we had given some sort of facilitative assistance. It never should have occurred; it was very bad, but it wasn’t disastrous. We got a little criticism on that one, but that’s about the only one that I can recall that we got any flak on.” (Source: JFK Library website)
So she received a “facilitative service.” Is that government speak for a bribe to keep her mouth shut?
All the information I’ve provided is all interesting, but I know it’s not conclusive. There is nothing that can be definitively said about the rumors of Marilyn and lesbianism. Lois Banner has made the strongest case for Marilyn’s bisexuality. I don’t want to rehash ground that has already been covered. I want to examine why the rumors are so closely tied to the earliest murder theories. Ten years after Marilyn’s death, in a rare interview, Dr Greenson would reveal that Marilyn was not involved with a man at the time of her death. Was he implying that she was involved with a woman? I developed the theme as a way to provide some rational explanation of why Marilyn Monroe may have committed suicide. Through all the years of research I put into this case, the only explanation that makes sense to me, is that Marilyn had some sort of relationship with Robert Kennedy. For some reason, on that last weekend of her life, she was trying to reach him. His reaction to her trying to reach him, was to either ignore her or to have harsh words with her, on the phone or in person. Her reaction to his actions was to first get angry, then despondent. As the evening went on she grew more and more despondent over being cut off. The rejection she felt was instrumental in the decision to take her own life. But does this scenario really fit the facts? Is it reasonable to assume that a man she only met in person a handful of times could have had that effect her? It just doesn’t seem likely.
People who like to downplay the role of the Kennedys in Marilyn’s death do it by downplaying the role of the Kennedys in her life. Claims that Marilyn only met JFK four times are untenable. It almost had to be more than four. But whether it was four, six, ten or dozen it really doesn’t matter. It may have been a brief affair, it may have been nothing much more than a flirtation, whatever it was, it was over months before her death. The situation with Bobby is different. She really did only meet him a handful of times. The reasons she called him over the summer I explained in Last Love. Marilyn’s contact with RFK can be easily explained by three factors. First was the movie he was making with Fox. The second reason was the MCA case, and the third was for help with her studio. Short phone calls and a few face to face meetings with groups of people around doesn’t sound like a romance. So how could his rejection have impacted her so deeply. It just doesn’t make sense. What does make some sense is that being cut off from the entire family, in essence, was the same as being rejected by Pat Kennedy. And if Pat was someone she had finally made a deep and emotional bond with, this might have made her so despondent she felt like giving up. If Marilyn spent much of her life with a dark inner voice that told her she was worthless, this rejection may have been the final proof that voice was right.
The suicide scenario is just a theory. It’s based on a whole bunch of conjecture and supposition. It definitely wouldn’t satisfy anyone who demands hard evidence before reaching any conclusions. Perhaps the answer to the Marilyn mystery lies beyond the accidental overdose or suicide assumptions. Maybe we should look at alternate death scenarios for the answer. Are there other possibles that fit the forensic evidence? I believe there are, and that’s where we shall turn our attention soon. But first, we need to look into the drugs that were found in Marilyn’s system on the night she died.