Berniece wants everyone to know she never smoked cigarettes. On 08/05/2003 a caller to LARRY KING LIVE asked, "How are Marilyn's sister and niece? We don't hear much about them." Larry directed the question to guest Jim Dougherty, who replied, (obviously ailing, thinking of Bebe Goddard, the stepdaughter of Grace Goddard), "Bebe passed away last year from smoking too many cigarettes." Larry left the remark uncorrected, in spite of having invited Berniece and me to appear on LARRY KING LIVE two weeks earlier. We got calls and letters of condolence. We asked Larry to broadcast a correction. In the meantime, we did a mass mailing to friends and relatives. Larry did eventually broadcast a correction.
DEBUNKING SOME MYTHS OLD AND NEW
(This section is decicated to student researchers, with great appreciation.)
MYTH: Marilyn had six toes. TRUTH: Marilyn had TEN toes. She never had six . . . or eleven.
MYTH: Marilyn wore blue contacts. TRUTH: Not so. Marilyn was born with beautiful blue eyes.
MTYH: Marilyn was shuffled among countless foster homes. TRUTH: Marilyn lived with the Bollender family until she was seven years old, when her mother Gladys was able to buy a house. Marilyn then came to live with Gladys, who bought a black piano for Marilyn. When Gladys was institutionalized, she appointed her friend Grace Goddard as Marilyn's guardian. Grace's married sister cared for Marilyn during a transitional period. Grace put Marilyn into an orphanage until she herself had a home for Marilyn, as a result of marriage to Erwin "Doc" Goddard, who had custody of his three children from a prior marriage.At this time Marilyn was nine. Grace's aunt Ana was a help to both Gladys and Marilyn in later years. Grace's brother-in-law helped Gladys come to Florida after Marilyn's death. These people were lifelong friends. (See photos in MSM.)
MYTH: Marilyn was raped as a child. TRUTH. Not so. Marilyn was a virgin when she married Jim Dougherty.
MYTH: Marilyn wrote an autobiography entitled MY STORY. TRUTH: Not so. Ben Hecht, a Hollywood writer, concocted a half-baked manuscript based on conversations with Marilyn. The manuscript remained unpublished long after Marilyn's death. Marilyn's former business partner Milton Greene had it in his possession.
MYTH: Marilyn was fired by Twentieth Century Fox because she called in sick and went to sing at JFK's birthday celebration. TRUTH: Marilyn had permission from Fox to go to the celebration. She was fired because Fox was going broke from the overextended shooting of CLEOPATRA with Elizabeth Taylor. Marilyn was HIRED BACK by Fox. A classic fabrication is that she committed suicide because of the Fox firing. Not so to the max!
MYTH: Marilyn dated Tony Curtis. TRUTH: No way. For over forty years Tony Curtis said in interviews that kissing Marilyn in SOME LIKE IT HOT was like kissing Hitler. Now he says he dated young Marilyn, that she was wonderful and he was in love with her. Is this a symptom of geriatric problems?
MYTH: Marilyn had a child. TRUTH: Not so. Marilynís gynecologist certified that Marilyn never gave birth. We get mail from many women---and occasionally men!---who fantasize that they are Marilynís offspring. Some are scams to solicit money via the Internet.
MYTH: Marilyn was married to Robert Slatzer. TRUTH: Not so. Slatzer never got closer to Marilyn than having his picture taken with her. Faulty timelines, erroneous character names and interviewee names, and
fabricated events in Slatzerís book actually disprove his statements. One of my dogs chewed up his book and got sick.
MYTH: Marilyn had a red diary with national classified information in it. TRUTH: This is another Slatzer fantasy.
MYTH: Slatzer saw Marilynís white piano at Aunt Annaís house. TRUTH: Marilynís piano at Aunt Annaís house was black. I played chopsticks on it with her. Her piano in New York was white.
MYTH: Marilyn was a member of The Actors' Studio. TRUTH: When Marilyn moved to NY she studied acting first under Shakespearean actress Constance Collier. Ms. Collier died. Dating Arthur Miller eventually led to Marilyn's meeting Lee Strasberg, whose classes she began to attend. Classes were not the same thing as Lee's "The Actors' Studio." Marilyn had gotten up her courage to audition to become a member of The Actors' Studio, and would have done so later in the fall of 1962.
MYTH: Documents exist which prove a relationship between Marilyn and JFK. TRUTH: Not so. Counterfeiters abound. In the 1990's I was contacted by tv broadcasting, biography writers, "pathologists" and various sensation hunters when Peter Jennings was going to do a show on a document which had come to light proving JFK had given thousands to Marilyn for the care of her mother. In time, signatures were shown to be fake, and that THE TYPEWRITER FOR THE DOCUMENT DIDN'T EVEN EXIST AT THE DOCUMENT'S DATE. The forger eventually went to jail.
MTYH: Marilyn was wealthy. TRUTH: There was barely enough money to bury her. Marilyn's account had about $3,000.00 in it when she died. There was no money to continue to maintain my mentally ill grandmother Gladys in an institution. The "empire" came into being decades after her death, mainly due to leasing image rights, a process about which Marilyn was naive and had no inkling of becoming an icon. Marilyn deserves a compliment for having the courage to do what few did in her day --- creating her own production company, for her rights in those films eventually brought a profit.
MYTH: Marilyn was in love with JFK and/or RFK. TRUTH: Speculation took root long after Marilyn's death due to a 1969 book author Fred Lawrence Guiles. In 1994, to see Berniece, Guiles showed up at our book signing in Gainesville, Florida. I said, "What in the world are YOU doing here?" Guiles replied, "I moved here." Marilyn was in love with Joe DiMaggio and they were going to marry again. Marilyn didn't sleep with married men.
. . .more to come. . .
WHY WE SHOULD
Marilyn is a scammer magnet.
A fan emailed me saying that an item supposedly owned by Marilyn and then Berniece was for sale on Ebay, and that a document was available with Berniece's signature certifying authenticity. The fan doubted the claim and did not buy the item. To that savvy fan, who noted that Berniece's "signature" was misspelled, I say BRAVO! I replied, adding that Berniece never owned the item and has never signed any such documents.
In other cases, "Marilyn" exhibits have been pulled, when fans have initiated complaints. Again, bravo!
Fans are wonderfully astute. Since publication of MY SISTER MARILYN, we have received countless letters telling us "Before your book, I felt all along the crazy stuff I was hearing about Marilyn couldn't be true."
NON-FACTS exist in proportion to interest in Marilyn. Some NON-FACTS are tales that were later retracted but few people know of the retraction. Other non-facts are the result of fictitious friendships and confidences, lies, fabrications, myths, legends, half-truths, publicity exaggerations, rumors, innuendoes, mistakes, replicated shoddy research. Unending speculation about Marilyn's early death, in combination with her beauty, talent, and unique approachable quality makes an irresistable heady brew.
NON-FACTS are also the result of docudramas. A DOCUDRAMA is a movie or play which adds fiction to fact in order to ďmake it more entertaining.Ē Director Oliver Stone is well-known for this technique.
When book authors use this technique, the result is called a FICTIONAL BIOGRAPHY. Works of this type have caused me to lose respect for authors I once admired, such as Arthur Miller, Joyce Carol Oates. and Norman Mailer.
The creators of such works give notice to the public of these techniques. For instance, Mailer states that he never met Marilyn and that he wrote the fictional biography because he needed the money. (Mailer used the term FACTOID to describe unverifiable Marilyn legends.) With such notices by book authors, they relieve themselves of responsibility for reader/viewer interpretation.
CHECKBOOK JOURNALISM is another root of non-truths. And beyond that, some interviewees will give sensational statements not for dollars but to fulfill their love of attention.
DOES ANYONE CARE?
Some people don't care that non-facts gain credit. Some people donít care about some historical figures because they are ancient figures. Some people donít care about the non-facts of Marilynís life because sensationalism serves their ENTERTAINMENT/IMAGINATION needs. Some people donít care because the first fibbers were Marilyn and Grace Goddard, who made up the first exciting fake stories, because for a Hollywood actor ďany publicity is good publicity,Ē and they feel it is Marilyn and Graceís responsibility for beginning a trend. Always, Marilyn was a huge kidder!
Some fans donít care because they love Marilyn regardless of what is claimed about her.
WHO DOES CARE?
First, Marilynís family cares. We care because one of the myths was that Marilyn had no family to love her. Bernieceís anguish over Marilynís death, and fictions that Marilyn had no family, were our reasons for writing our book.
Second, people who cherish truth care. Among these are historians. Historians love truth whether or not an entertainment broker thinks the public would deem an event ďmore entertainingĒ if non-truths were included. Among my most gratifying moments following the publication of our book were those when I learned the book was used in classes discussing Journalism ethics.
WOULD MARILYN CARE? Marilyn had a Class A sense of humor. Marilyís sense of humor about her career far surpassed ours. But Marilyn loved history and wanted to take history classes. Marilyn read constantly. And Marilyn lost much of her humor upon the car crash death of a PARIS MATCH reporter who was chasing the story of Marilynís wedding to Arthur Miller. Marilyn felt abiding grief; she was appalled to observe such tragic results of competitive journalism. That was then; think about how Marilyn would react to the paparazzi of today . . .of Princess Dianaís death, for instance. Marilyn was one of the most caring humanitarians I have ever known. If angels cry, Marilyn weeps from time to time. But if angels laugh, the continuing outrageous untrue stories about herself make Marilyn laugh.
MYTHS WILL CONTINUE. New ones will be born. Unending interest results in unending myths. Psychologists and psychiatrists and sociologists can expound better than I on Marilynís becoming an icon. They can discuss at length the reasons why she continues to amass fans who were born after her death, reasons why she is an inspiration for the creative arts, reasons why men are magnetized and women fans feel sisterly.
Some things that I have learned after publication of our book are these: People will believe what they want to believe. Our statements will reinforce the opinions of some people. Our statements will have no effect on other people. For us to engage in controversy is of no benefit. The meaning of the phrase "swimming with sharks" became clear. What makes publishing our story worthwhile is that countless numbers of Marilynís fans who are perceptive and who appreciate truth have thanked us. Marilyn is sitting on her rainbow smiling.
. . . . .This section is especially dedicated to students who are writing research papers on Marilyn. . . . .
Keep scrolling down to find the title of the book that you read.
Reader Q-A's are at the bottom of this column.
Thanks for your interest!
Eleven Short Works:
"Feather" is my favorite so far. I liked the happy insight the character gained at the end. J.
They are so much fun to read. I had such a great time reading them and waiting for the "Mona" twist in them. NC
Great first story! Where do you get your ideas? I like the way you intersperse modern slang with prehistoric events. Friend in FL
I love Nuclear People! DRC
Review by J. Alford, Asheville, North Carolina, reprinted here by permission:
"This novel does what John Gardner says any great work of literature must do. It must celebrate life. It must affirm the age-old verities, bring us back to an appreciation of what is elemental and truly important. By the end Wesley (and we) have made that journey back together, to sanity, to life. Terrific writing." J. Alford
Hope the TV and movie contracts soon come! FL
Wesley's Gift was a pleasure to read, a timely book and suitable for young and interracial populations. VA
W G is great! Texas
Loved it! KY
I was haunted by it for two days after I read it! A reader in Atlanta.
One begins to read Wesley's Gift, then one EATS it!! I'm going to read it again, more slowly. Thanks!!!
I want to know what happens next!! What are you going to do for an encore? M.N.
A few times I wanted to pinch Wesley's head off. From a reader.
Wesley's Gift is a wonderful crazy quilt of fascinating characters. Florida.
MY SISTER MARILYN
MOST ASKED QUESTIONS
QUESTION: When did Gladys die and is your mother and father still alive? I wish you would write another book on Marilyn continuing with Gladys and Berniece and Paris. . . . . .ANSWER: We are considering publishing a sequel. Berniece is healthy and as pretty as ever. (See Photos.) Paris passed away at age 72. After Marilyn's death, guardianship of Gladys was transferred from Inez Melson to Berniece. In Gainesville, Florida, Berniece cared for her mother nearly twenty years until Gladysí death at 84 in 1983.
QUESTION: What happened to Maf? . . . . .ANSWER: We offered to adopt Maf. Then we learned that he could go to to live with Frank Sinatra's secretary, Gloria Lovell. Since Frank had given Maf to Marilyn, and Maf could stay in familiar surroundings, that seemed to us to be appropriate, although we adored Maf.
QUESTION: What happened to Marilyn's white piano?. . . . .ANSWER: Lee Strasberg was set to send the white piano that Marilyn had in her New York apartment to Berniece in Florida. Berniece, at that time, decided that being around the piano would affect her emotions too drastically, so she changed her mind. The white piano remained in storage from 1962 until the 1999 Christie's auction by Lee's second family. It was purchased by singer Mariah Carey.
QUESTION: I read and loved this book! Great work! You and your mom were very generous to share this with us all. How come your mom did not push further to receive some of Marilyns empire? She seems more deserving and is FAMILY. From what I can tell, the Strasbergs never distributed all her property as stated in her will. Are they running Marilyns empire and are profitting from her still? Correct? Do they ever offer anything to your mom? It is a darn shame if they havent. God Bless you and your mother. . . . . .ANSWER: Marilynís complete will appears in our book MY SISTER MARILYN, along with Marilynís anger about it. Marilyn had an appointment to change it on Monday; but she died on Sunday. Marilyn did not write her will; NY attorney Aaron Frosch did, and Frosch then profited for the next seventeen years, until the waiting NY bequestees sued. I do not know what Lee Strasberg did in regard to distributing possessions to Marilynís friends. Most likely Lee did his best. As to my family, we have only kind words for him, and maintained a good relationship with him. Lee and Paula were kind to me during my time in NY. Marilyn had no ďempireĒ when she died. (See ďDebunking Myths.íĒ) Space here is limited, but perhaps it will be possible for us to make more detailed comments in a sequel.
more to come
MY SISTER MARILYN:
(NOTE: Any blurbs SIGNED BY NAME appearing here were posted by readers themselves who signed their names. Currently, reader comments are added by me from email or letters I get. Items are under ten lines and anonymous.)
ITEM . . . .Totally loved the book about My Sister Marilyn. Thanks so much. I love to read about Marilyn.
ITEM. . . . .First I'd like to say that I've read so many articles and a biography of Marilyn and none mentioned that she had family! So much for their research! Can I ask you an odd question? Did Marilyn have six toes on one foot? My husband told me that a photographer of Marilyn's swears she did. Also could you also post a photo of Marylin's brother? I'd love to see what he looked like. Thank you Niki
ITEM .. . . .I love this book. It's my favorite Marilyn book. I've been a huge Marilyn fan for 20 years. I'm 29. I was in 4th grade when I became a fan. My friend's older sister had her room full of Marilyn posters. One time we went in her sister's room, and I asked who that was. I've been a huge fan ever since. I hope you and your mom are doing well. Melissa Staats
ITEM: . . . . .I am so glad your mom is okay. I know it was so many years ago that you lost your aunt but those wounds don't really heal up completely. I lost my aunt Julie a year ago unexpectedly and we were super close. She was the fun one in our family (Not that we aren't all fun) Marilyn sounded fun. Her book brought out the sweet, shy down to earth person that I know MM must have been. I was an actress who studied at AADA and did pretty well in CA. for ten years but I just got so tired of the rat race out there. So now I am back in MI and this weather is killin' me. You had a special aunt. And your mom sounds special too. Cherish your time with her! Sincerely, Averie
ITEM . . . . .I read and loved this book! Great work! You and your mom were very generous to share this with us all. How come your mom did not push further to receive some of Marilyns empire? She seems more deserving and is FAMILY. From what I can tell, the Strasbergs never distributed all her property as stated in her will. Are they running Marilyns empire and are profitting from her still? Correct? Do they ever offer anything to your mom? It is a darn shame if they havent. God Bless you and your mother.
ITEM . . . . .I loved this book! Thank you and your mom for sharing your private lives and personal thoughts with all of us! I have read other books about Marilyn, but I always was unsure of their validity. Your book and you and your moms words were so touching and real. I came away from this book feeling grateful for such honest and personal insight into Marilyns (Normas) life with her family. Thank you for being so open with us, the public. God Bless you and your mom.
ITEM . . . . .I absolutely adore the book you and your mother wrote. Holland
ITEM . . . . .Admire your talent. Russia
ITEM . . . . .Came across some interesting, refreshing and new information provided by you and regarding your Aunt Norma. That gave me a great idea about Marilyn, the ultimate woman to ever live on the face of this earth!!! Bernice definitely gives us an idea of how Marilyn would look if still alive and that proves what I had already suspected; Marilyn would look just as great at her 70īs or 80īs. Good bless you and your family. You're so lucky and special. BTW, if you have a single daughter in her 20's or 30's, I am a good match; tall dark and handsome Latin guy in his early 30's trying to make it big in Hollywood,LOL. oh, nevermind...I am married. wink wink! :) "D"
ITEM . . . . .We are there sincere fans of Marilyn. Belgium
ITEM . . . . .The best book by far was from you and your mother because I believe you showed the real Marilyn. CA
Comments about the website:
ITEM . . . . .Okay, the only comment I've made on this entire page is to set the record at hand straight about the land. It is NOT in South Florida, but infact approx fourty five minutes west of Gainesville. No one ever mentioned south Florida. And your mother owned lots of land in the Gainesville area at one time as well. As for all the crazy comments on this page, none of those belong to me. I have read all of your books, have commented on one, and made an offer to send you a photo of the land. That was it from me. I'm not trying to step on any toes, nor have I made one red cent. And I don't intend to for that matter. I have my own money and don't need to prosper from anyone elses, Thank You. Please tell your mom I send my respect. Barbara M~
ITEM . . .. .There was a partial distribution deed from the Estate of Marilyn Monroe, It distributed undoubtedly land from the Estate of Marilyn Monroe to Gladys Ely. When Gladys passed on the distribution deed of the property that Marilyn DID IN FACT OWN transferred directly from the estate of Marilyn Monroe to Berniece Miracle. That property was purchased by Marilyn Monroe directly from Owen Baynard himself. His son Walter Baynard of Baynard Realty in Chiefland FL has ALL the original documents. All the rest of the documents are found in Alatchua County records under the Estate of Gladys P Ely, also in Gilchrist county under None other than Berniece Miracle. Both documents stamped and recorded in public records. It's legal, It's provable. It's obvious this family doesn't want to share any real facts. Mona Rae, do your homework. Don't say things that you can plainly see for yourself and trace it right back through the court records with your own Mother's signature, as well as Marilyn's on her paperwork. Not to mention the entire Gladys Ely's Estate is quite interesting and holds many secretive ties till you mail away to the estate of Marilyn Monroe, back track the documents and all the ties.... Interesting Reading.
ITEM . . . . .Mona, I'd love to send a current photo of the land in Wannee, let me know. I love the site. Add more photo's. ~Barbara M.~ FL
ITEM . . . . .The Homepage is very good... Mareike from GERMANY
ITEM . . . . .Nice site. Would be interested to hear more about Norma Jeane. John Turner
ITEM .. . . .As beautiful as God intended. ~Barbara M.~ Florida
ITEM . . . .I like the sunset! Holly in Orlando
Marilyn Monroe's life with her niece (Mona),sister and mother. A loving family memoir co-authored with Berniece Baker Miracle. Includes a private collection of photographs.
"...a highly literary, readable account." --The Bookwatch.
Whom can Wesley call upon for help in a cross racial marriage? Perhaps Bastet, the Egyptian goddess with the head of a cat. Perhaps twenty-three adopted cats. Perhaps his kitten of a granddaughter. Erotic, comic, tragic, redemptive, this 275 page novel follows Wesley's tribulations in Charlotte, San Francisco, Tokyo and Asheville.
Eleven short works highlight women, men, teenagers and elders undergoing a fission experience. From Ice Age France to contemporary New York, their courage to explore a new path unites them.
Anthologies, ed. by C. Miles and N. Dillingham
Mona's other engaging tragi-comic stories appear in: WOMEN'S SPACES/WOMEN'S PLACES; CLOTHES LINES; CHRISTMAS PRESENCE; IT'S ALL RELATIVE.