Mondo Marilyn: Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe


It is often said that the bigger the lie, the more people will believe it.  In Marilyn Monroe’s case, this seems to be the rule instead of the exception; the public is repeatedly asked to endure endless accounts of the schizoid Norma Jeane/Marilyn myth while her real and more substantial passions are often ignored. 

There isn’t any money to be made in suggesting that Marilyn was actually a multifaceted and talented career woman whose “madness” was probably a reaction to the shortcomings of the men who controlled her opportunities in that pre-women’s lib era in which she struggled to survive.  I find it curious that of all the books that have been published on Monroe, even the ones that profess to defend her, none of them have donated their sales to the Los Angeles Children’s Home in Hollywood, the orphanage synonymous with that infamous tale of the sad childhood of Norma Jeane. 

I wonder if it would surprise people to know that Marilyn considered herself a natural horticulturalist – she subscribed to gardening magazines and used her talent for horticulture as therapy, especially during the last period of her life, when she occupied her Brentwood home.  This Giant Marilyn Garden Art Wall from last month’s Singapore Garden Festival would have delighted her.

Walt Disney, the man who imagined, and then made real, an entire universe synonymous with the young at heart the world over was so enamoured of Marilyn’s effervesence that he insisted the character of Tinkerbell be fashioned after her.  Unlike the exaggerated Barbie doll, Tinkerbell’s proportions are entirely Monroe’s. According to Wikipedia, Disney’s animated version of Tinker Bell is one of the most important branding icons for the The Walt Disney Company, generally known as “a symbol of ‘the Magic of Disney'”.

Marilyn’s greatest and overlooked passion, that of equality and human rights, is finally being explored, thanks to the recollections and gratitude of Ella Fitzgerald. 

Here Bonnie Greer, a playwright and Actors Studio alum talks about her play, MARILYN AND ELLA, which focuses on Marilyn’s support of the Civil Rights Movement

“I owe Marilyn Monroe a real debt,” Ella Fitzgerald would muse. “It was because of her that I played the Mocambo, a very popular nightclub in the ’50s. She personally called the owner of the Mocambo, and told him she wanted me booked immediately, and if he would do it, she would take a front table every night. She told him – and it was true, due to Marilyn’s superstar status – that the press would go wild. The owner said yes, and Marilyn was there, front table, every night. The press went overboard. After that, I never had to play a small jazz club again. She was an unusual woman – a little ahead of her times. And she didn’t know it.”


Jimmy Page and Aleister Crowley: deciphering the mage

I have been accused of being a ‘black magician.’  No more foolish statement was ever made about me. I despise the thing to such an extent that I can hardly believe in the existence of people so debased and idiotic as to practice it. ” – Aleister Crowley

Jimmy Page photo above, taken by Herb Greene, 1968.  Page’s interest in Crowley would be, like Crowley himself, grossly misrepresented and misunderstood.  Perhaps even maligned. 

In the early 1970s, Jimmy Page owned an occult bookshop and publishing house, “The Equinox Booksellers and Publishers” in Kensington High Street, London, eventually closing it as the increasing success of Led Zeppelin resulted in his having insufficient time to devote to it.  In “I’m With The Band,” Pamela Des Barres recalls one of the more interesting aspects of her relationship with Page: scouring Hollywood for rare occult literature to ship back to the Guitar God.

The infamous Boleskin House, (purchased by Page, formerly owned by Aleister Crowley) lies on the edge of Loch Ness in Scotland.  Sections of Page’s fantasy sequence in the film The Song Remains the Same were filmed at night on the mountainside directly behind Boleskine House.

Jimmy Page interview below, from Guitar World January 2008:

(Guitar World) Could we talk a little about the meaning behind your Sequence [in The Song Remains The Same movie]?

(Page) To me, the significance is very clear, isn’t it?

(GW) Well, I find it interesting that you were choosing to represent yourself as a hermit at a time when you were really quite a public figure.

(Page) Well, I was hermetic. I was involved in the hermetic arts, but I wasn’t a recluse. Or maybe I was… The image of the hermit that was used for the [inside cover] art-work on Led Zeppelin IV and in the movie actually has it’s origins in a painting of Christ called The Light of the World by the pre-Raphaelite artist William Holman Hunt. The imagery was later transferred to the Waite tarot deck [the most popular tarot deck in use in the English-speaking world]. My segment was supposed to be the aspirant going to the beacon of truth, which is represented by the hermit and his journey toward it. What I was trying to say through the transformation was that enlightenment can be achieved at any point in time; it just depends on when you want to access it. In other words you can always see the truth, but do you recognize it when you see it or do you have to reflect back on it later?

(GW) There was always a certain amount of speculation about your occult studies. It may have been subtle, but you weren’t really hiding it.

(Page) I was living it. That’s all there is to it. It was my life – that fusion of magick and music.

(GW) Your use of symbols was very advanced. The sigil [symbols of occult powers] on Led Zeppelin IV and the embroidery on your stage clothes from that time period are good examples on how you left your mark on popular culture. It’s something that major corporations are aggressively pursuing these days: using symbols as a form of branding.

(Page) You mean talismanic magick? Yes, I knew what I was doing. There’s no point in saying much about it, because the more you discuss it, the more eccentric you appear to be. But the fact is – as far as I was concerned – it was working, so I used it. But it’s really no different than people who wear ribbons around their wrists: it’s a talismanic approach to something. Well let me amend that: it’s not exactly the same thing, but it is in the same realm. I’ll leave this subject by saying the four musical elements of Led Zeppelin making a fifth is magick into itself. That’s the alchemical process.

Stairway To Heaven: a glorious manifestation of the great work

The Crowley quotes that revolutionized occult thinking for Page and countless other seekers of truth:

“Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.”

“Love is the law.  Love under will.” 

“Every man and every woman is a star.”

Jimmy Page, misunderstood mage.