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Marilyn Monroe's 1961 Letter Detailing a Harrowing Psych Ward Stay Against Her Will

Marilyn Monroe in a still from The Misfits, 1960 | Image: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

In 1960, during the filming of Marilyn Monroe's last completed film, The Misfits, her life began to fall apart. Monroe's husband at the time, playwright Arthur Miller, had written the screenplay, which was about a troubled woman in love with an older man. By all accounts, the story was Miller's interpretation of his and Monroe's marriage. 

The shoot, filmed in the Nevada desert at temperatures regularly over 100 degrees, was punishing. Monroe watched helplessly as Miller, on set, fell in love with photographer Inge Morath. Mercurial, alcoholic film director John Huston spent most of the time drunk. Clark Gable, Marilyn's costar, died of a heart attack only a week after filming ended. In this horrific set of circumstances, Monroe's remaining stability crumbled and she increasingly abused prescription drugs. In November of 1960, Arthur Miller filed for divorce. 

By the beginning of 1961, a psychiatrist Monroe had seen committed her to Payne Whitney Psychiatric Clinic in New York. What Monroe believed would be a few days rest turned into being locked in a padded cell against her will. Until she was released against the staff's direction with the intervention of former husband Joe DiMaggio, the actress felt trapped and terrified. Read Monroe's six-page letter to another psychiatrist, penned during her psych ward stay, at Letters of Note. Via Open Culture


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