This Is Hollywood, Isn’t It?

My Time with Marilyn

By John Gilmore


A close-up of Marilyn taken not long before her untimely death at 36 years old. By the early 60s she had become an international sex symbol, and not coincidentally, her life was falling apart. 

Spring 1953, an afternoon party at John Hodiak’s on Doheny. He asked, “You ever met Marilyn Monroe?” I hadn’t. “She’s down on the patio,” he said, leading me to the terrace. Bright sun. Not a cloud in the sky. 

The blond with the champagne, laughing with a couple people, glanced up when Hodiak called down, “Hello, gorgeous! What’re you doing?” Her teeth sparkled. Her hair glowed almost white like a halo, and her long, slim legs in tight, white toreadors made her look taller than she was. Red high heels with open toes with bright blood-red toenails. She glowed as if some radioactive core lay beneath her skin, blasting white-hot light through a white sleeveless top and illuminating her shoulders, arms, and throat. Her breasts came to uplifted peaks, the nipples traced like two short fingertips. 

Waving, she said, “Hi, John! Come join the party.” It was someone’s birthday, she said. 

“Got my own party going,” Hodiak said. “Come on and join us.” He introduced me. “Jonathan’s a pal trying to be a star, so come on up and tell him your secrets.” 

I said hello to Marilyn. “Nice to meet you.” She said hello back. Peering through those big sunglasses, she said, “Bring your friend John Hodiak down and join us.” Her party was better than ours, she said, and we’d have a marvelous time. 

“‘Different’ is the word, honey,” Hodiak said. “Not ‘marvelous.’”

“Come on, John,” she said, laughing. “They’re the same, aren’t they?” 

“Yours are naughtier,” he said, wagging his finger. 

She feigned a pout. “They are not naughtier—they’re just more fun!”

That was the first meeting. Simple. Hello—hello. 

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