She was not the usual movie idol. There was something democratic about her. She was the type who would join in and wash up the supper dishes even if you didn’t asked her.
- Carl Sandburg
I had great respect for her as an artist and as a person. She was a lovely girl. She had a great mind. The girl’s got character. The first sixteen years of her life was enough to floor most of us. She never fully realized herself. The best years for her were ahead of her, the best years were the years to come.
She was very quiet and had great natural dignity (I cannot imagine anyone who knew her trying to take a liberty with her) and was extremely intelligent. She was also exceedingly sensitive… . In repose, her face was at moments strangely, prophetically tragic, like the face of a beautiful ghost—a little spring-ghost, an innocent fertility-daemon, the vegetation spirit that was Ophelia.
- Dame Edith Sitwell
She was a difficult woman, you know. We liked her and we said the nicest things about her and she deserved them; but, she was trouble and she brought that whole baggage of emotional difficulties of her childhood with her.
It’s difficult to write about Marilyn Monroe now that she is gone. The past tense just doesn’t suit her somehow; she was too acutely alive. I knew her and was very fond of her. She was a strange, tormented, endearing girl, full of fun - a bravado fun, as though daring death to strike her down. Well, it did, finally. What can we say who saw her living in that shadow-land of loveless Hollywood? She who had such love in her heart - love for people, animals, birds, trees - had to die for lack of it! Who’s to blame? I thought of blame, even though it’s always too late.“
- Norman Rosten
“Marilyn seemed genuinely glad to see a familiar face. I have yet to see anything in Marilyn that isn’t genuine. Surrounded by thousands, she conducts herself like a philosopher.”
-Saul Bellow in a star-struck letter to his editor Pascal Covici after meeting her at the Chicago premiere of Some Like it Hot
I think Marilyn is bound to make an almost overwhelming impression on the people who meet her for the first time. It is not that she is pretty, but she radiates, at the same time, unbounded vitality and a kind of unbelievable innocence. I have met the same in a lion-cub, which my native servants in Africa brought me. I would not keep her, since I felt that it would in some way be wrong.. I shall never forget the most overpowering feeling of unconquerable strength and sweetness which she conveyed. I had all the wild nature of Africa amicably gazing at me with mighty playfulness.
- Karen Blixen/ Isak Dinesen
Miss Monroe is one of the greatest comedy actresses of our time. She is simply superb. Miss Mansfield I’ve never seen.
-Vladimir Nabokov, when asked his opinion of America’s sex symbols (Marilyn and Jayne Mansfield)
She was quite adorable and fey
- Dorothy Parker
Marilyn had an ability, unique in my experience, to appear to be what you wanted her to be and therefore the real person remained elusive. If you considered her a blonde bombshell, she’d play that for you but have no respect for you.
For women Monroe embodies kinds of fear that were just as basic as the hope she offered men: the fear of a sexual competitor who could take away men on whom women’s identities and even livelihoods might depend; the fear of having to meet her impossible standard of always giving – and asking nothing in return; the nagging fear that we might share her feminine fate of being vulnerable, unserious, constantly in danger of becoming a victim.
To have survived, she would have had to be either more cynical or even further from reality than she was. Instead, she was a poet on a street corner trying to recite to a crowd pulling at her clothes.
Literati on Marilyn