While part one of Lifetime’s The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe showed the bombshell’s rough childhood and rise to fame, the second half was all about the star’s tragic demise. As the men and movies piled up, the fame started to become too much for poor Norma Jean (Kelli Garner) — and, well, you know how it ends.
Part two opened in a smoky, boozy bar where we were introduced to baseball player Joe DiMaggio (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), setting the tone for what’s to come. You know: love, sex, and drugs.
The Joe DiMaggio Years
Because the miniseries is only two parts and spanned Monroe’s life over the course of two decades, from 16 to 36, the second half felt a bit like a “best of Marilyn Monroe” collection. While Monroe’s marriage to DiMaggio was brief, it was memorable. Morgan and Garner have great chemistry, making this whirlwind romance believable.
Bonus Lifetime moment: When DiMaggio asked Monroe’s mother, Gladys (Susan Sarandon), for her daughter’s hand in marriage, she said yes and quipped, “Oh, by the way, you did tell him can’t have children, right?” and then exited the room. Get Sarandon that Emmy!
This One Line
When Monroe confided in her mother that she and Joe were having issues, Gladys responded with this incredible line of dialogue: “Does Joe love you? Do you love him? Then have a baby!” Sure, because that’ll solve it!
Blonde Hair, A White Dress, and Some Wind
With an icon comes iconic imagery. The most notable photo associated with Marilyn Monroe is the subway grate scene from The Seven Year Itch. The combination of her blonde hair, that white dress, and the wind made for a moment that would ultimately define her. We got to see the making of that scene, and apparently what came after — DiMaggio did not approve. The couple made their way to their hotel room after the set; he called her a whore and slapped her.
Her Downward Spiral
“I think you’ve had a hard life, and that you’re sad,” Monroe’s psychiatrist told her. As explored in the first part, Monroe had been dealt a rough hand in life, and in the second part, we saw the result of her dark childhood: a troubled love life, miscarriages, career ups and downs, and eventual descent into drugs. The darker it got, the better Garner got as Monroe. We know how it all ends, but it doesn’t make it less sad or unfortunate.
Who Marilyn Was
The film ended with the star’s tragic death at age 36. The actress infamously overdosed at her psychiatrist’s house, though he was attempting to help her depression. It’s clear Monroe was far from saving and that her years of trying to please everyone else around her had taken its toll.
While The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe essentially fast-forwarded through the biggest moments of Marilyn Monroe’s career, it gave us a look into who she was, thanks to an incredible performance by Kelli Garner.
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