I learned some new stuff about her from reading this. A lot of it set the record straight on Marilyn's life, and I am grateful for that. So, I wanted to share some of the stuff I learned from her book and also some little anecdotes. I highly recommend picking up the book, The Other Marilyn by Warren G. Harris.
When she was a child, she joined her family's vaudeville act and went by the name of 'Mademoiselle Sugarlump.'
Her father, Edwin Reynolds did not want his children to perform. He threatened to leave his wife, Ada, if she put his children on stage. Well, she did...so he did. He got a job promotion in Nashville, and left without his family. The family never saw him again, and Ada was granted a divorce.
She sometimes played on the same vaudeville stage as Buster Keaton and his family act.
Marilyn and her family lost several of their show business friends on the sinking of the Titanic. I am not sure who exactly though. The only show business person I know who was on the ship was actress Dorothy Gibson. I'm gonna look into that though!
And to finally put the rumors to rest, Marilyn did not have a affair with Florenz Ziegfeld, although God knows he tried. She thought he was too old and not that attractive, and he, well, he was known to take up with his Ziegfeld girls.
Ziegfeld was against Marilyn marrying anyone. He tried hard to stop her marriages to Frank Carter and Jack Pickford.
|Jack Pickford and Marilyn|
The diva herself, Anna Held (once Mrs. Ziegfeld) once asked for a private audience with Marilyn. By this time, Anna was dying from a rare bone disease and was slowly wasting away in her hotel room. She gave the young dancer advice on Ziegfeld. She told him he had ruined her life, and he would do it to Marilyn if she wasn't careful. Marilyn told her she had nothing to worry about, that Ziegfeld wasn't her type, and that she was in love with Frank Carter. Anna Held died two months later.
Her first husband, Frank Carter was killed in a car accident less than a year after they married. He had just bought Marilyn a brand new royal blue Packard. He had their initials put on all the doors. But, when he was driving it back to Philadelphia to show her her new gift, he crashed into an embankment. His two friends who were in the car with him survived the crash with minor injuries, and another passenger suffered a broken collarbone and ribs, but Frank was crushed between the seat and the steering wheel after the car flipped over.
"When I saw that stunning new Packard that he meant to surprise me with, I felt even worse. Frank was dead, but the car was little damaged except for a dented roof and cracked windshield...I couldn't get over the feeling that it all might not have happened if I'd never raved about that car to Frank in the first place. I should have realized that he'd rush out and buy it for me. He was always so impulsive and generous that way." ~ Marilyn Miller
She was the one behind the $35, 000 white marble mausoleum that Frank was to be entombed in. She left instructions in her will that when she died, she was to be interred next to him. And even though she was married twice after Frank...it was beside him that she was buried.
In 1920, Marilyn took a trip to Paris with her mother-in-law, Carrie Carter. While there, she received a condolence note from her fellow Ziegfeld girl, Olive Thomas. Olive was in Paris for a second honeymoon with her husband, Jack Pickford. Marilyn was still feeling down about Frank's passing, so she declined Olive's offer of going out to dinner. It was a shortly after that Olive died. Marilyn did find out about her death until she had already returned to New York. She did not attend Olive's funeral because she was still feeling emotionally raw from her husband's death/funeral.
"Jack is the only man I've met since my husband's death who reminds me of him. Jack is the same type physically, dark haired and slender, but his eyes are dark gray while Frank's were black. Jack is like Frank reincarnated, the same point of view and everything." ~ Marilyn Miller
"Millionaire or billionaire, I could have had them all, but I'm particular and I chose Jack Pickford. Ten thousand men have loved me, but I love only one, and that's Jack." ~ Marilyn Miller
Jack got the idea for Olive's tomb from the one that Marilyn had constructed for Frank Carter. Frank and Olive were buried in the same cemetery.
Ada Miller, Marilyn's mother, was not happy that she was left out of the planning for her daughter's upcoming wedding. She began getting into arguments with Charlotte Smith, THE stage mother to Mary, Jack, and Lottie Pickford. Ada swore she would not attend the wedding because she was so angry, and unfortunately, she kept her promise.
The night before the wedding, Mary Pickford invited the couple over to Pickfair to celebrate the upcoming nuptials. Apparently all the pomp and ceremony got to be too much for Jack that he ripped a fart right in the middle of dinner. What a charming man...
|Jack Pickford and Marilyn|
Mary's pet parrot greeted guests arriving for the wedding. Yeah, that would have gotten old REAL quick.
As the couple drove off, surrounded by a cavalcade of guards, guests were greeted by the sight of shoes attached to the bumper. Said shoes were 'donated' by Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, and Charlie Chaplin.
When she was finally coerced into making a screen test, Mary Pickford stepped in to be a technical advisor. Problem is that Mary wanted to dress her and make her up, so Marilyn ended up looking like Mary on film! After all that, Marilyn bowed out of accepting a film offer from Samuel Goldwyn, which really pissed Mary off. You don't want to piss off a Pickford!
Jack Pickford once had an affair with Clara Kimball Young...while she was still married. This was before he met Marilyn, but Clara's divorce proceedings occurring during their marriage. The press had a field day with the news.
Marilyn and Jack once attended a party given in their honor at Buster Keaton's house. He had a hearse parked out front in the driveway that was filled with bootleg booze. I love that man. Side note though, the book said that Jack and Buster were best friends. I had never heard that before.
Marilyn was offered a role on stage as Peter Pan, a role that had only so far been played by Maude Adams. Author J.M. Barrie hadn't wanted anyone but Adams to play the role, but he was such a fan of Marilyn's that he allowed the play to be performed. Marilyn received help for her stage movements and fencing skills from her new brother in law, Douglas Fairbanks. Mary Pickford was not a happy camper though because SHE had been wanting to play the role of Peter Pan on film and was not allowed. She refused to help her sister in law.
She was good friends with actor Clifton Webb. There were rumors that the two were romantically involved, but considering that Webb was gay...probably not. She often hung around town with Webb and his mother, Maybelle.
|Marilyn and Clifton Webb|
Marilyn hated film making. Why? Well, basically because she enjoyed her beauty sleep! While she was making films, she had to get up before dawn to get to the studio so that she could get her makeup done and so the filmmakers could get everything set up for the day's shoot. When she was dancing and acting on stage, she sometimes didn't get out of bed until the afternoon. I can't say I blame her.
In one evening, she sold $1, 250, 000 worth of WWI Liberty Bonds.
After sinus surgery, she kept having issues. Some quack doctor decided the cure would be insulin injections...yeah, seriously. These injections made her even sicker (no shit) and she would drift in and out of consciousness. On April 7, 1936, she opened her eyes and smiled at her new husband, Chet O'Brien, and her sister Claire. She closed her eyes again, and died.
Marilyn's sister Claire later went out to say that Marilyn died from incompetent medical treatment. She said that the doctor who performed her last surgery had cut to closely to the membranes that surround the brain, leaving it vulnerable to infection. The insulin injections only made it worse. The press of course chose to say she died of a broken heart.