UPDATE: 5/22: More on this book!!
I had the unexpected pleasure of sitting down with Award-Winning Film Editor turned Non-Fiction Writer, Peter M. Wright, to discuss his new book, Coroner’s Cold Case #81128: Marilyn Monroe.
First of all, I’d like to thank you for taking the time to sit down with me and answer a few questions about your own life and what drew you to Marilyn Monroe’s life and death.
My pleasure and many thanks for your interest in my book and me.
Let’s start with who you are:
I was born in Los Angeles. At that time my father was employed as a animator at Walt Disney Studios. He later became a Director, then branched off on his own making business films. I worked with him and after a while I found myself editing commercials for another company. From there I started my own post-production company editing and distributing commercials for the L.A ad agencies. I did that for about 20 years and then retired. I turned to writing mostly to have something to do. I am married, have a son and daughter and four grandchildren. My wife is a wonderful woman who is also my best friend.
What first drew you to Marilyn Monroe? Did your interest precede her death or did it come later?
Well, like most people I went to see her films, but I can’t say she hypnotized me with her considerable beauty or her choice of roles. I followed the reports about her death and discovered that no one had an adequate explanation for why she died. The authorities picked suicide as an easy way to bury her and be done with it. But her fans didn’t believe that and wouldn’t give up printing books that they hoped would clear things up. All they did was confuse what real information existed with their unproven theories.
How did you begin your journey to explore her death? Did you know when you started where you were going or did the research and the story lead you to what you wrote and published?
It seemed to me that hidden in the wealth of information that was being circulated there had to be some truth, but the problem was how to find and verify it? I began following the stories as they came out, compared them to what could be proven, and what could not. The process turned into a hobby if you will, and then became this book.
Tell me more about the process of researching and writing this book? Did you edit the book yourself? Did you get input from others along the way?
The information that was dated was the best source. For instance if a dated story was published about Marilyn being in a fight on a Hollywood set, but another article placed her in New York on the same date, one of them was wrong. Then her movements leading up to that date, and to some extent afterwards, revealed what had to be the truth. In that way I cleared the confusion from the mountain of information being disbursed concerning her life, and death.
Can you share something you discovered that before your book was not known?
I was quite surprised to discover Marilyn was suffering from what is called today Dissociative Identity Disorder, which used to be called a Multiple Personality Disorder, or a Split Personality. Many people saw the change of personalities happen to her but generally they thought Marilyn was acting her movie star role. But that was not the case. There were two women living in one body; Norma Jeane Dougherty, and Marilyn Monroe. Norma Jeane’s emotional development stopped sometime in her late teens. Marilyn was a functioning adult woman – tough and bright. When Norma Jeane found herself in a situation she couldn’t handle, Marilyn would take over and clean up the mess, so to speak. When not working, or in distress, she was Norma Jeane, but when she was called to the studio to shoot or to negotiate, it was Marilyn Monroe who showed up. There was one difference between them and others who have the same disorder. Most of the time one personality does not know what the second is doing when they are in control. Norma Jeane could watch what Marilyn did but she couldn’t do anything about it. She couldn’t interfere with Marilyn’s plans.
My second surprise came when I learned why Marilyn died, but you’ll have to read my book to learn that.
Do you read for pleasure? If so, what are your favorite genres and who are your favorite writers?
I do read for pleasure. My favorite genre is mysteries which come to think of it may be why I was drawn to write about Marilyn. Her story was one huge mystery. I have so many favorite writers I can’t possibly name them all here.
Who do you like better: The Lady or moi???
A very well loaded question but I’m ready for it. I like moi the best…
What’s next for you?
That would be telling, but I will admit I’m deep into another cold case investigation, and it too is full of fascinating mysteries.
Let me ask you a couple of cheese-related questions; after all this is a cheese website… What is your favorite cheese?
My wife, whom you call The Lady, shared a cheese gift from Murray’s Cheese with you and moi on New Year’s Eve that included a wheel of the seasonal Upland Cheese Company’s Rush Creek Reserve. As you might recall it had a smokey, bacon taste and you and I were fighting hand to paw to get our fair shares… thank goodness for that opposable thumb…
Yea, indeed I do recall; but my recollection is more in the area of you need to learn the meaning of the word sharing… oops… did I say that out loud? Moving on… tell me what cheese you would pair with Castor canadensis
I’ve always been quite the fan of Castor canadensis but have never paired it specifically with cheese. However, in thinking about it, I suspect it would pair quite nicely with a wedge of Taleggio, another favorite of mine…