weather icon Windy

City was witness to Monroe’s metamorphosis

Actor Peter Facinelli’s Twitter biography reads, “I pretend to be other people … In real life that’s considered a personality disorder. If you get paid to do it, it’s called acting.”

For one of the world’s most recognized actresses, her transition from who she was to who she wanted to be was rooted in a mixture of calculated planning and a relentless struggle to overcome childhood trauma.

Before she was the blonde bombshell known as Marilyn Monroe, a dark-haired Norma Jeane Mortenson came through Boulder City with a man named Bill Pursel.

Mortenson was living on Third Street in Las Vegas in 1946 while seeking a quick Nevada divorce from her first husband, James Dougherty. Norma was on the brink of becoming a global icon as Fox Studios promised her a movie contract as long as she was single and had no plans of becoming pregnant.

What I think people don’t really understand about Marilyn Monroe was how complex she really was.

The dumb blonde that is known to us as Marilyn Monroe was a concocted persona crafted at the public relations-savvy hands of Norma Jeane Mortenson.

As an example, most people don’t know that Marilyn Monroe was a writer or that she was a well-trained actress. Her autobiography “My Story” was published 10 years after her death and “Fragments: Poems, Intimate Notes, Letters” was published in 2010 as a collection of her personal thoughts and diary entries. Monroe also took college courses and owned an extensive literary collection comprised of over 400 books.

Even more surprising, Monroe was diagnosed as a high-functioning paranoid schizophrenic who also had a mental health episode that required her to be forcibly institutionalized in New York City during 1961. Although, if you research her ability to toggle between the Marilyn Monroe persona and her life as Norma Jeane, one could argue that her traumatic childhood caused a split personality, which is commonly misdiagnosed as schizophrenia.

Personality disorder or not, Norma Jeane Mortenson started off controlling every aspect of the blond bombshell persona. But it was Marilyn Monroe the starlet who seemed to even infatuate her creator, Norma Jeane.

Truman Capote, who was a good friend and literary consultant to Monroe, once told the New York Post that she started to consider “Marilyn Monroe” to be a whole other person. Capote recounted a lunch where Monroe disappeared to the bathroom. The actress was gone for so long that Capote went looking for her only to find her staring in the mirror. When he asked what she was doing, the actress responded, “Looking at her.”

Boulder City played a small yet pivotal role when Norma Jeane came through to visit Lake Mead and the Hoover Dam because it was right around the time that she was starting to morph into Marilyn. In the book “Marilyn Monroe: Private and Undisclosed,” author Michelle Morgan highlights what seemed to be Mortenson’s struggle to fit into the mold of what was expected from women at the time. The author writes about Mortenson’s discontent as a size 12 housewife (which would be a size 8 by today’s standards), her time at Lake Mead with Pursel, and the extent of Mortenson’s invention of Monroe — including the decision to get a chin implant.

As a writer, there is so much that goes into covering Marilyn Monroe. Of the hundreds of books dedicated to her, the subject matter usually starts with Mortenson’s life as an orphan followed by Monroe’s sensational marriage to Yankee legend Joe DiMaggio and third marriage to playwright Arthur Miller. Not to be forgotten are Monroe’s affairs with Frank Sinatra and President John F. Kennedy, which continue to fuel different theories surrounding her untimely death.

I guess all I can say on this Throwback Thursday about Marilyn Monroe’s trip through Boulder City is that most people stop here on their way to somewhere else — be it for sightseeing or to grab a bite to eat. While Mortenson was passing through our city she knew that she was on her way to somewhere else and as someone else.

And she left us with a legacy of two very different people, the one she was and the one she wanted the world to see.

Tanya Vece is an entertainment and music writer who resides and volunteers in Boulder City. You can follow her adventures on Instagram @hollywoodwriter.

Power of people remains at polls

This Sunday is the first anniversary of the Women’s March. Don’t fret, I’m not writing a commercial. I’m looking at a very abbreviated history of individuals coming together to make a statement.

Potential for adventure in city gets real

Reality TV and Boulder City are starting to become a common thing. Recently, the HGTV show “Flip or Flop Vegas” filmed in our quaint town, with an episode promised to air this upcoming summer. However, the likes of Tommy Lee (Mötley Crüe) and Gear Duran aka Gear Boxxx (“Skin Wars”) have had Boulder City ties for sometime now.

Finding right school for child’s needs key to success

Later this month, schools, homeschool groups, organizations and individuals in Nevada and across America will work together to raise awareness about the importance of opportunity in K-12 education.

Mayor should consider re-election

Who will run for mayor in 2019? I realize that we are over a year away from people even putting their names in the hat. Yet, if they are serious about running, they need to start thinking now.

Awards for revitalization efforts, faith in city well-deserved

At our final 2017 City Council meeting, I had the privilege of presenting two Mayor’s Awards, one to All Mountain Cyclery and the other to The Tap, for their 2017 business corridor revitalization efforts. These two businesses weren’t the only ones that worked to spruce up our commercial sector, but the scale of their projects and their commitment to reinvest in our community really stood out to me.

Eastwood accepts ‘Gauntlet,’ runs with it

Actor, producer and writer Clint Eastwood came through Boulder City for a 1977 film titled “The Gauntlet.” While Eastwood was always on board to direct the Warner Bros. picture, he wasn’t the first or second choice to star in the film.

Though popular, bitcoin not wave of future

Bitcoin. It’s everywhere. You see it in the news. People talk about it around the water cooler, and it appears on almost every internet ad. I wouldn’t be surprised if it started appearing in local paper opinion pieces.

Veteran uses talents to help other veterans

Robert Serge served in the United States Navy for 20 months as part of an ordnance laboratory test facility. As he puts it, “We designed harbor mines and stuff like that.”

Smiles plant seeds of hope

Before I sit down to write any commentary, I spend lots of time daily thinking about how to begin. What happened today? What needs addressing? I take so many things so seriously, I end up changing the focus daily. As soon as I submit one commentary, I begin thinking about the next. This one took longer than usual.