The secret sexual and erotic history of many stars of the Golden Ages of Hollywood was revealed sometimes years later after those actors were gone. Many artists hid their personal sexualities during a period in the industry that didn’t deal with scandals, drug and alcohol abuse, prostitution, industry pressures etc.
If today, we commonly know actors and actresses proud to admit a different sexual orientation, other than hetero, in those times, things were on the opposite.
For instance, Marilyn Monroe is known as the sex symbol for any heterosexual red-blooded male, but there is a great irony because Monroe was not the man-eating siren her image suggested. Still, Marilyn confessed to her psychiatrist and a few close friends about having erotic and impassioned encounters with Joan Crawford, Barbara Stanwyck, Marlene Dietrich, Judy Garland, Brigitte Bardot, Jane Russell, and Anne Baxter. Now, there’s actually evidence in many of the names mentioned above to Monroe’s lesbian get-togethers particularly for starters with Joan Crawford.
When Monroe began to see psychiatrist Dr. Ralph Greenson towards the end of her life, in taped transcripts of Monroe’s sessions, she confessed in stating about Crawford, “Oh yes, Crawford. We went to Joan’s bedroom. She had a gigantic orgasm and shrieked like a maniac…next time I saw Crawford, she wanted another round… after I turned her down, she became spiteful.” A source close to Monroe said that Marilyn decided not to have a long affair with Crawford because she didn’t trust Joan, who could be cruel and demanding and hated being shown up by another woman.
According to actress Celeste Holm, who appeared with Monroe in “All About Eve,” claims that Marilyn’s sexual problems were rooted in her traumatic childhood. Her mother had schizophrenia, her mother’s brother was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and both of her grandparents spent their last years in mental institutions, so Norma Jean grew up with a deep-rooted fear of genetic insanity and this, according to Holm, gave Monroe a lifelong terror of pregnancy.
In addition to her fear of giving birth to an abnormal child, Marilyn suffered from devastating bouts of endometriosis, a gynecological condition causing intense pelvic pain, severe cramps and painful periods. It made normal sexual intercourse difficult and uncomfortable. “Because of this”, Holm explained, “Marilyn was never able to enjoy sex with men. She was afraid of it, and turned to older women as sexual role models.” It leaves to question was it because, amid the emotional wreckage of so much of Monroe’s life, she had found her greatest happiness with women?
Monroe’s co-workers definitely believed that she was bisexual. Director Jean Negulesco, who Monroe worked with on “How to Marry a Millionaire,” quoted Monroe as having told him once that she “had never had an orgasm with a man in her entire life.” He read between the lines, but was there something more to Monroe feeling closer to women than men?