In February 1961, Marilyn Monroe spent four harrowing days in a New York psychiatric clinic. And now a letter to her psychiatrist revealing the horror of her ordeal has been released ahead of an auction of her personal items in November.
By the end of 1960 Marilyn Monroe was completely exhausted.
Recently divorced and living in a daze of prescription drugs, she needed to rest but instead spent four days locked in a padded cell in a New York psychiatric clinic.
There she would endure a complete loss of of privacy, forced baths and sleeplessness.
“There was no empathy at Payne-Whitney, it had a very bad effect,” she wrote in a strikingly candid six-page letter to her psychiatrist Dr. Ralph Greenson.
“They asked me after putting me in a ‘cell’ (I mean cement blocks and all) for very disturbed depressed patients … they asked me why I wasn’t happy there.
“I answered: “Well, I’d have to be nuts if I like it here.”
Monroe had been committed by her other psychiatrist Dr. Marianne Kris and just one year later would found dead in her Californian home.
In February 1961, Marilyn Monroe spent four days in the Payne Whitley Psychiatric Clinic. Source: Facebook
The letter details her experience in the clinic where she says she felt like a prisoner locked up for a crime she didn't commit.
"The inhumanity there I found archaic," she writes.
"Everything was under lock and key; things like electric lights, dresser drawers, bathrooms, closets, bars concealed on the windows -- the doors have windows so patients can be visible all the time, also, the violence and markings still remain on the walls from former patients.
"Then there were screaming women in their cells -- I mean they screamed out when life was unbearable I guess."
Becoming increasingly desperate she threatened to self-harm, an idea she got from one of her films.
The trailer from The Misfits, which was released in 1961 (post continues after video):
"I sat on the bed trying to figure if I was given this situation in an acting improvisation what would I do. So I figured, it's a squeaky wheel that gets the grease," she wrote.
Picking up a light-weight chair, she slammed it against the small window to break the glass.
"It took a lot of banging to get even a small piece of glass," she writes "so I went over with the glass concealed in my hand and sat quietly on the bed waiting for them to come in.
"They did, and I said to them 'If you are going to treat me like a nut I'll act like a nut'. I admit the next thing is corny but I really did it in the movie except it was with a razor blade. I indicated if they didn't let me out I would harm myself -- the furthest thing from my mind at that moment since you know Dr. Greenson I'm an actress and would never intentionally mark or mar myself. I'm just that vain."
Following the incident Monroe was forcibly removed from her room and taken to a different floor.
"I couldn't believe in what they were doing," she says, "they asked me to go quietly but I refused to move staying on the bed so they picked me up by all fours, two hefty men and two hefty women and carried me up to the seventh floor in the elevator. I must say at least they had the decency to carry me face down."
An administrator told her she was a "very, very sick girl" and had been for many years.
He asked her how she couldn't possibly work if she was so depressed.
"I replied: 'Didn't he think that perhaps Greta Garbo and Charlie Chaplin perhaps and perhaps Ingrid Bergman they had been depressed when they worked sometimes but I said it's like saying a ball player like DiMaggio if he could hit ball when he was depressed. Pretty silly."
Eventually Joe DiMaggio, her second husband, rescued her despite objections from the staff.
The letter can be read in full on the Letters of Note website.
Feature image: Facebook