SLATZER/CARMEN CONNECTION

by Rebecca Swift

Robert Slatzer and Jeanne Carmen, two names that always crop up in the story of Marilyn Monroe, but should they? Is their association to her a valid one?

Let us first start with Robert Slatzer:

Robert Slatzer was a newspaper reporter from Ohio who relocated to Hollywood in 1946. He was a sometime screenwriter and director and also wrote books about Bing Crosby and John Wayne. He published two books on Marilyn “The Life and Curious Death” in 1974 and “The Marilyn Files” in 1992.

However, he will most be remembered for the claim he made that he and Marilyn were secretly married in Mexico in 1952. He maintains that 20th Century Fox studio head Darryl Zanuck ordered that the marriage be dissolved over concerns about Marilyn’s image. It is also Slatzer’s assertion that Zanuck ordered that all documents relating to the marriage be destroyed. Slatzer claims that heremained one of Marilyn’s closest friends and confidants until the end of her life, speaking to her on the night of her death and taking photographs on the set of her final film, photographs which it has since been proven were not taken by him.

He states that he met Marilyn in 1946 when she was still a struggling model and they started dating, eventually resulting in their marriage. There are lots of people, myself included, who believe that Slatzer’s stories are complete fabrication, the man, according to whom, Marilyn took a moonlight skinny dip with on their very first date.

Slatzer has never been able to prove conclusively that he was married to Marilyn. Conveniently, it is his claim that all the paperwork relating to their marriage was destroyed. However, there are many points, which can disprove the union.

Bank checks survive written by Marilyn in Los Angeles on the date, which Slatzer says they were getting married in Mexico, October 4th 1952. Slatzer has always maintained that they left LA on October 3rd and arrived back a week later, so how could she have been in LA at the same time?

Why would Zanuck insist on annulling the marriage? Slatzer provided no real reason, other then her image, as a single woman would sell more movie tickets. If that were the case, there would be no objection to Marilyn marrying Joe DiMaggio only fifteen months later and their much publicised romance beforehand.

Marilyn’s personal life is well documented, the time that Slatzer says she was seeing him, she was involved with other people. Slatzer goes one step further, saying that he met Joe DiMaggio when Marilyn had double booked them and they both turned up for a date with her on the same night. I think this is highly improbable, I can’t imagine Marilyn doing this, or Joe standing for it.

Slatzer did eventually manage to produce a witness to his marriage with Marilyn, but it was later revealed that he had paid this man to lie and corroborate his story, the man in question ‘Kid’ Chissell, an ex boxer, said he was desperate for money and so agreed.

But, there is physical evidence that Marilyn and Slatzer did meet on one occasion. Photographs taken on the set of Niagara in 1952 show Marilyn posing with Slatzer, very much as a movie star would pose with a fan, not an uncommon thing for Marilyn to do. Slatzer was also in possession of a signed photograph of Marilyn, which he claimed, proved their close friendship.

From the Marilyn Encyclopaedia by Adam Victor:”Slatzer’s critics, and they are many, say that Slatzer is simply a world class fantasist, who turned a passing acquaintance with Marilyn during the shoot on Niagara into a lifetime career. The sole piece of evidence Slatzer offers in “The Life and Curious Death of Marilyn Monroe” is a photograph of him and Marilyn against the backdrop of Niagara Falls, on which appears the inscription, ‘To Bob, Luck & Love, Marilyn.’ Donald Spoto, who has provided the most compelling debunking of Slatzer’s claims so far, [in his biography “Marilyn Monroe, A Biography”] notes that Marilyn wrote far more personal dedications to people who were important to her. It would have been quite possible for Slatzer to have taken the photographs and then sent them to her, care of the studio, requesting her to autograph them.”

Did this chance meeting with a movie star start an infatuation with Marilyn, which turned into a lifelong obsession for Slatzer? Was he delusional enough to convince himself that his tall tales were the truth?

If Slatzer had such a long association with Marilyn, why are there no more photographs of them together in existence? Why does his name not appear in any of her personal telephone books, letters, or correspondence? Why had no one in Marilyn’s inner circle heard of him?

In the 1970s Slatzer became one the of biggest proponents of the Kennedy murder theory in Marilyn’s death, most of the ‘facts’ now accepted about this originally came from him, and he has done much to muddy the waters into finding the truth about what did happen to Marilyn on her final night. Whatever that truth may be. I must state now that I personally do not believe Marilyn was murdered and certainly not by Kennedy hands. The press conference, the red diary, the Marilyn paranoid that she was bugged and obsessed with being First Lady, they all came from Slatzer. The only other people to corroborate the red diary story are Ted Jordan, Lionel Grandison and Jeanne Carmen, a plethora of Marilyn liars. The fact that the account of the red diary comes from Slatzer alone should be reason enough to discount it from Marilyn myth.

Slatzer also made the wild claim that on 4th August 1973, he had taken part in a ritual with Church of Satan leader Anton LeVey and LeVey’s wife at Marilyn’s house. According to him, this had actually caused Marilyn to materialise in spirit form. There is no concrete evidence to suggest that Slatzer ever knew LeVey, he claims they met at the home of a movie studio publicity man. Slatzer provides a back story by saying that he had been plagued by strange occurrences and the smell of roses ever since Marilyn had died.

Should we believe a man who took it upon himself to continue the delivery of roses to Marilyn’s crypt after Joe DiMaggio brought it to an end after 20 years……eventually the florist was forced to cancel after only a short time due to none payment.

Slatzer has also been a voice in the call for further investigation in Marilyn’s death. In the 1980s he sent a letter to the County Supervisors arguing that Marilyn was murdered and that a Grand Jury should investigate her death, the request was rejected. Many will give him credit for that effort at least, my personal opinion is that he has done more harm than good and we travel further and further away from the truth with each new crazy conspiracy theory and sensationalist lies.

Slatzer did appear in the press a couple of times connected with Marilyn during her lifetime.

The first mention of the ‘romance’ is in a Dorothy Kilgallen gossip column from August 1952 “A dark horse in the Marilyn Monroe romance derby is Bob Slatzer, from Columbus, Ohio, literary critic. He’s been wooing her by phone and mail and improving her mind with gifts of the world’s greatest books”.

At first, this may seem something in the way of evidence as to an association, but Slatzer was a writer, he could have easily placed this item, gossip columnists depend on gossip, which is unsubstantiated and passed anonymously by its very nature, so this can hardly be taken as evidence of an affair. The description of him as a ‘literary critic’ suggests someone was responsible for making him seem more glamorous than he was, or inaccurate information was provided at the outset, whichever, it was presumably Slatzer himself who was responsible.

The second time was in an article in Confidential Magazine in 1957. Slatzer gave an interview talking about the intimate details of an affair he had conducted with Marilyn while she was dating Joe DiMaggio, and they were intimate, it was an extremely trashy article and must have been very upsetting to Marilyn and her new husband at that time, Arthur Miller. Slatzer claims he slept with Marilyn between dates she had with Joe but surprisingly, he makes no mention whatsoever of their marriage. He did not make this claim until at least ten years after her death.

From what we know of Marilyn she did not suffer fools gladly, she liked her friends to be true and loyal, if she did know Slatzer before 1957, he would certainly not have been in her circle of friends after the publication of the Confidential article. Certainly not her lifelong friend until the night of her death. She would never have spoken to him again. This is proof at least that if any sort of relationship did ever exist between Marilyn and Slatzer, it would definitely have been over in 1957. So Slatzer must be stretching the truth with the claims of final phone calls, clandestine meetings and Kennedy secrets divulged by Marilyn to him.

So, if Marilyn and Robert Slatzer had been married in 1952 why did it only occur to Slatzer to mention it in the early 70s.

In “Reporters – Memoirs of a Young Newspaper Man” by Will Fowler. He explains how the idea of a marriage to Marilyn may have suggested itself to Slatzer. He says Slatzer came to him in the early in the1970s with an article concerning Marilyn’s death. Slatzer was hopeful that this could be expanded upon into a book and that he and Fowler could share co-author credit, as well as any profits. It was at this point that Fowler mentioned it was a shame that Slatzer did not have some sort of hook, such as the idea that Slatzer and Monroe had been married, stating that it would surely increase the book’s sales. Fowler writes that he had just started reading the first draft when Slatzer came to him and informed him that he and Marilyn had been married, but only for a weekend. This, plus questionable facts in the manuscript made Fowler suspicious of Slatzer. Fowler parted with Slatzer but he was eventually able to publish the book by other means.

Another item in “The Life and Curious Death of Marilyn Monroe” is a reproduced letter from Walter Winchell written to Slatzer confirming that Slatzer and Marilyn were close. Will Fowler also covers this in this book. He states that during his first association with Slatzer it came to his attention that a personal letter from Walter Winchell had gone missing from his press books, this and the production of Slatzer’s paid witness to his marriage made up Fowler’s mind to pull out of any involvement with him. It is his conclusion that Slatzer used this original letter to somehow fabricate the one that appears in his book.

Fowler goes on to say that he did see the book when Slatzer got it published, he found it to be filled with fantasies and he was thankful that he had not got involved. He concludes by saying that Slatzer has made a living by presenting these fantasies to gullible talk show hosts as well as the public. He asserts that Slatzer and Marilyn were never married, they only met that one time during the filming of Niagara and that Slatzer never met either Walter Winchell or Joe DiMaggio.

Many people are confused about Marilyn’s make up man Whitey Snyder’s forward to Slatzer’s book. It is something that has puzzled me for a long while. I found the best explanation as to why Whitey may have done this in ‘The DD Group – On Online Investigation into the Death of Marilyn Monroe’ by David Marshall and it comes from a TV Producer called Claudio Masenza, so I will quote that here:

“I made a TV documentary about Marilyn’s last months in 1980 and I interviewed many of the people who had been connected with her death, among them Slatzer. I never found him convincing and definitely didn’t like the fact that he showed me pictures of Marilyn that he claimed he had taken during the tests for ‘Something’s Got to Give’ and that were in fact taken by a Fox set photographer. The only thing that almost convinced me of his friendship with MM was the Snyder introduction to his book. A few days later I met Allan Snyder and, after the interview, I asked him how well he knew Slatzer when Marilyn was alive. His reply came as a surprise: he didn’t know him at all and never even heard of him until the day Slatzer asked him to write the introduction. Then he also said that he always trusts people and Slatzer had told him that he had been close to Marilyn for many years and since he didn’t know all of her friends, he had believed it, plus he had been paid for writing that little thing (or maybe just for signing it?)”

Mr Masenza also goes on to say that he met Norman Rosten a few days after his meeting with Whitey and Norman told him that he was sure Slatzer was never a part of Marilyn’s life and that he found the whole story of the murder cover up a cynical fantasy just to sell books. Ralph Roberts was also interviewed by Masenza and he too agreed completely with Rosten. Masenza then went on to find out that Rosten had been approached by Slatzer with reference to his book, as well as Lena Pepitone, who also did not remember Slatzer at all.

Slatzer also claimed to have interviewed Pat Newcomb, but she told Donald Spoto that she had neither met him, nor heard of him.

Slatzer was a writer, he would have had contacts in the world of showbusiness, he must have know many other writers, reporters and media people who did know Marilyn and did have contact with her, so knowing about many of her activities, likes, dislikes, habits etc. could have come from other sources. If he and Marilyn really were as close as he claimed they were, there would be solid proof, more photographs, letters, call records, reminiscences from her friends. There is just no evidence at all to back up his claims of marriage and friendship.

Whatever you think or feel about Slatzer he made a very good living off his Marilyn stories for many years and has certainly made sure that his name will be remembered next to hers for years to come.

Jeanne Carmen was a B movie actress of the 1950s and later a professional trick shot golfer. In her latter years she made a living from her associations with Elvis, Sinatra, the Kennedys, the Mob and most notably Marilyn, beginning to tell her story around the early 80s. She claims to have been Marilyn’s best friend and a constant in the last years of her life. Privy to Marilyn’s personal secrets, her affairs with the Kennedy brothers, and of course, one of the last people to speak to with her on the night she died.

She has made two claims as to how she met Marilyn, the first is that they were neighbours at Marilyn’s Doheny Drive apartment complex, before Marilyn moved to 5th Helena Drive, the second is that they met in a bar around the corner from the Actor’s Studio whilst both waiting to perform a scene. There is no evidence that Jeanne was a member of the Actor’s Studio and it seems highly unlikely that she ever would have been. If any association was forged at Doheny it is more likely to be a passing in the hall or occasional hello. Author Donald Spoto discovered that Monroe’s neighbours at Doheny Drive had no knowledge of Carmen and it has never been confirmed for sure if she did in fact reside there.

Jeanne Carmen has kept the Kennedy conspiracy theorists in business for years, she is another proponent of the red diary and Kenndy murder stories and she was always ready with her salacious reminiscences of Marilyn and Bobby Kennedy. How she, Bobby and Marilyn would visit nude beaches together disguising themselves by wearing wigs, or the time when the three visited a sauna where Errol Flynn showed them a peephole he used to spy on guests. She seemed to have an endless stream of fables, always involving someone famous who was no longer around to defend themselves.

She is always present in Marilyn documentaries made after a certain time, in crocodile tears because she did not go over to Marilyn’s house on the night she died to take her the ‘bag of pills’ that she asked for and if only she had been there, she might have saved her. This, according to Carmen is how she knows Marilyn was murdered, because she did not have any pills of her own. Not one piece of evidence exists to back up any of Carmen’s stories, as least Slatzer had proof that he did meet Marilyn once, there is nothing to prove that Jeanne ever did.  There are no photographs and no letters, which is extremely strange considering her claims of their close and long friendship. Again she does not appear in any of Marilyn’s telephone books and none of Marilyn’s associates, circle of friends or employees had heard of her. Carmen herself has never been able to provide any evidence, she did say that Marilyn had sent her a birthday card shortly before her death in 1962, but it was never produced.  If they were as close as Carmen maintains and this was the last thing Marilyn ever sent to her, would you not expect it to have been treasured? Or at least easy enough to find and produce at any rate.

The author Donald Wolfe supposedly found someone who could testify to the fact that Carmen had known Marilyn, a man named Brad Dexter, an actor and friend of Frank Sinatra, but he could go no further than to say that Carmen and Monroe did know each other. There is no indication in Wolfe’s book that he thought them any more than acquaintances.

By the late 1990s it seems that Carmen was running out of revelations, she told author David C Heymann that she herself had also had a relationship with JFK, although this it seems had slipped her mind previously. She went on to publish a book about her life, which was full of even more sensationalist (and unauthenticated) stories.

The one thing that really makes me dislike Carmen, apart from the fact that I don’t believe a word she ever said, is how she would loiter at Marilyn’s crypt after the memorial services waiting for any fans who didn’t yet know any better. The sight of her grinning, posing for photographs and signing autographs in front of the crypt of her ‘best friend’ was just too much to bear. I would find it extremely difficult for a woman who had the friendship with Marilyn that she claimed to have to do this. She was not interested in Marilyn, whose memory she damaged beyond repair, she was only interested in self promotion.

I really do find her story hard to believe, why would Marilyn befriend her? They were not even the same sort of people. I can’t imagine that they would get along or have anything to talk about. They had nothing in common. She was just not the sort of person whom Marilyn would have chosen for a close girlfriend.

Many of the conspiracy theories and stories of Bobby Kennedy’s relationship with Marilyn centre on the testimony and accounts of only a handful people, Slatzer and Carmen being the main contributors. Sadly, most of these will now be forever associated with Marilyn and are even crazily accepted by some to be fact.

As the years have passed, Slatzer and Carmen have added to their tall tales, come up with new claims and fantasies, all an insult to Marilyn’s memory. Slatzer would claim that Marilyn was murdered because she knew the truth about aliens crash landing at Roswell and Carmen would tell of Bobby Kennedy finding Marilyn’s tell all red diary and threatening tohave her shut up for good.

The difficult thing when you are creating your version of the truth as you go along is that your story changes and you can easily be caught out, as can be said of both Carmen and Slatzer, but when the person you are speaking about is no longer there to put their side of the story forward, it makes it a lot easier. Marilyn was an easy target and someone that everyone would want to be associated with. She gave them both a kudos they had never had before, and would not have had without her.

Maybe the saddest thing of all is that Marilyn is no longer here to decry these claims, but now neither is Slatzer and Carmen, I wonder if they have at last had to explain to her why they made her their meal ticket all these years?

Copyright 2015 Rebecca Swift for Immortal Marilyn