In 1953, during the glittering era of Hollywood’s golden age, Marilyn Monroe, the iconic blonde bombshell, published a searing exposé titled “Wolves I Have Known.” This wasn’t a glamorous photo spread but a stark, unflinching account of the predatory underbelly of the industry she navigated.
Monroe’s narrative was vivid and detailed. She recounted her first encounter with a “wolf” who tried to lure her with the promise of a screen test, only to realize his insincere intentions when he insisted on suggestive poses during a fake audition. She described another chilling incident involving a policeman who, after assisting her with a simple task, later attempted to break into her home.
She didn’t mince words in her article. Monroe laid bare the insidious forms of harassment faced by aspiring actresses: leering photographers, producers offering roles for intimacy, and writers with hidden agendas. These “wolves,” as she aptly named them, were a constant threat, their predatory nature veiled by smiles and promises.
The piece was more than a personal outcry; it was a clarion call for change. Monroe spoke against the casting couch culture, highlighting that talent, not vulnerability, should be the path to success. With sharp wit and disarming honesty, she shattered the facade of Hollywood glamour, revealing its dark underpinnings.
It’s tempting to view her article as a relic of a bygone era. However, the echoes of Monroe’s words resonate through the decades, finding a stark parallel in the #MeToo movement’s harrowing accounts of abuse and harassment. Her experiences illustrate that the wolves of Hollywood haven’t disappeared but have adapted their tactics.
Monroe’s courage in breaking the silence about the exploitation of women in Hollywood remains a powerful part of her legacy. She reminded us that true power lies in exposing predators and demanding an industry where talent and ambition, not exploitation, are the keys to success.
Her article, raw and powerful, is not just a historical document; it’s a blueprint for action, a call to continue the fight against predatory behaviors and dismantle the power structures that enable them. It’s a vision for an industry where the bright lights illuminate a stage free from the shadows of exploitation.
So, when watching a classic Marilyn Monroe film, remember the woman behind the persona. Remember her bravery in exposing the darkness, defying the predators, and lighting the way for a future where every star can shine without fear. Remember the roar from behind the screen, the howl that still demands to be heard: “The wolves are still there. But we can make them afraid.”
“A director famous for his roving eye picked on me one night at a party and he couldn’t believe I was in earnest when I gave him the brush. He followed me upstairs when I went to get my wrap and trapped me when he pulled the door shut on my foot. I managed to get loose and ran into another room. Shut out, he pounded on the door and pleaded that he just wanted to talk with me. I found a magazine and sat quietly reading while he roared. After a while he left.”
“I had an experience with the fatherly type too. This man was an actor’s agent and he wanted to protect me from wolves by giving me $50 a week to live on until I could get established. I was pretty broke at the time and a steady income like that was tempting. However, I didn’t want to be under too much obligation so I told him I would borrow the money. He said okay. I insisted on signing promissory notes for the first two instalments and he took it as a great big joke. He put the notes in a frame and hung them on the wall in his office. I told him I didn’t appreciate him letting everyone know I was in debt to him. “I want all the guys around town to know you belong to me.” he said with a suggestive smile. This didn’t seem to me to be a true fatherly interest, so I didn’t borrow any more from him. As soon as I could, I paid him back. I had quite an argument getting the notes and had to threaten to see a lawyer.”
“While we were sitting around on the sand this fellow I was with kept poking his finger into the flesh on my leg and telling me how he liked girls on whom you could feel the bone. This was a strange approach and it made me uneasy. I finally told him if he liked my bones so much, I’d have an X-ray picture made for him, but he didn’t think that was funny and moved away from me. He told me just before I left that he didn’t like girls with brains, and I told him that was the finest compliment I ever had.”