MARILYN MONROE-Film Icon Richard J. Garfunkel 11-22-2022

Marilyn Monroe remains a film and American con, not unlike others that died young, starting with Jeanne Eagles, a star of the 1920s, who died of drugs and alcoholism at age 39. Others, like Jean Harlow, the first blond bombshell, Judy Garland, and James Dean followed that same path to fan immortality. Aside from Monroe, there were many other great women stars, and the critics knew talent when they saw it: Greta Garbo, Bette Davis, Mary Astor, Greer Garson, Meryl Streep, Claudette Colbert, Vivian Leigh, Barbara Stanwyck, Katherine Hepburn, Jean Arthur, Susan Hayworth, Deborah Kerr, Audrey Hepburn and Ginger Rogers among many others. By the way, they were all attractive. If not, they could never have made it in the Golden Age of Hollywood.

As for blond bombshells there have been many that followed Jean Harlow, like, Virginia Mayo and Carol Landis. But no one could capture to her electricity. Others, like; Lana Turner, Betty Grable and ultimately Marilyn Monroe were the heirs to Harlow. Monroe certainly created a new look that brought on her own imitators, like Jayne Mansfield, Diana Dors, Joi Lansing, and Carol Wayne, who was an almost a regular on the Johnny Carson Show.

With Marilyn, no one could deny her sex appeal and film charisma. But, In fact, I would judge Jean Harlow to be miles ahead of Monroe in talent. She also had her problems with her mother and her home life, like Mary Astor and many others. Throughout Hollywood history a number of husbands exploited their working wives, but in fact, neither Jim Daugherty, baseball super star, Joe DiMaggio nor famed playwright Arthur Miller exploited her. She dumped first husband Jim Daugherty, DiMaggio was a misogynist and had no clue regarding social graces, and Miller dumped his first wife for her. What else is new? Nothing can be deprecated regarding her strong sex-appeal. But this is nothing new in the world of Hollywood. In fact, the original “It Girl,” was Clara Bow. There were many, many others like, Lauren Bacall, Ava Gardner, Hedy LaMarr and Rita Hayworth, who many fans often call great actresses. They were far from it. Some have had more talent than others, but they would hardly be compared with other stars of the Golden Age of Hollywood: Greta Garbo, Bette Davis, Greer Garson, Joan Crawford, Ida Lupino, Claudette Colbert, Rosalind Russell, Vivien Leigh, Irene Dunne, and Barbara Stanwyck

For sure, not every evaluation is based on sex or sexism. Not every man is a male chauvinist, and there have been countless women who have taken advantage of their good looks to climb up the ladder of fame, success and fortune. I believe, and know, that Monroe had enough talent to come off the pages of the fan magazine, pass a screen text, and be shaped by the body and face sculptors of Hollywood. After that re-make effort, one must really judge her body of work, not just her body! Frankly, I have always liked her in pretty much whatever she did. But, whom am I, but another red-blooded American boy!

Obviously there are film buffs, critics, casual fans and others who buy into “the cult of the personality.” In reading various comments on Marilyn Monroe, one finds two overwhelming dynamics: one an over-analysis of all of her films as some critics and fans try to find the secret to her electricity, allure, and as Billy Wilder said, “flesh appeal” and the other, a more detailed look at what she really accomplished, the depth of her roles, her actual skills and how they evolved.


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A lifelong New Yorker, who now lives full-time in Palm Beach County, Richard was raised in Mount Vernon, New York and he was educated in the Mount Vernon public schools He graduated from Boston University with a BA in American History. After spending a year on Wall Street as a research analyst with Bache & Co., he joined a manufacturing and importing firm, where over the next twenty-five years he rose to the position of chief operating officer. After the sale of that business, Richard entered into the financial services field with Metropolitan Life and is a Registered Representative, who has been associated with Acorn Financial Services which is affiliated with John Hancock Life Insurance Company of Boston, Ma. Today, he is a retired broker who had specialized in long-term care insurance and financial planning. One of Richard’s recent activities was to advise and encourage communities to seek ways to incorporate “sustainability and resiliency” into their future infrastructure planning. After a lifetime in politics, with many years working as a district leader, which involved party organizational work, campaign chair activity and numerous other political tasks, Richard has been involved with numerous civic and social causes. In recent years, Richard served in 2005 as the campaign coordinator of the Re-Elect Paul Feiner Campaign in Greenburgh, NY and he again chaired Supervisor Feiner’s successful landslide victory in 2007. Over the next few years, he advised a number of political candidates. He has served as an appointed Deputy Supervisor of the Town of Greenburgh, with responsibilities regarding the town’s “liaison program.” He was a member of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board of the Town of Greenburgh, NY. Richard has lectured on FDR, The New Deal and 20th century American history in the Mount Vernon schools, at the Westchester Council of Social Studies annual conference in White Plains, and at many senior citizen groups, which include appearances at the Old Guard of White Plains, the Rotary Clubs of Elmsford and White Plains, and various synagogue groups around Westchester. In the winter of 2006 Richard was the leader of the VOCAL forum, sponsored by the Westchester County Office of Aging, which addresses the concerns of Westchester County’s Intergenerational Advocacy Educational Speak-out forums for senior citizens. Richard has given lectures for the Active Retirement Project, which is co-sponsored by the Jewish Community Center on the Hudson, the Greenburgh Hebrew Center, and other groups around Westchester County. Richard also is the founder and Chairperson of the Jon Breen Memorial Fund, that judges and grants annual prizes to students at Mount Vernon High School who submit essays on public policy themes. He also sponsors the Henry M. Littlefield History Prize for the leading MVHS history student. Richard serves on the Student College Scholarship Committee of Mount Vernon High School. In past years Richard chaired and moderated the Jon Breen Fund Award’s cablecast program with the Mayor and local and school officials. Richard has been a member of Blythedale Children’s Hospital’s Planned Giving Professional Advisory Board, and was a founding member of the committee to re-new the FDR Birthday Balls of the 1930’s and 1940’s with the March of Dimes’ effort to eliminate birth defects. Their renewal dinner was held at Hyde Park on January 30, 2003. Richard is currently an active contributor to the Roosevelt Institute, which is involved in many pursuits which included the opening of the Henry A. Wallace Center at Hyde Park, and the Eleanor Roosevelt – Val-Kill Foundation. In 2007, he proposed to the City of Mount Vernon an effort to develop an arts, educational, and cultural center as part of a downtown re-development effort. Richard was a team partner with the Infrastructure & Energy Solutions Group. IEFG which has developed innovative strategies for the 21st Century. Richard hosted a weekly program on WVOX-1460 AM radio, called “The Advocates,” which was concerned with “public policy” issues. The show, which was aired from 2007 until May 15, 2013, has had amongst its guests; Representative Charles Rangel, Chairperson of the House Ways and Means Committee, Mr. Jonathan Alter of Newsweek, along with hundreds of others. All the 300 shows are archived at Richard currently gives lectures on Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, FDR and the Jewish Community, The New Deal, FDR and Douglas MacArthur, 20th Century American Foreign Policy Resulting in Conflict, and Israel’s Right to Exist. Richard lives in Boynton Beach, Fl, with his wife Linda of 44 years. They have two married children. Their daughter Dana is a Rutgers College graduate, with a MS from Boston University, and is the Assistant Director of Recruitment at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. Their son Jon is an electrical engineering graduate of Princeton University and a senior software architect at NY/Mellon Bank in NYC. Richard J. Garfunkel Recent Appearances: KTI Synagogue, Rye Brook, NY- Long Term Care & Estate Conservation- Anshe Shalom Synagogue, New Rochelle, NY- Long Term Care- American Legion Post, Valhalla, NY- Long Term Care and Asset Protection- Doyle Senior Ctr, New Rochelle, NY-Long Term Care and Asset Protection- AME Methodist Ministers, New Rochelle, NY, LTC and Charitable Giving- Profession Women in Construction, Elmsford, NY, LTC and Business Benefits- Kol Ami Synagogue- White Plains, NY, Long Term Care and Disability - Beth El Men's Club-New Rochelle, NY-Long Term Care-Is it Necessary- Greater NY Dental Meeting Javits Ctr, NY, NY- LTC and Disability- IBEW Local #3 , White Plains, NY, Long Term Care and Asset Protection, Health Fair -Bethel Synagogue, New Rochelle, NY-LTC and Disability, Heath Fair- Riverdale Mens Club CSAIR- Riverdale, NY- LTC- Life Weight Watchers of Westchester and the Bronx-LTC and Tax Implications Sunrise Assisted Living of Fleetwood, Mount Vernon, NY-LTC Sprain Brook Manor of Scarsdale-LTC- November 15, 2001 Sunrise Assisted Living of Stamford, Connecticut, February 2002 Kol Ami Synagogue, White Plains, NY, February, 2002 The Old Guard Society of White Plains, NY, April, 2002 The Westchester Meadows, Valhalla, NY August, 2002 Kol Ami Synagogue, White Plains, NY, October, 2002 JCC of Scarsdale, Scarsdale, NY, November, 2002 The Westchester Meadows, Valhalla, NY, January, 2003 The Rotary Club of White Plains, NY January, 2003 The Westchester Meadows, Valhalla, NY April, 2003 Westchester Reform Temple, Scarsdale, NY January, 2004 Mount Vernon High School, Mount Vernon, NY March 2004 Kol Ami/JCC of White Plains, NY November, 2004 The Westchester Reform Temple, Scarsdale, January 2005 The Sunrise of Fleetwood, Mount Vernon, April, 2005 The Woodlands of Ardsley, assisted living, November, 2005 The Woodlands of Ardsley, assisted living, December, 2005 The Woodlands of Ardsley, assisted living, January, 2005 Rotary Club of Elmsford, April, 2006 Kiwanis Club of Yonkers, June, 2006 Greenburgh Jewish Center, November, 2006 Temple Kol Ami, White Plains, February, 2007 Hebrew Institute, White Plains, March, 2007 Temple Kol Ami, White Plains, NY, April, 2007 Westchester Meadows. Valhalla, November, 2007 Hebrew Institute. White Plains, November, 2007 Art Zuckerman Radio Show- January, 2008 JCC of the Hudson, Tarrytown, February, 2008 Matt O’Shaughnessy Radio Show, March, 2008 WVOX –Election Night Coverage, November, 2008 WVOX – Inaugural Coverage, January 20, 2009 The Advocates-host of the WVOX Radio Show, 2007- 2010 Rotary Club of Pleasantville, February, 2009 Hebrew Institute of White Plains, May, 2009 JCC Hudson, Tarrytown, December, 2009-10-11-12 Brandeis Club, Yonkers, March 25, 2010

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