Revising History: 50th Anniversary of Marilyn Monroe’s Death

by Marilyn Muir, LPMAFA

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I was raised on 40’s and 50’s movies and had a stage mother who thought I was going to take Broadway by storm. This never happened – I was good, but not Broadway good. That whole experience gave me a love for anything musical: singing, dancing, harmony, you name it. If it’s on television, I will watch it, at times over and over. This year I had a marvelous treat in the form of the television show “Smash”. Not only was it a musical extravaganza and a Broadway soap opera, but it also starred Catherine MacFee, an American Idol alumnae whom I really enjoy. I was enchanted by the idea that was fulfilled by amazing talent, a complex story line and staging that was out of this world. The premise for the show is the life and times of film star Marilyn Monroe (MM) set to music.  Now that might sound outlandish, but it works. If you have not watched the show and like Broadway-style music, I highly recommend finding and seeing the series, or at least the first year.

This week I realized we were coming up on the 50th anniversary of the death of Ms. Monroe. It seems impossible that much time has passed, but it has – and Marilyn Monroe, who was a big, big star at the time, is an even brighter and bigger star as the years pass. “Smash” does her justice and even offers insight into the complexity of her stardom. So much controversy surrounded her life and her death that my astrologer mind wondered what I could find through her charts. Since I enjoy astrologically revisiting history of all types, this was a perfect project for me and will hopefully be a learning tool for astrologers everywhere.

Born Norma Jeanne Mortenson, MM’s birth offers a puzzle with paternity itself in question. My astrological puzzle is that the certified birth record in my possession does not have a time listed, yet the Astrodatabase shows it to be rated AA BC/BR. Despite this conundrum, I will use the database information for this charting. Her mother and grandmother were apparently unstable, and her biography tells an absolutely horrid tale of a childhood gone wrong, way too much for this short article and amply told by others in countless stories. Take my word for it for just this astrological workup and research it later. Her childhood was awful, including rape at age eleven. Such a childhood environment and experience cannot conceivably produce a stable, well-adjusted adult and that is evidenced by her kaleidoscope of both success and tragedy ending with her death at age 36. What can her charts tell us?

Astrology Born June 1, 1926 at 9:30 AM PST, Los Angeles, CA, MM has Leo rising, something we might expect for an emerging star, further emphasized by her chart ruler Gemini Sun in the 10th house of career and status. She could be many people and play many roles. Additionally, her Sun/Mercury conjunction is sextile her Ascendant. She has Neptune in the first evidencing that other-worldly, elusive quality called charisma, mystery, a film star in the making. I look at what planet is elevated to see what umbrella-like influence looms over the chart and there sits Venus in the 9th actually conjunct the Midheaven, which it rules. Her beauty and femininity were a beacon for her fans, and her fame was based on that femininity and beauty. She was not a little girl from a small town, she held the world stage (9th) due to her fame. MM had a Moon/Jupiter conjunction in Aquarius in her 7th, which gave her public appeal and a very personal relationship with her adoring public. We can easily see her celebrity, where is the evidence of her tragedy?

Neptune in the 1st does not provide stability and confidence. The ethereal quality can be elusive and difficult as a place on which to stand. Leo rising can learn to play a role to cope with its circumstance and experience, but role-playing does not always provide solid ground on which to stand. That lovely Moon/Jupiter conjunction that was part of her celebrity is actually opposite Neptune in the 1st with the by-product of illusion, confusion, and self-doubt. To make matters worse, that opposition is squared by Saturn in the 4th, forming a T-square. By itself, Saturn in the 4th is not a good indicator for home and family. It can be restrictive, not supportive, and with possible loss of parent. The Ascendant is square the Midheaven. Her personal coping skills and her career collide. The demands of her status and profession were definitely at odds with personal projection. While she was given beauty, drama, charisma, and success, the price to her physical self was catastrophic. Her Moon/Jupiter in the 7th of partnership ruled her 12th house of self-undoing (Cancer) with Pluto directly conjunct the cusp. She was drawn to power and powerful people. The North Node indicates that it was a lesson for this lifetime. However, the lesson itself may have cost her life. That Moon/Jupiter combination does indicate her multiple marriages and liaisons. These were elements of tragedy added to our earlier description of celebrity.

Because we are next going to explore her death, we need to look at the house associated with death, the natal 8th. Pisces is ruled by that first house Neptune and she may have been the cause of her own death, plus 7th house Jupiter of partnerships and liaisons. MM’s 8th contains both Mars and Uranus which can produce a sudden and explosive effect. Neptune could answer both the overdose by barbiturate and the lack of full disclosure, but Mars and/or Uranus suggest a more direct, forceful ending. Mars can contribute a foreign influence (ruler of the 9th) and Uranus can contribute to her demise from partnership or relationship (ruler of the 7th). Her death has remained a mystery with questions of foul play by the famous or infamous. When you know powerful people, the rules do change. At times what we know can become risky. There is no way to answer this cause of death question, except perhaps astrologically as illustrated, because despite all the speculation, proof of those secrets went to her grave.

Date of Death Aug 4, 1962, Los Angeles, CA What was going on astrologically at the time of her death? For that we move to her progressed chart and the diurnal chart (personal transits for that day). I set both the diurnal and the progressions for the day of her death. Often when I am doing research of a person born early in the day, I might set the event charts for the day prior to the event because the event itself is halfway between two dates. It is being picky, but it can help with fine-tuning a chart.

MM’s progressed chart Midheaven is 10 Gem 55 with Venus conjunct at 10:35, both conjunct her natal Sun at 10:27 and her 11th cusp at 10:35. This chart works. All of that is square the progressed Ascendant at 12 Vir 37. The progressed Sun 14 Can 59 is conjunct progressed Pluto at 14:17, the slowly tightening progressed north node at 16:25, and the natal Pluto at 13:23, and are all square progressed Mars at 15 Ari 15.  The progressed Moon at 21 Gem 19 is square that 8th house natal Mars 20 Pis 44. All those are more forceful indicators than a simple Pisces overdose and do draw in that natal self-undoing mechanism that includes powerful forces. The natal opposition between 8th house influence Jupiter and Neptune has grown tighter and therefore stronger.

What do the diurnal or transiting positions contribute to this picture? The diurnal Sun is 11 Leo 51 conjunct the natal Ascendant at 13:04. Diurnal Jupiter at 10 Pis 57R (natal 8th house ruler) is square the natal Sun 10:27. Transiting Mercury at 18 Leo 27 widely sets off the natal T-square involving Saturn/Neptune/Moon/Jupiter. MM had called actor and friend Peter Lawford at about 10:00 pm the night before saying that she may have taken too many sleeping pills. Her body was found lying on top of her phone, bringing Mercury of communication into the picture. Transiting Mars 18 Gem 19 squares natal Mars 20 Pis 44 with the progressed Moon at 21 Gem 29. 

The charts quite specifically show the life and death of the young woman we came to know and love as Marilyn Monroe, particularly involving the angles which are so sensitive to time, so I do believe the natal chart as given is quite accurate. This was a senseless death by whatever means, but it was timely according to her chart. She left the planet before her career could take a fully catastrophic downward tumble and preserved her image in our hearts and minds. She lived a short but glorious and tragic life, forever imprinted in our hearts and minds, a Super Star. “Smash” celebrates her life and celebrity now at the 50th anniversary of her death: “Let me be your star”.,_Marilyn

Provides AA birth data and simple bio

Published in AFA Today’s Astrologer Jun 2012 vol 74#6, republished with slight editing.

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