Blonde, the new Netflix movie starring Ana de Armas as Marilyn Monroe, features a horrid scene with JFK – but is it true, and what was their relationship actually like?
Blonde, directed by Andrew Dominik, isn’t a biopic. It’s a drama based on Joyce Carol Oates’ hit novel, exploring Monroe’s life as a work of brutal fiction – hence the NC-17 rating – interspersed with immaculate recreations of the star’s iconography, from her performance of Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend to the subway grate blowing her dress up in The Seven Year Itch.
Echoing the early reviews, viewers have noted the explicit, unforgiving nature of the film, particularly in its depiction of sexual abuse against De Armas’ Monroe and her almost-constant suffering.
One scene was always bound for controversy: her meeting with John F. Kennedy, the former President of the United States.
WARNING: some may find the description of Blonde’s scenes distressing.
Monroe’s on-screen encounter with JFK (played by Caspar Phillipson) comes near the end of the movie, with the actress caught in a constant haze of sadness, drugs, alcohol, and exhaustion in 1962. We see her dragged off a plane by the Secret Service, carried along a hallway by her elbows, and forced into a hotel room.
Before she arrives, she tells the agents in the car: “It isn’t sexual, between the president and me. It has very little to do with sex. It’s a meeting of our souls.”
In the room, JFK is lying half-naked on a bed. He pats the spot next to him. “Am I glad to see you, baby,” he tells her. “This has been one hell of a day.”
As he forces her hand onto his crotch, the TV in the background shows the launch of the Friendship 7 rocket – in a sight with no subtlety, it stands erect, along with the turret of a tank.
JFK then forces Monroe to perform oral sex on him, at which point the film switches to a close-up of her face, with JFK calling her a “dirty slut.” After he climaxes, he puts his hand over Monroe’s mouth and throws her off-screen, with the shot cutting to black as she screams.
Soon after, we see her leaving the hotel room past a Secret Service agent. It’s implied that she was raped by JFK, and this sequence is followed by another abortion, also implied to be an unwanted pregnancy as a result of JFK raping her.
While their relationship was the subject of immense public fascination, there is no record of JFK sexually assaulting Marilyn Monroe, nor is there anything to suggest he forced her to have an abortion. For all intents and purposes, this scene is a complete work of fiction.
There’s conflicting reports as to when the pair first met: some believe it was in 1954; others claim they met in 1957 at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York; but most believe they properly met in 1962, the same year she serenaded him with her “Happy birthday, Mr. President” rendition.
Jerry Blaine, a former Secret Service agent during Kennedy’s presidency, earlier told People that the pair briefly socialized at two parties, including one after her birthday performance. “He probably thanked her for singing. But they weren’t alone,” he said, adding that he “never saw any evidence of an affair… but I don’t know what happened behind closed doors.”
There is no proof of Monroe and JFK ever having a sexual relationship, but there’s been a number of claims.
For example, Tony Oppedisano, a former friend of Frank Sinatra who knew both Monroe and JFK, told People: “It was obviously a sexual thing, and I would expect that there were feelings on her side… she respected him; she admired him. She loved what he was doing with the country, and then to have a physical relationship with him, she found him attractive and vice versa.”
Joe DiMaggio, Monroe’s second husband, blamed the Kennedys for her death. “The whole lot of Kennedys were lady-killers… and they always got away with it. They’ll be getting away with it a hundred years from now,” he said, as per Dinner with DiMaggio: Memories of an American Hero.
“I always knew who killed her, but I didn’t want to start a revolution in this country. She told me someone would do her in, but I kept quiet.”
Blonde is available to stream on Netflix now.