Funny? Not particularly, especially if one took the time to examine just why she had become so unreliable.

had been in on the joke that night, of course, and had even seemed
tickled that her eventual appearance would be teased throughout the
four-hour-long event. Indeed, as had often been the case in Marilyn’s
life, she knew that the public’s expectations of her revolved around
what they thought she lacked, not what she possessed. “Most people
didn’t think of talent when they thought of Marilyn,” Dean Martin once
observed. “They saw this creature who happened to be blessed with the
beauty of a goddess and the brain of a peacock.” However, Marilyn was
no dumb blonde; she was much more intelligent than most people
realized. For years she had used her intellectual abilities to conceal
her most private struggles.

Once again, every ounce of willpower would be brought to bear this
evening in order that the mere mortal could transform herself into the
goddess the world had come to know and love. When Marilyn fi nally took
the stage, the theater erupted into thunderous applause. She was
charismatic, empowered, and, of course, spectacularly beautiful. Peter
Lawford watched her wriggle toward him, her steps restricted to tiny
strides due to her sheer gown’s tightly tailored hem. After delivering
a final punch line to the running joke of the evening—“Mr. President,
the late . . . Marilyn Monroe”—he reached toward the star’s ample bosom
and took from her an ermine fur. There she stood, looking almost naked,
wrapped only in her ethereal beauty, shimmering in sequins, beads, and
sparkling light.

now, she waited for the crowd’s reaction to wane before she could start
to sing. It didn’t for quite some time. The applause became less
apparent, though, as a low-pitched throng of gasps and cheers came
forth, mostly from the men in attendance. In fact, there was a full
thirty seconds between the moment her outfit was revealed and the time
she was able to begin singing. During that time, the audience’s
reaction changed from hoots and hollers to audible mumbles and, finally,
to smatterings of laughter. She heldher hands at her brow in order to
shield her eyes from the spotlight, maybe hoping to see more clearly
the man of honor—a man she had hoped might one day be more to her than
just her commander in chief. Then, after a particularly loud guffaw
from a man in oneof the first few rows, Marilyn’s shoulders dropped and
she sighed audibly. Eventually, deciding not to wait for silence, she
started to sing while the masses continued expressing their reaction.

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