Good morning. My name is Leslie Kasperowicz, and I am the President of the Immortal Marilyn Fan Club. I have been asked to speak here today about Marilyn Monroe. Unfortunately, I have been given only a few minutes to speak on the one subject I am capable of rambling on about for an eternity. Even had I an eternity to speak of her, I’m not sure I would ever get all my thoughts and feelings out.
I cannot offer you today anecdotes or memories of the woman we have all gathered here today to remember. I did not know her; I was born 15 years after the original service held in this chapel to say goodbye to Marilyn Monroe. I learned to say goodbye to Marilyn even as I learned who she was, for as she became a stronger presence in my consciousness with every passing day, so did the knowledge that she was long gone from the world. All of the opportunities to cheer her successes and commiserate with her failures were long gone, the days when Marilyn was immortal past. Her mortality had been proven irrevocably.
Yet in some strange way, her death, that which indeed proved her to be a mortal, gave her an eternal life, an immortality. Her image became an icon, her face a symbol, her voice a stereotype. Yet that which is truly immortal about Marilyn is something far less palpable. It is not something that can be captured even by all of today’s technology. It is not in digitally restored photographs or films; it is not on DVD nor in the latest book. All those things are our attempts to get a hold of that elusive spirit that was the true essence of Marilyn. And our failure to do so will ensure her immortality for the ages.
Marilyn’s spirit was not meant to be captured. It was too much to be held in obscurity; too much to be held by a movie screen. It reached out from her, out into darkened theatres, out from magazine covers, out to thousands of soldiers in Korea, out to the world. It touched us and filled our eyes, our hearts, and yet none of us could hold it. Her spirit was too much for one mortal body to hold, and it departed that body so as to forever elude capture. It became myth, legend, immortal. And it went on to touch many more lives. I see it every day as new members join our fan club, touched by Marilyn’s spirit.
I have been touched by that immortal spirit, and have discovered that while I could not hold it, it could certainly hold me. From the first time I saw her face I could not forget it, and even then, as a child, I knew this was no mere mortal I was gazing upon. I recall, upon learning that she was long dead, thinking in the way only a young child can that it was quite obvious she was not alive. This incredible creature was clearly an angel. That she had ever been bound to the earth was a mystery to me. As children, we understand these things. Before our minds have been taught logic and reason, we understand about spirit. Children are all spirit, as was Marilyn. It is little wonder she so loved children and felt a connection with them. I have never been so close to wrapping my fingers around the spirit that is Marilyn Monroe as I was in childhood - when I knew nothing about her except that something in her eyes spoke to something in my soul.
I grew older, and I started to learn about Marilyn. I saw her films, I read voraciously everything I could get my hands on that spoke of her. I gazed at her photos and delighted, as I still do, in seeing new ones. I felt my heart fill with pride to see her on-screen triumphs, and I felt my eyes fill with tears at footage of a gurney with a blanket-covered form on it being wheeled out of a building and into a hearse. I found the human Marilyn, came to love her, dreamed as every fan has of knowing her, of being her friend. Of perhaps being the person who might have prevented the events of the night of August 4th, 1962 from ever occurring. I doubt there is a person here today who has not at some point had that dream.
The more human Marilyn became for me, the more I realized that there were two Marilyns. There was the Marilyn who was mortal, who ate and slept and breathed and lived as we all do. This was the Marilyn who knew joy and sorrow, pain and exultation, love and hate, hope and despair. And then there was the Marilyn who was immortal. The spirit, the part of her that did not die, indeed cannot die. And when the human body, the mortal Marilyn died, the immortal spirit of Marilyn was set free, as it was always meant to, to go on eternally.
We are here today because Marilyn died, and yet, at the same time we are here because Marilyn lives. She lives in the hearts of every person she has touched, before or after her death. She lives in our collective consciousness, in our hopes and dreams that so mirror her own. She lives in every child who believes in angels and knows with the conviction of innocence that the spirit is eternal. We come here to mourn her, yet we come also to celebrate her. We come here to reach out to her spirit, to attempt once again to capture it, if only for a moment, if only long enough to tell her we love her, we remember her.
I would like to end with a quote I came across on the internet one day, author unknown, which I have taken as the slogan for Immortal Marilyn:
“Immortality lies not in the things you leave behind, but in the people your life has touched.”