Marilyn Monroe and Charlie Chaplin were two charismatic figures of popular entertainment whose images, biographies, and associations still resonate with audiences today. Monroe and Chaplin appealed to millions of fans and admirers with their charm, attractiveness, and magnetism. However, these projected auras were not completely natural, but rather constructions of semi-mythic personae by the charismatic and exploited through the media. The nature of their charismatic appeal can be understood in the context of a creative response to traumatic childhood experiences. Both Monroe and Chaplin endured instable childhoods, which created a weakness within them. They struggled to overcome these weaknesses by transforming them into creative motivations; they used the media as a creative outlet to reconstruct their identities. Not having belonged to a secure home, Monroe and Chaplin found a sense of belonging in the public, becoming public beings; thereby, they created a ‘prosthetic relationship’ through which they hoped to replace the void in their lives with the love that they never received in private life. In forming a union with a mass audience, Monroe and Chaplin bandaged their previous feelings of neglect with the public’s love and admiration. Evidently, the aura of public availability that surrounded each star, which they cultivated, formed the foundation of their charismatic appeal.
Marilyn Monroe: The Sex Goddess
With an unparalleled radiance that mesmerized the world, Marilyn Monroe was the quintessence of Hollywood glamour. Marilyn Monroe was a nonconformist woman in a conformist era; whose star-image portrayed the ideas of sexuality and morality of her time. The first indication of Monroe’s charisma and of her later screen persona lies in her admission of belonging to the Public, partly based on an appeal for help. Throughout her childhood, she had never belonged to a stable, secure family. To fill the void of love and admiration, Monroe turned to the public, “because I had never belonged to anything or anyone else. The Public was the only family, the only Prince Charming, and the only home I ever dreamed of” (Aberbach 83). Her appeal came from her ability to exhibit both sexuality and innocence in a way that depicted American society during the 1950s. In her own lifetime, she created an illusion of what a neglected girl from a background could attain. In the eye of the public, she represented a timeless alluring beauty. Her screen persona represented a seductive sex-goddess, yet her real self was comparable to a fossil, incapable of feeling. She represented the rags-to-riches American dream, yet she was a rebel. Above all, she was and continues to be beautiful, as well as a tribute to the glamour and artifice of Hollywood. In order to understand the lasting appeal of her image, it is necessary to explore the relationship between her screen personae, her off-screen publicity, and her biography.
Marilyn Monroe, an immortal Hollywood...