Pat Newcomb first met Marilyn Monroe in 1956, when she was assigned to the star as a publicist during filming of Bus
Stop. However, this initial association ended badly. According to Fred Lawrence Guiles (Legend: The Life And Death
Of Marilyn Monroe), Marilyn became angry when Pat flirted with a man she was interested in. Marilyn felt that her
trust had been abused, and Pat was quickly replaced.
In 1960, Marilyn’s long-term publicist, Rupert Allan, moved to Monaco to represent Princess Grace, and suggested
that Marilyn hire Pat Newcomb. Pat re-entered Marilyn’s life just as Marilyn split from her third husband, Arthur
Miller. Pat’s first task was to accompany Marilyn when she left her New York apartment after the news broke. Pat
ushered a pale, shaky Marilyn, wearing a scarf and dark glasses, into a waiting car and informed reporters that her
client would not be answering questions.
Over the next two years, Pat was at Marilyn’s side during many key moments: Marilyn’s divorce hearing, which Pat
cleverly timed to coincide with President Kennedy’s inauguration, thus ensuring minimal publicity; leaving hospital
after a mental breakdown, and subsequent illnesses; and more happily, on holiday in Mexico, and when Marilyn
serenaded Kennedy on his birthday, at Madison Square Garden.
Just four years younger than Marilyn, Pat’s background could not have been more incongruous. She came from a
middle-class Boston family, and as a child had attended family parties at the Kennedy home. She knew the younger
Kennedys well, and was especially close to Bobby, who would become Attorney General under his brother’s
Marilyn, on the hand, had known poverty and hardship from an early age. People like Pat Newcomb and the Kennedys
must have seemed very secure and self-assured to Marilyn, still affected by the emotional scars of her childhood - even
then, in her prime as one of the most admired women in America.
Prior to the 1960 election, Marilyn had apparently shown little interest in the Kennedy brothers. In fact, she thought
Jack Kennedy was too inexperienced for the presidency. But like many Americans, she soon warmed to his youth and
charisma. She was also friendly with his sister, Patricia, wife of actor Peter Lawford.
Pat Newcomb was known for her extreme loyalty and protectiveness towards Marilyn, and some likened their
relationship to that of competitive, but devoted sisters. In June 1962, Marilyn was fired by Twentieth Century Fox
after repeated absences from the set of Something’s Got To Give. As Marilyn’s spokeswoman, Pat defended her
robustly and engineered a series of high-profile magazine interviews, garnering public sympathy for Marilyn and
paving the way for her eventual reinstatement.
On Friday, August 3rd, Pat was a guest at Marilyn’s bungalow in a quiet suburb of Los Angeles. It is likely that they
would have discussed an item in Dorothy Kilgallen’s gossip column, published that day and syndicated nationwide.
Kilgallen had written that Marilyn was ‘vastly alluring to a handsome gentleman who is a bigger name than Joe
DiMaggio’, probably a thinly-veiled reference to Marilyn’s rumoured affair with JFK. This would have embarrassed
Marilyn, and put Pat in the awkward position of having to mediate between an old friend and her boss.
Pat was very sick with bronchitis, and Marilyn may have insisted that she stay the night. Some sources have stated that
the two women dined out with Peter Lawford that evening, but the manager of La Scala restaurant has said that Marilyn
ordered food to be brought to the house.
Next morning, Marilyn woke early after sleeping badly. She had suffered from insomnia for most of her adult life, so
this was not unusual. Housekeeper Eunice Murray recalled that Marilyn seemed irritable, especially when Pat slept
until noon. A day before, Marilyn’s physician had prescribed sedatives and it is possible that Marilyn may have let Pat
take one, but this has never been confirmed.
At lunchtime, Pat joined Marilyn by the pool, and Mrs Murray heard them bickering. It seems unlikely that Marilyn
was angry merely because Pat had slept well, so it may have been about something else – perhaps a work-related
matter, or else the Kennedys again.
Mrs Murray brought them both lunch, but Marilyn wasn’t hungry. It is at this point that the course of events becomes
Mrs Murray has claimed that Bobby Kennedy and Peter Lawford arrived, apparently unannounced, at the house. Some
critics dispute this, because Bobby supposedly spent that weekend with his family at a ranch outside San Francisco. Pat
herself has denied outright that Bobby visited Marilyn on that day.
However, Mrs Murray went on to say that this upset Marilyn, who was still in her dressing gown and unprepared for
visitors. Mrs Murray went out on an errand, and here Peter Lawford’s account comes into play. He claims that Bobby
and Marilyn went inside to talk while he and Pat stayed in the garden.
Whatever Bobby and Marilyn may have discussed, it did not go well. Mrs Murray later said that when she returned, the
men had left and Pat was trying to comfort a distraught Marilyn. Mrs Murray called Marilyn’s psychiatrist, Dr Ralph
Greenson, who disappeared with Marilyn into her bedroom.
Pat had never liked Dr Greenson, whom she thought was too interfering, or Mrs Murray, whom Greenson had
recommended to Marilyn as a housekeeper. Pat suspected that Mrs Murray had been planted by Greenson to spy on
Pat told Donald Spoto (Marilyn Monroe: The Biography), that Dr Greenson emerged from Marilyn’s bedroom after an
hour or so, and informed Pat that Marilyn had asked for her to leave. Pat was reluctant at first, suspecting that it was
really Greenson who wanted her out, not Marilyn - but with her bronchitis getting steadily worse, she eventually
agreed to go.
Spoto has argued that Dr Greenson and Mrs Murray may have accidentally caused Marilyn’s death by giving her the
wrong dose of Nembutal. Pat Newcomb has never commented directly on this or any other theory, and has only ever
said that she believes Marilyn’s death was not deliberate.
There is no hard evidence to suggest that Pat was present at Marilyn’s house when she died of a drug overdose, later
that night. Whether Pat stayed at home all night is unknown, but she was seen at Marilyn’s house when the police
arrived in the early hours of Sunday, August 5th. Pat was wearing pajamas, and appeared hysterical with grief.
When the press gathered outside, Pat ran out in a fury, screaming, ‘vultures’, and then adding, ‘how would you feel if
your best friend died?’
Pat was one of the guests at Marilyn’s funeral on August 8th, and photographs show her weeping openly. However,
another picture taken just a week later shows Pat in a lighter mood. She is on a yacht with members of the Kennedy
family, including JFK and Peter Lawford, and she is laughing, seemingly relaxed. This photo was printed in Donald
Wolfe’s The Assassination Of Marilyn Monroe, where it was also suggested that Pat was involved in a conspiracy to
cover up the real circumstances of Marilyn’s death – murder, on behalf of the Kennedys.
After Marilyn died, Pat decided to leave Hollywood. She worked in Washington, and was active in Bobby Kennedy’s
presidential campaign in 1968. But Bobby was tragically shot dead before the election, and once again Pat lost a dear
friend. She returned to Hollywood where she represented Barbara Streisand for several years, before becoming a Vice-
President at MGM.
In 1991, Pat agreed to be interviewed by Marilyn’s biographer, Donald Spoto. Critics of Spoto’s work have argued that
he had a biased, pro-Kennedy agenda, and was overly selective in the evidence he chose to endorse. Without access to
the interview tapes, it is impossible to know how accurate his perspective may be.
Since then, Pat has constantly refused to discuss Marilyn in public. This may seem an odd stance for a woman whose
entire career has been devoted to maintaining the public image of celebrities like Marilyn Monroe.
Some fans feel strongly that Pat should speak out to set the record straight, as every year the rumours about Marilyn
and her untimely demise seem to grow more lurid. Others go further in their criticism of Pat, believing that with her
close links to the Kennedys, she is still protecting them and may know more about Marilyn’s death than she has ever
An alternative view might be that Pat was devoted to Marilyn while she was alive, and remains so long after her death.
Friends of Pat have said she often became deeply attached to the people she worked for. Perhaps she still cares for
Marilyn in the same way. Pat may finally have decided to withdraw from the media circus that surrounds Marilyn to
this day, preferring to honour her friend by staying silent, and perhaps, taking her deepest secrets to the grave.
|All photos are copyrighted by their respective owners & should not be used for commercial purposes.