Marilyn and Smoking

A Pack A Day Keeps The Doctor Away

Recently there has been a lot of debate on whether or not Marilyn smoked. While there are countless photos of her smoking, many are in fact studio portraits. For this article, I have discounted all of those but several.

Before we dissect Marilyn’s smoking habits, it’s important to see what she was exposed to through her husbands and ads of the times.

These are various ads from the 1930’s-1960’s. There are shocking claims from smoking being a diet aid, to support from doctors and scientists. It wasn’t until 1964 that the surgeon general’s report on the health risks of smoking were released, 2 years after Marilyn’s death. It wasn’t until 1966 that warning labels on cigarettes came out.

Most of the pictures I found of Marilyn smoking were from 1952-1960, the years that she was with Joe and Arthur. Both men were heavy smokers.

So what about Marilyn? Was she smoking regularly?








These pictures show that Marilyn was smoking for 9 years. While there aren’t pictures of her smoking in 1961 or 1962 (to my knowledge, if you know of one let me know in the comments and I’ll credit you on here) Marilyn did have matches and a pack of cigarettes on her nightstand the night she died. According to Maite Minguez Ricart, one of the largest collector’s of Marilyn memorabilia in the world, this swan ash tray was also on Marilyn’s nightstand.

She also had a semi large collection of ash trays. 1961 and 1962 were also some of her lesser photographed years when compared to 1952-1960. We only have a handful of photographers who worked with her during this period and a low amount of press photos when compared to the previous years.

The lack of smoking actually does come from Marilyn’s own mouth, when she was a struggling starlet. It’s more than believable that she would have avoided “nightclubs and smoking” when she could barely put food in her mouth. Once she was successful and readily around it, it’s obvious that she picked it up.

In closing, smoking was fashionable and something nearly everyone did. Marilyn was around heavy smokers and obviously picked it up. While no one can truly know the extent that she smoked, it’s safe to say that it wasn’t just socially.

On a side note, this video is going around saying that it’s proof that Marilyn is smoking pot based on how she is holding the cigarette and how she passed it to Mary Karger. There is no account of Marilyn smoking weed and basing it off of how she holds and passes her cigarette is asinine. If you look at the picture above from 1952 she is also holding a cigarette like people hold a joint. Many people hold cigarettes like this. It doesn’t automatically mean someone is smoking weed.

The story of Lila Leeds happened in 1948, when Marilyn herself was a starlet. Lila was twenty years old and was paraded in the press as a Lana Turner lookalike who was signed at MGM with a promising career in front of her. On September 1, 1948, Lila was arrested with Robert Mitchum for smoking marijuana. Leeds and Mitchum both spent 60 days in prison. While Mitchum came out with his tough guy image solidified, Leeds’ career was ruined and she went on to only be in three more movies. The story was front page news and something Marilyn would have seen. Both Leeds and Monroe worked at the Bliss-Hayden theater (Leeds in 1946 and Monroe in 1948, when the scandal broke) and it’s not improbable that this connection could have hit close to home for Marilyn.

The final nail in this coffin seems to be that Marilyn herself had weathered two career-threatening scandals. The first was the nude calendar scandal which was closely followed by the press releasing the information that Marilyn’s mother was still very much alive and that Marilyn was far from an orphan. Both of these could have been the end of her career but Marilyn persevered. It’s highly unlikely that she would have potentially risked her career again to have something like this filmed. She had repeatedly had to deal with people close to her selling stories such as Jim’s sister (who Marilyn would claim to have never really known well) and Natasha Lytess. It’s highly unlikely that she would risk this getting leaked if anything sinister was going on. The fact that she is sharing a cigarette also doesn’t automatically spell marijuana. This video is nothing more than Marilyn smoking a cigarette but is trying to be turned into something different.