Marilyn Monroe Productions: The Final Audit

Marilyn with business partner Milton Greene, 1955

When Marilyn left her lucrative contract with Twentieth Century Fox behind to start an independent production company with Milton Greene in 1955, many in Hollywood thought her career was over – but they were all wrong. After a year-long dispute, in which Marilyn moved to New York and joined the Actors Studio, she successfully negotiated a new contract with Fox which gave her increased creative freedom. In partnership with Greene, Marilyn Monroe Productions (MMP) would co-produce The Prince and the Showgirl. The company also had a stake in The Misfits, although after Greene’s departure in 1957, MMP was mostly run for tax purposes.

While Marilyn’s triumph over the studio system has rightly been lauded, some fans are still under the impression that she was the first actress to go it alone – which couldn’t be further from the truth, as Monroe biographer April VeVea notes on her Classic Blondes blog.

“One of the most tiresome stories floating around says something akin to Marilyn Monroe became the first woman with her own production company when she formed Marilyn Monroe Products in 1955. Truly a laughable rumour, a plethora of women formed their own companies or partnerships (MMP was technically a partnership with Milton Greene) well before Marilyn was even born. Below you’ll find over 50 women who ran production companies in the United States. Most of them are from the silent era, but there are also a fair amount from the 30s, 40s and 50s as well. This list is in no way complete either; I’m constantly finding new women who started their own companies. Some of these companies did really well, some barely got off the ground, but all of these women at least formed their own companies. All entries were sourced from biographies, newspapers or (predominantly) Columbia University’s Women Film Pioneer Project.”

And in another recent series of posts beginning here, April – whose research skills are impeccable – has also fact-checked Bombshell, former LAPD detective Michael Rothmiller’s new book investigating Marilyn’s death.