In 1956, Marilyn Monroe and her new husband, Arthur Miller, arrived at Heathrow Airport in London to begin filming with The Prince and the Showgirl. Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh met them at the airport and talked briefly with reporters before leaving.
I have taken this event and explored what each of these four power-houses must have been thinking in the hours and minutes before they all met.
Stay tuned to my four-part fiction story When Stars Align.
“Oh, darling, look at the funny cars! Can you see them from this high?”
Arthur stretched his neck a bit to catch a glimpse of the bustling rows underneath the landing plane. “Yes, Marilyn.” His wife’s face seemed glued to the thick plastic with a child-like fascination. It made him smile at her naivety, but inwardly, he ached for a more intelligent conversation. He turned back to his New York Times paper and waited for the plane to finally land.
This was not Arthur’s first time to London, so it was not the first time seeing “funny cars.” But this was the first time flying there with his new bride. The plane descended, and instinctively, his body tensed. He first saw it in the wrinkles of the fragile paper. Frustrated that several paragraphs were now lost to new creases, he folded it up and slid it under his seat.
He gripped the arm rests with white knuckles, but then Marilyn turned to look at him with the biggest white grin any Hollywood starlet could give. It was as if she could feel his anxiety.
“Don’t be so nervous! We are in London, my love.” She grabbed his arm and wove herself into his chest.
Arthur couldn’t help but be nervous. Can you imagine it? Arthur Miller landing in Heathrow Airport with none other than Marilyn Monroe? And to top that off, Laurence insisted on meeting them at the gate. This had disaster written all over it. He closed his eyes tight and just prayed he wouldn’t have to say much to the press.
His prayer would not be heard.
The plane dropped to the ground, jostling Marilyn from his arm. She laughed like a child on an amusement park ride, which this was far from. Her laugh, usually light and flirtatious, rang like a car horn. They skidded slightly on the wet runway, giving a slight fish-tailing effect to the massive air-liner. Arthur’s pulse quickened and his breathing became more shallow.
It took several minutes for his heart rate to steady, but his anxiety would not abate. The flight attendant approached and bent slightly to talk to them in hushed tones. “We hope you enjoyed your flight, Ms. Monroe and Mr. Miller. You will be the first to exit the plane and met with several reporters and personnel. You will be escorted and taken care of.”
“Thank you, Miss.”
“Sheridan. Tracey Sheridan, Mr. Miller. It was a pleasure.”
Arthur cocked his head as Tracey stood back up. Had she winked at him? Was that flirting? And in front of his glamorous wife? If she had, Marilyn paid no attention. Arthur glanced at Tracey’s perfect ass in the tight navy uniform before looking at his glowing bride expecting an adoring kiss or romantic smile, but instead, she looked down at her tight dress and made sure not a thread was out of place. She quickly and expertly pulled a silver compact from her purse and threw her head back in mock laughter; practicing for the cameras.
Suddenly, Arthur felt miserable. He had wanted Marilyn to be jealous, even if for a second. It must be wonderful not to be heart-breakingly jealous, but Arthur couldn’t help it. Show him one man who wouldn’t be jealous if their wife was none other than the blonde bombshell he married.
If only Arthur had known, he could have taken Tracey in the restroom closet and Marilyn, his darling wife, would be none the wiser. But what if he were none the wiser? Has his bride stepped out on him? It was entirely possible. They were apart for days on end sometimes. It was not out of the realm of possibilities.
Arthur studied his wife; her mannerisms and body language as she continued to flirt with herself in the mirror. Would he be able to tell if she had a dalliance or two by a subtle change or flick of her eye?
Marilyn closed her compact and hid it away in her purse. Without looking at him, she said, “Darling, I think that girl was flirting with you.”
Arthur smirked. “Oh, no. She couldn’t possibly.”
Marilyn looked up and winked at him. “Sure, she could.”
He leaned over and kissed her lightly. “Are you ready to meet the British press?”
She sat upright and tousled her hair. “What do you think?”
All illicit thoughts of bending Tracey Sheridan over the toilet sink disappeared as he stared at the goddess in front of him. He loved this woman and more than that, he saw a future with her. Little did his wife know, he was going to take care of her come hell or high water. His palms itched in anticipation.
“I think you’re gorgeous.”
Marilyn laughed her signature laugh. The fake one reserved for the press and company executives. “You’re a charmer, darling. We’ve been flying for hours. Gorgeous is far from it. But I guess I’m as ready as I’ll ever be. Let’s go.”
Arthur deflated inside. She was back to being Ms. Monroe. Mrs. Miller would have to wait.
They stood and walked toward Tracey Sheridan who opened the airplane door. “Have a wonderful stay in London. Thank you for flying with us.” She winked again at Arthur when Marilyn had her gaze fixed outside. “It was my pleasure,” she whispered.
Marilyn snapped her head back to the brunette stewardess. “The pleasure was all ours. Good day, Ms. Sheridan.”
Arthur looked at his bride and smiled.
To continue with part two, Vivien, click here.
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(c) Copyright 2016, Alison C. Wroblewski. All rights reserved.