Netflix presents Marilyn Monroe as you’ve never heard her before


Photo courtesy of Netflix.

Leticia Cezário Santos, Marketing Director

You probably have heard of her before. She was an artist. She was the face of American beauty in the ’60s. She was an actress. She was a model. She was the voice behind the most famous “Happy Birthday” rendition ever sung in the United States. She was Marilyn Monroe. 

Monroe was relevant in so many contexts where she is still cited today, her image as alive as it has always been. 

I was surprised to find out Monroe was born in 1926 and died in 1962, having existed in a reality so far away from today. Still, her story is so remarkable that sometimes the time slips off our minds and it feels as if her legacy was paved yesterday.

On April 27, Netflix launched “The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe: The Unheard Tapes.” This documentary follows the years-long investigation of Anthony Summers, the investigative journalist and Pulitzer Prize Finalist behind the 1985 biography “Goddess: The Secret Lives of Marilyn Monroe.” 

Summers recently updated his work with significant new content, which Netflix then transformed into this newly debuted special.

“[…] naming names, previously withheld, and publishing long-censored documents, the new ‘Goddess’ delivers clear answers to long-simmering questions about Marilyn Monroe’s death,” Summers said in an interview with

We all remember the blond hair and the remarkable eyes, the laugh and the delicate look. We know about the white dress flowing in the wind and the potato sack episode. This documentary goes beyond all of that, telling the raw version of Monroe’s story — exposing her relationships, dreams, challenges and struggles, going even further than her life. 

Her story is told through tapes recorded of people close to her. Their voices and the multitude of their perspectives place the viewer in an intimate position. Watching the documentary gives you the feeling of listening in on a secret or something prohibited. 

Monroe’s experiences tell a lot about the old media industry and its sexist practices. It is not the first show to expose how much power politics hold, and how much a bad influence can change someone’s life. 

Monroe’s name is not the only famous one cited in this documentary. A lot is said about President John F. Kennedy and his brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, detailing how they were compromised by their relationships with Monroe. After her death, they sought frantically to cover up their involvement with her – but now it has all become infamous historical knowledge.

There is a Portuguese proverb that says, “he who sees the face does not see the heart.” It means that what someone shows outside does not correspond accurately with what they carry inside their heart – a phenomenon that stood out to me in Monroe’s story. 

Monroe was known for her beauty, not for her difficult and lonely childhood. She was known for her talents, not for her struggle to feel loved. She was known for her status, not for her dreams of having children and building a family. She was known for what the media showed of her, which was only a small part of everything she truly was. 

We as a society are still struggling to find ways to humanize celebrities and give them enough space to live. It’s thought-provoking to see that not much has changed since 1962. 

Monroe’s story has much more to it than most are actually aware – and someone whose life was so incredibly altered by the public obsession that followed her deserves to have her truth known. This documentary feels to me like a good place to start.