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There is a scene in Ken Russell’s film of The Who’s rock opera “Tommy” that depicts a church whose goddess is Marilyn Monroe. In a grotesque mockery of Catholic devotion, the faithful rise from their pews to venerate a larger-than-life porcelain statue of the actress, while preacher Eric Clapton croons that she “gives eyesight to the blind.”
I thought of that scene when I learned that Hugh Hefner, the Playboy magazine founder who died Sept. 27 at the age of 91, paid $75,000 in 1992 to buy the vault next to Monroe’s at Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles so that he could be buried next to the ill-fated star.
Hefner - Purchase - Los - Angeles - Times
Hefner made the purchase because, as he told the Los Angeles Times, he was “a believer in things symbolic.”
“Spending eternity next to Marilyn,” he added, “is too sweet to pass up.”
Hefner - Fact - Eternity - Symbolism - Desire
Where Hefner may, in fact, be spending eternity is not for me to say. But he was right to recognize the symbolism in his desire to enjoy the afterlife in the presence of Monroe, whose nude image (published without her consent) was the major selling point for Playboy’s premier issue in 1953.
The symbolism has to do with the fact that Hefner, in a kind of perversion of the Christian ideal, saw himself as having undergone two births. The first was his natural birth, whereas the second was his personal re-creation as the founder of the Playboy empire, of which, he told The New York Times, “I have … created my own world on my turf and terms.”
Hefner - Mind - Monroe - Births - Connection
Now, in Hefner’s mind, Monroe was linked to both his births. “I feel a double connection to her,” he told CBS Los Angeles in 2012. “She was the launching key to the beginning of Playboy [and] we were born the same year.”
In a sense,...
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