“The wolves I have known…”: 60 years before #MeToo, Marilyn Monroe wrote the first article exposing the behavior of castings in Hollywood

In January 1953, Marilyn Monroe took up her pen to write a very famous article, entitled “The Wolves I’ve Known”, in which she denounced the toxic culture of Hollywood and the predatory behavior of men.

Far from the clichés of the more or less brainless platinum blonde that the studios would have happily cultivated endlessly, Marilyn Monroe had great sensitivity and lucidity about her profession, unabashedly taking responsibility for everything she did, even before her film career. not be definitively put into orbit after the success of Niagara.

Like his famous nude photos which were reprinted on a calendar in 1952. This caused a scandal in an America that was still very puritanical. Fox executives, who were to release Gentlemen Prefer Blondes the following year, asked Marilyn to categorically deny that it was her in the photos.

She refused, as she explained to journalist Aline Mosby of the United Press International agency, who was the first to report the information on these photos: “Oh, the calendar hangs in every garage in town. Why deny it? You can get one anywhere. Besides, I’m not ashamed of it. I did not do anything wrong.”

“The wolves I have known…”

At the same time, in January 1953 to be precise, Marilyn Monroe had the courage to fearlessly tackle Hollywood’s predatory practice of “couch promotion”, where men in powerful positions, whom they whether directors, studio bosses or producers, sexually abused female talent in exchange for a role or favors, including her. And not just powerful men either.

64 years before the #MeToo wave born in the wake of the Weinstein affair scandal, we must measure the courage of the actress for daring to put in the public arena what was happening in the unsavory back kitchens of ‘Hollywood.


At the age of 27, Marilyn took up her pen to write a famous article in Motion Picture and Television Magazinetitled “Wolves I Have Known”. “There are many species of wolves. Some are sinister, others are just fools trying to get something for nothing, and others make a game out of it.” she wrote.

And to unfold his experiences. “The first guy should have been ashamed of himself because he was trying to take advantage of a simple child.” she remembers, when she was still a very young model. This same man had made him believe that he occupied an office in Samuel Goldwyn’s studio. Not only did he not work at the studio, but he supposedly brought her in for a script reading while lying on a couch.

“Girls from all walks of life have to be very careful not to end up as just another scalp on a man’s belt. In Hollywood, we have to work overtime to outwit the wolves. That’s because wolves of all kinds come from far and near to trap the Little Red Riding Hoods of the films”.

The predators he encountered before his Hollywood career were not the worst according to him; the worst were in the Hollywood bays: “They were crude amateurs compared to the ones I met after my name started appearing in movie magazines and fan magazines.”

“I want every guy in town to know that you belong to me!”

In 1946, after signing a contract with Twentieth Century Fox, Marilyn continued to struggle to establish herself as an actress. The following year, she signed a new contract with Columbia Pictures. After passing a test, she said that the studio’s head, Harry Cohn, had invited her to go on a yacht trip. She replied that she would only go if Cohn’s wife went too, which threw her contract into the trash…


The article published in Motion Picture and Television Magazine.

There is also the wolf “paternalistic”like this artistic agent she met in Hollywood who assured her that he wanted, ironically, to protect her from other wolves, even lending her money at a time when she was still having trouble paying her rent.

“I insisted on signing promissory notes for the first two installments and he took it as a big joke. He hung my promissory notes in a frame on the wall of his office. I told him I wouldn’t I didn’t like him letting everyone know that I owed him. “I want every guy in town to know that I own you!” he replied with a suggestive smile “.

“A girl’s survival in the middle of a pack of wolves depends entirely on her. If she tries to get something for nothing, she often ends up giving more than she bargained for. If she plays it game honestly, she can usually avoid unpleasant situations and she earns respect even from wolves” she said in conclusion.


In his unpublished autobiographyMy Story, she wrote: “You know when a producer calls an actress into his office to discuss a script, that’s not all he has in mind. I’ve slept with producers. I’d be a liar if I said that no”.

“Marilyn was truly one of the first big stars to speak out about what we would today call sexual harassment” commented Sarah Churchwellprofessor of American literature at the School of Advanced Study at the University of London, and author of The Many Lives of Marilyn Monroe. “She was talking about a culture in which women were not safe, [et] all she wanted to point out was that it happens over and over again.”

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