When we did Let’s Make Love, we had a terrible time because she was on pills. Paula Strasberg was around and would give me trouble occasionally, although I could handle it pretty well. We were doing one scene where she [Monroe] was just watching Yves Montand do something, she was just being photographed. She looked uncomfortable and I said, “What’s the matter, darling?” She said, “I don’t have anything to do,” but she said it in a rather disagreeable way. That particular phrase is a very unfortunate one with a Method actor, you never give actors “things” to do… So I was getting righteous, because George Cukor, the director, used to use me to get things done because of my effect on Monroe. They were paying me some monumental amount of money, and Fox was complaining, even Zanuck was saying, “Baby, how can you justify all that money?” I would just say right, nothing I could do was worth all that money, but I was getting it because I didn’t want to be doing it! And I was doing everything else on the set except what was my skill. So I got angry.
I had been through this thing for about six months. The script was a mess. I was making up numbers as we went along, on the set. So I said in an angry voice, “Do you want me to give you something to do?” She said, “Yes.” So I said, “Then stick a finger up your ass, I think that’s quite within the realm of your technical facilities,” and walked away. Monroe went white and started with the tears. and Paula glowered at me… I felt, naturally, awful. She started saying, “He was my last friend,” she was at the point where she didn’t think she had a friend in the world: Arthur Miller hated her and everything. I remember Louella Parsons was there that day, she was a crazy nut, fisting down the sherry. And, drunk as she was, she always knew when something was going on… baby, any time she looked like she was fumbling, forget it! She had a mind like a steel trap. So I went over and said to Monroe, “Darling, I’m terribly sorry, it was quite unforgivable and, no matter what anybody does, we are friends, this has nothing to do with that.” I got her back together, and that was that.
We finished the picture, and it was really a terrible ordeal for everybody. Cukor was not crazy about Marilyn for a number of reasons, he was not good for her… Well, anyway. The picture finished and she was going to New York and she called and said, “Can I stop by, darling? I want to see you for a minute,” and I said, “Yes, of course.” She drove up on her way to the airport, got out of her car and gave me a big kiss. She gave me a little card and we said goodbye, and I said, “See you in New York when I get there, we’ll have dinner and go to the ballet.”
When she left, I opened the card, and there was a check for $1500, and a note that said, “I really was awful, it must have been a very difficult experience, please go someplace nice for a couple of weeks and act like it all never happened.” It was very dear. Then two days later I got another card with another check for $500, and the card said, “Stay three more days.” And that was her only way, she was such a little girl, she didn’t know how to say she was sorry, that was her only way to say she loved you and didn’t want you to feel mad. But she was right, Let’s Make Love was a terrible ordeal.
Choreographer Jack Cole to John Kobal, 1973