Inside Johnny Hyde and Marilyn Monroe’s relationship as revealed in new doc

Bruno Cooke April 28, 2022
Inside Johnny Hyde and Marilyn Monroe’s relationship as revealed in new doc
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The Mystery Of Marilyn Monroe: The Unheard Tapes arrived on Netflix yesterday (27 April 2022), promising a new look at the life and untimely death of the cultural icon. What do we know about her relationship with talent agent Johnny Hyde?

How did Johnny Hyde and Marilyn Monroe meet?

Johnny Hyde and Marilyn Monroe first got to know each other at the Palm Springs Racquet Club, where she was being photographed by Bruno Bernard in 1949.

In Bernard’s words, as cited by his daughter Susan for a 2011 article in Palm Springs Life, the “tennis courts were swept clean when the voluptuous Marilyn posed in her body-hugging swimsuit and four-inch cork heels on the diving board”.

Hyde appeared and asked Bernard whether he wouldn’t mind him “taking a few snapshots for private use”. He didn’t wait for answer. He disappeared into his bungalow next to the pool and came back with a Leica “and several telephoto lenses”. 

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The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe: The Unheard Tapes | Official Trailer | Netflix

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The 54-year-old “crouched on his belly”, Bernard continues, “and fired away from his frog perspective as if Eastman Kodak would go out of business tomorrow”.

“Who is this jerk snapping all these pictures?” Monroe apparently asked.

Inside Monroe’s relationship with talent agent Johnny Hyde

Hyde quickly took Monroe on as a client. He was vice-president of the William Morris Agency at the time while she was in her early 20s and had enjoyed small-time success via modelling contracts and film roles with Columbia. 

But she was looking for her big break. 

Hyde used his influence to help Monroe land roles in The Asphalt Jungle (as Angela, pictured below) and All About Eve (Miss Caswell). He also arranged for her to have her nose and chin surgically adjusted, according to website The Marilyn Monroe Pages.

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Not long after Johnny Hyde met Marilyn Monroe, he used his influence to secure her a seven-year contract with 20th Century Fox – at Sam Spiegel’s New Year’s Eve party in 1948, according to blogger Perfectly Marilyn Monroe.

By the time Johnny died of a heart attack on 18 December 1950, Spiegel writes, he had “turned job-seeker Norma Jean into a sex symbol”. But their relationship wasn’t merely professional.

Johnny reportedly left wife Mozelle Cravens Hyde for Monroe, but she refused to marry him

He fell “head over heels” in love with Marilyn Monroe, writes fan and researcher Melinda, who runs mairlynmonroe.ca

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Months later Johnny Hyde left his wife Mozelle Cravens. She later told biographer Fred Lawrence Guiles: “I tried to take it for a long time but, in the end, it was impossible. I’m a tolerant person, but there is always a limit.”

By all accounts, he proposed to Monroe several times. His declining health appears to have played a factor – he told her she would inherit his millions. Eventually, on hearing rumours he had started to refer to her as his fiancée, Marilyn moved out of his Beverly Hills home

Hyde died in 1950 at the age of 55

Just days after negotiating her contract with 20th Century Fox, Johnny Hyde suffered a major heart attack and died. 

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Photo by Earl Leaf/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Monroe called Bruno Bernard’s daughter Susan and was “crying out of control”. “If anything happens to Johnny,” Bernard quotes her as saying – “her voice beginning to crack” – “I can’t go on without him.”

In 1953 she reportedly said: “Johnny was good to me. He made me feel as though I wasn’t stupid like people thought. I loved Johnny very much – kind of different, maybe, but a lot. No one will ever completely take his place.”

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Bruno is a novelist, amateur screenwriter and journalist with interests in digital media, storytelling, film and politics. He’s lived in France, China, Sri Lanka and the Philippines, but returned to the UK for a degree (and because of the pandemic) in 2020. His articles have appeared in Groundviews, Forge Press and The Friday Poem, and most are readable on Medium or onurbicycle.com.