Marilyn Monroe’s Go-Getter List of New Year’s Resolutions (1955)

Marilyn's Resolutions

The com­mon con­cep­tion of New Year’s res­o­lu­tions frames them as dis­pos­able ideals, not to be tak­en too seri­ous­ly or fol­lowed through past the first few months of win­ter; by spring, we all assume, we’ll be right back to our sloth­ful, glut­to­nous ways. Per­haps the prob­lem lies in the way we approach this year­ly rit­u­al. Lists of the most com­mon res­o­lu­tions tend towards the almost shock­ing­ly banal, such that most people’s desires for change are inter­change­able with their friends and neigh­bors and might as well be script­ed by greet­ing card com­pa­nies. I’d haz­ard it’s impos­si­ble to be pas­sion­ate about half-thoughts and boil­er­plate ambi­tion.

But there are those few peo­ple who real­ly pour their hearts into it, cre­at­ing lists so indi­vid­u­al­ized and authen­tic that the doc­u­ments expose their inner lives, their hopes, fears, loves, strug­gles, and deep, per­son­al yearn­ings and aspi­ra­tions. One such list that cir­cu­lates often, and which we fea­tured last year, is this gem from Woody Guthrie cir­ca 1943. It’s so com­plete­ly him, so much in his voice, that no one else could have writ­ten it, even in par­o­dy. This year, we direct your atten­tion to the list above, from Mar­i­lyn Mon­roe, writ­ten at the end of 1955 when the star was 29.

Already well-known for her act­ing in such fine films as All About Eve, Gen­tle­men Pre­fer Blondes, and The Sev­en Year Itch, Mon­roe had recent­ly been accept­ed to Lee Strasberg’s Actors Stu­dio. As Lists of Note puts it, “judg­ing by this list, she was deter­mined to make the most of her oppor­tu­ni­ties.” I’m not sure what to make of the odd use of ran­dom let­ters at the begin­ning of each res­o­lu­tion, but what the list does offer us is a glimpse into Monroe’s deep commitment—despite her feel­ing that her life was “miserable”—to grow­ing and devel­op­ing as an actor and a per­son.

See a full tran­script of her list of res­o­lu­tions below.

Must make effort to do

Must have the dici­pline to do the fol­low­ing –

z – go to class – my own always – with­out fail

x – go as often as pos­si­ble to observe Strass­berg’s oth­er pri­vate class­es

g – nev­er miss actor’s stu­dio ses­sions

v – work when­ev­er pos­si­ble – on class assign­ments – and always keep work­ing on the act­ing exer­cis­es

u – start attend­ing Clur­man lec­tures – also Lee Strass­berg’s direc­tors lec­tures at the­ater wing – enquire about both

l – keep look­ing around me – only much more so – observ­ing – but not only myself but oth­ers and every­thing – take things (it) for what they (it’s) are worth

y – must make strong effort to work on cur­rent prob­lems and pho­bias that out of my past has arisen – mak­ing much much much more more more more more effort in my anal­i­sis. And be there always on time – no excus­es for being ever late.

w – if pos­si­ble – take at least one class at uni­ver­si­ty – in lit­er­a­ture –

o – fol­low RCA thing through.

p – try to find some­one to take danc­ing from – body work (cre­ative)

t – take care of my instru­ment – per­son­al­ly & bod­i­ly (exer­cise)

try to enjoy myself when I can – I’ll be mis­er­able enough as it is.

via Lists of Note

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The 430 Books in Mar­i­lyn Monroe’s Library: How Many Have You Read?

Woody Guthrie’s Doo­dle-Filled List of 33 New Year’s Res­o­lu­tions From 1943

The Sci­ence of Willpow­er: 15 Tips for Mak­ing Your New Year’s Res­o­lu­tions Last from Dr. Kel­ly McGo­ni­gal

The Top 10 New Year’s Res­o­lu­tions Read by Bob Dylan

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

by | Permalink | Comments (0) |

Sup­port Open Cul­ture

We’re hop­ing to rely on our loy­al read­ers rather than errat­ic ads. To sup­port Open Cul­ture’s edu­ca­tion­al mis­sion, please con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion. We accept Pay­Pal, Ven­mo (@openculture), Patre­on and Cryp­to! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.