Ralph Roberts

We are still adding more to this section, hopefully you will find Ralph as interesting as we do.

Ralph was born in Salisbury, NC, August 16, 1916. He was educated at Catawba College and the University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill). Ralph studied for the stage with Herbert Berghof’s Acting Class. He also studied at Lee Strasberg’s Actors’ Studio in New York in the early 1950’s.  Ralph appeared on tour with “Big People” in 1947 and made his Broadway debut in the 1948 revival of “Angel Street.” Ralph’s screen debut was in MGM’s “Phone 1119” in 1951.

You may read an interesting Army tale involving Ralph here.

 

- A short self-bio Ralph wrote, probably as an intro to his Marilyn manuscript -

March 1941, I volunteered for the draft to "get my year out of the way." Pearl Harbor stretched this to five years, with Officer Candidate School, other army tours, culminating in a three month crash course with General Marshall preparing me for appointment as Personnel Officer for General Stilwell’s Combat Command in Burma – China.

March 1946, out of the army, I came to New York to study acting.

March 1949, I enrolled in the Swedish Institute of Massage and Physio-therapy. Upon graduation, with a New York State Massage License, I combined two careers, acting and massaging.

March 1980, I began writing of the years (three) I spent with Marilyn Monroe as friend, masseur, and actor; traveling from coast to coast with her many times. Through the years since August 5, 1962, mutual friends have urged me to write my experiences. To share a true picture of Marilyn; to counter the lies, distortions, phantasmagorics thrust upon the world by people who never knew Marilyn.

At any rate, I did advise Lee Strasberg on March 12th of my decision to write the details of my friendship. His answer was an emphatic approval. Even an offer to write a preface. May Reis, Marilyn’s secretary, friend, and beneficiary in her will, and who has studiously avoided making any comment whatsoever about any of her friends and employers, stated to me: "You should write it. You owe it to her to clear up, to share those years."

One memory returns from time to time. Sitting next to May, across the aisle from Pat Newcombe, at the funeral for Marilyn. To keep from fully concentrating on the horror, I made my mind wander the face of the earth. I stumbled upon the conceit that my obituary, when written, would probably state "Actor. Masseur. The only actor among the seventeen people gathered in the chapel for Marilyn Monroe’s funeral." Since then, of course, two more of those seventeen have become known as actors. DiMaggio and Strasberg.

Since beginning these writings, even more distortion, lies and fantasies are with us. Especially Norman Mailer’s ultimate. **

In the years since graduation from the Swedish Institute, I have had the following as clients. Some became friends as well as clients. Many became close friends. Some became ‘family.’ I think it gives more an indication of the essential me than any other picture I could paint. Some I may have not recalled. Others who had only one or two massages I do not include. I feel it takes a series of such to achieve a mutual rapport and understanding.

They are, in addition to Marilyn: Carol and Walter Matthau. Ruth and Milton Berle. Jennifer Jones. Mary and Arthur Schwarts(z?). Jayne Mansfield (I also choreographed the massage in Jule Styne’s WILL SUCCESS SPOIL ROCK HUNTER). Nancy Malone. Paul Burke. Shirley Jones. Marcy and William Shatner. Fran and Perry Lafferty. France Nuyen. Norma Crane. Maggie McNamara. Paula and Lee Strasberg. Anna Strasberg. Julie Harris. Geraldine Brooks. Maureen Stapleton. Jan Miner. Judy Holliday. Betty Comden and Steve Kyle. Phyllis Newman and Adolph Green. Joan Lorring. Allyn McLerie. George Gaynes. Robert Lewis. Margaret Leighton. Joan Plowright. Milton Goldman. Arnold Weisberger. Felicia and Leonard Bernstein. Lauren Bacall. Zoe Caldwell and Robert Whitehead. Burr Tillstrom. Alan Shayne. Sono Osato. Arthur Laurents. Eva LeGallienne. Ellen Burstyn. Imogene Coca. Arturo Toscanini. Gloria and James Jones. Betty Field. Gloria Vanderbilt. Herbert Berghof. Montgomery Clift. William Redfield. Gloria Safier. Helen Hayes. Richard Burton. Jo Sullivan Loeser. Sally Ann Howes. Richard Adler. Marc Blitzstein. Paul Davis. Nancy Berg. Martin Ritt. Evelyn and Richard Avedon. Leigh Taylor-Young. Joan and George Axelrod. Shirley Clurman. Nancy Cardozza. Philip Anglim. Diane Ladd. Dolly Fox. Kay Norton. David Merrick. Susan Strasberg.

 

** Subsequent to Ralph's writing of this Donald Spoto released his biography of Marilyn ("Marilyn Monroe: the Biography" ©1993) which Ralph believed to be the most accurate Marilyn biography.  
He felt that Spoto's book was very true to Marilyn and that its information  was accurate, so Ralph's negative  views about some of the material published at the time of writing do not apply to Mr. Spoto.