"Goodbye Norma Jean"


Leap Date:

April 4, 1960


Episode adopted by: Brinsley

Synopsis:

In a 4th leap directly involving a celebrity, Sam leaps into Marilyn Monroe's chauffeur. Al says he must prevent her from overdosing on pills and alcohol. He also has to uncover the mystery behind her new assistant's past.

 

Audio from this episode

 

Place
Leap Date

Project Date
Name of the Person Leaped Into
Songs

Music Artists
Project Trivia
Sam Trivia
Al Trivia

Al's Women
Al's Outfits Worn in the Episode

Miscellaneous Trivia
Kiss with History
Writers
Director
Producers

Crew
Broadcast Date
Guest Stars
Guest Cast Notes
Guests who appeared in other Quantum Leap episodes
Cast members who have passed away
Personal Review
Best Lines
Best Scenes
Say what? (things in the episode that make no sense)
Quotable Quotes

Awards

 

 

Leap Date: April 4th, 1960.

Place: Hollywood. Marilyn's house - 12305 5th.Helena Drive, Brentwood.

Name of the Person Leaped Into:
Dennis Boardman, chauffeur to Marilyn Monroe.

 

Synopsis:
Leaping in to find himself standing next to a V8 convertible outside a movie studio and being bombarded with questions by an eager fan, Sam soon discovers that he has leaped into one Dennis Boardman, chauffeur to legendary actress Marilyn Monroe, in 1960 Hollywood. Initially, all seems to be well, as Sam finds respite in this glamorous leap from the toils and misfortunes of most of his previous leaps, while Al is fascinated with observing the living legend of Marilyn and her lifestyle.

However, it soon becomes clear they are very near the date of Marilyn's tragic suicide under mysterious circumstances, a major historical "wrong" that Sam, coming to care deeply for the lonely and despairing star, becomes determined to put right. Striving to help Marilyn fill the void of loneliness in her isolated life at the top, Sam encourages her to take a young country girl, who appears on her doorstep for a job interview, as her personal assistant. The girl initially appears to be honest and hardworking, but Sam's increasing suspicions are confirmed when she begins to gently encourage Marilyn's habits of drinking and taking sleeping pills.

Behind an innocent cover story, this country girl is in reality an ambitious young actress who couldn't make it into real show business. This conniving young woman is planning to take advantage of her new position as Marilyn's assistant to rob Marilyn of her career opportunities. Sam must work to convince a disbelieving Marilyn that the girl is not as innocent as she seems, to expose the girl's ambitions and to save not only Marilyn's career, but also her life, that is endangered by her frequent revelries of alcohol and becoming dependent on sleeping pills.

 

Songs / Music:
Quantum Leap Theme by Mike Post
Musical Score by Velton Ray Bunch

 

Project Trivia:
No info on the leapee and his feelings in the Waiting Room in this episode. No info on any antics going on at the project. However, at one point the handlink gives one of its most violent squealing fits ever (Al gives it the usual slapping treatment in response). 

 

Sam Trivia:
Sam's reference in his voiceover at the beginning to two of his previous leaps, as examples of the unpleasant experiences involved in leaping, was a neat touch: "getting pummeled on the boxing ring" would be "The Right Hand of God" from the first season, and "working on a chain gang" refers of course to the fourth-season episode "Unchained".

Sam was too young to be a fan of Marilyn when she was at the peak of success (she originally died when he was 6.5, and later 9, years old). However, by the time he was in college Sam was already familiar with her work, and he used to "sneak off" to the movies, to get lost in the magic of her "big, luscious blue eyes".

Sam's M.D. training comes in handy again, in saving Marilyn's life at Lawford's party. The CPR resuscitation and the keeping of the person walking around are the same treatment Sam used to save model Edie Landsdale from the effects of her own drug addiction in the third-season episode "One Strobe Over the Line".

 

Al Trivia:
Not much info on Al or his extra-IC activities on this episode. We do know that, as Sam says, he was around to enjoy Marilyn's success while she was alive (being in his twenties in the late 50's and early 60's). We can also find a reference to his tendency to automatically believe any gossip, rumors and conspiracy theories, found here in his comment on Barbara's hint of the party guests from Washington D.C. 

 

Misc. Trivia:
The title of the episode – "Good-Bye Norma Jean". Marilyn Monroe was only a screen name, and the celebrated actress was born (1926) Norma Jean Mortenson.

Marilyn mentions her favorite strolling park, which she visits with Sam in the episode, as the place where part of the 1955 film Rebel without a Cause (starring James Dean, who is also mentioned by Marilyn as an example of the proper "way to go") was filmed. I believe the place is named Griffith Park and Observatory.

When Marilyn expresses her reluctance to go to Lawford's party, Barbara mentions some of the guests supposed to be arriving "from back east… from Washington D.C.". True to his established character as a gossipmonger and firm believer in popular rumors, Al immediately comments "would that be who I think it is?". This would be John F. Kennedy, not yet elected president in April 1960, but nonetheless alive and well, which is a change from the last time Sam has crossed paths with him, at the beginning of the season. JFK was widely rumored to have been having an affair with Marilyn.

 

Al's Outfits:
1. Bright purple jacket and pants, rich purple shirt and silver tie (at the mailbox).

2. Orange jacket, red shirt with bright orange/gold buttons (at the poolside).

3. Light blue jacket, white shirt and thin red necktie (in the kitchen).

4. Black jacket, yellow shirt and thin red necktie (the next morning).

 

Writers:
Writer - Richard C. Okie

 

Directors:
Director - Christopher Hibler
First Assistant Director – Ryan Gordon
Second Assistant Director – Brian Faul

 

Producers:
Co-Executive Producer – Deborah Pratt
Co-Executive Producer – Chas. Floyd Johnson
Supervising Producer – Richard C. Okie
Supervising Producer – Tommy Thompson
Supervising Producer – Harker Wade
Producer – Robin Jill Bernheim
Associate Producer – Scott Ejercito
Associate Producer – Julie Bellisario
Coordinating Producer – David Bellisario

 

Broadcast Date: March 2nd, 1993

 

Regular Cast:
Scott Bakula as Dr. Sam Beckett
Dean Stockwell as Al Calavicci

 

Guest Stars:

Susan Griffiths as Marilyn Monroe

Liz Vassey as Barbara Whitmore (or Mary Jo Vermullen? The character's real name.)

Joris Stuyck as Peter Lawford

Stephen Root as John Tremaine, Jr.

Tony Young as John Huston

Larry Pennell as Clark Gable

Eric Scott Woods as Rocky

Elizabeth Coffee as Jane (The eager fan questioning Sam as he leaps in?)

Stephen Bowers as Dennis Boardman / Mirror

 

Guest Cast Notes:

Susan Griffiths (Marilyn) is a known Marilyn Monroe impersonator, and has played the role of either Marilyn or her look-alike in several films and TV shows, the most notable of which are the celebrity-impersonation documentary "Legends in Concert" and the 1994 hit film "Pulp Fiction".

Liz Vassey (Barbara) first appeared on TV on the soap "All My Children". Among her other credits are recurring appearances in "ER", "Brotherly Love" and in films such as "Pursuit of Happiness" and "The Tick".

Tony Young (John Huston) appeared on several 70's film thrillers such as "Black Gunn", "The Outfit" and "Policewomen", and also in a movie based on the life of Marilyn Monroe, "The Sex Symbol". He later appeared in guest roles in several 80's TV shows, of which his playing of John Huston in QL was the last. It appears this was also his last participation in film/TV entirely.

Larry Pennell (Clark Gable) appeared on such shows as "General Hospital", "The Borrower", "Mr. Baseball" and more recently in the films "Rogue" and "Jackpot". Among his other TV guest appearances are Bellisario's "Magnum P.I.", "The Beverly Hillbillies" and "Little House on the Prairie".

 

Guests Who Appeared in Other QL Episodes:
Liz Vassey (Barbara) also played Paula Fletcher in the fourth-season episode "Raped".

 

Cast Members Who Have Passed Away:
Tony Young (John Huston) died on February 26th, 2002, of lung cancer. 

 

Personal Review:
"Good-Bye Norma Jean" is in my opinion a unique episode in the history of Quantum Leap, although it does bear some resemblance, in its setting, mood and concept, to the mediocre third-season episode "One Strobe over the Line", in which a young woman has trouble coping with the pressures of another glamorous business world, and succumbs to a drug addiction. However, that woman was a mere fashion model and a fictitious character, while "Good-Bye Norma Jean" deals with a worldwide-famous superstar and a major celebrity taken from the real world, to boot. Marilyn impersonator Susan Griffiths does a great job in conveying the loneliness, purposelessness and anguish of the character through her very composedness and restraint, in knowing that, although the whole world looks up to her, listens to her and is fascinated by her, in reality she has no one in which to confide and to which she could reveal her true feelings, her true self. In the face of this anguish, her wealth, her fame and even the sincere love and adoration bestowed on her around the world are insignificant and cannot help her. Her plight as she states it has become, over the years, somewhat of a cliché voiced or implied by many celebrity actors and actresses, about people always relating to them in light of the characters and personas that they have portrayed on the screen. This is truly the only way these people (and indeed, most people) will ever be able to view their adulated idols: they only know the façade of a fictitious character, which was the object of their initial identification or feeling of affection, rather than the real person behind the acting talent and the words of the script. Quantum Leap has dealt, a few times in the past, with such forms of blind adulation for celebrities and with the consequences of living in the TV and movie culture of the past several decades. This was shown, for example, through the character of another, slightly more disturbed woman, also named Norma Jean (probably an intentional choice by the writers, meant to refer to the Marilyn adulation) in the fourth-season episode "Moments to Live". This is naturally an important issue if we are to come to terms with the unreality of televised or filmed fiction, as that poor woman was eventually forced to do.

Furthermore, the tone of the episode is rather unique compared to the rest of the show. As Sam states in his voiceover opening narration, not many leaps allow him the time, place, mood and most importantly, the assumed identity, for a timeout of relaxation from the more nasty situations he tends to leap into. These fond ruminations are narrated by Sam while the vista of Hollywood Hills and its tree-shaded lanes roll by, and the episode's variation of the musical score plays soothingly in the background. Al is also fascinated by this glamorous leap, and sets out to "observe" Marilyn's life. A predictable, but nonetheless cute, joke has Al popping into Sam's room the next morning, fretfully rushing him to Marilyn's private swimming pool in the same way he usually does when a person far from Sam is in serious trouble and needs to have Sam get there fast. However, when a breathless Sam comes running to the poolside to lend aid to a damsel in distress, it turns out Al was excited by something entirely different.

 

Best Line:
(Sam has turned down Marilyn's advances and she leaves, tears in her eyes. Al has been standing in the corridor behind them for some time)
Al (quietly): You're a stronger man than I am.

 

Best Scene:
The best scene of the episode is, in my opinion, the scene in Marilyn's kitchen after the day of the party, from which the line above is taken. Sam has to turn down Marilyn's advances and her proposition to him to become "responsible for her" and to enter a romantic relationship with her. Sam cannot let himself commit to her even though he clearly wants to, and tells her so. But he can't tell her the real reason for his refusal: he is naturally afraid that, after he leaps out, the returning real Dennis would not have such feelings of deep affection for Marilyn and, finding himself romantically involved with his employer, might decide to break up the relationship and leave her lonely and despairing – or worse, he might decide to take advantage of his newfound lover's stardom, her riches and her fame, even though he may not love her at all. These outcomes will hurt Marilyn so much more deeply than Sam's immediate refusal to her now, and Sam knows this, having gone through the same story in many of his previous leaps, with lovely and loving women grateful for the changes he has wrought in their lives and wishing to develop their relationship with him, and he always has to draw back and apologize for his reluctance, knowing that his leapee will probably not continue to treat the woman in question with the same decency and honesty that Sam himself has. However, here the scene offers a much more poignant loss than usual in the show, even if Marilyn's reaction to being rebuffed is very restrained and quiet. The tears in her eyes and the expression on her face at that moment are enough to tell how much she needs a loving and caring presence at her side right then, to be "responsible" for her for the rest of her life.

 

Worst Thing about the Episode:
Again, the rejection scene in the kitchen. Couldn't something have been done? I mean, they've got the guy in the Waiting Room, why not send Al to have a conversation with him to at least find out if he's fond of Marilyn at all? Okay, if this was another case I could perhaps have come to agree with Sam that Dennis could never love her exactly as Sam would, or that's it's a safe bet he won't care for her as a friend and loved one at all, or whatever. But come on, the whole point is that this woman is going to end up with that overdosing thing sooner or later, so why not think for a bit, say YES, it *can* be changed, a loving soul at her side to be "responsible" for her may be all she needs in order to feel strong, have a purpose and a constant cause joy in her life (love tends to do that to people) and as a result feel no need whatsoever to commit suicide? So have Al hop over to the Waiting Room and work on Dennis, get Dr. Beeks in, and if necessary apply pressure on the guy until he changes his mind - just do whatever it takes to change the priorities of this leap to saving Marilyn's life by giving her someone to love who will love her back. Really, I'm surprised at Sam for not coming up with this and insisting upon it, even though Ziggy may have known all along that the goal of the leap would be to prevent only the first suicide and extend Marilyn's life in two final years, so that she could make that movie. A movie?! What about the chance to keep that "brightest star", that the world was about to lose as Sam said, alive? We've known Sam to often doubt Ziggy's hypotheses, dismiss them as wrong, and a few times to even outright rebel against them and try his own way just for spite. Why doesn't he even think of doing so here?

 

Say What? (Things that Make No Sense):
If Marilyn's 1960 suicide attempt, predicted by Al at the beginning of the leap and foiled by Sam thanks to his vigil at Lawford's party, would have succeeded, how could Marilyn have finished making her last movie, the one originally not titled The Misfits? Al later mentions that her finishing of the movie happened in the original history too – that is, supposedly, before Sam was there to convince her to take Barbara as her assistant. Moreover, we know that Marilyn's suicide attempt was unrelated to Barbara's presence and her takeover of Marilyn's career opportunities – at the mailbox at the beginning, before they enter the house and meet Barbara, Sam asks Al to check for the proximity of the suicide date, and Al replies they are "close to it". Sam is upset by the implications of this proximity and sends Al to find out just when that tragic day is due. Granted, Al only returns with the definite answer after Barbara is hired, but it appears clear from his and Sam's words that the date in question (probably April 8th, 1960, the day of Lawford's party) was around the time they know it to have occurred in their original history too, and clearly not two years later. Later, at the end of the episode, after Sam has exposed Barbara, the suicide date is established as the one known to us from our own reality – August of 1962. This means that Marilyn could not have committed suicide at any other date during 1960-61, after having finished making the movie. So, did Marilyn commit suicide in the original history, in 1962, as in our own world? If not, and Sam's involving of Barbara is the cause for the 1960 attempt, why then don't Sam and Al comment on the significant change in dates? On the other hand, if Marilyn really did commit suicide in 1960 even without Barbara's help, how could she have finished making that last movie, as Al states she did in the original history too?

 

 

Quotable Quotes:

Al (eagerly): I'm gonna do a lot of observing on this leap.


(Sam has been rushed by a frantic Al to Marilyn's swimming pool, only to find her skinny-dipping. Sam quickly spins around so as not to be caught looking)

Sam (irritated, whispering): You brought me out here for *this*?

Al: Are you kidding? This is like looking at Helen of Troy, or, or Boticelli's Venus…

Sam: Naked!!

Al: Right!

Sam (furious): Wrong!!

(Barbara comes out to the poolside wearing a short bathrobe)

Al: Whoa! Double your pleasure, double your fun!


(Marilyn has come out of the water, was wrapped in a towel by Barbara and has left with her)

Al (disappointed): I hate towels.

Sam: What made you decide to study acting?

Marilyn: Watching my own movies.

Sam: People adore you.

Marilyn: Adore… that's great, if you're some kind of stone statue.

Sam: No… no, that's not what I meant. People really care about you. You're one of the most loved people in the world… ever.

Marilyn: Then why can't I feel it?

Sam: Al?... Would you think I was crazy if I told you that…

Al: If you told me what?

Sam: … Never mind.

Al: I'd say, welcome to the human race, Sam. Every man that ever met her fell in love with her. Just… take good care of her and don't let her die. Nobody that beautiful should *ever* die.

Peter Lawford: Look, why don't you quit while you're behind?

Sam: I'm just saying that I think she should take the movie. The public is crying for a new Marilyn Monroe movie!

Marilyn: After my last picture, they're just plain crying.


(Sam has drawn back from Marilyn's kiss)

Sam: It's not that I don't want to. I mean… every man on the planet wants you.

Marilyn: They don't want me. They want Marilyn. But I'm not her! She's somebody that I put on, like a cashmere sweater or a mink coat. Somehow, I think you're the first man I've ever met that really understands that.


(Marilyn is annoyed when Sam tells her she shouldn't go to Lawford's casino revelry)

Marilyn: Nursemaid, cop, driver. Is there anything you don't do?

Al: You got fired?!

Sam (mutters in despair): That's right.

Al: When I left, Marilyn was practically proposing to you, what ha-- Oh... a woman's scorn?

Al (annoyed, slapping the squealing handlink): Come on, Ziggy.

Sam: What's wrong with Ziggy?

Al: …Typical. She says that the Hollywood types are too unpredictable to predict.




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