That’s the Trouble, a Sex Symbol Becomes a Thing. I Just Hate To Be a Thing

Marilyn Monroe? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: Glamourous movie icon Marilyn Monroe apparently expressed misgivings about her sex symbol status because she did not wish to be viewed simply as a thing. Would you please help me to find a citation for her remarks on this topic?

Quote Investigator: “LIFE” magazine Associate Editor Richard Meryman and Marilyn Monroe engaged in a series of conversations, and the transcripts were edited into the form of a lengthy monologue which was published in “LIFE” in August 1962 shortly before the death of Monroe. The following passage includes a pun on cymbals versus symbols. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

I never quite understood it — this sex symbol — I always thought symbols were those things you clash together! That’s the trouble, a sex symbol becomes a thing. I just hate to be a thing. But if I’m going to be a symbol of something I’d rather have it sex than some other things they’ve got symbols of!

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading That’s the Trouble, a Sex Symbol Becomes a Thing. I Just Hate To Be a Thing


  1. 1962 August 3, LIFE, Volume 53, Number 5, Marilyn Monroe lets her hair down about being famous: “Fame will go by and—so long, I’ve had you”, (Monroe spoke with LIFE Associate Editor Richard Meryman in a series of conversations), Start Page 31, Quote Page 36, Column 3, Time Inc., Chicago, Illinois. (Google Books Full View) link

Novelty is Mistaken for Progress

Frank Lloyd Wright? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: The famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright was critical of the new buildings he saw in cities. Apparently, he said:

Novelty is mistaken for Progress.

Would you please help me to find a citation?

Quote Investigator: In 1955 Frank Lloyd Wright published an essay titled “The Future of the City” in “The Saturday Review”. He felt that the existing configurations of cities were constraining the visions of planners and architects: 1

But sponsors of the modern city, first founded by Cain (the murderer of his brother), refuse to consider fundamental and human alteration in the city’s structure because of our gigantic “investment” in the city as it is. And so the Machine Age has not liberated us.

The phrase about novelty and progress was posed as a rhetorical question. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI:

We are imprisoned: witness the new buildings on our city streets. Isn’t it true to say that—in these buildings—Novelty is mistaken for Progress? Of steel and glass we have aplenty; but what of the imaginative and creative powers which make of these glittering materials structures responsive to the needs of the Human Individual? What of Real Sun, Real Air, Real Leisure?

This article ends with one more citation.
Continue reading Novelty is Mistaken for Progress


  1. 1955 May 21, The Saturday Review, The Future of the City by Frank Lloyd Wright, Start Page 10, Quote Page 10, Column 1 and 2, Saturday Review Associates, New York. (Unz)