Romeo Samuel Greenschpoon.
Date of birth : September 20, 1911, Brooklyn.
Date of death : November 24, 1979, Los Angeles.
Places of living
- in 1918 : 433 Miller Avenue, Brooklyn Kings, New York.
- 902 Franklin Street, Santa Monica. Gr 3-2900.
Address of his office 436 North Roxbury Drive, Beverly Hills,CR 1-4050 (after 1962, associated with Hyman Engelberg).
Marilyn's psychiatrist and psychoanalyst.
Founder and member of the Psychoanalytical Society in Los Angeles.
Psychiatry teacher at the Medicine School of UCLA.
Member of the Medical Council of the Reiss-Davis Clinic.
Author of dozen of scientific publications.
Russian origins. Both his parents were born in Russia : Joel O. Greenschpoon (December 16, 1882, Kishinew -
Joel Greenschpoon lived in New York from 1904 to 1922. He was a physician.
Emigrated from Baku, Russia, in December 1903, he became U.S citizen on February 25, 1915.
From April to June 1922, he stayed in Uruguay to visit his sick brother, and in Argentina to visit his sister and
He applied for another passport on July 16, 1924, to go to Germany, Austria, France and England for "study"
His mother was a pharmacist.
Ralph was the eldest of 4 children : Juliet, Elizabeth and Irving W. (January 9, 1919,, New York) and was raised in Brooklyn.
From September 7 to 17, 1928 : the family travelled from Hamburg (Germany) to New York
From September 20 to 29, 1929, he travelled from Boulogne sur Mer (France) to New York
His twin sister, Juliet (September 20, 1911, New York - December 12, 1996, California), became a famous pianist.
He studied at the Columbia University, then at the university of Bern (Switzerland) from 1930 to 1934.
In Bern, he met his wife Hildegard (Hildi) Troesch (born in Bern on October 21, 1913 - died in Los Angeles on
They had 2 children, Daniel and Joan (Greenson Family).
Shortly before the war, he studied the Freudian psychology in Vienna (Austria) where he linked with Sigmund Freud.
Shortly before the war, he studied the Freudian psychology in Vienna (Austria) where he linked with Sigmund Freud.
His brother-in-law was .
His brother-in-law wasMilton Rudin, the husband of Elizabeth (July 9, 1914, New York - September 21, 1991, Santa Barbara, California), his younger sister
Elizabeth Greenschpoon was a musician who played cello, belonged to the orchestra which played with Frank
From July 26 to August 1st, 1933, he travelled from Cherbourg, France to New York().
He graduated with an M.D from University of Bern, in 1934.
In 1935 he began a personal psychoanalysis with Wilhelm Stekel, a Freud's disciple, in Vienna (Austria), and analytic training. In Vienna he became close friend of Anna Freud.
On March 19, 1936, he travelled, along with Hildi, from Cherbourg (France) to New York
1937 : he went back to the USA and offically took the name of Greenson.
1938 : he followed a Freudian analysis with Otto Fenichel (Hanna Fenichel) and Frances Deri.
Since November 1942, he began his national service in the Health Department, at the Veterans Hospital in Canandaigua (New York).
The Air Force regional hospital in
He had bad reflex and an insufficient coordination of his right arm.
The Air Force regional hospital inScott Field (Illinois) discharged him of his militay service, mentioning a serious incident occurred in Canandaigua on December 13, 1943. Greenson had declared having been injured on the head (probably after a collision) during a trip in an ambulance : temporarily unconscious, he suffered from a minor amnesia. Since this accident (the report added), Greenson had lost the sense of smell, suffered from occasional crisis and expressed a nervous deficiency (sometimes very marked) of the left side of his face.
Became unfit to the national service abroad, he was named head of the neuropsychiatry department at the Air Force convalescence hospital, in Fort Logan (Colorado). Promoted Captain, he then ran the specialized section of "operational fatigue".
1945 : he applied for being discharged of his military service to practise psychiatry in private in Los Angeles (letter dated from December 5, 1945 to the military authorities in Washington). There was a veterans community, who wanted to follow a psychiatric treatment. But he didn't obtain satisfaction.
1946 : back to the civilian life, he settled as a psychiatrist in Los Angeles.
1947 : he bought a house at 902 Franklin Street, Santa Monica. He bought this house which construction had just ended, to John and Eunice Murray, who couldn't pay their loan off, for the amount of 16 500$.,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
Among the psychoanalysts registered and graduated in Medicine who exercised in the Los Angeles County in 1950,
was Dr Ralph Greenson, founder of a Freudian group known under the name
of Los Angeles Psychoanalytical Society. The said society had close
links with Anna Freud in London, and with her European and New Yorker colleagues.
During the 50's, he had a thriving clientele : in his Beverly Hills office flocked many celebrities and also wealthy people from the West of the county.
He started to teach psychiatry at the Medicine School of UCLA in 1953 and was taken for a popular lecturer near the specialists as the uninitiated. He was analyst (he was former and controller) at the Los Angeles Psychoanalytical Society and was an American Psychoanalytic Association life member.
He was named clinical professor of psychiatry at UCLA at the beginning of the 1960'.
Apart from the help he could have given to his private clients, in the south of California, he had the reputation of a speaker knowing how to fascinate his audience.
As many of his colleagues of this era, he relied a lot on the use of drugs, associated to psychotherapy.
He used to prescribe to his patients (personnaly or through their general practitioner) some barbiturates or sedatives in vogue. Thus, he tried to relieve their crisis and to make their life easier.
From every of
his interests, the burden of celebrity seems to have been the most
important for him, and also for the personalities he treated.
From every of his interests, the burden of celebrity seems to have been the most important for him, and also for the personalities he treated.
in the treatment of the stars. He even had his own experiment of screen;
he had contributed to the writing of a novel where he described his war
memories, a novel which was screend under the title of "Captain Newman,
MD" (1946). Gregory Peck had the leading role and Greenson earned 12.5%
of the gross receipts.
He specialized in the treatment of the stars. He even had his own experiment of screen; he had contributed to the writing of a novel where he described his war memories, a novel which was screend under the title of "Captain Newman, MD" (1946). Gregory Peck had the leading role and Greenson earned 12.5% of the gross receipts.
1955 : he had a heart attack.
In the 60's, his patients were Peter Lorre, Celeste Holm, Vincente Minelli,Vivien Leigh, Inger Stevens, Frank Sinatra(become his patient on the advise of his lawyer, Milton Rudin, Greenson's brother-in-law, after he committed suicide, after his break-up with Ava Gardner).He appeared on the analysts list recommended to the Communist Party members.
The versions concerning their first meeting diverge :
Meeting with Marilyn
Meeting with Marilynin 1960 at the Beverly Hills Hotel.
He was recommended to Marilyn by her lawyer Michael Rudin (Greenson's brother-in-law).
During the post-production of this movie, Marilyn visited him every day at his office.
She wrote to him during her stay at the Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, on March 1961 :
The press had mixed comments about him. Although nobody had doubts about his devotion towards Marilyn, his methods were not much usual, and for some biographers, his motives were fallacious. He has been described as thirsting for gratitude, being only interested in famous people, tending to popularize the serious questions in the only purpose of being appreciated and attract attention.He was involved in the dissimulations surrounding Marilyn's death, and was even charged with murder complicty.
Ralph Roberts, friend, chauffeur and masseur of Marilyn, took her, during the second half of year 1961, every day, to her 4.00 PM appointment with Greenson.
From a professional point of view, he had his defenders and his opponents. He was very prolix, wrote articles, held conferences and Anna Freud regarded him with esteem (for a while, he had treated her brother Ernst Freud).
He recommended psychotherapeutic treatments in association with drugs, as barbiturates and sadatives, something usual at that time.But the way he involved his patients within his daily life was a particularly unsual aspect of his practice.
In one of his articles, he urged his colleagues to "emotionally being involved in their patients life, if they wanted to establish a trustworthy therapeutic relationship".
Greenson's thesis, as he would have claimed it to his family, was that the traditional Freudian therapy didn't work with Marilyn.
She had to experience a stable and traditional family, to be able to found one herself. By acting this way, he seemed to have forgotten one of the ground rules of his profession : the absolute necessity of a critical distance.
At the same time than himself, he led his own family in the experiment.
October 1961 : he asked Marilyn to sent Ralph Roberts back to New York because she was very dependent on him. Few days later, he sent her Eunice Murray.
End of 1961 : Marilyn had dinner with the Greensons 3 or 4 times a week, called night and day at any time for questions, even minors, about her life and sometimes turned up at their home, even at night.She spent her last Christmas with "Romy" as she called him (at home ha was called Romeo), although DiMaggio
Because of the tension which reigned on the set of "Something's Got to Give", Marilyn visited him twice a day. These appointments were the only ones she didn't cancel during her 2 weeks absence from the set, because she suffered from a chronic sinusitis.
On May 10, 1962 Greenson and his wife left Los Angeles for a 5 weeks trip to Israel and Switzerland. After a complete dependency period, suddenly Marilyn found her alone, with her Dexamyl boxes for only comfort.
It was the moment when the tensions with the Fox studios reached their climax, and when Marilyn was suspended. She called Greenson, he took charge of the situation and declared to the Fox managers than Marilyn was ready to go back to work.
At that time, Marilyn would have confided to her friends that her dependency towards Greenson worried her and that she was afraid that he could even be harmful. The way Greenson cut her off from the people she loved also preoccupied her. Ralph Roberts, one of Marilyn's friend Greenson had warned her about, confided to Donald Spoto : "She was deeply irritated by the way he used her... He had tried to get rid of the main part of her circle, which was relatively reduced. But when he tried to warn her against Joe DiMaggio, she began to reconsider the whole case".Marilyn's death circumstances are contradictory and controversial. Greenson's role varies a lot according to the versions.
In the beginning of the evening, he called to know if everything went well; Eunice Murray answered him that Marilyn was calm and resting in her bedroom.In his version, the one which was the official version basis of Marilyn's death, he says that at about 3 or 3.30 AM, Eunice Murray called him, because she had noticed some light in Marilyn's bedroom and that her door was locked. Greenson came and broke Marilyn's bedroom window and found her dead.
Dr Hyman Engelberg arrived and confirmed Marilyn's death, then, at 4.25 AM, they called the police.
Many Marilyn's biographers consider that Marilyn's death time is much close to 10.00 or 11.00 PM, and that this period of time would have allowed Greenson to organize or to take part in the dissimulations of the true circumstances of her death. Some suggested that Greenson was involuntarily responsible of Marilyn's death, because of his prescription of sedatives which would have worked with some others she would have taken out of his control.
On August 8, 1962, he attended, with his family, Marilyn's funeral :
On August 20, 1962 he wrote to Marianne Kris, telling her that Marilyn had wanted to give her therapy up.
She was irritated when he didn't agree with her and angry with him. They would have planned to talk about it on Sunday morning.
Then he flew to New York, followed a therapy with his friend Dr Max Shur (friend and doctor of Freud) which lasted 7 years.
Then he came back to Los Angeles where he set up with his friend Hyman Engelberg, in an office located 465 North Roxbury Drive, Beverly Hills.
He only received few patients and devoted himself to writing and teaching.
Having published anything since, he wrote his first book "The Technique and Practise of Psychoanalysis" which was published in 1967.
In 1975 he contributed to the creation of the Hanna Fenichel Center; this center had been founded by the San Diego Psychoanalytic Society and Institute in memory of Hanna Fenichel, a psychoanalyst well-known for her work about the childhood development. The center's philosophy was founded on the work of distinguished professionals having worked on the same subject, such as Anna Freud and Ralph Greenson.At the end of his life, he suffered form nervous breakdown and coronary disorders, and had an aphasia attack.
Until his death, Greenson kept a scrupulous silence and ethically indisputable about his famous patients confidences.
He only appeared once, in 1973, to contest the version of the events published in Norman Mailer's biography.
He claimed that : "Each link between her death and any political event is false. Mr Mailer's version is disgraceful. He changes the truth, makes innuendos about her sexual life and pretends that her doctors would have given her treatments non conventional to morality. This is a pack of lies".
However, since his death, many letters and documents have been discovered by Marilyn's biographers.In a letter sent to Dr Marianne Kris, 2 weeks after Marilyn's death, Greenson wrote : "I was her