Marilyn always loved and empathized with animals. Throughout her life she had a succession of pets, and she would be deeply affected if she ever came across an animal suffering or the victim of cruelty.
This sensitivity was evident during her marriage to James Dougherty: when he once came home with a rabbit ready to skin and eat, Norma Jeane refused to touch the animal and was inconsolable for hours. Things were worse when he came home after a hunting trip with a deer that was still alive. Heartbroken, Norma Jean pleaded with him no to harm the mortally wounded creature, but it was already too late to save its life. One rainy day Norma Jeane reputedly took pity on a neighbor’s cow tethered outside the house and tried to bring it into her own house so it could dry off. Dougherty was not amused and prevented this plan from being put into action. On Norma Jeane’s very first extended photo shoot in 1946, touring the California desert with Army photographed David Conover, she came across an injured terrier and insisted that they take it to a vet.
Stardom did nothing to diminish her sympathy for defenseless creatures. Arthur Miller tells of Marilyn being moved to tears at the sight of a wounded seagull. One day along the beach at Amagansett she ran herself almost to exhaustion, picking up fish- which fishermen had left on the sand because they could not sell them- and throwing them back into the sea.
In the late fifties in New York Marilyn frequently went to Central Park to feed the birds and squirrels. One day she came across some boys who were trapping pigeons. She tried to reason with them, to no avail, and then resorted to a second plan: she bought the birds’ freedom. Pigeons were not even her favorite- she once told a friend that she identified far more with the timid sparrows- but she simply could not bear to see violence being done to animals.
Marilyn’s love of animals, and indeed abhorrence of killing any living thing, even plants, extended to her literary tastes. She could not abide Hemingway, who glorified the deeds of bullfighters and hunters. Arthur Miller’s screenplay for The Misfits (her character, Roslyn, is appalled to learn that the cowboys who are rounding up wild mustangs intend to sell them for dog food) and his short story entitled ‘Please Don’t Kill Any Thing' touched upon Marilyn's empathy for all living things.
-The Marilyn Encyclopedia by Adam Victor