The Story of M
Young Marilyn Briggs left Westport to seek a new life in California. She found one in the movies-as Marilyn Chambers-but she never found the thing she wanted most.
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A CAUTIONARY TALE
The Marilyn Briggs story is less a morality tale than a cautionary one: Be careful not only of what you wish for, but of what you're willing to do to make it come true.
Although she starred in director David Cronenberg's 1977 Rabid, and briefly mounted a Las Vegas song-and-dance show, Marilyn was never able to make the transition from porn star to movie actress. In 1980, she returned to adults films with Insatiable, in which she starred with John Holmes, followed with a string of X-rated features.
"I thought there was a chance to cross over," she told the Providence Journal in an interview. "Boy, was I wrong."
Nor was she able to fulfill the other part in life she felt she was meant to play.
Like many women who crave attention, she seemed to attract men who gave her little to none. She married her first husband, Doug Cabin, a San Francisco street musician, in 1973 and divorced him a year later. Next was Traynor.
Her third and last husband was Bill Taylor, part-owner of a freight trucking company, whom she met in rehab. They married in 1987, had one child, McKenna Marie Taylor, now 17, and divorced in 1994.
The irony, of course, is that her first major role- as a young mother holding an infant-was what she had always wanted to play in real life.
"When I would stay at her house, we'd walk over to Calise's [a convenience store on the Post Road in Westport] at night and buy Brides Magazine and we'd look at dresses and we'd plan our families and our kids, as a lot of little girls do," Liz Boyd remembers. "You know, Marilyn just really wanted to be loved, and wanted a happy marriage. When she was with Bill, she really wanted that marriage to work, and it didn't and it devastated her. That's really what she wanted. I've been married almost 30 years and she'd always say to me, 'How do you do it?'"
Steve Miner, who directed Friday the 13th Part II and Part III and Forever Young, among other films, last talked to his old friend 10 years ago, when she was living in the California desert town of Needles. "She wanted to know if I would be interested in getting involved in a movie based on her life," he says. "I could sense some of her wild spirit was still there, but it all seemed sad. The last I heard she had moved back to Westport. Somehow that gave me hope for her. I don't know if she ever got there."
In fact, Marilyn Briggs never quite did make it back home, though she returned to Westport frequently over the next 20 years to visit friends and attend Staples class reunions. But even here, Marilyn Chambers upstaged her.
"Was she any more promiscuous than anyone else when we were growing up?" asks Darryl Manning. "Probably not. But I think because of who she became, more men talked about having been with her."
Liz Boyd agrees. "The men that seemed to be interested in her she sank her heart and soul into because she wanted so badly for someone to love her for Marilyn, for Marilyn Briggs, and to have a life with somebody. I felt that a few people in the later years took advantage of her just to say, 'I just slept with Marilyn Chambers,' and led her on and then blew her off, and she was hurt, really hurt."