THE MARRIED MONKEE’S STARTLING CONFESSION
Robert Michael Nesmith, an only child raised in Texas poverty by a husbandless working mother, will be 25 years old on his next birthday, December 30. He is not a skinny, long-haired, guitar totin’ boy any more. He’s a skinny, long-haired, guitar totin’ MAN with a 20-year-old wife and a two-year-old son.
People know him as Mike. He’s in The Monkees business. Business is good.
The house he lives in cost about one hundred and ninety thousand dollars. He owns five cars, at last count, and recently paid a couple of thousand for two Great Danes. They’re good dogs… better, evidently, than the female hound-dog he got for nothing about a year ago.
“Won’t that dog feel a bit hurt when those high-bred monsters arrive?” a friend asked when Mike ordered the Danes.
“Maybe,” Mike answered. “She’ll get over it. She’ll have to, I guess. Y’see, one of anything just doesn’t appeal to me. I’m not made that way.”
“Well,” said the friend, “I know something you can only have one of… unless you’ve got a permit to practice polygamy.”
“One WIFE is all I need,” said Mike. “But that doesn’t necessarily mean I have to settle for one woman.”
When a young fellow strikes it rich in Hollywood, humility often does a fade out. “Going Hollywood” is one of those nauseating cliches people have been repeating since Mary Pickford sold Liberty Bonds.
They say that if any of The Monkees have gone that tired route, it’s Mike… the only married man in the group. Others say he is no different than he ever was—honest and selfish.
“I’ve always believed that doing what I want to do takes more courage than selfishness,” Mike has stated. “People may think otherwise about that, but it makes sense to me. I take what I want.”
He speaks calmly about these things, with none of that “I’ll get mine” manner of anxiety. As one listens, he finds it hard to resent the values revealed in Mike’s sentiments.
His childhood in Houston, Dallas and San Antonio was unrestricted. He enjoyed the type of freedom that children of average middle-class families seldom understand.
“I was usually the only white kid in the gang when I was little,” Mike recalls. “My playmates and buddies were mostly Negro and Mexican boys from poor families like mine, ’cept I didn’t have a family. We did a lot of things ‘nice’ kids aren’t supposed to even know about. We’d all had experiences that seemed perfectly natural to us. I guess in proper middle class society, we were looked down upon.”
Today, Mike “looks down upon proper middle class society.” According to his longtime friend John London, Mike was never the most popular guy around. Mike has boasted of being “rejected by rejects” all his life. If this is true, why choose only middle class society to resent? Why not go after the world community?… or at least its male population.
It should be made clear that if Mike is a misfit… one of the few labels he seems to admire… he conceals it well. He addresses older women as “M’am” and usually says “Sir” to male elders, just like a proper country boy at the kitchen door. Older folks appreciate Mike’s manners, especially the folks who never heard of a put-on.
“People say Mike is hard to figure,” says one of the old folks associated with The Monkees. (He’s 40 but quite lively.) “Mike’s type is easy to figure because he talks very little. You just wait around and see what he talks about most. You keep count of the words and phrases he repeats. When you have them all listed, you simply remember that people usually knock what they can’t have…
Mike protests against display, so he drives his conventional car to and from work. Four cars stay home. He says people want more than they need, but the money he paid for his new house would have bought SIX attractive suburban homes.
When he reminds us that he’s been “rejected by rejects,” one wonders if he means “You can’t hurt me, Sir, ’cause I’ve been hurt by EXPERTS.”
This, perhaps, is why Mike can’t accept being rejected by women. If a girl says “NO,” he worries. To him, it’s “weird.” He seems to be wondering, “Why can’t I have what I want? What’s wrong? She said NO. Man, that’s weird.”
One day as he was walking from the Screen Gems stage to his car with a male companion, he stopped when he spotted a certain young actress approaching. They had met a number of times and Mike obviously found her attractive. As she came nearer, Mike leaned loosely against the trunk of a car—waiting, country boy style, eyes down, boot in the dust. She walked right by him before turning to say, “Aren’t you going to say hello, Mike?” She didn’t wait for an answer.
Mike was mortified.
Despite his admitted activities with the beautiful young women who flock around The Monkees, Mike is not a typical, married but girl-chasing Hollywood come-lately. He likes show business and dislikes show. One of his folksinging friends says about him:
“Mike’s not like these guys who get a little money and fame, and then flip their lid…” He’s a TV star and I’m still hustling for gigs, but he’s no different. Mike loves his wife and Phyllis knows this. Mike and Phyllis believe in nature. Mike believes a man should go with his instincts… not the ones that a hypocritical society talks about. Mike is like a lot of young guys I know who feel that man is a polygamous animal. That doesn’t mean you can’t love and respect your wife.”
If his friend is telling it as it is, then Mike would seem to be doing what comes naturally… and all is serene. Freedom without hangups of any kind, that’s what he could claim.
“I have nightmares sometimes,” Mike admits, “and some of them cause grief. They’re always about weird emotions and stuff like that. Sometimes I get to feeling cold all over. I’m cold blooded by nature. But, I sure have a lot goin’ for me, and don’t think I don’t realize it. I’ve got a groovy young wife and a son… and a whole lot more. M’ wife and I understand a lot of things that other people don’t dig at all. It’s a question of knowing how to accept the good things and the bad.”
Phyllis does her share of accepting.
And she rarely calls anything, “weird.”
See Mike on NBC-TV’s The Monkees.