‘Forever Marilyn’ Lands in Australia

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Marilyn’s Australian year kicks off next week as the touring exhibit, Marilyn: Celebrating an American Icon opens at the Murray Art Museum (MAMA) in Albury, New South Wales. The exhibition will feature 150 artworks and supporting programs, reports the Border Mail.

Meanwhile the arrival of Seward Johnson’s giant sculpture, ‘Forever Marilyn’, in Bendigo Park, Victoria (around 90 miles from Melbourne) heralds another upcoming exhibition, Twentieth Century Fox Presents Marilyn, opening at Bendigo Art Gallery on March 5. You can watch a video of the installation here.

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Glynis Traill-Nash reports on both exhibits in an article for The Australian.

“The two exhibitions deal with Monroe in different ways: for Bendigo, it is about getting closer to the woman herself, and includes screen costumes, photographs, her own wardrobe items and personal effects, such as make-up and notebooks; MAMA instead opens Monroe to the gaze and interpretation of others, including images of the star created both during her lifetime and after her death, from the likes of photographers Cecil Beaton and Henri Cartier-Bresson, and artists including Andy Warhol and Richard Lindner.

The Bendigo exhibition also includes two particularly notable personal looks. ‘We have the little green Pucci blouse, which was quite understated, and was the last thing that Marilyn was photographed publicly in, so it’s quite poignant,’ says Curtin. There is also a photo of the star in a red cotton housecoat, with a pattern of chickens and roosters. ‘It’s quite ordinary, housewifey,’ says Curtin. ‘It was worn when she was about two months’ pregnant (to third husband Arthur Miller). You can see in the photo she looks quite proud, but sadly she lost the baby. But that human side of Marilyn gives us some insight that we don’t usually get to see.'”

Marilyn Goes ‘Homeland’ With USO

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Marilyn graces the cover of Homeland magazine’s February issue, marking the 75th anniversary of the founding of the United Services Organisation (USO), which brought her to Korea back in 1954. There is another photo inside, and she is mentioned briefly in an article about the USO. For details on how to obtain a copy, send an email to [email protected]

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Marilyn Returns in Snickers Superbowl Ad

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After last week’s ‘Happy Birthday Mr President’ teaser, comes the real thing: Marilyn recreates the ‘subway scene’ from The Seven Year Itch, with a little help from Snickers (and Willem Dafoe.) The commercial was made for this weekend’s Superbowl, reports Adweek, and you can watch it now on Youtube.

Willem Dafoe as Marilyn
Willem Dafoe as Marilyn

“‘I have to admit playing a Hollywood bombshell is a new challenge for me,’ Dafoe said in a statement. ‘But as a huge fan of Marilyn Monroe, I just couldn’t resist the opportunity to take a walk in her shoes and famous white dress.’

Snickers brand director Allison Miazga-Bedrick added: ‘It doesn’t get much bigger—or better—than combining one of the most legendary moments in movie history from the iconic Marilyn Monroe with some modern day icons of our own.'”

‘Marilyn’ Soundtrack Reissued on Vinyl

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The soundtrack to Twentieth Century-Fox’s 1963 documentary, Marilyn, has been reissued on vinyl by Rumble Records. As with the original release, it includes a print of the cover photo. You can watch the documentary on Youtube; it was also reissued digitally last year, as part of the Fox100 celebrations.

“Released in the same year that America’s obsession died of an overdose of barbiturates in her Brentwood home, this Marilyn Monroe release compiles her tunes from the classic musicals There’s No Business Like Show Business(1954), River of No Return (1954), and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953). Here performing songs from such legendary American songwriters as Hoagy Carmichael and Irving Berlin, Marilyn may not have been the most classically trained vocalist in history but the voice is undeniably recognizable; she performed here as an American icon, and looked good doing it.”

You may recall that Marilyn was also recently included as a bonus CD on Soundtrack Factory’s Some Like it Hot reissue. Unfortunately, the audio commentary from the original Marilyn – and the introductory Fox fanfare – was omitted from the CD, and it doesn’t appear on the vinyl reissue either.

A1KSlPdET+L._SL1500_I think they haven’t had access to the original source tapes,’ says Immortal Marilyn staffer Fraser Penney. ‘In the commentary you hear ‘The Girl’ theme used in The Seven Year Itch and none of that is noted on the original sleeve or tracklist, so I think they’ve basically just gathered together the songs and compiled it from whatever has been available to them without actually knowing the commentary was there on the original album. The original LP was re-issued many times, most widely known as Remember Marilyn, up to the 1980s and always had that. ‘ However, Fraser also tells me that the versions of the songs on this LP are better quality than those versions included on the CD.

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‘The Misfits’, Kate Cameron and Marilyn

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The release of The Misfits on February 1, 1961 – exactly fifty-five years ago this week – was overshadowed by the recent death of Clark Gable, and Marilyn’s divorce from Arthur Miller. Nonetheless, one of the most favourable reviews came from Kate Cameron, critic for the New York Daily News, and has been republished in full.

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“Arthur Miller sang a sweet swan-song to his ex-wife, Marilyn Monroe, in The Misfits. His written tribute describes her as a beautiful, beloved and ‘loving, sweetly sentimental woman with an emanating lost lady’ aura. The story is prophetic when the song, gay through most of the action, goes into a minor key, as if the author were aware that his love was slipping away from him …

Gable has never done anything better on the screen, nor has Miss Monroe. Gable’s acting is vibrant and lusty, hers true to the character as written by Miller.

It is, I believe, of finer quality and of greater dramatic interest than any American product released last year … The screen vibrates with emotion during the latter part of the film, as Marilyn and Gable engage in one of those battles of the sexes that seem eternal in their constant eruption …”

While some highbrow critics were slow to warm to Marilyn’s talent, Kate Cameron was one of her early champions. Here is a selection of her comments:

“Marilyn Monroe, cast as Miss Stanwyck’s gay, excitement-craving future sister-in-law, is a real acting threat to the season’s screen blondes.” – Clash by Night (1952)

“Marilyn Monroe and David Wayne play their roles well, the former representing a successful contestant in the ‘Mrs America’ beauty pageant, the latter as her disgruntled husband.” – We’re Not Married (1952)

“Ginger and Cary are assisted in this amusing nonsense by Marilyn Monroe, who can look and act dumber than any of the screen’s current blondes.” – Monkey Business (1952)

“Betty Grable, Lauren Bacall and Marilyn Monroe give off the quips and cracks, generously supplied by Nunnally Johnson, with a naturalness that adds to their strikingly humorous effect, making the film the funniest comedy of the year.” – How to Marry a Millionaire (1953)

“Marilyn stars in three specialty numbers amusingly, as she does a comic burlesque as the sexy singer of naughty songs.” – There’s No Business Like Show Business (1954)

Black Starr Frost: Marilyn and ‘America’s First Jeweler’

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Tiffany’s, Cartier, and Harry Winston are household names – but have you ever wondered about the other companies name-checked in ‘Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend’? As Nandini D’Souza reveals in the Wall Street Journal, Black Starr & Frost has an impeccable pedigree – and the brand is due for a relaunch.

“ONLY VIA A BLACK velvet jewelry tray could Mary Todd Lincoln and Marilyn Monroe find a common thread. Mrs. Lincoln once racked up a $64,000 bill for jewels from American jeweler Black, Starr & Frost. Many decades later, the actress name-checked the same company while singing ‘Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend’ in the 1953 film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Her character, Lorelei [in Anita Loos’ 1926 novel] was said to be inspired by one of the house’s clients, Ziegfeld Follies star Peggy Hopkins Joyce.

Though you may not recognize the name Black, Starr & Frost, the jeweler has an undeniably rich and colorful past. It’s one that the current owner and chairman Alfredo J. Molina, who bought the brand in 2006, wants to tap as he works toward his ambitious goal of restoring it to its glory days. ‘We’re America’s first jeweler,’ Mr. Molina said—and repeated during the course of an interview. Of possessing a Black, Starr & Frost gem, he added, ‘It’s owning a piece of history.’

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That’s not hyperbole. The company was founded in 1810 and has operated continuously since—albeit with several name changes along the way. Before the Great Depression, the Black, Starr & Frost store at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 48th Street in Manhattan was the place to buy jewelry, table clocks and even class rings.

That does raise the question of why Black, Starr & Frost isn’t an American household name in the vein of Tiffany & Co. Ms. Elkins theorized that the company fell a bit short by not driving innovation: ‘I wouldn’t say they were imitators, but they were doing things that were popular at the time.’

Whether Mr. Molina will fully restore the brand’s luster is yet to be seen. But jewelry brands, perhaps more so than fashion houses, have a solid track record of a second chance.”

Marilyn and the Bullet Bra

89d4cea2d062e0aaa73100b6f64332f5In an article for the Daily Mail about the current revival of vintage-style lingerie, Sandra Howard recalls a youthful encounter with Marilyn. Sandra Howard is a former model, and is now married to the Conservative politician, Michael Howard. She has spoken about her memories of Marilyn before, and fictionalised their meeting in her 2014 novel, Tell the Girl.

“There is one – or rather two – very striking things I remember from meeting Marilyn Monroe.

It was during the early Sixties and I was in California with my first husband [Robin Douglas Home], who was writing a book about Frank Sinatra. I was having the time of my life.

There I was – barely out of my teens – hobnobbing with the likes of Sinatra and meeting all the stars I’d gawped at on the big screen back home.

What did we talk about? I wish I could remember. You see, Marilyn was wearing a silky, clingy, tangerine sweater with cream Capri pants and strappy heels.

But what stood out most of all – what grabbed the attention of everyone in the room, including me, and made us lose all rational thought – were her pointy breasts.

They stuck out like a pair of rockets ready to be launched, upholstered to perfection in the bra shape she made famous: the pointy bullet bra, the shape of the Fifties and Sixties.”

blackandwhite_20_28120_29In private, Marilyn often spurned underwear, but can be seen wearing pointy bras in some professional photos, and during public appearances. According to her friend, Amy Greene, she also wore a bra in bed to keep her bust firm.

The ‘tangerine sweater’ recalled by Sandra Howard is probably the Pucci number worn by Marilyn in this 1962 photo by George Barris. On that occasion, however, she did not appear to be wearing a bra.

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Marilyn’s ‘Happy Birthday’ Spoof at Superbowl

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Marilyn’s iconic performance of ‘Happy Birthday Mr President’ – at the 1962 Madison Square Garden gala honouring John F. Kennedy – has been parodied in a new Snickers ad marking the Superbowl’s upcoming 50th anniversary, reports Adweek. A grouchy ‘Marilyn’ is played here by actor Willem Dafoe. Incidentally, it’s not the first time MM has been referenced at the Superbowl. Back in 2014, footage of Marilyn was used in a Chrysler ad featuring Bob Dylan.

“She’s America’s original sweetheart. But when she’s hungry, Marilyn Monroe takes a turn for the worse. That’s according to Snickers’ new Super Bowl ad teaser, in which she reprises her iconic ‘Happy Birthday’ serenade—to celebrate the Super Bowl’s 50th birthday—but with quite the husky vocal.

‘Since we’re kicking-off the 50th celebration of one of the world’s most iconic events, it seemed only fitting to cast Marilyn Monroe, a Hollywood icon with global appeal, to help us celebrate’, says Snickers brand director Allison Miazga-Bedrick. ‘But this is just a small glimpse of what America should expect from Snickers on Super Bowl Sunday. As always, the ad will feature a funny surprise that we’re confident will satisfy fans hungry for a laugh.’

Snickers confirmed the Super Bowl spot continues the brand’s ‘You’re Not You When You’re Hungry’ positioning, which launched with the Betty White spot on the 2010 Super Bowl. The 30-second spot, from BBDO New York, will air in the first quarter of the Feb. 7 telecast.”

Marilyn and Arthur in Brooklyn

by_sam_shaw_01In 1955, Marilyn famously told broadcaster Dave Garroway that she hoped to retire to Brooklyn. Her friend, poet Norman Rosten, lived at Brooklyn Heights. Brooklyn was also the childhood home of playwright Arthur Miller, who became her third husband in 1956. In an article for the New York Times, Helene Stapinski explores Miller’s lifelong connections to Brooklyn.

“Miller was born in Manhattan and lived as a boy in Harlem in a spacious apartment overlooking Central Park. His father, Isidore, a Jewish émigré from Poland, owned a clothing business that allowed the family a certain level of luxury: three bathrooms, a chauffeur-driven car and a summer place in Far Rockaway.

Before the stock market crash, the business began to fail, and so, in 1928, Isidore and his wife, Augusta — Izzie and Gussie — moved the family to the borough of churches and cheap rents. After a short stint at 1277 Ocean Parkway, the Millers bought for $5,000 a six-room house on East Third Street and Avenue M in the Parkville section, a couple of blocks from Gussie’s family.

After graduating and marrying his college sweetheart, Mary Slattery, Miller returned to Brooklyn in 1940 and moved in with her and her roommates in a seven-room apartment at 62 Montague Street in Brooklyn Heights, an impressive Queen-Anne-style building.

After some financial success with All My Sons, Miller, by then the father of two children, Jane and Robert, bought a four-story brownstone at 31 Grace Court in 1947. The Millers rented out the bottom two floors to the president of the Brooklyn Savings Bank.

Death of a Salesman, which traces the last day in the failed life of an aging, regretful man, was conceived and finished on Grace Court, though the first draft was written in the family’s new country house in Roxbury, Conn., in a studio Miller built himself.

While living on Grace Court, Miller took long walks over the Brooklyn Bridge and under it, to the working docks where he noticed graffiti that said, ‘Dove Pete Panto,’ Italian for ‘Where Is Pete Panto?’

Mr. Panto had been battling the International Longshoremen’s Association, and disappeared, his body eventually turning up in New Jersey. Miller read about Mr. Panto’s case in the press and tried talking to the longies, or longshoremen, on Columbia Street in Red Hook to write a screenplay.

Miller's home at the time he first met Marilyn
Miller’s home in 1951, when he first met Marilyn

From his waterfront research, Miller wrote The Hook, a screenplay based on Mr. Panto’s life, which he pitched in Hollywood with Elia Kazan in 1951. The screenplay was never produced, but he met Marilyn Monroe on that trip west.

That same year, Miller, tired of being a landlord, sold the Grace Court house to W.E.B. Dubois. He moved with his family to their final home together at 155 Willow Street, a Federal-style, red brick house two blocks from where Truman Capote would soon live.

In his top-floor office, Miller wrote The Crucible and an early version of A View From the Bridge. Trying to be a good husband, and guilty about his feelings for Monroe, Miller installed kitchen cabinets and a tile floor in the hallway.

Miller's first wife, Mary Slattery, and their children, Bobby and Jane, remained at their Willow Street home after the divorce
Miller’s first wife, Mary Slattery, and their children, Bobby and Jane, remained at their Willow Street home after the divorce

According to Miller, the marriage was already floundering when he met Monroe. He moved from Brooklyn to Manhattan in 1955, where he spent time in a West Side brownstone and in Monroe’s Waldorf Tower apartment. They eventually moved to a house in Roxbury.

In the spring of 1956, he briefly took up residence in Nevada, divorced his wife and promptly married Monroe. Their marriage lasted five turbulent years, during which he wrote the screenplay for the film The Misfits for her.

Miller remained close to his children, who continued to live on Willow Street with their mother.

Arthur Miller's childhood home. Marilyn visited his parents there...
Arthur Miller’s childhood home. Marilyn visited his parents there…

After he married Monroe, Miller took her to meet his parents in the house where he had grown up. His sister remembers the neighborhood children climbing on one another’s shoulders to peek through the windows for a look.

‘My mother would open the window and yell at them to go away,’ Ms. Copeland said.

Though Miller moved out of New York and lived in Roxbury for the rest of his life, his work and characters still have that accent that can be found only in Brooklyn, along with particulars of the borough: the Brooklyn Paramount, the bowling alley on Flatbush Avenue, St. Agnes Church and Red Hook, ‘the gullet of New York.'”

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