The only live performance of Bombshell (the Marilyn-themed musical from TV’s Smash) can now be streamed here. Donations to the Actors Fund are welcome. Meanwhile, Variety reports that a stage musical based on Smash is heading to Broadway, as well as a new adaptation of Some Like It Hot, also penned by Bombshell composers Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman.
“Like the series, the stage show will follow the efforts to mount Bombshell, the Broadway musical-within-a-musical about the life of Marilyn Monroe. However, its backers said the plot will also deviate from that of the series. Some characters such as writers Julia and Tom (played by Debra Messing and Christian Borle on the small screen), as well as stars Ivy and Karen (portrayed on TV by Megan Hilty and Katharine McPhee) will still be central to the storyline. Other details are being kept under wraps, presumably until opening night.”
From the team behind Goodnight Marilyn comes a new podcast series. Based on Gary Vitacco Robles’ two-volume biography, the first season ofMarilyn: Behind the Icon is now available online, with Erin Gavin playing Marilyn.
“Marilyn: Behind the Icon is a multi-season podcast series blending a uniquely scripted episodic story with commentary on the remarkable life of Marilyn Monroe. It’s up-close, raw and real; telling her story through extensively researched historical events, including Marilyn Monroe’s own perspective in her own words. We explore her inner journey and human side as no other podcast, film or TV show has ever done before. The series portrays her personal struggles with childhood trauma, mental illness, and addiction in addition to her amazing resiliency in achieving her dreams as one of the greatest actresses and icons in motion picture history.”
Marilyn’s affair with her Let’s Make Love co-star Yves Montand (captured here by photographer John Bryson) makes the cover of a Paris Match special issue about celebrity romances – you can order it here.
And by the way, Fraser Penney has shared this very similar cover from another Paris Match special, released in 1990. Although Marilyn’s dalliance with Yves came at a low point in her life, he remains an iconic figure in France. Incidentally, he also had a less-publicised affair with another married star, Shirley MacLaine, on the set of My Geisha (1962.)
A group of professional photographers have created isolation self-portraits for the Washingtonian. Among them, Jada Imani M took inspiration from Marilyn and the glamour of classic Hollywood (she also reminds me of the great Dorothy Dandridge here.)
“During this quarantine I have been faced with my own personal insecurities in relation to my appearance. I knew for a while I was not completely confident in my looks, but now I am forced to face my issues head on. I found some photos from a Marilyn Monroe calendar I was gifted years ago—ever since I was little, I knew Marilyn Monroe was one of the most beautiful women I had ever seen, a timeless beauty. Those photos inspired me to create this self-portrait series in a similar fashion and reminded me that I am a timeless beauty as well.”
The British poet Helen Morton has contributed a new poem, ‘Ms. Monroe,’ to the New York Times, as part of the ‘Mrs. Files‘ project, “looking at history through a contemporary lens to see what the honorific ‘Mrs.’ means to women and their identity.” (The illustration shown above is by Alf Buttons’ Revenge, based on a photo by Eve Arnold and a quote from Marilyn: “A career is made in public, talent in private.”)
“‘In America, a blonde is not just a blonde.’ — William K. Zinsser
When I first let the mirror see me in my high-street wedding dress, I lift the hem and laugh into the lace, all mock-Monroe, her skirt a breaking wave, her open mouth, her head tipped back, accepting a communion wafer from the sky.
I press my fingers to the glass and feel them pass through each reflection, every photograph and — sweet impossibility — rest against the raised hand of The Other Marilyn, not poster girl but poet, the woman who filled notebooks with her nightmares, dreams of emptying: the slab of the operating table, the eminent doctors, the neat incision and its big reveal, her insides nothing but sawdust. Marilyn Monroe: not Mrs. Miller, Mrs. DiMaggio.
We have been wearing our white dresses far too long — squeezing into spotlit silk, chiffon the colour of nothing. Palm to palm in the mirror, she swims towards me now and surfaces, tears at her cream bodice, opens the skin underneath, unfolds her heart and lungs
and what’s within her isn’t dust or hollowness but a litany, a roll call, the true names of men: Diego Kahlo, Johnny Carter, Jackson Krasner, Martin Luther Scott and in the nameless dusk she repeats them all until they seem beautiful. I can’t stop reading her lips.”
In March, it was reported that a new musical adaptation of Some Like It Hot would open in Chicago next year (see here.) But as Playbill reports today, it will now go straight to Broadway in Autumn 2021. With music by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman – the songwriting team behind TV’s Smash – and a script by Matthew Lopez, this is not the only stage musical inspired by Marilyn’s comedy classic. The first, Sugar (1972), is still frequently revived in repertory theatres worldwide.
A staged reading of Marilyn, Mom & Me – Luke Yankee’s play about his late mother, actress Eileen Heckart’s friendship with Marilyn during filming of Bus Stop – will be available to stream later today on YouTube, through to Sunday.
From Some Came Running to Irma La Douce, Shirley MacLaine played several roles previously considered for Marilyn.What a Way to Go! was first offered to Marilyn by Twentieth Century Fox and would have been her next film after the ill-fated Something’s Got to Give.
In the week before she died, Marilyn attended screenings of films by J. Lee Thompson, who was set to direct.But the main attraction of this vehicle – then titled I Love Louisa – was undoubtedly that it would have rounded off her old studio contract.
Released on this day in 1964, What a Way to Go! featured several of Marilyn’s friends and associates, including former co-stars Robert Mitchum, Gene Kelly and Dean Martin, plus Gentlemen Prefer Blondes songwriter Jule Styne (who spoke with Marilyn in her final days), cameraman Leon Shamroy. The film also marked the producing debut of Arthur P. Jacobs, who headed up Marilyn’s team of publicists.
This musical extravagaza, with costumes by Edith Head, seems today like the last hurrah of a beleaguered studio system, but at the time it garnered a very favourable review from the Hollywood Reporter.
“What a Way to Go! is hard to define but easy to recommend; the 20th-Fox presentation is a funny musical comedy, or comedy with music, with all the glamour that Hollywood can throw into one film, and a high-powered cast to light the marquee. The J. Lee Thompson production, produced by Arthur P. Jacobs, is a dazzler. It should be one of the year’s most popular attractions. Thompson directed the pleasantly nutty shenanigans.
Shirley MacLaine is the central figure in the Betty Comden-Adolph Green screenplay, a charmer whose attractions include the Midas touch and the kiss of death. Every man who takes up with her is rewarded by fabulous success. Unfortunately, he doesn’t live long to enjoy it or her. Hence the title. In the midst of wealth and endearing charms, he departs this life. Each time, Miss MacLaine is a rich widow, and each time, increasingly rich.
The story is told in the form of a flashback, with Miss MacLaine trying to give away some $200,000,000. She feels guilt. Rich, but guilty. Since the government won’t take her money, she goes to a psychiatrist … At the end she is reunited with the one man she said she’d never marry, Dean Martin. Bob Cummings plays the psychiatrist who listens to this gaily macabre tale.
The Comden-Green script, inspired by a story by Gwen Davis, is only the thread on which are hung a succession of funny scenes and musical numbers. The production is mounted richly. Sets are big and splendid. Costuming for Miss MacLaine by Edith Head is a major item … In this and other areas, this is the kind of movie Hollywood once made its worldwide reputation on, scorned by the aesthetes, adored by the multitudes.
Miss MacLaine is at her best as the girl who succeeds in getting her husbands’ businesses started without trying at all. She has the figure for the clothes and the sense of fun for the lines. She dances, she sings (on one occasion with another voice, dubbed for humor) and she generally cements the episodic frame … Mitchum is offhand and amusing as the super-rich tycoon. Dean Martin is not as interesting as usual — perhaps the role doesn’t give him a chance to get off the ground. Gene Kelly (who also did the bright choreography) clowns amusingly as a small-time operator who blossoms into the big-time.”