Welcome!

Welcome to our new Everlasting Star blog, dedicated to keeping you updated on all the latest news relating to the one and only Marilyn Monroe.

You’re welcome to join us here in celebrating this wonderful woman. Read and comment on our posts, and to learn more and meet other fans, join our thriving community – online since 2001.


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Myth-Busting: Marilyn and JFK

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Over at Buzzfeed today, there’s a helpful visual guide to some of the more persistent myths (including auction hoaxes and faked photos) about Marilyn’s alleged romance with President John F. Kennedy, and her performance of ‘Happy Birthday’ at Madison Square Garden in 1962.

“The so-called relationship between Marilyn and JFK has taken on a life of it’s own and has spawned a cottage industry of books, newspaper articles, rumours and conjecture. Contrary to what Google or Pinterest will tell you, there are only three photographs of Marilyn and JFK in the same room together. Any other photo purporting to be them is a FAKE.

Contrary to rumour Jackie Kennedy didn’t decide to stay away because of Marilyn’s presence. She didn’t care for these big political fundraisers and had always planned to be participating in a horse show elsewhere.

Rumour has it that Marilyn was drunk and her actions while performing were wildly out of control. Not true. It is also good to remember that this was a political fundraiser for the Democratic party. It wasn’t exactly an intimate dinner. Marilyn was one of many people performing at the fundraiser and she didn’t even close the night.

Marilyn Monroe is probably the most iconic movie actress in the world. She is also the most maligned. Not a month goes by without a lurid story being splashed across the tabloids and the internet. And everyone knows if it’s on the internet it must be true right? Wrong. With a little research (something biographers seem to be lacking) you can uncover the truth.”


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When Miss Mizzou Met Marilyn

miss mizzou

In a new book, Miss Mizzou: A Life Beyond Comics, J.B. Winter explores how, back in 1952, a rising star called Marilyn Monroe was rumoured to have inspired cartoonist Milton Caniff to create Miss Mizzou, a trench-coated blonde bombshell, featured in his popular Steve Canyon adventure series about an Air Force pilot. She became a cult figure, and was even the subject of a lookalike contest, reports CAFNR News.

‘For some time I had been mulling over a girl character who would be what a Marilyn Monroe type might be like if she had not hit the jackpot in Hollywood,’ Caniff once said in an interview. ‘Every college town has girls who live and work on the edge of the campus and who are very much a part of the life of the school,’ Caniff is quoted as saying in a letter to the Missouri Alumnus magazine in 1954.” – Columbia Missourian

According to Wikipedia, the Marilyn connection was confirmed in the May 1953 issue of Pageant magazine, although it was actually actress Bek Nelson-Gordon (nee Stiner) who provided Caniff with a visual model. Another character, Madame Lynx, was based on Madame Egelichi, the spy played by Ilona Massey in the 1949 Marx Brothers swansong, Love Happy, which also featured MM - and Massey also posed for Caniff. ’Pipper the Piper’, who appeared just once, was modelled on John F. Kennedy.

A cartoonist himself, Winter – who lives in Columbia, Missouri – talked about Miss Mizzou and her local connections in an interview with Move, student magazine of the University of Missouri (or ‘Mizzou’.)

“Winter said he seeks to prove that the Miss Mizzou character was not simply a ‘one-line footnote in local history.’ Though his nonfiction book originally arose from pure curiosity, his research, which included sifting through plenty of microfilm, soon became much bigger.

‘I found out about Miss Mizzou in 2007,’ Winter says. ‘There was a blog post on a comic historian’s website. He just posted a picture or two, not a lot of context. So, I was just like, What is this character? I thought it was just a character who appeared and that was it. I had no idea that there was all this campus interest. That continually surprised me.’

Dirk Burhans, a fellow cartoonist and creator of the Epiffany Jones comic strip, helped Winter with his book by reading early versions and making comments and suggestions. Burhans said he is also familiar with the importance of Caniff in the comic world.

‘Caniff was such a big deal,’ Burhans says. ‘Caniff’s Terry and the Pirates and Steve Canyon were the archetypal adventure strip that others used as their model. His artwork was characterized by simple lines and strong, confident use of light and shadow.’

Oddly enough, Caniff was not even a Columbia native; he lived mostly in New York City. Caniff only spent 24 hours in Columbia, to give a speech entitled ‘Comic Strips Are Serious Business.’

Those hours must have been serious business for Caniff, because three years later, Miss Mizzou made her seductive grand entrance, dressed only in a golden trench coat.

‘It’s such a strange story,’ Winter says. ‘Caniff only came here for 24 hours and for it to just be such a big thing, it’s just strange.’

The Marilyn Monroe-influenced Miss Mizzou immediately gained popularity. Winter cites numerous reasons for her fame, especially the inspiration behind her character and alumni interest.

‘Initially I think it might have been Marilyn Monroe, the fact that Marilyn Monroe was becoming popular the same time Miss Mizzou was,’ Winter says. ‘When Caniff made that character, I don’t think he realized how big Marilyn Monroe was going to be.

‘You also have alumni interest. Specifically, you have a journalism school. They were interested because they were newspaper people, so they were interested in a newspaper strip.’

Burhans also says Miss Mizzou gained popularity because she wasn’t like any other female comic character.

‘Caniff’s strips cycled through a number of sexy femme fatale characters who had the thick eyelashes and pouty lips. Miss Mizzou does not seem to be one of these, but rather was an ally of Steve Canyon’s,’ Burhans says.”


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Marilyn Gets ‘Closer’ (Again)

closer nov 14

Marilyn graces the cover of US magazine Closer for the second time this year (the first came out back in June), with an article focusing on the mystery of her death. UK readers please note, the eponymous British magazine does not feature the same content. If you want to purchase this issue, try Ebay.

“Only in the new issue of Closer Weekly, Marilyn Monroe’s friends and family insist that Marilyn did not take her own life, while a new book, Marilyn Monroe: Day by Day, reveals new details from the star’s diary and the days leading up to her death.

Marilyn had made plans for ‘the day after she died…She was going to see the producers,’ Marilyn’s niece Mona Rae Miracle tells Closer. ‘It was very clear the studio was going to rehire her,’ notes Carl Rollyson, author of Marilyn Monroe: Day by Day, a new book that reveals the most comprehensive account of her last days through a paper trail of hidden diaries and appointment books. ‘She was making plans for the future.’”

More details here:

Still, 50 years after her death, many believe it wasn’t suicide at all, but a tragic accident caused by the actress taking too many sleeping pills. ‘If Marilyn had a sleeping pill at her side, she would always take it,’ Jimmie Morrissey, Marilyn’s hairdresser, reveals to Closer. ‘She was always taking pills. And she was always drinking champagne.’

But the self-medicating couldn’t completely take away her pain. ‘She was in a bad place mentally for a while,’ Sherrill Snyder, the daughter of Marilyn’s longtime photographer and close friend Allan ‘Whitey’ Snyder, tells Closer. ‘People were giving her pills because they needed her to perform,’ she says. ‘Unfortunately, Marilyn was surrounded by people who were less than vigilant’ about tracking her medication. ‘One thing led to another, but my father never believed it was suicide.’”


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New in Books: Tom Kelley, Styling the Stars

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After a year-long delay, Tom Kelley’s Studio has finally been published by Reel Art Press. It is a full retrospective of his career in glamour photography, with Marilyn on the cover.

Styling the Stars, a mammoth tome focusing on Twentieth Century-Fox, is also just released. This rare photo from the How to Marry a Millionaire set is captured here by Fraser Penney.

 


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Susan Sarandon Cast as Gladys in ‘Secret Life’

susan-sarandon

Oscar-winning actress Susan Sarandon will play Gladys Baker, Marilyn’s ill-fated mother, in Lifetime’s upcoming adaptation of J. Randy Taraborrelli’s The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe, according to the Hollywood Reporter. It is set to be filmed in Ontario and Los Angeles, reported GlobalNews.ca earlier this week.

Taraborrelli focused heavily on Marilyn’s relationship with Gladys, although some of his claims have been disputed (more details here.) Gladys was previously played by Sheree North (in the 1980 TV movie, Marilyn: An Untold Story) and Patricia Richardson (in Blonde, the 2001 mini-series based on an eponymous novel by Joyce Carol Oates.) As Gladys was only 24 when Marilyn was born, I would hope that Sarandon – now 68 – will be playing her in later life.

Finally, there are two major errors in Secret Life‘s synopsis: firstly, Gladys’s mother did not commit suicide; and secondly, Marilyn’s first marriage did not end because she was frigid. She divorced her husband because he disapproved of her career.

“Sarandon will portray the blonde bombshell’s mentally ill mother, Gladys Mortenson. The character is described as a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic, who is the product of a mother who committed suicide as a result of her own mental illness, and a father who died of syphilitic insanity. Frequently delusional, sometimes violent, Gladys sexually adventurous in her youth but taught her daughter that sex should be avoided at all costs. Deeply devoted to Christian Science, she urges Marilyn to reject her reliance on drugs and that her salvation will be achieved by returning to the tenets of the faith. (The role of Monroe has not yet been cast.)

24 and The Kennedys‘ Stephen Kronish is on board to pen the mini, with Sherrybaby‘s Laurie Collyer attached to direct the Marilyn Monroe entry.

Here’s Lifetime’s official description of the mini: ‘Marilyn is both the personification of sex, whose first marriage ironically collapses because of her frigidity, and a fragile artist who seeks the approval and protection of men.  But after tumultuous marriages with Joe DiMaggio and Arthur Miller, she realizes she has the strength to stand on her own. She becomes the face and voice of an era, yet wants most of all to be someone’s mother and someone’s little girl. She’s the Marilyn you haven’t seen before, the artist who, by masking the truth with an image, gives her greatest performance.’”


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Nickolas Muray Exhibit in Genoa

Photographer Nickolas Muray is the subject of a new retrospective, opening at the Doge’s Palace in Genoa, Italy, and on display until February 8, 2015. Born in Hungary, Muray was also known for his passionate affair with the great Mexican artist, Frida Kahlo. His Hollywood portraits feature Charlie Chaplin, Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, Caole Lombard and a young Elizabeth Taylor. Famed for his work in Kodachrome, Muray photographed Marilyn in 1952, in a unique, Renaissance style.

MOSTRA NICKOLAS MURAY, A GENOVA

Thanks to Eric and Tony at MM Fan Club Belgium

A catalogue for this exhibition can be ordered here


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Marilyn in Cologne

This 1953 pin-up shot by Bert Reisfield features in a new exhibition at In Focus Gallery in Cologne, Germany, until November 4th. This Marilyn retrospective also includes photographs by Eve Arnold, Andre de Dienes, Elliott Erwitt, Sam Shaw, George Barris, Edward Clark, Bruno Bernard, and Bert Stern.


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Marilyn Poster Pack at The Works

poster pack cover

This pack of eight mini-posters, each measuring 12 x 16 inches, is now available from UK bargain bookstore The Works for just £4.99.

Photo by Fraser Penney

Photo by Fraser Penney


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ABG Reveals Plans for Digital Marilyn

Marilyn sings - for real - to troops in Korea, 1954

Marilyn sings – for real – to troops in Korea, 1954

“That’s the trouble, a sex symbol becomes a thing. I just hate to be a thing.” – Marilyn Monroe, 1962

After recent news of a legal battle between ABG (Authentic Brands Group, the licensing arm of Marilyn’s estate) and a company known as Virtual Marilyn LLC, the Wall Street Journal reveals that ABG are planning to launch their own 3-D, digitised Marilyn. Crass hypocrisy or an exciting new venture? You decide…

“The iconic actress is getting digitally revived by Pulse Evolution, the company that brought to life Michael Jackson this past year at the Billboard Music Awards. They’ve signed a long-term deal with the rights holder to Monroe’s estate Authentic Brand Group(ABG) to develop a commercially viable digital replica of her for commercials, TV shows, films and even a live show.

The partnership was signed at the beginning of October and there’s already a four-year commercial deal in place that ABG CEO Jamie Salter says is with a Fortune 500 cosmetic company worth over $100 million dollars. The two companies plan to split profits 50/50 for revenue she generates through Pulse’s creation.

‘This is a digital asset that’s digitally distributal,’ says Pulse CEO Frank Patterson. ‘Popularly [they're] being referred to as holograms because people don’t know how to talk about it. We’re talking about the digital likeness of humans. Digital humans are new to us as a society. There’s a lot of spaces where digital humans will become very useful.’

Patterson says these aren’t true holograms and that we’re years off from developing that technology. Instead, they’re a ’3-D digital object.’

For Pulse and ABG, they’re proceeding with caution, while at the same time trying to monetize her with new technology. ‘There’s only one Marilyn Monroe in the world, and we’re going to be very careful with her,’ Salter says.

Still, while there may be just one Monroe, the possibilities of putting her into a live setting are much different than your typical real-life performer. ‘Unlike a typical show, Marilyn Monroe can be in more than one location at a time,’ Patterson says. ‘Why couldn’t we open a show in Vegas and Seoul at the same time?’

Pulse plans to hire a creative team of writers, directors, and costume designers to flesh out the live show Monroe would undertake. They’re already well underway in developing a show for Elvis Presley, who they secured a deal with in August.

‘We’re taking these assets and applying them to traditional business structures,’ Patterson says. ‘First having them appear in major venue installations – think of a casino appearance with a major, 52-week show commitment. Then rolling them out into touring presentations and special appearances, generating sponsorship and branded-content opportunities.’ He says that it would take about 18 months to roll out a show of this nature, including time to build Monroe’s digital persona. When asked about whether or not venues would be interested in something like that, the response was ‘overwhelmingly positive.’

For ABG, the focus seems to be more about continuing using Monroe’s image for commercial purposes, as she did in a 2011 commercial spot where her likeness was used alongside Charlize Theron for a J’Adore Dior ad. ‘We’re sticking with the best companies in that [fashion] space,’ Salter says. ‘We’ll be very careful when Marilyn Monroe takes a job from a model standpoint. We’re treating her no different than if Brad Pitt or Lady Gaga was our client.’”


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‘Bus Stop’ at BFI London

Bus Stop will be screened at London’s BFI on November 14-16, as part of ‘The Birth of the Method’, a season of movies celebrating great performances by Hollywood’s original Method actors.

“As with several Hollywood stars in the 1950s, Marilyn Monroe found in the Method a refuge from the typecasting she had come to resent; she became a regular at the Actors Studio, and had private lessons with Lee Strasberg. Her portrayal of a saloon singer who yearns to be respected for more than her looks, and who faces the overbearing affections of a naïve cowboy (a misjudged yet Oscar-nominated performance by Don Murray), is a model of the Method style – an exposing performance drawn from within.”


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