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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Cecil Beaton: Portraits and Profiles


Cecil Beaton: Portraits and Profiles, another new photo book, was featured in the Mail this weekend (photos from the article captured here by Fraser Penney.) Beaton’s essay about Marilyn will be familiar to fans, and given his acerbic comments about other celebrities, it seems she was one of the few he liked. Marilyn, in turn, kept a triptych of his portraits in her New York apartment. You can read more about Beaton and their 1956 collaboration here.


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Forgotten Fifties: The ‘Look’ Archives

Bob Sandberg, 1952

Bob Sandberg, 1952

So many photo books with a Marilyn connection are coming out lately. It takes a lot of willpower not to buy them all! The Forgotten Fifties: America’s Decade from the Archives of Look Magazine, by James Conaway and Alan Brinkley, will soon be published by Rizzoli (but is already available from The Book Depository.) The photos are sourced from the Library of Congress in Washington, where there will be a book signing event on September 23. You can preview it here.

Photo by Milton Greene, 1955

Photo by Milton Greene, 1955

Forgotten Fifties is also the subject of an article in NY Magazine today:

“From its founding in 1937 until the early ’70s, Life Magazine — the first American weekly picture magazine — was the most popular rag in the country. But it was not without its competitors: 1937 also marked the founding of Look Magazine, run by Des Moines Tribune editors and brothers Gardner and John Cowles.

Derided as ‘barber shop reading’ in the ’40s, Look — known for its large-scale photographs and very short articles — lacked the high aspirations and self-seriousness of Life. At the time of its launch, Time described the magazine as having ‘reader interest for yourself, for your private secretary, for your office boy — a magazine mostly for the middle class and for ordinary lives.’

Look had sold 3.7 million issues by the mid 1950s, but the biweekly went out of print in 1971 (a year before Life) and largely faded from historical consciousness.”

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‘Marilyn: American Icon’ in Washington

Cecil Beaton, 1956

Cecil Beaton, 1956

‘Marilyn: Celebrating an International Icon’, a touring exhibition (previously in Georgia), comes to Reading Public Museum in Washington DC on August 22, reports Daily Local News.

“The Reading Public Museum is highlighting the woman who redefined sexuality in America with the ‘Marilyn: Celebrating An American Icon’ exhibition Aug. 22 to Oct. 5. in the museum’s Cohen Modern and Contemporary Gallery.

The multimedia exhibit composed of 115 works by more than 50 artists, including Andy Warhol, Milton H. Greene, Eve Arnold and Antonio de Felipe, highlights the many sides of the 1950s glamour goddess and immortal legend in styles ranging from fashion photography to pop art.

Photos of well-loved movie scenes, familiar publicity photos, biographical glimpses into Monroe’s private moments and various artistic interpretations of the starlet exemplify how her iconic image still electrifies the world a half century after her death. Videos include a compilation of photos by Bruno Bernard, A BBC interview with Sam Shaw about his friend Monroe, a 2009 video by Thorsten Tenberken called ‘Backlash Marilyn Monroe’ and a Tenberken video titled ‘No, no, no.’

The exhibition opens with Tom Kelley’s series, The Red Velvet Photos, which appeared in the first issue of Playboy, and continues with works by well-known photographers Frank Powolny, Lazlo Willinger and Alfred Eisenstaedt. The pictures capture the beauty and sensuality not only of the recognizable celebrity, but also of Monroe’s struggle to empower herself.

Among those images is a series of silver gelatin prints by world-renowned British photographer Cecil Beaton, including a photo said to be Monroe’s favorite picture of herself, lying across a bed in a white dress holding a carnation to her breast.

The exhibit continues into Monroe’s film career in which she appeared in 30 motion pictures. Among the photos in the exhibition are recognizable moments in that career, including the famous subway grate scene with Tom Ewell in The Seven Year Itch, by Sam Shaw, as well as pensive behind-the-scenes shots by photographers Ernst Haas and Henri-Cartier Bresson on the set of her last film, The Misfits.

The troubled star struggled to balance her career and love life, marrying and divorcing three times. Her second and third marriages, to baseball star Joe DiMaggio and playwright Arthur Miller respectively, were highly publicized, and such photos as George Silk’s tearful Marilyn illustrate how the actress was unable to keep her The exhibit continues with an introspective look into that more private side with photos by Monroe friend George Barris. The images capture the starlet’s loneliness, which was often publicly disguised by her light and radiance.

Barris’ photos from 1962, showing Monroe laughing and striking poses, are some of the last taken of her before she was found dead in her home in the Brentwood section of Los Angeles Aug. 5 of that year.

Following Barris’ introspective, the exhibit ends with a presentation of paintings and other works of art created by American, Asian and European artists after Monroe’s death. Modern and avant-garde artists such as Ramos and de Felipe offer their interpretations of the actress.

Works in this section, some from as recently as 2009, take the form of diverse media, and reflect the artists’ ideas on sexuality, commercialism and the exploitation in the world, as well as perceptions of the icon through the power of her image. Most of all, said museum curator Scott Schweigert, ‘The works reveal the character of Marilyn Monroe as an enduring cultural phenomenon.’”

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Julien’s Prepares for Marilyn Auction

In an email to subscribers, Julien’s Auctions has invited collectors to consign items for a major upcoming sale of Marilyn-related items. The auction will take place this autumn, so if you have something of value to sell, the deadline for consignment applications is September 1st.


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‘Marilyn Geek’ Comes to Ontario


The collection of Melinda Mason – webmistress of MarilynGeek.com (formerly known as ‘Marilyn and the Camera’) will be displayed at the Wellington County Museum in Ontario, Canada from September-January 2015.  Opening night (September 12) will include a screening of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

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‘Styling the Stars’: Treasures From Fox

Styling the Stars

Styling the Stars: Treasures From the Twentieth Century Fox Archive, a new coffee table book by Angela Cartwright and Tom McLaren, will be published in October. It is 320pp long, and measures 8.3 x 5.9 x 0.9 inches. Marilyn graces the cover in an unusual, elegant profile shot, taken during costume tests for There’s No Business Like Show Business.

“Revered for their indisputable sense of style, classic Hollywood films continue to inspire today’s fashions. But the carefully crafted appearances of the timeless characters personified by the likes of Clark Gable, Julie Andrews, and Audrey Hepburn came as the result of meticulous hairstyling, makeup, and costume design. In Hollywood’s trendsetting world of glamour and glitz, continuity photographs ensured that these wardrobe elements remained consistent throughout the filming process. Now, decades later, these shots provide a striking record of the evolution of Hollywood fashion from the 1930s to the early 1970s. Written by Angela Cartwright and Tom McLaren, with a foreword by Maureen O’Hara, this collection of candid rarities offers a glimpse into the details of prepping Hollywood’s most iconic personalities, plus revelatory stories about Twentieth Century Fox classics. Here readers find images of Shirley Temple as she runs a brush through her trademark curls, Marilyn Monroe as she’s fitted for an elegant evening gown, Cary Grant as he suits up for a swim, and Paul Newman donning a six-shooter. The result is a stunning collector’s volume of film and fashion photography, as well as an invaluable compendium of movie history.”

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Lauren Bacall 1924-2014

Photo by Earl Thiesen

Photo by Earl Thiesen

Hollywood legend Lauren Bacall has died aged 89. I will post a more detailed tribute soon, but first here’s a few words from Guardian film critic Peter Bradshaw on her famous collaboration with Marilyn:

“Bacall’s superb screen presence should have made a formidable force in comedy, but perhaps the times required something too simperingly fragile in their comediennes. She is a cool customer in How To Marry A Millionaire (1953), playing one of a trio of gold-diggers, along with Marilyn Monroe and Betty Grable. But she always looks as if the whole idea of just bagging a rich husband is beneath her, and she actually plays a divorcée (‘I had one of those divorces you don’t read about: the wife finished second.’) Lauren Bacall looks like the kind of woman who is independently wealthy, through being something like a foreign correspondent or elephant hunter. Men should be queueing up to marry her.”

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‘Famous and Infamous’ at Christie’s

Impersonator Suzie Kennedy models earrings worn by Marilyn in 'How to Marry a Millionaire'

Impersonator Suzie Kennedy models earrings worn by Marilyn in ‘How to Marry a Millionaire’

David Gainsborough Roberts’ collection of Marilyn’s costumes and personal items is well-known to fans. I was lucky enough to see it at Renishaw Hall, Derbyshire in 2005 (the ancestral home of Marilyn’s poet friend, Dame Edith Sitwell.) He has also exhibited his Monroe collection at the American Museum in Bath, and London’s Getty Images Gallery.

However, Mr Roberts has also purchased items belonging to many other stars, historical figures, and even a few notorious criminals. A selection of his acquisitions – including Marilyn’s red beaded dress from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes - is on display until September 2nd at Christie’s, South Kensington. In an interview with the celebrated auction house, he revealed how the red Travilla dress spurred a lifelong pursuit:

“It was 1991, I’d bought several things at Christie’s, and this Marilyn dress came up. The model was a good friend of mine, Pauline Bailey. I bid £16,000, something like that, and the press went bananas, she jumped up and down – I must have looked terrified! It took off from there, the next day I arrived back here in Jersey and my mother said to me ‘what have you been doing? The phone hasn’t stopped.’  And I said ‘believe me, seven days from now, Marilyn Monroe, Pauline Bailey and me – nobody will give a damn’ and the phone hasn’t stopped since 1991.”

Another MM lookalike, Suzie Kennedy, appeared at the opening of ‘Famous and Infamous’ yesterday, reports the Daily Mail.

Suzie Kennedy poses with Marilyn's red dress from 'Gentlemen Prefer Blondes'

Suzie Kennedy poses with Marilyn’s red dress from ‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’

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Taraborrelli’s Marilyn Set for TV

taraborelli pb

The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe, celebrity author J. Randy Taraborrelli’s 2009 biography, is being adapted into a mini series for the Lifetime Channel, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

“Lifetime is poised to find out if blondes really do have more fun…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. The entry hails from Asylum Entertainment, the production company behind Lifetime’s June Carter Cash biopic Ring of Fire as well as Reelz Channel’s ratings hit The Kennedys.

Asylum’s Jonathan Koch and Steven Michaels will exec produce alongside Kronish and Keri Selig. Selig was attached to exec produce Reelz’s Kennedys follow-up, After Camelot, which, like Marilyn, was based on a book by Taraborrelli.

Taraborrelli’s book is considered the most definitive Monroe biography. Published in 2010 [actually, it was 2009], the title explored the actress/pin-up girl’s relationship with her mentally ill mother, her foster mother and her legal guardian as well as Monroe’s own mental illness and her relationships with her family and the Kennedys.”

The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe is a sympathetic take on MM, and avoids conspiracy theories about her death. Director Laurie Collyer has enjoyed critical acclaim. However, Lifetime’s recent biopics (such as Liz and Dick, starring Lindsay Lohan) have been widely panned. And screenwriter Stephen Kronish’s prior depiction of Marilyn in The Kennedys was rather disappointing.

One of Taraborrelli’s more contentious allegations about Marilyn is that she suffered from schizophrenia, which has never been proved. Some authors have also raised doubts about Taraborrelli’s use of unnamed sources. In Marilyn: The Passion and the Paradox (2012), Lois Banner criticised the author for not using footnotes, arguing that this made it ‘impossible’ to check his sources and evaluate his conclusions.

Banner judged Taraborrelli’s allegation that Grace Goddard put Norma Jeane in the orphanage because she wasn’t getting along with Doc’s daughter, Nona, as ‘incorrect’, adding, ‘I can find no evidence that Nona lived with them in 1935. [Fred Lawrence] Guiles [in Legend] mentions a visit that summer.’

Banner also challenged Taraborrelli’s claim that Marilyn took liquor to Rockhaven Sanatorium to drink with her mother (Gladys Baker Eley, a residential patient from 1952-1967) as ‘inaccurate,’ adding that ‘Gladys considered drinking a sin, and Marilyn never visited her…Marilyn wasn’t present when Grace discussed placing Gladys at Rockhaven, and Gladys was taken to Norwalk State Mental Hospital before Grace took her to Rockhaven some months later.’

You can read my review of The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe here.


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Marilyn’s Signature Fetches High Prices

Even in this age of the ‘selfie’, some celebrity autographs still hold their value, reports the Financial Times.

“With little demand from digital-native teenagers, many autograph dealers have moved away from the mass market of contemporary music, film and sports stars to focus instead on cult and historic rarities that command higher prices. This is partly down to online auction site eBay, which by opening up a wider market has pushed down prices for more common signed celebrity photos – although among collectors it has a reputation for forgeries and reproductions. For dealers there is a lucrative sideline in authentication.

But the trend is also connected to the changing demographic of buyers. Far from screaming girls besieging pop stars with pen and paper pads, today’s typical customer collects as a hobby and is ‘aged 35 to 55, male and with a disposable income,’ says Mr Epperson. It is perhaps telling that he does not stock any pieces from musicians who have reached fame within the past 15 years.

This breed of more discerning collectors often treats autographs as investments, says Huw Rees at Fraser’s Autographs, part of Aim-listed collectables dealer Stanley Gibbons. Over the past five years the London-based business has run down its low-end, low-margin inventory in favour of historical items including correspondence of Sir Isaac Newton and Sir Winston Churchill, as well as coveted pop culture memorabilia, such as photos signed by all The Beatles or Marilyn Monroe.”

Paul Fraser Collectibles has compiled an index of the 2000-2013 price performance of 40 of the most sought-after autographs, both celebrity and historical. A signed album page from Marilyn, valued at £2,950 in the year 2000, increased by 135.6% in 2013, to a value of £6,950.

On the Immortal Marilyn Nuggets page, you’ll find an article, ‘Knowing Her Signature’, which pinpoints the difference between Marilyn’s personal and secretarial autographs. If you’re considering buying a signed photo and want to be sure of its provenance, don’t rely on Certificates of Authenticity – ask an expert. The Marilyn Buying and Selling Forum on Facebook is a good place to start.

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