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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Immortal Marilyn in July

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Over at Immortal Marilyn, this month’s updates include an article from US Camera‘s 1955 issue, celebrating the magazine’s annual being featured in The Seven Year Itch; and a new article by myself, Shooting Stars – Marilyn, Jeanne Eagels and Rain.


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Marilyn Miller: The Sunshine Girl

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Over at Classic Movie Hub, Sara and Cynthia Brideson – authors of Ziegfeld and His Follies, a new biography of the great Broadway producer – profile Marilyn Miller, one of his most popular stars. Miller would posthumously inspire Marilyn Monroe’s stage name, as the young Norma Jeane reminded talent scout Ben Lyon of her. Some years later, during her marriage to Arthur Miller, Monroe’s legal name was Marilyn Miller.

“In the 1920s there were two types of girls in the movies. First, there were the angelic waifs. Second, there were the flapper girls brimming with ‘It.’ One diminutive, blonde actress embodied both types. She was at once traditional and defiant of old conventions. She bobbed her hair and was never dependant on a man for money, but she enjoyed receiving the conspicuous gifts Stage Door Johnnies lavished upon her. She gave up dozens of marriage offers from wealthy middle aged men, favoring the old adage that marriage must be based on love.  Who was this girl?

Her name was Marilyn Miller. At the peak of her success between 1918 and 1928, she personified the youth of the Jazz Age. She began as a sprite-like ballerina in the Ziegfeld Follies and came within a hair’s breadth of being cinema’s new ‘It’ girl before her tragic, premature death. Marilyn Miller, though almost forgotten today, is as much the tragic heroine of the Jazz Age as Jean Harlow was of the 1930s and Marilyn Monroe was of the 1950s.

Following her passing, Hollywood made two attempts at preserving the memory of Ziegfeld’s greatest star; first in Till the Clouds Roll By (1946), a film celebrating the music of Jerome Kern in which Judy Garland admirably portrays Marilyn in three musical numbers, and second in a highly fictitious biopic entitled Look for the Silver Lining starring June Haver. Neither come close to conveying the real Marilyn—an actress ‘intended only to smile’ but was, in reality, a complicated, willful woman. In the words of a friend, she always ‘…seemed so happy…that no one suspected the depth of her feelings and her capacity…for pain.’ On stage, and indeed, in the precious few films that document both her flaming youth and elfin charm, Marilyn epitomes a pretty girl who, like a melody, haunts you night and day.”


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‘A Rewatchable Classic': Marilyn in ‘The Seven Year Itch’

11351242_891451167582714_4484652025113993187_nWith temperatures rising in the UK and abroad, Simon Columb (who wrote a perceptive review of The Misfits last week) revisits that perfect summer movie, The Seven Year Itch, for Flickering Myth.

“This is what makes The Seven Year Itch so intriguing. Every character is a fascinating mess of conflicting characteristics. Monroe’s ditzy blonde melts our hearts, but she hints at a knowing awareness of her actions. She teases and lures this sucker on – but he is quite happy to be dragged across the living room floor … the casting of Monroe is inspired. She knocks your socks off. Her cute coquettishness is endlessly fascinating, and her faux naivety makes you putty in her hands. When she’s not on-screen, we miss her. When she is on-screen, we know exactly how Sherman feels. It’s a simple concept – the young broad seducing the married man. But the subtle characteristics and games played by these two key roles are what humanise them – and make us recognise them.

It’s not as complex as Wilder’s Monroe masterpiece, Some Like it Hot. And doesn’t share the same adorable nature of the forever-lonely lead in The Apartment, but this is one to watch. It’s cheeky and telling. It’s back-to-back jokes with a sure talking-point to begin when the credits close. The Seven Year Itch is a re-watchable classic, and one of the most important roles in Monroe’s career.”


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From ‘Love, Marilyn’ to ‘Miss Simone’

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Just released on Netflix, What Happened, Miss Simone? is a new documentary about legendary jazz singer and civil rights activist, Nina Simone. Director Liz Garbus’s previous film, Love, Marilyn, is reviewed at CraveOnline today, with critic Ernest Hardy considering the parallels between these two ostensibly very different women.

“Garbus performed a similar feat in her 2012 documentary Love, Marilyn, which is not as strong a film as Miss Simone (in part because it’s more flat-out worshipful of its subject, its transparent goal being to proselytize on Monroe’s behalf), but still builds an argument for Monroe as one of the most complex, misunderstood pop figures of the 20th century… the film ends up being quite moving, and an interesting complement to the Simone documentary. As Monroe’s insecurities and crippling loneliness are catalogued, and as she is historicized as someone who kicked off America’s sexual revolution while still being exploited and maltreated, you can’t help but juxtapose the battles of the most famous icon of white womanhood with those of Simone.

The singer/activist was making music at the same time Monroe’s career was in full swing, and her career was, in part, about battling the very racial and cultural fetishes Monroe embodied. Similarly, she was never financially compensated commensurate with what her work earned. Both women were self-made artists trapped in and penalized for personas they crafted (brilliantly, consciously but without awareness of the eventual costs); both strove hard to be the best artist they could; both created work and images deeply rooted in American mores and cultural signifiers but that continue to resonate with people around the world; and the internal worlds of both women swirled thickly with the fallout of their childhoods, throughout their turbulent lives. We should refrain from simplistic alignment of the two, but it’s worth noting where they and their work converge in complex conversations (about race, sex, gender, art, power and powerlessness) that won’t be silenced any time soon.”


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Marilyn at Julien’s: High Prices for a Hollywood Legend

11010004_10153496554385929_2390631461050398092_nItems from ‘the lost archive of Marilyn Monroe’ were sold at predictably high prices in the Hollywood Legends sale at Julien’s Auctions this weekend, reports Fox8.com. IM staffer Jackie Craig took several photographs at the Beverly Hills preview.

“Marilyn Monroe’s grave marker sold for 212,500 dollars.
The item was originally estimated to sell between 2,000-4,000 dollars.

A dress worn by her from the movie Something’s Got to Give was sold for over $300 K.

A copy of Playboy magazine with Monroe on the cover and signed by Hugh Hefner, sold for 87,500 dollars.”

A chaise longue, used in Let’s Make Love, sold for $56,250; and the Mexican rug Marilyn bought for her final home reached $16,640. However, while some of the most iconic – and occasionally ghoulish – items attracted large bids, other more intimate pieces failed to sell – perhaps because so many dedicated fans can’t afford to meet the reserves?

juliens june 15e


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Book News: Marilyn, Sex and Hollywood

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Marilyn graces the cover of a new book, Hollywood’s Second Sex: The Treatment of Women in the Film Industry, 1900-1999.  Dublin-based author Aubrey Malone has previously written books on Tony Curtis, movie censorship, and the early days of Fox Film Corporation.

“‘Women stars in Hollywood were invariably in one of two categories,’ said director Otto Preminger. ‘One group was made up of women who were exploited by men, and the other, much smaller group was composed of women who survived by acting like men.’ Beginning with silent film vamp Theda Bara and continuing with icons like Greta Garbo, Marilyn Monroe and Raquel Welch, this study of film industry misogyny describes how female stars were maltreated by a sexist studio system–until women like Katharine Hepburn and Bette Davis fought for parity. The careers of Doris Day, Brigitte Bardot, Carole Landis, Francis Farmer, Dorothy Dandridge, Inger Stevens and many others are examined, along with more recent actresses like Demi Moore and Sharon Stone. Women who worked behind the scenes, writing screenplays, producing and directing without due credit, are also covered.”

Hollywood’s Second Sex is published by McFarland, and as with their previous titles – including Les Harding’s They Knew Marilyn Monroe and Michelle Vogel’s MM: Her Life, Her Films – it has an intriguing premise, but a rather hefty cover price.

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In another recent academic release, Palgrave’s Sex and Film: The Erotic in British, American and World Cinema, author Barry Forshaw also references Marilyn. The cover photo depicts Marlene Dietrich in a sultry pose, and reminds us of how the Blonde Venus star’s heady glamour influenced later sex symbols, including MM.

Marilyn by Frank Powolny

Marilyn by Frank Powolny

“Marilyn Monroe was virtually a living refutation of the censor’s anti-sex ethos. Her elemental carnality simply refused to be cossetted within the constraints of the day, even though such Monroe vehicles as Billy Wilder’s The Seven Year Itch tended to be rejigged for the cinema … But it is somewhat limiting to consider Monroe as simply a sex symbol; so iconic and all-pervading is her presence that she might be said to represent the medium itself, albeit in a self-parodying form. That knowing burlesque of her own image is to be seen in such movies as Howard Hawks’ Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953.) What’s more, for modern viewers there are overtones of the tragic … but even had Monroe been able to grow old and pile on the weight – as her British opposite number Diana Dors did, the latter becoming a respected character actress – there is little doubt that she would have continued to embody a particular image of female sexuality in the cinema.”


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Marilyn Goes ‘Pop’ in NYC

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Marilyn by Milton Greene, 1955

 

Now at the Pop International Gallery in SoHo, NYC, Andrew Weiss has curated an exhibition, ‘Happy Birthday Marilyn’, featuring works by seven photographers – Bill Carroll, Andre de Dienes, Laszlo Willinger, Kashio Aoki, Milton Greene, Bert Stern and George Barris, as reported by Stephanie Nolasco on her La Vintage Vida blog.


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Norman Rosten: Marilyn’s Poet Friend

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Norman Rosten (1913-1995), a poet and playwright dubbed the ‘Bard of Brooklyn’, was a friend of Arthur Miller from their college days at Ann Arbor in Michigan. He met Marilyn through another mutual friend, photographer Sam Shaw, in 1955. Norman and his wife, Hedda Rosten, soon grew close to Marilyn, and he was one of the last to speak with her at length the day before she died. Marilyn would bequeath $5,000 for the education of his daughter, Patricia Rosten, in her will.

In 1973, Norman published a memoir, Marilyn: an Untold Story, and he also provided the text for Sam Shaw’s pictorial tribute, Marilyn Among Friends. Sadly, Arthur Miller would never forgive Norman for going public (although Miller wrote about Marilyn in his own autobiography, and drew on her memory in several plays.)

Among Marilyn’s fans, however, Rosten is regarded as a ‘mensch’, and one of her few associates to emerge with much credit. In an article for the Huffington Post, the children’s author and illustrator, Melanie Hope Greenberg, shares her own fond memories of Norman.

“In the mid-1980’s I had read excerpts of a memoir about the iconic celebrity, Marilyn Monroe, in the New York Post. It was written by Monroe’s close friend, Norman Rosten, Brooklyn’s first poet laureate, novelist, playwright, and college friend of Arthur Miller, Monroe’s husband. I remember riding home on the subway and recognizing Rosten from his photo in the newspaper as we both departed the Borough Hall Station in Brooklyn Heights. I never dreamed that a few years later he and I would collaborate on a reissued book of poetry and publish a picture book together.

During the late 1980’s a community of writers and poets gathered in Brooklyn Heights at a children’s bookstore on Montague Street. Cousin Arthur’s Book Shop was a delightful resource in our neighborhood. The shop featured children’s events as well as poetry reading for adults … I officially met Norman Rosten at the front counter of Cousin Arthur’s where they gave away the free cookies.

rosten songs for patricia

During that time I was also a freelance graphics artist designing Cousin Arthur’s news and event posters. The Tramontes hired me to work on a book their poetry press planned to reissue and publish. Songs For Patricia, Rosten’s book of poetry for his daughter, was originally published in 1951. Norman’s teacher and poet friend had a print shop for book production at Wingate High School in Brooklyn. Norman and I traveled together and bonded during our ‘Wingate H.S. Adventure’. He was a ball of energy at 73 years old. I was more than half his age and out of breath chasing him up the school’s stairwell to the print shop.

Norman became a mensch mentor. He was grounded and did not take himself too seriously. He was wise and aware of the glories and pitfalls of fame. A kind neighbor and gentleman whenever I saw him on the street. I understand how Marilyn Monroe must have felt safe with Norman and acknowledged as an artist.”

While researching this story, I learned that composer Ezra Laderman, who collaborated with Norman on a Marilyn-inspired opera, died in March 2015. From Laderman’s New York Times obituary:

“Mr. Laderman (pronounced LAD-er-man), was a prolific composer of symphonic, chamber and vocal music, as well as a bevy of works for traditionally neglected instruments like the viola and the bassoon. But on account of its subject matter, it was Marilyn, commissioned to honor the 50th anniversary of the New York City Opera, that made him known to the general public.

Mr. Laderman’s eclecticism was on abundant display in Marilyn, which received its world premiere at City Opera on Oct. 6, 1993, with the soprano Kathryn Gamberoni in the title role. The opera, with a libretto by the poet Norman Rosten, was performed under the baton of Hal France; Mr. Laderman’s score fused tonal, atonal and serial elements with jazz, folk and pop motifs evocative of Monroe’s era.

The production garnered advance publicity round the world, with every performance sold out well ahead of time. The reviews were mixed at best, with some critics embracing the score for its stylistic range but others dismissing it as a pastiche.

In an interview with The Hartford Courant in 1994, Mr. Laderman was asked what lessons he had drawn from the critical response to “Marilyn.”

‘One lesson is that a lot of people apparently thought Marilyn Monroe was not a suitable topic for an opera,’ he replied. He added: ‘I disagree.'”


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Before Marilyn: Norma Jeane in ‘The Times’

times june 15bUK fans take note: photographs from Before Marilyn: The Blue Book Modelling Years are featured in today’s Times. (The article is also published online, but it’s paywalled.)

Thanks to Fraser Penney

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David Wills: ‘Marilyn – In the Flash’

wills marilyn in the flashDavid Wills’ 2011 book, Marilyn Monroe: Metamorphosis, is one of the best pictorial studies of MM ever published, and a firm fan favourite. So I was delighted to hear this morning that Mr Wills will soon publish a sequel, Marilyn: In the Flash. With an introduction by legendary actor Robert Wagner, it’s already listed on major online bookstores with a December release date, although publisher Dey Street Books (formerly IT Books, an imprint of Harper Collins) sets an earlier release date of October 27. Here’s the synopsis:

“A stunning collection of hundreds of rare and unseen photographs, behind-the-scenes notes, and interviews chronicling the media’s lifelong love affair with Marilyn, created by the acclaimed curator and author of Marilyn Monroe: Metamorphosis.

Though Hollywood goddess Marilyn Monroe was married three times, her longest lasting relationship was with the press—the photographers, reporters, and press agents who followed her every move for nearly two decades, and made her into the greatest icon in Hollywood history. One of the most publicized actresses of her time, Marilyn actively sought out the press, carefully crafting her public image and using events from her private life to further her career. Her romances with baseball legend Joe DiMaggio, playwright Arthur Miller, and others made her a daily feature for newspapers, magazines, and wire services; new images of the star were guaranteed to boost sales.

Drawing on unseen troves from dozens of photographers, archives, and collectors, acclaimed photography expert David Wills brings together an unprecedented array of press photos from throughout Marilyn’s career—including hundreds of unpublished and rare photographs that have been beautifully restored; uncropped and unretouched outtakes; handwritten notations; period captions; clippings; and more. With a foreword by Robert J. Wagner and interviews from key press agents and others, this portfolio of images offers a fresh, indelible portrait of one of the most enduring icons in history and illuminates the special alliance she shared with the press as never before.”


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