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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.

Versace Revisits the Marilyn Dress

The latest Versace collection, which hit the catwalk in Milan this week, is nostalgic in more ways than one, as Vogue reports. Marking the 20th anniversary of Gianni Versace’s death, this ‘homage collection’ from his sister and successor, Donatella Versace, also reinvents one of his most iconic designs. The ‘Marilyn dress’ that supermodel Naomi Campbell first wore on the catwalk in 1991, as part of the ’92 collection (shown above left) makes a notable comeback (see right.) Based on the infamous Pop Art screen-prints by Andy Warhol, and also featuring James Dean, the much-imitated Marilyn dress epitomises the Versace brand’s postmodern fusion of glamour and excess, and the original now resides in New York’s Met Museum.

Another of Versace’s Marilyn-inspired designs, then and now
Versace’s Marilyn (and James Dean), from the Spring 2018 collection

Milton Greene’s ‘Essential Marilyn Monroe’

This is the final cover for the standard edition of The Essential Marilyn Monroe – Milton Greene: 50 Sessions, now making its way to readers in the UK and beyond. (Big spenders can also order a limited edition, boxed version with a print for £1,500.)

The first review has already been posted on Amazon by Fraser Penney:

“An absolutely amazing book on Marilyn’s and Milton Greene’s photo sessions. This book has many unpublished and alternate shots of the classic images we’ve all come to know. There’s also some funny ones of Marilyn clowning in front of camera in a playful way, showing the warmth the two shared during their years of friendship.

The book is a joy from start to finish with a few pages of text by Joshua Greene, film producer Jay Kanter and another of Marilyn’s photographers, Douglas Kirkland.

With a brief introduction to each of the 50 sessions, offering an insiders insight, it’s the most spectacular homage to Marilyn and Milton’s collaboration, friendship and professional relationship.

In the words of Marilyn’s assistant (how she’s described in book) Pat Newcomb, writes, ‘This is a truly authentic look into Monroe’s life, and the best collection of photographs of the world’s most glamorous star by someone who really knew her.'”

An example of colour restoration in ‘The Essential MM’

Lady Gaga on Pain, Fame and Marilyn

Pop star Lady Gaga has often referenced Marilyn in her work, sometimes with insight and sympathy (as in her past interviews with Vanity Fair and Google, and her ‘Dance in the Dark‘ lyric, ‘Marilyn, Judy, Sylvia/Tell ’em how you feel girls!’) At other times, however, she has depicted MM in a shallow, even crass manner (her ‘Government Hooker‘ song and ‘Do What U Want‘ video.) While she has also experienced the dark side of fame at first hand, her knowledge of Marilyn’s life and character seems rather limited.

Nonetheless, her latest comments about Marilyn – and other stars who died before their time – are quite intriguing, as Olivia Truffaut-Wong reports on the new Netflix documentary, Gaga: Five Foot Two, for Bustle.

“Speaking in her new documentary, Lady Gaga reveals that her wacky fashion choices come out of a desire for control in an industry that loves to take control away from its artists … ‘What I’ve done is that when they wanted me to be sexy or they wanted me to be pop, I always f*cking put some absurd spin on it that made me feel like I’m still in control,’ she says.

In the film, Gaga opens up about how the music industry and Hollywood treats women, particularly how men in positions of power, producers for example, think that female artists are there for their entertainment. ‘That’s not why I’m here. I’m not a receptacle for your pain,’ she says. ‘I’m not just a place for you to put it.’

To counteract those expectations of what a pop star should look like Gaga explains how she decided to show ugliness in fame while performing. ‘If I’m gonna be sexy on the VMAs and sing about the paparazzi,’ she says, ‘I’m gonna do it while I’m bleeding to death and reminding you of what fame did to Marilyn Monroe, the original Norma Jean, and what it did to Anna Nicole Smith.'”

Mahfouz Doss Remembers Marilyn

Mahfouz Doss, the Egyptian-American film critic and former president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, has recalled meeting Marilyn and Rock Hudson, who presented her with the ‘World Film Favourite’ award at one of her final public appearances, the Golden Globes in February 1962. He shared his memories  – though not his much-prized photo – with actress Jenna Elfman  (best-known for her role in TV’s Dharma and Greg) during a panel discussion at a ceremony to rename part of California State University, Northridge the HFPA Wing, as Broadway World reports.

“‘I remember the event with Marilyn Monroe and Rock Hudson. As a matter of fact, someone took a picture of me. It was me, Marilyn Monroe and Rock Hudson. The three of us together.’ When Elfman asked if he still had the photo, Doss responded, ‘Yes, I still have it. I show it to people from time to time.’ Elfman joked, ‘If you get pulled over by the police, just pull that out.’ As the room erupted with laughter, Doss replied, ‘That’s what I’ll do.'”

Marilyn: The Hit Collection

Marilyn Monroe: The Hit Collection is the latest in a growing number of new vinyl compilations. Released by Zyx Music and available from various outlets (including Amazon), the album features a reworked ‘Happy Birthday/I Wanna Be Loved By You’ (Mr President Mix) alongside 15 original recordings.

The cover photo, taken by Richard Avedon in 1957, also appeared on Marilyn Monroe: Never Before and Never Again (1988), but the content is different.

Marilyn Through the Eye of Magnum

Cinema Through the Eye of Magnum, a new documentary about the legendary photo agency, will be screened for the first time in the UK tonight at 10pm on BBC4. This image, captured by Ernst Haas, shows fellow Magnum photographer Elliott Erwitt among the cast and crew of The Misfits.

The Misfits was a pivotal moment in photographers’ relationship with cinema. Lee Jones, Magnum’s head of special projects in New York, decided that the film’s dream cast deserved special attention. Nine different photographers took turns over 3 months of the shoot to capture the ‘total chaos’ on what would be Marilyn Monroe’s last film.

Eve Arnold, Magnum’s first woman member, was Monroe’s trusted collaborator. Having previously worked with Marlene Dietrich and Joan Crawford, she started photographing Monroe when they were both relatively unknown. She spent two months on the set of the John Huston movie.

Photographer Bruce Davidson remarked, ‘Marilyn is really in torment – this was the movie where it all collapsed. And the hidden homosexuality, total neurosis, drugs, the whole works (on set). This film is a turning point, and the photographs document the disintegration of a system.’

Clark Gable had a heart attack the day after filming wrapped on The Misfits and died a few days later.”

Thanks to Nikki at Marilyn Remembered

Terry Johnson’s Marilyn: From ‘Prism’ to ‘Insignificance’

Robert Lindsay as Jack Cardiff in ‘Prism’

Prism, Terry Johnson’s new play at the Hampstead Theatre about the twilight years of Marilyn’s favourite cameraman Jack Cardiff, is enjoying  positive reviews. Elsewhere in London, Johnson’s most famous work – Insignificance – will be revived next month at the Arcola Theatre, with his daughter, Alice Bailey-Johnson, playing the Monroe-inspired leading lady.

Poster art for ‘Insignificance’

“Gorgeous photographs of Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn and Marlene Dietrich hang around the garage, and an expensive camera is held up on a stand. There’s a problem though; the device doesn’t work, as it’s missing a vital component, the prism. The prism is a miracle of light, and an object that splits this light into a rainbow of three colours, creating a Technicolor fantasy.

Written and directed by Terry Johnson, the play cleverly weaves together two time periods: the Fifties and present day. Despite not much happening in terms of dramatic action, the text is full of light-hearted motifs and one-liners, keeping the audience engaged. However, Prism also packs a real punch, as it deals with an illness currently effecting a lot of people: dementia.

Suffering from the disease, Jack doesn’t know who he is or who his family are. His son Mason (Barnaby Kay), has requested he write a memoir, however Jack only seems to remember the past without its glory. Riddled with anxiety over the task, he is supported by a carer (Rebecca Night). As Jack, Robert Lindsay gives a masterclass in stage acting. The comedy lands at all the right points and his full embodiment of every Cardiff trait is surreal to watch.” – Alistair Wilkinson, Broadway World

“Cardiff’s memories of his famous subjects – Katharine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart on The African Queen, Marilyn Monroe accompanied by her husband Arthur Miller on The Prince and the Showgirl – glimmer in the air … There’s strong support too from Claire Skinner who gets to impersonate Katharine Hepburn, and from Rebecca Night who is transformed from carer into Monroe and Lauren Bacall. But it’s Lindsay’s night.” – Sarah Crompton, What’s On Stage

“Lucy (Rebecca Night), who’s been hired as Jack’s carer and typist, doesn’t have much of a clue about how to fulfil either role, though she does eventually prove to have a kind of natural empathy for him … Night is also reborn as a shimmering, statuesque Marilyn Monroe, to re-enact an earlier scene she shared with Cardiff as Lucy when the ailing cinematographer imagined her as the Blonde Bombshell on his own casting couch. Barnaby doubles as Monroe’s affronted husband Arthur Miller.” – Adam Sweeting, The Arts Desk

“When Robert Lindsay’s concertedly serene, quietly agitated Jack holds up the refractive optical marvel that was a key component of his adventures in colour – ‘God’s eye’ – it’s hard not to feel a frisson of wonder. Our response to the way the domestic scene that greets him in his converted, memorabilia-crammed Buckinghamshire garage is twisted by his diseased mind into memories of yore is more complex, however. Johnson invites some hesitant laughter as Cardiff talks funny, imagines his local boozer has gone missing and fleetingly confuses his carer with Monroe and his son with Arthur Miller, reliving old conversations. Yet the piece is suffused with real pain, the family torn between despair and indulgence.” – Dominic Cavendish, Telegraph

“The problem is that because Cardiff worked so much with the famous, the play doesn’t inspire the immediate empathy of a work like Florian Zeller’s The Father, with its more mundane hero. If it finally touches our hearts, it is because it reveals the cost to those close to Cardiff of his final decline and because of its recognition that no life achieves a perfect narrative arc, and is instead more akin to shooting a film than watching one.

Lindsay is amazing to watch. He evokes the casual charm that made Cardiff magnetic to the women he worked with as well as the professional obsessiveness that led him to experiment with prisms and seek to reproduce the textures of a Vermeer or Renoir on screen. Above all, Lindsay’s performance has a humanity that suggests Cardiff’s cinematic memories are accompanied by a spasmodic grasp of reality.

Claire Skinner shifting between Cardiff’s wife and his idealised Katharine Hepburn, Rebecca Night as the carer who becomes his memorialised Marilyn Monroe and Barnaby Kay as the son who turns into Humphrey Bogart and Arthur Miller, also show the pangs of becoming part of someone else’s disordered dreams.” – Michael Billington, The Guardian

“The structure is artful. Rebecca Night reappears as a lustrous Marilyn Monroe, in order to re-enact, word for world, an earlier scene with Jack in which he’d confused his carer, Lucy, with the screen goddess, draped on his casting couch. (Kay is a pompously affronted Arthur Miller). These lapses between precarious present and distorted past take us into the jungle of Jack’s ailing mind, while the doubling and tripling bring home the ache of being mistaken for one of the luminaries in his thronging cinematic memory-bank.” – Paul Taylor, The Independent

Marilyn’s Co-Stars From A to Z

David Alan Williams is the author of a series of self-published books profiling the various actors who worked with classic Hollywood stars. His latest volume, Marilyn Monroe’s Film Co-Stars From A to Z, runs to 600 pages (which may explain the hefty price tag.) Although probably not for the casual fan, this may be of interest to diehards as a reference tool.

“No film or television program would be complete without co-stars and supporting players. This book pays homage to those over 650 individuals who acted with Marilyn Monroe in her thirty films from 1947 through 1961. I hope you enjoy learning more about those hard working men, women, and children who were honored to work with this beautiful lady on the big screen.”

Wolf Alice Gets ‘Unconventional’ With Marilyn

The British alt-rock band Wolf Alice has just released the video for ‘Beautifully Unconventional’, the latest single from their Visions Of Life album, with singer Ellie Roswell seemingly taking style inspiration from Marilyn, as MXDWM reports.

Marilyn at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, 1953

“Perhaps the idea of the video gets at how a culturally ultra-conventional icon like Marilyn Monroe is actually an unconventional individual. To be conventional would one would have to be anything other than an American icon. To be conventional is to be part of the cultural masses—going to work, raising a family, having normal things to talk about. Monroe’s life was hardly normal, and she would stick out ‘sorely’ in a regular, everyday context. Convention is normal, beautiful unconventionality is someone who sticks out not like a sore thumb, but like Marilyn Monroe.”