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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.


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Kelli Garner on Playing Marilyn

KelliGarnerAsM.Monroe-ftr Kelli Garner has been talking about the challenges of playing Marilyn in a series of press interviews – firstly, with GM News:

One of Marilyn’s most distinctive attributes was her voice. Difficult nailing that part of the role down?

Early in the process when I was working with the director, she really didn’t want a voice. Everyone has their idea of Marilyn Monroe, so it is probably hard to watch so many people’s tapes come in, and I think she was done with the voice by the time I met with her. She was like, “Please don’t do the voice,” and I was like, “Can I just try one?” [Laughs] But by the time it came to shooting, we were more about it being there for times when she wanted to be using Marilyn for some effect and not being there for others to try to keep her more human. It was fun to play around with!

Tell me about getting to peel back the layers on an entertainment icon that even fans know so little about and to show how complex her life really was.

It was beautiful to see that this is a woman that struggled with things that we all still struggle with today, and some stuff that we don’t — like mental health, like the fact that her mother was diagnosed as schizophrenic and she had to deal with that on a daily basis. It was a really interesting side of her that is not as playful as we know Marilyn to be. She was so smart. She had the courage and fortitude against everything she was dealing with in her life to become this construct that was Marilyn Monroe. I didn’t know a lot about her when I booked this. She is so wise. She is deep and she is soulful. And she is really creative. It makes me sad she is, to this day, so loved, and it is probably the one thing she couldn’t find.

Did a little bit of Marilyn go with you when filming ended?

I think one of the most beautiful things about Marilyn Monroe is she had fun playing Marilyn Monroe. I have been acting for 15 years and I am proud of myself most days and it is such an interesting thing to live in. But I have the tendency to forget to have fun. And I think Marilyn is such a feminist. … I think that one of Marilyn’s greatest qualities is her vulnerability — and maybe one of her worst. But she stood up for her power and her talent. She was way ahead for her time. The tragedy is what a voice Marilyn Monroe would have been today for the continuous struggles with inequality of the sexes and civil rights, and I think she would have been a huge voice for gay rights. I just think she is really special. We all do.”

Kelli Garner as Norma Jeane

Kelli Garner as Norma Jeane

In a Hollywood Reporter article, Kelli discusses Marilyn’s glamorous style:

“I can only imagine all the cool pieces you got to wear on set.

[There were] 99 costume changes. It was over a week of costume fittings and the costume room was just wallpapered with, I think, every image of Marilyn possible. That was my first week of work. Everyone kept handing me photo books and I was like, ‘I get it! I know what she looks like [laughs].’ It taught me a lot about my own wardrobe. I actually came home and threw out half of my clothes. I had gone through this phase where I stopped being attracted to color.

Was that an influence on today’s darker color scheme?

Yes, well, I love hunter green. And it is a color. Marilyn taught me, for my figure, to go tight but high neck. Keep it classy, so that’s really nice. I think I was also doing that bohemian thing where all my sweaters were boy sweaters and boyfriend pants, which I love, but this is me, too, when I dress up. I was just not embracing my figure the way you can as a woman. And she loved colors. A lot of people say she wore famous black turtlenecks, but she was really good in some color.

Of all the costume changes, which one was your favorite?

Well, I’ll give you two. Iconic Marilyn — I would have to say that gold lame dress with the crinkle and low [neckline]. It’s just such a beautiful dress. But I think my favorite in the whole show is a Norma Jeane outfit. They reconstructed to the exact outfit that you see she wears in a little red striped shirt, these tiny Daisy Duke white overalls and big ol’ ’40s heels.”


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First Review: ‘The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe’

10419006_10152722681137791_6675082130976084641_nAhead of its US premiere on the Lifetime Channel this weekend, The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe gets an ‘underwhelming’ 2.5 stars from We Got This Covered, but Kelli Garner ‘gives a virtuoso performance as Marilyn Monroe, enlivening Laurie Collyer’s cluttered, superficial biopic.’


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Barris Photo Auction in London

acdd58303888a64464f1fc1d3a2c829eEight prints by George Barris – among the last photos taken of Marilyn before her death in 1962, and reproduced in limited edition by Edward Weston in 1987 – are on offer at Dreweatts & Bloomsbury of London, as part of their Photo Opportunities auction on June 4, reports IJ Review.


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How Marilyn Made Millions for ‘Playboy’

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While Marilyn may have become Playboy‘s first pin-up in 1953, she never actually posed for the legendary men’s magazine – and finding her 1949 nude calendar (for which she was paid just $50) made the fortune of Hugh Hefner (who never met her), as Neil Steinberg explains in an article for the Sacramento Sun-Times.

“Everyone has seen that classic first Playboy centerfold photo of Marilyn Monroe, her creamy perfect flesh set off against red velvet. But who wondered how an unemployed nobody whose major financial backer was his mother, who kicked in $1,000, got the greatest sex goddess and movie star of the late 20th century to grace the cover of his first issue and pose in the buff for his first centerfold ‘Sweetheart of the Month?'(‘Playmate’ wouldn’t come until the second issue).

Short answer: he didn’t. He bumbled into it.

‘How did you manage that piece of good luck?’ a magazine called U.S. Camera asked Hefner, in its April, 1962 issue.

‘At that point the MM calendar was very, very famous, but almost no one had seen it,’ he replied. ‘It had received all kinds of publicity, but it never appeared anywhere.’ He noticed, in a newspaper clipping, that the photos were owned by a calendar company in the Chicago suburbs.

‘So I took a hop out there,’ Hefner said, driving his beat up ’41 Chevy.

The pictures were taken nearly five years earlier, at the request of John Baumgarth, a Chicago calendar maker, shot by Hollywood photographer Tom Kelley. Monroe was an unknown then.

‘When he made the picture it was just another picture of a girl. No one had heard of Marilyn Monroe at that time,’ Hefner said. ‘He paid about $500 for this and a number of similar photographs.’

The calendar company certainly wasn’t planning to use them again.

‘Thus from his point of view, he had gotten back all his initial expense in purchasing the photographs,’ said Hefner. ‘From my point of view, however, for $500 for the Marilyn Monroe and for a year’s contract for $300 for 11 more.’

Hefner had his first year of centerfolds without talking one woman, never mind Marilyn Monroe, out of her clothes.

‘This was our Playmate for the first year–simply straight calendar nudes from the Baumgarth Calendar Company,’ he said.

Playboy wasn’t the first magazine to print nude photographs. But it was first to print nude photographs of a well-known personality, and that made all the difference.

‘It legitimized nudity by embodying it in arguably the most famous woman in America,’ Roger Ebert wrote, celebrating the centerfold. And the results are all around us, to this day.”


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‘Secret Life of Marilyn’ Stars Speak Out

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Actresses Kelli Garner and Susan Sarandon – who play Marilyn and her mother, Gladys, in the upcoming mini-series, The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe, to premiere on the US Lifetime Channel on May 30-31 – have spoken to the New York Daily News about their roles.

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“‘It is different because it deals with the relationship with the women in her life, the mother, the schizophrenia, and dives into the personal life with the men in her life, and Marilyn in fictional psychotherapy is a fun idea,’ Garner says in an exclusive interview with the Daily News.

Sarandon’s goal was ‘to try to make [Gladys] a person and find those times where she is aware,’ she says. ‘They describe her as never smiling, being very flat. It was not so easy. She did not want to touch people and to just sit.’

Still, Sarandon makes the most of it, tapping into a complex woman who seemed incapable of joy. In one scene, she methodically shreds the magazine covers Monroe is so proud of gracing.

‘This is a sinful business,’ Gladys tells her daughter. ‘It is not what God intended you to do with your life.’

To chronicle her life from a horrendous childhood to dying of an overdose at 36, the film uses the device of Monroe talking to her latest therapist. She tells him how her mother gave her away when she was two weeks old and how she never met her father.

‘I’ve been going to therapy for years, and to get to use the device that was used, the therapy session, I love the exchange of ideas,’ Garner says. ‘She has just become a really interesting human to me.’

Flashbacks set during the Depression show an unkempt blond girl who bounced around family friends and orphanages. Monroe married at 16 when her mother’s friend, a steadying influence, would no longer keep her.

As she tells her story to the shrink, Monroe can’t help herself from striking seductive poses. Garner nails Monroe’s physicality, how she just oozed sex even when doing the most mundane tasks. To copy her moves, Garner watched Monroe’s movies.

‘I watched so much and I stared at so many photographs,’ Garner says. ‘She’s a little tease, a total flirt. One of my favorite photos of Marilyn is she is sitting on a couch with a 12-year-old boy. And he couldn’t be happier and she is flirting with this little boy with this dynamic smile on her face, which always made her child come out. They say 90% of communication is nonverbal and I feel like she is a genius of nonverbal communication.’

Garner and Sarandon, separately, recall their introduction to Monroe was watching Some Like It Hot on TV.

‘I remember thinking it was very funny,’ Sarandon recalls. ‘Coming of age, until I knew more about the complexity of Marilyn Monroe, I kind of blamed her for the dive women’s identity took at the time. We had come out of these periods, Katharine Hepburn and Bette Davis and Ingrid Bergman, people you saw in movies so strong and quick, and suddenly that was no longer the goal. And vulnerability was what defined sexuality or defined attractiveness.’

She pauses and adds, ‘She was a great comedic actress and so beautiful and even then, before I knew that much about her, she seemed to have gotten caught in this persona that was working for her and she was maybe outgrowing. That feeling that she was setting back what women were about; I had very mixed feelings about her and her place in history as I was growing into a woman.’

‘She was so smart in a time where we didn’t know how to categorize her kind of intelligence, which was intuition,’ Garner says. ‘She wanted to learn. She was a hard worker. She really loved and needed to be validated and loved.’

Ultimately, of course, Monroe’s demons did her in. But Sarandon dismisses the conspiracy theories that she was murdered.

‘I don’t understand how she lived as long as she did because she was mixing so many difficult drugs,’ Sarandon says. ‘I don’t think anyone had to kill her. She was so hell-bent on killing herself.’

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Meanwhile, actor Jeffrey Dean Morgan has discussed his performance as Joe DiMaggio in an interview with Variety:

“So you went from a Western to playing one of the most famous baseball players of all time. (And, in between, did the Robert De Niro film Bus 657).

That’s right. A big Italian-American by the name of Joe DiMaggio … Look, it’s not a Joe DiMaggio story. It’s the Marilyn story. I’m an arm piece. I kind of help the story go along, but it’s very much the Marilyn story that I think Kelli Garner pulls off with aplomb. She’s really good in it. And of course, Susan [Sarandon] and Emily [Watson, who plays Marilyn’s foster mother Grace]. These are some fine actors.

I watched a documentary with Joe and Marilyn. I was so fascinated with this couple that had such a tumultuous relationship and yet, they were supposed to be remarried on the day that she died. He never married again. He visited her grave every single day for the rest of his life. Watching that documentary made me say yes to doing the movie because I was so fascinated with that love. They couldn’t hardly be in the same room together, but they couldn’t be apart.

She was married several times …

… But she always ended up back with Joe. The Arthur Miller [marriage] is probably very fascinating; that’s the one I might be more interested in. But the DiMaggio one: There’s so much passion, and he was Joe DiMaggio! They met at the height of their lives. Joe was around during all of the Kennedy stuff, so you know who she was going to. Having him deal with that aspect of her life and still be in love with her …

What he did to her, there was some physicality with her from what I understand … he pushed her around a little bit, but they always went back. That, to me, is very fascinating. That is a love that I would like to be able to tell.”


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Marilyn’s May Magazine Madness

pride italy may 2015

Marilyn graces the cover of two magazines (at least) this month. A pin-up shot from 1952 is used to great effect in Italy’s gay-friendly magazine, Pride, with an article by Giovanbattista Brambilla (author of the fan-favourite 1996 book, MM: The Life, The Myth) inside. ‘The Shadow of Marilyn’ explores Marilyn’s complex relationship with acting coach Natasha Lytess.

closer may 2015

In the US, celebrity weekly Closer (no relation to the UK mag) makes Marilyn their cover girl from the third time in a year. Inside, an article about her fractured relationship with her mentally ill mother, Gladys, ties in with Lifetime’s upcoming mini-series, The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe (to be broadcast stateside on May 30-31.)


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Country Girl: Marilyn in Roxbury

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The BBC World website has published an interesting article by Amanda Ruggeri about Marilyn’s time in Connecticut, and especially the farm in Roxbury where she lived with Arthur Miller.

Unfortunately – and in my opinion, rather absurdly – BBC World cannot be accessed within the UK, so I have transcribed part of the article here.

“When Monroe married Miller in June 1956, she’d already captivated audiences in movies like 1953’s Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and 1955’s The Seven-Year Itch. She was the world’s biggest star. She was also beginning to fray from it. ‘I hate Hollywood,’ she told Miller when they married. ‘I want to live quietly in the country and just be there when you need me.’

Miller, the playwright famous for Death of a Salesman – and among friends, also for his love of rural pleasures such as field clearing and gardening – had moved to Roxbury in 1947. And so, after wrapping the 1957 movie The Prince and the Showgirl with Laurence Olivier, Monroe returned with Miller to his four-bedroom farmhouse on Old Tophet Road.

‘Go to Stamford and drive down millionaire’s row, and you know you’re on millionaire’s row,’ said Peter Hurlbut, the town clerk and descendant of Roxbury’s founder. ‘Here, you never know you’re on millionaire’s row.’

He was absolutely right. Old Tophet Road was a 10-minute drive from the centre of town, though it felt like longer. Narrow and winding, driving the route on an October day felt like heading through a psychedelically coloured foliage tunnel. Dilapidated barns and colonial houses dotted the land on either side. If I hadn’t known it was where Miller and other literati lived, I never would have made note of the road at all. In this part of Connecticut, streets like these are unremarkably common.

As are houses like Miller’s – so much so that we drove past it before realising. A lovely white clapboard with baby-blue shutters, the abode looked like any of the other quietly graceful colonials in the area. Peeking through the trees up the drive – the home is pretty recognizable when driving by – I tried to imagine what it would have been like in the 1950s, when the home became a paparazzi playground. On 29 June 1956, the same day that Monroe and Miller signed their marriage license (itself given by Hurlbut’s grandfather, then the town clerk), one of the cars following them was driving too fast on the winding country roads and crashed, killing the French reporter inside. In the press conference that the newlyweds gave at the farm, talking about the crash, their nuptials and on Senator Joseph McCarthy’s naming of Arthur Miller as a communist in the House Committee on Un-American Activities, Monroe appeared visibly upset; it was a rare crack in her star façade.

Those who believe in such things could have seen the crash as an omen. The fantasies Monroe must have had about living in Connecticut, and the peace that it, and Miller, would bring her, soon wore thin. Even the house itself showed their clash of priorities: the two had first planned to tear down the old farmhouse and build another one on the property. But when Miller asked for a design from Frank Lloyd Wright, one that turned out to be far too grand for her notoriously frugal new husband, the over-the-top plans were dashed. The 18th-century farmhouse stayed.

Back in Roxbury, I stopped at the little Roxbury Market & Deli, where Monroe did her shopping. With a few aisles of locally made jams and everyday staples, it’s the closest thing the town has to a grocery store. One can imagine her attempting to play the role of housewife here. One can imagine, too, how bored the Hollywood star, so accustomed to cameras and adulation, quickly became.

Roxbury, after all, is a peaceful place. Aside from admiring the town’s colonial houses and steepled churches, its biggest draw may be its forests. The Roxbury Land Trust maintains 2,575 acres of trail-crossed nature preserves, much of its land given by the same icons who lived here: there is the 32-acre Matthau Preserve, the 22-acre Styron Preserve, the 27-acre Widmark Preserve and, yes, the 55-acre Arthur and Inge Morath Miller Preserve.

A peaceful town, yes. But for someone like Monroe, who thrived on public attention as much as she reviled it, it wasn’t the right fit. Nor, it seems, was Miller. The two divorced in 1961. Nineteen months later, Monroe died.

Miller lived out the rest of his days in Roxbury – playing tennis with Frank McCourt and Mia Farrow, who still lives in the next town over, tinkering with his plumbing, clearing fields and, of course, writing. He passed away there in 2005 at the age of 89.

But Miller hadn’t just died in Roxbury. He’d also asked to be buried here. In one of Hurlbut’s last conversations with the writer, Miller had called him up, especially curious about how to get a tombstone in the case of his death. Hurlbut explained that for his father, they’d opted to create a tombstone from an old stone they’d found. The frugal Miller liked that idea. And where do you find one, he wanted to know. In the land of stone walls, Hurlbut said, he was sure Miller could find a stone he liked. A few weeks later, Miller called him back up. ‘I found it! I found the stone!’ he said. It was from one of the walls on his property.

That’s how he was buried: with a stone, likely from a wall assembled decades, if not centuries, earlier, taken from his own property that he’d loved so much…

I just hoped that Monroe, if only for moments at a time, had found a little bit of solace here too.”


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Subway Ad for ‘Secret Life of Marilyn’

monroe-nyc-subway-hed-2015The Lifetime Channel have found an unique gimmick to promote their upcoming mini series, The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe, reports Adweek. Eight New York subway stations now feature audio-activated digital advertisments, depicting Kelli Garner as Marilyn in The Seven Year Itch – with her skirt blowing up as trains arrive on the platform. (Not sure why her dress is red, though!)

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On a more serious note, a new trailer has been released, depicting a (probably fictitious) scene in which Marilyn and Joe DiMaggio visit her emotionally disturbed mother, Gladys, in a sanitarium. While Kelli Garner exudes softness and vulnerability, Susan Sarandon seems a little too brash in the maternal role.

The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe will be broadcast in the US on May 30-31.


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Olga Franklin: ‘Two-Faced’ Memories of Marilyn

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The newlywed Millers arrive in London, 1956

Olga Franklin (1911-85) was a columnist for the Daily Mail when she encountered Marilyn in England, during filming of The Prince and the Showgirl in 1956. Her private observations have now been revealed in A Letter From Oggi, a new collection of private letters to her sister Beryl, edited by nephew Richard Jaffa. While many others would echo her statement that the private Marilyn was very different to her public image, Franklin’s snarky tone shows that celebrity-bashing (for which the Mail is still renowned) is nothing new.

“July 1956: c/o The Daily Mail

Northcliffe House, Tudor Street, London EC4

Dear Beryl,

Marilyn Monroe, who arrived here this week with husband Arthur Miller, is extraordinary. A woman with two faces. Perhaps we’re all like that? Only her two faces seem to contradict each other somehow.

Her first appearance was with someone’s overcoat over her head, you know the way they smuggle criminals into the Old Bailey, to avoid the cameras. Inside the door when they pulled the coat off, she was safe because no one could recognise that this was the star. Easy to see why she is renownedly unpunctual because the make-up and hair-do must take a long time. She looked like one of those girls who used to work in the old ABC cafes before the war, with white exhausted face and sweaty messy hair dyed too often.

Then our cameraman sent me climbing on the stair banisters high up to hold his flashlight and I got a shock looking down, seeing the famous blonde head was clearly bald on top, with the pink scalp showing through the sparse hairs.

A few days after we were all in attendance again, but this time at the studio, fenced off so that when the two ‘royals’ Miss Monroe and Mr Miller strolled in front of us, we were held in check behind a barrier.

Her looks were even more astonishing. The crumpled ABC waitress with no looks to speak of was gone, not a trace remaining.

The hair was freshly washed and set exquisitely with two soft loops forward over her cheeks leaving still enough hair for a chignon behind. The face, too, was transformed and was not just beautiful but with a luminous prettiness and charm.

She looked tall, slender and fragile in an attractive cloak which hid any hint of voluptuousness. A great groan of delight went up from the cameramen who’d waited a long time for this.

She was a work of art, a living tribute to the cosmeticians and couturiers. Under the subdued lighting, there was never a wrong note nor a hair out of place. Except for Mr Miller, who seemed to have no place there and was ill at ease.

I suppose it is all this collective effort which marks the difference between European performers and American ones. The latter are almost the result of a team effort, whereas our own or Continental ones are self-made, individual products. I think this must be why the European product is superior.

Love, Og”


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Autopsy: The Last Hours of Marilyn

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 Autopsy: The Last Hours of Marilyn Monroe, a new documentary in which leading forensic pathologist Dr Richard Shepherd argues that Marilyn’s death was a result of medical negligence, will be screened tonight at 9 pm on Channel 5 in the UK.


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