“Marilyn Monroe’s great achievement has been the making of herself and the imposition of her will and her dream upon a whole world. Joseph Conrad wrote that when we are born we fall into a dream. Norma Jeane Mortenson, called Norma Jean Baker, fell into the most extravagant of dreams. She made it come true. She made it come true by making herself. She made herself beautiful. She made herself an artist. She triumphed in that arena where the loveliest women in the world contend fiercely for the prizes.
In one sense, then, her life is completed, because her spirit is formed and has achieved itself. No matter what unpredictable events may lie in her future, they cannot change what she is and what she has become. And there will be many surprises and alterations in her life ahead; there will be, in Hart Crane’s phrase, ‘new thresholds, new anatomies’.
In her heart is a questing fever that will give her no peace, that drives her on ‘to strive, to seek, to find,’ and then to strive and seek again. Her soul was always be restless, unquiet.”
Zolotow’s biography, considered a definitive early work on Monroe, was reissued in 1990 with a further chapter on The Misfits, and an intriguing prologue where Zolotow describes his first meeting with the actress, at a Hollywood party in 1952, when she was still on the cusp of stardom. They would meet again ten years later, at the Actor’s Studio in New York, after Zolotow’s book was published.
“Another perk of being a military police officer was escorting visiting dignitaries. James Callahan protected visiting generals and celebrities during his time in Korea.
The two standout guard assignments — Marilyn Monroe and Bob Hope.
‘She was a beautiful woman,’ he said. ‘I had to use every MP I had to guard the stage when she went on. There were two or three battalions there, probably over 10,000 men. They all tried to get as close as they could to her, and it was our job to keep them away.'”
Former drill sergeant James Callahan of Arkansas speaking to the Baxter Bulletinin 2004
These latest extracts from Maurice Zolotow’s biography, serialised in the Los Angeles Daily Mirrorin 1960, focus on Marilyn’s 1956 marriage to Arthur Miller, and the making of The Prince and the Showgirl and Some Like It Hot.
Albert Wolsky has designed costumes for movies from All That Jazz (1979) to Revolutionary Road (2008.)
“Marilyn Monroe, Grace Kelly and Jean Harlow are the most glamorous, but in different ways. Grace was elegant, Marilyn was vulnerable, and Jean was extremely funny…Earlier actresses like Marilyn were very typed and had an image that never changed, but today’s leading ladies can be glamorous one moment and not glamorous the next…Men and women loved (Monroe) because she had an almost little-girl-like quality that made her sex appeal non-threatening…”
My review of Keith Badman’s The Final Years of Marilyn Monroeis featured in the latest issue of Mad About Marilyn magazine, which also includes a vintage magazine article penned by Marilyn’s one-time roommate at Hollywood’s Studio Club, Clarice Evans, and a profile of photographer John Bryson.
If you are interested in joining the Mad About Marilyn Fan Club, please contact Emma Downing Warren.
“I am also amazed at how much ‘junk’ is written about MM. The only reason I can think of that people get away with it, is because there is no one to ‘protect’ her – she really doesn’t have any family, or anyone to stand up for her interests, so people just make up junk about her (or did, right after she died), and then some people today print it as fact without doing any original research. I think there is less of this today (perhaps because of the internet? Not sure.). But right after she died – wow, there was a lot of junk written with no factual validation. Just crazy stuff.”
The author of Are You a Jackie or a Marilyn? is interviewed by Scott Fortner over at the Marilyn Monroe Collection Blog, where you can also enter a competition to win a copy of Pamela’s book – but hurry, the deadline is tomorrow!
“Meanwhile, he’s recently finished a new collection inspired by Joyce Carol Oates’ Blonde, a 1200 page biography on Marilyn Monroe.* ‘It’s such a fascinating book. One of the most moving books I’ve ever read, actually. I began to really look at Marilyn, and I realized she is not a style icon, but an icon herself. I love that Marilyn attitude.'”
“It is the second piano concerto by Rachmaninoff that is perfect. As the bell-chords that open the work move into the opening theme Marilyn Monroe comes into focus … it is a fantasy sequence.
She wears a tiger-skin dress and is smoking a cigarette. Sherman reclines at the piano in a smoking jacket that looks like it came from the closet of Hugh Hefner. The conversation is deliberately campy and fabulous.
‘Rachmaninoff… It isn’t fair… Every time I hear it, I go to pieces… It shakes me, it quakes me. It makes me feel goose-pimply all over. I don’t know where I am or who I am or what I’m doing. Don’t stop. Don’t stop. Don’t ever stop!'”