Hefner: ‘I Never Met Marilyn’

One of MM’s many ‘Playboy’ covers (1997)

Playboy founder Hugh Hefner has clarified one of the most common misconceptions about MM to his fiancee, Crystal Harris, while in conversation with chat show host Piers Morgan on CNN.

‘PIERS: What do you guys talk about?
CRYSTAL: Everything. I ask him… I want to know everything about Hef. I ask him all these questions. I’m not a jealous person. I want to know, like, ‘Did you know Marilyn Monroe? Did you sleep with her? Did you do this?’

PIERS: Well, actually, that’s a damned good question. Did you know Marilyn Monroe?

Hugh: She was actually in my brother’s acting class in New York. But the reality is that I never met her. I talked to her once on the phone, but I never met her. She was gone, sadly, before I came out here.

PIERS: How much of “Playboy”, do you think, is down to you, personally?
Hugh: Well, I certainly didn’t do it alone. But it is certainly very personal. The whole notion of “Playboy” came from my own dreams, my childhood, adolescent dreams.’

Marilyn graced the first Playboy cover – and centrespread – back in 1953. It is often said that Hefner ‘discovered’ Monroe. But she was already a world-famous star with her handprints immortalised in cement at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. And she never formally posed for the magazine – the nude centrespread was a calendar pose taken by Tom Kelley in 1949.

However, it could be said that Hefner owes his career to Marilyn, at least in part. Many of the celebrated Playboy cover girls – including Pamela Anderson – have imitated Monroe’s style.

More than twenty years ago, Hefner compounded public confusion by buying the burial plot next to Marilyn’s at Westwood Memorial Park, Los Angeles. I wonder how his wife-to-be feels about that?

Marilyn Vs Forever Blonde

Sue Glover’s Marilyn, currently showing at the Glasgow Citizens’ Theatre, is described as  ‘a witty take on celebrity and feminism in the 1960s’ in The List. Others, including The Scotsman and STV, praise Frances Thorburn‘s performance as MM, but consider the play itself rather disappointing.

‘In act one we are given brief insights into the more interesting aspects of Monroe’s personality (such as her defence of her husband, Arthur Miller, against McCarthyism), as well as her burgeoning self-doubt and increasing reliance on drugs and alcohol,’ writes Mark Brown in Herald Scotland. ‘In act two, however, the play really comes apart, descending into a stereotypical “catfight” between Signoret and Monroe (caused by the latter’s affair with Montand) which is so blunt and badly written as to be almost an affront to feminism.’

These comments echo our own ES Updates Fan Review by Lorraine. It would seem that the more you know about Marilyn’s real story, the more problematic this play will be. But it all adds to the continuing public interest in Marilyn, and Frances Thorburn deserves our respect for taking on such a challenging role.

By far the most popular MM-related play among fans is Sunny Thompson’s one-woman show, Marilyn: Forever Blonde, which has toured the world to considerable acclaim. Sunny will appear at the Annenberg Theatre, Palm Springs, from March 3-22.

You can read fan reviews of Forever Blonde at MM and the Camera and Loving Marilyn.

Naomi Watts: Thomson’s Choice

I’m not a huge fan of film critic David Thomson, and when he published a snarky essay about MM in The Independent back in 2006, my response ended up on the letters page. (So I’m probably not on his Christmas card list either!)

However I do agree with Thomson that Naomi Watts could be a fine choice to play Monroe in a forthcoming biopic. Although she doesn’t resemble Marilyn physically (other than being blonde), Naomi has a fragile, ethereal quality.

“But if the Anglo-Australian Watts had only done David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive (2001), she’d be secure in movie history. The way that dreamscape carries her from the archetypal blonde ingénue arriving in Los Angeles, to an accomplished actress in her audition scene, to a wasted wreck, helped make it one of the best films of this century…The key to Mulholland Drive was that Lynch had found his film in Watts’s intriguingly secretive erotic presence…She is set to play Marilyn Monroe in Andrew Dominik’s Blonde, based on the book by Joyce Carol Oates. Watts has admitted to being daunted by this, and she is older than Monroe was when she died (Watts will be 43 this year). But Blonde sounds like something that must depend on her, and that’s what she deserves – uncritical love, total trust, a lot of camera time, glamour and huge responsibility.”

The Guardian

My only reservation about Andrew Dominik’s proposed screen adaptation of Joyce Carol Oates’ Blonde is that the novel, while imaginative, plays fast and loose with the facts of Marilyn’s life.

Blonde was previously filmed for TV with Poppy Montgomery, but it was not well-received. Let’s hope that Andrew Dominik (who directed The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford in 2005) can reverse the long trend of mediocre MM portrayals.

MM’s ‘Vanity Fair’ Cover a Hit

CoversSell.com, who previously named the November’s Vanity Fair, featuring MM, as their cover of the week, report that this issue sold 10% more copies than the average edition last year, though outsold by August’s Angelina Jolie cover.

Vanity Fair also featured Marilyn on the cover of their 25th anniversary issue in 2008, the second most popular issue in that year.

The verdict? ‘Exquisite cover yields exquisite results.’

Sue Glover’s ‘Marilyn’: MM Fan Review

Frances Thorburn, 'Marilyn'

Marilyn, a play by Sue Glover about Monroe’s friendship with Simone Signoret during filming of Let’s Make Love, opened last Thursday at Glasgow’s Citizens Theatre. ES member Lorraine Trevenna was among the first to see it, and this is her review.

Hollywood, 1960

I was thrilled to learn that a play about Marilyn was coming to Glasgow, nothing Marilyn-related ever happens near me. I heard that the play was to center around Marilyn Monroe and Simone Signoret during 1960 when Marilyn was filming ‘Let’s Make Love.’

It had a cast of 3: Marilyn, Simone and a fictional character Patti, who was Marilyn’s hairdresser. The characters act out the drama in the comfort of their hotel suites at the Beverly Hills Hotel and talk about acting, sleep patterns, men and hair colour.

Marilyn

I knew from the offset that it was a fictional storyline, I just really hoped they were going to portray Marilyn accurately.. but of course, they didn’t. ‘Marilyn Monroe’ was more like ‘Anna Nicole Smith’.. she was loud, crude, brashy and vulgar and quite frankly, psychotic.

I cringed when ‘Marilyn’ was doing a manic rendition of ‘My Heart Belongs To Daddy’ while dry humping a sofa like she was a puppy on heat, or giving a pretend Oscar acceptance speech, going in and out of her stereotyped ‘dumb blonde’  persona, and wiggling around the stage.

One of the ‘highlights’ was when Simone Signoret couldn’t get a bottle of champagne open and Marilyn takes it from her, gets on her knees and puts it between her thighs and says “this should be easy for me to open, girls like I are used to spending a lot of time on their knees…” Need I go on? I’m sure you get the picture.

The Montand Affair

One of the most surprising things was how quickly they brushed over the whole Marilyn/Yves affair. The play was 1hr40…I think it was only mentioned for 5 mins.

Of course, Marilyn again comes off as a nutcase.. screaming and arguing with Simone about how much she loves Yves, while Simone, throughout the whole play, remained dignified and refined.


Verdict

I’m not going to badmouth the actress that played her: after all, she was only acting out the script she was given, but I felt it could have been so much better had the writer actually done her research into what Marilyn was really like.

If I could see past the hideousness that was the portrayal of Marilyn, then I did enjoy the play…as a play…

The stage was set up beautifully and the ending was a fitting tribute. Patti was telling the audience how Simone found out about Marilyn’s death with Marilyn standing behind a dark screen, saying “I’m wonderful, I’m wonderful…” getting more and more faint until the whole stage went black…silence.

I’m really happy I had the opportunity to see this play. I wouldn’t recommend it to a die-hard Marilyn fan, but if you’re a fan of theatre in general, then it’s worth checking out.


Video trailer

‘When Golden Couples Meet’, an article about Marilyn and Simone in The Independent

Bringing Retroback to Granada

Spanish fans, don’t miss the Retroback Film Festival, with screenings of several Monroe classics, plus an exhibition from the Maite Minguez Collection.

“The largest collection of personal items, dresses, photographs, magazines, documents, etc, related to Marilyn Monroe, on the personal and private level as well as on the professional level, comes to Granada by the hand of the collector Maite Minguez.

Outfits she wore in films such as The Seven Year Itch, The Prince and the Showgirl, How to Marry a Millionaire, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and Bus Stop; her own dresses and also dresses she wore for unforgettable photo sessions; objects as personal as a lipstick or the ticket to President Kennedy’s birthday celebration; personal photographs of her family, her childhood and her first marriage; magazines of which she has been the cover girl, not just during her lifetime but also from the moment the legend was born up through today. All with the idea of allowing festival goers to explore even the most hidden corners of the legend.

The main part of the collection will be displayed at the Caja Granada Cultural Centre, and the most private part of the collection, entitled FROM NORMA JEANE TO MARILYN MONROE: HER PRIVATE MEMORIES, will be in the Zaira hall of Caja Rural.”

“The street known as La Carrera del Genil will be dressed in a red carpet, to show us the way to the main venue, Teatro Isabel La Católica. And along the way we will be escorted by a series of images displayed in the street, featuring the great actors who accompanied Marilyn Monroe during her career.”

“The Granada-born designer Susana Poyatos has designed -exclusively for Retroback 2011- three outfits with the originals forms of three of the most well-known dresses from Marilyn Monroe films, but she has reinterpreted them using new materials.”