Murray Garrett Remembers Marilyn

Murray Garrett – whose photographs of Marilyn Monroe, and other great stars of Hollywood’s golden age, are now on display at New York’s Washington Square Hotel – has spoken movingly to Out Impact about his memories of Marilyn:

“I always refer to her – and a lot of my contemporaries would laugh at me because they felt differently, but I always felt that she was a deer in the headlights, and that all this pressure – the throngs would scream and yell when she’d get out of a car. 60, 70 guys with flashbulbs and strobe lights and you could see how she fought fear.

I always felt sorry for her. I remember when my wife woke me one day and said ‘Oh my god!’; I said, ‘What?’ she said ‘Marilyn Monroe died’. I sat there and thought for a minute, I said, ‘She finally found peace.’

I don’t think this woman could have grown old gracefully in that business … she wasn’t tough, hard – because if she was, she would have survived. But she couldn’t have survived; she was threatened by almost everything.

I think there are eras …. (Betty) Grable was a part of the war publicity, stuff to make you feel very patriotic. Monroe didn’t have that going for her. All she had was that she was the sexiest thing to come down the pike since Jean Harlow, and Harlow was another one of those stories that didn’t work out as well as it might have.”

You can read the article in full here

Allure: Jackie Kennedy, Diana Vreeland and Marilyn

Diana Vreeland, the formidable editor of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, included this photo of Marilyn (taken by Cecil Beaton in 1956) in her 1980 book, Allure.

Vreeland worked with Jackie Kennedy on the project, as William Kuhn recounts in Reading Jackie, a new study of the one-time First Lady’s career in publishing.

“Marilyn Monroe had a brief affair with JFK, and by 1980, when Vreeland’s Allure was published at Jackie’s behest by Doubleday, this was well-known…Monroe had committed suicide during the very week that Vreeland was taking over the editorial position at Vogue. She began work just as the outgoing editor was putting together the finishing touches on an issue which, by chance, included an article with a tribute to Monroe and several photographs. Vreeland’s colleague wanted one of the photos taken out. It was too ‘triste’ in light of what Monroe had just done. Vreeland replied, ‘You can’t leave that out! You cannot! It’s got all the poignancy and the poetry and the pathos of the woman in it!’ That was in 1962. In the late 1970s, Vreeland explained what she loved about this photo … ‘Marilyn Monroe! She was a geisha. She was born to give pleasure, spent her life giving it – and knew no other way’…What did Jackie say to Vreeland about the Monroe photograph? Probably nothing, but the fact that she silently allowed Vreeland to include it shows Jackie content to acknowledge Monroe’s ur– sexiness, a quality that Jackie did not think she shared with the screen icon.

It seems as if Jackie was able to separate her editorial self from the woman whose husband had a public fling with Monroe. She was thrilled, about the same time she was working with Vreeland on Allure, when a proposal came from Doubleday that promised pictures from Bert Stern‘s last photographic session with the actress. ‘Marilyn Monroe!!!’ Jackie wrote in a memo to her colleague Ray Roberts. ‘Are you excited?’ … Vreeland’s treatment of Monroe was probably like this for Jackie too: a publishing opportunity rather than a moment to reflect on a personal injury. In any case, if injury there had been, she was able to rise above it.”

Later in the book, Kuhn reports an interview with biographer David Stenn, who wrote about two Hollywood sex symbols pre-dating MM – Clara Bow and Jean Harlow – with Jackie’s support:

“Stenn also recalled a conversation he had with Jackie about Marilyn Monroe, a topic that he had avoided touching upon. That’s why he was surprised when she brought it up. Jackie didn’t mention Monroe in the context of JFK but rather as part of a continuum with Jean Harlow: both of them were blondes who made their sexual appeal the center of their screen personalities. As with Vreeland, Jackie was willing to discuss Monroe with Stenn in a completely dispassionate, even admiring way.”

A Toast on July 4th

George Barris, 1962

The ongoing movie retrospective, Marilyn! at Brooklyn Academy of Music, has attracted rave reviews for MM, as an actress and American icon.

“BAMcinématek’s 14-film tribute to cinema’s most iconic blonde reminds us why we couldn’t take our eyes off her: She generates a charisma, often sexual but sometimes beyond sex, so uncontainable and unclassifiable that it eclipses everything else around her.”

Village Voice

The L Magazine praises Marilyn’s performance in Some Like it Hot:

“Monroe’s exaggerated, Betty Boop sensuality finds perhaps its most comfortable home in this comedy of sexual manners. So does her crack comic timing. (‘I don’t want you to think I’m a drinker. I can stop any time I want to,’ she says, before the briefest of pauses and the whispery kicker: ‘Only I don’t want to.’) But the biggest gift she brings to Some Like It Hot is her heart-melting vulnerability and apparent sincerity, which turned what could easily have been just another cross-dressing farce into the American Film Institute’s best movie comedy of all time and one of Out magazine’s 50 essential gay films.”

Over at AltScreen, Dan Callahan looks at MM’s screen career in depth, concluding with his own thoughts about what she might be doing now:

“I don’t see a star movie career continuing for much longer if she hadn’t died in 1962, but it is possible to imagine her leaving Hollywood, going to New York, maybe mixing in feminist circles (what a bra she could have burned!), maybe doing some theater (Marilyn in The Bald Soprano?), maybe teaching some acting classes herself. She might have looked around her and made a film like Barbara Loden’s Wanda (1970), or she might have just contented herself with having once been ‘Marilyn Monroe’ as she taught her acting students how to be open and sensitive in their work and in their lives. I can just about picture Monroe circa 1982, maybe living as Norma Jeane again, not worried about her weight, wearing glasses and a cardigan sweater, talking about acting with her Strasberg studio kids and leading a semi-reclusive but happy life in some modest East Side apartment. I’m probably just being sentimental about her. But if that’s true, I’m hardly the first to succumb to that urge, nor will I be the last.”

‘Diamonds’ on Spotify

Punk icon Poly Styrene – former lead singer of X-Ray Spex – was a fan of Marilyn’s music, according to a birthday playlist posted on Spotify.

Poly died of cancer in April, shortly after the release of her acclaimed solo album, Generation Indigo.

Today would have been Poly’s 54th birthday, and she included Marilyn’s ‘Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend’ on a playlist made last December.

The full tracklisting is:

Joni Mitchell – ‘Woodstock’
Janis Joplin – ‘Mercedes Benz’
David Bowie – ‘Suffragette City’
The Slits – ‘Typical Girls’
Stevie Wonder – ‘Pastime Paradise’
Duke Ellington – ‘Take The ‘A’ Train’
The Rolling Stones – ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’
Sex Pistols – ‘Submission’
Marilyn Monroe – ‘Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend’
Queen – ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’
The Jimi Hendrix Experience – ‘Foxy Lady’
Kaiser Chiefs – ‘I Predict A Riot’
Billy Idol – ‘White Wedding’
Leonard Cohen – ‘Suzanne’
Lou Reed – ‘Perfect Day’

Ron English: Skin Deep

Ron English, the American ‘guerilla artist’ whose work is said to have inspired Banksy, is the subject of a new exhibition at London’s Lazarides Gallery (running through July 23.)

One of English’s best-known works depicts Marilyn Monroe with Mickey Mouse breasts. “I’m from the lower classes, so I had no exposure to art when I was growing up,” English told The Independent. “All I knew was comic books, Disney and advertising logos …. I’m interested in what images remain, and what gets thrown out and forgotten.”

Marilyn in Salinas, 1948

A newspaper clipping from an appearance by Marilyn at Carlyle’s Jeweler’s in Salinas, California, in 1948 (during her trip she was also crowned ‘Artichoke Queen’  in nearby Castroville.)

“In 1948, she came here to help promote a diamond sale at Carlyle’s Jewelers, 362 Main St. The store had hired a starlet named Noreen Nash, but Nash had to cancel.

So Monroe filled in.

On that trip, she checked into a room at the Jeffrey Hotel in the 200 block of Main Street.

Before her abrupt arrival, she’d been baking in the sun in Palm Springs. Her nose had burned. It had begun to peel. Still, Marilyn showed up. She stood behind the counter at Carlyle’s.

Patrons squeezed in. Marilyn flashed her brilliant smile. She chatted in an amiable way and autographed pictures of herself.

That day, the jewelry store sold lots of diamonds.”

The Californian

Last year’s collection of Marilyn’s writings, Fragments, includes a diary entry recording a bus journey to Salinas (though not necessarily at the same time.)

Debbie Reynolds Collection in LA

Photo by Chris Pizzello

The Debbie Reynolds Collection auctioned last month – including costumes worn by Marilyn and other great stars – will be on public display at the Paley Center in Los Angeles from July 23 through to the end of 2011, with new items added monthly.

“The new exhibit is scheduled to feature iconic costumes, posters and props from Academy Award–winning film classics including Gone with the WindShow BoatThe Yearling, and Moulin Rouge, as well as garments worn by a glittering array of legendary icons including Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra, Katharine Hepburn, Bette Davis, Carmen Miranda, Doris Day, and many more.

Ms. Reynolds’s fascinating collection will remain on view at the Paley Center throughout the remainder of 2011, and additional classic items, some never before displayed to the public, will be added each month. The exhibit, which will encompass both floors of the Paley Center, will be open to the public. The first floor viewing is available free of charge. Admission to the second floor gallery space will be FREE to Paley Center Members and $6.00 for the general public. Admission tickets will be available at the door.”