Merchandising and ‘Mister President’ Movie Plans

The New York Times reports this week on ABG’s plans to broaden Marilyn’s appeal after acquiring licensing rights from her estate earlier this year.  “This summer, the group consolidated those rights with several photographic portfolios, including Bruno Bernard’s, along with rights to products like a Marilyn Monroe line of Nova Wines, lingerie by Dreamwear and merchandise by the skateboard company Alien Workshop.”

MM fans may recall (with mixed emotions) that ABG head Jamie Salter spoke earlier this year of plans to ‘reanimate’ Marilyn’s image onscreen. I was reminded of his comment when I read this (slightly alarming) snippet on IndieWire:

Roland Emmerich, whose Shakespeare-subverting drama Anonymous will hit theaters October 28, is planning another trip down history lane, but this time not as far back and not any time soon. The director is planning to make Happy Birthday Mr. President – “The title will tell you everything” – but says digital technology is not yet where it needs to be for him to make it the way he wants, i.e. with digitally manipulated and aged actors. Does this mean Marilyn Monroe will actually be the one singing the famous song to John F. Kennedy on his birthday? We’ll have to wait and see; “I think we have to wait another five years,” says Emmerich. For now, we can watch the real deal, or enjoy Michelle Williams channeling Monroe.’

Of course, I’m just speculating here and Emmerich’s movie plans may have nothing to do with Marilyn, or the ‘reanimation’ rumours. But the title seems to imply that they might, not to mention the need to wait (for improved technology?)

Given that the Monroe-Kennedy association is so contentious, I can only hope that any film on the subject would be done with respect for the truth.

Andy Warhol’s Double Take

A rare silkscreen by Andy Warhol, ‘Double Marilyn’ (1962), will be among the items up for auction next spring, from the collection of Warhol’s nephew, Jamie Warhola, reports Pittsburgh Live.

Warhol’s work is the subject of two exhibitions in the UK this autumn (in London and Sussex.) Writing in The Guardian, art critic Jonathan Jones comments,  “Women were not Warhol’s primary sexual objects, to put it clinically; but they haunt his art, fulfilling mythological and religious roles. Monroe is a martyr; Jackie Kennedy a mater dolorosa weeping for America; and Bardot might just be the queen of heaven…”

Last Dance in Jasper

Harry Home, now 77, has shared his memories of meeting Marilyn – twice – during filming of River of No Return in Canada’s Jasper National Park, 1953.

‘When Monroe came to town, Harry Home was 19. Like everyone, he had heard she was coming, but when she showed up at a local dance, Home was awestruck. “She would dance with anyone,” he says, “but I was too shy.”

So when he saw Monroe two days later, strolling down Connaught Street, he was determined he wouldn’t miss a second chance. “She was walking up the street and she was gorgeous,” he says. “She was wearing a yellow sweater and a brown skirt. She was as normal and natural as blueberry pie.” Gathering his courage, he apologised for his bashfulness at the dance. The corners of his eyes crease with the memory: “I didn’t stutter once.” ‘

Linton Besser

Nico Minardos 1930-2011

The Greek-born actor, Nico Minardos, died of natural causes in August. According to a memorial website, “He is survived by his wife Julie, his son George and daughter Nina, and three grandchildren Nico, Aris and Lexi. Nico was a husband, father, grandfather, actor, friend, philosopher, story teller, renaissance man, and bon vivant.”

Minardos made his screen debut as an extra in Monkey Business (1952) alongside Cary Grant and Marilyn Monroe. He also appeared in films such as It Happened in Athens, starring that other blonde bombshell, Jayne Mansfield.

However, Minardos was best known for his work in television, making guest appearances in hit shows like The Twilight Zone and Alias Smith and Jones.

In 1966, Minardos was involved in a canoeing accident in which his partner, Eric Fleming, tragically drowned.

In 1975, Minardos produced and starred in Assault on Agathon alongside Marianne Faithfull. His last screen credit was for a 1983 episode of The A Team.

In 1986, Minardos was a defendant in a case related to the Iran-Contra Affair, resulting from his business association with the Saudi arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi. The case was eventually dropped, but Minardos was left bankrupt.

He retired to Florida and later sailed across the Atlantic to his Greek homeland. In 2010 he was the subject of a documentary, Finding Nico.

Minardos was interviewed by author Anthony Summers for his 1986 book, Goddess: The Secret Lives of Marilyn Monroe, in which he claimed they had a 7-month affair in 1952 though it has not been mentioned elsewhere.

He told Summers that one evening with Marilyn was interrupted when another suitor, Fox executive Spyros Skouras, arrived at her apartment. ‘The fascinating thing with Marilyn was that she was acting in real life,’ he said. ‘She knew what the reality was, but she acted things out because she loved the drama.’

(Interestingly, Minardos also dated the dancer Juliet Prowse, who left him for a brief engagement to Frank Sinatra in 1961 – shortly after Sinatra’s affair with Monroe ended…)

John Huston: Courage and Art

John Huston, director of two of Marilyn’s best films – The Asphalt Jungle (1950) and The Misfits (1961) – is the subject of a new biography by Jeffrey Meyers.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t that impressed by The Genius and the Goddess, Meyers’ previous book about Arthur Miller’s relationship with Monroe.

However, Huston was a great director and he led an extraordinary life. He published a memoir, An Open Book, in 1981. It’s a great read, though according to friends of the director, he doesn’t tell the half of it.

Reviewing John Huston: Courage and Art for the Orlando Sentinel, Roger Moore – not the actor – comments that Meyers praises “Huston’s patience with Marilyn Monroe on ‘The Misfits’, (a very different take from a Strasberg book I read some years back)”.

Marilyn was always grateful to Huston for giving her that first big break in The Asphalt Jungle. However, their relationship was severely tested during the tortuous Misfits shoot, and Monroe was reportedly dissatisfied with the results.

Nonetheless, Huston later offered Marilyn a role in his 1962 bio-pic, Freud, which Monroe considered seriously though her psychoanalyst, Dr Ralph Greenson, ultimately persuaded her that taking the role would upset Freud’s family and the part went to Suzannah York instead.