Oscar Hopes for Williams, Branagh

Michelle Williams and Kenneth Branagh are both Oscar nominees for their roles in My Week With Marilyn:

Actress In a Leading Role

  • Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs
  • Viola Davis, The Help
  • Rooney Mara, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
  • Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady
  • Michelle Williams, My Week With Marilyn
Actor In a Supporting Role
  • Kenneth Branagh, My Week With Marilyn
  • Jonah Hill, Moneyball
  • Nick Nolte, Warrior
  • Christopher Plummer, Beginners
  • Max von Sydow, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

When Marilyn Met Maria Callas

Victor Helou, now 80 and living in Florida, photographed the meeting of two of the last century’s most celebrated women – Marilyn Monroe and Maria Callas – backstage at Madison Square Garden in 1962:

‘In 1962, 31 people were chosen to perform a medley of broadway tunes for President John F. Kennedy’s birthday in New York and Helou snagged a spot. This would be the night Helou brushed elbows with Hollywood A-listers.

Helou’s collection of notes from the night he photographed Marilyn Monroe secured a spot in history. Helou’s book, entitled Happy Birthday Mr. President, is a complete recount of his experience and observation during the days leading up to and the night of the event at Madison Square Garden.

Helou shares his insight about the evening he spent at Madison Square Garden and grins at the memories. After dropping the names of all the stars he ran into that night, he said, “I was very fortunate to be there.”

Helou’s goal at the moment is to sell the rights to all of his work, from his book to the negatives of Marilyn Monroe he has safely tucked in a safety deposit box.

“I’m old enough now that I don’t need to keep working,” he said. “I’m ready to auction it all off, if anyone wants to make a bid.”’

More details about Mr Helou’s book, Happy Birthday Mr. President, over here

Marilyn Conspiracy Theories: ‘Everyone Was Murdered!’

‘The Marilyn Conspiracy’, Milo Speriglio, 1986

The 50th anniversary of Marilyn’s death in August has, perhaps inevitably, led to yet another wave of speculation. As Maureen Callahan writes in the New York Post, ‘the hot trend in publishing is making sure the famous didn’t die of natural causes.’

“Though hard to quantify, our obsession with homicide has seemed to grow exponentially over the past couple of decades: Turn on the television any given night, and there are at least a few hour-long procedurals involving grisly homicides on the air — so reliable in formula and execution they almost take on the coziness of chicken soup. The true-crime genre has cut across age, class and education levels since its introduction in the 18th century; in the 20th, Truman Capote’s ‘In Cold Blood’ and Norman Mailer’s ‘The Executioner’s Song’ brought into focus the true nature of our fascination, which lays with the murderer, not the victim.

True crime, however, is infinitely more popular among women than men, and David Schmid (a professor at the University of Buffalo specializing in true crime and celebrity) reports far more females than males in his classes.

He thinks it may be ‘pedagogical — women are looking for a way to negotiate the fear of being a victim and can take [warnings] from what the victim did to make themselves vulnerable. Stories help with that.’

And stories in which we spin out elaborate theories to explore the deaths of celebrities may, in the end, simply be our crudest yet best efforts to make sense of the greatest mystery of all. ‘We attempt to read mysteries into everything, because with that comes the notion that there are answers to be found,’ says Schmid. ‘That life isn’t as random and meaningless as it can seem, but there’s a pattern to events — and if we can decode those, we can arrive at the answer and prove there’s a point to it all.'”

Terry O’Neill Praises Stern Photo Shoot

Photographer Terry O’Neill – known for his portraits of Brigitte Bardot and Amy Winehouse, among others – chooses his ten favourite photos, with Bert Stern’s Monroe shoot just behind Mohammed Ali at No. 2.

“Stern had three sessions with Marilyn Monroe for Vogue in June 1962, six weeks before her death, and it became known as The Last Sitting. Everyone was fixated on her bosom but he made a thing of her back. It’s coy and it’s very clever. He recreated the pictures in 2008…with Lindsay Lohan. She’s no Marilyn but what I found odd was a guy paying tribute to himself. So many people want to copy or recreate famous pictures these days.”

Play ‘Retro World’ With Marilyn

Retro World is a new Facebook game featuring a Marilyn-inspired character, reports USA Today:

‘After you type in your name and select an available avatar, you’ll begin Retro World on a Hollywood set…But the real fun doesn’t start until you choose to play one of the “Shows” at the movie theater, beginning with a ’60s-style spy thriller, “Owl Files,” which pays homage to James Bond, Communists, the Space Race, and so on. While Dick Clark plays himself as the game’s host, of sorts, other licensed stars assume the role of fictional characters in these story-driven tales; Monroe is a sexy spy in “Owl Files,” for example, while Presley plays as a doctor in an upcoming show.

Most of the graphics in Retro World are still images, mixing real actors with virtual objects and sets, but animation sequences and music helps to bring the stories to life. These aren’t near-photorealistic Call of Duty visuals mind you, but most Facebook gamers know not to expect that from free, online games.

While it’s exclusive to Facebook at this time, Retro World is expected to debut on other social network platforms, such as Google+, as well as tablets.’

‘Something Had to Give’

Photo by Fraser Penney

Something Had to Give is a new, fully illustrated biography by UK author Richard Kirby, now available to order in paperback from self-publishing website Lulu.

It is 553 pages long and there are hundreds of photos reproduced in black and white (some are a bit grainy, but many of these have not previously been seen offline.)

The pictures are chronologically placed, which makes this a unique book for fans. I haven’t read the text yet, so can’t comment on that. But Kirby has also written a biography of Jean Harlow, The Carpenter’s Daughter.

‘The Marilyn Monroe Marriage Guide’

At first glance, Marilyn might seem an unlikely example to follow where marriage is concerned. Indeed, she was already heading for her first divorce when this magazine promo was shot by Richard C. Miller in 1946.

However, Darla Carmichael was inspired by Marilyn’s relationship pattern – and so far, it seems to be working out rather well…

“I had a long-term marriage plan. The perfect, glamour woman I was to become needed not one, not two, but three marriages. I had studied up long and hard on starlets and famed women and determined that following in the steps of Marilyn Monroe was the way to go for me. The first marriage had to be a hormonally-driven, youthful mistake that would start and end quickly. For me, this turned out to not be a marriage, but a long, co-habitating engagement, which definitely fit the bill.

The second was to be a sign of maturity. It was supposed to be a marriage that would seem like the right thing to do at the time because of a need to just settle down already. It would be a backlash to hard partying, a string of anti-commitment relationships and something that would transition into full adulthood. That, it did, indeed.

The third marriage, though, was always meant “for keeps.” It would be when after all the world went crazy around me and I was ready to just be me. I would find someone who was perfect. It would be someone who had both bad and good in common, but with enough differences to forever keep things interesting. There would never be one thought of it being a mistake or impulsive or temporary. It would be the one person who I would be happy and fulfilled living the rest of my life with. And, well, I think my plan (though vaguely idiotic and very naïve looking back on it) worked out pretty well. I managed to follow it to a tee without really trying.”