‘A Salinas Star For Marilyn?’

Writing from Salinas, California (birthplace of author John Steinbeck) for the Toronto Star, Petti Fong reported an unusual Marilyn sighting:

“The first sign this region is still all about agriculture is the life-size mural of Marilyn Monroe just a few steps into the National Steinbeck Centre — she holds up artichokes as provocatively as if she were offering up herself. When she was still just plain Norma Jean Baker, Marilyn Monroe was crowned Miss California Artichoke Queen…”

Although the article dates the event back to 1947, it actually occurred on February 20, 1948. Marilyn was also crowned ‘Diamond Queen’ during an appearance at Carlyle’s Jewellers on Main St.  You can read about it here.

Writing for The Salinas Californian on March 9, Dave Nordstrand suggested a possible third sighting, and an intriguing proposal:

“Later in life, when she’d become a movie star, rumor was that she and husband Joe DiMaggio stopped for the night while passing through Salinas.

They checked into what once was the Santa Lucia Inn on North Main Street, a place with cognac, Peking duck and other fine items on the menu.

Peking duck or not, Monroe has proven ties to Salinas.

Maybe we ought to put a star on the sidewalk in front of 362 Main St. as a reminder of her visit.”

Facebook and the Ownership of Marilyn Monroe

Photo by Harry Snowden

In the light of recent events in which ABG – who handle licensing matters for Marilyn’s estate – have had non-profit, fan pages deleted from Facebook – Marijane Gray has investigated the subject in an article for Yahoo! Voices, speaking to fans and legal experts on copyright and fair use.

‘Authentic Brands Group would do well to heed an actual quote from Marilyn: “If I am a star, the people made me a star.” Well, the people still love their star, and love her so much they will rebel against what they see as the commodification of her. Marilyn was viewed as a cash cow in life, never getting the respect she deserved, and it is a great tragedy that 50 years after her death nothing has changed.’

Marilyn in Korean Art Sale

This 2007 oil on canvas painting of Marilyn, by Korean artist Kim Dong Yoo – comprised of multiple miniature portraits of her rumoured lover, John F. Kennedy – features in a live auction on Art.net, due to end on March 14.

The artist has previously unveiled several other paintings on the same theme, including a portrait of Mao Tse Tung comprised of multiple Marilyns.


‘The Return of Our Angel’

Marilyn by Earl Leaf, 1950

Writing for the Austin Chronicle, Michael Ventura (who also contributed the text for Marilyn Monroe: From Beginning to End, a book of photos by Earl Leaf) investigates the essence of MM’s appeal:

‘Visiting us now when we so badly need an angel, she may be surprised to find that Marilyn Monroe remains America’s only angel. Not because her stardom transcends every other star’s, but because more than any of our many icons, she is us – the “us” that is America: angelic and possessed of demons; brilliant and falling apart; always more a symbol than a reality; yearning for greatness and suicidal; articulate and incoherent; secretive, even while displaying herself naked; made of so many marvelous bits and pieces but never whole; wildly successful and inevitably tragic; voraciously ambitious and hopelessly confused; more famous than all before her and all who will follow but never certain of who or what she was; always trying to be Marilyn Monroe, as America has always tried to be America – and, like America, failing her image of herself. Nothing could be more American than Marilyn Monroe – clear but vague, angelic but desperate – when she said in that whispery voice, “Anything’s possible – almost.”‘

Jean Bray Remembers Marilyn

Jean Bray, who was hired as a publicist during production of The Prince and the Showgirl, has spoken to the Gloucestershire Echo about her memories of Marilyn:

“I was not allowed on the film set because of the unions. But my job was to keep her in the papers, which was not difficult as she was in the spotlight at the time. I spent a lot of time with her and she was very fragile. Marilyn was sweet and charming but strangely shy in a way. The camera loved her but I think she sometimes felt uncomfortable with the celebrity.”

‘Smash’ 5: ‘Let’s Be Bad’

SMASH — “Let’s Be Bad” Episode 105 — Pictured: (Center) Megan Hilty as Ivy Lynn — (Photo by: Will Hart/NBC)

Two contrasting views of the latest episode:

‘The song, “Let’s Be Bad,” is tremendous. It’s the first time we get a juicy nugget of how “Marilyn: The Musical” is going to work, with a late-in-show number of a drug-addicted and addled Marilyn trying desperately to cling onto fame and stardom, while struggling with her own wishes, her perception as a dumb blonde, and a need to be pulled in a million directions by her fans and handlers. It’s a dark, twisted, heartbreaking and AWESOMELY FUN number that feels like the best work of Kander and Ebb or Sondheim; it’s layered, sophisticated, terrifying, beautiful, hot, and classy as hell, all at once. And Hilty sells it from the bottom of her soul. This number finally made me yearn to see the final product; it’s not going to just be a collection of cute Marilyn-esque anecdotes and caricatures, but something with some depth and perspective. It got me excited all over again for the musical theater parts of Smash.’ Cinema Blend

‘Marilyn Monroe is fascinating to us because she was so enigmatic; a tough nut to crack. The nut also happened to be stunning and clever, and taken together, the combination was almost lethal. Filtered through the “Smash” machine, however, the grand legend of Marilyn starts to taste as weak as deli coffee.

Ivy and Karen — and everyone else in their orbit — are constantly chattering about what Marilyn “would do”  in any situation (note to NBC: make WWMMD bracelets immediately), and this familiarity they feel with her, as if they are taking her very place in the pantheon of stars, diminishes her essential mystique.’ –  Los Angeles Times

Ben Hecht’s Secretary Remembers Marilyn

Marilyn by Milton Greene

Nanette Barber, who has worked at Northbrook Public Library, Illinois, for 42 years, was secretary to the famed Hollywood screenwriter, Ben Hecht, from 1949-54. Talking to the Northbrook Star, Barber recalled their collaboration with Marilyn on her memoir, My Story:

‘Hecht, who, for years was uncredited for Marilyn Monroe’s memoirs, spent several interview sessions with the star while Barber typed, often at Monroe’s residence, just before she married Joe DiMaggio.

“(Hecht) sent each (memoir) chapter to his agent in London and his agent put it in the tabloids,” said Barber. “Just one more treacherous thing that happened in her life.”

“She (Monroe) was utterly beautiful, absolutely beautiful. She was bright (intelligent), she was just so lush looking. And she talked about her mother,” said Barber, describing a household dry cleaning method. During Monroe’s childhood, her mother dried chemical laundry by spreading it on a lawn.

“She (Monroe) said, ‘I used to sit next to these clothes and I would feel the lawn,’” said Barber. “And she had a mink coat on and she said, ‘Maybe that’s why I like to touch mink.’”

During one interview, Monroe sat near a picture window.

“Ben said, ‘Where’s Joe (DiMaggio) today?’ You could see San Francisco over her shoulder and she said, ‘Out there.’ It was so cute,” said Barber, “San Francisco is a fishing community and (DiMaggio’s) family all fished out there.”

Barber’s interview and career was now coming to a close.

“I love to read mysteries. But I don’t like unhappy endings. It’s gotta be a Cinderella story for me, no angst.”’