Leigh Wiener’s Photos Go Digital

Marilyn: A Hollywood Farewell, published in 1990, is one of the most sought-after books on Monroe. Just 500 copies were printed, and second-hand traders now sell it for £500 upwards.

It features the photos of Leigh Wiener, who photographed Marilyn and whose pictures taken in the days following her death and at her funeral are now iconic in their own right.

However, if you have an iPad or Android, you can now purchase a digital copy at Amazon for just £7.91. Unfortunately, it is not available in book form as yet, or for Kindle.

Marijane Gray has interviewed Wiener’s son, Devik Wiener, for Immortal Marilyn.

“Devik Wiener wanted to bring to all Monroe fans what only a select few had ever seen and has thrilled Monroe
admirers by releasing a downloadable version of this notable book. With the advent of digital technology, the images
are even more striking. ‘Dad’s images were  printed 22 years ago,’ Devik says.  ‘While the book looks nice, it was
printed from enlargements Dad produced. The new edition has high resolution scans from original negatives so you
see detail you couldn’t see in first edition thanks to digital technology.'”

Marilyn at the Smithsonian

The Smithsonian Museum of American National History seems like the logical place for a permanent display about Marilyn, one of the most famous American women of all time.

Unfortunately, the museum currently holds just one item of Marilyn’s property – a pair of white gloves. Curator Dwight Bowers hopes to acquire more for a forthcoming exhibit on popular culture, according to AFP.

Let’s hope more private collectors decide to donate and share their treasures with the public. In the meantime, ‘MM: The Exhibit’ (featuring the collections of Greg Schreiner and Scott Fortner) is on display at the Hollywood Museum until September 2.

“Donated by a private collector, the gloves make up the entire Marilyn Monroe collection at the publicly-funded Smithsonian Institution, the world’s largest network of museums and, in principle, repository of all things Americana.

Bowers, who plans to include the gloves in an forthcoming Smithsonian exhibition on American popular culture, said it’s ‘logical’ for the museum to hold more Monroe memorabilia.

‘But Hollywood material and Hollywood celebrities are big business in the auction world,’ he told AFP in the windowless storeroom that’s packed floor to ceiling with show-business artifacts from vaudeville to today.

‘Private collectors are part of our competition — and private collectors have a much bigger budget than we have.’

‘A lot of these high-profile pieces, when they come up for auction, are going to the Asian countries,’ Los Angeles collector Scott Fortner, whose own Monroe objects are part of the Hollywood Museum exhibition, told AFP.

‘I find it disappointing that some of these pieces literally just disappear and we have no idea where they go,’ added Fortner, who has catalogued his entire collection — from a feather boa to make-up and eye drops — online.”

Marilyn’s Week in Edinburgh

Edinburgh’s Filmhouse will screen several Monroe movies in August: Niagara and Some Like it Hot (on the 5th); Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (6th); The Misfits (7th); Monkey Business (8th); The Asphalt Jungle (9th); last year’s biopic, My Week With Marilyn (10th); All About Eve and The Prince and the Showgirl (11th.)

The Girl in the Red Sweater

Norma Jeane by Bruno Bernard, 1946

An extract from Lois Banner’s Marilyn: The Passion and the Paradox is published in today’s Mail on Sunday, detailing how Marilyn’s image evolved from girl next door to goddess.

“It all started with a red cardigan. The ‘sweater girl’ look, launched by Lana Turner in the 1937 film They Won’t Forget, was coming into vogue across America. But it hadn’t reached Emerson Junior High School, Los Angeles – until Norma Jeane Mortenson, or Marilyn Monroe as she was later to be known, found her own distinctive way.

Teenage girls in that era often wore a front-buttoned cardigan over a white blouse with a prim collar. Norma Jeane eliminated  the blouse as well as the bra and camisole worn under it. She then took a red cardigan, turned it around, and buttoned it up the back. The sweater clung to her breasts; she called it her ‘magic sweater’. 

And so began one of the most remarkable transformations in the history of Hollywood – a time-consuming and often quite inspired campaign to turn an abandoned girl, mocked by her classmates, into the sexual icon of the age.”

Marilyn: The Smart Dumb Blonde

Marilyn by Ben Ross, 1953

Tonight at 8pm (GMT) on BBC Radio 4, Maureen Dowd will present a programme about Marilyn, The Smart Dumb Blonde. As a taster, you can also listen to a recent discussion of MM on Woman’s Hour, featuring Dr Lois Banner and Dame Ann Leslie.

“Pulitzer prize winning journalist Maureen Dowd argues that the so-called ‘dumb blonde’ of 1950s Hollywood was in fact smarter than she seemed. Marilyn Monroe and her ilk aspired to be brilliant in conversation as well as on camera; they wanted to pose with books as well as blonde hair; they understood the value of their sexual currency and they had enough sense to take advantage of their assets.

In this programme, Maureen Dowd brings together some of her most eminent friends and colleagues (amongst them, Harvey Weinstein and Mike Nichols) to travel back to a time when glamour and brains were not mutually exclusive. With the help of archive, film and music and some brilliant personal anecdotes, they’ll debate why the figureheads of the 50s believed in education as a mark of status and success.

Jump forward to today and American popular culture and politics has lost the drive which Marilyn’s era possessed. Maureen Dowd argues that aspirations and originality are no longer valued; instead we live in a cookie-cutter world of reality tv, banal cinema and inane politicians. And, despite the seeming triumph of feminism, some of the world’s most powerful and desirable women – from Sarah Palin to Kim Kardashian – are leading this trend. In the words of John Hamm, ‘stupidity is certainly celebrated’.”

Marilyn’s Eternal Beauty

The Los Angeles Times takes a look at Marilyn’s enduring appeal.

“Hippie chicks and their flower power came and went, and the sunken cheeks of heroin chic had their moment, but a half-century later it’s Monroe’s recipe for reinvention — since followed by the likes of Madonna, Anna Nicole Smith, Christina Aguilera, Lindsay Lohan, Lady Gaga and others — that perseveres.

That resonance is one reason why the stiletto-clad footfalls of Marilyn Monroe seem to be growing ever louder. One can hardly swing a white mink wrap without hitting a Marilyn-branded product or project, such as a CGI appearance in a Dior fragrance ad with Charlize Theron or her estate’s @MarilynMonroe Twitter feed, which has more than 52,000 followers.

And there’s more: If all goes according to plan, Marilyn fans will be able to end 2012 being able to wrap their bodies in Marilyn Monroe bathing suits, accessorize with Marilyn Monroe jewelry, paint their faces with Marilyn Monroe makeup, get their nails done at a Marilyn Monroe salon, slip into a pair of Marilyn Monroe stilettos and sip skinny lattes at a Marilyn Monroe Café.

There are other factors feeding the current Marilyn frenzy, of course, including the 50th anniversary of her death, by barbiturate overdose, on Aug. 5, 1962, and the current trend toward anything that smacks of retro-nostalgia (i.e. the Mad Men effect). But the fascination has been on the upswing longer than that, says Lois Banner, an author and USC history professor whose second book about the late actress, Marilyn Monroe: The Passion and the Paradox, was published earlier this month.

‘There started to be articles about the ongoing fascination with Marilyn Monroe as far back as the mid-’70s,’ says Banner, ‘after Norman Mailer published his biography. But … it’s really increased in the last 12 years.'”

When Marilyn Sings

Marilyn Monroe: Collector, the latest compilation of Marilyn’s modest but stellar musical repertoire, is now available on CD or for download. Ludovic Hunter-Tilney reviews it in today’s Financial Times.

“Collector marks the 50th anniversary of Marilyn Monroe’s death with a straightforward compilation of her songs, from the sultry big band jazz of ‘Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend’ to her sweetly wistful torch-gospel routine on 1954’s ‘River of No Return.’

The best aspect of her vocals, as with her acting, was comic timing: ‘My Heart Belongs to Daddy’ is a swinging, playful take on the relationship between the sexes – which in real life of course she found tragically oppressive.”