Revisiting Marilyn’s Last Home

The Huffington Post profiles Marilyn’s charming, Spanish-style home at Fifth Helena Drive in  Brentwood, Los Angeles, with exterior and interior photos of the house today.

“The one-story white stucco house was built in 1929. When Marilyn Monroe bought it, it had three bedrooms and two baths plus a detached guest house. The legendary actress used one bedroom for herself, installed her housekeeper-companion Eunice Murray in a second bedroom and the third bedroom was used as a ‘telephone room,’ according to various reports. There was, and still is, a kidney-shaped swimming pool in the backyard that Monroe reportedly never used.

Reports say that Monroe threw herself into making her house a home. Shortly before her death, she traveled to Mexico to buy authentic furnishings and art work — some of which were found still in their shipping boxes when they found her body. The last check she ever wrote was for a white chest of drawers.

She even had an herb garden planted on the gated property that sits at the end of a cul-de-sac.”

Marilyn on Long Island

Newsday looks backs on Marilyn’s many trips to Long Island, from iconic photo shoots with Andre De Dienes, Eve Arnold and Sam Shaw, to private getaways with husband Arthur Miller.

“After Monroe became involved with the married Miller in 1955, the two would rendezvous at locales including playwright and poet Norman Rosten’s summer cottage in Port Jefferson, and at her acting teacher Lee Strasberg’s place on Fire Island. But her most lasting presence here came in the summer of 1957, after she was the new Mrs. Miller and the couple had rented Jeffrey Potter’s Stony Hill Farm in Amagansett. They stayed in what Jeffrey’s son, Job, later explained was ‘the caretaker’s house,’ called Hill House.

‘Marilyn was outside in a polo shirt and shorts,’ Newsday reported that long-ago summer, ‘and there was very little that was typical about her. She did something for the polo shirt and shorts.’

Monroe ‘was lovely, feminine and sweet,’ Job Potter once recalled of that summer when he was 6. ‘I sold her some Girl Scout cookies,’ as a way to visit her. ‘My sister had some left over.’

But her time on the East End also saw sadness. At 11 a.m. on Aug. 1, 1957, Monroe was rushed to Doctors Hospital in Manhattan with symptoms of a miscarriage; it turned out to be an ectopic pregnancy. ‘The baby was unsavable,’ a hospital spokesman said. Marilyn’s physician, Dr. Hilliard Dubrow, reported that the 31-year-old had been ‘five or six weeks pregnant.’

After a week’s recovery, she returned by limousine to Amagansett on Aug. 10. Her Pulitzer Prize-winning husband had written something for her: A heartfelt sign on the front door reading, ‘Welcome home, Marilyn.'”

Men, Movies and Marilyn

Ahead of TCM’s Marilyn movie marathon on August 4th, Rafer Guzman studies her impact for Newsday – arguing that, even in her most farcical roles, she was never just a dumb blonde.

“If people remember Monroe as a distressed damsel, that’s because of her personal life — failed marriages, failed pregnancies, a sorrowful death by drug overdose at the age of 36 — and not because of her movies. Monroe rarely played sad or tragic roles; her final film, 1961’s The Misfits, written by her soon-to-be ex Arthur Miller, is an exception. Rather, Monroe specialized in versions of herself: a regular girl from Little Rock or Colorado (though she was born in L.A.) who has grown up to be an actress, model or showgirl, all bubbles and energy and good cheer.

People also remember Monroe as a dumb blond — but again, she rarely if ever played dumb. Frequently in her movies, some poor chauvinist suddenly realizes there’s an intellect inside that hourglass figure. ‘That’s a very interesting line of reasoning,’ Ewell admits in The Seven-Year Itch after Monroe explains why she prefers married men. ‘Say, they told me you were stupid!’ says a spluttering businessman after hearing Monroe’s Shakespearean soliloquy on love and wealth in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. In All About Eve (1950), a snobby theater critic corrects her manners, only to find himself corrected. ‘You have a point,’ he says. ‘An idiotic one, but a point.’

Despite the frequently condescending attitudes, there’s something wonderful about the way men interact with Monroe on screen. They tend to be Average American Males, a now-extinct species recognizable by their fedoras and enormous confidence. These fellas knew how to approach a girl, as long as she knew how to be approached; there were rules about these things. There’s a line that Richard Widmark uses on Monroe in Don’t Bother to Knock that men today can only dream of using: ‘Are you doing anything you couldn’t be doing better with somebody else?’ It worked, too!”

Schenck Home For Sale

The former home of movie mogul Joe Schenck is rumoured to be up for sale – for $150 million, reports The Real Estalker. During the late 1940s, a young Marilyn often stayed in the guesthouse. (She always maintained that their friendship was platonic.)

“The sprawling Holmby Hills spread, set between Sunset Boulevard and the famously clannish Los Angeles Country Club, has over the years been owned by a long list of high profile people…

We can’t be sure the figures are accurate, but the Los Angeles County Tax Man show the house has 9 bedrooms and 12 bathrooms and a two-minute video made when Owlwood was for sale in the late 1990s and early 2000s states the multi-winged mansion encompasses 22 rooms including a baronial, 1,500 square foot living room with solid oak paneling and marble-faced fireplace…

Each of the three separate but adjacent parcels that make up Owlwood at one time had a substantial mansion on it. Two of them were torn down. The last mansion standing on the hoity-toity Holmby Hills homestead is a 12,000-plus square foot Italian Renaissance-style pile (vintage photo above) designed by accomplished architect Robert Farquhar and built in 1936 for Florence Quinn, the ex-wife of department store magnate and real estate mogul Arthur Letts Jr.

The property was later owned by hotelier Joseph Drown—he of the recently re-vamped Hotel Bel-Air—and Tinseltown mover and shaker Joseph Schenck—founder of 20th Century Fox.”

Reel Life: Marilyn Monroe

The Reelz Channel in the US has just announced a new documentary, Reel Life: Marilyn Monroe, to premiere on Friday, August 3rd.

“Hosted by television personality Dayna Devon, Reel Life: Marilyn Monroe explores the continued and unrelenting popularity of the woman who wanted nothing more than to be taken seriously as an actress. We’ll talk to the stars of the hit television series Smash, Katharine McPhee and Megan Hilty, whose characters are vying to be the lead in a Broadway musical based on Monroe’s life as well as Oscar-nominee Michelle Williams, who played Monroe in My Week With Marilyn about Monroe’s enduring legacy.

Fellow Hollywood icons George Hamilton and Mitzi Gaynor – Monroe’s co-star in There’s No Business Like Show Business – reveal the personal side of the woman they knew. Reel Life: Marilyn Monroe also takes a look at Monroe’s rise to sex symbol, including candid interviews with Playboy magazine founder Hugh Hefner, who discusses how Monroe’s nude photos helped launch his empire and catapult Monroe to superstar status. Also featured are interviews with photographers Lawrence Schiller and George Barris who share their personal stories of working with Monroe, including the story behind her last ever photo shoot.”

Meanwhile, at the Hollywood Museum…

 

A catalogue for the ongoing Marilyn exhibit at the Hollywood Museum is now available to order here. Upcoming events include a meet & greet with exhibit curators Greg Schreiner and Scott Fortner on August 2, and a guest appearance by photographer George Barris on August 4. More details at MM Collection Blog.

Wolfe Biography Reissued

Over at the New York Journal of Books, Vincent Rafe McCabe reviews a paperback reissue of Donald Wolfe’s controversial 1998 book, The Last Days of Marilyn Monroe (the original UK title was The Assassination of Marilyn Monroe.)

“Thus the reissue of Last Days, a book first published in 1998 and now lovingly recreated just in time for the hullaballoo that will no doubt attend the 50th anniversary of the star’s supposed suicide in August of 2012.

But the reader wonders if, upon the book’s first release, anyone else had noticed how dramatically the work veers away from its title’s promise.

After 100 pages of jaw dropping revelations (hold on, we’re getting to those), the book suddenly unspools into a 300-page pageant of ‘The Life and Times of Norma Jean’ filling page after page with all the things we’ve read before: the white piano, the first marriage, the nudie calendar, and so on.

How nice if, in deciding to republish, the powers that be had also decided to reedit, refocus, and reexamine…”

‘Fragments’ Documentary Premiere in Toronto

Love, Marilyna new documentary by Liz Garbus, based on Marilyn’s personal writings, published in the 2010 book, Fragments, and featuring voiceovers by Uma Thurman, Lindsay Lohan, Paul Giamatti, Viola Davis, Adrien Brody, Marisa Tomei and Glenn Close – will have its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in October, reports RealScreen.