Donald Zec Remembers Marilyn

Veteran entertainment writer Donald Zec recalls his friendship with Marilyn in today’s Mirror.

“We discussed fame, and I quoted my dictionary’s definition of a star – ‘a heavenly body radiating flashes of light.’

‘Yeah, I’ll settle for that,’ she beamed…

We flew together in 1956 to Phoenix, Arizona, where she filmed Bus Stop.

When a tray of food was put before her she rejected it saying ‘I have to watch my figure.’

My response: “You eat, Marilyn, I’ll watch your figure”, induced a playful slap on my arm.

She was then close to becoming Mrs Arthur Miller. The days of the jazzy one-liners were over. She was now cooking him chicken soup and reading Fyodor Dostoyevsky.

Suddenly alarm bells rang and we saw black smoke billowing out of one of the prop engines.

Reassurance from the cockpit didn’t extend to the passengers quaking in seats 1 and 1A.

We discussed the unthinkable. I soothed her with the thought that if we crashed her name would be on every news bulletin and front page in the western world…

As she explained to me in one of her many calls from New York: ‘I admit I made lots of demands – the choice of co-star, the script, the costumes.’

‘But I wasn’t prepared to see myself being sold down the river.’

That phone call took place at 3.30am…

I remember this rare moment of [the Millers] in their apartment on 57th Street New York.

Everything in the large sitting room was white; the carpets, the walls, and the coffee table on which a silver-framed testimonial was inscribed, accurately, ‘to Marilyn, the Wonder of the Age.’

Beside it was a marble torso of the goddess Aphrodite.

A hint of Chanel wafted from the sofa where the ‘wonder of the age’ poured the tea.

A typewriter clacked in another room. The master was at work.

Then the tapping stopped. The tall, bespectacled genius entered and sat down beside her.

There was a long silence while Miller scrutinised her, virtually feasting his eyes on the tangle of golden curls around those lovely features, the unbuttoned shirt tied loosely at the bare midriff.

They looked at each with a tenderness that a single sound would have shattered.

Miller stood up, rubbed his hands, and said: ‘Thank you’ and went back to his desk. The great man had enjoyed his fix for the day.”

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