Sold to the Girl Upstairs

The brownstone building on 164 East 61st Street – where, in September 1954, Marilyn filmed a scene from The Seven Year Itch – has been sold for $5.9 million, reports the New York Observer.

“Mostly, Monroe’s ‘disrobing’ in full view of passersby was a publicity stunt, reported The New York Times. But hardly anyone got to view the real, live Marilyn rather than her celluloid double, with barricades blocking off the street between Third and Lexington. Most of the rest of the film, besides the famed subway grate shot, was filmed elsewhere.”

Marilyn on the Subway

Photo by Mary Altaffer

A super-sized selection of Sam Shaw’s photos depicting Marilyn in New York are now on display inside the 42nd Street-Bryant Park station on the B, D, F, M and 7 lines. The exhibit is part of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Arts for Transit program, reports the Associated Press.

Orry-Kelly: The Man Who Dressed Sugar

The Australian-born costume designer, Jack Orry-Kelly, created Marilyn’s peekaboo wardrobe for her unforgettable role as Sugar Kane in Some Like it Hot. He also wrote an unpublished memoir, and is the subject of a forthcoming documentary, directed by Gillian Armstrong, reports The Age.

“”It’s the story of this boy from Kiama who always had a visual flair and interest in theatre,’ Armstrong says. ”He was very well known in the ’30s and ’40s … He was a great wit, quite outspoken. They say in America that people either loved or hated him.’

While researching the film, Armstrong and writer Katherine Thomson have discovered that Orry-Kelly wrote a memoir, wittily titled Women I’ve Undressed.

While he once wrote that the publishers loved the book, it never reached print – reputedly because of legal issues.

Just one chapter that he sent to a friend survives, featuring observations about Hollywood history.

Armstrong believes the sole copy of the full manuscript was passed down through Kelly’s family to a relative named Ephraim Manasseh, who has been impossible to track down.

”It still exists somewhere,” says Armstrong, who believes the memoir will be a treasure trove of Hollywood memories and secrets if they can find it.”

You can read more about Kelly’s work with MM in the recently-published Marilyn in Fashion.

Bombshell: When Nikita Met Marilyn

This mystery novel is a collaboration between Max Allan Collins (author of Bye Bye, Babyand his wife, Barbara Collins. First published in 2004, Bombshell relaunches today in ebook, paperback and audio CD formats.

“As escalating tensions threaten to turn the Cold War red hot, Russian premier Nikita Khrushchev embarks on a diplomatic tour of the US, requesting time with two American icons: Disneyland and Marilyn Monroe. The theme park poses too high a security risk, but Marilyn is more than happy to oblige. And as she puts America’s best face forward, Marilyn stumbles upon a sinister plot lurking behind the scenes. Certain parties would love to see both countries erupt in atomic war, and what better way to ensure Armageddon than by assassinating a high-ranking Russian official on American soil? But not on Marilyn’s watch…”

Return of the Happy Girl

The New Yorker‘s Richard Brody considers two overlooked moments in Monroe lore: her return to Hollywood in 1956, and her opening scene in the unfinished Something’s Got to Give (1962.) Brody also contrasts the condescension that Marilyn often received from the press with the overt hostility directed at her young admirer, Lindsay Lohan.

“Here’s Marilyn Monroe, interviewed on February 25, 1956, upon her return to Hollywood for the filming of Bus Stop. Part of this clip, along with the story behind it, is featured in Liz Garbus’s fascinating new documentary, Love, Marilyn

Look at Marilyn Monroe, about twenty seconds into the clip, when a journalist ‘asks,’ without a question mark at the end of the sentence, ‘You’re a happy girl now.’ The infinitesimal silence that goes with her dubious glance—a tightly controlled eye-roll—away from the interviewer, followed by her ironic verbal shrug (a melodic ‘uh-h’ with a subtly derisive smile), suggests the equivalent of, ‘You have no idea.’ It’s in that sudden abyss of true and horrific emotion in the midst of the most conventionally candied context that encapsulates Monroe’s art—and art it is…

One of Monroe’s most moving performances is the one that seems to come from beyond the grave—it’s from the 1962 film Something’s Got to Give, from which she was fired soon before her death and which was never completed. The remaining footage, however, has been put together. It’s a remake of the 1940 comedy My Favorite Wife, with Monroe playing a woman who, having spent years shipwrecked aboard a desert island and being declared dead, returns home to find her husband remarried. Monroe comes through the gate six minutes in; she has the magical, floating, unreal aspect of a ghost. She hadn’t worked for more than a year, and she seemed to be returning from far away to a place where she belonged but may not have been welcome.

It’s too soon to know whether Lohan is in Monroe’s league (is anyone?)—she hasn’t had enough adult roles or enough good directors yet—but she did some extraordinary work before turning twenty, the age at which Norma Jeane Baker signed her first movie contract…Lohan isn’t the first great actress to confront addiction and other personal crises, but she has the misfortune to be living in an age of total exposure, when no studio publicist or code of silence can restrain reports of her sufferings as well as of her escapades…”

Van Nuys to Honour Hometown Girl

Marilyn revisits Van Nuys High, 1951

A young Marilyn lived in the Van Nuys area of the San Fernando Valley, just outside Los Angeles, on several occasions during 1935-43, and attended Van Nuys High School. Now the Van Nuys Neighbourhood Council are proposing to rename the new post office after her, to be discussed at the next meeting on Wednesday, December 12th at 7pm, reports Van Nuys News Press.

“‘Marilyn Monroe is an American icon, and renaming the post office after her is going to be a part of our ongoing efforts to bring light to the history of Van Nuys.  Our community has a rich heritage of which many Valley-ites are unaware.  We will also be looking into making a life-size statue of Marilyn Monroe for either the front of the post office, or along the Erwin Street Mall,’ said  [Christopher] Thomas.”

Marilyn: A Lady of Letters

Marilyn with Norman Rosten, 1955

A letter written by Marilyn to her poet friend, Norman Rosten, while living at New York’s Waldorf-Astoria Hotel circa 1955, is on display until December 9 at the Douglas Elliman Gallery on Madison Avenue, alongside notes penned by Joe DiMaggio, Emily Dickinson and others, reports DNAInfo. It will be auctioned by California’s Profiles in History on December 18.

A full transcript is available at Booktryst:

“Dear Norman, 

It feels a little funny to be writing the name Norman since my own name is Norma and it feels like I’m writing my own name almost, However— 

First, thanks for letting Sam [photographer and MM confidant Sam Shaw] and me visit you and Hedda last Saturday. It was nice. I enjoyed meeting your wife – she seemed so warm to me. Thanks the most for your book of poetry—with which I spent all Sunday morning in bed with. It touched me – I use to think if I had ever had a child I would have wanted only a son, but after reading –Songs for Patricia [Simon and Schuster, 1951] – I know I would have loved a little girl just as much but maybe the former feeling was only Freudian for something…anyway Frued [sic]

I use to write poetry sometimes but usually I was very depressed at those times and the few (about two) people said that it depressed them, in fact one cried but it was an old friend I’d known for years. So anyway thanks. And my best to Hedda & Patricia and you— 

Marilyn M.”