Immortal Marilyn in January

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This month’s updates include Elisa Jordan’s profile of Marilyn’s make-up artist and close friend, Allan ‘Whitey’ Snyder; an interview with Cursum Perficio author Gary Vitacco-Robles, whose two-volume biography, Icon: The Life Times and Films of Marilyn Monroe is due to be published this year; and a rather bizarre article published in Top Secret magazine shortly after Marilyn’s death.

Newsweek Special: Marilyn’s Lost Scrapbook

A Newsweek special issue, Marilyn Monroe: The Lost Scrapbook, is due to be published in the US next Tuesday, January 14th. The 98pp magazine showcases a scrapbook made by Marilyn herself for her friend, Sam Shaw, featuring his photos of the star with her handwritten, often witty captions.

Shaw gave the scrapbook to another of Marilyn’s photographers, Lawrence Schiller, in 1973, and some of the photos were featured in Norman Mailer’s Marilyn, published the same year. Schiller claims that Shaw confessed to having had an affair with Marilyn, though neither Shaw or Monroe ever said this publicly.

The scrapbook was profiled today on ABC News’ Good Morning America, and the magazine is sure to become a collector’s item. No news of other releases yet, but copies are already being sold on Ebay. (If you’re in the UK, keep your eyes peeled over the coming weeks – Newsweek‘s special editions are often sold at WHS Smith.)

Michael Branch: ‘Out On Misfits Flat’

John Huston directs Marilyn in 'The Misfts'
John Huston directs Marilyn in ‘The Misfts’

Writing for High Country Times, Michael Branch describes The Misfits as ‘the quintessential Nevada film’, and recounts his trip with a friend to ‘Misfits Flat’, where the movie’s most dramatic scenes were filmed:

“Miller and Huston tried to script and shoot the death of the Old West out here on Misfits Flat, but to be in this place is to experience an expansiveness and light that doesn’t give a damn about that. Even the poignant loss dramatized in the film is a human-scale emotion that the immensity of the land won’t abide. I’m reminded of the moment in The Misfits when Roslyn is asked if she’s ever been outside of Reno. ‘Once I went to the edge of town,’ she replies. ‘Doesn’t look like there’s much out there.’ Gay Langland, the free-spirited old cowboy played so perfectly by Clark Gable, replies with a simple insight that any misfit desert ranter can understand: ‘Everything’s there.'”

George Jacobs, Sinatra’s Valet, Has Died

George Jacobs, who served as valet to Frank Sinatra for 15 years, died of natural causes on December 28th, 2013, at his home in Coachella Valley, reports the Los Angeles Times. He was 87.

His 2003 book, Mr S: The Last Word on Frank Sinatra (aka My Life With Frank Sinatra), featured memories from his years with the superstar and his circle, including Marilyn Monroe. Jacobs mentioned that he was Marilyn’s neighbour for a few months in 1961, when she was living at North Doheny Drive in Los Angeles.

Mr S was ghostwritten by William Stadiem, who also wrote Marilyn Monroe Confidential, the 1980 memoir of Marilyn’s former New York maid, Lena Pepitone. The depiction of Marilyn in Mr S – as promiscuous, and unkempt – is very similar to Stadiem’s earlier book, which some fans felt was a distortion of the truth.

What comes across in Mr S is how boorish Sinatra and his ‘Rat Pack’ could be. Jacobs claimed that Marilyn was nicknamed ‘The Girl Who Couldn’t Say No,’ although I’ve never heard this mentioned elsewhere. Nonetheless, it’s difficult not to conclude that this fast-living, womanising scene wasn’t ideal for the more sensitive Marilyn.

Jacobs’ association with Sinatra reportedly ended in 1968, after the singer found his valet dancing with Sinatra’s ex-wife, Mia Farrow, in a nightclub, and flew into a jealous rage.  As with other former friends who had displeased him, Sinatra cut Jacobs off completely. ‘I had lost my best friend, my idol, my boss,’ Jacobs said.

After the book was published, Frank Sinatra Jr denounced it as a ‘character assassination.’ However, Jacobs insisted that he was devoted to his ex-boss, visiting Sinatra’s grave every year.

Philippe Halsman: ‘Astonish me!’

Marilyn graces the cover of Philippe Halsman: Astonish Me!, a new, 320pp book about the Latvian-born photographer, accompanying an exhibition at the Museé de l’Elyseé at Lausanne in Switzerland, will be published this month in the UK, with the US edition following in February.

“Salvador Dali’s flamboyant moustache, Richard Nixon jumping in the West Wing, Grace Kelly’s amazing profile—these are just a few of the images that achieved iconic status and helped make photographer Philippe Halsman an icon in his own right. Comprising hundreds of photographs and insightful accompanying texts, this volume explores Halsman’s oeuvre in a variety of aspects. It examines his early career exhibiting works at the avant-garde La Pleiade Gallery in Paris; his experiments with portraiture, particularly the series of stunning images of Marilyn Monroe and his more than 100 covers for Life magazine; his pictures of the contemporary art scene that include famous dancers, movie stars, stage actors, and musicians and the birth of his ‘jumpology’ concept; and his unique, 30-year collaboration with Salvador Dali, including a book devoted entirely to the artist’s moustache. Anyone interested in portraiture, celebrity, or performance will marvel at the breadth and magnificence of Halsman’s work, which is definitively presented in this beautiful volume.”