Kylie – With a Hint of Marilyn…

London street artist Pegasus – who has created several tributes to Marilyn – pays homage to Australian singer Kylie Minogue in a new Chelsea artwork. There’s more than a hint of MM, too – Kylie is wearing Marilyn’s ‘Blue Dragon’ costume, from that famous scene in Bus Stop (1956.) In her unforgettable role as beleaguered nightclub ‘chantoosie’ Cherie, Monroe sang ‘That Old Black Magic’ to an audience of rambunctious cowboys.

Kylie is a well-known Monroe fan, having performed ‘Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend’ in the past. And this isn’t the first time Pegasus has merged two icons, either – he once recreated Betty Grable’s most famous pin-up pose, using the face of Queen Elizabeth II.

Liz Smith: ‘The Earrings of Miss Monroe’

Liz Smith has commented on Marie Irvine’s reminiscences of Marilyn – published recently by the Daily Mail – in her latest column for the New York Social Diary.

“THE EARRINGS of Miss Monroe.   Another country heard from in the endless re-inventions of the long-dead Marilyn. Now we learn from ‘her closest friend’ Marie Irvine (a name unknown until now) that Marilyn ‘forgot’ her earrings the night of the infamous 1962 ‘Happy Birthday’ serenade to JFK. This ‘close friend’ had to rush back to MM’s NYC apartment to retrieve them.

How odd then, to have dozens of photos of MM leaving her apartment and arriving at Madison Square Garden with earrings intact. (Might I say that the only item of clothing or accessory that Marilyn ever ‘forgot’ was her panties.)

Also, according to this latest best bud, Marilyn bought five tickets to the event to be sure to be invited to the after-party, so ‘desperate’ was she to see JFK.

Uhhhh … aside from JFK himself, MM was the evening’s star attraction, the closing act of the president’s celebration, invited by Kennedy himself. She didn’t need tickets.  She WAS the ticket. If desperation came, it sure wasn’t that night.

Still and all, people will believe anything. And why not? The woman has been dead 51 years. Those who adore her now weren’t even born when she died.  Hell, their parents weren’t even alive!”

My thoughts on this: firstly, Liz is absolutely right to be sceptical about anyone claiming to be a ‘close friend’ of Marilyn, especially if they haven’t been heard of before. However, it was the Daily Mail, not Marie Irvine, who made this claim.

Secondly, Marilyn did in fact purchase her own ticket for the gala, although I don’t know if she paid for others as well. Of course, this does not mean she was ‘desperate’ to go – this, again, is the reporter’s interpretation (and not Marie Irvine’s.) And the event was a Democratic fundraiser, so it’s not surprising that she paid her own way.

Personally, I don’t find Marie Irvine’s story that hard to believe, although no account should be taken at face value. As I’ve said before, I think the problem lies with the sensationalist way her memories have been presented.

Thanks to Charles Casillo

Midsummer ‘Blondes’ in Hollywood

Another outdoor screening of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes has been announced, this time in the grounds of the Hollywood Forever Cemetery on June 21st (Midsummer’s Night.) Gates upon at 7pm, film starts at 9. Tickets cost $14 and can be ordered here.

Thanks to Lisa Burks

Rare Marilyn Photos Go on Tour

At the ‘My Marilyn’ party (Lani Carlson, 1952)

Writing for the Daily Beast, Marlow Stern reports on a new exhibition containing lesser-known photos of Marilyn by Whitey Snyder, Lani Carlson, Mischa Pelz, Milton Greene and Thomas ‘Doc’ Kaminski, touring the US this summer. Prints are also available to buy from Limited Runs, who also stock many vintage movie posters.

“Limited Runs will be hosting an upcoming traveling exhibition of extremely rare, never-before-published photographs of screen icon Marilyn Monroe. The tour will begin on June 6 at the BOULEVARD3 gallery [in Los Angeles], before hitting San Francisco on June 19 at the Sarah Stocking Gallery, and then New York on July 22 at Whitespace.”

The Lani Carlson Collection

Mischa Pelz, lawn furniture ad (1952)

Allan ‘Whitey ‘Snyder, River Of No Return

With co-star Robert Mitchum, 1953

Milton Greene, 1956

Thomas ‘Doc’ Kaminski, The Misfits, 1960

With co-star Montgomery Clift

A Girl, A Grate and the Censors

US poster - unaltered
US poster – unaltered

Although tame by today’s standards, Marilyn’s movies often fell foul of the rigid censorship code of the time. The Seven Year Itch was toned down to gloss over its theme of adultery, while the famous ‘skirt-blowing scene’, which garnered huge publicity, was cut to a minimum.

Even after its release, the film was considered risque. The Irish Examiner notes that posters featuring Marilyn’s windblown skirt were altered so that her thighs were entirely covered. And in Spain, another Catholic country, the same tactic was used.

‘I think they were doing it because they were afraid the local parish priest would close it down,’ said Dublin auctioneer Ian Whyte.

Irish poster
Irish poster

Spanish poster

Lorelei Under the Stars

Summer is the season for outdoor movies, with Marilyn a perennial favourite. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, starring MM as Lorelei Lee, will be screened by Film4 on Sunday, August 10, at Somerset House on London’s Strand. Doors open at 6.30 pm, with DJs playing from 7 and Blondes at 9.  Tickets cost £16.00, so make a night of it!

How to Be Very, Very Marilyn

sheree north travilla
Sheree North with Travilla

The Life archive has taken a look back at the career of actress Sheree North, who replaced Marilyn after she refused to appear in Fox’s How to Be Very, Very Popular (1955.) The parallels between them are also noted in a separate article by Jen Carlson for

Monroe didn’t take the threat very seriously, telling columnist Earl Wilson rather impishly, “Sometimes I kid the fans. They say, ‘Oh, you’re Marilyn Monroe!’ I say, ‘Oh no, I’m Mamie Van Doren’ – or, ‘Sheree North’ – if I’m in a real hurry.”

Six years Marilyn’s junior, Sheree was groomed by the studio as a stand-in for their rebellious star. This was not her decision, as she had no wish to dethrone MM. She later became a respected character actress, even playing Gladys Baker in the TV movie, Marilyn: The Untold Story (1980.)

In 2008, three years after her death, a photo of Ms North being dressed for her role in How to Be Very Very, Very Popular by costume designer Travilla was misidentified as Marilyn in a number of leading newspapers, including the Telegraph.

Peter Max Exhibit in New Orleans

Pop artist Peter Max, dubbed ‘the zen master of colour’, has teamed up with the estate of Milton Greene to create a series of images of Marilyn, on display in an exhibition titled ‘Homage to Colour’, now at the Angela King Gallery in New Orleans until June 23.

As Max told David Lee Simmons of, his fascination with Marilyn began with a personal encounter in New York, sixty years ago. (He thinks it occurred around 1953, though it may actually have been a year or two later, after Marilyn moved to the city permanently – and, coincidentally, when many of Greene’s photos of Marilyn were shot. Monroe’s visits to Carnegie Hall, close to where Max saw her, have been noted here.)

“‘I was at the 57th Street school,’ he said, referring to the now-iconic Art Students League of New York, incubator of countless artists. ‘It was across from Carnegie Hall, and I was sitting on the steps of our building. I was kind of on the side, sitting with friends of mine, and this woman, beyond gorgeous, walks by in high heels. And I just couldn’t take my eyes off her!

‘After she passed by, she turned around and told me, Hey, I love your colorful pants! Actually, I had on regular pants, khaki pants, really, but from the knees down there was paint splatter all over them. She was remarking on the splatter of all those colors. Then I said to my friend, Ronnie, that’s Marilyn Monroe.

‘I’m looking at a Marilyn Monroe I just painted. I can’t tell you why. I mean, she had the most stunning features — an absolute miracle from God. And she had this beauty and charisma in her face that was just beyond belief. The nose, cheeks, eyes, everything was perfectly in  balance.

‘Years ago, I just decided to paint the [photographs]. I used to paint her a little bit before that. I had these paintings of her in my studio, and a dealer said, We’ve got to show those in the gallery. So I started painting some more.'”