Jerry Wald Home Up For Sale

Marilyn discusses her role in 'Clash by Night' with Jerry Wald in his office. Photo by Bob Landry, September 1951.
Marilyn discusses her role in ‘Clash by Night’ with Jerry Wald in his office. Photo by Bob Landry, September 1951.

The former home of legendary Hollywood producer Jerry Wald is up for sale, reports the Los Angeles Times. Located in Beverly Hills, the Pennsylvania Dutch Colonial Revival-style house was designed by noted architect Gerard R. Colcord and built in 1939.

Known as ‘the Barnett House’ after its original owners, it became home to Wald and his wife, Connie, in 1943. Nine years later, Colcord added a screening room, pool and guest quarters. It is now on the market for $7.495 million.

Jerry Wald's former home
Jerry Wald’s former home

Born in Brooklyn in 1911, Wald wrote and produced numerous classic films, including Mildred Pierce (1945), Key Largo (1948), and Peyton Place (1957.) He gave Marilyn one of her first important roles in Clash by Night (1952), and also produced her penultimate movie, Let’s Make Love (1960.)

‘She walks like a young antelope,’ Wald said of the young Marilyn. ‘When she stands, it’s like a snake uncoiling. When she speaks, you don’t hear her words – it’s as though she were whispering love to you.’ He later described her as ‘the greatest farceuse in the business, a female Chaplin.’

Just before Clash by Night was released by RKO, her home studio (Twentieth Century Fox) received an anonymous phonecall from a blackmailer, who had evidence that Marilyn had posed nude for a calendar in 1949. Although Fox wanted her to deny the story, Marilyn refused. Wald obtained a copy of the calendar, and as his business partner, Norman Krasna, predicted, the scandal ultimately helped to promote the film – and Marilyn’s burgeoning career.

Wald had nothing but praise for Marilyn’s professionalism. ‘She’s one of the few stars who doesn’t act as though she’s made it. She does not coast. She worked harder in Let’s Make Love than in Clash by Night. She’s still the same person.’

jerry wald home

Unfortunately, Wald was also the indirect cause of a fatal rift in Marilyn’s third marriage when he persuaded Arthur Miller to break an ongoing writer’s strike and supply some extra dialogue for Let’s Make Love. According to biographer Donald Spoto, Marilyn never forgave Miller for betraying his values.

Wald also offered Marilyn a role in The Stripper, which she declined. It would be Wald’s last film, as he died, aged fifty, of a heart attack, at his home on July 13, 1962 – less than a month before Marilyn’s own tragic demise.

Marilyn Inspires Max Mara’s Wrapover Trend

tumblr_lo599lBiIX1qada1vo1_500

The Mexican beach jacket worn by Marilyn during her last photo session – with George Barris in July 1962 – is one of the inspirations behind Max Mara’s Fall 2015 collection, reports Women’s Wear Daily.

max-mara-007

Among the wrapover sweaters and coats, I also noticed designs similar to the Jean Louis costumes worn by Marilyn for her role as ‘bohemian’ Amanda in Let’s Make Love (1960.)

max-mara-008

LML_09

Of course, today’s catwalk models can’t fill out a sweater quite like Marilyn did – and by the way, when did smiling go out of fashion?

max-mara-002

lml51

max-mara-011

amanda4

Sex, Lies … and Marilyn Monroe

tumblr_mkiy7x5zOr1qi2oyso1_500

Fans of the Loving Marilyn website will already be familiar with the lively, perceptive writing of MM superfan and vintage style queen Shar Daws. Shar has now written a scintillating new piece for Tease and Cake, a UK-based burlesque magazine. Illustrated with several gorgeous photos of MM, ‘Sex, Lies…and Marilyn Monroe’ debunks some common myths and reflects upon Marilyn’s timeless sex appeal. Tease and Cake can be ordered here for £6.95, plus shipping to the UK, Europe and beyond. (Please note: this magazine contains some mild nudity.)

Multiple Marilyns Open the Oscars

11001900_954897761202125_6167165588800926476_n crop

Multiple Marilyns graced the open ceremony of this year’s Oscars. In presenter Neil Patrick Harris’s musical tribute to Hollywood, Marilyn was mentioned in the same breath as Charlie Chaplin, another true immortal who never won an Oscar (except for a Lifetime Achievement award.)

The footage of Marilyn is lifted (of course) from her celebrated performance of ‘Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend’ in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. You can watch the opening ceremony in full on the Oscars website (US only) or Youtube; and the Marilyn segment is here.

From 1998: Miller Shares View of Marilyn

At the UK premiere of 'A View From the Bridge', 1956
At the UK premiere of ‘A View From the Bridge’, 1956

The tenth anniversary of Arthur Miller’s death is being marked with a London revival of A View From the Bridge – the controversial play that first opened in the same city back in 1956, during filming of The Prince and the Showgirl.

In tribute to Miller, The Guardian has republished a 1998 interview with Labour politician Roy Hattersley, who recalled that Arthur only seemed rattled when asked about Marilyn. (This could have been because their relationship has been so misrepresented in the press.)

“Was there a time when he was to be found by a Hollywood swimming pool in a white dinner jacket? Miller did not even smile. ‘No. I never did that. She wouldn’t have wanted to be there either.’ So she too was a basically serious person? ‘Oh yeah. She had hopes for herself in that direction, but she wasn’t allowed time to develop.’ At the press conference that launched the film version of Terence Rattigan’s Sleeping Prince, Monroe was asked if she really wanted to appear in a stage version of The Brothers Karamazov. [Actually, it was a film version.] She replied that she hoped to play Grushenka, adding, ‘It’s a girl’. The journalist, unwilling to be outsmarted, asked her to spell the name. Miller wrote that, ‘She could not be afforded the dignity of a performer announcing a new project. Sex and seriousness could not exist in the same woman.’ Metaphorically at least, Miller seems to have lived for years with a protective arm around her shoulder, which explains why such a reasonable man took unreasonable exception to the press’s attitude. ‘I thought of her as being very vulnerable, as indeed she was. And the press came in like birds chewing up what was left of the carcass. I understand why they were doing it. She hadn’t gotten out of the old personality – the dumb blonde from Niagara and Asphalt Jungle. She was trying to get out of it.’

‘The last I knew her, I think she was trying to be a tragic actress. She had a tragic life. And part of the attraction of her comedy was that it came out of a very sad person. If you’ve ever known any real funny people – clowns – you know that a lot of them are permanently depressed. In the long run she would probably have ended up as a moderately successful comedienne. Perhaps she already was.’ Questions should have followed about the Kennedys and her death. Decency made them equally oblique. ‘When you look back, do you feel bitter and resentful about what happened to her – bitter and resentful on her behalf?’ The answer was conclusive. ‘The whole thing worked out almost fatefully. The end had to be a tragedy. The cards were stacked too heavily in that direction. There was no way to change that course once she got on it.’ Miller and Joe DiMaggio, the baseball hero who had been Marilyn’s second husband, had agreed at the time of her death that ‘she needed a blessing’. Miller almost smiled. ‘She needed a miracle and there was none available.'”

Richard Meryman Dies at 88

Meryman1

Journalist Richard Meryman – who was the last person to interview Marilyn, and went on to become an acclaimed biographer – has died aged 88, reports the New York Times.

The son of artist Richard Sumner Meryman, ‘Junior’ was born in Washington, and grew up in Dublin, New Hampshire. He graduated from Andover and Williams College, was an All-American lacrosse player, and a World War II Navy ensign. In 1949 he was hired by Life magazine,  and became its human affairs editor. Meryman is credited as a pioneer of the taped interview.

On February 10, 1962, Meryman wrote a letter to Marilyn requesting an interview. On May 17, Marilyn arrived in New York for John F. Kennedy’s birthday gala (which took place two days later.) That evening, she and publicist John Springer met Meryman and his assistant, Barbara Villet, at the Savoy-Plaza Hotel, and arranged an interview.

On July 4, Meryman interviewed Marilyn at her new home in Brentwood, Los Angeles. On July 9, Meryman brought her a transcript of their discussion. She received a copy of the article on July 14, and it was published in Life on Friday, August 3 – the day before she died. In the magazine’s next issue, Meryman published his own reminiscences of their encounter, entitled ‘A Last Talk With a Lonely Girl.’

Thirty years after Marilyn’s death, Meryman’s tapes were broadcast  in an HBO documentary, Marilyn: The Last Interview. ‘My experience with stars is that – through all the publicity and the hype and everything – the public senses the essence of the person,’ Meryman told CNN’s Larry King in 2001. ‘And the essence of Marilyn is she communicated a kind of truth. And truth is very powerful.’

tumblr_lerof2fhex1qcqlr9o1_500

Meryman’s interview was published as a compendium of quotes from Marilyn herself, without his questions. It gives the reader a sense of hearing Marilyn’s own voice, perhaps for the first time. She talked about her difficult childhood, the double-edged nature of stardom, and her recent dispute with Twentieth Century-Fox. In 2007, the ‘last interview’ was included in ‘Great Interviews of the 20th Century‘, a series of pamphlets published by The Guardian.

life aug 17 62

Perhaps inspired by his work with Marilyn, Elizabeth Taylor collaborated with him on a 1964 book, Elizabeth Taylor: An Informal Memoir. Louis Armstrong was among many other celebrities interviewed by Meryman, and a short book, Louis Armstrong: A Self-Portrait, was published following his death in 1971.

Meryman’s subsequent biographies included Mank: The Wit, World and Life of Herman Mankiewicz (1978) and Enter Talking, a 1987 collaboration with acid-tongued comedienne Joan Rivers.

His first wife, artist Hope Brooks, died of a malignant melanoma in 1975, leaving behind two daughters. Meryman wrote about his grief in a 1980 memoir, Hope: A Loss Survived. In the same year, he was remarried to art consultant Elizabeth Burns.

Andrew Wyeth: A Secret Life,  Meryman’s biography of the American artist (best-known for his 1948 painting, Christina’s World) was published in 1998. Meryman had befriended Wyeth in 1964. Wyeth died in 2009. In 2013, Meryman published an illustrated compendium of their discussions, Andrew Wyeth: A Spoken Self-Portrait.

Meryman also wrote a novel, Broken Promises, Mended Dreams (1984.) He died of pneumonia in Manhattan on February 5, and is survived by his second wife, his two daughters and two stepsons, and grandchildren.

Marilyn’s Jasgur Test Shot Sold in Wiltshire

10989373_1048356641845299_5252423181841304496_n
From the Daily Telegraph (UK.) Thanks to Fraser Penney

One of Marilyn’s early professional test shots, taken by Joseph Jasgur on March 3, 1946, has been sold for £3,100 in an auction at Henry Aldridge and Sons of Devizes, Wiltshire, according to the Western Daily Press. (This was not, however, her first photo shoot – 19 year-old Norma Jeane Dougherty had been modelling since mid-1945.)

Auctioneer Andrew Aldridge said the photo – which has attracted international press coverage – was purchased by a man who collects showbiz pictures, the true value in this image lies in the fact that it is sold with the copyright to reproduce and distribute the image as the winning bidder wishes.

Sadly, Mr Jasgur spent his final, ailing years at the centre of a legal dispute over the rights to his photos of Marilyn. He died in poverty in a nursing home in 2009.

But in February 2011, the Orlando Sentinel reported that copyright would revert to his estate. That December, a number of Jasgur’s photos were sold at Julien’s Auctions for a total $352,000. According to BBC News, they were sold by court order, to settle debts incurred by Jasgur’s estate.

‘Misfit’ Horses Win Reprieve

MONROE__MARILYN___ELLIOTT_ERWIT_MISFITS383_001_1_
Photo by Elliott Erwitt

In a strange case of life imitating art, a Nevada judge has granted a temporary reprive to a herd of wild Mustangs – nicknamed ‘The Misfits’ – preventing the Bureau of Land Management’s proposed rounding up and thinning of the herd, reports CBS San Francisco.  This resoundingly echoes the plot of The Misfits, Marilyn’s last film, in which her character tries to persuade a group of cowboys against capturing wild horses in the Nevada hills.

‘Today is a milestone for America’s wild horses who have been scapegoated for range damage and forcibly drugged with PZP in experiments for decades,’ said Anne Novak, executive director of Protect Mustangs and Friends of Animals. ‘They should never live in zoo-like settings on public land. That’s not freedom. Wild horses are a native species who contribute to the ecosystem. They belong here.’

‘The Misfits’ and the Meaning of Home

fdf7478a47042038b07675187d774ba0

While browsing on the Lapham’s Quarterly website yesterday, I found this thoughtful 2011 essay by J.M. Tyrell, ‘The Meaning of Home‘, in which he suggests that The Misfits depicted ‘a new kind of American family.’ (I’ve collated the parts relevant to MM here, but the essay is well worth reading in its entirety.)

“Yet it’s clear from Miller’s screenplay for John Huston’s movie The Misfits—a film celebrating its fiftieth anniversary this year—that Miller didn’t see the American family as a problem that had an answer. Flee the traps of family life on an Eastern stage, and you might find yourself wandering lost and mangled in a film set in the deserts of Nevada, atomized and disconnected, drifting among strangers from divorce court to highway to rodeo to whiskey bottle to bed with fast friends. The myth of the family and the myth of self-reliance—how does the same culture hatch two such irreconcilable dreams? Miller’s characters are always being crushed by conflicting motives and impulses, forced into impossible situations by self-delusions or the repression of past betrayals. In his Eastern plays, blood relations doom one another, acting like planets circling closer and closer to moral black holes. In the movie script that heralded the end of his marriage to Marilyn Monroe, absolute freedom from family ties in the West appears to be another kind of American disaster—one papered over with a Hollywood ending.

Bigsby [Christopher Bigsby, Miller’s biographer] suggests that the playwright may have been drawn to Marilyn Monroe because the star, like Miller’s father, had been an abandoned child, and also notes the curious fact that Monroe and Isidore continued to socialize after her divorce from his son. In one sense, Monroe had been searching for a substitute father all her life—many of her lovers were older men, including Miller. According to Joyce Carol Oates’ fictionalized version of her life, Blonde (2000), she had grown up thinking that an image of Clark Gable in her mother’s home was a picture of her long-lost dad, and this stunningly imagined episode from the novel is based in fact. An irony of fate that also foreshadowed doom brought them together in 1960 to play lovers on the set of John Huston’s filmed adaptation of The Misfits. Miller had written the screenplay to honor Monroe, but their marriage collapsed on the set.

‘Hello’ was one of Miller’s keywords in the 1960s. It reappears at key points in The Misfits, as in the famous moment when Roslyn calms down Guido after spurning his advances by saying, ‘Hello, Guido!’ It’s also the final line of dialog in Miller’s 1964 play After the Fall, where it denotes a much more hopeful potential for the characters Quentin and Holga, modeled on Miller and his third wife, Inge Morath, to find each other in the ruins of twentieth-century history and the fracturing of families and marriages. (Miller and Morath first met on the set of The Misfits.) Hello: it’s an all-purpose interjection with an American ring to it. It’s ready-made for a country of ‘interesting strangers,’ as Isabelle calls Reno in The Misfits. It can be a question or a statement that amounts to admitting that we don’t know one another and we aren’t family: ‘Yes, I’m here, I exist, and who might you be?’

‘Don’t you have a home?’ Roslyn asks Gay when they’re driving around. ‘Sure,’ he says, ‘Never was a better one, either.’ ‘Where is it?’ ‘Right here,’ Gay says, and nods at the road and out at the desert. The camera shows us a stretch of land blurred by the speed of the drive: scrub brush, sand, and mountains. Sometimes the land looks grand, sublime, and inviting; on other viewings, it seems sadly desolate and empty, a kind of lie. Anyone who has ever been to Nevada knows the feeling of being divorced from everything, stuck between two sets of mountains, the time zones piling up between you and your family, everyone you once loved, and everything that once loved you. Roslyn’s response to Gay’s childlike faith in the open country—a place where you can ‘just live,’ as he puts it in an earlier scene—seems to open into a void. Monroe’s face conjures a movie star’s well of loneliness, a wounded look that seems to stare out from the foster homes of Norma Jean’s own childhood.

‘I don’t feel that way about you, Gay,’ Roslyn says, and the next thing you know he is kissing her awake for breakfast. Eroticism becomes the great American balm for lonely hearts, the fake cure-all from the movies, from Marilyn. The characters in The Misfits try to fabricate an artificial tribe out of the magic dust of sexual alchemy and instant friendship in a broken-down void that isn’t even a frontier anymore. In the East, Miller’s characters cannot escape their fates because of their closely knit families, or because of events that loom out of the past to entrap parents and children. In the West, Miller’s characters are completely free but also completely unstuck, there’s too much room and nobody knows what to do. Maybe the East contains too much love and the West not enough—absolute freedom can be as terrifyingly lonely as family life can be cloying. At any rate, there’s no solution anywhere; the signs leading to the freeway or back home are pointing in different directions. ‘Well, you’re free,’ Isabelle toasts Roslyn near the beginning of the film. ‘Maybe the trouble is you’re not used to it yet.’ Or maybe the real trouble is that the heart cannot stand this kind of freedom.

The Misfits is regarded as an artistic and personal death-trap: in Hollywood lore, it is the picture that destroyed Miller’s marriage with Monroe through various infidelities, behind-the-scenes dramas, and on-set disasters. In fact, Monroe already had entered the abyss for good and would not complete another picture. After insisting on performing many of his own strenuous stunts in the desert heat, Gable died of heart failure soon after filming ended. Yet unlike the real-life background of the production, and very much unlike Miller’s best plays, the movie itself is desperate to conjure magic and restore belief in the possibility of a happy ending. ‘Gay,’ Roslyn says, ‘if there could be one person in the world—a child who could be brave from the beginning…’ Monroe had miscarried twice with Miller. According to Miller’s ‘cinema novel’ version of The Misfits, ‘The love between them is viable, holding them a little above the earth.’

We want to believe it can all work out, and so does Miller, at least he does here. This is sorrow-tinged, impossible wish-fulfillment, not just another manipulation cooked up by the studios. The Misfits is one of those movies that jumps right out of its frame, telling us almost everything we need to know about the movies, about the insecure relationship between writers and Hollywood, about what happened to the West, and maybe even about how the American Dream had gone wrong. Happy ending aside—Joyce Carol Oates in Blonde calls it a ‘fairy tale’—the movie contradicts itself. Actually, it doesn’t contain a lot of good news.

The Misfits’ portrayal of double-edged freedom from family ties in the West couldn’t be further removed from the tragic irony of the Lomans’ ‘free and clear’ home ownership that draws the curtain in Death of a Salesman. When asked about his home, Gay gestures outside his truck at the desert. It’s the place that he’s taking Roslyn in the Hollywood happy ending of The Misfits. She’s told him that she’s ready to start a family. But, really, is there any reason to suspect that it will last longer than Gay’s previous marriage, the children of which run into their falling-down-drunk father at a rinky-dink rodeo? (Or any longer than Miller’s own marriage to Monroe, for that matter?) An Eastern family might be a self-poisoning well or a fouled nest, but The Misfits raises questions about what happens to American souls when they achieve the national dream of breaking loose from all moorings and drifting into a vast continent where nobody’s home. Which is a worse fate, to have a bad family or to have no family at all? The ending of The Misfits gives us a false or movie-dream solution to an enduring problem. It’s an answer we want to believe in but which we know is a temporary shelter at best, at worst a mirage—a mirage that surely will lead to the production of one more unhappy family.”