Hollywood Legends: Marilyn at Julien’s

A backless, floral shift dress worn by Marilyn in her final, shelved movie, Something’s Got to Give – as designed by Jean Louis – is a highlight of an upcoming Julien’s Auctions Hollywood Legends sale, set for June 26-27, with an estimated value of at least $400, 000, reports Artfix Daily.

“The figure hugging silk crepe dress is printed with scattered painterly roses in shades of persimmon and deep cherry with a plunging V back. The interior of the studio constructed dress has hand finished details, is lined with ivory soufflé and has boning to the waistline.

“Other highlights chronicling the personal life and career of the world’s most intriguing screen icon include rare items including a Marilyn Monroe black velvet bustier (Estimate: $8,000-$10,000), a black silk underskirt from the Estate of Marilyn Monroe (Estimate: $6,000-$8,000), Marilyn Monroe’s personal copy of behind-the-scenes footage of The Misfits (Estimate: $3,000-$5,000), Marilyn Monroe Frankie and Johnny script (Estimate: $10,000-$20,000), a 1961 black and white photograph of Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable on the set of The Misfits ($5,000-$7,000), a photo layout sheet of four Marilyn Monroe color photographs (Estimate: $5,000-$7,000), a Marilyn Monroe owned hat (Estimate: $7000-$9000), a Marilyn Monroe side view x-ray from Cedars of Lebanon Hospital/Drs. E. Freedman and S. Finck dated 11-10-54 which was used by the radiology resident at Cedars for teaching which Marilyn was aware of. The x-rays are said to be from her visit to the hospital for her chronic endometriosis (Estimate: $8,000-$10,000). Also included are a collection of signed vintage gelatin silver photographs of Marilyn Monroe by Bruno Bernard known as Bernard of Hollywood (Various estimates), Marilyn Monroe eyeliner pencils (Estimate: $800-$1,200), a Marilyn Monroe cosmetic jar (Estimate: $2,000-$4,000), a Marilyn Monroe signed white glove (Estimate: $8,000-$10,000), a Marilyn Monroe grave marker (Estimate: $2,000-$4,000) and many more items from the life and career of Monroe.”

Marilyn at the BFI: Full Schedule Announced

The full programme for the BFI’s June season of MM films is now online, with tickets available now for members, or from May 12 for non-members. All of Marilyn’s films from 1952-62 are included (apart from O. Henry’s Full House), with multiple showings of The Misfits as part of its nationwide reissue, and a new print of Niagara. This retrospective includes two other events: ‘Who Do You Think You Are, Marilyn Monroe?‘ on June 3rd, featuring authors Jacqueline Rose and Bonnie Greer; and a Marilyn Monroe Study Day on June 27, with guests including Sarah Churchwell. You can view the digital guide for June here.

Marilyn Conspiracy Hoax Goes Viral

Occasionally, a rumour is spread about Marilyn that is so idiotic, it surprises even me. Most shocking of all is when large numbers of people believe these rumours. Usually, it’s something ridiculous – but when the subject is Marilyn’s death,  the joke becomes a little stale.

In ‘The Seven Year Snitch’, myth-busting website Snopes.com reports on a fake story posted by spoof news site World Daily News Report on March 25. Headlined ‘Retired CIA Agent Confesses on Deathbed: I Killed Marilyn Monroe’, the article purports to reveal that a 78 year-old man, Normand Hodges, claimed to have conducted 37 assassinations on behalf of the American government during his 41-year tenure at the Central Intelligence Agency. One of his victims, it is said, was Marilyn Monroe – whom Hodges described as a security threat, due to her affairs with both President John F. Kennedy and Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

In fact, Marilyn never met Castro, and her supposed ‘affair’ with Kennedy, while now taken for granted by many, has been wildly exaggerated.

Furthermore, a photo of a dying man which accompanies the article – identified as Hodges – was actually of another man, Michael Tyrell, and was originally used to illustrate an article published in The Guardian on November 9, 2013, about the controversial UK practice of chaining sick prisoners to their beds.

It’s at this point that this parody becomes rather less amusing. Is it fair that a highly disturbing picture of a dying man should be appropriated in this way?

However, the satirical piece was then reblogged by a minor celebrity, Bam Margera – best known for his appearances in the MTV series, Jackass, which ended in 2002. It’s unclear whether Margera was duped by the story himself, but he made no reference to it being a prank – adding his own, ill-informed opinion that Marilyn Monroe was ‘easy’ and a ‘train wreck’.

Satire works best when it uncovers hidden truths. This story, however, merely reiterates decades of half-baked fantasies circulated about Marilyn. Not only has her tragic death been exploited for a sick, dirty joke – but the suffering of another, entirely unconnected individual has been dragged into it.

Who benefits from all this? Certainly not the unsuspecting fans misled and distressed by the story. All that has transpired is that a rather lame parody has got far more attention than it deserves, and a washed-up TV star has jumped on the bandwagon.

How long will it be, I wonder, until some unscrupulous author adds this latest ‘theory’ to the history books?

Double Platinum: Elliott Erwitt’s Marilyn

I’ve said it before, but nary a year goes by without another Elliott Erwitt retrospective. ‘Double Platinum’, on display until May 27 at Beetles + Huxley in London’s Mayfair, focuses on Erwitt’s portraits of Marilyn during filming of The Seven Year Itch and The Misfits, and his other great works. The Evening Standard‘s Stephanie Rafanelli visited Erwitt at home in New York, to discuss his extraordinary career.

“He’s been grilled on the subject of Marilyn Monroe for over 50 years since her death in 1962. Having captured her Seven Year Itch flapping dress scene in sequential stills, and photographed the actress in her dressing gown between takes…Erwitt witnessed her demise on the cursed set of The Misfits in 1960. In the 42-degree heat of the Nevada desert, the drug-addled, neurotic Monroe failed to turn up for shoots as her relationship with her husband, and the film’s screenwriter, Arthur Miller disintegrated. Meanwhile, director John Huston went on wild benders: his gambling debts had to be covered by the production. Within a few years, all of The Misfits’ leading cast — Clark Gable, Monroe and Montgomery Clift — would be dead.

‘Marilyn was so screwed up at that time. She could hardly make it to the shoots,’ Erwitt says, visibly cringing. ‘She kept running off to LA to see her shrink. John Huston was out gambling every night, drinking, but he never seemed to have a hangover. Whatever bad shape Marilyn was in, it would be difficult to take a bad photograph of her. Being photogenic was a strong element of her fame.’ To lighten the mood, I ask who he considers to be the Monroe of our day. But he shakes his head and says quietly: ‘I don’t think about those things.’”

Greene Exhibit in Wroclaw, Poland

An archive of lost outtakes by Milton Greene will be on display in the Polish city of Wroclaw this summer, Reuters reports. (For the backstory, read our previous posts here.)

“The western Polish city successfully bid for the pictures at an auction last year for 6.4 million zloty ($1.69 million) according to local media, and the collection is likely to become a major attraction to Wroclaw, which is due to be one of two European capitals of culture in 2016.

It is made up of more than 3,000 prints and also includes pictures of other actresses such as Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, Judy Garland and Marlene Dietrich.

A preview of 47 pictures of Monroe, including ‘Ballerina Sitting’, was unveiled to art and photograph critics on Tuesday while the exhibition, entitled ‘Good Day, Marilyn’, opens to the public in July.

Poland obtained the pictures as part of a settlement in an embezzlement case involving a U.S. businessman in the 1990s. A first batch of pictures of Monroe was auctioned in 2012.”

Fan Phenomena: Marilyn Monroe

Fan Phenomena’ is an ongoing series from Intellect Books, a Bristol-based publisher with an international outlook. Since 2013, they have covered a variety of subjects with huge fan followings – including sci-fi movie franchises and TV shows, as well as more cultish offerings like Twin Peaks and The Big Lebowski. Fictional characters, such as Sherlock Holmes, and celebrities including Audrey Hepburn, have also been re-examined – with figures as diverse as Jane Austen and James Dean projected as future titles.

Marcelline Block, who has edited numerous books related to film, approached me in 2012 – a year which marked the fiftieth anniversary of Marilyn Monroe’s death, reviving public interest in her life and personality. From the outset, Marcelline showed the utmost respect for both Marilyn and her admirers. In contrast to many in the mainstream media, she understands that fans are not just ‘geeks’, and their knowledge and creativity helps to keep art alive. The result is a quirkier, more intimate look at the icon than is generally depicted.

Fan Phenomena: Marilyn Monroe combines academic essays about how Marilyn is being represented today – including her Youtube presence, influence on contemporary fashion, and recent portrayals in the biopic My Week With Marilyn, and the TV series Smash – and interviews with fans, including collectors Scott Fortner and Melinda Mason, impersonator Suzie Kennedy, memorabilia expert Marijane Gray, and fan-club owner Mary Sims. These personal testimonies were a highlight for me, partly because over the years, we have all supported each other in different ways.

My own contribution is an extract from The Mmm Girl, focusing on Marilyn’s love affair with the camera. While Fan Phenomena: Marilyn Monroe is not a biography, it brings new insight to Marilyn’s undying appeal, and provides an up-to-date companion piece for earlier cultural studies like American Monroe and The Immortal Marilyn.