Marilyn at Julien’s: High Prices for a Hollywood Legend

11010004_10153496554385929_2390631461050398092_nItems from ‘the lost archive of Marilyn Monroe’ were sold at predictably high prices in the Hollywood Legends sale at Julien’s Auctions this weekend, reports Fox8.com. IM staffer Jackie Craig took several photographs at the Beverly Hills preview.

“Marilyn Monroe’s grave marker sold for 212,500 dollars.
The item was originally estimated to sell between 2,000-4,000 dollars.

A dress worn by her from the movie Something’s Got to Give was sold for over $300 K.

A copy of Playboy magazine with Monroe on the cover and signed by Hugh Hefner, sold for 87,500 dollars.”

A chaise longue, used in Let’s Make Love, sold for $56,250; and the Mexican rug Marilyn bought for her final home reached $16,640. However, while some of the most iconic – and occasionally ghoulish – items attracted large bids, other more intimate pieces failed to sell – perhaps because so many dedicated fans can’t afford to meet the reserves?

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Book News: Marilyn, Sex and Hollywood

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Marilyn graces the cover of a new book, Hollywood’s Second Sex: The Treatment of Women in the Film Industry, 1900-1999.  Dublin-based author Aubrey Malone has previously written books on Tony Curtis, movie censorship, and the early days of Fox Film Corporation.

“‘Women stars in Hollywood were invariably in one of two categories,’ said director Otto Preminger. ‘One group was made up of women who were exploited by men, and the other, much smaller group was composed of women who survived by acting like men.’ Beginning with silent film vamp Theda Bara and continuing with icons like Greta Garbo, Marilyn Monroe and Raquel Welch, this study of film industry misogyny describes how female stars were maltreated by a sexist studio system–until women like Katharine Hepburn and Bette Davis fought for parity. The careers of Doris Day, Brigitte Bardot, Carole Landis, Francis Farmer, Dorothy Dandridge, Inger Stevens and many others are examined, along with more recent actresses like Demi Moore and Sharon Stone. Women who worked behind the scenes, writing screenplays, producing and directing without due credit, are also covered.”

Hollywood’s Second Sex is published by McFarland, and as with their previous titles – including Les Harding’s They Knew Marilyn Monroe and Michelle Vogel’s MM: Her Life, Her Films – it has an intriguing premise, but a rather hefty cover price.

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In another recent academic release, Palgrave’s Sex and Film: The Erotic in British, American and World Cinema, author Barry Forshaw also references Marilyn. The cover photo depicts Marlene Dietrich in a sultry pose, and reminds us of how the Blonde Venus star’s heady glamour influenced later sex symbols, including MM.

Marilyn by Frank Powolny
Marilyn by Frank Powolny

“Marilyn Monroe was virtually a living refutation of the censor’s anti-sex ethos. Her elemental carnality simply refused to be cossetted within the constraints of the day, even though such Monroe vehicles as Billy Wilder’s The Seven Year Itch tended to be rejigged for the cinema … But it is somewhat limiting to consider Monroe as simply a sex symbol; so iconic and all-pervading is her presence that she might be said to represent the medium itself, albeit in a self-parodying form. That knowing burlesque of her own image is to be seen in such movies as Howard Hawks’ Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953.) What’s more, for modern viewers there are overtones of the tragic … but even had Monroe been able to grow old and pile on the weight – as her British opposite number Diana Dors did, the latter becoming a respected character actress – there is little doubt that she would have continued to embody a particular image of female sexuality in the cinema.”

Norman Rosten: Marilyn’s Poet Friend

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Norman Rosten (1913-1995), a poet and playwright dubbed the ‘Bard of Brooklyn’, was a friend of Arthur Miller from their college days at Ann Arbor in Michigan. He met Marilyn through another mutual friend, photographer Sam Shaw, in 1955. Norman and his wife, Hedda Rosten, soon grew close to Marilyn, and he was one of the last to speak with her at length the day before she died. Marilyn would bequeath $5,000 for the education of his daughter, Patricia Rosten, in her will.

In 1973, Norman published a memoir, Marilyn: an Untold Story, and he also provided the text for Sam Shaw’s pictorial tribute, Marilyn Among Friends. Sadly, Arthur Miller would never forgive Norman for going public (although Miller wrote about Marilyn in his own autobiography, and drew on her memory in several plays.)

Among Marilyn’s fans, however, Rosten is regarded as a ‘mensch’, and one of her few associates to emerge with much credit. In an article for the Huffington Post, the children’s author and illustrator, Melanie Hope Greenberg, shares her own fond memories of Norman.

“In the mid-1980’s I had read excerpts of a memoir about the iconic celebrity, Marilyn Monroe, in the New York Post. It was written by Monroe’s close friend, Norman Rosten, Brooklyn’s first poet laureate, novelist, playwright, and college friend of Arthur Miller, Monroe’s husband. I remember riding home on the subway and recognizing Rosten from his photo in the newspaper as we both departed the Borough Hall Station in Brooklyn Heights. I never dreamed that a few years later he and I would collaborate on a reissued book of poetry and publish a picture book together.

During the late 1980’s a community of writers and poets gathered in Brooklyn Heights at a children’s bookstore on Montague Street. Cousin Arthur’s Book Shop was a delightful resource in our neighborhood. The shop featured children’s events as well as poetry reading for adults … I officially met Norman Rosten at the front counter of Cousin Arthur’s where they gave away the free cookies.

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During that time I was also a freelance graphics artist designing Cousin Arthur’s news and event posters. The Tramontes hired me to work on a book their poetry press planned to reissue and publish. Songs For Patricia, Rosten’s book of poetry for his daughter, was originally published in 1951. Norman’s teacher and poet friend had a print shop for book production at Wingate High School in Brooklyn. Norman and I traveled together and bonded during our ‘Wingate H.S. Adventure’. He was a ball of energy at 73 years old. I was more than half his age and out of breath chasing him up the school’s stairwell to the print shop.

Norman became a mensch mentor. He was grounded and did not take himself too seriously. He was wise and aware of the glories and pitfalls of fame. A kind neighbor and gentleman whenever I saw him on the street. I understand how Marilyn Monroe must have felt safe with Norman and acknowledged as an artist.”

While researching this story, I learned that composer Ezra Laderman, who collaborated with Norman on a Marilyn-inspired opera, died in March 2015. From Laderman’s New York Times obituary:

“Mr. Laderman (pronounced LAD-er-man), was a prolific composer of symphonic, chamber and vocal music, as well as a bevy of works for traditionally neglected instruments like the viola and the bassoon. But on account of its subject matter, it was Marilyn, commissioned to honor the 50th anniversary of the New York City Opera, that made him known to the general public.

Mr. Laderman’s eclecticism was on abundant display in Marilyn, which received its world premiere at City Opera on Oct. 6, 1993, with the soprano Kathryn Gamberoni in the title role. The opera, with a libretto by the poet Norman Rosten, was performed under the baton of Hal France; Mr. Laderman’s score fused tonal, atonal and serial elements with jazz, folk and pop motifs evocative of Monroe’s era.

The production garnered advance publicity round the world, with every performance sold out well ahead of time. The reviews were mixed at best, with some critics embracing the score for its stylistic range but others dismissing it as a pastiche.

In an interview with The Hartford Courant in 1994, Mr. Laderman was asked what lessons he had drawn from the critical response to “Marilyn.”

‘One lesson is that a lot of people apparently thought Marilyn Monroe was not a suitable topic for an opera,’ he replied. He added: ‘I disagree.'”

David Wills: ‘Marilyn – In the Flash’

wills marilyn in the flashDavid Wills’ 2011 book, Marilyn Monroe: Metamorphosis, is one of the best pictorial studies of MM ever published, and a firm fan favourite. So I was delighted to hear this morning that Mr Wills will soon publish a sequel, Marilyn: In the Flash. With an introduction by legendary actor Robert Wagner, it’s already listed on major online bookstores with a December release date, although publisher Dey Street Books (formerly IT Books, an imprint of Harper Collins) sets an earlier release date of October 27. Here’s the synopsis:

“A stunning collection of hundreds of rare and unseen photographs, behind-the-scenes notes, and interviews chronicling the media’s lifelong love affair with Marilyn, created by the acclaimed curator and author of Marilyn Monroe: Metamorphosis.

Though Hollywood goddess Marilyn Monroe was married three times, her longest lasting relationship was with the press—the photographers, reporters, and press agents who followed her every move for nearly two decades, and made her into the greatest icon in Hollywood history. One of the most publicized actresses of her time, Marilyn actively sought out the press, carefully crafting her public image and using events from her private life to further her career. Her romances with baseball legend Joe DiMaggio, playwright Arthur Miller, and others made her a daily feature for newspapers, magazines, and wire services; new images of the star were guaranteed to boost sales.

Drawing on unseen troves from dozens of photographers, archives, and collectors, acclaimed photography expert David Wills brings together an unprecedented array of press photos from throughout Marilyn’s career—including hundreds of unpublished and rare photographs that have been beautifully restored; uncropped and unretouched outtakes; handwritten notations; period captions; clippings; and more. With a foreword by Robert J. Wagner and interviews from key press agents and others, this portfolio of images offers a fresh, indelible portrait of one of the most enduring icons in history and illuminates the special alliance she shared with the press as never before.”

Marilyn, Nic Roeg and ‘Insignificance’

Theresa Russell as 'The Actress' in 'Insignifance' (1985)
Theresa Russell as ‘The Actress’ in “Insignificance” (1985)

Insignificance is a 1985 movie directed by Nicolas Roeg, based on Terry Johnson’s play which imagines a mythic encounter between four iconic figures – based on Joe DiMaggio, Albert Einstein, Marilyn Monroe, and Senator Joe McCarthy (played by Tony Curtis) – and set in a New York hotel room, on the fateful night in September 1954 when Marilyn filmed the ‘subway scene’ for The Seven Year Itch.

Roeg, a British director born in 1928 (just two years after MM), has enjoyed cult success with films including PerformanceThe Man Who Fell to Earth and The Witches, and is the subject of new documentary, Nicolas Roeg: It’s About Time, to be broadcast on BBC4 on Sunday, June 28, at 10pm.

"Insignificance" director Nicolas Roeg
“Insignificance” director Nicolas Roeg

Bernard Rose has recalled his own collaboration with Roeg on Insignificance in a new interview with Sight & Sound magazine.

“The first thing I did professionally with Nic was make this music video for Roy Orbison’s ‘Wild Hearts Run Out of Time’ for Insignificance. I went to Nashville to shoot some stuff with Orbison. Then it was going to be cut into footage from Insignificance, which is what we did. I had to match the camera style Peter Hannan had used in Insignificance, which was very interesting: I was tracking on something and then suddenly zooming in on somebody’s drink. The cameraman at the time turned to me and said, ‘What are you doing?’ The moment he said that, I thought, ‘I’ve got Nic’s style.’ Not that I make any great claims for that video, but you can see that it was quite intricate to make the camera style run from one element to the other without seeming to jar.”

Marilyn Inspires Dries Van Noten

Dries Van Noten takes a bow (with a little help from Marilyn)
Dries Van Noten takes a bow (with a little help from Marilyn)

Marilyn has long cast a shadow over women’s fashion, and now Belgian designer Dries Van Noten has made her a central focus in his Spring 2016 menswear collection.

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‘Belgian designers have been standoffish about the celebrity craze,’ Miles Socha writes for WWD. ‘Yet there was the ultimate Hollywood bombshell, Marilyn Monroe, flashbulb-era paparazzi in hot pursuit, splashed all over Dries Van Noten’s spring collection. ‘Will these black-and-white photo prints — seen on suits, capes, shirts, sweaters, boxer shorts, you name it — be as influential as the designer’s silky, boudoir collection a year ago?’ Sucha asks. ‘This collection was not as compelling, though it echoed other Paris runways in pointing to a more embellished path for men’s wear. Van Noten added sparkly embroideries and sequins to his roomy, vaguely Fifties clothes as Elvis Presley crooned Love Me Tender and his models filed into a vast warehouse.’

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‘There would have been some Elvis too, if the estate had been more cooperative,’ Tim Banks reveals, over at Style.com. ‘Getty Images, on the other hand, was perfectly agreeable, so Van Noten got to use Marilyn on anything from a double-breasted suit to a pair of boxing shorts and a capacious poncho. Knitwear claimed one of MM’s eyes and her lips, adapting Erwin Blumenfeld’s classic 1950 Vogue cover. A polo shirt featured a photoprint of a beautiful, poignant poolside snap.’

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_DRI0669‘We got it that Dries was orchestrating icons in his collection,’ Banks continues. ‘And it was an impressive tribute to her durability that the young models in Van Noten’s show actually knew who Marilyn Monroe was. But that didn’t diminish the eeriness of seeing tragic Marilyn’s face writ so large on a man’s suit or a long, fluid robe. And the collection’s color palette seemed to recognize that. It had a Hollywood gothic flavor, gilded and shadowy.’

You can look behind the scenes of Dries Van Noten’s Marilyn-inspired collection here.

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‘The Misfits’ Rides Again

a80a7005-c94a-4ea1-9813-b30798640353-620x372The BFI’s glorious month of Marilyn may be drawing to an end, but The Misfits reissue will continue to roll out across the UK. Here’s another great review from Simon Columb, posted on the Flickering Myth blog.

“The Misfits toys with the changing world as the 1960’s dawned, whereby the expectations of a man are challenged. How can you be a Father if you’re separated from your children? How can you be a wife, if you are desperate to wander and see more of the world? The final act, as the group attempt to round-up the horses, is difficult. The momentum gained as the team moved from house to rodeo and, finally, to the desert is lost – but it isn’t without its merits. Marilyn Monroe, screaming out into the desert, calling and demanding more from humanity is immediate and arresting. Montgomery Clift’s phone call to his mother in his introduction is heart-breaking. In addition to Gable’s flippant comments about his age, the reason The Misfits is so thoroughly engaging, is because it often hints at a deeper truth. Huston has captured a moment of change and honesty. The story carries weight, as we know the depression and dependencies behind closed doors – and we only wish this wasn’t the final appearances of such unforgettable stars.”

‘Bombshell’ Set For Broadway Run

547659_10150877178199121_519879120_9621691_287884110_nAfter a wildly popular benefit performance, Bombshell – the Marilyn-inspired musical featured in TV’s Smash – is heading for Broadway, Variety reports.

“Still, a final product is likely a long ways off, given that the musical bio of Marilyn Monroe currently has lots of catchy songs — courtesy of Hairspray songwriters Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, who penned the tunes for the TV series — but no book with which to string them together.

Whether Shaiman and Wittman, whose Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is targeting Broadway next season, will write new songs for the stage version isn’t yet clear, although it seems likely.

Although the original cast of the TV series — including recent Tony winner Christian Borle as well as Katharine McPhee and Megan Hilty alternating in the role of Marilyn — appeared in the concert version earlier this month, none of them are attached to the brewing stage production.”