Call for Respect at Marilyn’s Crypt

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In recent years, some fans have begun leaving lipstick marks on Marilyn’s crypt at Westwood Memorial Park, Los Angeles. This practice has caused unsightly staining to her final resting place. Over the Christmas period, one visitor actually signed her name on the crypt in pen, and floral tributes have also disappeared. After discussing the issue with Greg Schreiner and Scott Fortner of Marilyn Remembered (the LA-based fanclub who organise the annual memorial service for MM), the staff at Westwood have decided to install a sign near Marilyn’s crypt, as a reminder that the area is under constant video surveillance. So if you’re lucky enough to have the chance to visit Westwood and pay your respects to Marilyn, please remember that she was a very private person – and do show her all the consideration you would wish for yourselves.

Marilyn a Harper’s Style Icon

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Photo by Alfred Eisenstadt, 1953

Marilyn comes second in a Harper’s Bazaar list of the Best American Style Icons – right behind Grace Kelly, and ahead of Elizabeth Taylor.

“Off duty, Marilyn Monroe’s easy style was composed of chic basics like denim, striped tees and button-downs, but she’s equally remembered for her slip dresses, blonde bob and sultry red lip.”

‘Magnum on Set’ in the Netherlands

Marilyn By Magnum

Following the opening of an exhibition in Amsterdam featuring Milton Greene’s and Douglas Kirkland’s photos of Marilyn, there is more good news for our Dutch readers. ‘Magnum on Set‘, a retrospective of the legendary agency’s cinematic photojournalism (including coverage of The Seven Year Itch and The Misfits) is now on display at the Boscotondohal in Gemeentemuseum Helmond until March 27.

Thanks to Sacha at Immortal Marilyn

Seven Year Itch Soundtrack Reissue

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Hot on the heels of their Some Like it Hot reissue, the Soundtrack Factory label has released Alfred Newman’s music for The Seven Year Itch on CD, alongside his compositions for other Fox classics (including All About Eve) and including a 16-page booklet. You can listen to sample tracks on the Jazz Messengers website.

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62 Years Ago: Marilyn and Joe

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This week marks the 62nd anniversary of Marilyn’s marriage to Joe DiMaggio, on January 16th, 1954. Doug Miller looks back at their wedding in an article for the Major League Baseball website.

“‘Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio wedded the girl of his and many other men’s dreams yesterday afternoon in the San Francisco City Hall,’ read the newspaper story the next day in the San Francisco Chronicle, written by Art Hoppe.

‘Marilyn Monroe, who packs no mean jolt herself, said she was very happy. DiMaggio said he was also very happy. Also happy was the battery of columnists which has spent no little time in the past two years running down rumors that the two were already secretly married, were to be married, or were not speaking to each other.’

The report said that the location and time of the ceremony had been kept secret and ‘only about 500 people managed to hear about it in time to turn the corridors outside Municipal Judge Charles S. Peery’s court into a madhouse.’

The reason?

‘Marilyn, it seems, had made the mistake of calling her studio in Hollywood [the day before the wedding] and letting it in on her plans to be married at 1 p.m. A studio official casually mentioned it as fast as he could to all the major news services.’

With that cat out of the bag, the soon-to-be Mr. and Mrs. were forced to host an impromptu press conference led by the hard-hitting question, ‘Are you excited, Marilyn?’

Monroe, the Chronicle wrote, giggled and said, ‘Oh, you KNOW it’s more than that.'”

Hap Roberts Remembers Ralph, Marilyn

Rob18In an article for the Salisbury Post, Mark Wineka interviews Hap Roberts, nephew of Ralph Roberts.

“On one New York visit , Ralph Roberts took Hap to the spacious New York apartment of Lee Strasberg … The Strasberg residence also held a white baby grand piano that had once belonged to Marilyn Monroe.

Through much of his life, Ralph Roberts seemed consistently drawn to famous or soon-to-be-famous people, through a combined career of acting and massaging. Marilyn Monroe was his most famous connection.

For the last three-plus years of Monroe’s life, Roberts served as her personal masseur and, probably, closest friend. By most accounts, Roberts was the last person Monroe tried to contact the night she died in 1962 of a drug overdose in Los Angeles.

As a boy in the spring of 1960, Hap Roberts wrote to his Uncle Ralph after hearing he had a part in the movie The Misfits.  Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe were the stars.

Hap asked whether Ralph could have Monroe autograph a picture to him and also one to his 9-year-old girlfriend, Kay Snider.

A month later, the pictures came in the mail. His said simply, ‘To Hap, Marilyn Monroe,’ but she also had signed the cover of a Life magazine with her and actor Yves Montand.

Hap Roberts still has it.”

Marilyn Plays to Open in London and New York

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As the new year begins, Marilyn-related plays are due to open on both sides of the Atlantic. Insignificance, Terry Johnson’s surreal fantasy about Marilyn and other American icons – which was made into a 1985 film – is being revived by the London-based theatre company, Defribilator, and in keeping with its New York hotel setting, will be staged in a 5-star suite at Langham Place, NYC, for four weeks from February 19.

Meanwhile, Hello Norma Jeane – a comedy by British playwright Dylan Costello, first staged in Chicago back in 2012 – returns home to the Park Theatre in Finsbury Park, London from February 23-March 19. Vicki Michelle, best-known as Yvette in the 80s TV sitcom, ‘Allo ‘Allo, stars as ‘Lynnie’, an Essex grandma with a hidden identity.

‘Marilyn: The Quest For An Oscar’

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As this year’s awards season gets underway, many MM fans will bemoan the fact that she never won, or was even nominated for an Oscar. Of course, there will always be sceptics who believe she was more of a star than an actress. However, when we consider how many acclaimed films she appeared in, and how even her lesser works remain hugely popular, that opinion doesn’t hold much water.

Of the hundreds of books devoted to Marilyn, only a few have focused exclusively on her work in movies. Carl Rollyson’s pioneering biography, Marilyn Monroe: A Life of the Actress is perhaps the cream of the crop, with honourable mention for Richard Buskin’s Blonde Heat: The Sizzling Screen Career of Marilyn Monroe, Laurence Crown’s Marilyn at 20th Century Fox, and Cindy de La Hoz’s Platinum Fox, although these books are more visually based.

Marilyn: The Quest for an Oscar is the latest book to join this small pantheon. Author James Turiello has previously published a similar book about Errol Flynn, and is working on a third volume about James Dean. Turiello concentrates solely on Marilyn’s career, arguing that her unique beauty and charisma made her a kind of female counterpart to Flynn, whose acting credits were also overlooked by the Academy.

In agreement with most critics, Turiello singles out The Asphalt Jungle and All About Eve among Marilyn’s best early films. He also praises her first starring role in Ladies of the Chorus, a B-movie musical that would otherwise have been forgotten. But to my surprise, he virtually ignores her performances in Clash By Night and Don’t Bother to Knock. Her comedic turn in Monkey Business and even her brief cameo in O’Henry’s Full House also deserve further attention.

1953 was the year when Marilyn became an international star, with a string of hit movies (Niaqara, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, How to Marry a Millionaire.) Turiello recalls his own experience of first seeing Marilyn on the big screen in two 1954 movies, River of No Return and There’s No Business Like Show Business. Although these are generally considered inferior vehicles, Turiello notes how Marilyn made the most of mediocre material, using her star quality to overcome other limitations.

The Seven Year Itch (1955) was, Turiello argues, Marilyn’s first Oscar-worthy role. He analyses this film in depth, and her brilliant later roles in Bus Stop, The Prince and the Showgirl, Some Like it Hot and The Misfits, skipping over the less feted Let’s Make Love and the unfinished Something’s Got to Give.

Naturally, there are a few minor factual errors. As an author myself, I understand how difficult it is to get everything right – especially with a subject as fabled as MM. But I was a little disappointed to find some quotations commonly misattributed to Marilyn in a chapter devoted to her famous witticisms. In a chapter dedicated to trivia, Turiello also claims that she had an IQ of 168. While Marilyn was certainly an intelligent woman, there is no evidence that she ever took this test.

Of course, Marilyn is not the only performer neglected by the Academy. Turiello devotes a chapter to other talents who lost out. However, she is easily one of the most prominent names on that list. Turiello suggests that she should be given a posthumous Lifetime Achievement award. While many fans will agree, the Academy has never awarded a lifetime honour posthumously.

Marilyn: The Quest For An Oscar includes black-and-white photos on almost every page, and makes for a pleasant, undemanding read. Whether or not the Academy takes note, fans will certainly appreciate Turiello’s heartfelt crusade to champion Marilyn’s extraordinary achievements in cinema.

Marilyn Goes ‘Blonde’ in London

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Marilyn by Douglas Kirkland (1961)

After ES Updates reported last week of an exhibition featuring Milton Greene and Douglas Kirkland’s photos of Marilyn opening in Amsterdam, comes news of another Greene/Kirkland show, in the UK. As announced by Luxury London, ‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes Starring Marilyn Monroe’ will be on display at the Little Black Gallery on Park Walk, Chelsea, from January 19-February 27, with a selection of prints for sale.