MM Collection Set For Bendigo

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After news from Maite Minguez Ricart and Debbie Reynolds, Scott Fortner – owner of one of the world’s largest collections of Marilyn’s personal property – has given fans a preview of the items he has loaned to the Bendigo Art Gallery in Australia for their much-anticipated exhibition, ‘Twentieth Century-Fox Presents Marilyn Monroe’, opening on March 5.  You can follow Scott’s updates on the exhibition at The MM Collection‘s Facebook page.

More About Marilyn at MAMA

Artwork by Belinda Fraser
Artwork by Belinda Fraser

John McDonald, art critic for the Sydney Morning Herald, has reviewed Marilyn: Celebrating an American Icon, the touring exhibit now at MAMA Albury, Australia.

“The paintings in this show, put together by an American exhibitions agency, are a strange mixture of minor works by well-known artists, and major pieces by lesser-known practitioners from Europe and America. There is, for instance, a suite of sketches by Richard Lindner, along with prints by Eduardo Paolozzi, Arnulf Rainer, Robert Indiana and Mimmo Rotella. These are the artists I’d call ‘well-known’, but none of them has one iota of Warhol’s public profile. MAMA has also added a couple of paintings by Australia’s most prolific Pop artist, Richard Larter.

The best part of the show – in terms of both quality and quantity – are the photographs, taken by figures such as Cecil Beaton, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Ernst Haas, Eve Arnold, Alfred Eisenstadt and Bert Stern (although not, alas, Richard Avedon, who produced one of the greatest portraits). It’s a study in contrasts, with Beaton’s work being as ornate as a Baroque sculpture, while Cartier-Bresson captures Monroe in an introspective mood on the set of The Misfits.”

The show also includes a program of supplementary events, including a series of public lectures, a screening of Some Like it Hot, and day trips to Bendigo Art Gallery, where another Marilyn exhibit opens in March.

Most intriguing of all, a fully accredited elective subject — Exhibiting Culture: Marilyn — will be available to La Trobe University undergraduate students and to members of the general public, ABC Central Victoria reports.

“Taught by Dr Sue Gillett, the subject will explore the wider context of the era in which Marilyn Monroe was created.

Dr Gillett said she was interested in women’s roles in cinema and especially exploring the historical context Monroe fits in.

Despite the strong role models in cinema during the forties, with the likes of Katherine Hepburn and Lauren Bacall, Dr Gillett said Monroe came into her stardom in the post-war fifties when there was a push to get women back into the homes after their active role in the war years.

Musical comedy became the genre Monroe was typecast in, and excelled at, even though her aspirations were to become a serious actress.

It was this ‘bind’ that Monroe was in that Dr Gillett said she was interested in exploring.

‘It’s almost like she performed her way into a trap,’ she said.

Her life story was then refashioned by the studio publicists into the American Dream, according to Dr Gillett, which became effective in establishing her as an icon.

Contracted to Fox Studios at a time when actors were controlled by their studios, Monroe struggled to gain some independence and have control over her choice of movies.

Although she had some input into crafting her own image she was working within a system that was very much a men’s club, according to Dr Gillett.

‘She was both a victim but she wasn’t without power.'”

An ‘Itch’ for Marilyn in Palm Beach

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Photos of Marilyn filming the ‘subway scene’ for The Seven Year Itch in New York, 1954, are currently on display at the Norton Museum of Art, as Jan Sjostrom reports for the Palm Beach Daily News. They are owned by Beth Rudin DeWoody, whose vast collection of 20th century photography and video is showcased in a new exhibit, Still/Moving, open now until May 15.  (The unidentified author of these images may one of several photographers who covered the event, including Elliott Erwitt, Sam Shaw, and George S. Zimbel.)

Marilyn’s Hollywood Double Whammy

At the Chicago premiere of 'Some Like it Hot', March 1959
At the Chicago premiere of ‘Some Like it Hot’, March 1959

Two of Marilyn’s films are listed in the Hollywood Reporter‘s 100 Best Hollywood Movies of All Time – with All About Eve at 52, and Some Like it Hot at 47. (The top 3 are The Godfather, The Wizard of Oz and Citizen Kane.)

If you think that’s a rather low ranking, you’re right – after all, Some Like it Hot has been voted best comedy of all time by the AFI and many others. And the same two movies are also featured in a forthcoming book from TCM, The Essentials: 52 Must-See Movies and Why They Matter.

Spain’s Marilyn Archive Heads to Bendigo

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Based in Spain, Maite Minguez Ricart owns one of the world’s largest collections of Marilyn’s personal property, and has just announced that she has loaned many items to Australia’s Bendigo Art Gallery. Opening on March 5, ‘Twentieth Century Fox Presents Marilyn Monroe‘ also features items formerly owned by Debbie Reynolds, and from the collections of Scott Fortner and Greg Schreiner, who head the Los Angeles-based fanclub, Marilyn Remembered.

“The Collection Maite Minguez Ricart has the honor to collaborate with Bendigo Art Gallery (Australia). Curator Tansy Curtin, with 41 pieces belonging to Marilyn Monroe. as dresses, designs of cinema costumes, supplements of her personal locker, awards, photographs of her personal album with handwritten annotations on the back. All of this will be showcased in a fantastic exhibition.”

Debbie Reynolds Remembers Marilyn

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Actress Debbie Reynolds, whose extraordinary collection of Hollywood costumes was auctioned in 2011, has spoken to Australia’s Herald Sun ahead of the Bendigo Art Gallery‘s tribute to Marilyn, which will include several iconic dresses worn by Marilyn before passing into Debbie’s care.

“OH, that dress. That flouncy white, pleated halter-neck billowing around Marilyn Monroe’s knees as ‘delicious’ breezes gust up from a New York subway grate … Debbie Reynolds remembers it well.

Very well. Because once upon a time, she owned that dress.

It belongs to somebody else now … but visitors to the gallery’s much-anticipated Marilyn Monroe exhibition will be dazzled by so much more.

The gold lame gown Monroe wore in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. The racy cocktail dress she sported in Some Like It Hot. A brocade evening cape from her personal wardrobe. A silk blouse she had on the last time she was photographed … And Bendigo can thank Reynolds — true Hollywood royalty — for having rescued several of the objects on display.

Marilyn in her gold Travilla dress, 1953
Marilyn in her gold Travilla dress, 1953

Reynolds is especially fond of ‘Billy Travilla’s gold dress for Gentlemen… so beautiful’ and the Edwardian-style evening gown that graces The Prince and the Showgirl(1956).

‘I loved how Marilyn dressed in that movie. Beautiful silks with little stars and pearls and decorative things … I would have bought it in a second if I could.’

“There was something that Marilyn had, a quality that just stood her above everybody else,’’ she says, “but what a little girl she was …'”

The article also suggests that Reynolds was a good friend of Marilyn. While they were acquainted – Debbie is listed in Marilyn’s last address book – there seems to be little evidence of a closer relationship. Reynolds claims that they attended ‘the same lovely little church’, but Marilyn was not a regular churchgoer.

Debbie also says that she tried to contact Marilyn two days before her death, but was unable to get in touch.  ‘Nobody could,’ Reynolds adds. ‘It was an impossible task. She was surrounded by too many moats.’ In fact, Marilyn spoke to many friends and colleagues in her final days. But if Debbie had left a message, or approached Marilyn through a third party, it’s quite feasible that she didn’t hear back in time.

Whatever the truth may be, there is no doubt that Debbie Reynolds admires Marilyn greatly, and of her sadness at having to sell off her collection when her attempts to establish a museum in Hollywood went unfulfilled.

Mystery Solved: Marilyn and the ‘Careless Man’

Marilyn Monroe's Photoshoots by Harold Lloyd in 1953 (7)

It has been a puzzle to Marilyn fans for many years: the brief video clip where a swimsuit-clad MM, reclining on a poolside lounger, purrs, ‘I hate a careless man.’ It was shot at the home of Harold Lloyd, the silent movie comedian turned cheesecake photographer, in 1953. But little more was known about it. Now Immortal Marilyn‘s April VeVea has found the source of the mystery footage…

“Recently I was going through Marilyn Monroe’s IMDB page under the ‘Archive Footage’ tab. I was surprised to see her listed under a 1995 documentary, narrated by William Shatner, called Trinity and Beyond – The Atomic Bomb Movie. In it, a short 1953 PSA [Public Service Announcement], that was only shown to members of the United States Air Force, called Security is Common Sense is shown at the 47:35 mark. The PSA talks about using common sense measures when dealing with government secrets such as ‘avoiding loose talk, safeguarding top secret information, reporting security violations at once, and avoiding writing about top secret information when writing home.’ At 48:39 who pops up but Marilyn herself to end the PSA!”

Marilyn’s ‘Bus Stop’ Exhibit in Poland

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Over forty photographs taken by Milton Greene during filming of Bus Stop in 1956 are currently on display until March 24 at the Dom Miedziorytnika in Wrocław, marking the city’s year as a European Capital of Culture.  The exhibition includes several rare shots, and is drawn from the Greene archive which was donated to Poland by an American businessman as a partial debt repayment.  Andrzej Owczarek took photos at the exhibition for Radio Poland, and you can watch news footage of the event here.

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