Marissa Mulder: Fragments of Marilyn

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Cabaret singer Marissa Mulder will perform Fragments of Marilyn, a unique tribute blending music from past and present with Marilyn’s own words, at the Gaslight Theatre in St Louis, Missouri tonight and tomorrow (March 18-19), reports STLPublicRadio.

“Marissa Mulder, a cabaret singer, will perform a tribute to Marilyn Monroe in a variety of styles. She said she drew inspiration to do so from a photograph.

‘There was just something about her eyes in the photograph that registered with me,’ Mulder said.

Her performance is unusual in that the music is from all over the place…and different from the style you might normally see in a cabaret club.

‘I’ll be singing songs from Alanis Morissette to George Gershwin to Noel Coward to Nine Inch Nails to Tom Waits,’ Mulder said. ‘It is a musical journey about Marilyn’s life. All of the spoken-word in the show are Marilyn’s words from diaries, recipes, hotel stationery. It is chronicling her inner feelings from joy to sadness.'”

Marilyn’s Korea Dress On Show in Bendigo

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One of Marilyn’s most iconic dresses, rarely seen today, is currently on display as part of Twentieth Century Fox Presents Marilyn Monroe, the new exhibition at Bendigo Art Gallery, as Scott Fortner reports for his MM Collection blog.

“Many of the items on exhibit have been seen around the world, including the US, Italy, Germany, Japan, Canada, Spain and Prague.  However, one item in particular hasn’t been seen by the public in over 20 years, and that’s the striking purple gown that Marilyn Monroe wore throughout her Korean USO tour in 1954 when she performed for US troops stationed there.  Marilyn is often quoted as saying performing in Korea was one of the highlights of her life.

The dress and matching bolero jacket, owned by a private collector in Australia, is quite simply, stunning.  It sparkles in the light today exactly as it must have in February of ’54 as Marilyn sang ‘Diamonds are a girl’s best friend’ in front of thousands of US servicemen in freezing temperatures.  It was an absolute thrill to see this treasure live and in person.  And for those who may doubt it’s the actual Korea USO dress, I’ve done a bit of analysis, and I’m convinced it’s THE dress Marilyn owned and wore throughout her USO tour.  Many have speculated the whereabouts of this dress, yet those of us ‘in the know’ have known it was in the hands of a private collector in Australia.  His generosity in sharing the gown with the public is greatly appreciated.”

Marilyn Mania Comes to Bendigo

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Reviews are coming in for Twentieth Century Fox Presents Marilyn Monroe, the new exhibition at the Bendigo Art Gallery. In an article for the 3Sixty website, Irvin Hanna reveals how Marilyn mania has come to Australia.

“The girl that every woman wants to be best friends with has landed in the quaint city of Bendigo, two hours by train from Melbourne. Banners and stickers promoting the Marilyn Monroe Exhibition can be spotted the moment I arrived at the Bendigo Train Station. Turns out it was only a glimpse of full-blown Marilyn mania all over the city. At the main crossing near Alexandra Fountain is Forever Marilyn, an 8-metre-high sculpture by Seward Johnson. This impressive work of art has been seen in Chicago and Palm Springs in the United States, and is now in Australia for its first international visit.

Strolling along the Bendigo CBD (central business district), it was fun to see how everyone participates in honour of the Hollywood superstar. A picture frame store has images of Marilyn all over the window display, and there was a boutique with knock-off versions of her iconic dresses. Restaurants have altered their menu to include special edition dishes and cocktails, and visitors can select accommodation package offers from several hotels and B&Bs that include tickets and other goodies in conjunction with the exhibition.

This wonderful collaboration by Bendigo Art Gallery and Twentieth Century Fox took about two years to materialise. There are more than 100 items, prints, old photographs, personal clothing, as well as iconic costumes from her movies, showcasing the stages of metamorphosis from girl next door to blonde bombshell. All are on loan from the studio and from private collectors all over the world.

In between the items on exhibit are screens with clippings of Marilyn’s movies and live performances, including a 6-by-9 metre motion picture display, and little television sets from the bygone era. But my favourite section of the whole exhibition has to be the 1960s-style sitting area that was furnished with two beige retro armchairs, an old school wooden cupboard, as well as a projector and screen that show clippings of her old movies. Drawn by such a magnetic presence, I could’ve spent the whole afternoon there watching Marilyn strut her magic on the screen.

For the duration of the exhibition (which runs until 10 July), there are a myriad of events and activities in celebration of Marilyn. The Eaglehawk Town Hall will be hosting movie nights from April till June with some of her classic titles including River of No Return and The Misfits. Those wishing to relive the glam era can check out the grand gala night at Ulumbarra Theatre on 14 May, where there will be a screening of Some Like It Hot. Come in your best 1950s costume, as the ticket includes a post-screening party with entertainment and light food. And if you need more reason to party, the Bendigo Art Gallery Foundation will also be hosting a red carpet fundraiser cocktail event on 4 June, with live music and a silent auction of some of the items in the exhibition.”

‘Some Like it Hot’ in Michigan

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The Franke Center for the Arts in Marshall, Michigan is offering ‘a hot date with Marilyn’ at 7pm on April 9, when a fundraising screening of Some Like it Hot will be accompanied by costume contests, raffles and some intriguing prizes – including a luxury weekend break in Chicago, where the movie is partly set. Tickets cost $15, with more details available from the Daily Reporter.

The movie will be shown in two parts, with a 25-minute intermission, during which food and concessions will be available. Raffles, prizes, intermission treats and other entertainment will fill out the evening.

‘During one of the raffles, we’re going to give away a two-night stay at the Intercontinental – one of Chicago’s best hotels,’ [Patty] Williams said. ‘Because the movie begins in Chicago, we thought it would be a nice touch to offer a Chicago vacation – even though Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon decide that the town is too hot for them.'”

Revisiting Marilyn’s Sutton Place Neighbourhood

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The Millers outside Sutton Place, 1956

Marilyn moved into a 13th floor apartment at Sutton Place on 444 East 57th Street in 1956, and it would be her New York home until her death six years later. Only one other unit was situated on the 13th floor, which is now up for sale at $6,295,000, Metro reports. (You can read more about Marilyn’s apartment here.)

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“According to a 2011 New York Times profile on Monroe’s private and public life, the famed actress moved into an apartment on the 13th floor of the building at 444 East 57th St. right after she married Arthur Miller.

She had previously been renting an apartment at 2 Sutton Place, according to the Times, ‘not far from 36 Sutton Place (at 55th Street), the classy digs in How to Marry a Millionaire, in which she played the myopic, diamond-seeking Pola.’

Leaving Sutton Place in 1960
Leaving Sutton Place in 1960

The couple stayed in the home until 1961 when they divorced, according to the Times. It was where Miller wrote the final draft of The Misfits.

As for Monroe, ‘she often took her Maltese terrier, Maf (short for Mafia Honey), for walks to the park on Sutton Place. They would sit on a bench and gaze at the East River, Maf recalls in his ghosted memoirs’ (The Life and Opinions of Maf the Dog, a 2010 novel by Andrew O’Hagan), and she would ‘stare into space and mention names,’ the Times described.”

Marilyn and James Dean: The Love That Never Was

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Marilyn at the ‘East of Eden’ premiere, 1955

Actor James Dean is the latest subject – or victim – of celebrity biographer Darwin Porter, whose 2012 book, Marilyn at Rainbow’s End, was slated by fans. Co-written with Danforth Prince and due for publication in April, James Dean: Tomorrow Never Comes makes the eye-popping assertion that Dean was embroiled in a sado-masochistic relationship with Marlon Brando. And according to the Daily Mail, ‘Dean supposedly also had a fling with Marilyn Monroe when they spent two weekends a beach house on Fire Island, an idyllic getaway East of New York.’

The Daily Express has more detail, rendered in Porter’s trademark purple prose:

“Amazingly Dean dreamed of marrying Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor. Dean met Monroe in 1955 and the pair quickly adjourned to a romantic weekend at a beachfront cottage.

‘He was very loving, very romantic,’ Monroe told actress Shelley Winters. ‘I’ve agreed to marry him one day.’ But after several weeks they recognised that marriage would be disastrous.

‘Let’s admit the truth: both of us need babysitters,’ said Dean. Monroe agreed: ‘It wouldn’t work. We’d end up destroying each other.’ However even after they split Monroe remained possessive, berating him about his fling with Taylor.”

Marilyn did, in fact, visit Fire Island on several occasions during 1955, as the Strasbergs owned a holiday home there. Dean was friendly with the Strasbergs due to his association with the Actors Studio. However, no such tryst has ever been mentioned until now. As with the Brando story, it seems unlikely that an encounter between such iconic stars would take so long to be revealed.  (Porter has also claimed that Marilyn had affairs with Elizabeth Taylor and Ronald Reagan in his previous biographies, but once again, there is no solid evidence for this.)

In her 1989 memoir, Shelley Winters recalled seeing a Los Angeles preview of Brando’s film On the Waterfront with Marilyn and James Dean in early 1954. As Marilyn had just married Joe DiMaggio and was spending most of her time in San Francisco while in dispute with Twentieth Century-Fox, this seems questionable. However, Winters did know both Marilyn and Dean quite well, and some fans have suggested that the preview may actually have been Brando’s 1951 film, A Streetcar Named Desire.

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In any case, Winters’ memories did not suggest any intimacy between Marilyn and Dean. She recalled that after the movie, she and Marilyn drove to film director Nick Ray’s bungalow at the Chateau Marmont, and that Dean rode ahead on his motorcycle, ‘playing chicken’ with them – which angered and upset Marilyn.

Needless to say, the quotations attributed to Winters in Porter’s book do not appear in her own memoirs – which make no mention of an affair between Marilyn and Dean. And the quotations attributed to Marilyn do not appear in any other source.

Before his untimely death in September 1955, Dean was said to have been one of several actors considered as a possible co-star for Marilyn in Bus Stop (the part eventually went to newcomer Don Murray.) And director Henry Hathaway had hoped to pair Marilyn and Dean in a remake of Of Human Bondage. The film was later made with Kim Novak and Laurence Harvey.

Although they may have been united in countless tacky Photoshops, the only time Marilyn and Dean were connected publicly was at the 1955 premiere of his film, East of Eden. The event was a benefit for the Actors Studio, and Marilyn served as an ‘usherette’. She was accompanied by Milton Greene, and was later photographed with comedian Milton Berle – but not with James Dean, because he wasn’t there!