When John Williams Liked it Hot

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One of Hollywood’s best-known composers, John Williams, was honoured with a AFI Life Achivement Award this week, as Steve Pond reports for The Wrap. One of Williams’ first (uncredited) movie jobs was in the Matty Malneck Orchestra, as pianist on ‘I Wanna Be Loved By You‘, Marilyn’s signature tune from Some Like it Hot.

“The Some Like It Hot clip featured Marilyn Monroe singing ‘I Wanna Be Loved By You,’ with Williams on the soundtrack as part of her backing band. But as he explained in the film, the band did its part in the studio, and simply played to a vocal that Monroe had already recorded.”

‘I Wanna Be Loved by You’ was originally composed by Herbert Stothart and Harry Ruby, with lyrics by Bert Kalmar, for the 1928 musical Good Boy. It was first performed in 1928 by Helen Kane, who became known as the ‘Boop-Boop-a-Doop Girl.’ It has since been covered many times, but Marilyn’s 1959 version is now considered definitive.

Marilyn and Henry Hathaway

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Director Henry Hathaway, who guided Marilyn through her star-making performance in Niagara, was a movie veteran, perhaps best-known for his action pictures. Although seen as gruff and domineering by some, he proved to be one of Marilyn’s most supportive directors.

Henry Hathaway: The Lives of a Hollywood Director, published later this month, is a new biography by Harold N. Pomainville, and promises to be of interest to MM fans (although rather expensive, in my opinion.) He describes how Hathaway dealt with Marilyn’s interfering coach, Natasha Lytess; and how he persuaded Marilyn to sing along to the record in the ‘Kiss’ scene.

Pomeraine also reveals that Zanuck thwarted Hathaway’s plan to cast Marilyn in Of Human Bondage, and that Hathaway advised her to hire Charles Feldman as her new agent as a defence against the hostile studio head. And it was Hathaway who offered Marilyn the chance to star in a Jean Harlow biopic. She rejected it, partly because she was then in dispute with screenwriter Ben Hecht over a shelved autobiography (published after her death as My Story); but perhaps also because the pressures of Harlow’s life mirrored her own.

“Though Hathaway worked with Marilyn only once,” Pomeraine writes, “he became one of her prime defenders. At a time when the Fox hierarchy, including [Darryl] Zanuck, screenwriter Nunnally Johnson, and director Howard Hawks, regarded Monroe as little more than a passing novelty, Hathaway saw her as a rare and sensitive talent: ‘Marilyn was witty and bright, but timid. She was afraid of people.'”

Bement Mayor Honours Marilyn

Marilyn takes a break during her trip to Bement with hairdresser Peter Leonardi at her side. Photo by Eve Arnold, 1955
Marilyn takes a break during her trip to Bement with hairdresser Peter Leonardi at her side. Photo by Eve Arnold, 1955

Almost sixty-one years after Marilyn’s trip to Bement, Illinois – in honour of Abraham Lincoln’s visit a century before – the town’s mayor is repaying the tribute, WCIA3 reports. Pat Tiernan also owns a hair salon, and lives in the house where Marilyn stopped for a rest. Photographer Eve Arnold, who accompanied Marilyn that day, captured the moment – with MM’s own hairdresser, Peter Leonardi, also in the frame.

“Pat Tieman started cutting hair more than 20 years ago. The iconic face that’s all over Salon 101 has been around a lot longer than that.

He’s got a collection of things connected to Marilyn Monroe. Ever since he moved into the Marilyn Monroe house in town, people started giving him stuff, like articles about when she visited, pictures and collectibles.

‘She came to the home, she took a nap there, she rested up and soaked her feet because she was sick the day she came,’ said Tieman. ‘She had a kidney infection so her ankles had swelled.’

Now he knows that piece of history forward and backward. People started giving him plates, statues and other pieces with her picture. His shop reflects his passion.

Marilyn got paid $500 to make that appearance. We’re told she was very interested in seeing the Bryant Cottage, where Abraham Lincoln had been, while she was there.”

Charles Laughton’s Home for Sale

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A young Marilyn attends an acting workshop at Charles Laughton’s home

The former home of actor Charles Laughton, the great English character actor, is now on the market for $19.995 million, reports the Los Angeles Times.

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“The Pacific Palisades home where British stage and film actor Charles Laughton and his wife, actress Elsa Lanchester, lived during the 1940s is up for sale at $19.995 million.

Laughton and Lanchester bought the Mediterranean-style estate in 1941 and used the property to host acting classes for a number of years. Shelley Winters and Marilyn Monroe were among those said to have participated in the workshops hosted in a theater, now outfitted as a media room. Laughton and Monroe would later appear together in the 1952 film O. Henry’s Full House.

Silent-film comic Charlie Chaplin was a frequent guest of the couple, who sold the property in 1949.”

“I took Marilyn with me a couple of times to Laughton’s group, which I was attending religiously,” Winters recalled in her 1980 memoir, Shelley: Also Known as Shirley. “Her whispery voice would become completely inaudible, and she seemed to shrivel up. After the second time I realised it was such agony for her that I resolved not to invite her again unless she asked me and I really felt she could handle it.” She also mentioned that Marilyn felt intimidated by some of Laughton’s ritzier students, including Paulette Goddard. And although Laughton was neither young nor handsome, Marilyn told Shelley that she considered him “the sexiest man alive.”

Marilyn and Charles Laughton in 'O. Henry's Full House' (1952)
Marilyn and Charles Laughton in ‘O. Henry’s Full House’ (1952)

Despite this inauspicious beginning, Marilyn would fondly remember the experience of acting with Laughton several years later, in ‘The Cop and the Anthem’, the opening episode in O. Henry’s Full House. In this adaptation of one of O. Henry’s most popular short stories, set at the turn of the 20th century, Laughton played ‘Soapy’, a tramp who tries to get arrested so he can spend the winter in a warm jail. In one scene, he accosts a young woman (MM) on the street, in full view of a policeman. However, it is to no avail, as the lady is a ‘pro’ and all too willing to accept his advances.

“I was overawed at first but he was very nice to me,” she told journalist W.J. Weatherby (Conversations With Marilyn, Chapter 15.) “He accepted me as an equal. I enjoyed working with him. He was like a character out of Charles Dickens. At first I felt it was like acting with a king or somebody great – like a god!”

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Marilyn and Arthur on Sky Arts Tonight

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For those in the UK who subscribe to the Sky Arts channel, Marilyn and Arthur Miller are featured in the latest episode of the documentary series, Artists in Love, tonight at 8pm.

“I’d been disgruntled by this series. Featuring famous partnerships, it had chosen pairings where the man was the genius and the woman merely his muse. Why not tell us about Leigh/Olivier or Plath/Hughes, marriages where the woman does a bit more than wash the dishes and spark up her man’s imagination?

The series corrects that tonight by focusing on the short marriage of Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller. When Miller first met the blonde bombshell he immediately saw past her sexual image, saying to her: ‘You’re the saddest girl I’ve ever met.’

And yet, despite seeming a sad ‘girl’ to this intellectual man, he was in awe of her, recalling of this first meeting: ‘I had to flee or walk into a doom beyond all knowing. With all her radiance she was surrounded by a darkness which perplexed me.’ And this impressed Marilyn: he walked away rather than swooning, pawing and patronising her.” – Julie McDowall, The National

Gary Vitacco-Robles on Marilyn, and ‘Icon’

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Gary Vitacco-Robles, author of the acclaimed two-volume biography, Icon: The Life, Times and Films of Marilyn Monroe, has been interviewed by ES staffer Sirkku Aaltonen over at her MM Book Blog, and has shared the exciting news that he is currently working on a third installment about Marilyn’s untimely death.

“Nearly the week I completed the editing process for ICON Volume 2, significant new information surfaced. Even now, with the approaching auction of the contents of Marilyn’s New York and Los Angeles filing cabinets, we have new information and evidence available which will be published in the auction catalogues. Collector Scott Fortner contacted me about the documents related to Marilyn considering the purchase of a Manhattan townhouse in late 1961, around the time Dr. Greenson was encouraging her to purchase a home in Los Angeles. How I wish I had access to that material during my research! Although Volume 1 is in its second edition, there is potential for Volume 2 to have one as well. As you know, I’ve been involved in the Goodnight, Marilyn Radio investigation into Marilyn’s death since February of 2015. I’ve appeared as Nina Boski and Randall Libero’s frequent guest and current weekly panel member for three seasons and will participate as an investigative team member for the Seeking the Truth Conference in Los Angeles in September. I’ve now acquired the 641-page LA District Attorney’s investigation materials and final report from 1982 and had the privilege of consulting with forensic experts such as Dr. Cyril Wecht; psychiatrist Dr. Reef Kareem; and suicide expert Dr. Scott Bonn. This 21st century investigation will yield new results and impact our perceptions about her death. This research is worthy of a Volume 3, of which Ben Ohmart, my publisher (BearManor Media), is very interested in supporting. So, I am currently researching and outlining ICON: The Life, Times & Films of Marilyn Monroe Volume 3/The 1982 & 2016 Investigations into Her Death. That’s just a working title. Each volume in denser and longer than the previous one; I believe the third will be the biggest of the trilogy. Things naturally align in threes, so I’m happy for a third volume.”

Marilyn, Ralph Roberts and the Missing Coat

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Marilyn arrives in London, 1956

Today, items from Marilyn’s wardrobe sell for thousands – millions, even. But as Hap Roberts – nephew of Marilyn’s masseur and close friend, Ralph – tells the Salisbury Post‘s Mark Wineka, the  Burberry trench-coat which she gave him is now lost.

It’s not clear exactly which coat this was – but Marilyn wore a trench-coat during her time in England, while filming The Prince and the Showgirl – and again for a scene in Let’s Make Love (1960.)

In one interview, Ralph claimed that Marilyn picked it up from Arthur Miller’s home in Roxbury, Connecticut after their divorce, but she decided to give it to Ralph when she found it smelled of another woman’s perfume. (This is odd, because in her own account of the same visit, Marilyn’s half-sister Bernice Baker Miracle said it was a fur coat, and that MM gave it to her dog, Maf, to sleep on.)

“Roberts became Monroe’s official masseur in 1959, and for the last three-plus years of her life, during her various romantic entanglements, Ralph would give her massages daily, becoming a close confidante and friend to Monroe.

Together, they ran errands, ate meals, attended parties and took plane trips across the country between New York and California.

Toward the end of his life, Ralph Roberts returned to Salisbury and lived in a little house off Parkview Circle, not far from Hap’s offices with Statewide Title. They would meet every afternoon around 4 p.m. to talk, and every Sunday at 5 p.m. Ralph would show up at Hap and his wife Annette’s house for martinis.

Ralph Roberts always brought his Sunday New York Times with him and would leave the newspaper with the couple so they could read it later. Once, Roberts carried with him an art deco martini set Monroe had given him.

Roberts also possessed a box of chandelier crystals Monroe had collected. The actress thought the crystals carried healing properties, and in the years after her death, Ralph sometimes would hand them out as gifts to friends.

Ralph Roberts died April 30, 1999, at age 82. About a month later, Hap and his cousin Claudette began the somber task of cleaning up and going through their uncle’s house. They noticed a woman’s Burberry trench coat in the closet and figured it was a friend’s coat, left at Ralph’s house in the past.

They placed it in the things going to Goodwill.

About a month later, Hap found a list of Marilyn Monroe items Ralph had inventoried. On the list was ‘Burberry trench coat.’

Hap could only ease the heartache of having given away the coat by thinking to himself  that ‘at least it’s keeping somebody dry and warm and Ralph would like that.'”

Marilyn: a Russian Perspective

Marilyn in 'The Misfits', photographed by Inge Morath (1960)
Marilyn in ‘The Misfits’, photographed by Inge Morath (1960)

Marilyn was an admirer of Russian culture: she studied Stanislavsky’s teachings on acting, and campaigned (sadly without success) to star as Grushenka in a movie adaptation of Dostoevsky’s classic novel, The Brothers Karamazov. At the height of America’s anti-Communist fervour, she observed, ‘They’re for the people, aren’t they?’ She briefly considered visiting Russia in 1956, and was later introduced to Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev at a Hollywood luncheon.

However, when the Russian press unjustly accused her of ruining Arthur Miller’s career, she shot back: “Listen! I know Arthur Miller better than the Russians do and I’ve learned more from Arthur Miller than the Russians have. I’ve learned from Arthur Miller that he does not believe in a communistic state. The Russians can talk all they want about my ‘climb to the stars,’ his ‘broken life,’ and what I’ve done to somebody. But I know the man. They’re talking about an idea. They can have their ideas. I had the man.” (Redbook, 1962.)

In some quarters, however, it appears that these prejudices still exist. In a recent article entitled ‘Candle in the wind: America, Russia, and Marilyn Monroe’s Free Fall’ for the RBTH website, novelist Viktor Yerofeyev recalls meeting Miller with his third wife Inge Morath during the 1990s, and ruminates on Miller’s prior marriage to Marilyn.

“I looked at Inge and realized that it was for this woman with an intelligent look that Miller had refused to be the skyscraper roof for Monroe, after which the star flew downward. Although in her flight, possibly, she remained the most popular actress in America.

America, at first glance, is not about actresses, singers or writers. It is about the absolute success of an individual, who was nothing and then became everything (as our revolutionary song goes).

And it is not important whether this person had a poor or rich childhood, whether he lived in an orphanage or he quietly went to school. Because this, from the national audience’s view, is routine, but what is important is that the chosen one reached the sky and turned into the Himalayas.

In such a system happiness is only a substitute for powerful success and in this system Monroe and Miller were like twins. And they appeared equal on the cover of a popular magazine that announced their union to the whole country.

Why equal? Because Miller’s high-altitude flight was stronger than Death of a Salesman, which held up a mirror to America. And Monroe’s high-altitude flight was stronger than all of her roles and all of her money. Two high-flying planes.

However, America is actually a country with a double cultural circulatory system. While the larger circle of cultural circulation is destined for the mass public, which creates the broth of national success, the smaller circle is the one in which I found myself in Connecticut, and where a lot opposes the larger circle … Properly speaking, where the Millers live, happiness … is valued more than success and talent is more important than money…

The participants were snobs but as I have just said, they were the cream of the crop. And in this circle Monroe and Miller were opposites. She was no one and he was everything. But she was burning with desire to be included in this world.”