In addition to the Marilyn Remembered itinerary for this year’s memorial week, sister group Immortal Marilyn is also organising a programme of events to commemorate the 55th anniversary of her death, including a pool party on August 2 at the Avalon Hotel (where Marilyn shot her famous Life magazine cover with Philippe Halsman back in 1952), and on August 4, a sunset dinner and toast at the Santa Monica Pier, a favourite haunt from childhood to one of her photo shoot with George Barris in 1962. There is also a tour of Marilyn’s Hollywood from LA Woman Tours on August 1, and of course, the annual service at Westwood Memorial Park on August 5 – more details here.
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and How to Marry a Millionaire – two of Marilyn’s best comedy vehicles, released consecutively in 1953 and featuring strong female casts, gleefully sending up gold-digger tropes – will be screened as a double bill at the Capri Theatre in the Goodwood district of Adelaide, south Australia from 2pm on August 20.
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes will be screened at the TCL Chinese Theater (formerly Grauman’s Chinese) on Thursday, August 3, as part of the memorial week activities organised by Los Angeles-based fanclub Marilyn Remembered to commemorate the 55th anniversary of her death. George Chakiris, who danced with Marilyn in the classic musical comedy, will be a special guest. Tickets are going fast, so if you’d like to attend, book here.
Marilyn herself visited the Chinese Theater many times as a child, and famously signed her name in cement outside the venue alongside co-star Jane Russell shortly after the enormous success of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes in 1953. The original, rather risqué costume for her signature ‘Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend’ number, and another Travilla gown (not seen in the movie, but subsequently worn by Marilyn at public events) will be displayed on the night, courtesy of collector and Marilyn Remembered founder Greg Schreiner.
For more information on the Marilyn Remembered itinerary for this year’s memorial week, click here.
Filmgoers in the San Francisco Bay area will celebrate Marilyn’s life and career at Moraga’s Rheem Theatre on Saturday July 15, for an evening including movie clips, Marilyn Wines, a lecture by Derek Zemrak and music from Patti Leidecker.
Over at the MudRock website, JPat Brown looks back at the FBI’s abandoned attempt to ‘fact-check the factoids’ about Monroe and the Kennedys in Norman Mailer’s 1973 bestseller, Marilyn. Did the FBI think Mailer’s claims were too outrageous to be believed? Or were they content to let him smear Camelot? (Incidentally, longtime FBI director J. Edgar Hoover – who kept tabs on Marilyn, and led the official investigation into President Kennedy’s assassination – passed away a year before Mailer’s book was published.)
“FBI files released to Conor Skelding reveal that the Bureau was sufficiently alarmed about author Norman Mailer’s accusations about their role in Marilyn Monroe’s death, leading them to investigate if they had, in fact, wiretapped the actress phone.
The incident, near the end of Mailer’s sizable file, began in 1973, when the former agent in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles office, William Simon, received a call from Lloyd Shearer, the editor of Parade. Shearer had received an advance copy of Mailer’s upcoming book, which contained some fairly salacious gossip regarding the Bureau and the Blonde Bombshell.
Simon’s response was a pretty unequivocal ‘I have no idea what you’re talking about.’
While it’s unclear how believable Shearer found Simon’s protestations of innocence, the Bureau apparently found the charges alarming enough to inquire if they did actually know what Shearer was talking about.
The Bureau’s attitude changed completely, however, when they actually got ahold of an advance copy.
Mailer had apparently taken some of the more lurid theories surrounding Monroe’s death and ran with them, positing a joint CIA-FBI murder plot as retaliation against the Kennedys for being mad at them for bungling the Bay of Pigs invasion.
The FBI, releasing the futility of fact-checking someone who was openly challenging the very concept of truth … and who would no doubt capitalize on the controversy, decided to just let the matter rest here.
What’s the takeaway here? If you’re going to lie about the FBI, make it big.”
This unsettling painting – in which Marilyn’s image is merged with Mickey Mouse – is part of ‘A Loss of Innocence’, the new exhibition from Costa Rican artist John Paul Fauves, at the Meir Art Gallery in Antwerp, Belgium, Forbes reports. You can view more of Fauves’ work here.
“For me, inspiration comes in a few different forms – but I am constantly perplexed and intrigued with the human population that surrounds me on a daily basis. The inception of this theme ‘A Loss Of Innocence’ stems from watching my son grow up and discover the physical and social aspects of the world. As he ages from a toddler to a young boy, I’ve held onto the idea of his naivete and his inevitable introduction to the dangers of the world. This is why the iconic ‘Mickey Mouse’ is used so heavily throughout the series. Viewing this symbol outside the realm of Disney makes the viewer engage with the familiar image in an unsettling and heavily abstracted background, forcing them to re-think their relationship with the beloved character.”
The dress worn by Marilyn when she sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to President John F. Kennedy in 1962 – bought for $4.81 million by Jim Pattinson of Ripley’s Entertainment at Julien’s in November 2016, the highest amount ever paid for any dress at auction – was displayed for one day only in Pattison’s hometown of Luseland in Saskatchewan, Canada on Monday, reports CKOM.
Remembering Marilyn, a LIFE magazine special from 2009 (also published in hardback), has been reissued at newsagents across the US and Amazon stores worldwide, as well as via Kindle. It’s a gorgeous visual tribute with well-written commentary (far superior to their scandal-heavy 2014 effort, The Loves of Marilyn.) You can read my original review of LIFE: Remembering Marilyn here.
Niagara, the technicolor film noir which gave Marilyn one of her best dramatic roles, gets a rare outdoor screening on July 14, as part of the Summer Sizzle Under the Stars program at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, Connecticut (only 35 miles from Marilyn’s former home in Roxbury.) The movie complements a Pop Art exhibition at the museum, and there will be live music and dinner available – more info here.
Barry Norman, the British critic who fronted a weekly film show on BBC television from 1972-1998, has died aged 83. In the late 1970s, he wrote and presented The Hollywood Greats, a documentary series profiling legendary stars. An episode about Marilyn, featuring interviews with Jack Lemmon, Billy Wilder and Eli Wallach, and many others, was broadcast in 1979 – you can watch it here.
He also wrote two books accompanying the series. The latter volume, The Movie Greats (1981), includes a chapter about Marilyn.
“What she most certainly was, and what she proved herself to be time and again, was a most wonderfully gifted comedienne, a woman whose contribution of abundant physical charms – a positive cornucopia of femininity – and wistful shyness made you at once want to laugh at her and protect her. Nobody since has come even remotely close to replacing her.
If only, you think, if only someone had given her a great big hug when she was still a little girl and said, ‘Hey, listen, I love you,’ then maybe everything would have been different. But in that case she would probably never have become Marilyn Monroe and the world would have been the poorer for it because Marilyn Monroe was something rather special.
You can take every possible identifiable ingredient that she had and put them together and multiply them and add in the date and the number you first thought of and at the end of it all you’ve got is a blonde, a small girl with a sweet face and a remarkably voluptuous body. But you still haven’t got another Marilyn Monroe.”