Marilyn and Marlene in Milan

Marilyn with Marlene Dietrich, 1955

A month-long retrospective dedicated to Hollywood’s greatest blonde icons – Marilyn and Marlene Dietrich – is now in progress at MIC: The Interactive Cinema Museum in Milan, Italy. Still to come are The Seven Year Itch (August 6); There’s No Business Like Show Business (August 9); Let’s Make Love (August 10); Bus Stop (August 12); Niagara (August 13); Don’t Bother to Knock (August 16); How to Marry a Millionaire (August 19); Bert Stern: Original Madman (August 20); Monkey Business (August 23); Marilyn Monroe: The Final Days (August 24); Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (August 26); and Some Like It Hot (August 27.)

Marilyn Photo Collector Sues Vanity Fair

A collector of celebrity memorabilia is suing Vanity Fair for unauthorised use of this photo – showing Marilyn attending the Madison Square Garden concert where she famously sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to President Kennedy in 1962 – in their 2016 magazine special, Vanity Fair Icons: Marilyn Monroe, reports TMZ.

“In docs, obtained by TMZ, [Aric] Hendrix says he’s a collector of historical photographs and owns the photo AND the negative of Marilyn. He’s suing for damages in excess of $1 million. We’ve reached out to Vanity Fair, so far no word back.”

55 Years Ago: The Many Meanings of Marilyn

Marilyn in ‘Let’s Make Love’, 1960

Academic website JSTOR Daily is exploring its archive for perspectives on Marilyn’s enduring fame, featuring quotes from Susan J. Hubert, Gloria Steinem, Lois Banner and Lore Segal (whose essay, ‘Sexy and Her Sisters’, was also published in the 2002 anthology, All the Available Light: A Marilyn Monroe Reader.)

“Marilyn’s mature comedies trust us to have internalized both myths, so that our expectations can be at once satisfied and mocked. In Let’s Make Love, sexy Marilyn is so sweet and good, she sympathetically coaches the newest member of the cast, who has been hired because he looks so much like the millionaire the play is going to make fun of. Luckily for the plot, her innocent decency keeps her from catching on to the fraud: her protege is the actual millionaire, hanging around to make love to her. But Marilyn’s specialty was to conflate the good girl and bad girl into the one and only Marilyn. It is the neatest trick.”

55 Years Ago: Newsweek Remembers Marilyn

Newsweek has republished two stories dealing with past anniversaries of Marilyn’s death. The first, from 1982, was originally entitled ‘Keeping the Monroe Memories Aglow‘ and focuses on  collectors and fans, some of whom are still active today. ‘The 24-Year Itch‘ dates from 1986, and features contributions from  feminist author Gloria Steinem, and Margaret Parton, one of the last journalists to speak at length with Marilyn.

“Monroe has mostly attracted male biographers. Probably few of them found it remarkable that an intelligent woman would talk like a breathless teenager or play a string of bimbos. Looking at Monroe’s life through the eyes of a contemporary feminist, Steinem now sees Norma Jeane Baker (the real name behind all the imagery) as a girl who never grew up. She was an early bloomer who spent her childhood shunted from one foster home to the next. She remained trapped inside the voluptuous Marilyn, forever seeking the love and approval she had missed as a kid. ‘She was just so vulnerable and unprotected,’ Steinem says.

The effect of social and sexual convention in shaping a tinseltown goddess’s behavior and attitudes is worth remembering. Steinem reminds us that in Monroe’s day a woman so spectacularly sexy was seen by other women primarily as a threat (that, of course, could never happen among the sisterhood today). When Margaret Parton, one of the few women journalists to cover Marilyn during her life, did a profile for the Ladies’ Home Journal, it was killed for being too favorable. Years later, when Ms. magazine ran a cover story on Monroe called ‘The Woman Who Died Too Soon,’ it became one of the magazine’s best-selling issues … In a feminist age, it is easier for women to respond with sympathy to the way Monroe was treated.”

55 Years Ago: A Poem for Marilyn

Photo by Bert Stern, 1962

On Friday, August 3, 1962, Marilyn called her close friend Norman Rosten and talked about her plans to visit New York that fall, urging him joyfully, ‘Let’s start to live before we get old.’ By Sunday, the world was mourning her death. Norman wrote this poem while Marilyn was still alive, but she never had a chance to read it.

“We who spread the rainbow under glass
And weigh the most elusive sky and air,
Of that clan I come to track your heart –
But I’m baffled by those loose strands of hair.

You stand, finger at your lips, lost
In a long-abandoned heaven. No one within,
The angels gone, and all the harps undone.
What legend draws you there? O hurry down!

Surely your home’s with us, and not the gods.
Below your sealed window as you watch,
A river barge goes by, someone waves,
You laugh and throw a kiss for him to catch.

You’re not to be rescued wholly in this world.
It must be so. As many are saved,
That many drown. I see you clinging
To rooms, to phones, forgotten to be loved.”

Marilyn’s Birthday Dress in San Francisco

A lookalike poses with Marilyn’s dress

After last month’s tour of Canada, Marilyn’s ‘birthday dress’ is now on display at  Ripley’s in San Francisco throughout August, reports the SF Examiner. While the Kennedy connections may be foremost in some minds, the Fisherman’s Wharf location is more redolent of Marilyn’s marriage to Joe DiMaggio, a humble fisherman’s son who grew up in the city, and bought a restaurant on the Wharf after finding fame in baseball.

“Ripley’s bought the one-of-a-kind dress designed by Jean Louis from a private collector last year, earning a Guinness World Record for the most expensive dress sold at auction. For the last 17 years, the gown was ‘kept well, but away from the public,’ Meyer said.

The dress, along with the gala’s poster, advertisement and a ticket, will be on display at San Francisco’s Ripley’s at Fisherman Wharf every day from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. for the next month.

After that, Ripley’s will tour the collection around its 32 locations in 10 countries. The dress will be traveling incognito with at least two guards and in a case designed specifically for it.”

Platinum Blonde: Collectible Marilyn

150 photos of Marilyn taken by George Barris in the weeks before she died are the centrepiece of a dedicated auction at Paddle8 in New York, reports Vanity Fair.

“The auction, called Platinum Blonde: Collectible Marilyn, takes place in New York from August 2 to 11, also includes memorabilia—including Monroe’s eighth-grade class photo from Ralph Waldo Emerson Middle School and movie posters from classics like Some Like It Hot and The Seven Year Itch—from the late star, who would have turned 91 this year.

Barris, who originally met with Monroe to do a Cosmopolitan story from the set of Something’s Got To Give, instead became a confidant of sorts in the final weeks of her life. The two began working on a book about Monroe’s life; Barris interviewed her extensively and began to photograph her as well.

In the 1980s, private collector acquired the images from Barris, who died late in 2016. In this auction, these three lots are presented in the original photoboxes from Barris, ranging from 43 to 63 images in each, with estimates from $8000-24,000. The Paddle8 auction, to [Dean] Harmeyer’s knowledge, features the biggest collection of Barris’s work to ever go on sale.”

Marilyn: A Sex Symbol’s Anger

A scene from ‘The Misfits’

In an intriguing article for the feminist magazine, Bust, author Dana Burnell suggests that Marilyn’s reputation for ‘difficult’ behaviour  was a manifestation of her suppressed anger at the Hollywood system’s exploitation and disregard of her talent.

“The sense of watching a trapped butterfly permeates her best performances; it’s the quality that the starlets set up to compete against her were missing. They might have had more professionalism, but they lacked Monroe’s self-lacerating perception. That Monroe was angry, there can be no doubt. All of her actions speak to it: The lateness, the passivity, the pills and the booze, the relationships. The paralyzing depressions that are the rage of those who feel they are not allowed rage. The pills just damped down the anger and became the only thing that killed it — and her. For only half a moment did fame do what she thought it would, and make her happy.”