Jonas Mekas is a pioneering indie filmmaker and critic, who first championed Marilyn in a 1961 review of The Misfits for the Village Voice. He also wrote an impassioned tribute after her death in 1962, which is reprinted in his book, Movie Journal: The Rise of New American Cinema, 1959-1971.
“Saturday night I sat in the lobby of the New Yorker Theater, while Marilyn was dying. I was defending her for the last time. Because what people do when they watch The Misfits is listen to those big lines and not see the beauty of MM herself. How can they do that, I thought, listen to those lines and not see the beauty of MM herself, the little bits of screen reality she creates — fragile, yes, but true and beautiful, more beautiful than any other reality around them? Even when she is pronouncing her lines, I watch her and I see on her face something else, not what the lines say, something of much more importance than the lines. The lines are empty, big, ugly; much of the movie itself is ugly. But the reality created by MM is beautiful, with a touch of sadness. She never learned enough actor’s ‘craft’ to cover her true feelings, true embarrassments, true beautiful self; she kept her ‘amateurishness’.”
Now Mekas has published another book, a ‘part diary, part scrapbook’, as CNN reports. It’s unclear if Marilyn is featured in A Dance With Fred Astaire, but an extract published on the Lithub website includes a 1954 interview with Miller.
Ripley’s Museum in Orlando, Florida is organising several events alongside the current display of Marilyn’s ‘Happy Birthday’ dress, including a lookalike contest and screenings of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Some Like It Hot and The Seven Year Itch in December – more details here.
Legendary New York gossip columnist Liz Smith, known as ‘doyenne of dish’, has died aged 94. I have posted a tribute here. As regular readers will know, she was one of the media’s most vocal champions of Marilyn – and you read can all of our Liz-related posts right here.
Good news for North American fans: Marilyn – Her Untold Story, a Hollywood Legends Collectors’ Edition magazine special, is now available for $12.99 from stores across the US (and also in Canada.) Readers tell me it’s a nice visual tribute and a fun collectible, but the text relies too much on rehashed gossip. You can view the contents page below – and if you’re outside the US, a few copies are surfacing on Ebay.
Bill Wamke, who was drafted by the US Army in 1952 and was appointed stenographer to the Commanding General of the 25th Infantry Division, recalls meeting Marilyn during her 1954 tour of Korea in an interview with the Kokomo Herald.
“‘She got to because our division was not on the line when I got over there, the 7 was on the line. My division was not on the line … Of course there was no danger there, and since it was close to the ceasefire, I got there about a month before. Marilyn Monroe moved around the camp and visited with the troops and stuff, and it was neat to see her.’
Wanke still has the photographs he took of Monroe and said, for one of them, she was kind and patient while he got his camera set to take the photo.”
In an article for Mic, Rachel Lubitz takes a closer look at ‘the undeniably cool and surprisingly feminist history of the turtleneck.’
“While the turtleneck enjoyed success in the military during World War II, the 1950s brought the turtleneck into mainstream popularity again, this time on a very different group of people: beatniks and bombshells. It became a marker for a certain kind of cool, edgy artist … Other fans of the black turtleneck in the ’50s and ’60s were people like Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, Lauren Bacall, Eartha Kitt and Jayne Mansfield, who utilized the turtleneck’s tightness to show off her assets.”
Actress Erin Sullivan – currently touring the US in her one-woman show, With Love, Marilyn – will also play a supporting role as MM in an industry presentation of a new musical, Dorothy Dandridge: Hollywood’s Sepia Goddess, at New York’s Off-Broadway Theatre on November 13, BWW reports.
Marilyn first met Dorothy at the Actors’ Lab in Los Angeles during the late 1940s. They were neighbours on Hilldale Avenue in 1952, and Marilyn’s vocal coach, Phil Moore, was also Dorothy’s musical arranger. In 1953, as Marilyn filmed River of No Return, Dorothy began a tumultuous relationship with director Otto Preminger. Sadly, Dorothy’s career was ultimately stymied by racism, and in an eerie echo of Marilyn’s fate, she would also die of a drug overdose.
With a major new biography of Richard Avedon, Something Personal, due to be published later this month, the New Yorker‘s Hilton Als looks back at Nothing Personal, the photographer’s 1964 collaboration with author James Baldwin. An exhibit of material from the book will go on display at the Pace/McGill Gallery, NYC, on November 17.
“As an artist, Avedon told the truth about lies, and why we need them or metaphors to survive, and how people fit into their self-mythologizing like body bags, and die in them if they’re not careful. Look at his portrait of Marilyn Monroe in Nothing Personal, perhaps one of the most difficult pictures in the book. In an interview, Dick said Monroe had given a performance as Marilyn Monroe earlier in the shoot, laughing and giggling and dancing. But then the shoot was over, and where was she? Who was she? Nothing Personal is riddled with these questions of identity—what makes a self?—a question that gave a certain thirteen-year-old ideas about the questions he might ask in this world: Who are we? To each other? And why?”
Following the recent devastation of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, a barge named ‘Marilyn Monroe’ has been transporting vital equipment – including vehicles, housing, bulk fuel, food, and self-powered cellular communication towers to the island, Smith Maritime reports. The barge has no direct connection to Marilyn, of course – but given her charitable nature, it’s pleasing to find her name being used to help those in need.