As Marilyn’s birthday month draws to a close, here’s a look back at ‘The Burlesque of Marilyn Monroe‘, an insightful tribute from author and vaudeville historian Trav S.D.
“Monroe’s persona was an invention, an act of self-creation. From a poverty stricken, neglected background, she went on to transform herself into the ultimate symbol of luxury (‘Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend’).
Monroe was never in burlesque but as she began to develop her screen persona and gradually got more attention, burlesque comedy was the natural touchstone for her talents … Later comedies and musical comedies all riff on the idea of her either as the comically ‘dumb blonde’ and/or some degree of burlesque style glamour.
While she is usually cast as a wide-eyed innocent who was vulnerable and easily taken advantage of, on occasion, she went against type as a psycho or femme fatale … Most of her work as a print model gives off this quality as well, and I frankly find her far more beguiling and alluring in photographs than her film work … but even that could revert to burlesque.
And yet we all know, the story of Marilyn Monroe is ultimately a tragedy rather than a burlesque sketch. She spent all this time creating an artificial self, and then became trapped in a reality where people could only see that creation …”