Chris Lemmon, son of Jack, has talked to Fox News‘ Stephanie Nolasco about his dad, Marilyn, and Some Like It Hot – although as he was just four years old at the time of filming, his perspective comes from what his father told him. Nonetheless, it gives valuable insight into the dynamic on the set. (Later in the article, Chris also tells a more speculative tale about Marilyn and President Kennedy, which I discussed previously here.)
“Fox News: What was your father’s relationship like with Marilyn Monroe?
Lemmon: It was terrific. He saw Marilyn for what she was, unlike the persona … Marilyn had her own gimmick. But that wasn’t her at all. She was a very dedicated actress and a very intelligent woman. But also a very troubled woman who was hit by stardom way too quickly. She just simply didn’t know what to do with it. So my father instantly took to her because he saw those qualities. My father easily took to everybody. Jack Lemmon could get along with a log.
Fox News: How did your father cope with Marilyn’s troubles on set?
Lemmon: The truth is Marilyn did have some problems on the set. She was nervous that it could get in the way. There’s that famous story involving the line, ‘Hi, I’m Sugar’ … She had to do 30 takes of that. [Actually, the line was ‘It’s me, Sugar.’] That was the day before they shot that huge scene in the train car with the booze. Billy tended to be very rough with his shots. He didn’t want anyone messing around with his stuff.
But she and my father, they nailed it on the first take. That’s the performance you see on the screen. He easily befriended her. She was flirty with him because she thought it might bring some spice into the scene. And of course, he flirted right back. And that’s how that great scene between them was born. That was all one take.”