The Formosa Cafe, a Chinese-themed bar and restaurant on Santa Monica Boulevard where the Some Like It Hot cast and crew dined between takes on the Samuel Goldwyn lot, has been fully restored and is now back in business, as Pat Saperstein reports for Variety.
“The restored Formosa re-opened Friday with an impressive $2.4 million restoration by the 1933 Group, which brought classic spots like North Hollywood’s Idle Hour and the Highland Park Bowl back to life. The complete reconstruction included the historic front room and streetcar as well as a new lounge area and the rooftop patio.
At a pre-opening event, documentary filmmaker Arthur Dong showed off a new display of historic lobby cards and movie stills featuring Chinese and Chinese American actors that he curated for the Formosa.
The Formosa was nearly torn down several times, with countless remodels. The last revamp was one of the most misguided, when the vintage Chinese decor was put into storage and everything was painted grey. The 1933 Group’s Bobby Green got involved soon after that, when Vince Jung, the grandson of longtime owner Lem Quon, ended up losing the bar.
In the past, the Formosa wasn’t known for its Americanized Cantonese food, but that is likely to change with the entirely new menu from chef David Kuo of Mar Vista’s Taiwanese restaurant Little Fatty. ‘We wanted to make it more appetizing by today’s standards, but not stray too far away,’ Green explains, ‘We tried David’s food, it was so good and homey, perfect bar food.’
Green says an archivist and architect were hired to determine that the streetcar was the oldest surviving Red Car, dating to 1902. The false ceiling from the streetcar was removed to reveal colored glass windows along the top. Diners now have a view through the streetcar windows into the new back room, where the elaborately carved bar from beloved Chinatown bar Yee Mee Loo has been brought out of storage to become the centerpiece of the new addition.”
One of Seward Johnson’s ‘Forever Marilyn’ sculptures is currently greeting visitors to Reading Public Museum in Pennsylvania. (As reported last month, another of these statues is now in the foyer of the R.W. Norton Gallery in Shreveport, Louisiana.) And it’s not the first time an iconic Monroe image has come to Reading. Back in 2012, a screening of My Week With Marilyn at the Goggleworks cinema was accompanied by a guest appearance from Monroe collector Gene London, who brought along Marilyn’s dress from The Prince and the Showgirl (one of several copies made, as she wore the same dress for most of the movie.)
The estate of fashion designer Oleg Cassini went under the hammer at Doyle’s Auctioneers in New York today, with all 755 lots sold for a total $1.3 million. Cassini, who died in 2006, was recently described as a ‘notable rogue’ in the New York Times. He was married to actress Gene Tierney, engaged to Grace Kelly, and worked extensively with Jacqueline Kennedy during her time as First Lady. He also designed two gowns worn by Marilyn, and would claim in his 1987 memoir, In My Own Fashion, that they were lovers.
“Ever concerned with his image, Cassini only wanted to be seen with what he called, ‘top top girls.’ Wholesome and glamorous, Grace Kelly was a ‘top girl,’ so was Jacqueline Kennedy who he said had ‘a hieroglyphic figure.’ However Marilyn Monroe, one of Cassini’s many conquests, did not make the cut. In his book he described her as ‘the world’s most marvelous marshmallow.’ According to [Maureen] Orth, he told journalist Joe Klein, that she was just ‘a little show pony.'”
Interestingly, there were no Marilyn-related lots in today’s auction; and there is no corroborating evidence of Cassini’s claim. At the very least, his disparaging remarks suggest the great lothario was also a snob. (At worst, one might wonder if he ever really slept with Marilyn at all!)
Whatever the truth about their relationship, Marilyn loved Cassini’s gowns, praising their “taste and imagination” in an article for Modern Screen.
Susan Bernard, the actress and archivist for her photographer father Bruno Bernard (or ‘Bernard of Hollywood’), has died aged 71, the New York Times reports.
Her father was a German Jew who fled to America in 1937 to escape Nazi persecution; while her mother Ruth Bernard [née Brandman] was an actress and television director. Susan also had a sister, Celeste, who survives her.
Bruno Bernard would take his first photos of model Norma Jeane Dougherty in 1946, several months before she changed her name. Susan had one hazy memory of seeing Marilyn in her father’s car when she was three or four years old. “It’s almost like a mirage,’ Susan told the San Francisco Chronicle. “An apparition. I remember she had blond hair, and she was called Marilyn. She was very sweet. She giggled a lot.”
In 1965, Susan played ‘Linda’, a teenager kidnapped by a trio of go-go dancers, in Russ Meyer’s Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! That December, Susan became Playboy’s Playmate of the Month after visiting Hugh Hefner’s Chicago office with her father; she was later named among the magazine’s 100 Most Beautiful Women of the 20th century. In That Tender Touch (1969) she played a lesbian, and the film has been preserved as part of Outfest’s Legacy Project. Closing out a wild decade, Susan appeared in two seasons of TV’s General Hospital.
In 1974, Susan married playwright Jason Miller (who also played Father Damian Karras in The Exorcist.) The couple divorced nine years later; their son, Joshua John Miller, is a screenwriter. Susan was also married to publishing guru Stanley J. Corwin, and she wrote and developed TV docudramas about Anais Nin, Ernie Davis and Nellie Bly.
Bruno Bernard died in 1987, the same year his Requiem for Marilyn was published. Susan became his chief archivist, publishing two further Monroe books, Bernard of Hollywood’s Marilyn (1993) and Marilyn: Intimate Exposures (2011.) She also edited a full retrospective, Bernard of Hollywood Pin-Ups (1999), and wrote two books on parenting. She turned ‘Bernard of Hollywood’ into an international brand, entering a partnership with ABG after the licensing company purchased Marilyn’s estate.
“I wanted to not just show photos, but show the back of the photos to show the process of the photographer,” Susan told the Examiner‘s Elisa Jordan in 2011. “I thought that was really interesting where they would literally type a story on a typewriter and they’d cut it out and paste it with tape on the back of a photo. Life was different then! He always wanted to tell the back story. The process of what it was like to be a photographer at that time was very interesting to me and I thought it would be very interesting to other people. And I wanted actually show the negatives. I wanted to show that there is a negative of the flying skirt [from The Seven Year Itch] in existence, and that the original proof sheets do exist. That was one of my goals. In picking the pictures, I just wanted to select the pictures that showed not the obvious glamour pictures, but showed her pensive or thinking—pictures that told a story.”
Marilyn: Intimate Exposures also contained rare photographs of Robert F. Kennedy and his family at the remote ranch home of his friend John Bates in Gilroy, California on the same weekend in 1962 when Marilyn died – in a forceful rebuttal of persistent rumours that the Attorney General visited her at home in Los Angeles on her last day alive (Saturday, August 4th.) As Susan explained, “It gives the reader a glimpse into the private files of a renowned photographer who poured out his soul to set the record straight and defend those who were no longer here to defend themselves.”
Susan made regular public appearances across the USA and Europe to promote her father’s work, and his images of Marilyn. She was a guest speaker at the 2018 memorial service for Marilyn in Westwood Memorial Park. She was also interviewed by filmmaker Ian Ayres for his long-awaited documentary, The Birth of Marilyn.
“Marilyn has been my guardian angel,” Susan told the Huffington Post in 2012. “She picks me up when I am down and gives me strength. She empowered women way before Women’s Lib. Marilyn, the writer Anais Nin, and my mother are my inspirations.”
An archive of material by the German photographer Manfred ‘Linus’ Kreiner was recently sold at Julien’s Auctions, including many images of Marilyn. His widow Sally Kreiner (Manfred died in 2005, aged 78) has shared her memories of Marilyn with Stephanie Nolasco for Fox News.
“‘[My husband] met Marilyn through a friend who turned out to be her publicist for [1959’s] Some Like it Hot,’ Sally told Fox News about the encounter. ‘This publicist told him one day, “How would you like to photograph Marilyn Monroe?” My husband said, “Of course I would love to.” And that’s how it all started.’
The German native soon found himself in Chicago face to face with Monroe. And she was far from a Hollywood diva.
‘He thought she was really lovely,’ said Sally. ‘He really liked her. He was a little bit nervous about shooting her because she was just so famous. And he was really delighted to become part of her entourage and photograph her. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity and he was really happy to tag along.’
As for Sally, she decided to stay behind.
‘No I certainly didn’t tag along,’ Sally chuckled. ‘I would have been more of a hindrance … She was really happy with [then-husband] Arthur Miller. She was just in awe of him. Arthur was an intellectual and she was not. And for the same reasons, he saw something in her, obviously.’
However, when it came to anyone capturing Monroe’s image, the actress had one request. ‘She had the right to select the photos he could print and the ones he could not,’ said Sally. ‘She had a final say when it came to her pictures. And it worked out because she selected the ones he wanted to print of her. There was no argument there.’
While Kreiner went on to pursue a thriving career, Monroe would be plagued with tragedy … Sally said Kreiner was heartbroken by the news [of Marilyn’s death.]
‘He said it was too bad something like this happened to her,’ said Sally. ‘Even at that time, there were a lot of rumors and questions. He certainly didn’t have an answer for it. And I don’t know if anyone ever really did get an answer for what happened to her and why … She became such a celebrity overnight. And that just became so much bigger than her.’
‘But despite everything that was said about her, she did have a certain quality, a remarkable quality,’ continued Sally. ‘You just see her and you wish you could have known her. She’s ethereal, but earthy too. And she possessed a certain charm, an American charm. You think of all the celebrities in Hollywood today, how many of them have exactly what she had. I don’t think people can ever really totally figure out her magic. She’s still mystical.’
‘What you see is what my husband saw in her,’ she said. ‘He really didn’t see her as a sex symbol. He saw her as a lovely person with a great smile.'”
Hollywood Dogs, featuring vintage shots of movie stars and their canine pals taken from the John Kobal Foundation, has been reissued in compact format. The first edition, published in 2013, also included a photo of Marilyn from her starlet days (more info here.)
Heather Howard has accessed the Yomiuri Shimbun archives on Marilyn and Joe DiMaggio’s Far-East adventure for The Japan News.
“‘Typhoon Marilyn Monroe comes to Tokyo.’ She certainly did, with a force so powerful it sent some of her fans tumbling into a pond at the Imperial Hotel.
On Feb. 2, 1954, the morning edition of The Yomiuri Shimbun reported — under that typhoon headline — that Monroe had arrived at Haneda Airport the day before with her new husband, baseball great Joe DiMaggio. The trip was part honeymoon, part business: DiMaggio had been invited to coach Central League teams during spring training that year.
Fans began gathering at Haneda Airport two hours before their scheduled arrival. When Monroe and DiMaggio’s Pan American flight finally touched down — four hours late — the fans pushed past police and flooded onto the runway, surrounding the plane.
A group of Japanese dignitaries was waiting to greet them at the base of the stairs, but that plan was abandoned. Monroe appeared, carried by DiMaggio, bringing what The Yomiuri described as an ‘ecstatic reaction.’
However, the crowds of people made it impossible for them to get to customs, so they retreated back into the plane. After nearly another hour they finally exited through a cargo door and headed in a U.S. Embassy car for the Imperial Hotel.
The brouhaha, however, was far from over, as fans even climbed trees along her route. Monroe and her party had been scheduled to parade through the Shinbashi, Ginza and Hibiya areas of Tokyo, but that too was scrapped due to the chaos at the airport.
Monroe was forced to use a rear banquet entrance when she arrived at the Imperial, according to a history of the hotel. When it looked like the crush of fans, irate at not seeing their idol, would break the glass in the lobby doors, Monroe showed herself from a second-floor balcony at the hotel’s request. This calmed the ruckus, but as she was greeting the crowd, the history tells us, ‘two or three fans fell into the pond in front of the [hotel’s] Wright building.’
That seems like a fortunately small number. One of the photos accompanying the Yomiuri article shows a veritable sea of people outside the Imperial Hotel, with some fans having even climbed up on the roof.
Monroe and DiMaggio traveled to other parts of the country as well. When they stayed in Fukuoka for four days, about 5,000 people gathered outside their hotel there.
Nor was the fuss limited to fans. Over 300 journalists attended a press conference the day after Monroe’s arrival, and in Fukuoka, local journalists who had learned where Monroe and DiMaggio were dining one day abruptly opened the door to their room at the restaurant, took her picture, and with just a ‘thank you’ fled the scene.
Monroe ultimately departed Japan with DiMaggio on Feb. 24 from Haneda Airport. The furor of their arrival had clearly made an impression: This time the general public’s entry was restricted, Japanese plainclothes police stood guard along with military police from the U.S. Air Force, and there was at least one armored car on the apron. “
Clogs are cool again, as Grace Back writes for Australian Marie-Claire, citing Marilyn’s 1956 ‘Peasant Sitting’ with Milton Greene as inspiration. This was one of several sittings using sets and costume from the Fox lot, with Marilyn recreating Jennifer Jones’ role in the 1943 movie, The Song of Bernadette.
Frank Sinatra’s relationship with Marilyn is the subject of an article in the current issue of US magazine Closer Weekly (dated July 1st, with Betty White on the cover), and is now reprinted in the latest issue of the National Enquirer‘s UK edition (also dated July 1, with Richard Gere and Julia Roberts on the cover.)
The Seven Year Itch is a perfect summer movie, and over at Bustle, Angelica Florio ranks it fourth among 26 Classic Rom-Coms Streaming Now That Made The Genre What It Is Today.
“There are the classics from your childhood and then there are the classics that invented the rom-com tropes that are still in play today. This Marilyn Monroe movie isn’t necessarily a feminist love story — Monroe’s character is simply called The Girl throughout — but it definitely influenced the genre.”