Happy Birthday, First Minister

Val McDermid may be one of the world’s most popular crime writers, but nobody would mistake her for Marilyn – until last week, when she sang ‘Happy Birthday, First Minister’ to Scottish premier Nicola Sturgeon at a literary festival in Harrogate this week, as reported in the Mail On Sunday.

Novelist Val McDermid (right) with Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, 2016

Thanks to Fraser Penney

Marilyn Covers Australian Women’s Weekly

Marilyn’s 1953 photo shoot with Alfred Eisenstadt is perennially popular – this image alone has made two magazine covers recently. Firstly, Hungary’s Meglepetes Retro, and now Australian Women’s Weekly. It’s a special edition, the second issue in an ‘Icons’ series, and if you’re not living down under, copies are available on EBay.

Richard Henry Knight has kindly shared a preview of the magazine on the Marilyn Remembered Facebook group. The tribute to Marilyn seems visually beautiful (of course), and well-written.

She also features in articles about her How to Marry a Millionaire co-star, Lauren Bacall; and the Australian-born Orry Kelly, who designed her costumes for Some Like It Hot.

Marilyn has a long history with this magazine…

‘Clash By Night’ in Berkeley

Thanks to Suus at Everlasting Star

Clash By Night will be screened at Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA) at 6 pm on August 3rd, as part of a summer-long retrospective, Fritz Lang’s America.

“This is a noir vision of a Sirkian Barbara Stanwyck role: the worldly-wise woman trying to make a go of domesticity. Defeated by the city, she returns to her small fishing town and attempts to suppress her sophistication by marrying a goodhearted fisherman, Paul Douglas. But she is drawn into the adulterous net of Robert Ryan, like her, an anguished misfit. The film, adapted from a play by Clifford Odets, has some of the most caustic dialogue of any of the fifties noirs. Visually, Fritz Lang and cinematographer Nicholas Musuraca counterpose claustrophobic interiors and documentary-style location shooting of the Monterey sardine fishing industry and Cannery Row. Marilyn Monroe, in one of her first important dramatic roles, takes lessons from sister-in-law Stanwyck on how to be free and then come home ‘when you run out of places.'”

Judy Bloch

Marilyn in Hockney’s Hollywood

Artist David Hockney’s life-sized nude portrait of actress Theresa Russell, created for her role as the Marilyn-inspired heroine of Insignificance (1985), is featured in a new exhibition, ‘Hockney and Hollywood‘, now on display at the Bowes Museum in Barnard Castle, County Durham, as the Darlington and Stockton Times reports.

“The Yorkshire-born artist was commissioned by his film director friend Nicolas Roeg to create the montage for his comedy movie Insignificance, which starred his then wife, Theresa Russell, as Marilyn Monroe.The film is set in a New York hotel in the 1950s and tells the story of four icons of the era as they discuss life, death, sex and the universe.It took Hockney four attempts with a Pentax camera to capture the images he wanted to create the piece entitled ‘Nude, 17th June 1984’.

The collage shows both Theresa’s front and back as Hockney explores the use of lines and edges in his photography. The actress’ pose, together with the pink satin sheets, her blond wig and licking of her lips is reminiscent of a centrefold pin up.

Nicolas Roeg– who directed Don’t Look Now, The Man Who Fell to Earth and The Witches– documented Hockney at work on the piece. His photographs give a unique and intimate never before seen behind the scenes look at Hockney and are an integral part of the exhibition, as one artist observes another.

The work is on loan to the Bowes for two years from Mr Roeg’s family.

His son Statten Roeg, who remembers it hanging on the stairs of his father’s house, said: ‘It was quite funny seeing people’s reactions the first time they came to visit, especially of school friends in my younger days. My mother used to visit David in Los Angeles when they both lived there.’

Museum director Adrian Jenkins said: ‘We are really thrilled to have Nude, 17th June 1984 together with the amazing behind the scenes photographs that give us a personal insight into the camaraderie between Hockney and his friends during the making of the piece.’

The exhibition runs from Saturday until November 3, 2019.

The Bowes Museum in Barnard Castle, County Durham is open from 10am until 5pm, every day except 25, 26 December and 1 January. “

Casting Marilyn’s Leading Men in ‘Blonde’

Marilyn and George Sanders in All About Eve

After almost a decade in development, it looks like Andrew Dominik’s Netflix adaptation of Joyce Carol Oates’ controversial novel, Blonde, is finally moving ahead – though depending on whether you liked the book (I didn’t), this may or may not be good to hear. In March, it was announced that Ana de Armas will play Marilyn. Now, the Observer reports, casting is in process for the roles of George Sanders, who starred with Marilyn in All About Eve; Joseph Cotten, her leading man in Niagara: and her Some Like It Hot co-stars Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon and Joe E. Brown.

Marilyn Meets Shakespeare in Dallas

C.C. Weatherly as Marilyn

Marilyn, Pursued By A Bear – a new play by Nicole Neely, blending Marilyn’s life story with Shakespeare’s A Winter’s Tale – is being staged at the Bath House Cultural Center as part of the 21st Festival of Independent Theatres in Dallas, Martha Heinberg reports for TheaterJones.

“Marilyn Monroe wakes up in a mental institution, where she’s been taken by her third husband. The Hollywood icon is back in the hospital because she’s overdosed again.

In Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale, a jealous duke casts out his faithful wife and newborn daughter because he thinks she’s an adulteress and the baby is a bastard. At one point, the duke’s man ordered to carry out the cruel errand, is chased by a bear, dropping the baby as he exits. Daughter lives, man devoured offstage. The playwright sees some reflections of the bard’s late romance in the real-life traumas of Norma Jean Baker, the funny, gorgeous daughter and granddaughter of abused and abandoned women. 

Here, we see Marilyn (slight, pretty CC Weatherly in platinum wig and blue scrubs) haunted by visions of her dead grandmother (loving, touching Sally Soldo) and her mother Gladys (sharp-featured, defensive Stephany Cambra), trying to battle her way out of a drug fog on an empty stage with blue lighting and three white blocks as props. A chorus of four characters in black, representing everything from accusing orderlies to the dark bear of death (svelte Olivia Cinquepalmi in a clingy satin gown), pursue the anguished actress as she struggles to defend herself against false accusations.

The tone of the play shifts from a sense of pity for the embattled heroine shrinking from a menacing animal growl in the distance to the overly melodramatic … The action swirls and the bear growls, but unlike the Shakespearean romance, there is no magical ending in this evocative, sad remembrance of a woman. We are, however, left with a sense that ‘like mother, like daughter,’ might also mean that these poor women are also forgiving and supporting, despite the husbands, doctors and fathers who left them behind.” 

Kathleen Hughes Remembers Marilyn

Perhaps best known for her role in It Came From Outer Space (1953), Kathleen Hughes was married for sixty years to River Of No Return producer Stanley Rubin, who died in 2014 (see here.) She is also a regular guest at the annual memorial services for Marilyn.

Kathleen Hughes with husband Stanley Rubin

In an interview with Stephanie Nolasco for Fox News, Kathleen looks back on her career, and shares memories of Marilyn dating back to the first time she saw her perform in Strictly For Kicks, a revue staged at 20th Century Fox in March 1948 – many months after Marilyn’s first contract with the studio lapsed. (You can hear the Glenn Miller Band’s version of the song Marilyn performed here.) Kathleen’s cousin, Diana Herbert, had briefly appeared with Marilyn in her first movie, Scudda Hoo! Scudda Hay! Both were uncredited.

Kathleen also mentions testing for a role ‘a short time after’, which involved dancing, and losing the part to Marilyn. This could be Ladies of the Chorus, a low-budget 1948 musical filmed at Columbia Pictures in April 1948. The black gown worn by Marilyn in Strictly For Kicks was a costume from the movie.

Marilyn sings ‘I Never Took a Lesson in My Life’ in the Fox revue Strictly For Kicks (1948)

“My cousin Diana Herbert was taking acting lessons when I was already under contract. She was in a show at the studio club. Every studio in those days had a studio club and it consisted of all the people behind the scenes – the mailroom people, the secretaries – everybody but the actors. They would put on a show every year. My cousin was going to be in one of these shows.

The day before the show, she said, ‘They took my song number away from me and they gave it to a girl named Marilyn Monroe who had been under contract at the studio for six months — they had just dropped her! But now they’re giving her the song. I’m still in the show and you still have to come and see me.’ Well, I went to see it and Diana did her number. She was very, very good. But then Marilyn came on. Oh my God, she was fantastic. She did a song called “I Never Took a Lesson in My Life.” She was wearing this slinky black dress. I just couldn’t believe they dropped her.

She was incredible. She was just a star. I just thought if anyone from the studio saw the show, they would realize they made a terrible mistake and sign her back again. A short time later, the casting office called me and they said, ‘Can you dance?’ They got me with this poor, patient man of a dance director. He tried hour after hour after hour to teach me one simple step. Years later I was able to pick it up, but I could not learn this step at the time. At the end of the day, as it was getting dark, he said, ‘Forget it! We’ll get someone else.’ That someone else was Marilyn.”

Fox News

Thanks to Jonathan Montrell