Crazy For You is a free online fanzine in French, devoted to eye-catching pictorials of Marilyn (and Madonna, who inspired its name.) The latest issue covers Marilyn’s appearance at the Golden Globes in 1960, where she won the Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical award for Some Like It Hot. Previous issues have covered the press party for Let’s Make Love; Marilyn’s notorious red dress by Oleg Cassini; and a glamorous shoot with John Florea. For updates, subscribe to the Paradise Hunter blog or follow on Instagram.
Laurette Luez, a Hawaii-born actress of Portuguese-Australian parentage, seated to Marilyn’s left in these 1949 photos by Philippe Halsman (for a LIFE magazine story, ‘Eight Girls Try Out Mixed Emotions’), is the subject of an interesting profile by Kristin Hunt for JSTOR. (Hunt previously wrote about Marilyn’s nude scene in Something’s Got to Give for Vulture.)
Like Marilyn, Laurette was a successful pin-up model, and in their acting careers, both were subjected to typecasting – Marilyn as a dumb blonde, Luez as a dusky temptress – but like other women of colour, Laurette was sidelined in Hollywood and is now all but forgotten.
In the article, it’s noted that she claimed to have given Norma Jeane her stage name. This is unlikely, however, as Marilyn herself created it with talent scout Ben Lyon in 1946. It’s also said that the starlets studied together, probably at the Actors’ Lab or with studio coach Helen Sorrell. They were first photographed by LIFE‘s Loomis Dean in 1948 with actor Clifton Webb in a rather obscure promotional shoot for his film Sitting Pretty (although neither played a role in it.)
“Laurette Luez first appeared onscreen as a dancing Javanese girl in 1944’s The Story of Dr. Wassell. Two years later, she was cast as a member of the Thai royal court in Anna and the King of Siam, and in 1950 as Laluli, the Indian ‘flower of delight,’ in the Rudyard Kipling epic Kim. For the 1960s films Man-Trap and Flower Drum Song, she played Mexican women. She was Persian in The Adventures of Hajji Baba, an indigenous African in Jungle Gents, and Egyptian in Valley of the Kings.
Like many actresses of her day, Luez was expected to be a one-size-fits-all ‘exotic,’ a beautiful siren in skimpy clothing who could be from almost anywhere—just not here. These roles provided a way for Hollywood to sexualize women with few repercussions from censors or moral crusaders, and they were practically the only parts in which Luez was cast during her 20 years in the industry.
The two actresses were linked again in 1953, when the trade paper Modern Screen wondered if Luez could be the heir to Monroe’s “sex stardom.” But in truth, their careers looked nothing alike … With the occasional exception—most notably, the United Artists noir D.O.A.—her credits consist solely of exoticized, eroticized women, who only get a name if they’re lucky. It was a fate that befell several actresses who couldn’t or wouldn’t pass for white, since there was a market for this type of stock character.
Luez still made occasional headlines throughout the 1950s, either for her latest movie or for her latest breakup. She was married four times, and briefly engaged to producer Samuel Goldwyn Jr. But by the mid-1960s, the work had completely dried up. Luez packed up her family and moved to Florida. Despite the repeated insistence from the press that she was on the cusp of stardom, the actress got trapped in a self-perpetuating cycle: she played the roles she was offered, and Hollywood saw her as nothing else.”
A pink-suited Michael Lovett, aka ‘indietronica’ act NZCA Lines, becomes the latest pop star to channel Marilyn’s ‘Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend’ in the bizarre video for his latest single, ‘Pure Luxury’, Billboard reports.
“Lovett, who co-directed the video alongside Alina Rancier, notes that they drew both from American Psycho and a gender-reversed Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (starring Marilyn Monroe) and specifically points to the line in the song ‘smile while we’re holding back tears’ as one of the underlying themes.
‘I think that embodies the approach we took: a superficial beauty hiding a grotesque underbelly,’ Lovett tells Billboard. ‘I always pictured this song as a go-go freakout, like those 1960s musical TV shows with dancers and a colorful stage set.’
Writing for Australia’s Financial Review, John McDonald is the latest critic to recommend Marilyn’s classic comedies to cheer us up in these difficult times. (He previously reviewed the touring exhibition, Marilyn: Celebrating an American Icon, in 2016.)
“‘Rarely, rarely, comest thou, Spirit of Delight,’ wrote Shelley, who would have made an excellent film critic. But when it comes you know it. One of the most purely delightful moments in the history of the cinema, is Marilyn Monroe singing ‘Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend‘ in Howard Hawks’s Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. It’s a scene that never loses its edge. It’s tempting to say that any film in which Monroe stars, notably Some Like it Hot and The Seven Year Itch, are good bets for a night in front of the box.”
Using a photo of Marilyn taken during filming of The Seven Year Itch, this long T-shirt/dress can now be ordered from H&M online for £17.99.
With many of us now in isolation as the world battles coronavirus, boredom and loneliness are becoming a real problem. Scott Duggan of Cork, Ireland came up with a novel way of bringing his neighbours together with an outdoor screening of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes projected onto the gable-end of a terraced house, and the event was so popular that he’s planning more local movie nights, as Breaking News reports.
Marilyn’s first LIFE magazine cover, shot by Philippe Halsman, was published on this day, April 7, in 1952. Now, as The Guardian reports, this outtake is among over 120 ‘turning point’ images being sold by Magnum Photos for $100 each over the next five days to aid COVID-19 relief. Read more about the historic cover story at A Passion for Marilyn – and don’t forget, Marilyn also graces the cover (and eleven pages within) of a new Reporters Sans Frontières special issue on Halsman’s celebrity portraits.
While this year’s TCM Classic Film Festival has been cancelled, titles from the program will air on the US channel, including Some Like It Hot on April 17, Intallaght reports. Meanwhile at the Boston Herald, Stephen Schaefer extols the joys of rediscovering classic films at home.
“I was struck the other night how fantastically satisfying it was to be channel surfing and suddenly catch the end moments of a movie I’m seen many times, Some Like It Hot. As I watched Marilyn Monroe unhappily sing her sad love songs (‘I’m Through with Love’) with Sweet Sue and her Society Syncopators as Tony Curtis drops the drag to proclaim his love, as Jack Lemmon confesses to Joe E. Brown’s Osgood why they can’t marry (‘I’m a man!’), knowing every line, every musical cue, every camera angle was suddenly akin to the Proust madeleine, a flashback to when I saw Billy Wilder’s masterpiece the very first time. To thinking how marvelous Monroe was/is/will always remain. Wondering what the movie must have meant to me as a kid with its cross dressing, dancing (‘Cha-cha-cha’) and romantic black-and-white recreation of that fabled Roaring Twenties era. “
Bill Sluyter Fredendall, who once lived in the Los Angeles Orphans Home alongside Norma Jeane Baker, has died aged 92 in L’Anse, Michigan, according to the Keewanaw Report.
In a 2016 interview with Eden Prairie News, Bill fondly recalled the future star, two years older and a friend of his sister Doris, pushing him on a swing, and the children’s excitement at being so close to the world of film-making. ‘We sat on the radiators and looked at the front of the RKO studio, up in the sky from where we were,’ Bill said. ‘We could see that from the orphanage. We all wanted to be in the movies.’ His daughter Phyllis said that when Bill heard of Marilyn’s death, he was bereft: ‘She was a good girl,’ he said.
Marilyn was a resident from 1935-37, from the age of nine to just after her eleventh birthday. She was treated well there, but like many children displaced during the Great Depression, struggled with feelings of abandonment throughout her stay. The home, on El Centro Avenue, was renamed as Hollygrove in 1957. After closing in 2005, it now operates an outreach service for vulnerable children and their families.
“Bill and his brother Dick and sister Doris were placed in the Los Angeles Orphans Home in Hollywood in 1934. His stories from that time are legion. It was the favorite charity of many of the movie stars as it was across the street from RKO Studios. Oliver Hardy’s sister was one of the matrons. Bill remembered Laurel and Hardy arriving in a big convertible full of presents. The campus of the orphanage was sometimes used as a movie set – he recalled the filming of a fire rescue from a second story window. And of course he remembered one of the girls, Norma Jeane Baker (Marilyn Monroe) who was there at the same time.
Bill was an avid reader and a movie buff. He loved to drive and took many trips with family and friends. He enjoyed golfing, sailing, skiing, and swimming in Lake Superior, Minnesota. Music was a lifelong friend. He played harmonicas large and small, having learned to play while in the Orphan Home.”
The actress turned author Patricia Bosworth, who met Marilyn at the Actors Studio, has died aged 86 from complications of coronavirus, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Bosworth starred with Audrey Hepburn in The Nun’s Story (1959), and later published critically acclaimed, yet controversial biographies of Montgomery Clift, Marĺon Brando and others. She appeared in documentaries such as Marilyn Monroe: Still Life (2005) and Love, Marilyn (2012), and wrote ‘The Mentor and the Movie Star,’ an article about Marilyn and the Strasbergs, for Vanity Fair in 2003. Her final book, The Men in My Life: Love and Art in 1950s Manhattan, also featured memories of Marilyn (see here.)
“At a party for new members, as Bosworth later wrote, she witnessed ‘a barefoot Marilyn Monroe, in a skintight black dress, undulating across the floor opposite Paul Newman.’ At the end of the evening, director Lee Strasberg offered her a ride home in his car. Bosworth slid in to find Monroe in the back, dreamily smoking a cigarette. ‘From outside came a voice,’ she later wrote. ‘”Hey Lee, going my way?” And Harry Belafonte hopped in beside me.’ The group fell silent as the ride got underway, each star daunted by the others. Finally Bosworth commented on Monroe’s gigantic pearls. ‘Yeah, the emperor gave them to me,’ Monroe said, offhandedly. She meant Emperor Hirohito of Japan, who had presented them to her at Monroe and Joe Dimaggio’s private wedding ceremony.”Vanity Fair