“Tegan Summer, an actor and producer, is a life-long classic film fan, who was intrigued by Marilyn Monroe, from her tragic upbringing to her enormous success in show business.
Summer acknowledged the numerous stories that have been told of Monroe in the past. ‘But this, we believe, is a story no one else has heard, so much so that we also tell the story in a unique way,’ he said.
In writing Marilyn! Summer noted that even at the height of her career, Monroe was severely depressed and longed to go back to being Norma Jean, to return to simpler times. ‘What a dichotomy. That was the theme during my musical. I wrote with it in mind to the extent that I actually split the actresses’ [performances],’ Summer said.
In the production, Kelley Dorney plays Norma Jean Baker, and Kelley Jakle, star of Pitch Perfect and Pitch Perfect 2, plays Marilyn Monroe.
‘A lot of people think she was the movie star, but we don’t really focus on that side of her. All the things that are happening around her, that is the story we’re telling, and I think our version is extra special, because we look at (her) as Norma Jean and Marilyn, [both] happening at once,’ Dorney said.
The Alex Theatre is just the beginning for Marilyn! Prospect House Entertainment has plans in the works to take the musical to Beverly Hills, Las Vegas and China in the next year.
Summer also partnered with Hollygrove, Monroe’s former orphanage in Los Angeles. A portion of the proceeds from the musical will be donated to Hollygrove.”
Marni Nixon, the ‘ghost singer’ in many classic Hollywood musicals, has died aged 86, Variety reports. She famously dubbed the singing voices of Deborah Kerr in The King and I (1956), Natalie Wood in West Side Story (1961) and Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady (1964.)
Nixon also sang the high notes in ‘Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend’, including the introduction (from 1953’s Gentlemen Prefer Blondes), but the rest was performed by Marilyn herself.
In May 1954, Nixon made her Broadway debut in The Girl in Pink Tights. A few months previously, Marilyn had been assigned the lead role in a big-screen adaptation for Twentieth Century-Fox. After refusing the part, Monroe was placed on suspension. The studio eventually backed down, and the movie was shelved.
The independent cinema chain, Picturehouse, will be screening Some Like it Hot across the UK this August. So if you’re in London, Brighton, Southampton, Oxford, Cambridge, Norwich, Bath, Exeter, Bradford, York, Liverpool or Edinburgh next month, don’t miss this chance to see Marilyn on the big screen.
Actress Gillian Anderson – best-known as Agent Scully in The X Files, and her recent stage triumph as Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire – is striking a classic MM pose in her latest role, as ‘Media’ in American Gods, an upcoming TV series on the Starz channel.
Based on a fantasy novel by Neil Gaiman, the show will make its US debut in 2017. “American Gods follows an ex-convict named Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle) who, upon early release from prison, is hired as the bodyguard of a mysterious con man named Wednesday (Ian McShane),” Kelvin Melrose reports for Spinoff. “However, it’s soon revealed that Wednesday is an incarnation of All-Father Odin, who’s traveling America recruiting his fellow forgotten deities to wage an epic battle against the new American gods — manifestations of modern life and technology, like the internet, media and credit cards.”
As Kimberly Roots reports for TVLine, Anderson’s character is described as “the mouthpiece for the New Gods, functioning as their public face and sales representative, by taking the form of various iconic celebrities. She lives off the attention and worship that people give to screens — to their laptops, their TVs, to their iPhones in their hands while they watch their TVs. Ever the perky spokesperson, and always in control, she spins stories in whatever direction best suits her.”
“In the book, Media, one of the new gods (the goddess of television, in fact) often took on the form of various pop culture icons—like Lucille Ball in her role as the titular Lucy in I Love Lucy,” James Whitbrook reports for io9. “But it looks like she’ll be changing into at least one new form, if Marilyn is any indicator.”
Vanity Fair has released footage shot by Milton Greene at Marilyn’s 1956 wedding to Arthur Miller, as well as on the set of Bus Stop and The Prince and the Showgirl, to promote the current Greene exhibit at the Morrison Hotel Gallery in Los Angeles. While most of the footage has been seen before, it is still a rare glimpse behind the scenes of Marilyn’s fabled life.
As many fans will know, Marilyn and Joe DiMaggio remained close long after their brief, stormy marriage came to an abrupt end. However, as David Mikkelson points out in an article for myth-busting website Snopes, even museums get their facts wrong sometimes.
“Several years ago I finally undertook a long-awaited pilgrimage to that mecca of sportsdom, the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum founded in Cooperstown, N.Y., by Stephen Carlton Clark. Like so many fans before me, I spent a couple of days scrutinizing every exhibit, photograph, document, and other pieces of memorabilia on display at the museum, and then … wondered what the heck else there was to do in Cooperstown. And again like so many fans before me, I ended up at the second-best-known attraction in town, the nearby Farmers’ Museum.
The proprietor’s spiel was to recount a brief history of Stephen Carlton Clark’s role in the establishment of the Hall of Fame and the Farmers’ Museum, and to note that after founding the former, Clark lived in New York City and didn’t return to Cooperstown for the yearly induction ceremonies — save for one exception. That exception was the year Joe Dimaggio was inducted to the Hall, an occasion for which, the proprietor declared, Clark returned to Cooperstown ‘in order to meet Dimaggio’s wife, Marilyn Monroe.’
I immediately recognized a chronological problem with that account: Joe Dimaggio was inducted into the Hall of Fame on 22 July 1955, but he and Marilyn Monroe had separated, with the former filing for divorce, in October 1954. Although the pair remained on relatively friendly terms afterwards, Monroe wasn’t present at the July 1955 induction that welcomed the Yankee Clipper into baseball’s hallowed halls.
On that day Joltin’ Joe was accompanied not by a glamorous starlet, but by a Yankees official … Photographs and newsreel footage of the event also reveal no evidence of the Blonde Bombshell’s presence in Cooperstown that day … For the record, no contemporaneous accounts of the ceremonies mentioned the presence of Clark in Cooperstown that day, either.”
Hope College in Holland, Michigan will pay tribute to Marilyn with a season of four films at the Knickerbocker Theatre on Monday nights this August, including Monkey Business (August 1); There’s No Business Like Show Business (August 8); The Seven Year Itch (August 15) and Some Like it Hot (August 22.)
Spanish fans may be interested to know that the touring exhibit, Philippe Halsman: Astonish Me! is now on display at the CaixaForum Barcelona until November 6, as Samuel Spencer reports for BlouArtInfo. (I have corrected some minor errors in the extract below.)
“Featuring 300 photographs and documents from the photographer’s extensive career, Astonish Me! is the first Spanish retrospective of the American photographer [born and raised in Austria] who, among other achievements, undertook 110 covers for LIFE magazine. Halsman also popularized the portrait concept of people jumping — at the time a revolutionary idea that has since become a photographic cliché, unavoidable at any graduation ceremony.
Termed ‘jumpology’ by Halsman, jumping was used by him as a psychological tool. He believed that it showed people without inhibitions; as he once said, when someone jumps, “the mask falls.” As such, Halsman saw it as a crucial tool for photographing celebrities, allowing him to cut through the façade of their media image.
Among the jumpologists Halsman shows in the exhibition are Marilyn Monroe, who he tried to convince for three years to jump for a shoot before she finally agreed. Monroe jumped 200 times for the resulting image, which became iconic when it appeared on the LIFE cover in 1957 [actually, it was in 1959.]“
A trove of rare photos from the estate of Frieda Hull – a former member of the Monroe Six, the group of loyal fans who befriended Marilyn after her move to New York in 1955 – has been added to the upcoming Julien’s Auctions sale, set for November and also including items from the David Gainsborough Roberts Collection and Marilyn’s own personal archive, as Just Collecting reports. (This follows the sale of fellow Monroe Sixer Jimmy Collins‘ photo collection at Heritage Auctions earlier this year.)
“Hull’s job as an airline employee also enabled her to follow Monroe on the West Coast, and throughout her life she built up an archive of rare photographs spanning the actress’ entire career.
In addition to the photographs that members of the ‘Six’ took themselves, Hull’s collection features a wide range of previously unseen images. They include unseen colour photos of Monroe as she sang ‘Happy Birthday’ for President John F. Kennedy at Madison Square Garden; slides of her on location filming the iconic subway skirt-blowing scene from The Seven Year Itch; and images of her and husband Arthur Miller after the premiere of Some Like It Hot in 1959.
In all, the Frieda Hull collection includes 550 colour and black & white candid photographs, more than 150 slides, close to 750 movie stills, publicity photos and lobby cards, and even personal home movies of Monroe leaving her New York apartment in 1958.
Aside for the photographic archive, Hull’s personal collection also includes memorabilia such as locks of Monroe’s hair, a scarf gifted by Monroe herself, Hull’s original ticket and program to the 1962 JFK Madison Square Garden gala, and a Gladstone Hotel menu autographed by Monroe and Miller.”
Just four years younger than Monroe, Frieda Hull died in Las Vegas in 2014, aged 83. You can read her obituary here. And for an exclusive sneak preview of the Frieda Hull collection, visit Scott Fortner’s blog here.
“It was an absolute thrill to work with Julien’s on the Frieda Hull Collection. I was repeatedly delighted and dumbstruck over the photos in this archive, many of which I’d never seen. Fans will be overjoyed and amazed with these new unpublished images of Marilyn. Below are some shots from my study as part of my sorting process, which was no small task considering the sheer volume of photos. All totaled, an unprecedented 142 lots of photos will be offered in the auction, the majority of which were taken by members of the Monroe Six.”
South Londoners, mark up your calendars: Some Like it Hot gets an outdoor screening at Pop Brixton next Thursday, July 21 from 6:30 – 11 pm. Tickets start at £20. There will also be live jazz from the Christian Miller Trio, free popcorn and a bar (your first drink is free.)