Marilyn and the Moon of Baroda

On July 8, 1953, Frank Powolny photographed Marilyn wearing one of the world’s largest diamonds, the so-called ‘Moon of Baroda’. It was then owned by Meyer Rosenbaum, a jeweller from Detroit, and was loaned to Marilyn for the shoot, in which Sidney M. Brownstein, president of the Jewellery Academy, presented her with a special award for her role in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, proclaiming her ‘the best friend a diamond ever had.’

But as the Times of India reports today, the Barodian royal family want their precious jewellery – also including the world’s most expensive pearl carpet, the ‘Star of the South’ – to be returned home for a public exhibition.

The Moon of Baroda was last displayed at the Antwerp World Diamond Centre in 2008. In 2012, a ‘Mr Matsuki’ appeared on a Japanese television show with what he claimed was the legendary gem. It was authenticated and valued at 150 million yen.

The Mad About Marilyn fan club chronicled the Moon of Baroda’s history in 2013, including a bizarre rumour that Marilyn fell victim to the diamond’s curse.

Marilyn Book News: The Girl, Hollywood and More

2018 is shaping up to be another great year for Marilyn’s book-loving fans. Marilyn: Lost and Forgotten, featuring 150 images from Colin Slater’s Hollywood Photo Archive, is set for publication in October (according to Amazon.com – however, the Book Depository has it set for May 1st, so watch this space. ) For those who can’t get enough of those classic Hollywood beauties, a companion volume – Venus in Hollywood: Portraits from the Golden Age of Glamour – is due in November.

Michelle Morgan’s latest book, The Girl: Marilyn Monroe, The Seven Year Itch, and the Birth of an Unlikely Feminist, will be published in May. For the latest updates, follow Michelle’s blog here.

Marilyn Monroe: The Private Life of a Public Icon, a full-scale biography by Charles Casillo, will follow in August.

Looking further ahead,  Amanda Konkle’s Some Kind of Mirror: Creating Marilyn Monroe, a scholarly look at her film performances, will be published in February 2019. (Only the Kindle version is available for pre-order as yet.)

In related interest, Marilyn graces the cover of Samantha Barbas’ Confidential Confidential: The Inside Story of Hollywood’s Notorious Scandal Magazine, due in September. (The notorious ‘Wrong Door Raid’ is also featured in Jim Heimann’s Dark City: The Real Los Angeles Noir, just published by Taschen.

Reno, a 2016 play by Roy Smiles about Marilyn’s conflicted relationships with husband Arthur Miller and director John Huston during the tumultuous filming of The Misfits, will be published shortly by Oberon Modern Playwrights (the Kindle version is currently available for pre-order.)

And finally, Elizabeth Winder’s Marilyn in Manhattan is now available in Turkish; and Marilyn Monroe: 1926-1962, a new study of her untimely death by Eva Enderström, has been published in Sweden.

‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’ in Amsterdam

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes will be screened tonight at 7 pm at the Rialto Film Theatre in Amsterdam.

“‘Diamonds are a girl’s best friend,’ as the blond showgirl Lorelei Lee sings in this particularly successful comedy / musical, which is based on the equally popular Broadway musical. Lorelei is played by Marilyn Monroe, who sings this song in a silly, seductive way. Director Hawks, who had trouble with Monroe anyway, wanted to have it spoken by a professional singer, but she rejected this resolutely. The now iconic song, for example, inspired Madonna to become a ‘Material Girl’.”

Thanks to Savvy

The Goddess Paradox: From Marilyn to Beyoncé

Reviewing Beyoncé’s recent Coachella performance for Vox, Constance Grady argues that the singer is a truly iconic star because she embodies and resolves a specific problem of our time, with an interesting reference to Marilyn:

“One of the things that separates a star who will fade from an icon who will last is this: Icons can reconcile a major cultural paradox through the power of their images. A star is a person onto whom the rest of us project all of our fantasies and fears, so when the star is able to resolve one of those fears, to make us feel that it is meaningless and insignificant just for as long as we’re looking at them, we love them for it. We turn them into icons.

Marilyn Monroe is the prime example here. Marilyn was both pure sex and pure innocence at once, in a time that was profoundly anxious about sex and women’s bodies. You didn’t need to be worried about whether sex was corrupt or dirty when you looked at Marilyn because she made sex feel innocent just by existing as Marilyn.

Today, you might think of Angelina Jolie, who is both a sex symbol and a mother figure, or Oprah, who is both our wise, empathetic, and selfless best friend and a brilliant businesswoman mogul: They have resolved a contradiction that we don’t like, and because of that, we love them.

The Bey Paradox does the kind of work that made Marilyn Monroe an icon. It takes one of the major questions our culture frets over — Should women be naturally beautiful/good at their work/perfect in general? Or should they take pride in working hard and earning their perfection? — and it answers, yes. Both. Natural perfection and high-maintenance perfectionism, both at the same time.

Beyoncé dreams it and works hard, and then she wakes up flawless. That’s what makes her Queen Bey.”

Marilyn’s ‘Millionaire’ at the Chinese Theatre

How to Marry a Millionaire will be screened at the Chinese Theatre in Hollywood at 2:15 pm on Friday, April 27, as part of this year’s TCM Classic Film Festival. Passholders will be seated first, but individual tickets can be purchased (for around $20) on a first-come, first-served basis just prior to the start-time. (And while you’re there, check out Marilyn’s hand and footprints, immortalised in cement outside the theatre on Hollywood Boulevard.)

“Sixty-five years ago, writer-producer Nunnally Johnson dusted off Zoe Akins’ 1930 play The Greeks Had a Word for It to create a showcase for three of the screen’s biggest stars: Betty Grable, Lauren Bacall and Marilyn Monroe. The idea of turning a simplistic plot into a talent showcase was nothing new in Hollywood. Samuel Goldwyn had first filmed the play in 1932, with Joan Blondell, Madge Evans and Ina Claire. Remakes followed in 1938 (Three Blind Mice) and 1941 (Moon Over Miami), along with dozens of imitations. In this version—shot in glorious Cinemascope—the three women are fashion models who pool their resources to rent a posh apartment they hope to use to attract marriage proposals from wealthy men. It doesn’t quite turn out that way but it certainly leads to some great comic situations, particularly for Monroe as a near-sighted model who steadfastly refuses to wear her glasses. It’s a surprising revelation as to which woman lands her prey (it’s a shock within the film too), but along the way they mix it up with William Powell, David Wayne, Rory Calhoun and Cameron Mitchell. The film was such a hit that director Jean Negulesco transplanted the story to Rome a year later for Three Coins in the Fountain. “

M.Monroe: Marilyn Inspires Jewellery Collection

Jewellery designer Yunjo Lee is launching a new Marilyn-inspired collection, ‘M.Monroe‘, as Anthony DeMarco reports for Forbes.

“In her new role, she said she did a great deal of research into all aspects of Marilyn Monroe’s life, her mystique and the real person, and came up with four collections that reflect the star’s essence: Whisper, Aura, Stellar, and a high jewelry collection. Prices begin at $350 with most of the jewels are priced in the $2,000 to $4,000 range. The high jewelry items are far more expensive, as one would expect.

The Aura collection speaks to Monroe’s ‘inner strength and the power of emotion using colors that Monroe uses to describe her dreams,’ such as ‘scarlet and gold and shining white, greens and blues,’ Lee said. ‘Maybe she was thinking of a rainbow so I wanted to evoke the same feeling you get when you see a rainbow. It’s the color of the light. It’s the color of your emotion. I literally hinted at pastel colors that are accentuated with boldness.'”

The Stellar range is based on a slight misquote: Marilyn did not say, ‘We are all stars and deserve to twinkle.’ The exact wording (from a telegram declining an invitation during her battle with Fox in 1962) is ‘All we demanded was our right to twinkle.

Whatever you may think of the designs, a quick glance at the M.Monroe Facebook page suggests the presentation will be quite tasteful. On April 13, it was announced that M.Monroe has partnered with Girls Write Now, a New York-based writing and mentorship organisation for high-school girls, ‘the next generation of Modern Marilyns making their own mark on the world.’

Young Marilyn Photos Sold at Heritage Auctions

Marilyn gets a makeover, 1947 (from the Aviv Wardimon estate)

Two signed photos were the highest sellers among the Marilyn-related lots in the Entertainment Signatures sale at Heritage Auctions yesterday. A Frank Powolny headshot (from the same session which later inspired Andy Warhol) sold for $13,750, and a classic pin-up image by Earl Thiesen fetched over $9,000. A restaurant menu from Trader Vic’s in Honolulu, signed by Marilyn and Joe DiMaggio in 1954, reached a top bid of $6,875. Among other popular lots were sets of rare photos showing a young Marilyn with security guard Aviv Wardimon (aka Blackman) on the Fox lot in 1947. You can see more photos from the auction here.

Marilyn with Aviv Wardimon, 1947

Ed Sheeran Covers ‘Candle in the Wind’

The British singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran has covered ‘Candle in the Wind’ for Revamp, a new album of classic Elton John/Bernie Taupin hits performed by various artists. Sheeran’s country-style version is a little underwhelming, but he has the kind of ‘everyman’ appeal which makes him a believable ‘young man in the 22nd row.’