From Stage to Page: Patricia Bosworth 1933-2020

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.)

AFI Prescribes a Dose of Sugar

Marilyn and Tony Curtis, Some Like It Hot

Having topped their ‘100 Years … 100 Laughs’ poll in 2000, Some Like It Hot is recommended by the American Film Institute movie club today, with a video introduction by actress Helen Mirren and filmmaker husband Taylor Hackford, plus interviews with Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis. Plus, some questions for further debate:

-What do you think the phrase ‘some like it hot’ means?

-What are some of your other favorite performances from SOME LIKE IT HOT stars Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis and Marilyn Monroe?

-What is your favorite film from director Billy Wilder?

-Why do you think SOME LIKE IT HOT is still so beloved after more than 60 years?

-How would you rate SOME LIKE IT HOT? 

Pop Art Before Warhol: McHale, Hamilton and Marilyn

We’ve already heard about Marilyn’s Scottish ancestry (see here), but as Craig Williams reports for Glasgow Live, local art pioneer John McHale was inspired by Marilyn – while his London-based colleague Richard Hamilton featured her iconic pose from The Seven Year Itch in an early installation, as shown above – long before Andy Warhol made her his muse.

“The Maryhill area of Glasgow can lay claim to a few things of note … But few would ever imagine that it could hold claim to a title many might believe is held by New York – that of being the birthplace of Pop Art. It wasn’t Warhol who could be considered as the true ‘forefather’ of Pop Art, nor indeed did he coin the ubiquitous term we all know today thanks (in the most part) to his work. That belongs to the almost forgotten Scottish artist, art theorist, sociologist and future studies searcher John McHale – a man born and bred in Maryhill.

McHale coined the term ‘Pop Art’ back in 1954 to describe the aesthetic expressed in art in response to the commercialization of Western culture … Yet it was to be the groundbreaking and hugely popular This Is Tomorrow exhibition at Whitechapel Gallery in London in 1956 that would light the Pop Art touchpaper. The exhibition – which McHale played a central part in – was described by esteemed art critic Reyner Banham as being the ‘first Pop Art manifestation to be seen in any art gallery in the world’. McHale, alongside Richard Hamilton and John Voelcker, presented images from popular culture from magazines, film publicity posters and comics as part of the exhibition.

And as part of the exhibition, McHale was able to provide plenty of the material, having returned from a scholarship at Yale University with a black metal trunk full to the brim with magazine clippings … Yet it wasn’t until 1962 when Pop Art was effectively ‘rubber-stamped’ in the America psyche via the “Symposium on Pop Art” at the Museum of Modern Art in  New York – the same year that a certain Andy Warhol held his first ever solo exhibition in the city … Warhol’s exhibit featured some of his most well-known works, including ‘Marilyn Diptych’ … which repeated Marilyn Monroe’s image to evoke her ubiquitous presence in the media – it’s very possible that Warhol was inspired to produce the work by none other than Maryhill’s own McHale.

That’s because, in a collection of writings concerning popular imagery and fine art called ‘The Expendable Icon’ published in Architectural Design magazine in 1959, McHale referenced Marilyn Monroe in a section entitled ‘The Girl With The Most’. Monroe, who McHale regarded as ‘doubly interesting’ featured among many popular ‘ikons’ he identified alongside Elvis Presley – another of Warhol’s subjects. McHale wrote that the film star was ‘held up as an example of someone not only defined by personal iconography, but whose image is saturated in the media to such an extent that she serves as a model for universal imitation’.

1962 would see McHale emigrate to live in the US for definite … John McHale (Jr.) notes the difference between his father’s work and that of Warhol. Where Warhol was focused on being a celebrity artist, McHale’s agenda was to extend the boundaries of art to the masses according to his son … Incredibly, his father was also asked to explain his Pop Art ideas by Time magazine and be featured on the cover, but ‘regrettably refused for personal family reasons … From my discussions with my father it was apparent that he originally conceived of Pop Art as being more than just some glib advertising and reflection of popular culture … This may not seem radical in the present century, but half a century ago these were fighting words and cutting edge concepts. Pop Art was about opening up aesthetic possibilities and making art freely available to all …'”

Marilyn’s Estate Launches New Dental Brand

Marilyn’s smile was her fortune, and like any glamour girl, she took good care of her teeth. As we can see above, her image was once used to promote Pepsodent toothpaste, and in 1952, she was photographed with Dr. Louis Armann for a magazine spread. As reported by Yahoo Finance today, Authentic Brands Group (ABG), the licensor of Marilyn’s estate, have launched yet another merchandising deal with Oral Fitness by Dale Audrey Inc.’s WHITE2NITE brand (the whitening pen includes a limited edition Swarovski crystal cap.) The campaign uses photos by Milton Greene, but they also feature a few fake quotes on the packaging.

Marilyn’s ‘Niagara’ and the Making of a Style Icon

Writing for fashion bible Women’s Wear Daily, Leigh Nordstrom and Alex Badia have named Marilyn among the most stylish movie icons of the 1950s and 60s, citing Dorothy Jeakins’ Niagara designs, also worn offscreen by Marilyn in 1952, for special praise.

“The sex symbol who revolutionized the Fifties and Sixties had a very well-crafted fashion style. This look from the movie Niagara is a clear example. The wavy, short bleach blonde hair, the hoop earrings, and form-fitting dress with generous cleavage were some of her signatures. What was great about her style was that if you wear it today, it’s still amazing — it’s timeless.”

Why Marilyn’s Prescription is Laughter

Laughter may not cure COVID-19, but it’s a great way to get through lockdown. Look at Marilyn, laughing for Sam Shaw and bringing us springtime in Saturday’s Telegraph.

In the current issue of San Francisco’s Marina Times, Michael Snyder becomes the latest film critic to recommend chasing the blues away with Some Like It Hot.

“In dire times, comedy is needed more than ever. Absurdist playwright Eugene Ionesco had it right with his observation, ‘We laugh so as not to cry.’ Even if laughter isn’t really the best medicine in a pandemic, it can’t hurt.

Public gatherings have been restricted and major movie releases are being postponed, so I thought I’d note some vintage, spirit-raising film comedies that should be accessible at home in the digital domain. A sense of humor is incredibly subjective. Still, it would be hard not to chuckle, chortle, or at least smile at some point while watching any of the following.

Director-screenwriter Billy Wilder’s Some Like It Hot (1959) stars Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis as two luckless musicians who need to disappear after witnessing a gangland hit. To escape murderous mobsters on their tail, the guys cross-dress to infiltrate an all-woman band and fall under the spell of one of the gals in the group, played by the bubbly, voluptuous Marilyn Monroe. From silly to sizzling, Some Like It Hot is the real deal when it comes to frantically funny fake femmes …”

And finally, if quarantine is limiting your style choices, you could follow Marilyn’s example and slip into a potato sack (as seen in the latest issue of Yours Retro …)

Thanks to Fraser Penney

Marilyn’s Top 3 on IMDB

Theresa Crumpton has compiled her ranking of the best Monroe movies, alongside user ratings from the IMDB website, for the Screen Rant blog. Some Like It Hot, The Asphalt Jungle and The Seven Year Itch top the list, while fan favourite Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is relegated to eighth place; The Prince and the Showgirl, which matches the aggregate score of Bus Stop (ranked sixth), is omitted entirely; and All About Eve, which ties with Some Like It Hot on IMDB, is also conspicuously absent.

Marilyn Fan’s Rare Snapshot Revealed

A fan’s candid snapshot of Marilyn, plus her autograph, was sold for $2,250 at Nate D. Sanders Auctions yesterday. (It’s unclear if the man in the photo is the lucky fan, as his face is cut off. But his clothing reminds me of Joe DiMaggio when he joined Marilyn in Canada during the filming of River Of No Return in the summer of 1953.)

“Marilyn Monroe signed address book, with Marilyn writing ”Love & Kisses / Marilyn Monroe” on the ‘M’ page. Autograph was obtained at a chance encounter in Los Angeles, circa 1954, as Marilyn was leaving the studio lot, and is accompanied by a glossy 3.75” square photo capturing the encounter. Address book measures 2.75” x 4.25”, with various pages filled in. Marilyn’s page has some mild browning and wear but no writing other than hers. Overall very good condition.”

A previously published photo of Marilyn and Joe DiMaggio in Canada, 1953

Thanks to Fraser Penney

Dylan ‘Plays It’ for Marilyn

“Guitar Slim going down slow
Play it for me and for Marilyn Monroe …”

One of our true living legends, Bob Dylan has just released his first original song in eight years. ‘Murder Most Foul’ is a seventeen-minute ballad about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, and its lingering impact on the American psyche. Among the many cultural references within this extraordinary work is our MM, whom Dylan has long admired (see here.)