‘All About Eve’: From Screen to Stage

The new stage adaptation of All About Eve, starring Gillian Anderson and Lily James, has now opened at London’s Noel Coward Theatre, to mixed reviews. In today’s Guardian, Jenny Stevens goes back to the source, describing Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s 1950 classic  as “a perfect feminist film.”

“‘All the wittiest lines in the film belong to the women,’ says film critic Molly Haskell. ‘These women are never just pathetic. Mankiewicz is so fascinated by women and sympathetic towards them: he gives them importance, he gives them idiosyncrasy, he gives them their personalities.’

So many films from that era don’t hold up, but All About Eve still feels radical. It takes the theme of women being silenced, forced to listen to men and learn from them regardless of their own talents, and turns men into the butt of the joke. When Margo throws a birthday party for her partner, the director Bill Sampson, the poison-penned theatre critic Addison DeWitt turns up with a young blonde on his arm, a Miss Caswell (played by the then little-known Marilyn Monroe). Channing suggests Eve and DeWitt should talk about their shared love of the theatre. ‘I’m afraid Mr DeWitt might find me boring after too long,’ says Eve, saccharinely coy. ‘Oh you won’t bore him, honey,’ says Miss Caswell. ‘You won’t even get the chance to talk.’

It is an extraordinary scene, says Haskell, ‘especially when you consider that Monroe’s character is not meant to have lines. She’s meant to be just a bimbo. Yet out of this bimbo come these words of wisdom. Everyone has dignity and authority in their own way in the movie.'”

In the new play, Miss Caswell is played by Jessie Mei Li. As you can see below, she looks lovely in the role, but wisely avoids doing a Monroe impersonation. Tickets are selling out fast, but in association with the National Theatre and Fox Stage Productions, a live performance will be broadcast at selected cinemas across the UK and USA from April 11 onwards – pick your nearest venue here.

Thanks to Fraser Penney

Marilyn Inspires Fan in Health Battle

A terminally ill young woman says that making herself up in Marilyn’s glamorous style gives her courage to fight for her health, Metro reports.

“25-year-old Tiffany Senter, from Shasta County, California, was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis when she was just seven days old – and was not expected to make it past two weeks old.

Tiffany said: ‘I was bedridden whilst waiting for my second lung transplant, so started to practice different make-up looks to give me something to do. When searching tutorials online, I started to realise how much I loved old-fashioned, pin-up looks, which naturally led me to Marilyn Monroe.’

‘As time went on, looking at quotes of hers and realising how much she accepted her own flaws and wasn’t the conventional beautiful woman that you’d see on magazine covers today, I started relating to her – because my disability has left me with flaws too.’

‘Now I use Marilyn Monroe as my everyday inspiration, and transforming into her and having her ethos is giving me reason to fight – despite knowing my illness is now terminal …. I know that at some point there won’t be any other options and that I will die – but I’m trying to stay positive. I have been told that I wouldn’t reach my teenage years, and no one thought I would ever make it to 25, so I know I can fight against this prediction too!’

Alongside continually raising awareness for cystic fibrosis, Tiffany admits that transforming into her inspiration, Marilyn Monroe, has helped her to continue her fight. She said: ‘I know I am dying, but when I look in the mirror and my make-up and hair is done like Marilyn Monroe’s, it makes me feel so much better.’

‘She’s a real woman and she had flaws, but always embraced them. For years I have been covered in scars and have many other flaws, and Marilyn makes me feel like I can accept them. People often tell me how much I look like her too, which gives me great confidence, and overall has made me realise I can still be beautiful with my flaws.’”

Living It Up in Marilyn’s Beverly Hills Hotel Bungalow

The Beverly Hills Hotel bungalow where Marilyn stayed with husband Arthur Miller while filming Let’s Make Love in 1960 (her co-star Yves Montand and his wife, Signoret, were neighbours) has been revamped with a Monroe-inspired theme, as Forrest Brown reports for CNN.

“It’s part of a years-long restoration project of 21 out of its 23 bungalows, the hotel says in a news release. Five take on celebrity-specific themes — bungalows that salute Elizabeth Taylor and Frank Sinatra made their bows in 2016, and fifth that takes its cues from Charlie Chaplin is set to come in July.

Born Norma Jeane Mortenson, Marilyn Monroe became the ultimate symbol of glam and youth. The design of the bungalow reflects the Southern California lifestyle she liked so much, the hotel says.
The space has a strong feminine vibe. Guests will find sensuous, curvy furniture, bright and abstract floor coverings and gold-leafed ceilings.
A few of the amenities that come with the 1,670-square-foot space for the main suite:
— A library featuring Monroe books and films, including the musical comedies Some Like It Hot and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.
— A Chanel No. 5 perfume bar (Monroe once said the iconic fragrance was the only thing she wore to bed) as well as bath amenities.
— A bubble bath inspired from Some Like it Hot.
You can even enjoy a meal inspired by some of Monroe’s favorites: Prawn Cocktail, Heirloom Carrot Salad, DiMaggio’s Spaghetti and Meatballs (that would be named after her former husband, baseball legend Joe) and Grilled New York Steak.
The Montands dine with the Millers in their bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel. (Photographed by Bruce Davidson, 1960)

The bungalow is priced starting at $8,500 a night for the main suite. Contact the hotel about adjoining rooms. Both the Monroe and [Howard] Hughes bungalows were designed by Champalimaud Design of New York. The hotel first opened in 1912, and its bungalows were built three years later for families that requested more space and privacy, the hotel says.

The hotel is known for its lush grounds and pink-and-green decor … The front entrance has a red carpet, which makes you feel like a celebrity just by walking in the door, and the palm frond-printed wallpaper reminds you that you’re in perennially sunny SoCal.
Its restaurant, The Polo Lounge (aka The Pink Palace) is one of those LA places that even locals go to and has a major pop culture presence, with roles in everything from the Bret Easton Ellis novel Less Than Zero to the real-life scandal called Watergate.”

What She Said: Marilyn and Chanel No. 5

Marilyn by Bob Beerman, 1953

Over at Garage Magazine, Tatum Dooley traces the origins of Marilyn’s famous quote regarding her favourite perfume…

“When asked what she wore to bed, Marilyn Monroe famously replied, ‘I only wear Chanel No. 5.’

The quote originates from a retelling by Monroe to Life Magazine in April 1952. The question wasn’t posed by Life; instead Monroe offered it up as a anecdote: “Once this fellow says, “Marilyn, what do you wear to bed?’ So I said I only wear Chanel No. 5.”‘

A bastardized version often tidily conflates Monroe as both speakers: ‘What do I wear in bed? Why, Chanel No. 5, of course.’

Monroe is the subject of the second advertisement in a multi-part campaign, titled ‘Inside Chanel,’ levied by the brand. The ad, at just over two minutes, makes Monroe a posthumous face of the venerable perfume. ‘We may never know when she said the phrase for the first time,’ the video states about Monroe’s famous reference to the perfume, going on to cite all the times they have proof it happened: April 7th, 1952, in Life Magazine. October 1953, at a photoshoot for Modern Screen. April 1970, Marie Claire.

‘°5, because it’s the truth… and yet, I don’t want to say nude. But it’s the truth!’

But…it’s the truth lingers on the screen.”

Marilyn Book News: Women Writers Take Charge

Some Kind of Mirror: Creating Marilyn Monroe is a new academic study of Marilyn’s movie performances by Amanda Konkle. Although set for publication on February 28, it’s already in stock at The Book Depository.  Having just read it, I can whole-heartedly recommend this book: it’s thoughtful without being stuffy, and puts the focus back on Marilyn’s work. Some Kind of Mirror is illustrated with screen-captures from Marilyn’s films, as well as the beautiful cover photo by Eve Arnold (showing Marilyn during filming of The Misfits, toasting her loyal friends and co-workers.)

Sarah Churchwell’s excellent 2005 ‘meta-biography’, The Many Lives of Marilyn Monroe, will be reissued in March, as well as being published digitally for the first time. (The only downside for me is no Marilyn on the cover!)

And looking further ahead, The Little Book of Marilyn: Inspiration From the Goddess of Glam – the latest from ace biographer Michelle Morgan – is coming in July.

“A lifestyle guide and tribute to the style, glamour, and showmanship of Hollywood’s most iconic star, with Marilyn-inspired lessons and inspiration for today’s woman.

While the 1950s was in many ways an era of repression for women, Marilyn Monroe broke barriers and rebelled against convention — and charmed the world with her beauty, talent, and irresistible personality. Filled with gorgeous photos, The Little Book of Marilyn will show you how to bring a touch of that glamour into your own life through:

  • * Tutorials on recreating the star’s makeup looks
  • * Style advice and tips on where to find Marilyn-like fashions
  • * Décor ideas from Marilyn’s own homes
  • * Everyday inspiration from her life that will let your inner Marilyn shine, and much more!”

When Marilyn Came to Forest Hills

In an article for Forest Hills Connection, Ann Kessler looks back at Marilyn’s week-long stay in the Washington suburb while husband Arthur Miller was on trial for contempt of Congress in May 1957.

“Monroe wanted to support her husband by coming to DC, but didn’t want to stay at a hotel where she would be constantly mobbed by the press and fans. For that same reason she couldn’t actually attend any of the court sessions.

Miller contacted his lawyer, Joseph L. Rauh, Jr., a widely respected civil rights attorney and co-founder of the Americans for Democratic Action, to ask his suggestions for housing in DC. Joe Rauh invited Miller and Marilyn to stay on the sofa bed in the den of his house at 3625 Appleton Street NW. The next day Rauh’s son Carl, a junior at Wilson High School, drove to Union Station to pick up a woman ‘wearing a dark wig, a head scarf, and sunglasses.’ That was Marilyn Monroe.

Monroe spent the next week at Rauh’s house with Olie Rauh, Joe’s wife. She bicycled around the neighborhood (wearing sunglasses and pedal pushers), sat at the Rauhs’ backyard pool, read books and followed the trial as closely as she could from afar. The neighbors had no idea that Monroe was still present, having assumed she had only briefly visited the Rauhs. In reality, Monroe and Miller had left the Rauh home and then returned for their extended stay.

On the last day of her week’s visit someone tipped an Evening Star reporter to Monroe’s presence and the lawn was soon full of representatives of the press. Monroe held a brief news conference. When asked what she thought of Washington, she said, ‘I love your city. I think it’s the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. I’ve never been here before.’ Soon after, Monroe and her husband, as scheduled, left for Union Station to catch a train to New York.”

John Bailey: Washington’s Marilyn Muralist

John Bailey, the artist behind the famous Marilyn mural in Washington D.C., has died, as John Kelly reports for the Washington Post. (The mural is based on a 1955 photo by Milton Greene, and was created in 1981.)

“John Bailey died last week in Richmond. He was responsible for one of Washington’s most famous paintings, even if you never knew it was he who painted it: the Marilyn Monroe mural in Woodley Park.

I mentioned the mural last week in my column about one of the men who commissioned it, hair stylist Roi Barnard. It was an odd but fitting coincidence that Bailey passed away at age 78 just as I was preparing the article for publication.

‘It was just so beautiful,’ Barnard said of his reaction the first time he saw Bailey’s mural, painted in 1981 on the side of the Connecticut Avenue NW salon Roi ran with his then-partner, Charles Stinson.

For Barnard, it was a literal dream come true: He had seen the mural in his sleep.

Bailey spent a year living in Barnard and Stinson’s house at 16th and Colorado NW. The artist used it as a base of operations while he painted the bottom of their swimming pool (another Marilyn) and worked on portraits.

Bailey was also a dancer and was married to the grande dame of dance in Virginia, Frances Wessells, who survives him.

‘He meshed photorealism with a painterly touch,’ [Robbie] Kinter said. ‘Even though he was a photorealist, he had a beautiful sense of design. I think he really saw beauty in things.’

Bailey’s Marilyn was one of the first murals in a city that has since become famous for them. Her lips are parted, her eyelids heavy. She fills the frame, an inscrutable memorial in this monumental town.

‘He made a beautiful, physical mark on this city that has nothing to do with politics. And not everyone can say that,’ said Nancy Tartt, who met Bailey when she studied dance at George Washington University.”

Marilyn’s Misfits and the ‘Big Bang’

Marilyn and the making of The Misfits are among the many historical touchstones featured in Big Bang, David Bowman’s posthumously published novel of mid-century America, as John Williams reports for the New York Times. (According to Publisher’s Weekly, Bowman – who died in 2012 – also delved into the origins of The Misfits in 1956, when Arthur Miller and Saul Bellow were waiting out their divorces in Nevada. Events which followed the movie – such as Marilyn singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to President Kennedy in 1962, and Miller’s depiction of her in the 1964 play, After the Fall – are also mentioned.)

“The novel’s central nervous system is formed around American politics — it ends as well as begins with Kennedy’s death, and spends considerable time on the Vietnam War, the Cuban Missile Crisis and Watergate. But J.F.K., Jacqueline Kennedy, Aristotle Onassis, Richard Nixon and Ngo Dinh Diem are joined in this story by — among others — Jimi Hendrix, Bruce Lee, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, Dr. Benjamin Spock and his wife, Jane, George Plimpton, Saul Bellow, Norman Mailer, Arthur Miller, Marilyn Monroe, the literary critic Leslie Fiedler, J. D. Salinger, Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner, Willem de Kooning, Elizabeth Taylor, Raymond Chandler, Sylvia Plath, Jack Kerouac, Frank Sinatra and Maria Callas.

The events recounted in Big Bang include, but are far from limited to: Mailer stabbing his wife, Burroughs shooting his wife, Rosemary Kennedy’s lobotomy, Khrushchev at Disneyland, the director John Huston making The Misfits, Fidel Castro’s appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, Nixon playing the piano on The Jack Paar Show, the release of the Ford Edsel, Montgomery Clift nearly dying in a car wreck after leaving a dinner party in the Hollywood Hills and, for about the blink of an eye, a young George W. Bush in the car with his mother, Barbara, after she has suffered a miscarriage.”

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