Jimmy James Plans Documentary On His ‘Marilyn Years’

Although he hung up his blond wig back in 1997, Jimmy James remains one of the most beloved Marilyn impersonators. He talks about his plans for a documentary about ‘the Marilyn years,’ and more, in an interview for Instinct magazine.

“I did an L.A. Eyeworks ad (it was banished under threats of lawsuits from ever being seen for twenty two years until the internet set it free around 2012. Now I can sell the Limited Edition prints with mine and Greg Gorman’s signatures). It has become the most mis-identified photo of Marilyn Monroe in the world. It was actually even made into an African stamp by mistake, and juxtaposed with real images of Marilyn Monroe!”

Vanessa Paradis ‘Chanels’ Marilyn

The French singer and actress Vanessa Paradis is one of Marilyn’s most devoted celebrity fans; she wrote a song called ‘Marilyn & John’ for her debut album back in 1988, and still collects Monroe memorabilia, including a pair of her shoes. As a longtime spokeswoman for Chanel, Vanessa has now combined both passions in a new clip, I Am An Idea. “A Chanel perfume is a play of shadows and light, which reveals nudity and protects intimacy,” she says in the video. “A set of jewelry and an abstraction; a suit of armor and a construction. A Chanel perfume is an invisible negligee, one that Marilyn chose to adorn her nights.” (This mini-film, first in a series, also features Eve Arnold’s photos of Marilyn lying nude in bed – let’s hope she was wearing her signature Chanel No. 5 …)

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, Harold Lloyd and the ‘Careless Man’

Marilyn’s 1953 poolside photo session at the home of Harold Lloyd – and the mysterious accompanying clip, where she whispers seductively, ‘I hate a careless man’  – has long been the subject of speculation. Some have linked it to Coca Cola, as Marilyn was sipping a bottle through a straw. However, she was actually filming a PSA for the US military. In ‘Atomic Blonde’, an in-depth article for Californian lifestyle magazine Alta Journal, film historian Cari Beauchamp reveals the whole story.

“Hollywood was a relatively small community in the early 1950s. Lloyd and Monroe had become friendly when he accompanied his friend, Philippe Halsman, to her apartment to photograph the actress for Life magazine. Lloyd invited Monroe to Greenacres for a visit that could include a photo shoot.

Gloria [Lloyd’s daughter] was still living at Greenacres in 1953, and she recalled some details of Marilyn Monroe’s visit as if it had occurred the week before.

‘When Marilyn arrived, I took her up to the pool house,’ she told me. ‘She was my age, or maybe a year or two younger, but we came from very different worlds. She sat down to put on her makeup, and we just started chatting about our lives. She insisted on seeing the baby and talked about how she dreamed of having a child of her own one day. That’s what I remember most. That, and when daddy and the other men were taking her picture, she kept saying, “I hate a careless man” over and over again.’

A closer examination of the photos, zooming in until the letters are blurry, reveals the words ‘Lookout Mt. Laboratory’ on an equipment box and on the front of the jeep that Monroe arrived in. Lookout Mountain, snuggled near the top of a hill in the Laurel Canyon residential neighborhood of Los Angeles, began humbly in 1947 as a radar station for Southern California, but became a government film studio a few years later.

Recently, authors Kevin Hamilton and Ned O’Gorman, while researching their book, Lookout America! The Secret Hollywood Studio at the Heart of the Cold War, came across a bit of film with Marilyn saying, ‘I hate a careless man.’ When I heard about that, the puzzle pieces began to fall into place.

Lookout Mountain became the home of the 1352nd Motion Picture Squadron, which churned out training and recruiting films as well as documenting atomic bomb testing in the Pacific and the deserts of Nevada and New Mexico. Initially, the plan was to release edited versions of the films for public awareness, but when the Atomic Energy Commission saw the footage of the explosion of the first hydrogen bomb in 1952, it decided it would petrify the general population. Everything was suddenly top secret, but word of the tests kept leaking out through letters home and conversations with family and friends. Too often, these ended up published in local papers.

With a new series of tests, code named Operation Castle, scheduled to begin in early 1954 on Bikini Atoll in the Pacific, secrecy became paramount. As Hamilton and O’Gorman explain in their book, ‘posters saying “Loose lips sink ships” were no longer enough.’ Lookout Mountain’s commander, Lt. Colonel Gaylord, came up with the idea to make short films stressing the danger of leaking information to be used in orientation and as trailers shown during the servicemen’s regular movie nights. Gaylord believed it was important to get away from the ‘punishable by court martial’ attitude and make the trailers ‘friendly albeit flavorful.’

But what tied the military and Monroe to Greenacres and Harold Lloyd? The estate’s sheer size guaranteed isolation, and Lloyd could be trusted. As a good friend of Gov. Earl Warren and a delegate to the 1952 Republican Convention that nominated Eisenhower, Lloyd’s connections went way beyond Hollywood. His name was listed among the many in the visitor log at Lookout Mountain, as well as someone who helped with the unit’s work. But the person who may have suggested Harold’s participation was his son Dukie [Harold Lloyd Jr.], who was stationed at Lookout Mountain.

A total of 10 short films were made, each focusing on ways secrets could be leaked and the importance of confidentiality. (Apparently only one survives, available on YouTube.) In each film, Monroe was tacked on to the end, cooing ‘I hate a careless man.’ There she was, in all her glory, smiling broadly in her bathing suit and saying her line — and then she was gone. Jolting as it was, the message was clear: If you wanted a chance to sleep with Marilyn Monroe, you’d better keep your mouth shut.

According to the official records of the 1352nd Motion Picture squadron, the films ‘appeared to have done the job intended.’ A report by Lookout Mountain in 1954 proudly stated that there were ‘no security breaks on the part of the Castle personnel.’

While it may remain a small slice of film history, we finally know that what looked like a routine photo shoot — involving a luminous actress and an accomplished actor/producer/ photographer — also played a key role in keeping the nation as ignorant as possible as thermonuclear bomb tests exploded in the South Pacific.”

Remembering Marilyn’s Nikon Moment

This lovely photo of Marilyn holding a Nikon F camera – shot by Bert Stern in 1962 – has been used for an advertising campaign to celebrate the Japanese company’s centenary. You can read the backstory at Wired.

“IN THE SUMMER of 1962, Bert Stern arrived at the Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles to shoot Marilyn Monroe with the last camera anyone expected — the Nikon F … Tough, portable and the most advanced camera of its day, the F would be used to capture everything from overseas battles to NASA space missions to the Super Bowl — but Stern would use it to revolutionize the world of celebrities …’On the Nikon, you’re looking right through the lens, so the shutter goes black when the picture is taken,’ he later said. ‘At that perfect moment, you just have to close your eyes and jump — you have to grab it.’

While Nikon continues to send cameras to the far corners of the galaxy, expanding the possibilities of photography, it remains Stern who first popularized them in another field — celebrities. In 1962, he had been waiting for hours in the Bel-Air when the world’s most famous actress suddenly arrived. ‘She was alone wearing a scarf and green slacks and a sweater,’ Stern later wrote. ‘She had no makeup on. I said, “You’re beautiful” and she said, “What a nice thing to say”‘ … ‘There have been many beautiful women since Marilyn Monroe,’ he later said. ‘But who is there that has her total magic? Nobody has that vulnerability anymore.'”

And here are some more images from this delightful sitting…

Thanks to Johann

Marilyn’s Detour in the Coca Cola Archive

Ted Ryan, official historian for Coca Cola, has been showing The Mirror‘s Emily Setter around the company archive in Atlanta, Georgia. Of particular interest was this rare photo of Marilyn…

“Lolling on a sun lounger in a Coca-Cola red swimsuit and sky-high glass stilettos strapped on with red ribbons, Marilyn Monroe looks the real thing. America’s brightest star fizzed as she posed for a glamorous advertisement for America’s coolest drink in these never seen before images from 1953. Incredibly, for a reason now lost in the mists of time, Marilyn’s sizzling Coke campaign never saw the light of day. Until now.

‘Why wouldn’t you want one of the hottest celebs in the world agreeing to appear with your product?’ laughs Ted Ryan. ‘Why was she not used? The ad was being done on spec, but it was never accepted by the company. We just don’t know why.’

Coca-Cola only learned of the candid behind-the-scenes shots by celebrity photographer Harold Lloyd last year after they were found in, of all places, the archives of NASA.  Naturally, Coke snapped them up, and is today letting the Mirror publish them for the first time.”

However, this is not the full story, as ES Updates has previously revealed. Marilyn was actually filming a PSA for the US Air Force (not NASA) at Greenacres, the Beverly Hills estate of former silent comedian Harold Lloyd, whose own glamour shots were published in the 1992 book, 3-D Hollywood.

“She visited in 1953 with Jean Negulesco, supposedly to film a dream sequence for How to Marry a Millionaire. This never transpired, but footage of a seductive Marilyn purring ‘I hate a careless man’ was used in ‘Security Is Common Sense’, a PSA for the US Air Force, warning servicemen against revealing military secrets in letters home.

Studio contract stars like Marilyn were routinely asked to endorse products, although she would do so less frequently in later years … the Lloyd shoot does not appear to have been directly connected to Coca Cola – but the tacit promotional value was clearly welcomed, and it has since become part of their glamorous legacy.”

Prada’s ‘Neon Dream’ of Vegas, Marilyn

Actress Sarah Paulson – best-known for her roles in American Horror Story, The People Vs. O.J. Simpson, and Ocean’s 8 – appears in a new short film advertising Prada’s Fall and Winter Collection. Neon Dream follows a mysterious woman (Amanda Murphy) driving into Las Vegas, where a rather sinister troop of Marilyn Monroe clones led by RuPaul’s Drag Race diva Violet Chachki are waiting. She catches the eye of a parking valet (Paulson) who follows her, morphing into Marilyn a la Seven Year Itch, and a rollerskating waitress.

Marilyn Goes Back to Burlap

‘What makes your hometown weird?’ Mey Valdivia Rude asks over at Autostraddle. Her hometown of Blackfoot is also the home of the Idaho Potato Museum, which ‘houses things like a life size pin-up of Marilyn Monroe in a dress made from a potato sack and the world’s largest potato crisp.’

The museum’s website includes ‘Movie Star in Burlap‘, an article revealing how Marilyn came to wear an Idaho potato sack, and souvenirs are available in the gift shop. (You can see more photos from the shoot with Earl Thiesen here.)

“In the early days of her struggle to attract the attention of the Hollywood community and the media, Norma Jeane wore a sexy and revealing red dress to a 1951 holiday-season party. A columnist commented in a print about the incident and observed that Marilyn’s stunning figure would look good even if she wore a potato sack. The remark prompted her publicity agent to have a dress made from a burlap bag obtained at the local produce market, which Marilyn wore for a photographic session. [NB: Another version of this story, told by Marilyn herself, is that the columnist had actually insulted her dress by saying she would have looked better in a potato sack.]

The bag had been packed at Long Produce in Twin Falls, Idaho, and displayed the Idaho identification and Long’s Sawtooth brand as never before.

The Longs wrote to Marilyn and thanked her for the publicity and she graciously responded with an autographed picture that was displayed on the office wall and reproduced for advertising and promotional purposes.

When Long Produce ceased business in the late 50’s, the prized autograph disappeared. Another print, however, was found recently at a garage sale in Minneapolis and purchased by a Union Pacific Railroad executive who presented the Idaho Grower-Shippers Association with two copies for their use. Reproduction of the picture by the Association in their yearbook publication captured the fancy of a new generation of fans.”

Inside the Coca Cola Archive With Marilyn

Marilyn and Coca Cola are among the most recognisable American cultural icons. In an article for the Daily Mail, Anna Hopkins visits the Coca Cola archive managed by Ted Ryan in Atlanta, Georgia and finds images of Marilyn sipping Coke by the pool at Greenacres, the Hollywood home of silent movie comedian turned 3D photographer Harold Lloyd (seen here wearing a blue suit and his trademark spectacles.) She visited in 1953 with Jean Negulesco, supposedly to film a dream sequence for How to Marry a Millionaire. This never transpired, but footage of a seductive Marilyn purring “I hate a careless man” was used in ‘Security Is Common Sense’, a PSA for the US Air Force, warning servicemen against revealing military secrets in letters home.

More shots taken by Harold Lloyd

Studio contract stars like Marilyn were routinely asked to endorse products, although she would do so less frequently in later years. Despite the Mail article’s claims, the Lloyd shoot does not appear to have been directly connected to Coca Cola – but the tacit promotional value was clearly  welcomed, and it has since become part of their glamorous legacy. In 1951, Marilyn was filmed drinking Coke in a scene from Love Nest.  And Edward Clark’s candid shot of Marilyn and co-star Jane Russell enjoying a Coke on the set of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) was revived in a 2015 company ad campaign.