Marilyn’s Sweet Valentine

Flowers were placed on Marilyn’s grave for St Valentine’s Day, by Carla Orlandi on behalf of the Immortal Marilyn fan club. Thanks to donations from fans, another $241 was raised for Animal Haven.

Over at MM Source, Tiffany recounts the story of how Joe DiMaggio once carved his initials, and Marilyn’s, onto the bar at Chicago’s Drake Hotel.

Artwork by ‘The Marilynette Lounge’ on Tumblr

And while on the subject of Marilyn and Joe, here’s a snippet from a 1966 article by Gay Talese, published in his collection of sports essays, The Silent Season of a Hero:

“There are some baseball trophies and plaques in the small room off DiMaggio’s bedroom, and on his dresser are photographs of Marilyn Monroe, and in the living room downstairs is a small painting of her that DiMaggio likes very much; it reveals only her face and shoulders and she is wearing a wide-brimmed sun hat, and there is a soft, sweet smile on her lips, an innocent curiosity about her that is the way he saw her and the way he wanted her to be seen by others – a simple girl, ‘a warm, big-hearted girl,’ he once described her, ‘that everybody took advantage of.'”

Honouring ‘The Misfits’

Eve Arnold, 1960

Deanne Stillman, author of MustangTwentynine Palms and Joshua Tree, and an expert on the American West, attended a 50th anniversary screening of The Misfits at the University of Nevada last week, as part of their ‘Honoring the Horse’ exhibition.

She has written an essay on this ‘iconic and underrated’ film, considering what The Misfits can tell us about the West today and why it has often been described as a ‘doomed’ project.

“As I see it, what doomed the cast was the story—the act of re-creating it, living with it and inside it, bedding down at night with the dark heart of the country, having coffee with it in the morning, and, in the end, not telling the truth. For as mighty as it was, The Misfits was essentially another Hollywood lie … In the weeks after The Misfits wrapped, Marilyn would sit for hours in a disguise and watch the horse carousel at the Santa Monica pier. We do not know what was on her mind and in her heart as the gaily painted animals turned forever. A fragile soul on and off the screen, she may have given great thought to what was really going on in Nevada, and to the fact that her lover, Arthur Miller, had torqued the truth to resurrect her career and, because she was in love with him, she had played alone. ‘I don’t know where I belong,’ she tells Perce in the movie—and perhaps she found a moment at the carousel.”

You can read the article in full at Truthdig

Rare ‘Misfits’ Pics, Screening in Reno

“This 1960 photo of Marilyn and Eli Wallach was taken with a Kodak ‘Brownie’ box camera by Lisa Graeber at Quail Canyon near Pyramid Lake, while filming The Misfits in Nevada.

Lisa Graeber (then Lisa Stix) was home for the summer after her first year at college when the movie crew took over their house in Quail Canyon, near Pyramid Lake. Graeber and her mother moved into their guesthouse during the filming, and got to know several of the cast and crew members. Graeber took personal photos with her Kodak ‘Brownie’ box camera, which have not yet been seen publicly and will be displayed at a free screening of The Misfits, on February 13 at 2pm, Wells Fargo Auditorium, Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center, University of Nevada, Reno.

‘There is something special about Lisa’s unstaged photos,’ said Donnelyn Curtis, head of the University’s Special Collections Department.

Curtis explained that Graeber’s brother, Dave Stix, a University alumnus and rodeo team member, was hired to be a night watchman for the Quail Canyon movie set, helped with the rodeo sets in Dayton, and found extras to be rodeo performers in the movie.

Film critic Robin Holabird will provide commentary and share stories about the various set locations at the Feb. 13 screening.

The screening is in conjunction with the “Honoring the Horse” exhibit, on display at the Knowledge Center through March. Since other “stars” in the movie were four-legged creatures – wild horses, rodeo horses and trained movie horses, the exhibit pays homage to these horses, and horses in general, which have played an important role in Nevada’s history.”

Nevada News

How Roslyn Saved the Horses

A wonderful article by environmentalist Carly Wilson about Marilyn’s enduring love for animals and nature, and her pioneering role in The Misfits:

“Just as the final horse is roped up and forced to the ground, Roslyn jumps out from the truck and starts screaming in a high pitched panic ‘Murderers! Murderers!’ The men are so shocked by the outpouring of intensity from this very shy and innocent-seeming young woman that they agree to untie and set free the horses. This scene is probably the most effective animal welfare message I have ever witnessed in a motion picture and the fact that it was filmed in 1960, before even the civil rights act had been signed, is incredible and way ahead of it’s time.”

You can watch Roslyn’s speech here

Camel Racing in Virginia City

Rodeo scene, ‘The Misfits’

“These races started in 1960 when the San Francisco Chronicle and the Phoenix Sun challenged each other to a race. The winner was Hollywood director John Huston, who was filming The Misfits nearby. Two stars of the film, Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable, were among the spectators as camels ran a 100-yard dash through the middle of this Comstock Lode town.” – Wall Street Journal

(I suspect that this event may not have been quite so enjoyable for Marilyn, who like her character, Roslyn, was acutely sensitive to the welfare of animals.)

‘Honoring the Horse’ in Nevada

Ernst Haas, 1960

“Fall 2010 is the 50th anniversary of the filming of The Misfits in Reno, Dayton and the Pyramid Lake area. The star-studded film, written by Arthur Miller and directed by John Huston, was the last movie appearance for both Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable, and also featured Montgomery Clift, Thelma Ritter and Eli Wallach.

However, other ‘stars’ in the movie were four-legged creatures – wild horses, rodeo horses and trained movie horses played prominent roles in the film. To pay homage to these horses, along with horses in general, which have played such an important role in Nevada’s history, the ‘Honoring the Horse’ exhibit will be featured in the University of Nevada, Reno’s Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center beginning Sept. 15.

The ‘Honoring the Horse’ exhibit will run through March 2011, and in February, the Knowledge Center will host a discussion and showing of ‘The Misfits’, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the film’s release.

For more information, go to www.knowledgecenter.unr.edu/specoll, or call 775-682-5665.”

Nevada News

‘Maf the Dog’ Movie Plans

Eric Skipsey, 1961

Plans are afoot to bring Andrew O’Hagan’s comic novel, The Life and Thoughts of Maf the Dog and of His Friend Marilyn Monroe, to the big screen, it is confirmed in today’s Daily Telegraph, ahead of a live reading from his book at the Southbank Centre this Sunday.

The movie plans were first reported in the Scottish Herald in May:

“At the time of writing, O’Hagan reports that director Stephen Soderbergh (Traffic, Ocean’s Eleven) is in the frame. They are even negotiating sequel rights for reasons we shall come to later. Meanwhile, rumour has it that George Clooney wants to play Frank Sinatra – Ol’ Blue Eyes gave Marilyn Maf, short for Mafia Honey, in November 1960 – opposite Scarlett Johansson as the angel of sex herself, although O’Hagan confides that his own heart is set on the ‘delicious’ Christina Hendricks (Joan in Mad Men). We agree, however, that Maf, who was Marilyn’s constant companion for the last two years of her life, who ‘breathed the secrets of her pillow’, should be voiced by only one actor, O’Hagan’s friend Ewan McGregor.”

This sounds promising, though I do wonder if the book’s subtle whimsy will translate on film. Judging by some of the reader reviews on Amazon, not everyone was as charmed by Maf the Dog as me.

But I suspect this all depends on your preconceptions about Marilyn (O’Hagan is positively rapturous about her), and your willingness to suspend disbelief and accept a canine narrator.

Two other MM-related movies are currently in the works: an adaptation of Joyce Carol Oates’ Blonde, starring Naomi Watts; and My Week With Marilyn, based on Colin Clark’s memoir, with Michelle Williams.

Who knows how these projects will turn out, but I’ve read all the books that they’re based on, and Maf’s story is easily my favourite of the three!

UPDATES:

Jolie Casts Doubt on Marilyn Role

Maf the Dog: Call Off the Search