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.)
If, like many of us, you’re waiting out coronavirus at home, Michelle Morgan’s The Little Book of Marilyn is an easy, uplifting read, with fan input, makeovers, craft tips and more – read my review here.
Over at Book Riot today, Jeffrey Davies suggests six great reads about Marilyn. Among them are several titles I’ve reviewed in depth, including Lois Banner’s MM – Personal, Michelle Morgan’s The Girl, Charles Casillo’s Marilyn Monroe: The Private Life of a Public Icon, and Marilyn’s own Fragments; plus old favourites like Gloria Steinem’s Marilyn: Norma Jeane, and Marilyn’s 1954 memoir, My Story.
Ernesto Cardenal, the Nicaraguan poet, priest and revolutionary whose works included Prayer for Marilyn Monroe, has died aged 95, the New York Times reports. “I was studying for the priesthood in a seminary in Colombia,” he explained, “and, during a theology class, we got the news of Marilyn Monroe’s death. That’s when I wrote the poem.” (You can read it in full here.)
“Forgive her, Lord, and forgive us
for our 20th Century
for this Colossal Super-Production on which we all have worked.
She hungered for love and we offered her tranquilizers.
For her despair, because we’re not saints
psychoanalysis was recommended to her …
And her life was unreal like a dream that a psychiatrist interprets and files.
Her romances were a kiss with closed eyes
and when she opened them
she realized she had been under floodlights
as they killed the floodlights!
and they took down the two walls of the room (it was a movie set)
while the Director left with his scriptbook
because the scene had been shot…
… The film ended without the final kiss.
She was found dead in her bed with her hand on the phone.
And the detectives never learned who she was going to call.
like someone who had dialed the number of the only friendly voice
and only heard the voice of a recording that says: WRONG NUMBER.
Or like someone who had been wounded by gangsters
reaching for a disconnected phone.
whoever it might have been that she was going to call
and didn’t call (and maybe it was no one
or Someone whose number isn’t in the Los Angeles phonebook)
You answer that telephone!”
In a third extract from movie publicist Charles ‘Jerry’ Juroe’s memoir, Bond, the Beatles and My Year With Marilyn, he describes his struggle to keep under wraps Marilyn’s increasingly toxic relationship with Sir Laurence Olivier, her co-star and director of The Prince and the Showgirl. (You can read the other posts here.)
“I managed to keep the degree of bitterness that developed between Monroe and Olivier out of the British press, even though our British unit publicist was fired after writing a behind-the-scenes story for one of the Sunday newspapers on what was really happening at dear old Pinewood Studios in leafy idyllic Buckinghamshire. Despite that, Milton Greene, who was ‘Piggy in the Middle,’ did appreciate what the publicity department was accomplishing. That he kept his sanity and laid-back charm was a miracle, and I held him in high esteem. The Milton Greene I knew was a talented and caring person, and I valued his friendship. His tenure at the head of Marilyn Monroe Productions was not to last long, though certainly longer than mine …”
“Arrangements were being finalised for the departure back to New York and it took all the persuasive powers of [Arthur] Jacobs, plus the head of Warner Bros. production in the UK and myself, to persuade Olivier that he had to be at [the airport] to be photographed giving Monroe a ‘going away present’ of a beautiful watch. Naturally, it was charged to the film’s overhead. It is a little short of amazing what so often ends up on a film’s budget that has so little to do with what ends up on the screen!”
“At the end of production, I returned to the States with Jacobs and saw out my duties on The Prince and the Showgirl when required. I continued working in concert with the New York publicity department of Warner Bros., particularly during the New York premiere. The most traumatic happening during that time was when Warners decided they needed a specially posed photo of Monroe and Olivier for the advertising campaign. I had to fly to London and accompany a very reluctant Larry to New York. We left the hotel to go to Greene’s studio where Olivier put on his costume, a polka-dotted silk robe. Madame arrived and after the briefest of greetings the session started. Two rolls of film later – only some twenty shots – our diva said, ‘That’s it!’ and left. As the saying goes, that was that!”
In a second extract from Charles Jerry Juroe’s memoir, Bond, the Beatles and My Year With Marilyn (read the first here), the veteran movie publicist recalls the rival factions on the set of The Prince and the Showgirl, and a narrowly averted tragedy.
“Between [Arthur] Miller, one of the most difficult people I’ve ever encountered, and Paula Strasberg, wife of Actors Studio guru Lee Strasberg and the lady I called the ‘Wicked Witch of the East’, I very quickly found myself the one American from the Monroe camp who was on the side of [Laurence] Olivier. Believe it or not, some of the Monroe camp put the seed in her mind that Olivier was out to destroy her career.
This greatest English-speaking actor and superb prize-winning director was, after all was said and done, in her company’s employ, but Marilyn’s paranoia and persecution complex knew no bounds. She and her close entourage (led by Strasberg) made his life hell on and off the set, and this lovely man was brought to his knees by this psychologically challenged, most famous woman in the world.
One night during production, at about 3 in the morning, my London phone rang. I sleepily answered to hear the urgency in Milton Greene’s voice … Some fifteen minutes later, we were in Milton’s car, driving westward toward TROUBLE! Arthur Miller had called Milton to say he had called an ambulance to take a comatose Marilyn to a local medical facility. We arrived to find that ‘Miss Baker’ had already been pumped out and was recovering in a private room. Our star was on call for filming at Pinewood in a few hours’ time, and it was obvious she wouldn’t just be late, she wouldn’t be there at all.
However, on that ‘star-crossed production, what was another hundred thousand dollars or so to a cost sheet already way over budget.
From my standpoint, that eventful night was not all bad, as not one single word of it ever appeared in the media. No typical London tabloid banners screamed ‘Marilyn in Death Dash’ etc., ad nauseam. Those British medical practitioners of the fifties respected the privacy of those they were attending. However, if Milton passed around a few well-placed ‘tips’, they never knew and didn’t want to!
It was, however, an exhausting few hours, and the title of The Beatles’ song/film of a few years in the future perfectly captured what for me had truly been ‘a hard day’s night.'”
In his 2018 memoir, Bond, the Beatles and My Year With Marilyn, veteran movie publicist Charles ‘Jerry’ Juroe devotes an entire chapter, ‘Life With Marilyn’, to his memories The Prince and the Showgirl, filmed in England in 1956. He had previously worked with Sir Laurence Olivier in Hollywood, and was also acquainted with Marilyn’s press agent, Arthur P. Jacobs, and photographer Milton Greene, co-founder of Marilyn Monroe Productions. In the first of three posts, Juroe describes how after an exceptionally promising start, the shoot quickly became a nightmare for everyone involved.
Marilyn’s arrival in Britain and her first press conference at London’s Savoy Hotel caused a sensation – “not because of my organisational handling,” Juroe writes, “but because of her wit, charm and intelligence … It was the last time that I found myself to be in complete favour with Monroe.”
“When one was on the set and watched Marilyn do a scene, you saw movement and dialogue, but nothing that caused goosebumps. But! – in the screening room, when seeing the rushes, it was something else. By some mysterious process of osmosis, between the live action, the camera’s lens, the film, the processing, and then the projection onto a screen, something somewhere in all that – magic happened! What you saw on the set was not what you observed in the screening room. I will never know the answer because I’m not sure there is one. This charisma was what audiences all over the world paid for and saw from their cinema seats. This was what, for those years as Queen of the Hill, set her very much apart and kept her at the pinnacle of the Hollywood Heap.”
Albert ‘Cubby’ Broccoli, an American producer living in London, invited Marilyn and friends to watch his film starring Alan Ladd (possibly 1953’s The Red Beret) at a screening room on Audley Square. Several years later, he and Juroe would begin their association on the James Bond movie series. Broccoli remembered Marilyn from the late 1940s when she was dating Hollywood agent Johnny Hyde. “I am sure Hyde’s death was certainly one of many contributory factors to her fragility,” Juroe writes.
“Before too long, life on the film became unbearable. I found I could not recommend or offer any suggestion or give an opinion because her mindset became such that whatever I suggested was inevitably never in her best interest. One cannot work under such a condition for long, so survival became the name of the game. In fact, I was privately offered $5000 (no small amount then) by someone at the famous French magazine Paris Match if I got her to Paris for a weekend. I never considered this because even though it would have in fact been a great opportunity, it would also have been a fiasco. To get her there in the first place, plus the demands on her time, it would never have worked!”
Film historian F.X. Feeney has died aged 66, The Wrap reports. As well as being movie critic for LA Weekly, Feeney was an expert on Orson Welles and contributed to a number of books from art publisher Taschen, including their compact ‘Movie Icons‘ series, writing an introductory essay, Marilyn Monroe: Enchantress, for her 2006 monograph featuring images from the Kobal Collection – as reviewed by Sirkku on the Monroe Book Blog.
Roger Kahn, considered America’s greatest baseball writer, has died aged 92, the Los Angeles Times reports. His most famous book was The Boys of Summer (1972), in which he recalled his early days as a Dodgers fan. He also published Joe and Marilyn: A Memory of Love in 1986. The first stand-alone book on the explosive DiMaggio romance, it was a bestseller – although his portrayal of Marilyn was considered sleazy by some readers and critics, and her renewed friendship with Joe in her final years is omitted entirely.
“The problem with Joe & Marilyn is basically a problem with Joe and a problem with Marilyn. She slipped away, leaving friends who still protect her and others who gossip about her, and he has declined to speak from his heart.
As a young reporter, Mr. Kahn had an entire clubhouse of athletes, sitting in front of their lockers, day after day, telling their stories. In this book, subtitled ‘A Memory of Love,’ Mr. Kahn had to rely too often on second-hand stuff – the cottage industry of books about Miss Monroe as well as ‘people in DiMaggio’s close circle’ and ‘persistent reports’ and ‘stories’ and ‘legends.’
Roger Kahn did meet her once, at an impressionable age, during a publicity party for one of her movies. When he mumbled something about having covered the Yankees for a newspaper, she looked right through him, he recounts. That brief encounter inspired Mr. Kahn to describe her frequently as a sexually compelling woman, ‘that phenomenon of innocence and lust, blond hair and parted lips, the squirming nude on the calendar who aspired to play a Dostoevski heroine.’
He traces her path through the seamy casting calls, repeating the gossip that Marilyn did this or that for certain Hollywood figures, and repeating the saucy lines that Marilyn may or may not have said … Mr. Kahn also finds an ‘attractive, dark-haired New York lady who had dated Joe’ to tell this story: ‘Before we went out, mutual friends gave me a little list of things I was never to bring up. Marilyn, of course. Sinatra. The Kennedys. Johnny Carson.’
Toward the end, Mr. Kahn writes: ‘What went so wrong so quickly? He was neat. She was sloppy. He was repressed. She was hyperactive. Each was willful. Each had a temper. Each was a star. Stars in collision.’
At another point, Mr. Kahn defines the problem in rather turgid prose: ‘Exactly what happened to the abandoned child called Norma Jeane in the casual way stations where she had to live carries us onto the turf of novelists.’ The critic and observer in Mr. Kahn may sense that it is time to leave Miss Monroe and Mr. DiMaggio to the novelists and the poets.”George Vecsey, New York Times, November 24, 1986
Authentic Brands Group (ABG), the licensing company who acquired Marilyn’s estate in 2012, have authorised an adaptation of Keith Badman’s book, The Final Years of Marilyn Monroe, Deadline reports. This project was first announced in 2019 (see here) as a serial drama for BBC television. It’s not stated whether the Beeb is still involved, but Final Years will be co-produced by 101 Studios and the UK’s Seven Seas Films, with a screenplay by Dan Sefton (whose credits include The Good Karma Hospital.) As usual with the film industry, it is likely to be a long process; and with a non-fiction source, it differs from the upcoming Netflix biopic based on Joyce Carol Oates’ controversial novel, Blonde (due for release later this year.) Badman’s biography is worth reading, though not without its flaws – read my review here.