“As the 1950s gave way to the 1960s, film stars still inspired emulation – especially those stars who seemed to offer a new kind of fresh, youthful sexuality, less worldly than traditional glamour, but more intriguing than a femme-fleur. Marilyn Monroe, Brigitte Bardot and Audrey Hepburn were the icons of the time.
The most prominent screen glamour girl of the period, Marilyn Monroe, had a childlike, vulnerable quality, described by Diana Vreeland as ‘fluffy zaniness’. But Monroe herself embodied many of the contradictions of the era. In the early days of her career, photographed by Tom Kelley nude and stretched out on red satin, she came close to being labelled as ‘cheesecake’. She appeared to lack the self-possession that had distinguished many of the screen goddesses of the 1930s, and she seemed more innocent than other pin-up girls. Monroe was never the girl next door however, and could be capable of a sharp realism. ‘I guess I’ve always had too much fantasy to be only a housewife,’ she confessed on one occasion, adding, ‘Well, I also had to eat. I was never kept, to be blunt about it. I always kept myself. I have always had a pride in the fact that I was on my own.’
Perhaps one of the last high moments in the classic Hollywood celebration of glamour was when Marilyn Monroe, in a memorable public performance, sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to John F. Kennedy in Madison Square Garden in May 1962. She wore a gown by Jean Louis in nude marquisette covered with rhinestones, described by Adlai Stevenson as ‘skin and beads’. In 1999 the gown sold at auction by Christie’s for $1.2 million.”
“Explore this issue of the new collection ‘People’, tracing the path of the biggest stars of the twentieth century. From Madonna to Romy Schneider, Johnny Hallyday to Michael Jackson, Find the personalities that have marked our time and left an indelible imprint in our memories.
This richly illustrated booklet tells you the key moments of Marilyn Monroe’s life through amazing, emotional anecdotes.
A book in small format, convenient to take anywhere with you!”
The affair between Marilyn and Yves Montand, while filming Let’s Make Love in 1960, is the subject of a new book in French, Les Sentiments(‘Feelings’) by Agnes Michaux, to be published on September 1st.
A few years ago, Douglas Kirkland recreated his 1961 Monroe photo shoot with Angelina Jolie, to stunning effect. While I do wonder if Jolie can recapture Marilyn’s fragile charm, she is a gifted actress and Hollywood’s biggest star right now. (Her performance in Life Or Something Like It, back in 2002, drew comparisons to Monroe in some quarters.)
Screen adaptations of two other Marilyn-related books, My Week With Marilyn and Blonde, are also rumoured to be in the pipeline.
“The most important film representative of the 1950s voluptuous woman was Marilyn Monroe, who differed from the others by combining with sensuality strains of childishness reminiscent of the adolescent stars. She thereby created a powerful combination that encompassed the era. Technically unschooled and often intellectually vacuous in her film characterisations, she nevertheless possessed both the shrewdness of the classic chorus girl (a character she often portrayed in film roles) and the intuitive genius of a child, able to see more clearly to the heart of a matter than others more sophisticated around her. As a down-and-out member of a seedy female band in ‘Some Like it Hot’, she taught fleeing mobsters Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon the meaning of friendship and love; as a chorus girl in ‘The Prince and the Showgirl’, she taught the same lesson to Laurence Olivier, the head of a fictional kingdom. Most of the other voluptuous film stars had dark hair, but Monroe’s was peroxided a light blonde – a colour that invoked traditional images of angels and virtuous women, reflected the light locks of the era’s adolescent film stars, and both legitimised and heightened her sensuality.
Previous exemplars of female sensuality had also had blonde hair: one thinks of the British Blondes in the 1860s and Jean Harlow in the 1930s. But Monroe differed strikingly from the Lydia Thompson troupe and from Harlow. They were tough, wisecracking, even masculine in type. With a slight, lisping voice, a soft curvaceous body, and a seriousness about life, Monroe projected an intense femininity and an inner vulnerability. Her sensual posturings were reminiscent of Mae West, although with no hint of the parody that West intended. Monroe regarded her body with dead seriousness. Long before she was acclaimed as movie actress and sex queen, she had posed for the first nude centrefold in ‘Playboy’ magazine, destined to become a trendsetter in liberalised sexuality and a showcase for the bodies of beautiful women. [Actually, Monroe had posed for a trade calendar – the shots were acquired by Hugh Hefner four years later, after her rise to fame.]
Monroe’s popularity ensured the triumph of the vogue of dyed blonde hair, which cosmetics companies had been promoting. Sales of hair colouring soared; platinum blondes seemed everywhere. The widespread dying of hair to be light blonde indicated women’s acceptance of a model of looks and behaviour that had them be feminine, sensual, and unintellectual. Women were to seem like children, expressing their adulthood primarily through their sexuality. The ‘dumb blonde’ who ‘had more fun’ now became the dominant image of beauty for American women.”
“The hit TV show Mad Men recently featured an ad campaign with two images of a model in her underwear. As a brunette, she sips from a china teacup. As a blonde, she swirls a cocktail. Debutante or bombshell? Sometimes women want to be both. On the surface, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Marilyn Monroe could not be more different, but they had more in common than just JFK. Are You a Jackie or a Marilyn? is a fun way to explore the classic madonna/ whore conundrum while becoming fabulous in all aspects of life.
Readers start by taking the definitive quiz to determine where they fall on the Jackie/ Marilyn spectrum, and then it’s on to customized advice on beauty and style, sex and marriage, power and career, decorating and entertaining, and more. Any woman who has aspired to Marilyn’s sultry allure or Jackie’s unstoppable elegance (or who wants to balance sexy and serious) will love these entertaining lessons on channeling your inner Jackie or Marilyn in any situation, from throwing a dinner party to penning a love note. Sidebars compare Jackie’s and Marilyn’s dating tips, lists of favorite books and music, diet plans, and even makeup know-how. Packed with charming two-color illustrations, this is the book that gives every woman her own star power.”
“Monroe, whose death at the age of 36 remains a mystery, was an avid reader and something of a culture vulture while she lived in New York, frequently visiting museums and attending plays. Not that she got any credit for her intellect. Michelle Morgan, who wrote Marilyn Monroe: Private and Undisclosed, said: ‘She played ditzy blondes and for some reason people believed that was the person she was, but that couldn’t have been further from the truth. It’s intriguing that she seems to be one of the only actresses who people confuse with her parts. People believed she was a joke but she was always trying to better herself.'”
“One of the most famous lines from the book and film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is: ‘Don’t you know that a man being rich is like a girl being pretty? You wouldn’t marry a girl just because she’s pretty, but my goodness, doesn’t it help?’
In the film, Marilyn Monroe utters those words as the character Lorelei Lee but the lines were written first in the novel by American author Anita Loos.
And Lorelei Lee is one of the most memorable female fictional characters for Australian crime novelist Shane Maloney.”
“Marilyn was one of the most important individuals in my life. She is a kind of fulcrum at gut’s level. There wasn’t a major hullabaloo after her death, as there is now. I did not even want to write about her. I was talked into it by the French Connection Press, in Paris, people there I am dearly close to. However, while a book was planned, we couldn’t come to terms and another publisher grabbed the project, and that’s how my look at her came into reality. I speak each year at her Memorial in Westwood, California, where her body is entombed, and the 50th will be up in a couple years. I might end my yearly contribution after the 50th, as actually and in a real sense, it leaves me too pained to drag it on.”