Fatherless Daughters: Marilyn and Gloria Vanderbilt

Gloria Vanderbilt, who has died aged 95, was born in Manhattan in 1924, the only child of railroad tycoon Reginald Claypoole Vanderbilt and his second wife, the Swiss-born socialite Gloria Morgan. Her father died when she was a baby, making Gloria and her half-sister Cathleen heiresses to a $5 million trust fund each ($73 million in today’s currency.) This sparked a notorious legal battle, in which her aunt Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney fought and won for custody of Gloria, described in the press as a ‘poor little rich girl’.

At 17 Gloria married Pat DiCicco, a much-older Hollywood agent with rumoured connections to organised crime. They divorced in 1945, and Gloria (like his first wife, actress Thelma Todd) claimed he was physically abusive. Three years later, DiCicco would escort a young Marilyn Monroe to a party at the home of movie mogul Joe Schenck, who became her close friend.

Soon after divorcing DiCicco, Gloria married conductor Leopold Stokowski, and had two sons. That marriage ended in 1955. She would also have romances with Howard Hughes, Marlon Brando, Frank Sinatra, and photographer Gordon Parks. She studied acting with Sanford Meisner and became a top model, and married director Sidney Lumet in 1956.

Photographer Jean Howard recalled seeing Marilyn at one of Gloria’s parties in the 1950s, and other mutual friends included Richard Avedon and novelist Truman Capote (she and Marilyn were among his inspirations for Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.) Gloria wrote about Marilyn in her 2008 book, It Seemed Important At the Time: A Romance Memoir.

“Marilyn Monroe, who had fled to New York from Hollywood to form her own production company with Milton Greene, came to our parties unrecognisable, wearing a baggy army/navy sweater, and no makeup save a bit of vaseline on her eyelids. We huddled together one night, separated from the party while she talked about Joe DiMaggio – how she had been afraid of him though she didn’t know quite why. But I did – both of us were fatherless; therefore we believed all things possible and nothing safe.”

During a 2011 television interview, Gloria claimed to have made contact with Marilyn during a seance with psychic John Edward:

“I was a friend of hers. I’ve always felt the whole world identifies in some way with her, which is why she’s such an incredible – I mean, she’s with us today, and we all have things in us that we identify with her and relate to her.  And I felt very close to her for many reasons.”

Via MM Collection Blog

In 1963, Gloria found lasting happiness in her fourth marriage, to author Wyatt Emery Cooper. They had two sons; Carter Vanderbilt Cooper, who tragically committed suicide at 23; and Anderson Cooper, now a CNN News broadcaster. Wyatt died in 1978 during open-heart surgery.

Gloria Vanderbilt with her son, Anderson Cooper

In later years Gloria ventured into fashion design, launching a coveted line of designer jeans. She wrote several books and was also a painter. In 2016, she was the subject of an HBO documentary, Nothing Left Unsaid: Gloria Vanderbilt & Anderson Cooper.

“The truth is I made a film about Marilyn Monroe [2012’s Love, Marilyn], and you would think that she’s the most photographed woman ever, but with Gloria Vanderbilt, because she was famous from the moment of birth, the amount of material — not just what they had in their storage rooms, but what was already existing in the world — was so massive, I just felt like I want to turn over every stone.”

Liz Garbus, filmmaker

Richard Hawley’s Dream Dinner With Marilyn

The British singer-songwriter Richard Hawley, whose latest album Further was released yesterday, is the latest celebrity in the hot-seat for The Times‘ ‘Culture Fix‘ questionnaire.

I’m having a fantasy dinner party, I’ll invite these people . . .
Muhammad Ali, Marilyn Monroe and me mum. I’d love to be a fly on the wall.”

Michelle Williams Goes From Marilyn to Gwen

My Week With Marilyn, the 2011 movie about her time in England, returns to Netflix today. Michelle Williams, who won a Golden Globe for her performance as Marilyn, is currently starring choreographer Gwen Verdon in the HBO series, Fosse/Verdon. Born in Culver City, California in 1925, she married journalist James Henaghan in 1942, but left him after the birth of their son Jimmy. (Henaghan later interviewed Marilyn on several occasions, and wrote a tribute to her for Parade magazine in 1971, which you can read here.)

Verdon later worked as an assistant to choreographer Jack Cole, coaching stars like Lana Turner, Rita Hayworth, Betty Grable, and Marilyn (seen above with Jane Russell on the set of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, and rehearsing for There’s No Business Like Show Business.) In 1953, Verdon starred in the Broadway production of Can-Can, winning her first Tony award. (Marilyn would later be offered the lead in Fox’s big-screen adaptation, but the role was ultimately played by Shirley MacLaine.)

In June 1955, Marilyn saw Gwen performing in her latest hit musical, Damn Yankees, at the 46th Street Theatre. Gwen returned to Hollywood in 1958 to film the movie version. She married choreographer Bob Fosse in 1960, and returned to Broadway in Sweet Charity (1966.) Although she and Fosse separated in 1971, they never divorced and continued working together on Chicago (1975), and the 1979 movie, All That Jazz. She also appeared in films like The Cotton Club (1984) Cocoon (1985) Alice (1990), and Marvin’s Room (1996.)

In 1999, Gwen was the artistic consultant on Fosse, a Broadway musical tribute to her former partner, who had died in 1987. Gwen Verdon passed away in her sleep at the home of their daughter Nicole Fosse in Woodstock, Vermont in October 18, 2000. That night at 8 pm, Broadway dimmed its lights in her honour.

Marilyn at Julien’s: Among the Stars

A cast of Marilyn Monroe’s hand and foot prints from Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood (SOLD for $25,600)

In another look at the upcoming Legends sale at Julien’s Auctions on June 13-14 (see previous posts here), Marilyn rubs shoulders with her fellow stars.

UPDATE: I have added the final bids to each item.

“A group of eight telephone messages from April, May and June 1961 while Marilyn was staying at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Messages from those instantly recognized in Marilyn’s inner-circle include Frank McCarthy of Twentieth Century-Fox, comedian Ernie Kovacs, and director George Cukor. Interestingly, Marilyn received a message from a “Dr. Goddard” on May 28. Dr. Goddard is presumably the husband of Grace Goddard, who fostered Marilyn as a young child.” (SOLD for $1,600)

“A typed form letter from Dorothy Frooks, publisher of The Murray Hills News, inviting Marilyn to the annual Pro-American Rally on September 25, 1959, which would take place ‘between 37th and 38th Streets.’ Included is a handwritten letter from Cowboy Tex Weinstein asking Marilyn to attend. ” (SOLD for $375)

“A telegram to Marilyn from Lauren Bacall, dated January 18, 1954, congratulating Marilyn on her marriage to baseball legend Joe DiMaggio. The telegram reads, ‘All the best luck always. Couldn’t be more delighted for you. Now you’ll really know how wonderful life can be. Love, Schatze Bogart.’ Interestingly, Bacall signed the telegram using the first name of her character in How to Marry a Millionaire, the film she had starred in with Marilyn the year prior to the Monroe/DiMaggio wedding, and the last name of her movie star husband, Humphrey Bogart. The telegram is addressed to ‘Mrs. Joe DiMaggio’ at Marilyn’s apartment on North Doheny Drive in Beverly Hills.” (SOLD to Gary Vitaccco-Robles, author of Icon: The Life, Times and Films of Marilyn Monroe, for $1,562.50)

“A one-page typed letter to Marilyn from television personality Jack Benny, dated July 13, 1961. The letter reads in part, ‘This little note is merely to say that I do hope you will be feeling much better and that I miss seeing you – even though it is on rare occasions.’ The letter is signed, “Love – Jack,” in his own handwriting. Also, a holiday card from Mary and Jack Benny from 1954. Marilyn’s first-ever television appearance was on The Jack Benny Show on September 13, 1953. They remained friends throughout her entire life.” (SOLD for $750)

“A one-page typed letter to Marilyn, dated June 17, 1958, in regards to the release of SNOOPY, the new book by famed cartoonist Charles Schulz, creator of the comic strip Peanuts. The letter reads, ‘Dear Miss Monroe, As I promised some weeks ago I am having sent to you under separate cover a few copies of Charles Schulz’s new “Peanuts” book, SNOOPY, which just came in from the bindery. I hope you like SNOOPY as much as we like publishing him.’ The letter is signed, ‘Sincerely yours, Theodore S. Amussen, Vice President.'” (SOLD for $576)

Various large-format photos of Marilyn, shot by former silent movie comedian Harold Lloyd from 1952-53 (All SOLD, with 3 lots reaching a maximum bid of $3,200)
Four copies of Playboy‘s first issue, including two signed by founder Hugh Hefner (All SOLD, with a rare, Hefner-signed ‘Page 3’ copy reaching $16,000)

“A collection of approximately 30 vintage magazines, books, and other publications, from the collection of actress Morgan Fairchild: including Movieland magazine (October 1952); Silver Screen magazine (October 1953); Song Fan magazine (July 1954); LIFE magazine (November 1959); TV and Movie Screen magazine (September 1960); LOOK magazine (January 1961); LIFE magazine (August 1964); the cover of Show magazine (September 1972, framed); Parade magazine (framed); and the August 6, 1962, edition of the Los Angeles Times with the headline ‘Marilyn Monroe Found Dead.’ Together with six books on the life of Monroe, several greeting cards with Monroe’s image, and a poster produced from a photo by Philippe Halsman showing Monroe at the gym.” (SOLD for $768)

Burt Reynolds’ Marilyn Collection

Actor Burt Reynolds, who died last year, once told of meeting Marilyn at the Actors Studio (see here.) And it seems she made a lasting impression, as his personal property – up for auction at Julien’s on June 15-16 – includes several Monroe posters and biographies, including the 2010 book, Fragments – as Scott Fortner reports on his MM Collection Blog.

UPDATE: A limited edition art print depicting Marilyn at the time of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, which previously adorned Burt’s billiards room, sold for $1.875; but his Monroe book collection appears to have gone unsold. You can view the results here.

Camila Morrone Inspired By Marilyn

When Argentine actress Camila Morrone turned out for the Cannes premiere of Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time In Hollywood this week, she wore a Bvlgari Cinemagia necklace – inspired by Marilyn’s performance of ‘Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend’ in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, as Nafeesa Saini reports for Prestige Online. Although rising star Camila, there to support boyfriend Leonardo DiCaprio, has been compared to screen goddess Sophia Loren, she eschews glamour in her latest film, Mickey And The Bear. But as a recent AFP interview reveals, her Monroe homage is no accident…

“Morrone looks up to Charlize Theron — another former catwalk beauty, who won an Oscar for Monster — though she has a soft spot for Marilyn Monroe who ‘never stopped trying to be a good actor… All she wanted was for someone to say she had talent.'”

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 …)

Marilyn Gets ‘Lazy’ With Irving Berlin

Irving Berlin (left) with Earl Wilson and Marilyn in 1954

The great American songwriter was born on this day in 1888, and lived to the grand old age of 101. To celebrate this musical anniversary, Matt Micucci has posted a playlist featuring Marilyn’s version of ‘Lazy’ (as performed in the 1954 movie There’s No Business Like Show Business, an all-star tribute to Berlin), and ‘You’d Be Surprised’, as well as Ethel Waters’ original 1933 version of ‘Heat Wave’ and other Berlin classics, over at the JAZZIZ website.