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 …)
You can read my tribute to Doris Day, who died yesterday aged 97, over here.
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.
Warholesque pop art meets the Western in animator Erik Winkowski’s 2017 short Scary Prairie, in which Elvis Presley tries to rescue Marilyn from a string of Japanese monsters – before she transforms into a vampire bat and flies away, as Far Out Magazine reports. The 80-second film also features a rockabilly soundtrack by Billy Lilly and Friends.
According to the Syncopated Times, the jazz radio DJ Chuck Cecil – who has died aged 97 – was a contemporary of Norma Jeane Baker. He was a student at Van Nuys High School, where his fellow alumni included Norma Jeane (who attended from September 1941 – February 1942, before moving on to University Senior High.) Marilyn’s future co-star, Jane Russell, and her first husband, Jim Dougherty, were also students. Five years older than Norma Jeane, they once appeared together in a school play.
Moreover, the article states that Chuck Cecil attended Jim’s wedding to Norma Jeane in June 1942. Although he’s not usually mentioned among the guests at the intimate ceremony, it’s possible that Chuck may have joined them for their reception at the Florentine Gardens Restaurant. As Chuck was around the same age as Jim, he may have known the groom better than the bride.
On the cusp of stardom, Marilyn revisited her ‘alma mater’ (in reality, one of many) and was photographed chatting with students in 1951.
Country singer Willie Nelson and British actress Charlotte Rampling are an unlikely couple, and having Ms Rampling play a Marilyn impersonator is even more surprising. But that’s exactly what you’ll see in their offbeat new movie, Waiting For the Miracle to Come, as Joe Leydon reports for Variety. (It’s available in the US from today on DVD and streaming.)
“Waiting for the Miracle to Come is the first dramatic feature written and directed by Lian Lunson, previously best known for such musical documentaries as Willie Nelson: Down Home … With help and encouragement from mentors and former collaborators — including Bono and Wim Wenders, who are credited among the executive producers, and Leonard Cohen, whose song provides the movie with its title — she mounted this small-budget labor of love with the obvious intent of telling a simple yet resonant story unbound by specifics of time and continuity, but infused with strains of melancholy, regret, and unreasonable hope. Call it a dream play, and you won’t be far off the mark.
Supernatural undercurrents sporadically reach flood level as Adeline Winter (Sophie Lowe), a young woman who dreams of performing as trapeze artist and tightrope walker, takes heed of a letter left by her recently deceased father (Todd Terry), and follows his directive to visit a ranch in Ransom, Calif., where she might find a goldmine. What she finds instead are the aforementioned ex-vaudevillians, Jimmy (Nelson) and Dixie Riggs (Rampling), owners and operators of ‘The Beautiful Place’ — hardly a gold mine, but rather a haven for abandoned horses, a home for two trailer park residents, and a place where Dixie occasionally dolls herself up like her idol, Marilyn Monroe, and sings for locals in a small theater near their memento-stuffed, Christmas-light-bedecked house.”
In an interview with GQ magazine ,actress Elisabeth Moss has explained how Marilyn influenced her in playing a tortured rock star in the movie Her Smell, which has just been released in the US. She also studied other self-destructive artists who battled with drug and alcohol problems and mental illness, including Amy Winehouse and Kurt Cobain. (When Elisabeth talks about watching Marilyn being interviewed, she may be referring to documentaries like Marilyn Vs. Marilyn and Love, Marilyn, which intersperse audio clips with archive footage. There are relatively few recorded interviews with Marilyn.)
“GQ: I know you prepared for Her Smell by studying behind-the-scenes docs of Marilyn Monroe. I’m curious if that affected how you thought about Marilyn Monroe.
Elisabeth Moss: Some of the stuff that I saw was just her vulnerability and how messed up she was on drugs and how fragile she was. And people were just pretending like it was normal and not acknowledging it. I remember this one interview I watched where she was clearly in a really bad place, and clearly on some sort of pills, and she was so fragile and vulnerable. It sort of broke your heart to see somebody like that who’s such a genius artist but is just struggling so much and nobody’s helping her. She seems so alone.”
Don Murray, who made his movie debut in Bus Stop (1956), shares memories of his leading lady’s “uncontrollable anxiety, forbidden romances and secret acts of kindness” in a cover story for US magazine Closer.
Now 89, Don had a major role in the acclaimed 2017 revival of TV’s Twin Peaks, and is rumoured to be writing his memoirs. Out now in the US, the May 6 issue of Closer should reach British shores in a week or so (not to be confused with the UK magazine of the same name.)
“‘She was very, very nervous,’ Murray recalled to Closer Weekly in the magazine’s latest issue on newsstands. ‘She’d break out in a rash every time we’d shoot a scene.’
‘Paula would watch and listen and give Marilyn advice between takes,’ said Murray. ‘She was friendly and nice and a very good influence on Marilyn … [But] she would lose track of scenes very quickly, so they had to put her performance together out of small pieces. You never got the feeling of a complete scene or performance. I had to be at my best on every take — I couldn’t have a letdown.’
Despite the on-set struggles, Murray never regretted appearing in his first big film with Monroe.
‘I never really held it against her, because for her to agree to let me play this leading role was such a generous thing; she and I had never done a movie,’ said Murray. ‘I was always aware of that and grateful to her.'”
Thanks to Lorraine at Marilyn Remembered
Over at Esquire, Kate Storey reports on George, the political magazine launched by John F. Kennedy Jr. in the 1990s. While some were shocked by the 1996 cover featuring actress Drew Barrymore as Marilyn, the original idea – to have ex-girlfriend Madonna pose as John’s mother, Jackie Kennedy – was even more daring, and a step too far even for the pop superstar. So why was John so willing to send up his own family myths? As the article reveals, it seems that Junior was ahead of his time in exposing fake news…
“With Madonna out, the September cover took a decidedly different turn—instead of referencing his mom, Kennedy chose to nod at another well-known woman in his dad’s life: Marilyn Monroe.
Drew Barrymore was posed in a nude-colored cocktail dress and platinum wig, with a mole perfectly placed on her left cheek. The idea came from George’s executive editor, Elizabeth Mitchell, who suggested it as a fiftieth-birthday tribute to President Bill Clinton. The reference: In May 1962, in front of fifteen thousand people during a Democratic-party fundraiser at Madison Square Garden, Monroe had famously serenaded Kennedy’s father ten days before his forty-fifth birthday with a breathy, seductive ‘Happy Birthday, Mr. President.’ The subtext to the song, of course, is that the president and the actress were rumored to have had an affair.
That photograph might seem a strange choice for a man who adored his mother—even stranger than asking Madonna to impersonate her—but the thing was, according to Mitchell, Kennedy never believed anything had happened between his dad and Monroe. ‘He just thought it was sort of tweaking the expectations of the public,’ she says all these years later.”
Another aspect to this story is that Drew Barrymore is a lifelong Marilyn fan. As a teenage starlet, she was photographed in her bedroom, surrounded by Monroe posters. In a 2010 interview, Drew named Marilyn among her fantasy dinner guests; and in 2014, she filmed an introduction to Bus Stop with TCM host Robert Osborne.
And while Madonna’s fascination with Monroe is well-known, she had already pipped George to the post by singing ‘Happy Inauguration Mr. President’ on TV’s Saturday Night Live in 1993, marking Clinton’s electoral victory.
WWE star Alexa Bliss reveals how Marilyn inspired her feisty persona in a new interview for Sports Illustrated.
“In the moments leading up to WrestleMania 35, where she served as the show’s host, witnesses caught Bliss pacing furiously in the backstage areas of MetLife Stadium. For those who were unaware, there was a transformation taking place: the kindhearted Alexis Kaufman was no more, replaced by the conniving Alexa Bliss.
‘I love Marilyn Monroe,’ said Kaufman, who is known on a worldwide scale as Bliss. ‘And there is a scene in My Week with Marilyn where she is this shy, timid person. Then she turns to the guy next to her and asks, “Do you want to see me be her?” So she turns into Marilyn and her entire demeanor changes—and everyone recognizes her. That’s what I think of Alexa Bliss: she is not me, she is the complete opposite of me.’
Bliss has the biggest heart in WWE but plays the cruelest character.
‘I love portraying a bad guy,’ said Bliss. ‘I can go the extra mile with all the creativity. Plus, you can expect a lot of sass …'”