Stephen Hawking 1942-2017

Professor Stephen Hawking has died aged 76, the BBC reports.

“The British scientist was famed for his work with black holes and relativity, and wrote several popular science books including A Brief History of Time.

At the age of 22 Prof Hawking was given only a few years to live after being diagnosed with a rare form of motor neurone disease. The illness left him in a wheelchair and largely unable to speak except through a voice synthesiser.

Prof Hawking was the first to set out a theory of cosmology as a union of relativity and quantum mechanics. He also discovered that black holes leak energy and fade to nothing – a phenomenon that would later become known as Hawking radiation.

Through his work with mathematician Sir Roger Penrose he demonstrated that Einstein’s general theory of relativity implies space and time would have a beginning in the Big Bang and an end in black holes.”

Hawking was also outspoken on social issues, and took his unlikely place in popular culture with good humour. He made guest appearances on TV shows such as The Simpsons and The Big Bang Theory, and was the subject of The Theory of Everything, a 2014 biopic starring Eddie Redmayne (who previously played Colin Clark in My Week With Marilyn.)

Finally, Dr Hawking may have been the world’s most distinguished Monroe fan, as Gregory Benford noted in a 2002 profile for Reason magazine.

“Although I had been here before, I was again struck that a man who had suffered such an agonizing physical decline had on his walls several large posters of a person very nearly his opposite: Marilyn Monroe. I mentioned her, and Stephen responded instantly, tapping one-handed on his keyboard, so that soon his transduced voice replied, ‘Yes, she’s wonderful. Cosmological. I wanted to put a picture of her in my latest book [The Universe in a Nutshell], as a celestial object.'”

Errol Morris, who directed the 1991 documentary, A Brief History of Time, recalled discussing Marilyn with Hawking in a Slate magazine interview.

“I wanted to shoot him on a stage, so we assembled a facsimile of his office in a studio. He has all of these pictures of Marilyn Monroe on the walls. At one point, one of the pictures became unglued and fell off the wall. Stephen, of course, is clicking away and finally, he says, [synthesizer voice] ‘A FALLEN WOMAN.’

Finally, I said, ‘I figured it out, why you have all these pictures of Marilyn Monroe on the wall. Like you, she was a person appreciated for her body and not necessarily her mind.’

And he gave me this really crazy look, like, ‘What the fuck are you saying, Mr. Morris?’ He gave me this crazy look, and then finally, there’s a click, and he says, ‘YES.'”

Hawking was digitally added to this 1954 photo of Marilyn by Milton Greene, gifted to the scientist by Archive Images

Fans paid tribute today on the Facebook page, A Passion for Marilyn:

“The theoretical physicist once described his heroes as ‘Galileo, Einstein, Darwin and Marilyn Monroe.’ The last was of particular appeal to the scientist who hung posters of her and collected Monroe-related bric a brac.

‘My daughter and secretary gave me posters of her, my son gave me a Marilyn bag and my wife a Marilyn towel,’ he once said. ‘I suppose you could say she was a model of the universe.'”

Barbara Rush Remembers Marilyn

Actress Barbara Rush has shared memories of her long career with Stephanie Nolasco for Fox News. Born in 1927, she met a young Marilyn Monroe in the late 1940s, while both were residents at the Hollywood Studio Club, a home for aspiring actresses.

‘Oh yes, we were friends,’ she said. ‘We were in the studio club together. At least with me, when you first come to Hollywood, and I went to Paramount, they put me immediately in the studio club. It’s kind of like a sorority house. And Marilyn Monroe was there. I loved her. Marilyn was such a darling lady. She was very sweet and nice. All the girls in the studio club just had a good time.’

In 1954, Barbara won the Golden Globe award as ‘Most Promising Newcomer – Female’ for her role in the sci-fi classic, It Came From Outer Space. She was then married to actor Jeffrey Hunter. She played the wife of James Mason in Bigger Than Life (1956.) Director Nicholas Ray, a mutual friend of Marilyn, offered the star – who was filming Bus Stop on another soundstage at Twentieth Century Fox – a cameo role in his film, but due to Marilyn’s nerves, it never transpired.

In The Young Lions (1958) Barbara starred opposite Marlon Brando and Montgomery Clift, who would later work with Marilyn on her last completed movie, The Misfits.

Barbara married Hollywood publicist Warren Cowan in 1959. As Marilyn’s biographer Gary Vitacco Robles tells me, ‘Warren Cowan was part of a publicity firm (Rogers & Cowan) that had merged with Arthur P. Jacobs’ Company. I believe the two firms separated again around 1959. Both had represented Marilyn.’

Barbara still remembers her disbelief at hearing of Marilyn’s death three years later. ‘It was in the middle of the night when we got the call,’ she recalled. ‘My husband, who handled her, was very shocked. So shocked. I just kept hearing him go, Oh my God, over and over… We were all just very disturbed by it.’

During this time Barbara also worked in television, including a memorable role as the devious Nora Clavicle in Batman. She also appeared in the Rat Pack musical, Robin and the 7 Hoods (1964), and with Paul Newman in the 1967 Western, Hombre.

In 1970, Barbara won the prestigious Sarah Siddons Award (referenced in All About Eve) for her stage role in Forty Carats. She would later star in a one-woman Broadway show, A Woman Of Independent Means. She returned to her sci-fi roots with a recurring part as Lindsay Wagner’s mother in TV’s The Bionic Woman. Since 1997 she has lived at the Harold Lloyd Estate in Beverly Hills, where Marilyn was photographed by the former silent movie comedian back in 1953.

Barbara’s most recent screen credit was in 2007, when she appeared in several episodes of another television series, Seventh Heaven. She is still active, having just made a short film and attending a Hollywood Museum exhibition, Batman ’66.

Mara Lynn’s ‘Diamond’ Role With Marilyn

The actress and dancer Mara Lynn, who had a small part in Let’s Make Love, is profiled in today’s Winchester News-Gazette. Born Marilyn Mozier in Chicago in 1927, she is believed to have attended Winchester High School in Indiana. After studying classical dance with George Balanchine, she found fame on Broadway in Inside USA (1948.) This led to more musicals, and a long career as a dance director and performer in Las Vegas.  She broke into movies with the camp classic, Prehistoric Women (1950), and appeared on television as a glamorous sidekick to comedians Groucho Marx and Milton Berle.

Let’s Make Love is perhaps her most notable film. The article claims that Mara ‘gave acting lessons to Marilyn Monroe at Marilyn’s New York apartment,’ but this seems highly unlikely. She may have helped Marilyn to limber up for her dance numbers, however.

In Icon: The Life, Times and Films of Marilyn Monroe, Gary Vitacco-Robles summarises Marla’s brief scene with Marilyn and Yves Montand.

“Clement [Montand] is used to women who are interested in him for his money and is moved by Amanda’s [MM] noble intention. He claims to sell costume jewellery between acting jobs and offers to sell her the diamond bracelet for five dollars. ‘The box looks like it’s worth more than that!’ she says, agreeing to buy it. Another dancer (Mara Lynn) admires the bracelet as a gift for her sick mother, and Amanda graciously offers it to her. Later, the dancer tells Clement her mother is long deceased. To retrieve the bracelet, he explains that its gems were exposed to radioactive atomic rays to produce their sparkle and will make the skin on her wrist peel. Horrified, the dancer removes the bracelet from her wrist, throws it at Clement, and takes back her money.”

Camila Cabello, Mama June Inspired by Marilyn

After Marilyn featured in a video backdrop for Camila Camello’s Tonight Show appearance in January, the singer has referenced ‘Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend’ (via Madonna’s ‘Material Girl’ video, the ultimate homage) in a performance of her hit single, ‘Havana’, at the iHeartRadio Music Awards last night.

And elsewhere in the world of celebrity, reality TV star Mama June has shown off her recent weight loss with a Marilyn-inspired shoot to promote her new show, Mama June: From Hot to Not.

Madhubala, the ‘Marilyn Monroe of India’

This year, the New York Times have marked International Women’s Day with tributes to fifteen remarkable women hitherto overlooked in their obituary section. Aisha Khan chose Madhubala, the Bollywood actress likened to an Indian Marilyn Monroe. (A 1951 article in LIFE magazine described her, not inaccurately, as ‘the biggest star in the world.)

“It was probably the first ghost story in Indian cinema. A bewildered young man in a mansion chasing glimpses of an ethereal, veiled beauty. The movie, Mahal, was a huge success, making the lead actress, Madhubala, who was barely 16, a superstar overnight.

Madhubala’s tragic turn in the film as an enigmatic young woman in search of love seemed to foreshadow her own glittering but short life. She died 20 years later as an icon of beauty and tragedy — her dazzling career, unhappy love life and fatal illness more dramatic than any movie she starred in.

Asked once to describe herself, Madhubala said she was so young when she entered the ‘maze’ of the film industry — she made her debut at 9 — that she had lost herself.

‘When you have forgotten yourself, what can you tell people about yourself?’ she once said.

Besotted poets called her ‘a living Taj Mahal,’ but Madhubala’s radiant beauty was not cold or forbidding. Her dreamy eyes, vivacious smile and mischievous laughter gave her a girl-next-door appeal.

She has been compared to Marilyn Monroe: the smoldering looks, the short career, the tragic end. ‘There was a remarkable similarity in the soft vulnerability of their faces,’ writes Khatija Akbar in her biography of Madhubala. ‘The same abandon to their laughter, head thrown back, that same incandescent glow.’

Frank Capra Jr., visiting Bombay for a film festival in 1952, was said to have offered her a job in Hollywood. But Madhubala’s father, who controlled her career, forbade it.

Despite her success and the breadth of her work, Madhubala’s acting skills were still underappreciated. She never won any awards, even for her biggest hits.

She was born with a ventricular septal defect, a hole in her heart, diagnosed after she began working. There was no treatment for her condition, and she continued her punishing pace, completing more than 70 films in her short career. She told a friend: ‘No sooner had I learned what I was doing, God said, Enough.’

Madhubala was uninhibited for an Indian actress of that time. She was playful and flirtatious, and made news for her dalliances. Tarana (Anthem, 1951) paired her with the star Dilip Kumar, who played a doctor who fell for Madhubala’s feisty village girl. She was immediately smitten with Kumar, 10 years her senior, and reportedly sent him a rose, the beginning of a long romance.

They had been eager to marry, but Madhubala’s father had set conditions, including that they star in movies he would produce. Kumar demanded that she choose between him and her father. She chose her family. An ugly lawsuit over another movie hastened their breakup.

In 1960, the year Mughal-e-Azam was finally released, she married her frequent co-star Kishore Kumar, a talented singer. While their pairing in a string of comedies was cinema gold, offscreen the two were quickly estranged.

Madhubala made a few more hit movies, but her health deteriorated rapidly, and she spent her last years at home, out of the public eye. In her final days, according to her sister, Madhubala would say: ‘I want to live. Please God, let me live.’ She died on Feb. 23, 1969, nine days after her 36th birthday.”

Marilyn’s Still in Vogue With Madonna

While promoting her MDNA Skin range at Barney’s in Los Angeles yesterday, pop superstar Madonna revealed (to fellow celeb Kim Kardashian, no less) that Marilyn is still one of her ultimate beauty icons, as Lindzi Scharf reports for the LA Times.

“While Kardashian West, 37, shared that her beauty inspiration is her mother and grandmother, Madonna said that hers have long been Marilyn Monroe, Marlene Dietrich and Rita Hayworth. ‘Obviously, I said all of their names in my song Vogue,’ she said, ‘but they were the personification of beauty to me.'”

Oscars 2018: The Shape of Marilyn

Marilyn may never have won an Academy Award, but she is so intrinsic to Hollywood lore that fans can usually find a Monroe reference or two on Oscar night.  This year, a brief glimpse of Marilyn singing ‘I Wanna Be Loved By You’ in Some Like It Hot was featured in the opening ceremony’s roll-call of all-time greatest movies.

On the red carpet, Irish actress Saoirse Ronan – nominated for her role in the delightful Lady Bird – wore a beautiful pink sheath with spectacular bow, designed for her by Raf Simons, creator-in-chief at Calvin Klein. As some commentators have noted, the dress echoes the famous Travilla gown worn by Marilyn when she sang ‘Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend’, in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

Blade Runner 2049 – which features a cameo appearance by impersonator Suzie Kennedy as a futuristic Monroe clone – won Englishman Roger Deakins this year’s Oscar for Best Cinematography.

And finally, The Shape of Water – in which Marilyn’s long-lost song, ‘How Wrong Can I Be’, is heard in full for the first time – was the night’s big winner. taking home four gongs, including Best Picture and Best Original Score.

Ray Anthony Remembers Marilyn

Marilyn with Mickey Rooney (left) and Ray Anythony (right) at the ‘My Marilyn’ party

Bandleader Ray Anthony, who had a hit in 1952 with ‘My Marilyn’, has shared his memories with the Hollywood Reporter – and unlike so many others who knew her (such as Mickey Rooney, pictured above), he has never embellished their brief acquaintance. A short film retelling the story, Marilyn and I, was released in 2015.

“When he wasn’t performing at A-list parties in his 1950s heyday, Anthony was recording music for 20th Century Fox Pictures (his rendition of ‘The Bunny Hop’ has been featured on soundtracks from 1955’s How to Be Very, Very Popular to TV’s Everybody Loves Raymond).

On the Fox lot, he met a beautiful starlet named Marilyn Monroe. ‘We threw this big party for Marilyn at my house in the Valley,’ recalls Anthony. ‘She was pretty happy about that. It probably helped a little bit with her fame.’

While the two were photographed together looking mutually enamored, Anthony says they were ‘just friends’ who were ‘pretty busy at the time’ focusing on their careers.

But he did woo another blond star — Mamie Van Doren, his wife from 1955 to 1961. Says Anthony of the Teacher’s Pet bombshell, ‘We had fun together.'”

Margot Robbie on Marilyn and Hollywood Sexism

Australian actress Margot Robbie, currently starring in the Oscar-nominated I, Tonya, has revealed her thoughts on Marilyn and her era, The List reports. “I love old films,” Margot says, “but my heart breaks when I watch Marilyn Monroe’s, because the characters she plays are so misogynistic and degrading that it’s mind-boggling that that was the norm. The same with Bonnie and Clyde; parts of it make my blood boil.” (I mostly agree with this, although I would add that it’s a testament to Marilyn’s talent that she was able to rise above or at least subvert her ‘dumb blonde’ typecasting. And sadly, sexism in movies is far from being a thing of the past.)

Fergie’s NBA Disaster Is No ‘Mister President’

Black-Eyed Peas singer Fergie has been widely mocked for ‘trying to do a Marilyn Monroe’ with her jazzy, slowed-down performance of the Star-Spangled Banner at the recent NBA All-Star game. As the BBC reports, public criticism has been so fierce that the beleaguered star has now issued a public apology.

Personally, I thought Fergie was probably aiming for a soulful, rather than outright sexy interpretation, although she may have overreached herself in the attempt. But while Marilyn’s ‘Happy Birthday Mr President’ raised a few eyebrows at the time (and has done so ever since), it ultimately succeeded on its own terms as a playfully flirtatious skit for an informal, if glitzy occasion. Whereas America’s national anthem (not to mention the NBA) has proved to be a far riskier proposition.