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.

Dita Von Teese Talks Music and Marilyn

Burlesque queen and beauty maven Dita Von Teese has just released her first album, Soundtrack for Seduction. “I’m not a singer,” she tells PAPER magazine. “I am not looking to break into music. I’m not even used to talking about my music and my voice. Still, I’ve always had this fantasy about recording some songs. I remember when I was 18 or 19 and first started posing for vintage style pin-ups, I discovered a compilation record with all of these bombshells on it: Brigitte Bardot, Jayne Mansfield and Marilyn Monroe. I loved the idea of doing something like that too. I remember hearing that Marilyn Monroe used to record just one line at a time, that she couldn’t really sing either … That kind of gave me the idea that maybe I could do that too.”

This 2011 compilation from Not Now Music features songs by Marilyn and others

“I’m more attracted to glamour than natural beauty,” Dita told The Guardian in 2007. “The young Marilyn Monroe was a pretty girl in a sea of pretty girls. Then she had her hair bleached, fake eyelashes, and that’s when she became extraordinary. It’s that idea of what you’re not born with, you can create.” Dita has also expressed her admiration for Marilyn on Twitter.

However, I don’t agree with Dita that Marilyn ‘couldn’t really sing.’ Unlike many other movie stars of her day (such as Rita Hayworth, Ava Gardner, Kim Novak and Natalie Wood), Marilyn performed her own songs. Her vocal talents were highly rated by leading musicians, including Lionel Newman and Hal Schaefer. But her range was technically limited, and for the most part, her singing was an extension of her acting. In fact, a lot of her movies were made in much the same way – line by line – a process that evolved more from her innate perfectionism than any default in her abilities.

Kate Moss’s Marilyn Moment

Supermodel Kate Moss jumped out of a cake and sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to photographer Mert Alas at a party in London, as Alice Newbold reports for Vogue. Kate’s sensuous rendition has been compared to Marilyn’s performance for President Kennedy, although it should be noted that Marilyn never jumped out of a cake!

Paris Hilton’s Marilyn-Style Valentine

Heiress and socialite Paris Hilton’s love of Marilyn has been evident since she became a reality TV star in the early 2000s. (Personally, I’ve always thought she resembled one of the ditzy gold-diggers Marilyn played on film than Monroe herself.) Now 36, Paris is a DJ, singer and has even launched her own perfume. Her new, retro-style single, I Need You, was released on St Valentine’s Day, and the accompanying video – directed by fiance Chris Zylka – shows Paris embracing vintage glamour, with at least one Marilyn-inspired costume – more details over at Instyle.