BFI to Honour Jean Kent

Jean Kent as Maisie Springfield, right

Actress Jean Kent – who appeared alongside Marilyn in The Prince and the Showgirl (1957) – will be honoured by the British Film Institute at 6.10 pm today (her 90th birthday), at the National Film Theatre on London’s Southbank.

Former Daily Express critic Michael Thornton will introduce a screening of her 1946 film, Caravan. (Jean met her husband, Josef Ramart, while filming. They were together until his death in 1989.)

In The Prince and the Showgirl, Kent’s character, Maisie Springfield, is the leading lady of ‘The Coconut Girl’, a musical play in which the American showgirl Elsie Marina (played by Marilyn) is part of the chorus. Maisie is also Elsie’s rival for the affections of the visiting Grandduke of Carpathia (Sir Laurence Olivier.)

Speaking to BBC News, Jean alluded to the tensions between Monroe and Olivier:

“We were supposed to do a musical number in that, with me doing the song and she (MM) was mucking it up at the back, but it was cut because they ran so over budget,” Kent said.

“She wasn’t very well and not an easy person and Olivier, who was directing, had a quite a lot of difficulty.”

Jean made her stage debut aged just eleven, and later found fame on the big screen playing haughty, seductive women (rather like Maisie Springfield.)

Jean Kent’s films include ‘bodice-rippers’ like Madonna of the Seven Moons, Fanny by Gaslight and The Wicked Lady (all from 1945); and 1951’s The Browning Version. Her favourite role was in Trottie True (1949.) Jean has also worked extensively on television, with her last screen credit dating to 1991.

Britney Spears: ‘Femme Fatale’

Britney Spears opened her new ‘Femme Fatale’ tour in Sacramento on Thursday with this number inspired by Marilyn’s famous ‘upskirt scene’ from The Seven Year Itch. reporting for MTV, Nicole James was starstruck:

“Britney’s channeled Marilyn before (see: her super sexy 2003 cover of Esquire magazine), and we have to say it totally works for her…Sometimes all you need is a simple white dress…paired with fishnets and black stiletto boots, obvs.”

However, Carla Meyer of the Sacramento Bee thinks Britney’s allure is more girl-next-door than Hollywood goddess:

“Spears spent the first part of the show illustrating the ‘Femme Fatale’ theme of her tour — which kicked off in Sacramento — by wearing shiny bikinis, a 1940s-inspired gold cape and a billowing skirt a la Marilyn Monroe’s in The Seven Year Itch.

After she changed into rhinestone-studded Daisy Dukes for ‘Baby One More Time’, the difference was remarkable.

Though Spears performed like a pro throughout the show, hitting all her marks, she had shown hesitancy in her movements – natural for the first stop on a tour. But that hesitancy vanished when she put on the denim. She seemed at ease.

The Louisiana’s native’s sexiness has always been more good ol’ gal than femme fatale.”


Boris Prefers Blondes

Marilyn won praise from an unlikely source in Metro this week – from the gaffe-prone Mayor of London, Boris Johnson (something of a blond bombshell himself):

Who do you admire the most?

Aristotle, Marilyn Monroe and Scarlett Johansson – in fact, I think she might have overtaken Marilyn Monroe – and my wife, of course. My wife is way ahead of Aristotle. She’s beaten him in the final furlong.”

Mariah Carey Names Daughter ‘Monroe’

Singer Mariah Carey has named her baby daughter ‘Monroe’. According to her official website, ‘Their daughter’s name is Monroe Cannon. Mariah’s rep says she does not have a middle name because Mariah herself does not have one. Monroe was named after Marilyn Monroe, who has been an inspiration to Mariah her whole life. In fact, Mariah purchased the Hollywood icon’s white piano from Christie’s auction house and it is in Mariah’s will that the piano will one day go to the Smithsonian.’

Monroe’s twin brother ‘is named Moroccan Scott Cannon. Scott is Nick’s middle name, as well as his grandmother’s maiden name.The top tier of Mariah’s New York City apartment is called the Moroccan Room, because of the Moroccan-inspired decor.’

Mariah is a longtime fan of Marilyn, and has paid homage to her in numerous videos and photo-shoots. And of course, the twins’ initials spell ‘MM’.

This magazine clipping from September 2006, detailing ‘Mariah’s MM fetish’, was shared by ES member Tiina Lindholm.

Deborah Harry: ‘The Punk Monroe’

‘Debbie Harry I’ by Andy Warhol

Deborah Harry, lead singer of Blondie, was once described as ‘the punk Monroe’. In the latest issue of the UK’s Q magazine, the 65 year-old star admits to having had a girlhood crush on MM:

“I fancied all the classic blonde Hollywood stars. Marilyn Monroe, Jayne Mansfield … Did I really fancy them? Sure, there’s some bisexuality to that. I fancied all the classic blonde Hollywood stars. Marilyn Monroe, Jayne Mansfield …It’s definitely a part of girl’s chemistry. We are all looking at each other in a sexual way. It’s about imitation, sure – ‘Oooh, she has nice hair or a nice ass’ – but there’s also desire. I am open-minded, as you know.”

During the 1980s, Debbie – who was adopted as a baby – admitted that she used to daydream that Marilyn was her natural mother:

“One afternoon while we sat in the kitchen drinking coffee my Aunt Helen said I looked like a movie star, which thrilled me and fueled another secret fantasy about Marilyn Monroe possibly being my natural mother. I always thought I was Marilyn Monroe’s kid. I felt physically related and akin to her long before I knew she had been adopted herself. Of course my continual participation in this maternal fantasy has changed drastically as I’ve grown up and discovered that quite a few adopted girls have the same notion. But why Marilyn and not Lana Turner, Carole Lombard, Jayne Mansfield? Maybe it was Marilyn’s need for immense doses of demonstrative love that is the common denominator between us. Although that doesn’t fit me because I got loads of love…”

From ‘Making Tracks – The Rise of Blondie’

East Meets West: Marilyn and Choi Eun-Hee

Marilyn with Korean film star Choi-Eun-Hee, 1954

This photograph of Marilyn with another screen beauty, Choi Eun-hee, during her trip to Korea in 1954, is featured at the Korean Film Museum (KOFA.)

Born in 1926, the same year as Marilyn, Choi Eun-hee began her movie career in 1947 with A New Oath, and soon became one of Korea’s biggest stars. From 1955-85, she appeared in 81 films, and was named Best Actress at the Moscow International Film Festival for her role in Sogum.

However, in 1978, Choi Eun-hee and her former husband, film director Shin Sang-ok, were kidnapped to North Korea by order of future dictator Kin Jong-il, who forced them to remarry and produce propaganda for his cause.

In 1986, Choi Eun-hee and Shin Sang-ok escaped during a state trip to Vienna. They later published an account of their experiences together.

Marilyn and Ann-Margret

Ann Margaret, 1960s

An interesting series on actress Ann Margret at Noir and Chick Flicks records an encounter with Marilyn in 1960, when Ann was just 19:

“Through high school, she continued to star in theatricals. As part of a group known as the ‘Suttletones’. They traveled Los Angeles and, through agent Georgia Lund, landed club dates in Newport Beach and Reno, where Ann-Margret had a chance meeting with Marilyn Monroe, who was on location for the film, The Misfits. Monroe noticed her in the crowd, then chatted privately with her, offering her encouragement.”

The Unabridged Marilyn notes that Ann-Margret later worked with Marilyn’s former stand-in, Evelyn Moriarty, and two of her hairdressers, George Masters and Sidney Guilaroff.

Ann-Margret found fame with Bye Bye Birdie in 1963, and went on to star with Elvis Presley in Viva Las Vegas, with Jack Nicholson in Carnal Knowledge, and alongside The Who and Tina Turner in Tommy (which also featured a bizarre homage to Marilyn.)

Though Ann, like Marilyn, was a celebrated pin-up, she wisely turned down several opportunities to impersonate MM on stage and screen (After the Fall, The Sex Symbol, Sugar.)

Ann-Margret spoke directly of Marilyn in an interview for Life magazine in 1971:

“She was a very healthy girl when she came on the scene, mentally and physically. Years went by, people picked on her. She was terribly abused, for no reason. She became sick – and posthumously they gave her acclaim.”

More recently, Ann co-starred with Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau in Grumpy Old Men, and in 2010, she won an Emmy for her guest role in Law and Order: SVU. She has been married to Roger Smith since 1967.

Lindsay Lohan, another famous MM fan, has always reminded me of Ann-Margret (in looks) much more than Marilyn. Perhaps she should give her a call…

Marilyn Miller’s Hollywood Star

Marilyn Miller, who first found fame in Ziegfeld’s Follies on Broadway, and starred in three movies before her death in 1936, was honoured with her own star on Hollywood’s ‘Walk of Fame’. However, Miller’s star was stolen during the 1970s and has just reappeared.

Ben Lyon, the talent scout who signed 20 year-old Norma Jeane Dougherty to Twentieth Century-Fox in 1946, suggested the name ‘Marilyn’ to her because she reminded him of Miller. ‘Monroe’ was her mother’s maiden name.

After Marilyn married Arthur Miller in 1956, her name would match the woman who inspired it.

“Ana Martinez of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce told City News Service she received a call yesterday from a nervous man who said he had a Walk of Fame star, which he claimed someone had given to him.

It turns out it was Miller’s, which was one of several that were removed from the area of Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street in the 1970s to make way for special honors on the famed walk for NASA astronauts, Martinez said.

‘The stars were removed because they were going to be moved up in the same area of original placement,’ Martinez said.

She said the original stars were supposed to be destroyed because they were being replaced with new ones.

‘Obviously a few of them weren’t,’ she said.

Miller’s star was apparently pilfered from a construction site — the same one from which the original stars of James Stewart and Kirk Douglas disappeared, she said. Those stars were later recovered, but nobody realized that Miller’s had not been destroyed as planned, so the theft apparently went undetected.

‘I guess everyone assumed it was destroyed,’ Martinez said.

Until yesterday.

Martinez said the caller, whom she identified only as Bill, asked if it would be a crime to keep the star.

‘I said it’s a registered historic landmark,’ she said.

So the man hastily returned the 300-pound piece of concrete, even though his wife apparently had plans to turn it into a patio table, Martinez said.

Martinez said the star would be kept in the chamber’s archives, which will someday be used to create a ‘mini-museum.’

‘I’m just glad she’s back,’ Martinez said.”

Beverly Hills Courier