‘Merry Marilyn’ in Turin

Another new exhibition, Merry Marilyn: Natural Elegance, Magical Charm, is now on display at the National Cinema Museum in Turin, Italy until January 28, 2019. Shoes and other Marilyn-related items from the Salvatore Ferragamo collection are featured alongside film clips and vintage magazines, with a festive vibe befitting the season. Nine of Marilyn’s films will also be screened, including Niagara and Some Like It Hot. 

Thanks to Rick at Marilyn Remembered 

“She was ‘somewhere between Chaplin and James Dean’, according to François Truffaut, to underline the talent and instinct, physicality and sensibility of an actress whose image was based not only on the absolute beauty of a seductive woman, but also on the complex personality of an actress who challenged conventions and imposed a new model. Diva of modernity, feminist in her own way, Norma Jeane Mortenson Baker, aka Marilyn Monroe, helped to dictate the new rules of the Star System, anticipating the revolutions and social changes that in a few years would have transformed Hollywood.

It is no coincidence that Edgar Morin calls her ‘the last star of the past and the first without Star System’, which she attempted to rebel against to avoid the commodification of her own image. Capricious and humorous, but able to amaze directors like Henry Hathaway and Billy Wilder with her talent, Marilyn has been proclaimed by the American Film Institute the sixth greatest actress in the history of cinema.

An inexhaustible source of inspiration for artists and scholars: from the drama After the Fall (1964) in which the playwright Arthur Miller , her ex-husband, reflects in the balance between cynicism and guilt over the diva’s suicide, in the pages of Truman Capote in Music for Chameleons (1975), from the portrait of Andy Warhol who transforms Marilyn into a pop icon; to the recent Blonde novel by Joyce Carol Oates, who describes her as a ‘beautiful child’ with a thousand insecurities.

At the glow of celluloid of the great Hollywood diva, they finally act as a counterpoint to Elton John with Candle in the Wind and Pier Paolo Pasolini, who calls her ‘little sister’, asking: ‘It is possible that Marilyn, the little Marilyn, has shown us the road?’, in a poem that – not surprisingly – is one of the most moving moments of his film La Rabbia, released in 1963, a year after her controversial suicide.”

Jack Allen To Sell Marilyn’s ‘Down Boy’, and More

Marilyn By Moonlight author Jack Allen is selling off some items from his collection in the Essentially Marilyn auction on December 11 at Profiles In History – including photographs and the unreleased song, ‘Down Boy‘, as Mike Szymanski reports for The Art of Monteque. (The auction also features the spectacular collection of Maite Minguez Ricart – more details here.)

“When Jack Allen first fell in love with Marilyn Monroe, it was while watching her in the 1953 movie Gentlemen Prefer Blondes where she plays an ambitious showgirl … ‘Here was a girl full of naïve innocence and you could really tell that she loved performing and that she really wanted to make it,’ says Jack. ‘In a lot of ways that is the story of Hollywood.’

Jack worked on some of the photo displays and books with [Andre] de Dienes’s widow after he died in 1985, and as a payment for his work, he received some of his original photos.

‘I was most fascinated with the “End of Everything” photo session that he took near Zuma Beach in Malibu,’ Allen recalls. ‘She was troubled at the time, and it has an almost religious feeling to them.’

What the auction house doesn’t explain in the description of the photographs is why they will have a faint scent of dirt or earthiness to them. After a terrible rainstorm in Los Angeles in the 1950s, a mudslide buried and destroyed many of the photographer’s collection in his house, and out of frustration he simply buried most of his collection in the backyard. A year later, LIFE magazine editors asked about some Monroe photos, and he literally dug them up from his backyard, and in the middle of the mess, salvaged a few of the gelatin silver prints.

Marilyn with boxer Max Baer

In another signed 8×10 photograph expected to fetch between $6,000 and $8,000, Marilyn signed it to former Heavyweight Champion of the World Max Baer, writing: ‘To Max, My body guard, Love Marilyn Monroe.’ Baer was a fighter-turned-actor and longtime admirer of the starlet, and visited her on the set of Some Like it Hot.

When studios made movies, they often pressed a record — and it was usually one-sided — of each of the songs used in the film, so when dubbing or playback was necessary while they were filming, they could use the record. So, these records actually played while the stars recreated the scenes, or filmed the dance numbers or lip synced the songs.

Jack found the heavy 78 acetate records on eBay as part of an estate of a 20th Century-Fox craft service worker who took the 12-inch records when they were abandoned by the studio after the filming of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Jack bid on the records in 2005, thinking they would be a fun piece of Hollywood history to have to one of his favorite films. The records were stained and scratched, but kept in their vintage sleeves from the studio … But, Jack noticed a recording ‘Down Boy‘ also penned by the legendary Hoagy Carmichael that featured only Marilyn and a soft piano accompaniment.

‘I realized that this was a song that was actually mentioned in the script, but it was never used in the movie,’ Jack recalls. ‘It was like finding a treasure. No one had ever heard this recording of Marilyn before.’

The song is upbeat and whimsical and planned for when a diamond dealer played by Charles Coburn is getting fresh with Marilyn’s character Lorelei. She sings to the men like they are a pack of hungry dogs, saying ‘Down Boy‘ to them. Marilyn sang the song with a swing temp in the key of A and B-flat.”

Marilyn’s White Gloves in Springfield, MA

Marilyn in court, 1954

A pair of Marilyn’s white gloves will be on display as part of Pop! Icons of American Culture at the Smithsonian, at the D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts in Springfield, MA from this Friday, December 7, until February 24, 2019, as Ray Kelly reports for Mass Live. (And if you’re wondering why there aren’t more substantial Monroe artefacts in the Smithsonian collection, it’s because they’re too expensive. Donations, anyone?)

Marilyn Featured in Julien’s Hefner Sale

There are several Marilyn-related items in the Property From the Collection of Hugh M. Hefner sale, set for auction at Julien’s this Friday (November 30.) A personal copy of Playboy‘s first issue – featuring Marilyn as cover girl and centrefold  – is estimated at $3,000 – $5,000. Other lots include the 1974 calendar seen above, a tie-in with Norman Mailer’s Marilyn; several photographic books about Marilyn (by Janice Anderson, George Barris, Bert Stern, Susan Bernard and Anne Verlhac); a box decorated with a painting of Marilyn by Tony Curtis; a Marilyn-themed bowling shirt and tie; prints by Bruno Bernard, Milton Greene and Jack Cardiff; and a rather silly ‘trick photo’ appearing to show Hef checking out Marilyn’s cleavage (though in reality, of course, they never met.)

UPDATE: Hefner’s copy of the first Playboy issue was sold for $31,250.

Marilyn by Jack Cardiff

Marilyn at the Coronado Museum

Sixty years ago, the ‘Florida’ scenes for Some Like It Hot were filmed on Coronado Island near San Diego, California.

From now until January at the Coronado Museum of Art & History, a new exhibition – Coronado’s Golden Age of Film – explores the resort’s movie connections, hosted by the Coronado Historical Association and with items from Scott Fortner’s Marilyn Monroe Collection as its centerpiece.

“The Marilyn Monroe Collection comprises a lifetime of memories, both Marilyn’s and the collector’s. On loan to the Coronado Historical Association are a selection of Coronado-centric pieces from the collection consisting of items from Marilyn’s personal wardrobe, including a dress she wore off the set during filming of Some Like it Hot, cosmetics, books from her personal library, numerous personal and professional documents, a Marilyn Monroe signed bank check made payable to her acting coach Paula Strasberg, and other items directly from her estate.

Coronado’s film history is rich and vast beginning with a short documentary filmed by the Edison Company, through the golden age of silent film, into Hollywood’s golden age, to today. Visit the Coronado Museum to view some of Coronado’s earliest films, explore Coronado’s Cinema Hall of Fame, and get to know Marilyn Monroe by viewing her clothes, photographs, and papers.”

Marilyn Faces West (With Flowers)

This joyful photo of Marilyn – taken by San Francisco Examiner staff photographer Bryant at her City Hall wedding to Joe DiMaggio – is featured in Facing West: Camera Portraits from the Bancroft Collection, a new free exhibition at the Bancroft Library in the Doe Annex of UC Berkeley, on display until March 15, 2019. “There were many photos of the couple together,” says curator Jack Von Euw, “but we liked this one that focused on Marilyn … It’s like an homage to Hollywood stardom.”

Why Marilyn’s Still an Auctioneer’s Best Friend

In an article for the Telegraph, David Millward explores the growing market for music and movie memorabilia – ahead of December’s ‘Essentially Marilyn‘ auction at Profiles in History.

“A few decades ago, a woman who worked as a cleaner at the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles was given the original marker used to identify Marilyn Monroe’s grave.

It was being replaced and nobody had any real use for it. The cleaner – who was a Monroe fan herself – kept it as a personal memento.

Eventually, she decided to sell the marker and approached Julien’s Auctions in Beverly Hills. It was expected to fetch from $2,000 to $4,000 dollars (£1,525 to £3,050).

That proved to be something of an underestimate. An anonymous overseas bidder paid $212,500 when it went under the hammer in June 2015. ‘The woman was in tears, she said it changed her life,’ said Darren Julien, founder of Julien’s Auctions.

While there is money to be made from memorabilia, expecting to reap vast riches would be a mistake, argued Giles Moon, of Heritage Auctions.

‘The number one thing I say to people is they should be buying because they are passionate and love the pieces, not as an investment. I don’t know of too many people who are buying as an investment, but it does happen.’

The trick is to find the stars who are not just fashionable now but will be popular forever, said Mr Moon. “The market has been falling away from major stars from the Fifties, like Elvis.’

‘There are certain artists who will increase in value and are pretty bulletproof …When it comes to movies, the best investments are Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn. They are true icons and they will always be sought after.’

But virtually every expert named Monroe as the icon whose personal effects will attract the highest bids.

[A replica of] the subway dress she wore in The Seven Year Itch [will be] sold at auction in Beverly Hills later this year. Also under the hammer is her annotated script from the 1955 film, the yellow and black sequinned costume from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and a signed picture in which she reveals who came up with her stage name.”

With thanks to Fraser

‘Essentially Marilyn’ Extended in LA

Essentially Marilyn, the exhibition showcasing the collection of Maite Minguez Ricart, has been extended through October 28 at the Paley Center for Media in Los Angeles, reports Broadway World – and there’s more news on the upcoming auction…

“Profiles in History is proud to announce their next legendary, blockbuster Hollywood auction to be held December 11th, 12th and 13th in Los Angeles, and will go on display at The Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills, currently the site of Essentially Marilyn: the Exhibit, starting October 4th and running through October 28.

Essentially Marilyn: The Auction will be on the morning of December 11th, before the Hollywood auction begins.

They have added an unreleased studio master recording of Marilyn Monroe singing the song ‘Down, Boy!‘ from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, which was never filmed. It is being sold with copyright and is estimated to sell for $100,000 – $150,000.”

Marilyn Auction News: Calendars, Letters and More

A letter written to Marilyn by Pat Newcomb, her publicist and close friend for the last two years of her life, is among the items on auction in the UK tomorrow (Saturday, September 22), as Fox News reports.

Henry Aldridge & Sons, based in Devizes, Wiltshire, is offering several lots from the estate of Monroe collector David Gainsborough Roberts, who died in 2016. Bidding opens at 10 am GMT, and bids can also be made online via The Salesroom or Invaluable (but you’ll need to register first.)

In the letter, Pat advises Marilyn on how to field intrusive questions from the acerbic Hollywood columnist, Hedda Hopper. “If you want to return her call … I think it would be a good idea and you can avoid answering anything you don’t want,” Pat writes. “When she asks what you did over the holidays you just say ‘nothing special’ – that gives her nothing to print. You ‘saw a few friends, whom she doesn’t know anyway’ and just relaxed.'” Probably referring to the latest dance craze, Pat makes a further suggestion: “You can tell Hedda you hear she’s quite a ‘Twister’ and she’ll do a monologue which will completely take her away from anything about you.”

Pat also mentions that “Harrison Cannall’s office called to say that Joe [DiMaggio] was in town and could I confirm it. I said I didn’t know and didn’t discuss your personal life in any case.” Pat refers to related matters, such as the title of an upcoming Redbook article. The letter has an estimated price of £300-£500.

Another letter from Marilyn’s psychiatrist, Dr Ralph Greenson,  is dated June 30, 1962, billing her for services totalling $1,250, with an estimated price of £400-£600.

Two vintage movie posters are also available, plus a four-page 1955 calendar featuring a censored version of Marilyn’s famous nude photo by Tom Kelley and three other pin-up shots, complete with envelope (estimated at £600-£800.)