Marilyn’s a Montblanc Muse

If you’re a wealthy scribe – sadly, most of us aren’t – and you’re looking for a luxury item this Christmas, these new Marilyn-themed pens (priced at £500 upwards) from Montblanc Muses may be for you, as Nancy Olsen reports for Forbes.

“This pen is the first in the Muses Edition to be rendered—cap and barrel—in lipstick red. The rich and sensual tone is beautifully paired with champagne-tone gold-coated fittings that fan the flame of color rather than cool it down. The shape of the pen is inspired by the four-inch heels Monroe wore so well, and the slanted cap top of the pen is decorated with the Montblanc emblem, also coated in champagne-tone gold.

If you’re old movie-star buff, as I am, you know that Monroe, who was born in 1926, was married to American Major League Baseball player Joe DiMaggio, though their marriage lasted a mere 274 days. But that apparently allowed him time enough to buy her, among other things, a single row of Akoya pearls, which she was often seen wearing. Thus the pen’s clip is set with a single pearl as a romantic reference to the couple’s short-but-sweet love affair.

‘Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend,’ Monroe’s song sensation from the film, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, earned the actress additional kudos for her charming delivery, so the cone of the Special Edition writing instrument is engraved with diamond shapes alongside her engraved signature. The 14-karat gold fountain pen nib is coated in champagne-tone gold, and it is decorated with an engraved portrait of the actress. The traditional (and necessary) rounded hole in the nib, often called the ‘heart’ of the nib, is in this instance actually shaped as a heart adding a very feminine touch to the overall appearance of the pen. The collection also includes a rollerball pen and a ballpoint.”

Facing the Future With Marilyn

Marilyn in ‘Niagara’ (1953)

Any longtime  Marilyn fan will know the challenges we face in preserving her true legacy, and two recent news stories suggest our troubles are only beginning. Toby Walsh, a professor of Artificial Intelligence (AI), believes that by 2050 – a century after she first found fame – Marilyn will be ‘starring in movies via an avatar program that talks and acts like her, with machines having learned her speech and mannerisms from her films,’ reports The Australian.

Even more alarming is an article in The Sun about the burgeoning popularity of sex robots. ‘Marilyn comes up quite often,’ says engineer Douglas Hines, of the public requests for celebrity lookalike dolls. ‘The caveat is we need the approval of the person or family. If you wanted a robot that looked like Marilyn Monroe, you would have to have her estate approve it.’ (The idea of a ‘Marilyn Monroebot‘ was first mooted – albeit in jest – on a 2001 episode of the animated series, Futurama.)

Fortunately, Marilyn’s estate has not granted permission for a robot MM, and hopefully they never will. But how long will it take until ‘bootleg’ sex dolls hit the market? And meanwhile, CGI ‘hologram‘ Marilyns have already been seen in TV ads, with her estate planning digitalised ‘live’ shows starring Marilyn and other dead icons. They can replicate her body, but not her soul, and Monroe fans of the future will have to be ever more vigilant against degrading misrepresentations.

Mini Marilyn Gets Her Game

DMG Entertainment has launched a new venture, DMG Esports, in partnership with Super League Gaming, reports PR Newswire. Among DMG’s portfolio is Mini Marilyn, the animated character licensed by Monroe’s estate.

“DMG Esports will be integrated across all of DMG’s divisions, including film, gaming, VR, and location-based entertainment, focused on exciting storytelling and touchpoints targeting fans across the world. The investment and partnership with Super League Gaming is the first initiative of a broader overall global strategy for DMG Esports.”

A Kiss From France, to Marilyn

An unusual new boxset has been produced in France, including a CD of Marilyn’s songs, a booklet and twenty large cards, and The Misfits on DVD. It is also available via Amazon in the UK and US.

The ‘Gangsterisation’ of Marilyn

‘Marilyn Monroe Bandana’: Art by Loyal

In an interesting article for Broadly, Mitchell Sunderland explores the bizarre phenomenon of #ThugMarilyn – the images of a tattooed, gun-toting MM which adorn unofficial t-shirts, phone covers and social media pages, yet are the antithesis of the real Marilyn’s sweetly sexy persona and her gentle, introspective private self. While some fans clearly feel this makes her more relatable, to me #ThugMarilyn is as mythical as the ‘dumb blonde’ character she  sometimes played in movies. Furthermore, I’m not sure Marilyn  would have wanted to be associated with violence and crime.

“Marilyn Monroe has lost her edge. Her sexual roles and nude Playboy pictorial made her one of the most controversial women of the 20th century, but the masses turned her once forbidden image into a backdrop for inspirational quotes posted on Pinterest and Instagram.

#ThugMarilyn posts cover Monroe in a 20th century aesthetic that opposes the sanitized version of her that appears on dorm room posters and alongside inspirational quotes, but it’s questionable how the hashtag associates tattoos and basketball jerseys with a dangerous coolness.

But the images of Monroe and Los Angeles have always been open to interpretation: Monroe played comedic roles while suffering from depression in her off time, and the underground has always lurked under the surface and around the corner from movie studio lots … Despite the dull quotes that millennials now attribute to her name, the underworld and hustling has always defined Monroe as much as her movie stardom—just like Los Angeles itself.

As much as #ThugMarilyn drawings rely on glaring stereotypes, their creators believe they’re bringing authenticity to Monroe’s life and legacy, which contain multitudes and contradictions. Monroe never flashed guns or paid for a tattoo sleeve, but her public persona consisted of playing dumb blonde comedic roles while navigating a tragic personal life and a sexuality the public deemed controversial.”

Marilyn Gets Foxy at TK Maxx

In recent years, Twentieth Century Fox has released a wide range of products celebrating their greatest star, including calendars, mugs, and most recently, perfumes. Fox was also involved with last year’s Bendigo exhibition. Using original poster artwork from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and How to Marry a Millionaire, they have now created a series of framed prints (£25 each), as spotted by Immortal Marilyn’s Fraser Penney at TK Maxx in Perth, Scotland.

Some fans have noted that the original movie posters have been altered, removing Marilyn’s co-stars. MM would no doubt raise an eyebrow at this belated recognition from her home studio!

Legally Blonde: ‘Is Marilyn Too Generic?’

Marilyn by John Florea, 1953

The ongoing legal battle between Marilyn’s estate and nostalgia brand AVELA (previously reported here) has raised an interesting paradox. As Eriq Gardner writes for the Hollywood Reporter, U.S. District Court Judge Katherine Polk Failla rejected the claim that Marilyn’s estate had ‘monopolised’ her image, but allowed the possibility that MM is ‘too generic’ for copyright protection.

“Upon the argument that ‘Marilyn Monroe’ only reminded consumers of a famous historical figure, the Estate argued that such a proposition was tantamount to a per se ‘rule that names of identifiable individuals are…non-distinctive, contrary to existing law.’

Failla, though, responded that the question of whether a mark has become genericized is a factual one, meaning that it’s inappropriate for an early decision. Both sides will have an opportunity to test the facts — perhaps by taking surveys of whether consumers really associate ‘Marilyn Monroe’ with the Estate.

The judge again stresses the early posture of the case (despite the fact that the complicated case is in its third year), and the Marilyn Monroe Estate at least defeats a claim that it committed fraud upon the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, but she’s at least allowing defendants to attack the notion that the Estate enjoys broad trademark rights to ‘Marilyn Monroe.'”

Fox to Launch ‘Millionaire’ Marilyn Fragrance

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Marilyn’s old studio, Twentieth Century Fox, is launching a line of fragrances named after her most famous movies, and a promotional video has been created for the first perfume, How to Marry a Millionaire, reports Wales Online.

“Twentieth Century Fox Consumer Products developed a new collection based on the portfolio of 12 Hollywood film titles featuring Marilyn Monroe.

Bristol-based fragrance specialist Designer Fragrances then launched the How to Marry a Millionaire inspired women’s fragrance and gift sets in stores across Europe.

Luminous Media director Martin Downes, from Pontypool, said: ‘It is a massive honour for a local Welsh company to be able to produce a video for a product like this.’

‘As you can imagine, there are very strict guidelines for using images of a Hollywood legend like Marilyn Monroe. We came up with a storyboard for the motion graphic video that drew on elements from the movie as well as showcasing the fabulously designed fragrance bottle.'”