2017: A Year In Marilyn Headlines

In January, amateur footage from the set of The Seven Year Itch was uncovered, and Twentieth Century Fox launched a perfume range inspired by Marilyn’s movies. Buddy Greco – the jazz pianist and singer believed to have taken the last snapshots of Marilyn – passed away aged 90.

In February, Marilyn appeared in a TV ad for Cadillac, first aired during the 2017 Oscar ceremony. A new memoir by Patricia Bosworth, including reminiscences of Marilyn at the Actors Studio, was published. And New York’s iconic Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, where Marilyn lived in 1955, finally closed its doors.

In March, Marilyn in Manhattan, Elizabeth Winder’s book about Marilyn’s first year in New York, was published. The All About Marilyn fan club launched a new weekly podcast, while film historian Karina Longworth presented a three-part special on Marilyn for her popular series, You Must Remember This. Marilyn’s infamous spat with Joan Crawford was recreated in TV’s Feud: Bette and Joan. Julien’s Auctions held an online photo sale, ‘Marilyn Through the Lens.’ Supermodel Karlie Kloss recreated ‘Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend’ for a Swarovski commercial, while Kendall Jenner posed Marilyn-style for Love magazine. James Rosenquist, one of the first artists to make Marilyn his muse, and Lola Albright, the first choice for Angela in The Asphalt Jungle, both passed away.

In April, Marilyn Monroe: Auction of a Lifetime – a documentary about the Julien’s sale of 2016 – was broadcast in the UK. Ella Queen of Jazz, a children’s book by Helen Hancocks about Ella Fitzgerald’s friendship with Marilyn, was published, marking the singer’s centenary. And Cecil Beaton’s 1956 portrait of Marilyn (her own favourite) was projected onto the Empire State Building, celebrating 150 years of Harper’s Bazaar.

In May, Marilyn made the cover of Yours Retro magazine, with an article inside by Michelle Morgan about her time in England. Actress Gillian Anderson appeared as Marilyn in TV’s American Gods. Unmissable Marilyn, an exhibition curated by collector Ted Stampfer, opened in Rome. Dinner With DiMaggio, a memoir of the baseball legend by Dr Rock Positano, was published; and James Spada, author of Monroe: A Life in Pictures, and Hollywood publicist Joe Hyams both passed away.

On June 1st, fans celebrated Marilyn’s 91st birthday. Also this month, her final home in Los Angeles was sold for $7.25 million. Some Like It Hot returned to theatres across the USA as part of the TCM Big Screen Classics series, and Marilyn graced the cover of a Saturday Evening Post special on the golden age of Hollywood. Her final days at Twentieth Century Fox were examined in a new book by French film historian Olivier Rajchman, while in Finland, a new fiction anthology, Marilyn, Marilyn, was published. And Bill Pursel, who befriended Marilyn in the late 1940s, reporter Gabe Pressman, and British collector David Gainsborough Roberts all passed away.

In July, the beaded ‘nude’ dress worn by Marilyn when she sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to President Kennedy – purchased by Ripley’s Entertainment in 2016 – started a world tour in Canada. Marilyn’s address books were published on Kindle. And actor Martin Landau, who befriended Marilyn in New York, plus Aleshia Brevard – the transgender impersonator who once performed for Marilyn herself – and film critic Barry Norman, who wrote and presented a 1979 documentary about Marilyn as part of his Hollywood Greats series, all passed away.

August marked the 55th anniversary of Marilyn’s death. In Los Angeles, Marilyn Remembered – the fan club which organises her annual memorial service at Westwood – celebrated its own 35th birthday with a series of events including a charity gala at Hollygrove, and a special screening of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes at the Chinese Theatre. The Immortal Marilyn fan club was also present, hosting a pool party for fans at the Avalon Hotel, and a toast to MM on Santa Monica Beach.

Also in August, original photographs of Marilyn by George Barris and others went under the hammer at dedicated auctions in New York and Los Angeles. Some Like It Hot topped a BBC poll of the 100 Greatest Comedy Films, and The Misfits was re-released in France. Twentieth Century Fox: A Century of Entertainment, a mammoth study of Marilyn’s home studio was published, and she also made the cover of Reminisce magazine. And comedian Jerry Lewis, who befriended Marilyn when she appeared on his radio show in 1953, passed away.

In September, The Essential Marilyn Monroe, a new retrospective of her work with photographer Milton Greene, was published. Another weighty tome, Marilyn Monroe’s Film Co-Stars From A to Z by David Alan Williams, was also released. Prism, Terry Johnson’s new play about cinematographer Jack Cardiff, opened in London, and Marilyn also featured in a new documentary, Magnum Through the Camera Eye. Wolf Alice singer Ellie Roswell paid homage to Marilyn in the ‘Beautifully Unconventional’ video. Versace reinvented the iconic ‘Marilyn dress’; and Montblanc launched a range of Monroe-inspired pens. Hugh Hefner, founder of the Playboy empire, died aged 91, and was buried in the crypt next to Marilyn at Westwood Memorial Park.

In October, Marilyn (as Sugar Kane in Some Like It Hot) graced one of 100 covers of UK magazine Total Film, and her favourite red taffeta and black lace gown went on display at the French Embassy in New York. Terry Johnson’s play, Insignificance, was revived in London, and lookalike Suzie Kennedy made a cameo appearance in Blade Runner 2049.

In November, a pair of gold-plated earrings worn by Marilyn in promotional shots for Gentlemen Prefer Blondes was sold at Julien’s Auctions for $112,500. Marilyn: Her Untold Story, a magazine special, was published in the US. And gossip columnist Liz Smith, a longtime champion of Marilyn, died aged 94.

And in December, 21st Century Fox Entertainment – including Marilyn’s cache of classic films – was purchased by Disney for $52.4 billion.  Photos of Marilyn by Sam Shaw, Bert Stern and others went on display at the Galerie De L’Instant in Paris. A brief guide to one of Marilyn’s earliest movies, Love Happy, was published; and Richard Havers, author of Marilyn: A Life in Words, Pictures and Music, passed away.

Marilyn Calendars for 2018

As always, there are a number of different Marilyn calendars on sale for 2018. Cream of the crop is this high-quality French product from Hugo Image.

TeNeues has also produced a Marilyn calendar …

… And diary (although eagle-eyed fans may notice the cover photo has been flipped – Marilyn’s iconic beauty spot is on the wrong side…)

Finally, here’s a few more…

Greene Archive Kickstarts Holiday Sale

The Milton Greene Archive has begun its holiday sale. Each copy of the new book, The Essential Marilyn Monroe, will come, while stocks last, with a vintage Marilyn calendar – printed in 1983 and overseen by Milton himself, the last before he died. Also, all art prints are on a ‘Buy One Get One Free’ offer – full details here.

Marilyn’s Chocolate Box Mystery

Although she isn’t named, the lovely lady shown on this box of Belgian chocolate, illustrated by Jaak De Koninck of the Leuven-based interior design company, Starbrook Airlines (and spotted at Brussels Airport), looks very Marilyn-inspired – don’t you agree?

More info here.

Thanks to Liesl at Marilyn Remembered

UPDATE: These Belgian chocolate selections are also available at TK Maxx (spotted by Fraser)

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.