Terence Rattigan Centenary

“Perhaps the apex of (Rattigan’s) glittering career can be identified as August 18 1956, the night he threw a party to coincide with the filming of his 1953 play The Sleeping Prince, re-dubbed The Prince and the Showgirl. His two co-stars – Marilyn Monroe and Laurence Olivier – were royally entertained at his country pad in Sunningdale, Berkshire, along with Monroe’s new husband, Arthur Miller, and anyone who was anyone at the time. The whole ritzy episode is being recreated from the diary of bemused set-assistant Colin Clark in a forthcoming star-studded Simon Curtis film, My Week With Marilyn.

Daily Telegraph

With Rattigan at a press conference, February 1956
Dressed for Rattigan’s house party, with husband Arthur Miller in England

Michelle Williams on Reading ‘Fragments’

Michelle Williams, while filming ‘My Week With Marilyn’

“You just finished playing Marilyn. Was it amazing?
Many things — amazing being one of them. The movie (‘My Week With Marilyn’) takes place when she was making ‘The Prince and the Showgirl’ and married to Arthur Miller. I didn’t stop shooting that long ago, so I’ve still got one foot in it.

Did you read ‘Fragments,’ the book of Marilyn’s writings?
Oh, isn’t that a beautiful book? You know that was an auspicious day on set. We were filming at Park Side House, which is where she stayed when she was in London, and it was our first day there and it was the day the book came out and there are notes in the book written on Park Side House stationary.

Ever come home from work depressed?
Um, look, there is residue, always, always for me. No matter what the role, there’s some residue and rightly so, necessarily so. But my primary commitment in this world is my daughter and I cannot commit myself, not to say I haven’t, but I can’t stay there.

PopEater

Parkside House, photographed by MM fan

After Marilyn: Arthur at the Chelsea Hotel

After separating from Marilyn Monroe in October 1960, Arthur Miller lived for six years at New York’s bohemian Chelsea Hotel. It was during this period that he wrote one of his most divisive plays, After The Fall (1964), seemingly based on his two marriages (the self-destructive singer, Maggie, is reminiscent of Marilyn), and was remarried for a third time to photographer Inge Morath (whom he had first met during filming of The Misfits) in 1962.

Miller noted in his memoir, ‘Timebends’, that it was a place where you could get high from the marijuana smoke in the elevators, deeming the hotel “the high spot of the surreal”. “This hotel does not belong to America,” he wrote. “There are no vacuum cleaners, no rules and shame.” Elsewhere, he paid tribute to the two prevailing atmospheres during that decade: “A scary and optimistic chaos which predicted the hip future and at the same time the feel of a massive, old-fashioned, sheltering family.”

The Observer

Zolotow’s Marilyn: An Unquiet Spirit

“Marilyn Monroe’s great achievement has been the making of herself and the imposition of her will and her dream upon a whole world. Joseph Conrad wrote that when we are born we fall into a dream. Norma Jeane Mortenson, called Norma Jean Baker, fell into the most extravagant of dreams. She made it come true. She made it come true by making herself. She made herself beautiful. She made herself an artist. She triumphed in that arena where the loveliest women in the world contend fiercely for the prizes.

In one sense, then, her life is completed, because her spirit is formed and has achieved itself. No matter what unpredictable events may lie in her future, they cannot change what she is and what she has become. And there will be many surprises and alterations in her life ahead; there will be, in Hart Crane’s phrase, ‘new thresholds, new anatomies’.

In her heart is a questing fever that will give her no peace, that drives her on ‘to strive, to seek, to find,’ and then to strive and seek again. Her soul was always be restless, unquiet.”

This is the final extract from Maurice Zolotow’s 1960 book, Marilyn Monroe: An Uncensored Biography, first printed in the Los Angeles Daily Mirror on December. It covers the filming of Let’s Make Love, and a postscript details her much-publicised affair with co-star Yves Montand.

Zolotow’s biography, considered a definitive early work on Monroe, was reissued in 1990 with a further chapter on The Misfits, and an intriguing prologue where Zolotow describes his first meeting with the actress, at a Hollywood party in 1952, when she was still on the cusp of stardom. They would meet again ten years later, at the Actor’s Studio in New York, after Zolotow’s book was published.