Jonas Mekas 1922-2019

The Lithuanian-born filmmaker, poet and artist, Jonas Mekas, has died aged 97. During World War II, he was imprisoned for eight months in a German labour camp while trying to flee his home country. In late 1949 he emigrated to the US with his brother, settling in Williamsburg, New York.

Mekas interviewed fellow Brooklynite Arthur Miller in 1954, and in 1958, he began writing a ‘Movie Journal’ column for the Village Voice. He would review The Misfits in 1961, praising Marilyn’s performance highly. He later wrote a rapturous tribute to Marilyn after her death.

In 1964, Mekas launched a campaign against movie censorship. His innovative art films inspired Andy Warhol to make movies. Throughout 2007, Jonas released a film each day on his website. He would continue his ‘online diary’ until his death.

Marilyn’s Letter to Greenson in the ‘Enquirer’

Thanks to A Passion for Marilyn

Marilyn’s 1961 letter to Dr Ralph Greenson, written while she was recuperating in New York’s Columbia Presbyterian Hospital after a period of depression led to a brief and terrifying stay in the psychiatric ward at Payne Whitney, is the subject of an article in this week’s National Enquirer. Author Mark Bego, who has written biographies of Madonna and others, brought the letter to the magazine’s attention.

Unusually for the Enquirer, the story is fairly accurate, if sensationalised – and not, as they claim, a ‘blockbuster exclusive’. The letter was first published in its entirety by Donald Spoto in 1992, and is also featured in Fragments, the 2010 collection of Marilyn’s personal writings. (You can also read it on the Letters of Note blog.)

You can find the Enquirer article in the latest issue, dated January 28 (with Lisa Marie Presley on the cover.) However, as noted by All About Marilyn today, the same article also appears in the current issue of the National Examiner (with Betty White on the cover), although the Examiner is currently available in the US only.

Marilyn Gets ‘Closer’ to Sugar

The 60th anniversary tributes to Some Like It Hot have already begun, with a look behind the scenes published in the Christmas 2018 issue of US weekly Closer (with Kathie Lee Gifford on the cover.) If you missed out, just click to enlarge the photo below. (It was posted on the Marilyn Remembered Facebook group by Christopher Lentz, author of My Friend Marilyn, a novel set at the Hotel Del Coronado during the legendary shoot.)

Marilyn Covers the Inland Empire

Marilyn gets her first magazine cover of 2019 with this beautiful Milton Greene shot for Inland Empire, a high-end lifestyle magazine for the Southern California region. Inside the upcoming January issue, there’s an article about Palm Springs and its links to Marilyn, Frank Sinatra and other Hollywood legends. Marilyn visited the glamorous Racquet Club with Johnny Hyde in 1949, and again in 1954. In 1962 she spent a weekend at Bing Crosby’s Palm Springs home, when the singer played host to President John F. Kennedy. And in recent times, Seward Johnson’s giant sculpture, ‘Forever Marilyn‘, has proved a firm favourite with sightseers at the desert resort.

Thanks to Paul Glazebrook

Marilyn’s Misfits in ‘Yours Retro’

Marilyn is featured again in the latest issue of UK nostalgia magazine Yours Retro, with ‘The Curse of The Misfits’, a two-page article by Hannah Last, included with other pieces about Elvis Presley and his mother, the greatest Hollywood musicals, and cover girl Natalie Wood. (My only criticism of the article is that it repeats the unfounded allegation that Arthur Miller became involved with his third wife, Inge Morath, on the Misfits set. In fact, their relationship began with a chance reunion in New York in 1961.)

Thanks to Fraser Penney 

‘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.”

Fake News: Marilyn in the ‘Examiner’

The US scandal sheet, National Examiner, has a typically ludicrous front page story this week. Inside, it is claimed that Marilyn killed her Misfits co-star Clark Gable with pills and sex. Needless to say, there was no affair between Marilyn and Gable, who was happily married and expecting his first child when he tragically died shortly after filming wrapped in 1960.

This is just one of many headlines over the years which has sought to blame Marilyn for Gable’s death. While her chronic lateness certainly tested his patience, Gable’s own poor health, his heavy drinking and smoking habits combined with his insistence on doing his own stunts, all contributed to his fatal heart attack.

The source for this story, the Examiner claims, is actor Charlton Heston, who supposedly told all on his deathbed in 2008. However, Heston never worked with Marilyn and was only seen with her once, at the Golden Globes in 1962. Why the legendary actor would have been talking about a woman he barely knew in his dying breath is never explained.

Thanks to All About Marilyn

Marilyn’s ‘Diamond’ Dance to Glory

In an article for the Washington Post, Sarah L. Kaufman names ‘Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend’, Marilyn’s signature number from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, as one of the greatest dance scenes in movie history.

“That hot-pink dress, that cherry-red backdrop, those long, long gloves. Marilyn Monroe is glamorous perfection in this scene, choreographed by the great Jack Cole. He brilliantly played up her strengths, focusing on those beautiful bare shoulders with a shimmy here, an arm extension there, a lot of shaking and — whoopee! — a well-timed gesture to her back porch. Restrained in vocabulary and uninhibited in style and spirit, this witty dance is an exuberant celebration of the female assets, performed by one of the most vibrant bodies in cinematic history.”