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.
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.”
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.”
The literary magazine Paris Review has posted a 1966 interview with Arthur Miller, where he talks about his relationship with Marilyn, and After the Fall.
“MILLER: I think Strasberg is a symptom, really. He’s a great force, and (in my unique opinion, evidently) a force that is not for the good in the theater. He makes actors secret people and he makes acting secret, and it’s the most communicative art known to man; I mean, that’s what the actor’s supposed to be doing … The problem is that the actor is now working out his private fate through his role, and the idea of communicating the meaning of the play is the last thing that occurs to him. In the Actors Studio, despite denials, the actor is told that the text is really the framework for his emotions … This is Method, as they are teaching it, which is, of course, a perversion of it, if you go back to the beginning. But there was always a tendency in that direction.
INTERVIEWER: What about Method acting in the movies?
MILLER: Well, in the movies, curiously enough, the Method works better. Because the camera can come right up to an actor’s nostrils and suck out of him a communicative gesture; a look in the eye, a wrinkle of his grin, and so on, which registers nothing on the stage.
INTERVIEWER: Do you think the push toward personal success dominates American life now more than it used to?
MILLER: I think it’s far more powerful today than when I wrote Death of a Salesman. I think it’s closer to a madness today than it was then. Now there’s no perspective on it at all.
INTERVIEWER: Would you say that the girl in After the Fall is a symbol of that obsession?
MILLER: Yes, she is consumed by what she does, and instead of it being a means of release, it’s a jail. A prison which defines her, finally. She can’t break through. In other words, success, instead of giving freedom of choice, becomes a way of life.
INTERVIEWER: Do you feel in the New York production that the girl allegedly based on Marilyn Monroe was out of proportion, entirely separate from Quentin?
MILLER: Yes, although I failed to foresee it myself. In the Italian production this never happened; it was always in proportion. I suppose, too, that by the time Zeffirelli did the play, the publicity shock had been absorbed, so that one could watch Quentin’s evolution without being distracted.
INTERVIEWER: What do you think happened in New York?
MILLER: Something I never thought could happen. The play was never judged as a play at all. Good or bad, I would never know what it was from what I read about it, only what it was supposed to have been.
INTERVIEWER: Because they all reacted as if it were simply a segment of your personal life?
INTERVIEWER: Could this question of timing have affected the reaction here to After the Fall?
MILLER: The ironic thing to me was that I heard cries of indignation from various people who had in the lifetime of Marilyn Monroe either exploited her unmercifully, in a way that would have subjected them to peonage laws, or mocked her viciously, or refused to take any of her pretensions seriously. So consequently, it was impossible to credit their sincerity.
INTERVIEWER: Was it the play, The Crucible itself, do you think, or was it perhaps that piece you did in the Nation—’A Modest Proposal’—that focused the Un-American Activities Committee on you?
MILLER: Well, I had made a lot of statements and I had signed a great many petitions. I’d been involved in organizations, you know, putting my name down for fifteen years before that. But I don’t think they ever would have bothered me if I hadn’t married Marilyn. Had they been interested, they would have called me earlier. And, in fact, I was told on good authority that the then chairman, Francis Walter, said that if Marilyn would take a photograph with him, shaking his hand, he would call off the whole thing. It’s as simple as that. Marilyn would get them on the front pages right away.”
Today, Some Like It Hot is considered one of the funniest movies ever made. Next week, the new 4K restoration will hit UK cinemas. But what did the critics make of it back in 1959? Sight & Sound magazine looks back at their first review.
“Billy Wilder’s Some Like it Hot will not appeal to those who find female impersonation unamusing in any circumstances; and certainly, since it also contains two painfully accurate re-creations of gangland slaughter, its opportunities for offence are considerable … Although the comedy never quite shakes off this basic confusion in styles, it comes to life from the start … Marilyn Monroe is charmingly herself, if a little wan, but her role of innocent at large is too peripheral to strike a useful balance with the film’s blacker and more clinical humours.”
Marilyn (and John Wayne) graces the cover of US nostalgia magazine ReMIND‘s November issue, in tribute to the many stars who have supported American troops abroad. (Marilyn has appeared in ReMIND before, including a cover feature in 2015.)
Marilyn’s Pucci wardrobe is the subject of an article in the latest issue of UK magazine Yours Retro. She favoured his colourful designs in the final years of her life, in contrast to the form-fitting neutrals she had worn during the 1950s. It’s an interesting glimpse at how her style evolved as she matured, and how she adapted to the changing fashions of the 1960s.
Marilyn is featured on the cover of Haunted Hollywood, a Halloween special edition from US magazine Parade. Presumably the oft-told tale of her haunting the Roosevelt Hotel on Hollywood Boulevard will be mentioned. Contrary to rumour, she was never a permanent resident. However, Marilyn did pose for photos by the pool in 1952. Today, guests can check into the Marilyn Monroe Suite – but watch out for her ghost in the mirror!
UPDATE: You can now order Haunted Hollywood through UK website Newsstand.
Marilyn is the subject of a six-page spread in the November issue of UK magazine History Revealed. ‘Being Marilyn: The Woman Behind the Mask’ combines photos with factoids and quotes, covering her rise to fame, glittering film roles and unhappy marriages. Available now in shops and via online store Newsstand.