Bill Fredendall: Remembering Marilyn’s Hollygrove Alumni

Bill Sluyter Fredendall, who once lived in the Los Angeles Orphans Home alongside Norma Jeane Baker, has died aged 92 in L’Anse, Michigan, according to the Keewanaw Report.

In a 2016 interview with Eden Prairie News, Bill fondly recalled the future star, two years older and a friend of his sister Doris, pushing him on a swing, and the children’s excitement at being so close to the world of film-making. ‘We sat on the radiators and looked at the front of the RKO studio, up in the sky from where we were,’ Bill said. ‘We could see that from the orphanage. We all wanted to be in the movies.’ His daughter Phyllis said that when Bill heard of Marilyn’s death, he was bereft: ‘She was a good girl,’ he said.

Marilyn was a resident from 1935-37, from the age of nine to just after her eleventh birthday. She was treated well there, but like many children displaced during the Great Depression, struggled with feelings of abandonment throughout her stay. The home, on El Centro Avenue, was renamed as Hollygrove in 1957. After closing in 2005, it now operates an outreach service for vulnerable children and their families.

“Bill and his brother Dick and sister Doris were placed in the Los Angeles Orphans Home in Hollywood in 1934. His stories from that time are legion. It was the favorite charity of many of the movie stars as it was across the street from RKO Studios. Oliver Hardy’s sister was one of the matrons. Bill remembered Laurel and Hardy arriving in a big convertible full of presents. The campus of the orphanage was sometimes used as a movie set – he recalled the filming of a fire rescue from a second story window. And of course he remembered one of the girls, Norma Jeane Baker (Marilyn Monroe) who was there at the same time.

Bill was an avid reader and a movie buff. He loved to drive and took many trips with family and friends. He enjoyed golfing, sailing, skiing, and swimming in Lake Superior, Minnesota. Music was a lifelong friend. He played harmonicas large and small, having learned to play while in the Orphan Home.”

Nina Mae Fowler Inspired by Marilyn

British artist Nina Mae Fowler just posted this on Instagram:

“A small drawing of Marilyn as she leaves the hospital, shortly after suffering an ectopic pregnancy. The press and the crowds waited outside so she was forced to put on makeup and a smile. The frame is handmade in aluminium and reminiscent of a surgical dish/tray …”

Nina often uses Hollywood iconography in her art, and has drawn Marilyn several times – I wrote about her work here.

World’s Richest Man Buys Joe Schenck’s Estate

Marilyn with Joe Schenck, 1953

The Holmby Hills estate that was formerly home to movie mogul Joe Schenck has been purchased for $165 million by the world’s richest man, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, the New York Post reports. During the late 1940s, Marilyn sometimes stayed in Schenck’s guesthouse – but despite rumours to the contrary, both insisted their relationship was platonic (read more about the property’s history here.)

George Rodriguez’s ‘Double Vision’ of Marilyn and José

Photographer George Rodriguez, who captured Los Angeles life for forty years – from Hollywood glitz to Chicano civil rights movement – is the subject of a retrospective, George Rodriguez: Double Vision, at the Vincent Price Art Museum in LA until February 29, We Are Mitú reports. (Rodriguez photographed Marilyn at the Golden Globes in 1962 with her date, Mexican screenwriter José Bolaños, though it’s unclear whether these images of part of the exhibition.)

Terry Moore Remembers Marilyn

Actress Terry Moore began her movie career in 1940, and would later make a successful transition from child performer to adult star when she was nominated for an Oscar as Best Supporting Actress for her role in an adaptation of William Inge’s Come Back, Little Sheba (1952.) After director Elia Kazan cast her in Man On a Tightrope (1953), she was signed by Twentieth Century Fox. She was photographed with Marilyn at public events including the 1953 wedding of columnist Sheilah Graham (see above), and at the premiere of How to Marry a Millionaire (below.)

Terry had previously been signed to Columbia Studios in 1948, the same year when Marilyn was briefly under contract there, starring in the low-budget musical, Ladies of the Chorus, before being dropped by boss Harry Cohn. It was during this period that Marilyn met Natasha Lytess, who became her acting coach until 1954.

Rock Hudson, Terry Moore, Robert Mitchum and Marilyn

Now 91, Terry recalls her encounters with Marilyn and other stars of Hollywood’s Golden Age in an interview with Stephanie Nolasco for Fox News.

“Fox News: What’s the story behind your friendship with Marilyn Monroe?

Moore: I met Marilyn when she was put under contract. I was under contract to Columbia Studios at that time. We both then went to 20th Century Fox at the same time. And if you read anything about Marilyn, her acting coach was Natasha Lytess. The directors got so mad that she was always looking at Natasha while filming her scenes. Natasha was behind the cameras trying to guide her. It got so bad the directors later threw Natasha off the set.

I was with her when she met Natasha. They brought her into Natasha’s acting lessons. I was the only one in the class. And so I really wanted someone to do scenes with. I was told, ‘This is a new contract player named Marilyn Monroe. Now you and Natasha will have someone to act with.’ I was so happy to meet her. And we became close, fast friends. I would take her home to dinner with me. My parents were just crazy about her. She was one of the sweetest, loneliest girls I ever met. But she learned so quickly as an actress.

Fox News: What do you think made Marilyn feel so lonely?

Moore: Well sometimes the biggest stars are usually very shy … They’re very much like John Wayne. He was so backward, very backward. He also had to learn to get out there and have self-confidence. Most actors when they start out have little confidence. Marilyn didn’t have confidence. She had to have everyone in the world believe in her and love her before she had any confidence.”

Marilyn and Joe’s Florida Getaway

Marilyn’s getaway to St. Petersburg, Florida with ex-husband Joe DiMaggio on March 22, 1961 – following her divorce from Arthur Miller and a traumatic hospital stay – is covered by Bill DeYoung in a fascinating piece for St. Pete Catalyst.

“Leaning back on a beach recliner under a blue-and-white striped cabana for two, the most-photographed woman in the world smiled shyly at the gathered gaggle of photographers – the newswire paparazzi and the Brownie-toting locals.

‘Her skin is white – almost chalky – and her hair is platinum-gold,’ the daily newspaper would report the next morning. ‘She’s trimmer than the girl in the movies. And she’s beautiful. She’s really beautiful.

The paper was the St. Petersburg Times, and the woman under glass was none other than Marilyn Monroe … It was DiMaggio who suggested a relaxing week at the beach. The retired Yankee slugger was working as batting coach for the team during spring training in St. Petersburg.

At the Tides, they took separate top-floor suites.

Local residents were allowed limited access to the hotel’s two pools, snack bar and beachfront. Membership in the Bath Club wasn’t exclusive – anyone who paid the annual dues could use the facility.

‘It was all about her – I don’t think I even knew who Joe DiMaggio was at the time,’ says Karen DeYoung, 12 years old in March of 1961. She and her family were Bath Club regulars.

‘Everybody was talking about it, as we were hanging out by the pool,’ she recalls, ‘so of course we had to go down and check it out. We were giggling and nonchalantly walking in front of their cabana, trying to get a glimpse of them.’

DeYoung, senior national security correspondent for the Washington Post, has never forgotten what happened next.

‘It was at that point that DiMaggio called out “Hey kid,” and handed me a dollar, or a couple dollars, and said “Go get us some hot dogs.” So I did.’

She ran to the poolside snack bar and dutifully returned, handing a steaming pair of franks to the bare-chested sports icon and the movie star with the chalky-white skin.”

“They took frequent walks on the beach, holding hands and posing for news photographers. Monroe accompanied her ex to Huggins Field, the Yankees’ training site adjacent to Crescent Lake downtown. A photographer from Sports Illustrated snapped her gazing adoringly as he swatted a few balls. Together, they watched spring training games from the press box at Al Lang Field.”


“During their eight-day stay, DiMaggio and Monroe dined often in the Tides’ on-site restaurant, and at the Wine Cellar, about a mile north on Gulf Boulevard. The Wine Cellar was a favorite haunt for visiting Yankee players.

Mike Porter was 20 years old, a student at St. Petersburg Junior College, working on the valet team at the Wine Cellar. He remembers when the Tides’ official ‘limo,’ a four-door DeSoto with a wooden rack on the roof, dropped Joe and Marilyn at the restaurant’s front door.

‘He was sitting in the front seat, she was in back,’ Porter recalls. ‘I reached in to help her get out. She was very pale, and very frail. She looked at me and didn’t say anything.'”


“They were promptly seated at a dark corner table. ‘The manager came out about 45 minutes later and said “Hey, the guests are bothering them so much they can’t eat their meal – would you take my car and drive them back to the Tides?”‘ Porter explains. ‘I said sure.’

Monroe was chatty, Porter remembers, while DiMaggio didn’t say much. The two talked about possibly renting a car. They asked him if he had a car of his own.

A day or so later, Porter was summoned to the Tides, poolside, on official business: ‘I came and picked her up and I took her to get her hair done,’ he says. ‘She was delightful; she called me Mike. I didn’t make any reference to who she was – I knew she’d had enough of that at the restaurant.’

Porter had no interest in Monroe’s personal or marital issues. ‘Other than the fact that she looked great in a bathing suit,’ he says, ‘I wasn’t into that stuff.’
 
Hotel management arranged for the golden couple to sunbathe in privacy, on a secluded rooftop deck over the lobby. Remembers Bath Club ‘cabana boy’ John Messmore: ‘They were hounded all the time, so Mr. Dross, the hotel manager, said to them “Why don’t I just give you the key?”‘

Messmore, 17 at the time, was dispatched to the sundeck to take a lunch order. ‘And when Joe saw me, he thought I was there to get an autograph,’ Messmore explains. ‘And that was exactly the opposite of what he wanted. So he wasn’t a lot of smiles.’

‘But Marilyn, I remember she had on a white terrycloth robe, and a kind of white terrycloth wrap thing on her head. And she ordered an avocado, and an iced tea with two lemons, for lunch. And I cannot remember what Joe ordered, I was so enamored with Marilyn Monroe.’

Even their secluded rooftop nest wasn’t totally private. Boys lined up to toss baseballs to DiMaggio, who’d sign them and toss them back down.
 
‘I do remember her peeking out of the door of her room,’ Messmore says, ‘and looking both ways when I was walking down the hallway, like she had heard a noise or something. And that’s how I knew which room she was in.'”

“On March 31, the Times published a United Press International photo taken the previous afternoon. In another beach cabana, Monroe and DiMaggio were smiling broadly. She was wearing a shoulderless, midriff-bearing top and black shorts.
 
St. Petersburg TimesFriday, March 31, 1961. SUNCOAST SUN GILDS A LILY. Marilyn Monroe arrived on the Suncoast just a week ago today, pale and drawn from a recent illness. Taking her sunglasses off for a cameraman for the first time, Marilyn looks healthy and happy as she poses in a cabana at The Tides, North Redington Beach with her ex-husband, former baseball great, Joe DiMaggio. Both are reported to be leaving the Suncoast area Saturday.

On April 1, nine days after their arrival, the couple flew out of Tampa International Airport.”


When Marilyn Made Hot Dogs for Gene Kelly

Marilyn and Gene Kelly on the set of Let’s Make Love (1960)

Gene Kelly – the legendary dancer, choreographer and actor/director – will be honoured with a statue in London’s Leicester Square. Patricia Ward Kelly, who became his third wife in 1990 until his death six years later, has shared some of Kelly’s memories with Metro.

Kelly was a friend of Marilyn from her early years in Hollywood. His first wife Betsy Blair recalled seeing Marilyn with director Nick Ray during a 1951 party in their home, and Marilyn would meet Milton Greene for the first time in the same house, two years later. Kelly also had a cameo role in Marilyn’s penultimate movie, Let’s Make Love, and was considering a role in her upcoming film project, What a Way to Go!, when Marilyn passed away. (He took the part, and Shirley MacLaine replaced Marilyn.)

Ironically, Patricia’s story of Marilyn making hot dogs for Gene Kelly recalls a scene in The Seven Year Itch (1955), when Sonny Tufts asks Tom Ewell who the blonde in the kitchen might be, and Ewell retorts, ‘Maybe it’s Marilyn Monroe!’

“These were in the years before I met him, but his house, the front door was never locked and people would just come in at any hour of the day or night. There was one experience where the writer James Agee, and a famous director came in with a young woman in the middle of the night. Gene realised the men had quite a bit to drink, so he thought that he should rustle up some food for them. He went into the kitchen with this young woman to see what was in the fridge and found some hot dogs. He had her boiling hot dogs – which coincidentally was the first meal I had with him. He turned to this young woman and said, ‘What’s your name?’ She said, ‘Marilyn’. And it was Marilyn Monroe.”


When ‘Rivals’ Meet: Marilyn and Jane in Semiahmoo, WA

When pin-up queens Marilyn and Jane Russell teamed up for Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, reporters predicted a mighty feud – but they quickly struck up a close bond, onscreen and off, and many fans consider Jane the best co-star Marilyn ever had. As the Northern Light reports, at the Semiahmoo Resort near Blaine, Washington State on January 29 from 7-9 pm, Ron Miller, author of Conversations With Classic Film Stars, will consider their pairing in the second part of his free film series ‘When Rivals Meet’, alongside Fred Astaire vs Gene Kelly, Bette Davis vs Joan Crawford, and others.

Jack Garfein 1930-2019

Jakob Garfein was born into a Jewish family in the former Czechoslovakia in 1930. While he was still a boy, his entire extended family was killed in the Holocaust. After being detained in 11 concentration camps, he was liberated at Bergen-Belsen and in 1946, was one of the first five Holocaust survivors to arrive in the US.

Jack, as he was known, lived with an uncle in New York and studied acting at the Dramatic Workshop. He later joined the American Theatre Wing to study directing with Lee Strasberg. In 1955, he joined the Actors Studio where he met his future wife, actress Carroll Baker. (In 1956, Baker found stardom as Baby Doll, a role Marilyn had wanted. Bearing no ill will, Marilyn helped to promote the film.)

He directed two films: The Strange One (1957), and Something Wild (1961), starring Carroll Baker as a young rape victim held captive by the man who rescued her from suicide. The couple, who had two children, divorced in 1969. Garfein had two more children from his second marriage.

Garfein with his first wife, Carroll Baker (Photo by Peter Elinskas)

Garfein became director of the Actors’ Studio’s Los Angeles branch (which opened in 1966.) In 1978, he founded the Harold Clurman Theatre in New York. He also taught method acting for more than forty years, including at Le Studio Jack Garfein in Paris, and published several books about acting. In 2010 he appeared in The Journey Back, a documentary exploring his wartime experiences.

In August 2019, the 89-year-old Garfein married 42-year-old pianist Natalia Replovsky. The couple had been living together for four years. He died of complications of leukaemia on December 30, 2019.

Garfein shared his memories of Marilyn Monroe in a 2014 interview with film writer Kim Morgan (which you can view here), revealing that Marilyn had approached him at the Actors Studio after Lee Strasberg suggested he accompany her to buy new clothes. She asked Jack to take her hand, but fearing recognition, he declined. After they had stopped in a coffee shop and went unnoticed, he changed his mind.

While trying on clothes in a boutique, Marilyn teased Jack, constantly asking him to zip or button up the dresses. This made him very nervous, but he admitted to Morgan that Marilyn was not being ‘directly seductive’ but merely having fun, ‘a woman enjoying life.’ (She was not involved with Arthur Miller yet, Jack said.)

Marilyn at the East of Eden premiere, 1955

She then walked him home, and when he rather awkwardly said goodbye, she laughed and asked him to call her a taxi. She then kissed him lightly and left. She later asked him to escort her to the East of Eden premiere, but he was unable to do so. He subsequently met her numerous times, the last time being several years later, when she was dining at the La Scala restaurant in Beverly Hills with her publicist, Pat Newcomb.

Jack remarked that he was surprised to see her without a date on a Saturday night. ‘What do you want me to do, Jack?’ she replied. He encouraged her to go to Paris and escape the Hollywood whirl. ‘Would you leave your wife and go with me?’ she asked, and he said no.

She then recalled their trip to the boutique and something he said that day which had stayed with her. ‘Do you remember what it was?’ she asked him. He did not, but pretended he did. ‘You’re lying, Jack,’ she said. He was travelling back from Europe to the US some time later when he heard that Marilyn had died, and his first thought was to wonder again what he had said to her that day. Over the years, friends encouraged him to seek help from a hypnotist, but he never recalled it.

‘She loved the mystery between a man and a woman,’ he said of Marilyn over fifty years later, with fond amusement. Interestingly, Carroll Baker recounted another version of the final encounter with Marilyn – although she didn’t mention Jack being there. However, she did remember an earlier meeting at the Actors Studio, when all the men present (her husband included) swarmed around Marilyn.