Kathleen Hughes Remembers Marilyn

Perhaps best known for her role in It Came From Outer Space (1953), Kathleen Hughes was married for sixty years to River Of No Return producer Stanley Rubin, who died in 2014 (see here.) She is also a regular guest at the annual memorial services for Marilyn.

Kathleen Hughes with husband Stanley Rubin

In an interview with Stephanie Nolasco for Fox News, Kathleen looks back on her career, and shares memories of Marilyn dating back to the first time she saw her perform in Strictly For Kicks, a revue staged at 20th Century Fox in March 1948 – many months after Marilyn’s first contract with the studio lapsed. (You can hear the Glenn Miller Band’s version of the song Marilyn performed here.) Kathleen’s cousin, Diana Herbert, had briefly appeared with Marilyn in her first movie, Scudda Hoo! Scudda Hay! Both were uncredited.

Kathleen also mentions testing for a role ‘a short time after’, which involved dancing, and losing the part to Marilyn. This could be Ladies of the Chorus, a low-budget 1948 musical filmed at Columbia Pictures in April 1948. The black gown worn by Marilyn in Strictly For Kicks was a costume from the movie.

Marilyn sings ‘I Never Took a Lesson in My Life’ in the Fox revue Strictly For Kicks (1948)

“My cousin Diana Herbert was taking acting lessons when I was already under contract. She was in a show at the studio club. Every studio in those days had a studio club and it consisted of all the people behind the scenes – the mailroom people, the secretaries – everybody but the actors. They would put on a show every year. My cousin was going to be in one of these shows.

The day before the show, she said, ‘They took my song number away from me and they gave it to a girl named Marilyn Monroe who had been under contract at the studio for six months — they had just dropped her! But now they’re giving her the song. I’m still in the show and you still have to come and see me.’ Well, I went to see it and Diana did her number. She was very, very good. But then Marilyn came on. Oh my God, she was fantastic. She did a song called “I Never Took a Lesson in My Life.” She was wearing this slinky black dress. I just couldn’t believe they dropped her.

She was incredible. She was just a star. I just thought if anyone from the studio saw the show, they would realize they made a terrible mistake and sign her back again. A short time later, the casting office called me and they said, ‘Can you dance?’ They got me with this poor, patient man of a dance director. He tried hour after hour after hour to teach me one simple step. Years later I was able to pick it up, but I could not learn this step at the time. At the end of the day, as it was getting dark, he said, ‘Forget it! We’ll get someone else.’ That someone else was Marilyn.”

Fox News

Thanks to Jonathan Montrell

The Mystery of Marilyn’s Gingham Dress

In 2010, artist Yury Toroptsov photographed fans across the world posing with a blue-and-white gingham summer dress from Marilyn’s private collection, for an exhibition and accompanying book, Marilyn & I. However, no images of Marilyn herself wearing the dress were found – until this week, when Eric Patry posted this newspaper clipping on the Facebook group, MM Fanclub Belgium.

Although the publication and date have not been established, the photo is thought to have been taken in the summer of 1960, while Marilyn was en route to Reno, Nevada to shoot The Misfits. With her face and hair partly covered, it’s hard to identify her as Monroe – except by that radiant smile. (The belt worn with the dress is not her usual style, so perhaps she removed it.)

When ‘Typhoon Marilyn’ Came to Tokyo

Heather Howard has accessed the Yomiuri Shimbun archives on Marilyn and Joe DiMaggio’s Far-East adventure for The Japan News.

“‘Typhoon Marilyn Monroe comes to Tokyo.’ She certainly did, with a force so powerful it sent some of her fans tumbling into a pond at the Imperial Hotel.

On Feb. 2, 1954, the morning edition of The Yomiuri Shimbun reported — under that typhoon headline — that Monroe had arrived at Haneda Airport the day before with her new husband, baseball great Joe DiMaggio. The trip was part honeymoon, part business: DiMaggio had been invited to coach Central League teams during spring training that year.

Fans began gathering at Haneda Airport two hours before their scheduled arrival. When Monroe and DiMaggio’s Pan American flight finally touched down — four hours late — the fans pushed past police and flooded onto the runway, surrounding the plane.

A group of Japanese dignitaries was waiting to greet them at the base of the stairs, but that plan was abandoned. Monroe appeared, carried by DiMaggio, bringing what The Yomiuri described as an ‘ecstatic reaction.’

However, the crowds of people made it impossible for them to get to customs, so they retreated back into the plane. After nearly another hour they finally exited through a cargo door and headed in a U.S. Embassy car for the Imperial Hotel.

The brouhaha, however, was far from over, as fans even climbed trees along her route. Monroe and her party had been scheduled to parade through the Shinbashi, Ginza and Hibiya areas of Tokyo, but that too was scrapped due to the chaos at the airport.

Monroe was forced to use a rear banquet entrance when she arrived at the Imperial, according to a history of the hotel. When it looked like the crush of fans, irate at not seeing their idol, would break the glass in the lobby doors, Monroe showed herself from a second-floor balcony at the hotel’s request. This calmed the ruckus, but as she was greeting the crowd, the history tells us, ‘two or three fans fell into the pond in front of the [hotel’s] Wright building.’

That seems like a fortunately small number. One of the photos accompanying the Yomiuri article shows a veritable sea of people outside the Imperial Hotel, with some fans having even climbed up on the roof.

Monroe and DiMaggio traveled to other parts of the country as well. When they stayed in Fukuoka for four days, about 5,000 people gathered outside their hotel there.

Nor was the fuss limited to fans. Over 300 journalists attended a press conference the day after Monroe’s arrival, and in Fukuoka, local journalists who had learned where Monroe and DiMaggio were dining one day abruptly opened the door to their room at the restaurant, took her picture, and with just a ‘thank you’ fled the scene.

Monroe ultimately departed Japan with DiMaggio on Feb. 24 from Haneda Airport. The furor of their arrival had clearly made an impression: This time the general public’s entry was restricted, Japanese plainclothes police stood guard along with military police from the U.S. Air Force, and there was at least one armored car on the apron. “

Stern’s Marilyn Auction in Gainesville

Images from Marilyn’s 1962 Vogue shoot from the estate of photographer Bert Stern will go under the hammer as part of the June Joyfuls sale at the Four Seasons Auction Gallery in Gainesville, Georgia this Sunday, June 23, as Chris Jenkins reports for Arts & Collections.

Also on offer is this photo of Marilyn attending the Cinemascope party at the Cocoanut Grove in the Ambassador Hotel, Los Angeles on January 1st, 1953 (previously owned by a friend of Stern, but wrongly described as being taken in New York in 1957); and a vintage promotional item for The Seven Year Itch, included in a collection of books and memorabilia.

Marilyn’s Costumes and Jewellery Sold at Julien’s

The results are in for this year’s Legends sale at Julien’s Auctions. A number of photos from the Manfred ‘Linus’ Kreiner archive (see above) were sold, with the Marilyn-related lots fetching up to $3,800. These photos were recently featured in Parade magazine (see here.)

Marilyn at the Fox luncheon for Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev (Manfred Kreiner, 1959)

Within the fan community, biographer Gary Vitacco-Robles won a telegram from Lauren Bacall congratulating Marilyn after her wedding to Joe DiMaggio, for $1,582.50. The biggest Marilyn-related sales, however, were her costume from A Ticket to Tomahawk (sold for $22,400), and her bathrobe from How to Marry a Millionaire (which fetched $28,800.) Here are some more highlights:

  1. A rare ‘Page 3’ copy of Playboy‘s first issue, signed by Hugh Hefner ($16,00)
  2. A cast of Marilyn’s hands and feet from Grauman’s Chinese Theatre ($25,600)
  3. A black chiffon overblouse ($19, 200)
  4. A six-strand, iridiscent crystal necklace in purple and green ($11,250)
  5. A pair of rhinestone clip earrings ($28,125)
  6. Marilyn’s script for Something’s Got to Give, dated August 30, 1961 ($12,800)

And finally, I’ve added the maximum bids for each item featured in my previous posts – learn more about this fascinating auction here.

Marilyn’s How to Marry a Millionaire bathrobe today

Michelle Williams Goes From Marilyn to Gwen

My Week With Marilyn, the 2011 movie about her time in England, returns to Netflix today. Michelle Williams, who won a Golden Globe for her performance as Marilyn, is currently starring choreographer Gwen Verdon in the HBO series, Fosse/Verdon. Born in Culver City, California in 1925, she married journalist James Henaghan in 1942, but left him after the birth of their son Jimmy. (Henaghan later interviewed Marilyn on several occasions, and wrote a tribute to her for Parade magazine in 1971, which you can read here.)

Verdon later worked as an assistant to choreographer Jack Cole, coaching stars like Lana Turner, Rita Hayworth, Betty Grable, and Marilyn (seen above with Jane Russell on the set of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, and rehearsing for There’s No Business Like Show Business.) In 1953, Verdon starred in the Broadway production of Can-Can, winning her first Tony award. (Marilyn would later be offered the lead in Fox’s big-screen adaptation, but the role was ultimately played by Shirley MacLaine.)

In June 1955, Marilyn saw Gwen performing in her latest hit musical, Damn Yankees, at the 46th Street Theatre. Gwen returned to Hollywood in 1958 to film the movie version. She married choreographer Bob Fosse in 1960, and returned to Broadway in Sweet Charity (1966.) Although she and Fosse separated in 1971, they never divorced and continued working together on Chicago (1975), and the 1979 movie, All That Jazz. She also appeared in films like The Cotton Club (1984) Cocoon (1985) Alice (1990), and Marvin’s Room (1996.)

In 1999, Gwen was the artistic consultant on Fosse, a Broadway musical tribute to her former partner, who had died in 1987. Gwen Verdon passed away in her sleep at the home of their daughter Nicole Fosse in Woodstock, Vermont in October 18, 2000. That night at 8 pm, Broadway dimmed its lights in her honour.

Manfred Kreiner’s Marilyn at Julien’s Legends

SOLD as part of set for $625

Following reports that the bathrobe worn by Marilyn in How to Marry a Millionaire will be auctioned at the annual Legends sale at Julien’s on June 13-14 (see here), the full listings are now available online here. I will review Marilyn’s personal and business correspondence in a future post, but today I’m looking through the archives of German photographer Manfred ‘Kreiner’ Linus.

UPDATE: I have now added the final bids for each item.

Marilyn opens the Time-Life building in New York, July 1957 (SOLD for $640)
This group of photos includes images from the Time-Life building (bottom, centre), and with Arthur at the Crystal Awards, where Marilyn received an award for The Prince and the Showgirl at New York’s French embassy in February 1959 (top left, and bottom right) SOLD for $1,280
Arriving in Chicago, March 1959 (SOLD as part of set for $625)
Meeting the press at Chicago’s Ambassador Hotel (SOLD for $3,840)
Arriving at the New York premiere of Some Like It Hot, March 1959
(SOLD as part of set for $625)
This group of photos includes an image of Marilyn attending the Hollywood reception for Russian premier Nikita Khrushchev in September 1959 (top right) SOLD for $320
This slide shows Manfred Kreiner with Marilyn during filming of The Misfits, 1960 (SOLD for $320)

‘Some Like It Hot’ at 60

Some Like It Hot opened at cinemas across the US sixty years ago today, on March 29, 1959. In an article for Perth Now, Troy Lennon celebrates the diamond anniversary of one of the most beloved movies in history.

“The press were out in force at Marcus Loew’s newly refurbished Capitol Theatre on Broadway in New York to cover one of the biggest film premieres of the year. It starred matinee idol Tony Curtis and up-and-coming comic talent Jack Lemmon, best known from comedy hits Mr Roberts and Bell Book And Candle.

The support cast of actors was also stellar, with big names from classic gangster films … Quirky, sexy, slightly subversive and the work of one of the most in-demand directors at the time, Billy Wilder, it had hit potential. But what really made Some Like It Hot such a big deal was that it was Marilyn Monroe’s first film in nearly two years. Monroe had been taking time off to focus on her marriage to playwright Arthur Miller.

On the night of the premiere, March 29, 1959, 60 years ago today, Monroe, accompanied by Miller, told reporters Lemmon was the ‘funniest man in the world’ and like the rest of the audience laughed all the way through the film. Critics also loved it and Some Like it Hot is now regarded as one of the all-time great film comedies.

The film was inspired by a 1935 French farce titled Fanfare d’Amour (Fanfare Of Love), about two musicians, Jean (Fernand Gravey) and Pierre (Julien Carette) … Gravey’s love interest, bandleader Gaby, was played by Australian actor Betty Stockfeld.

The story and screenplay were co-written by German screenwriters Michael Logan and Robert Thoeren, who had fled Germany in 1933 after the Nazis came to power. After the war they returned to Germany and in 1951 remade the film as Fanfaren der Lieben.

For the leads Wilder wanted Frank Sinatra as musician Joe and singer Mitzi Gaynor as bandmember Sugar. But Sinatra never turned up for the audition and when Monroe discovered Wilder was doing the film she wanted to play Sugar … having Monroe as a drawcard gave Wilder a freer hand with the rest of the casting. He had already asked Tony Curtis to play Jerry, but without Sinatra he instead cast him as Joe and Lemmon as Jerry.

The director was fastidious about the look of the film. It was to be shot in black and white, because it was a period piece and a tribute to gangster films, also so that it would be easier to pass off Curtis and Lemmon as women. Famous Australian-born designer Orry-Kelly worked on the costumes (winning the film an Oscar).

During filming, Monroe was as difficult as ever … Curtis did his best to disguise his irritation but Lemmon was sympathetic, trying to calm Monroe’s nerves.

But the result was screen magic. From the moment Monroe sashays past Lemmon at a train station causing him to utter ‘That’s just like Jell-O on springs’ the farce hardly ever lets up.

It won three Golden Globes, an Oscar and a BAFTA and made bigger stars of Curtis and Lemmon, but was arguably Monroe’s last truly great role.”

Blandon Carpenter Remembers Marilyn in Korea

Marilyn in Korea, 1954

Despite her glamorous appearance, Marilyn required no special treatment during her 1954 military tour of Korea.  Nonetheless, U.S. troops did their utmost to make their special guest comfortable throughout her stay, as this amusing tale from the Reading Eagle reveals.

“When Marilyn Monroe visited American troops in Korea in 1954, Arthur ‘Kip’ Bowers of Blandon was tasked with providing the movie star a key necessity.

‘I’m the only carpenter in the United States that built Marilyn Monroe an outside toilet,’ Bowers said. ‘She needed her own private toilet. We had no facilities and I’m a damn good carpenter.’

Bowers, 87, told that story Thursday immediately after receiving the Korean Ambassador for Peace Medal at the Paul R. Gordon Veteran Social Center in Reading, PA.

Bowers used his job as an Army military police officer to get the wood by setting up a speed trap and stopping Army vehicles.

‘Every guy that was carrying water I stopped if he was over 50 miles an hour,’ Bowers explained. ‘And I said we can do this two ways … I was as straight a cop as could be, but in this case, I needed lumber … I said we can take one of your stripes or you can bring me a load of lumber. Every one of them brought me a load of lumber.’

After the latrine was built, there was a lot of wood left over and Bowers’ skills were proved. He was moved from MP to carpenter for the rest of his service.”

UPDATE: Another memory from Bowers is quoted on the WFMZ website. “She came to put on a show,” he told fellow veterans. “She swung her hip two feet this way and hit me on the head, and then she swung two feet the other way and hit my buddy.”

When Marilyn Came to Forest Hills

In an article for Forest Hills Connection, Ann Kessler looks back at Marilyn’s week-long stay in the Washington suburb while husband Arthur Miller was on trial for contempt of Congress in May 1957.

“Monroe wanted to support her husband by coming to DC, but didn’t want to stay at a hotel where she would be constantly mobbed by the press and fans. For that same reason she couldn’t actually attend any of the court sessions.

Miller contacted his lawyer, Joseph L. Rauh, Jr., a widely respected civil rights attorney and co-founder of the Americans for Democratic Action, to ask his suggestions for housing in DC. Joe Rauh invited Miller and Marilyn to stay on the sofa bed in the den of his house at 3625 Appleton Street NW. The next day Rauh’s son Carl, a junior at Wilson High School, drove to Union Station to pick up a woman ‘wearing a dark wig, a head scarf, and sunglasses.’ That was Marilyn Monroe.

Monroe spent the next week at Rauh’s house with Olie Rauh, Joe’s wife. She bicycled around the neighborhood (wearing sunglasses and pedal pushers), sat at the Rauhs’ backyard pool, read books and followed the trial as closely as she could from afar. The neighbors had no idea that Monroe was still present, having assumed she had only briefly visited the Rauhs. In reality, Monroe and Miller had left the Rauh home and then returned for their extended stay.

On the last day of her week’s visit someone tipped an Evening Star reporter to Monroe’s presence and the lawn was soon full of representatives of the press. Monroe held a brief news conference. When asked what she thought of Washington, she said, ‘I love your city. I think it’s the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. I’ve never been here before.’ Soon after, Monroe and her husband, as scheduled, left for Union Station to catch a train to New York.”