Happy Thanksgiving!

“Film star Marilyn Monroe has a hug for 12-year-old Donald Thompson, a victim of Muscular Dystrophy.  Donald is holding Miss Monroe’s personal advance donation for the nation wide 1955 Thanksgiving week March of Muscular Dystrophy, sponsored by the Muscular Dystrophy Associations of America, Inc.  At the left is Jack Bostick, of Fort Worth, Texas, Vice President of the International Association of Firefighters, which is spearheading the drive beginning Monday. November 17, 1955 New York, New York, USA.”

Thanks to The Marilynette Lounge

‘The Girl’ and Eddie Fisher

“I have the biggest thing for Eddie Fisher…”

So says Marilyn Monroe as ‘The Girl’ in The Seven Year Itch (1955.) One of the most popular singers of the post-war era, Fisher’s career was later overshadowed by his messy love life (as Liz Smith noted in her column yesterday.)

He also starred with then-wife Elizabeth Taylor in Butterfield 8 (1960), and was the father of actress and novelist, Carrie Fisher (his daughter from a previous marriage to another movie star, Debbie Reynolds.)

Marilyn met Eddie Fisher for real at least once, in 1961, when he performed at The Sands, Las Vegas, alongside Frank Sinatra.

Fisher died last week in Berkley, California, of complications following hip surgery. He was 82.

Thanks to Robert Siney

Camel Racing in Virginia City

Rodeo scene, ‘The Misfits’

“These races started in 1960 when the San Francisco Chronicle and the Phoenix Sun challenged each other to a race. The winner was Hollywood director John Huston, who was filming The Misfits nearby. Two stars of the film, Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable, were among the spectators as camels ran a 100-yard dash through the middle of this Comstock Lode town.” – Wall Street Journal

(I suspect that this event may not have been quite so enjoyable for Marilyn, who like her character, Roslyn, was acutely sensitive to the welfare of animals.)

Usherette to the Stars


Marilyn with friends, comedian Milton Berle and singer Sammy Davis Jr, at the New York premiere of East of Eden (1955), a benefit for the Actor’s Studio.

Featured in Up From the Vault, an exhibition from the Warner Bros Photo Lab archives, running September 16 – December 30 at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, Los Angeles.

East of Eden, based on John Steinbeck’s novel and starring James Dean, was a Warners production, directed by another of Marilyn’s circle, Elia Kazan.

Marilyn herself appeared in just one Warners film, when the studio co-produced The Prince and the Showgirl (1957.)

Marilyn in Washington

Marilyn and Arthur Miller in Washington, 1957

“I recently traveled to Washington, DC for vacation, and visits to museums, monuments and even walking down the streets of the US capitol provided associations to Marilyn in varying ways. From Abraham Lincoln to Emilio Pucci, Marilyn’s connection to Washington is evident.”

Scott Fortner recounts his trip to Washington and mulls over the city’s long association with Marilyn, from her girlhood admiration for Abraham Lincoln to her controversial friendship with John F. Kennedy.

Marilyn herself visited Washington on at least one occasion, in May of 1957 with her husband, Arthur Miller, who was later convicted for contempt of Congress after refusing to name associates who had been Communist Party members.

Marilyn supported Miller throughout his trial, and the guilty verdict was repealed in 1958.

Vintage newsreel footage

Brigitte Bardot Remembers Marilyn

Brigitte Bardot in London, 1956

Brigitte Bardot, the iconic French ‘sex kitten’ of the 1950s and 60s, is one of the few actresses to come close to Marilyn Monroe’s impact in beauty and charm.

The two women met just once, in the ladies’ room of the Empire cinema, Leicester Square, London, at a Royal Command performance of The Battle of the River Plate on October 29, 1956, moments after Marilyn had been formally introduced to Queen Elizabeth II.

‘I stared at (MM) hungrily,’ Brigitte recalled in her 1995 autobiography, Initiales BB, admitting that she was too nervous to speak, and simply gazed at Marilyn’s reflection in the mirror. ‘I found her sublime. She was always for me what every woman, not only me, must dream to be. She was gorgeous, charming, fragile.’

Monroe, then 30, was filming The Prince and the Showgirl with Laurence Olivier. Bardot, at 22, was still on the cusp of fame, having appeared in seventeen films. Her big break came almost a year later, with the release of And God Created Woman.

Bardot retired from films in 1973, aged 39. Since then she has largely abandoned her glamorous image, devoting herself to campaigning for animal welfare. (Marilyn also loved animals and nature, and once told a reporter that she wanted ‘to grow old without facelifts’.)

Brigitte turns 76 later this month, and in recent years has come under fire for her uncompromising views on everything from immigration to homosexuality.

‘People reproach (Bardot) for still being alive, for putting out an image that they don’t want to see,’ Dominique Choulant, author of Brigitte Bardot: The Eternal Myth (2009) and CineMarilyn (2006), tells the Los Angeles Times today.

‘People abandon their icons as they get older,’ Choulant adds. ‘Every 10 years, there is an extraordinary actress who has a sexual impact on a new generation, someone who represents a new type of woman sexually.’ (Often, Choulant notes, they are iconic enough to become known by a single name: Marilyn. Bardot. Madonna. Angelina.)

‘I have a lot of things in common with Marilyn,’ Bardot wrote, ‘and she is very dear to my heart. Both of us had childish souls despite our starlet bodies, an intense sensitivity that can’t be hidden, a great need to be protected, a naivete! We stopped our careers at the same age, but, unfortunately, not in the same way.’

Marilyn at Georgia Tech, 1952

“Dear Helaine and Joe: My aunt worked for Coach Bobby Dodd of the Georgia Tech ‘Yellow Jackets’. Marilyn Monroe came to the university during his tenure and gave him an autographed picture of her wearing a Georgia Tech sweater. The signature reads ‘Best Wishes to Coach Dodd’ and is signed ‘Marilyn Monroe.’ Dodd gave the photo to my aunt. What is it worth? Thank you. — V.C., Augusta, Ga.

Dear V.C.: When presented with a signed Marilyn Monroe photograph, there is always a question about whether she herself signed it. In most instances, genuine signatures were signed in red — but there are exceptions, and we believe this is one of those.”

Seattle Times

Marilyn to Feature in Khrushchev Movie

Listening to Khrushchev, September 1959

Paul Giamatti will star in a new HBO movie, to be produced by Tom Hanks, about Soviet President Nikita Khrushchev’s trip to the US in 1959. Based on a 2009 book by Peter Carlson, K Blows Top is named after a New York Daily News headline, penned after the premier’s desired visit to Disneyland was unceremoniously cancelled.

Khrushchev may not have met Mickey Mouse, but he did go to Hollywood and was introduced to Marilyn Monroe at a star-studded luncheon at Twentieth Century Fox. Which has to be an improvement, don’t you think?

“The lunch over, Skouras led his new friend toward the soundstage where Can-Can was being filmed, stopping to greet various celebrities along the way. When Skouras spotted Marilyn Monroe in the crowd, he hastened to introduce her to the premier, who’d seen a huge close-up of her face—a clip from Some Like It Hot—in a film about American life at an American exhibition in Moscow. Now, Khrushchev shook her hand and looked her over.

‘You’re a very lovely young lady,’ he said, smiling.

Later, she would reveal what it was like to be eyeballed by the dictator: ‘He looked at me the way a man looks on a woman.’ At the time, she reacted to his stare by casually informing him that she was married.

‘My husband, Arthur Miller, sends you his greeting,’ she replied. ‘There should be more of this kind of thing. It would help both our countries understand each other.'”

Extract from K Blows Top in Smithsonian Magazine

Vintage newspaper articles from The Los Angeles Times

Vintage newsreel footage

Marilyn On This Day: July 14, 1956

Marilyn arrived at London Airport with husband Arthur Miller. They were met by another famous couple, Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh. Monroe was preparing to film The Prince and the Showgirl with Olivier as director and co-star.

The former London Airport in Croydon, Surrey, is one of the few MM-related sites I have visited (or, to be more accurate, driven by!)

Vintage Newsreel