Authentic Brands Group (ABG), the licensing company who acquired Marilyn’s estate in 2012, have authorised an adaptation of Keith Badman’s book, The Final Years of Marilyn Monroe, Deadline reports. This project was first announced in 2019 (see here) as a serial drama for BBC television. It’s not stated whether the Beeb is still involved, but Final Years will be co-produced by 101 Studios and the UK’s Seven Seas Films, with a screenplay by Dan Sefton (whose credits include The Good Karma Hospital.) As usual with the film industry, it is likely to be a long process; and with a non-fiction source, it differs from the upcoming Netflix biopic based on Joyce Carol Oates’ controversial novel, Blonde (due for release later this year.) Badman’s biography is worth reading, though not without its flaws – read my review here.
You can read my review of Arthur Miller – Writer, the intimate 2017 documentary made by his daughter Rebecca Miller, here.
UK viewers can enjoy an ad-free festive screening of Some Like It Hot on BBC2 at 3 pm this Monday, December 30, as part of a Billy Wilder double bill (preceded by The Apartment at 1 pm.) Andrew Collins, who penned this review for the Christmas Radio Times, profiled Marilyn for the same magazine back in 2011 (see here.)
Marilyn’s friendship with Ella Fitzgerald is featured tomorrow on the France 2 channel’s 8:30 p.m. Saturday, a magazine show presented by Laurent Delahousse. The story of Marilyn helping Ella to secure a nightclub engagement in Hollywood (as recalled by the great jazz singer after Marilyn’s death) has already been depicted in a stage play, a children’s book and even an episode of Drunk History. But although the respect and affection between them was genuine, a recent article by Dan Evon for Snopes suggests the facts are more complicated than they appear.
“This is a genuine photograph of Monroe and Fitzgerald. It’s also true that Monroe urged Mocambo’s owner Charlie Morrison to book Fitzgerald in 1955 … In sum, Fitzgerald was the not the first black singer to perform at the Mocambo. However, her performance at the West Hollywood hot spot would prove to be a breaking point in numerous ways.”
Yet another Kardashian sister made her love for Marilyn public this week, as Kylie Jenner recreated her ‘Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend’ look for Halloween. (Of course, unlike most of us when we party in fancy dress, Kylie had a stylist on call, as Elle reports.)
Looking onward to Christmas, singer Mariah Carey – arguably the doyenne of celebrity Monroe fans, and the owner of Norma Jeane’s white grand piano since the Christie’s sale of 1999 – has put her own sartorial stamp on another Travilla creation from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, wearing a red gown similar to Marilyn’s in the opening song, ‘Two Little Girls From Little Rock’, in a festive ad for Walker’s Crisps.
Incidentally, Marilyn’s original ‘Little Rock’ costume sold for $250,000 at Julien’s Auctions yesterday …
As Renee Zellweger brings Judy Garland back to the big screen, Indiewire’s writers have compiled a chronological list of the 12 Best Biopic Performances. Marilyn has been portrayed in numerous films and TV shows, but the results have rarely risen above the mediocre; partly because Marilyn is so distinctive (and familiar) that playing her convincingly would stump even the most gifted actress, but also because the scripts are so often inaccurate and sensationalized. I might have expected Michelle Williams’ award-winning turn in My Week With Marilyn (2011) to make the list, but blogger Kristen Lopez (Journeys in Classic Film) has chosen Kelli Garner’s performance in the TV mini-series, The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe (2015) instead. While Kelli managed quite well in her role, I would argue that the poor material undid her best efforts (you can read my review here.)
“I watch a lot of biopics, particularly those of the classic film era variety. And I’m often the first to admit how wrong they are. But whenever the question comes up about who gives the best performance in a biopic I always point to Kelli Garner’s turn as Marilyn Monroe in the underappreciated Lifetime movie, The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe. (Yes, it was on Lifetime, but no one stipulated these had to be theatrical.) Under the direction of Sherrybaby director Laurie Collyer, Garner’s portrayal of Monroe isn’t focused on the surface gimmicks of the actress as we know her. The physical resemblance between the two women is uncanny, but what Garner does is show how much of Monroe’s persona was an act. She inhabits the woman, not the actress, in a movie that wants to break down the myths and the wall that has been built up as part of the cult of Monroe. I don’t care who knows this, The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe will always be my go-to best biopic.”
The Fox News documentary series, Scandalous: The Death of Marilyn Monroe, has now concluded. While some viewers voiced concerns about sensationalism in the early episodes, most fans watching in the US seem satisfied by the verdict.
“I’m one of the experts interviewed for this three-part special on Marilyn Monroe,” historian Elisa Jordan says. “I’m pleased to be a part of something that gets closer to the truth about her death and debunks a lot of the ridiculous conspiracy theories surrounding her. If you happen to catch it, it’s worth watching. (And I would say that even if I weren’t in it.)”
Fellow contributor Donald McGovern, author of Murder Orthodoxies (reviewed here), has spoken about the dubious origins of conspiracy theories linking the Kennedy brothers to Marilyn’s untimely demise.
“‘The conspiracy theories about Marilyn’s death as they exist now. Did not exist in the 60’s. They grew exponentially from the 60’s to where we are now,’ said Donald McGovern, in the final episode of the Fox Nation series, Scandalous: The Death of Marilyn Monroe.
The documentary details how a right-wing writer [Frank Capell] the head of an anti-Communist group [Maurice Reis], and the first police officer to arrive on the scene of Monroe’s death [Jack Clemmons], conspired to point the finger at [Robert] Kennedy.
The three conspirators met in the months after Monroe’s death, and according to McGovern, ‘that’s when they first got the story from Reis about the Kennedy-Marilyn involvement.’ The show delves into the plan to push the narrative that Monroe did not die of a drug overdose, as the coroner had concluded, but that she was killed on orders from Kennedy.
Central to this scheme was the involvement of one very powerful New York gossip columnist. ‘Walter Winchell serialized what essentially was a theory. That Bobby Kennedy and Marilyn had had an affair and that Bobby Kennedy had Marilyn murdered. I don’t know that Winchell ever comes out and says that. But it’s insinuated,’ recounted McGovern.
The theories surrounding Monroe did not end there. They re-surfaced in the 1970’s, around the 10th anniversary of her death, when novelist Norman Mailer wrote an instant best-selling book, Marilyn: A Biography. In the final chapter of that book, Mailer turns the Capell-Reis-Clemmons conspiracy on its head and suggests that Monroe was killed by the conspirators.Fox News
Marilyn’s life and death is the subject of a new 3-part documentary in the Fox News Channel series, Scandalous. It began last night, and will continue over the next two Sundays. It’s being aired in the US and Australia, but not as yet in Europe. Interviewees include authors Gary Vitacco Robles, Charles Casillo, Donald McGovern and Keith Badman, plus Elisa Jordan of LA Woman Tours and photographer Larry Schiller and Leigh Weiner’s son Devik. This alone could make it worth watching, although fans have already complained about the use of Marilyn’s autopsy photo on both the show and tabloid coverage.
All About Eve and Niagara will be screened on US television as part of TCM’s Salute to Fox, airing on July 24 and again on July 31, Laughing Place reports.
Actress Elle Fanning paid sartorial tribute to MM yesterday on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, with Vogue‘s Christian Allaire praising her ‘campy’ style.
“Fanning wore a Pop Art creation from Loewe’s Pre-Fall 2019 collection, designed by Jonathan Anderson … Fanning chose his shirt and skirt combo, which was emblazoned with Andy Warhol–style portraits of the iconic Hollywood starlet Marilyn Monroe. The design certainly falls in line with the idea of camp: it sits at the intersection of fashion, art, and pop culture, with just a dash of visual excess. Yet, somehow, Fanning made the ensemble seem completely wearable …”
But as Emily Kirkpatrick notes on the New York Post‘s Page Six, this is only the latest instance of Elle’s fangirling for Marilyn…
“But that’s not the first time the SAG Award nominee has stepped out covered in her idol’s image. She also made an appearance at the 2017 InStyle Awards wearing a form-fitting dress from Versace’s spring 2018 collection covered in a Warhol print of the Hollywood legend, complete with matching footwear.
At the age of 7, Fanning even dressed up as the icon to attend the Dream Halloween Fundraiser for children affected by AIDS.
The Miu Miu ambassador’s preoccupation with Monroe even extends to her beauty cabinet. As she told Rookie magazine in 2011: ‘I went to an auction and got her face cream and powder. Her actual one … So I have that in my room. It’s literally the best thing ever. The lotion on it is sort of glued shut but the powder, some of it’s still in there.’
And Fanning’s love affair with the iconic starlet doesn’t end there. ‘Marilyn Monroe has been Fanning’s hero for about 15 years — most of her life,’ the actress’ June 2017 Vogue cover story reads. ‘She studies Marilyn’s interviews the way some study paintings by Cézanne. “You could always see the emotions that she was feeling … in her eyes,” she says. “She didn’t know how great she was.” She often wonders how Marilyn would have managed social media.’
The Teen Spirit star explained the origin of her fixation during a conversation with Scarlett Johansson for Interview magazine in 2014: “I was 7 when I first saw a picture of her. I didn’t know that she was such a big icon,” Fanning said. “But I would just look at her and I was mesmerized. She was beautiful and so … truthful. She’s not faking it. If she’s having a terrible day when the picture was taken, she’ll show that she’s really depressed and having a terrible day. You can see it in her eyes.”
Continued the Somewhere actress: “There are all the layers behind it. She not like, ‘Oh, let me just put on a smile.’ That year my dad got the DVD of The Seven Year Itch. I was probably way too young to watch it. I didn’t even know what the story was about, but I was just looking at her the whole time and the way she talked was so light. That year I was Monroe in the white dress for Halloween. It was interesting to me that she did mostly comedies but her life was so tragic.”