Fox News Gets ‘Scandalous’ With Marilyn

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.

Elle Fanning Brings Marilyn to ‘The Tonight Show’

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…

Elle in Versace, 2017

“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.”

Badman’s Marilyn Bio Set for TV Dramatisation

British author Keith Badman’s 2010 book, The Final Years Of Marilyn Monroe, is being adapted for television, Variety reports. While the book contained some valuable research, there were also some parts I felt were flawed (you can read my review here.)

“The final months of Marilyn Monroe’s life are set to be dramatized in a new series from BBC Studios that will explore her relationship with Hollywood studios and with public figures such as JFK and Bobby Kennedy.

BBC Studios, the BBC’s production and commercial arm, has teamed up with Dan Sefton and Simon Lupton’s U.K. indie producer Seven Seas Films to develop the new show. It has the working tile The Last Days of Marilyn Monroe and will be based on parts of Keith Badman’s book The Final Years of Marilyn Monroe: The Shocking True Story.

Monroe, who died in 1962 at age 36, remains the subject of enduring fascination. The producers said the series would cover a period in which her behavior became increasingly erratic as her dependence on alcohol and medication caused her glittering film career to plunge.

Sefton – whose credits include Jodie Whittaker series Trust Me, ITV drama The Good Karma Hospital, and Sky comedy Delicious – will pen the series. ‘Marilyn’s desire to be taken seriously as an actress and her battle with the powerful men who control the studio system is sadly as relevant today as it ever was,’ Sefton said.

Badman’s book tells Monroe’s story from various perspectives. The series will adopt a similar approach … No broadcaster or platform is attached to the project, but the writing and producing team, and proven source material about an enduring icon, make for a strong package, with U.S. and international appeal.”

‘As Young As You Feel’ On UK TV

One of Marilyn’s earliest films, As Young As You Feel (1951) will be screened on the UK’s Talking Pictures channel tomorrow (Tuesday, April 2) at 6 pm. Monty Woolley stars as John R. Hodges, who defies mandatory retirement by posing as the company president. Marilyn has a minor role as Harriet, secretary to Hodges’ boss (Albert Dekker.) Jean Peters, Thelma Ritter and David Wayne – all of whom Marilyn would work with again – are among the supporting cast. Veteran actress Constance Bennett, who also appeared in this light comedy, later reflected on Monroe’s famous curves: “There’s a broad with her future behind her.

Thanks to Paul at Marilyn Remembered

‘Some Like It Hot’ On TV

Tina Louise as ‘Candy’, with Joan Shawlee reprising her role as Sweet Sue

Over at the Marilyn Remembered blog, Lorraine Nicol has contributed several excellent posts to celebrate 60 years of Some Like It Hot – including a tribute to Billy Wilder, a look behind the scenes, how it fared on the awards circuit, and this intriguing piece about a television pilot for a nixed spin-off series.

“With the ever increasing popularity of television, it’s no surprise that The Mirisch Company would try and turn their most successful film: Some Like It Hot into a ongoing television series.

The series would focus on the mishaps and adventures that Joe and Jerry would face in their new identities, trying to recreate the magic that was created on film by bringing it into peoples homes and television sets throughout the year.

The premise of the show was this: Joe and Jerry (Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon reprising their roles for the pilot) are still on the run from the mob, so they decide to up their game and go under the knife for a complete facial transformation (enter the two new actors playing Joe and Jerry: Vic Damone and Dick Patterson.)

There is no mention of Sugar in the pilot, she has been replaced by a character called Candy Collins (Tina Louise). Collins is Studs Columbo’s moll who eventually falls for Joe after he reveals his true identity to her … The pilot was shot at NBC studios in mid March 1961 and quickly vanished into thin air.”

Barbara Eden Remembers Marilyn

Actress Barbara Eden is best-known for her zany role in the 1960s sitcom, I Dream Of Jeannie. She also starred in the TV spin-off of How to Marry a Millionaire, which ran from 1957-59.  Her ditzy character, ‘Loco Jones’, was a blend of the roles played by Marilyn and Betty Grable in the 1953 movie. And as Barbara revealed in a recent interview for Studio 10, she would later meet Marilyn in the flesh.

Marilyn and her stand-in, Evelyn Moriarty

“She eventually met Monroe, as they both shared the same stand-in – Evelyn Moriarty. Recalling the meeting, Eden said: ‘Marilyn was over there doing wardrobe tests. I’m standing there with [Evelyn], and Marilyn came out and [Evelyn] said, “Marilyn, I want you to meet my other star”.’

Monroe was filming her last movie at the time and Evelyn later confided in Barbara following the famous actress’ death, claiming she never believed the reports at the time.

‘Evelyn said, ‘”She would never take her own life”. I just feel it was probably an accident,’ Eden said. ‘She wanted to get to sleep, and took too many [pills]… I hope that’s what it was.'”

Beverley Owen 1937-2019

Beverley Owen, the first actress to play Marilyn Munster in TV’s The Munsters, has died aged 81. Born in Iowa, Beverley studied with the prestigious acting teacher Sanford Meisner and completed a degree at the University of Michigan before landing a role in the classic sitcom in 1964.

Named after Marilyn Monroe (who had died two years before), Marilyn Munster was a cousin to the ghoulish Munster clan. Although a beauty by conventional standards (Beverley donned a blonde wig for the part), she is an object of pity among her oddball relatives, who consider her hopelessly plain. Nonetheless, Marilyn adores them and seems unaware of their strangeness.

Unfortunately, the show was not a happy experience for Beverley, who was pushed into it as part of her studio contract. She also desperately missed her fiance in New York. She was let go after fourteen episodes and replaced by Pat Priest. Later that year, Beverley married the writer and producer Jon Stone, and they had two daughters before divorcing in 1974.

Beverley gained a master’s degree in Early American Studies in 1989. She remained close to actor Fred Gwynne (who played Herman Munster) and attended a 25th anniversary celebration of the show.

Why Marilyn and the BBC’s Iconic Women Lost Out

The BBC documentary series, Icons: The Story of the 20th Century, has concluded with viewers voting the code-breaking British scientist Alan Turing the overall winner. Marilyn came second to David Bowie in the entertainment category, but as several commentators have noted, none of the female candidates – including Marie Curie, Emmeline Pankhurst, and Virginia Woolf, among other luminaries – made it to the final round.

“The gender-challenged outcome came despite efforts from a range of experts to push women in their field. This, incidentally, is a tactic favoured by the authors of a Harvard Business School (HBS) report about the pitfalls of consumer voting: namely, using a ‘curated list’ to ensure choices aren’t biased in the first instance.

Viewers, however, were not to be swayed … although actress Kathleen Turner suggested either Marilyn Monroe or Billie Holiday could triumph over Charlie Chaplin or David Bowie, it was the man from Brixton who won the entertainers’ subset.

Does this mean TV executives should halt the public vote in an attempt to save face? Roger Mosey, who has held many top jobs at the BBC, including editorial director and director of sport, thinks not. ‘Programmers like interactivity and think it’s great to get people involved.’ But he warns that it’s ‘very, very hard to control a vote’, especially in the age of social media because the temptation to ‘have a laugh and subvert votes even more’ can be too great to resist.

In the case of BBC Icons, it isn’t clear whether more men voted than women; a spokesperson declined to reveal a gender split – or, indeed, any further details about the poll. Which isn’t to suggest that women would automatically vote for a female candidate … Mosey suggests that, perhaps, the show was simply flawed.

‘The problem with Icons is that it’s a not very good remake of Great Britons, made when Jane Root was the controller of BBC Two. The problem with Icons is you’re comparing lots of people who aren’t very alike really. They should have spotted that the whole series was a little bit on thin ice.'” – Susie Mesure, The Independent

“‘I wasn’t surprised,’ Clare [Balding]  said when asked by host, Strictly Come Dancing‘s Claudia Winkleman, about the lack of women. ‘I’m a bit disappointed, but not surprised because I think you can’t be an icon unless you are allowed to have the limelight. I think the 20th century largely was the history of men, told by men and women have started to find their voice and started to find their feet so that if we did this programme all of us back again in 50 years’ time, we’d be looking at people like Oprah Winfrey or J.K. Rowling. We’d be looking at Madonna or Beyoncé or Lady Gaga. We’d be looking at Serena Williams or Malala, Michelle Obama. I think there are so many women who have an influence in their sphere and outside it and they’re beginning to have an impact now, but almost the 20th century was too short. We need to be knocking into the 21st.'” – Digital Spy

“All of these women were disregarded in one way or another during their career, so it’s unbelievably disappointing to see a repeat pattern all these years later … The accolades of most of the women included in the BBC longlist are known to the majority of modern day people. Voters made a choice to ignore these women once again.

But blaming the average person isn’t the solution. Society is still clearly receiving the message that women’s achievements are nothing in comparison to men’s. Although a select group of people recognise this isn’t true, it’s the unconverted that need to be preached to. The people who still say female sports players aren’t as good as men. The young people who still grow up unable to name five prominent historical women off the top of their heads. The people who display everyday sexism without even realising.

The BBC’s programme may have started out with the best intentions, but the outcome was a sad reflection of society’s views. Changing those views isn’t going to be a quick process. It’s going to take months, maybe years, of government-funded campaigns, of media organisations bringing women to the forefront, and of average people pushing back against inequality.” – Lauren Sharkey, Bustle

Marilyn Entertains in BBC’s ‘Icons’

Last night, Marilyn was featured alongside Charlie Chaplin, Billie Holiday and David Bowie in the entertainment segment of the BBC series, Icons: The Story of the 20th Century. The episode was presented by actress Kathleen Turner, with biographer Sarah Churchwell and photographer Douglas Kirkland among the guests. Marilyn was nominated as an icon of glamour; or in Turner’s words, ‘the sex symbol who took on Hollywood.’

Her frank admission to having posed for a nude calendar, and later on her triumphant battle with Twentieth Century Fox and setting up her own production company, were cited as exemplifying her refusal to be bound by the limitations imposed on her by an industry which failed to recognise that she could have both brains and beauty. Sarah Churchwell praised her ability to spoof feminine stereotypes, with clips from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes showcasing her comedic skill.

The public vote was won by David Bowie, who will now be featured in the series finale. As noted in Mixmag, Marilyn came in second. Viewers in the UK (with a current TV licence) can watch the full episode here.

Thanks to Fraser Penney