Kylie and Mariah Get Festive With Marilyn

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 …

Kelli Garner’s Marilyn Makes Biopic List

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.”

Marilyn, Bobby Kennedy and a ‘Scandalous’ Conspiracy

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

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.'”