After 36 years in business, a Marilyn-themed restaurant in Ontario, Canada is taking its final bow, as the Owen Sound Sun Times reports.
“Owner Julia Gendron said she had been considering an exit strategy from the restaurant industry for the past few years, but those plans were accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gendron’s late husband Rene and his business partner Gerry Gnaedig opened Norma Jean’s Bistro at 243 8th St. E. on a cold Jan. 6, 1984.
Gendron, who most people know as Julie, started working at the restaurant that same year and became a partner around 1990.
It was a last-minute decision to name the restaurant Norma Jean’s – the given name of Marilyn Monroe – and was chosen because Gnaedig’s wife was a fan of the iconic actress. The restaurant was decorated with photographs of Monroe and its menu also featured images of the actress, with sections on the bill of fare like Opening Acts and Red Carpet Favourites.
Gendron, in a letter to patrons that announces the restaurant’s closing, said some of the best times at Norma Jean’s included the rowdy New Year’s Eve parties, intimate family get-togethers and music nights ‘that would shake the windows.'”
June 1st, 2020 marks what would be Marilyn Monroe’s 94th birthday. On a personal note, it has also been ten years since I started this blog.
Artists Pegasus and Alejandro Mogollo both paid tribute, while superfan Megan Monroes has written a well-researched blog post listing 94 facts about MM, and a special edition of e-zine Crazy for You features a pictorial from Marilyn’s 34th birthday party on the Let’s Make Love set, 60 years ago.
Flowers were left at Marilyn’s graveside in Westwood Memorial Park by Scott Fortner (owner of the MM Collection) and the Los Angeles-based fan club, Marilyn Remembered.
A group of professional photographers have created isolation self-portraits for the Washingtonian. Among them, Jada Imani M took inspiration from Marilyn and the glamour of classic Hollywood (she also reminds me of the great Dorothy Dandridge here.)
“During this quarantine I have been faced with my own personal insecurities in relation to my appearance. I knew for a while I was not completely confident in my looks, but now I am forced to face my issues head on. I found some photos from a Marilyn Monroe calendar I was gifted years ago—ever since I was little, I knew Marilyn Monroe was one of the most beautiful women I had ever seen, a timeless beauty. Those photos inspired me to create this self-portrait series in a similar fashion and reminded me that I am a timeless beauty as well.”
The Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar has referenced Marilyn before – in Broken Embraces (2009), Lena, an actress played by Penelope Cruz, impersonates both Monroe and Audrey Hepburn (see my review here.)
Ten years on, Almodovar has once again called on his cinematic muses in Pain and Glory, chosen by Time magazine as its film of the year in 2019. Antonio Banderas plays Salvador Mallo, a filmmaker plagued by ill-health and depression. In one scene, actor Alberto Crespo (Asier Etxeandia) visits him at home. After they smoke heroin together, Salvador falls asleep and Alberto reads a document on his computer, entitled ‘Addiction’. As Alberto sits at Salvador’s desk, you may notice Donald Spoto’s 1992 book, Marilyn Monroe: The Biography, on the shelf behind him (to the left – open gallery below.)
Alberto then begins to read the text, and imagines performing it onstage. In it, Salvador remembered his first encounter with the magic of Hollywood, when he was a poor boy living in the Spanish village of Paterna.
“My idea of cinema was always linked to the breeze on summer nights. We only saw films in the summer. The films were projected on an enormous wall that had been whitewashed. I particularly remember the films where there was water: waterfalls, beaches, the bottom of the sea, rivers or springs. “
We then see a clip from Elia Kazan’s Splendour in the Grass (1961) projected onto an imaginary screen, with Natalie Wood swimming in a river. This image sparks an amusing memory…
“Just hearing the sound of water gave all the kids a tremendous desire to urinate and we did it right there, on both sides of the screen. In the cinemas of my childhood it always smells of piss, and of jasmine, and of the summer breeze.”
He then projects a seemingly rain-spattered clip of Marilyn in Niagara (1953), singing along to her favourite song, ‘Kiss’ (“Take me, take me in your arms…”)
Unlike the Natalie clip, however, in this one Marilyn goes full-screen, and the raindrops disappear. Salvador awakes, and asks what Alberto is doing. ‘Reading you,’ he replies. Salvador allows him to perform ‘Addiction’, so long as he remains anonymous. We then watch Alberto continue the story in a theatre, a blank screen behind him. A handsome man (played by Leonardo Sbaraglia) goes inside, and is moved to tears as Alberto re-enacts the story of Marcelo, Salvador’s lost lover from many years before.
“Under the whitewashed wall where the films of my childhood were projected. I prayed that nothing would happen to the leading ladies, but I didn’t succeed, neither with Natalie Wood or Marilyn. Then I tried to save Marcelo and myself. If Marcelo was saved, it was far away from me. As for me, I stayed in Madrid and the cinema saved me.”
It’s interesting that he gives Natalie Wood’s full name, but not Marilyn’s – perhaps because one need only say her first name for the audience to know who he means. In Splendour in the Grass, Natalie played a sensitive young woman who breaks down when forbidden to marry the boy she loves (Warren Beatty.) In Niagara, for the only time in her career, Marilyn played a woman who is murdered for her adulterous desires.
Both women seem out of their element. Splendour in the Grass (a line from a poem by W.B. Yeats) conjures the beauty of the land, but here we see our heroine in the water. Natalie, who was terrified of water, found the scene traumatic; and in 1981 (the same year in which Salvador and Marcelo’s affair began), Natalie died by drowning when she apparently fell from the deck of her husband Robert Wagner’s boat (named Splendour in her honour.)
Niagara is named after the famous waterfall, but Marilyn’s character Rose – with her hot pink dress and signature red lipstick, singing of lust – seems more akin to fire. Marilyn also died before her time, and like Marcelo, she had battled addiction. In her first film – Scudda Hoo! Scudda Hay, in which a nine-year-old Natalie starred – Marilyn’s tiny role was mostly cut, but the two women would meet again, just days before Marilyn died in 1962, when Natalie attended a party with her Splendour co-star, Warren Beatty (see here.)
Earlier that year, Natalie had spoken to Redbook‘s Alan Levy about Marilyn, and her words echo Salvador’s wish to protect them both.
“When you look at Marilyn on the screen, you don’t want anything bad to happen to her. You really care that she should be all right … happy.”
David Crow digs deep into the ‘Diamonds’ homage in Birds of Prey, the new Harley Quinn movie produced by and starring Margot Robbie, over at Den of Geek.
“Robbie’s Marilyn Monroe homage has been at the center of Warner Brothers’ Birds of Prey marketing, from trailers to official clips. After all, what else says this ain’t your typical superhero movie than a ‘50s inspired musical number? And while it’s only a brief sequence in the finished film, it’s also one of the movie’s best moments. Tied up at the nightclub owned by Roman Sionis, the villainous Black Mask (Ewan McGregor), Harley has been captured simply because he believes she’s more vulnerable after her breakup with the Joker…
But Harley is neither silly or in need of protection. She quickly realizes that Black Mask is after a MacGuffin of great importance—a diamond, in fact—and Harley will be just the gal to retrieve it for him. Because Harley is resourceful, Harley is smart… and Harley is also a wee bit nuts. Hence when Sionis smacks her in the face, Harley vanishes into a musical fantasy where she gets to go into full Marilyn mode, vamping in pink attire and bejeweled accessories while singing ‘Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend.’ McGregor even shows up in the fantasy to dance along before shooting up the scene much too quickly.
But this is more than just an homage to a Marilyn Monroe scene or the abject cynicism of her song …. In the original movie, the song is a third act statement of intent by Monroe’s character, Lorelei Lee … Breaking into Hollywood because of her beauty and sudden success as a pin-up model during World War II, Monroe eventually signed multiple contracts with Fox before she became the defining image of a 20th century blonde bombshell and movie star sex symbol.
She didn’t necessarily want to be that—or certainly only that. Having a contentious relationship with studio head Daryl F. Zanuck, who disliked Monroe and her desire to be more than the dumb blonde gold digger in musical comedies, she was suspended in 1954 for refusing to do The Girl in Pink Tights. She eventually made up with Fox, but she also started her own production company, Marilyn Monroe Productions …
During this era, Monroe also struggled in her private life, including her marriage to Joe DiMaggio, the world famous baseball player …. Again the press took a disdainful sniff at the movie star who let the strong man get away—just as they sneered when she then married intellectual playwright Arthur Miller.
… The story of Monroe’s fight for credibility, both in association with 20th Century Fox or with Joe DiMaggio, and away from these men, is the kind of real world struggle Birds of Prey strives to reflect, even in its gonzo funhouse mirror … everyone, including other women, define Harley by her relationships to men, and view her to be, as one man says early in the film, ‘a dumb slut.’ These insults are hurled even though she has a PhD and, as she displays throughout the film, a rather quick witted intellect in which she can psychoanalyze her friends and foes alike.
Through it all, she struggled for legitimacy and respect as an actress when executives were content to just see her singing ‘Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend’: a male fantasy in which a beautiful woman purports the only thing she wants in this world are the presents powerful men can bestow on her. In her lifetime, Monroe was likewise defined by the men in her life and what they could give her …
Nevertheless, playing that game gave Monroe the tools to eventually make movies she was proud of, like Bus Stop, and to form her own production company—which was a crack in Fox’s power over her and another crack in the slowly crumbling Hollywood studio system…
That is exactly what Margot Robbie did after she realized the potential of the Harley Quinn character. Perfectly cast as the jester moll, Robbie’s Harley was the sole redeeming quality of Suicide Squad (2016), even as director David Ayer’s camera seemed to most value her for all the lingering shots of her skintight (or nonexistent) clothing. Nonetheless, Suicide Squad gave Robbie a lot more clout as a producer …
Robbie herself revealed last year that she actually loathes when journalists, usually men, describe her as a bombshell. ‘I hate that word,’ Robbie told Vogue in June. ‘I hate it — so much. I feel like a brat saying that because there are worse things, but I’m not a bombshell.’
One might suspect that in her time, Monroe thought similarly as Fox kept trying to cast her in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes type roles … But using the tools Monroe pioneered, Robbie is able to take preconceptions audiences might have for her, or for Harley Quinn after Suicide Squad, and blow them away.”
As Birds of Prey (and the Fabulous Emancipation of Harley Quinn) hits big screens worldwide, Insider‘s Kirsten Acuna gives some insight into leading lady Margot Robbie’s Marilyn moment (to the tune of Normani and Megan Thee Stallion’s ‘Diamonds‘.)
“During the film, Harley is seen dressed as Marilyn Monroe’s character from 1953’s Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. The big change here is that Quinn has an updated version of the gown with pants instead.
Costume designer Erin Benach told Insider they almost did a completely different outfit for Quinn here.
‘It wasn’t even really on the page or decided amongst us that it would be the same Marilyn outfit,’ said Benach. ‘There were talks of it being something totally different and new, like way more Harley.’
The idea to transform the iconic look and update it came to Benach while in a research library.
‘I remember the moment where I just went, “Oh my God, the best idea is just to take the exact Marilyn outfit and put her in pants. Turn it into pants,”‘ said Benach. ‘It was just a light bulb moment. It hit and I told [director] Cathy [Yan] and Cathy was like, “Brilliant. Done. Do it.”‘
In what is becoming a fine Aussie tradition, 270 Monroe lookalikes once again took part in the annual Marilyn Jetty Swim in the Brighton Jetty yesterday, in aid of Cancer Council SA, as 7 News Adelaide reports.
After launching a limited edition Marilyn figurine in their Hollywood store last year (see here), Funko Pop have announced a new model inspired by The Seven Year Itch to be launched this Spring as Sean Fallon reports for the Comic Book website. The black-and-white version, due in May, is also limited edition (pre-order here), but the colour doll will be mass-produced, and is available in April (pre-order here.)
After a long campaign by Rep. Tony Cardenas, President Donald Trump has signed off a bill under which the Van Nuys Civic Center postal depot at 6531 Van Nuys Blvd. will be named the ‘Marilyn Monroe Post Office,’ as Ryan Carter reports for the Los Angeles Daily News.