In the final instalment of Love Magazine‘s Advent series, supermodel Kate Upton – whose blonde hair and voluptuous curves have been compared to Marilyn’s – sips champagne and frolics in lingerie to the soundtrack of ‘Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend’. However, the short video, directed by Doug Inglish, owes more to the cheeky aesthetic of The Benny Hill Show than the glamour of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Judge for yourself here.
In January, exhibitions featuring Milton Greene and Douglas Kirkland’s photographs of Marilyn opened in London and Amsterdam. In New York, the Museum of Modern Art paid tribute to Marilyn’s choreographer, Jack Cole. Also this month, James Turiello’s book, Marilyn: The Quest for an Oscar, was published. And Edward Parone, assistant producer of The Misfits, died.
In February, Marilyn ‘starred’ with Willem Dafoe in a Snickers commercial for the US Superbowl. Monroe Sixer Jimmy Collins’ candid photographs were sold at Heritage Auctions, and the touring exhibition, Marilyn: Celebrating an American Icon, came to Albury, Australia.
Another major Australian exhibition, Twentieth Century Fox Presents Marilyn Monroe, featuring the collections of Debbie Reynolds, Scott Fortner, Greg Schreiner and Maite Minguez Ricart – opened at the Bendigo Art Gallery in March. And Barbara Sichtermann’s book, Marilyn Monroe: Myth and Muse, was published in Germany.
In April, a special edition of Vanity Fair magazine – dedicated to MM – was published. A campaign to save Rockhaven, the former women’s sanitarium where Marilyn’s mother Gladys once lived – was launched. And actress Anne Jackson – wife of Eli Wallach, and friend to Marilyn – passed away.
In May, Marilyn graced the cover of a Life magazine special about ‘hidden Hollywood’, and Sebastien Cauchon’s novel, Marilyn 1962, was published in France. Cabaret singer Marissa Mulder’s one-woman show, Marilyn in Fragments, opened in New York, while Chinese artist Chen Ke unveiled Dream-Dew, a series of paintings inspired by Marilyn’s life story. The remarkable collection of David Gainsborough Roberts was displayed in London. Finally, Alan Young – the comedian and Mister Ed star, who befriended a young Marilyn – died.
June 1st marked what would be Marilyn’s 90th birthday. Also in June, New Yorkers were treated to an Andre de Dienes retrospective, Marilyn and the California Girls. An exhibition of the Ted Stampfer collection, Marilyn Monroe: The Woman Behind the Myth, opened in Turin, Italy. A new documentary, Artists in Love: Arthur Miller and Marilyn Monroe, was broadcast in the UK, while Australia honoured Marilyn with a commemorative stamp folder, and genealogists investigated Marilyn’s Scottish ancestry.
In July, the birthday celebrations continued in Marilyn’s Los Angeles hometown with tributes from painter David Bromley, and another Greene exhibition. A new musical, Marilyn!, opened in Glendale. Rapper Frank Ocean appeared alongside a Monroe impersonator in a Calvin Klein commercial. And Marni Nixon, the Hollywood soprano who sang the opening bars of ‘Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend’, passed away.
August 5th marked the 54th anniversary of Marilyn’s death. Also this month, it was announced that Seward Johnson’s ‘Forever Marilyn’ sculpture may return permanently to Palm Springs. April VeVea’s Marilyn Monroe: A Day in the Life was published, and Marilyn’s role in Niagara was featured in another Life magazine special, celebrating 75 years of film noir.
In September, Marilyn: Character Not Image – an exhibition curated by Whoopi Goldberg – opened in New Jersey. Terry Johnson’s fantasy play, Insignificance, was revived in Wales. Two locks of Marilyn’s hair were sold by Julien’s Auctions for $70,000. And author Michelle Morgan published The Marilyn Journal, first in a series of books chronicling the Marilyn Lives Society; and A Girl Called Pearl, a novel for children with a Monroe connection.
In October, Happy Birthday Marilyn – a touring showcase for the collection of Ted Stampfer – came to Amsterdam, while Marilyn: I Wanna Be Loved By You, a retrospective for some of her best photographers, opened in France. Marilyn Forever, Boze Hadleigh’s book of quotes, was published. Marilyn’s friendship with Ella Fitzgerald was depicted on the cult TV show, Drunk History. And on a sadder note, photographer George Barris, biographer John Gilmore, and William Morris agent Norman Brokaw all passed away this month.
In November, Marilyn’s ‘Happy Birthday Mr President‘ dress was sold for a record-breaking $4.8 million during a three-day sale at Julien’s Auctions, featuring items from the David Gainsborough Roberts collection, the Lee Strasberg estate, and many others including the candid photos of Monroe Sixer Frieda Hull. Also this month, comedienne Rachel Bloom spoofed ‘Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend’ in a musical sequence for her TV sitcom, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. And Marilyn Monroe: Lost Photo Collection, a limited edition book featuring images by Milton Greene, Gene Lester and Allan ‘Whitey’ Snyder, was published.
Finally, in December the EYE Film Institute began a Marilyn movie season in Amsterdam. The Asphalt Jungle was released on Blu-Ray by Criterion. And actresses Zsa Zsa Gabor and Debbie Reynolds both passed away.
Leon Russell, the revered Oklahoma-born musician and singer-songwriter whose career spanned more than fifty years, died earlier this month aged 74. Best known for hits like ‘Delta Lady’ and ‘A Song For You’, he worked with Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones, and more recently made an album with Elton John.
His 1978 solo album, Americana, includes a track called ‘Elvis and Marilyn’, which was also a single. You can listen to it on Spotify.
Comedienne Rachel Bloom has spoofed a classic Marilyn moment from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes in an episode of her musical sitcom, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (in which she plays Rebecca, a woman in the thrall of romantic delusions), reports the Los Angeles Times. You can watch the scene (from Season 2, Episode 3) in full here.
“‘There was kind of a self-indulgent hubris, where she truly thinks she has two men in love with her,’ said Bloom of her quest to capture the sound of that romantic delusion musically. ‘She thinks she is the center of everything. That’s Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend. That’s Marilyn Monroe. That’s a ’40s song where you’re surrounded by boys.’
So when inspiration struck, she did what any good songwriter on a deadline would do: She reached for her laptop that sat on her bamboo bath caddy and started jotting down lyrics.
It wasn’t long before the show’s music producer, Adam Schlesinger, received a voicemail with Bloom’s bare-bones rendition of this week’s big musical number, ‘The Math of Love Triangles’, which finds Rebecca cooing in a baby-doll voice — a la Monroe in ‘Diamonds’ — about what a hardship it is to have two guys in love with her.
‘The hardest part of writing these songs is landing on the specific idea,’ Bloom said. ‘Once we’ve landed on it, then stuff starts rolling. And there’s editing and there’s tweaking and there’s rewriting. But there’s a kind of rolling down the hill that you feel once you hit on the right comedy premise.’
And a bit of creativity is sometimes needed when trying to get certain aspects of those premises to pass Broadcast Standards and Practices. For example, with The Math of Love Triangles, the line, ‘Are you erect?’ could only pass muster if Bloom’s Rebecca was physically adjusting the posture of a dancer.
On the day of production of The Math of Love Triangles, Bloom was concerned that she might be revealing too much side boob because of her blue strapless gown or that the male dancers should be more expressive with their facial reactions.
After a take was complete, she slipped out of her character’s strappy heels and into some slippers to watch a playback.
‘I think it’s great,’ Bloom said. ‘It all came together!'”
On November 5, 1953, Marilyn’s ascent to the heights of stardom was marked by two very different events. Firstly, as the Los Angeles Times notes today, How to Marry a Millionaire was released in the US (on the morning after Marilyn dazzled fans at the Hollywood premiere.) Secondly, the town of Monroe, New York was temporarily renamed.
“Mayor Charles B. Knight signed a proclamation declaring that the name of the town be changed to ‘Marilyn Monroe, New York’ for one day,” writes Immortal Marilyn member Kimberley. “Marilyn was invited with high hopes to participate, and may have attended had she not been receiving an award in Hollywood. There was a parade down the main street with local officials along with several school bands playing songs.”
“The official celebration included a sign proclaiming ‘Entering Marilyn Monroe, New York’, and sported a lifesize cutout of the actress. A special cover envelope was stamped proclaiming the one day change, which became a very popular collectable.”
A statue of Marilyn has been stolen in New Zealand, as Meghan Lawrence reports for Auckland Now. (Marilyn-related art thefts are not uncommon: an English statue was stolen in 2011, while a Canadian mural vanished in 2014, and was found in a dumpster two weeks later. Sadly, it was stolen again in 2015.)
“Farm Cove’s iconic mascot has gone walkabout.
A six-foot tall (1.82m) statue of Marilyn Monroe was taken from a Fisher Parade residence in East Auckland on the night of October 13.
Maria Ross says the statue is part of a collection of rock n’ roll and pop-culture memorabilia that decorates her home. Ross purchased the statue of Marilyn Monroe a year ago, after she had been looking to add the American actress to her collection for a number of years.
She has stood in the front garden ever since, for passersby to bask in her glory.
‘She was loved and admired by all. Some more than others,’ she says. ‘People who drive past will stop and take photos with her. It’s so cool because you get to know the neighbourhood. She is just famous in Farm Cove.’
Ross says she’s ‘really gutted’ that the statue was stolen, but there would be no questions asked if she was returned.
‘I do believe someone is going to see her. There is not a lot of them in New Zealand. I think there is only one other, so it will stand out like a sore thumb.’
‘It would just be so awesome if she was returned.'”
UPDATE: The statue has now been returned almost two months after its disappearance – albeit a little worse for wear, reports the Auckland Times.
“The statue of Marilyn Monroe, a former Hollywood screen siren and model, stands at more than 1.8m (6 feet) and weighs around 80kg.
‘It would have taken two or more people to get her into a truck or trailer,’ she said.
On Sunday night Ms Ross posted on social media: ‘OMG!!!!! Marilyn was dropped off tonight and as promised…No Questions Asked!!’
‘Reward Requested and I paid it.’
She said the statue was a little bit worse for wear, with eyelashes cut off and a ‘few cuts n bruises’.
‘She is split down one side. They have obviously dropped her,’ Ms Ross said.”
Singer Ariana Grande, who has shown her love for Marilyn on Twitter and wore a Travilla-inspired dress to this year’s MTV Awards, performed a soulful cover of ‘Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend’ in Beverly Hills last week at a party for diamond manufacturer Tiffany’s (who are, of course, name-checked in the song), reports Harper’s Bazaar.
George Barris, one of the last photographers to work with Marilyn, has died aged 94, Mike Barnes writes for the Hollywood Reporter. His photos of Marilyn revisiting her childhood haunt of Santa Monica Beach, wearing a Mexican-style sweater over her bathing costume, are among the most natural and poignant images from her final days.
“George Barris, the photojournalist … died Friday at his home in Thousand Oaks, Calif., his daughter Caroline told The Hollywood Reporter. He was 94.
Barris and Monroe became friends after they met on the set of The Seven Year Itch (1955).
‘When I first saw her, I thought she was the most beautiful, fantastic person I’d ever met,’ Barris told the Los Angeles Daily News in 2012. ‘She completely knocked me off my feet.’
Barris photographed the actress on a windswept beach in Santa Monica on July 13, 1962, about three weeks before she was found dead of a drug overdose at age 36. He moved to France after her death and remained there for two decades.
A native of New York City, Barris enlisted in the U.S. Army and served in the office of public relations during World War II. He was Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower’s personal photographer for the welcoming Victory Parade in New York on June 19, 1945.
While on assignment for Cosmopolitan, Barris photographed Elizabeth Taylor while she filmed Cleopatra (1963) in Rome, and during his career he also shot such stars as Steve McQueen, Marlon Brando, Charlie Chaplin, Frank Sinatra, Clark Gable, Sophia Loren and Walt Disney. His daughter also said that he photographed Chubby Checker for the singer’s ‘The Twist’ record cover.”
A more detailed biography, including a full account of his work with Marilyn, is available on the Cursum Perficio website.
He first met and photographed Marilyn in 1954 in New York where she was on location for the film The Seven Year Itch , where they became friends.
He was one of the last photographers to take Marilyn in pictures, between June 29 and July 1, 1962:
- Friday 29 and Saturday 30, June, at Walter ‘Tim’ Leimert’s house, located 1506 Blue Jay Way, North Hollywood Hills
- Sunday 1st, July, last day of the session, last pictures. It took place at the Santa Monica beach, near the Lawfords’ house.
- Those pictures were to be published in Cosmopolitan magazine.
- Some of those pictures were published in 1973 in Norman Mailer’s biography, and most of them in the book he wrote with Gloria Steinem in 1986 (Marilyn: Norma Jeane).
- In 1995, he published Marilyn : Her Life in Her Own Words, whose text is composed of notes jotted after the picture sessions. Those notes should have produced an autobiography they had planned to write together.
After returning to California with his family, Mr Barris became a respected member of the Monroe fan community, as Leslie Kasperowicz reports for Immortal Marilyn.
“George Barris attended many Marilyn memorials and events and was one of the most accessible of Marilyn’s photographers to fans from around the world. He spoke frequently at the Memorial service held at Westwood and signed books and photos for fans at public and private events. Immortal Marilyn was honoured to have him present at several of our own events.
George leaves behind his daughter Caroline, who was also a frequent presence at Marilyn events, another daughter Stephanie, his wife Carla, and legions of Marilyn Monroe fans who have spent nearly 55 years appreciating his work and his willingness to lend us his ear and tell us his stories of that summer of 1962.”
The former Grauman’s Chinese Theatre – renamed TCL Chinese Theatre by new owners in 2013 – was at the centre of an online controversy this weekend, after photos emerged of merchandising carts placed outside, where the handprints of Marilyn, Jane Russell and other movie greats are immortalised in cement. In an article for the Hollywood Reporter, Chris Gardner explains how a fan-led social media campaign led to the carts being swiftly removed – let’s hope the decision is permanent.
“The removal comes after a dust-up on social media kick-started by notable Hollywood documentarian Alison Martino and her Vintage Los Angeles Facebook page, which posted a photo on Sept. 30 taken by Brian Donnelly. The image showed a retail structure selling inexpensive hats and T-shirts while covering iconic cement blocks lining Hollywood Boulevard in front of the theater.
The post generated more than 750 comments and 530 shares and was enough to launch a Change.org petition requesting the removal of the vendor carts from the forecourt, as well as a news story on Curbed Los Angeles. The petition, signed by more than 2,600 supporters as of Monday afternoon, called for the removal of the carts out of respect for Hollywood history and the millions of tourists who flock to the block each year.
While it can be assumed that TCL opted to move the retail structures following the controversy, it’s not confirmed because a rep for TCL Chinese Theatres declined comment. It remains unclear where the vendor carts will go, though a source indicated they may be relocated to the nearby Hollywood & Highland mall.
Martino offered to talk, telling The Hollywood Reporter that she drove to the block on Monday once she heard that the carts were no longer in place. ‘It’s unbelievable — power to the people,’ she said, crediting Donnelly with the original image and Elena Parker for launching the petition. ‘I’ve been operating the Vintage Los Angeles page for five years and I’ve never seen a reaction like this. The outcry and outrage grew really fast. My VLA community really took it to heart. It was their passion and perseverance that drove this. Social media is an incredible force.'”
Following the ‘Exhibiting Culture: Marilyn‘ program at LaTrobe University which accompanied the Marilyn: Celebrating an American Icon exhibit at MAMA Albury in Australia earlier this year, a Marilyn Monroe Symposium will be held at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image in Melbourne on November 12, with biographer Lois Banner as keynote speaker.
This Symposium creates a further outcome for the research undertaken by ten La Trobe University academics in preparation for Exhibiting Culture: Marilyn. Our interdisciplinary approach to the topic of Marilyn Monroe’s iconic status is unique. The intention of this Symposium is to go beyond nostalgia and offer a genuinely contemporary perspective on performance, celebrity and artistic response, as well as to make Marilyn provocative for us in our times.
Session 1: Keynote Address
9.30-11.00am The Cube, ACMI
Speaker: Professor Lois Banner
Morning tea: 11.00 – 11.30 am
Session 2: Matters of Performance
11.30am-1.00pm The Cube, ACMI
Felicity Collins; Margaret Hickey; Nicole Jenkins; Sofia Ahlberg
Lunch: 1.00 – 2.00 pm
Session 3: Image, Identity, Icon
2.00-3.30pm, The Cube, ACMI
Speakers: Sue Gillett, Kristian Haggblom, Terrie Waddell, Kevin Brianton
Afternoon tea: 3.30 – 4.00 pm
Session 4: Property, Power, Profession
4.00-5.30pm The Cube, ACMI
Tansy Curtin; Francine Rochford; Edgar Burns
Thanks to Marisa