Among those who attended the opening night of the Marilyn exhibit at Blancpain in Manhattan this week was Australian actress Naomi Watts, who shot to fame as a fragile Hollywood starlet in David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive (2001), and was the initial favourite to play Marilyn in filmmaker Andrew Dominik’s long-mooted adaptation of Joyce Carol Oates’ Blonde. After nearly a decade’s gestation, the film went into production this year with Ana de Armas in the lead role. Nonetheless, Naomi’s love for Marilyn is still strong, as she told Fashion Week Daily after arriving at Blancpain yesterday.
“Why did you want to be a part of tonight?
A New York night. Like any actress, I’m fascinated by Marilyn’s story.
What are your first memories of her?
I think she was there before I saw her films because she was everywhere. I was probably too young to know the films. She was just a glamour symbol. Then as I got to see her on film and then become an actor and get inside of her story. It was a wonderful discovery. Some of her work in the later part of her life was particularly extraordinary. Knowing what she had gone through as well. She was one of a kind.
Did you ever have any desire to play her in a biopic?
There was a moment where I nearly did quite a while ago. I’m too old now. I’m aged out. Yes, it was something I considered and I was talking to a filmmaker for a period of time. It was a dark piece.
Do you have a favorite Marilyn Monroe movie?
The Misfits. I love the rawness of that. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is another. The Seven Year Itch! There are so many!”
The polka dot dress worn by Marilyn for her grand entrance in The Seven Year Itch, plus a replica of the ‘subway scene’ dress (worn by Mira Sorvino in the 1996 TV mini-series, Norma Jeane and Marilyn), as well as Travilla’s other iconic designs for MM in Bus Stop and the ‘Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend’ number from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, will be on display as part of a free exhibition showcasing the Gene London Collection at the Eastview Mall in Victor, New York from September 24-October 8, the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle reports.
The new 4K print of Some Like It Hot – restored by Park Circus in association with MGM and Criterion – will have its UK premiere at the Curzon Mayfair on October 13 at 12:30 pm, as part of this year’s London Film Festival.
In a fascinating blog post, MM fan Simone Esther looks at Marilyn’s conversion to Judaism in 1956 in the context of a lifelong spiritual journey.
“Norma Jeane’s interest in [Christian Science] drastically subsided when Aunt Ana tragically died of heart failure in 1948, but with her natural intellect and eager curiosity it did not take long for an interest in psychoanalysis and philosophy to develop; an interest which would stay with her until her death.
Perhaps this is one thing that Marilyn found attractive in the Jews that she came to be surrounded by in the 1950s – the tradition’s affirmation of critical thinking, rationalism and natural embrace of philosophical ideals (see The Haskalah).
Already Marilyn’s closest associates were Jews – including photographer Milton Greene, his wife Amy, poet Norman Rosten and her former acting coach Natasha Lytess – and she held a deep admiration for Jewish physicist Albert Einstein; But it was when she moved to New York to become a ‘serious actress’ at The Actor’s Studio in 1955, that the Jewish home of Lee Strasberg and his wife Paula became her second dwelling. There, she became Paula’s third child and she took comfort in the strong family values instilled by the tradition, something she never had the pleasure of enjoying in her youth. Susan Strasberg once recounted how Marilyn had told her, ‘I can identify with the Jews. Everybody’s always out to get them, no matter what they do, like me.’
So when Marilyn became engaged to Arthur Miller, whom she had known since 1951, it seemed natural for her to approach him and inquire about joining the faith of his forefathers; Arthur found the entire thing wholly unnecessary, but supported his bride’s decision nonetheless.
Truth be told, Judaism played little role besides providing community in Marilyn’s life once her initial enthusiasm faded – she even later described herself as a ‘Jewish atheist’. Yet in the brief time of her observance, no matter how valid we consider her conversion to be, she provided a platform to other Jews-By-Choice and paved a path for many of her contemporaries to soon, perhaps more stringently, venture for themselves.”
For all our US readers, don’t miss out on the chance to see All About Eve at selected theaters this Sunday, March 5, and next Wednesday, March 8. It’s part of the TCM Big Screen Classics series organised by Fathom Events, and Some Like It Hot will follow later this year.