Marilyn, Harold Lloyd and the ‘Careless Man’

Marilyn’s 1953 poolside photo session at the home of Harold Lloyd – and the mysterious accompanying clip, where she whispers seductively, ‘I hate a careless man’  – has long been the subject of speculation. Some have linked it to Coca Cola, as Marilyn was sipping a bottle through a straw. However, she was actually filming a PSA for the US military. In ‘Atomic Blonde’, an in-depth article for Californian lifestyle magazine Alta Journal, film historian Cari Beauchamp reveals the whole story.

“Hollywood was a relatively small community in the early 1950s. Lloyd and Monroe had become friendly when he accompanied his friend, Philippe Halsman, to her apartment to photograph the actress for Life magazine. Lloyd invited Monroe to Greenacres for a visit that could include a photo shoot.

Gloria [Lloyd’s daughter] was still living at Greenacres in 1953, and she recalled some details of Marilyn Monroe’s visit as if it had occurred the week before.

‘When Marilyn arrived, I took her up to the pool house,’ she told me. ‘She was my age, or maybe a year or two younger, but we came from very different worlds. She sat down to put on her makeup, and we just started chatting about our lives. She insisted on seeing the baby and talked about how she dreamed of having a child of her own one day. That’s what I remember most. That, and when daddy and the other men were taking her picture, she kept saying, “I hate a careless man” over and over again.’

A closer examination of the photos, zooming in until the letters are blurry, reveals the words ‘Lookout Mt. Laboratory’ on an equipment box and on the front of the jeep that Monroe arrived in. Lookout Mountain, snuggled near the top of a hill in the Laurel Canyon residential neighborhood of Los Angeles, began humbly in 1947 as a radar station for Southern California, but became a government film studio a few years later.

Recently, authors Kevin Hamilton and Ned O’Gorman, while researching their book, Lookout America! The Secret Hollywood Studio at the Heart of the Cold War, came across a bit of film with Marilyn saying, ‘I hate a careless man.’ When I heard about that, the puzzle pieces began to fall into place.

Lookout Mountain became the home of the 1352nd Motion Picture Squadron, which churned out training and recruiting films as well as documenting atomic bomb testing in the Pacific and the deserts of Nevada and New Mexico. Initially, the plan was to release edited versions of the films for public awareness, but when the Atomic Energy Commission saw the footage of the explosion of the first hydrogen bomb in 1952, it decided it would petrify the general population. Everything was suddenly top secret, but word of the tests kept leaking out through letters home and conversations with family and friends. Too often, these ended up published in local papers.

With a new series of tests, code named Operation Castle, scheduled to begin in early 1954 on Bikini Atoll in the Pacific, secrecy became paramount. As Hamilton and O’Gorman explain in their book, ‘posters saying “Loose lips sink ships” were no longer enough.’ Lookout Mountain’s commander, Lt. Colonel Gaylord, came up with the idea to make short films stressing the danger of leaking information to be used in orientation and as trailers shown during the servicemen’s regular movie nights. Gaylord believed it was important to get away from the ‘punishable by court martial’ attitude and make the trailers ‘friendly albeit flavorful.’

But what tied the military and Monroe to Greenacres and Harold Lloyd? The estate’s sheer size guaranteed isolation, and Lloyd could be trusted. As a good friend of Gov. Earl Warren and a delegate to the 1952 Republican Convention that nominated Eisenhower, Lloyd’s connections went way beyond Hollywood. His name was listed among the many in the visitor log at Lookout Mountain, as well as someone who helped with the unit’s work. But the person who may have suggested Harold’s participation was his son Dukie [Harold Lloyd Jr.], who was stationed at Lookout Mountain.

A total of 10 short films were made, each focusing on ways secrets could be leaked and the importance of confidentiality. (Apparently only one survives, available on YouTube.) In each film, Monroe was tacked on to the end, cooing ‘I hate a careless man.’ There she was, in all her glory, smiling broadly in her bathing suit and saying her line — and then she was gone. Jolting as it was, the message was clear: If you wanted a chance to sleep with Marilyn Monroe, you’d better keep your mouth shut.

According to the official records of the 1352nd Motion Picture squadron, the films ‘appeared to have done the job intended.’ A report by Lookout Mountain in 1954 proudly stated that there were ‘no security breaks on the part of the Castle personnel.’

While it may remain a small slice of film history, we finally know that what looked like a routine photo shoot — involving a luminous actress and an accomplished actor/producer/ photographer — also played a key role in keeping the nation as ignorant as possible as thermonuclear bomb tests exploded in the South Pacific.”

Rare Colour Footage Shows Marilyn in Chicago

Major news outlets (who really ought to know better) frequently trumpet ‘rare, unpublished’ images of Marilyn which are usually nothing of the kind. With that in mind, what a lovely surprise to wake up this morning and find genuine unseen colour footage of Marilyn arriving at Chicago’s Midway Airport to begin her promotional tour of Some Like It Hot on March 17, 1959, posted to the Marilyn Monroe Video Archives account on Youtube.

Ariel Pink Plays Marilyn’s Ghost in Music Video

A ghostly Marilyn Monroe (in drag) features in a Hollywood-themed new music video, as Randall Roberts reports for the Orlando Sentinel.

“Ssion featuring Ariel Pink, “At Least the Sky Is Blue” (Dero Arcade). The multi-disciplinary artist born Cody Critcheloe, who performs as Ssion, has carved a fascinating life for himself. As a video director, he’s worked with such acts as Peaches, Kylie Minogue, Santigold and Perfume Genius; as a bandleader and producer, he crafts dense, slightly off-balance club tracks.

For his new ‘At Least the Sky Is Blue’ video, which is taken from his forthcoming album ‘O’ (May 11), he and collaborator Ariel Pink portray characters in a VCR-tinted set piece featuring a Mercedes convertible cruising through the city. Dressed in drag as the ghost of Marilyn Monroe, Pink appears as a vision being pushed along the sidewalk in a wheelchair.”

Streaming the Classics With Marilyn

Marilyn in the spotlight on Filmstruck

‘Can you be a film buff in a streaming world?’ Andrew Clarke asks, in his arts column for the East Anglian Daily Times. (Clarke has written before of his admiration for Marilyn, in a 2017 article for the Ipswich Star.) Most of her major movies – and several documentaries – are available on Amazon Prime, but subscription services tend to favour contemporary films. All About Eve is the only Marilyn film currently available on Netflix, while the more specialist Filmstruck has The Prince and the Showgirl.

“The early 2000s proved to be a golden age for the film buff getting new prints of classic films by such stars as Marilyn Monroe (The Seven Year Itch and Some Like It Hot) … Streaming makes access to films easier but the companies have to make sure that those historic titles are both preserved and made available for our children and grandchilden to enjoy. Great films never go out of fashion.”

Video Essay Shows Marilyn in Public and Private

Marilyn during a rare TV interview, 1955

The gulf between Marilyn’s private and public personae is explored in a new video essay created by Lara Mubayadeen and Luke Jamieson for Film School Rejects. The short film’s title, ‘Actress Must Have No Mouth’, is lifted from Marilyn’s private journals, collected in the 2010 book, Fragments.  Other quotes are superimposed onto archival footage of Marilyn talking to the press, but unfortunately, some of her actual responses to reporters’ questions – often intelligent and witty – have been cut out, giving the footage a retrospective note of tragedy.

Paris Hilton’s Marilyn-Style Valentine

Heiress and socialite Paris Hilton’s love of Marilyn has been evident since she became a reality TV star in the early 2000s. (Personally, I’ve always thought she resembled one of the ditzy gold-diggers Marilyn played on film than Monroe herself.) Now 36, Paris is a DJ, singer and has even launched her own perfume. Her new, retro-style single, I Need You, was released on St Valentine’s Day, and the accompanying video – directed by fiance Chris Zylka – shows Paris embracing vintage glamour, with at least one Marilyn-inspired costume – more details over at Instyle.

Camila Cabello References Marilyn in Video Montage

Cuban-American Singer Camila Cabello, who is promoting her debut solo album after leaving girl group Fifth Harmony, performed a new track, ‘Never Be the Same’, on Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show.  ‘Cabello turned up the heat with her smouldering delivery as a dizzying montage – we see clips of Marilyn Monroe, brutal storms, spiral galaxies and so much fire – lit the backdrop,’ Billboard reports. The footage of Marilyn blowing a kiss to the camera was filmed when she arrived in New York’s Idlewild Airport to film The Seven Year Itch in September 1954, and is also captured in an iconic photograph by Arthur ‘Weegee’ Fellig.

Wolf Alice Gets ‘Unconventional’ With Marilyn

The British alt-rock band Wolf Alice has just released the video for ‘Beautifully Unconventional’, the latest single from their Visions Of Life album, with singer Ellie Roswell seemingly taking style inspiration from Marilyn, as MXDWM reports.

Marilyn at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, 1953

“Perhaps the idea of the video gets at how a culturally ultra-conventional icon like Marilyn Monroe is actually an unconventional individual. To be conventional would one would have to be anything other than an American icon. To be conventional is to be part of the cultural masses—going to work, raising a family, having normal things to talk about. Monroe’s life was hardly normal, and she would stick out ‘sorely’ in a regular, everyday context. Convention is normal, beautiful unconventionality is someone who sticks out not like a sore thumb, but like Marilyn Monroe.”

Sergeant Pepper (and Marilyn) at 50

This year marks the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, one of the most influential pop albums ever made. The cover – a collage by artist Peter Blake – features the Fab Four lining up alongside more than sixty of the last century’s most iconic figures. Marilyn is there, as photographed by Ben Ross in 1953. BBC Music have compiled a mini-documentary  for each one: Marilyn’s includes newsreel footage from her arrival in England to shoot The Prince and the Showgirl in 1956. You can watch the clip here.

Montage by Sgt Pepper Photos website