Lauren and Marilyn’s Millionaire Racket

Over at the Silver Screenings blog today, a perceptive review of How to Marry a Millionaire – as part of the ongoing Lauren Bacall blogathon.

“We’re aware this film has been accused of being a shallow, spare-no-expense fashion show. So what? It was one of the first feature films made in CinemaScope, which was crucial in showcasing William Travilla‘s stunning wardrobe design.

How to Marry a Millionaire has a witty script, charming characters and first-rate comedic performances by Grable and Monroe. But our favourite character is the tough-talking Bacall…

Bacall is smart, skeptical and has learned how to sniff out a rat. For example, when Monroe announces her boyfriend is taking her Atlantic City on a Saturday to meet his mother, Bacall is immediately suspicious.

Bacall: ‘I think we oughta put a check on that one.’
Monroe: ‘Why? I don’t know what you mean.’
Bacall: ‘Nobody’s mother lives in Atlantic City on Saturday.'”

George Zimbel Exhibit in Montreal

George S. Zimbel: A Humanist Photographer – a new retrospective, including photos of Marilyn filming the ‘subway grate’ scene from The Seven Year Itch – is currently on display at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, reports CBC News. You can watch a preview of a new documentary, Zimbelism, here; and see his photos of Marilyn here.

Fresno’s Marilyn Muralist Dies

FranCisco Vargas, the artist who painted a mural of Marilyn in downtown Fresno, California, has died aged 64, the Fresno Bee reports. He had suffered a stroke after being diagnosed with cancer in July. The mural, first painted in 1992, stands on the Weco Welding Supply building on Ventura Street near Eighth. In 2012, Vargas changed the cigarette held by Marilyn (after a 1953 portrait by Frank Powolny) to a paintbrush. Last year, he completed a ‘postage stamp mural’, celebrating Fresno’s icons.

Guarding Marilyn in Korea

Joseph B. Dalton holds up a photo of himself (at right) with Marilyn in Korea, 1954

Joseph B. Dalton, who served in the US Army, remembers Marilyn’s flying visit to South Korea, shortly after the Korean War ended in February 1954, in an article for Florida Today.

“I was supposed to have the day off but our sergeant came in and told a couple of us to get dressed, because a VIP was coming in shortly and we would be doing crowd control.

Soon after, a helicopter came over the hill and landed. The door opened and who should step out but Marilyn Monroe, all dressed up in a parka and combat boots. What a surprise.

When she was on the ground, she posed for pictures. Me and another MP [Military Policeman] named Grant from Tennessee were standing just in back of an officer. He turned around and told us to take Miss Monroe up to the general’s office, so we got on each side of the actress and escorted her. Cameras were going off all over the place.

She had just gotten married to Joe DiMaggio (who stayed in Japan so as not to distract from her visit. Oh, yeah, they were on their honeymoon). When she came out of the general’s office, she posed for more pictures with the general.

She then went to the enlisted men’s mess hall for a quick lunch with the troops. We then escorted her to the Bulldozer Bowl — a makeshift stadium GIs had carved out of the ground — where she was to do her show. There were two dressing rooms back stage. When she came out, the parka and combat boots were replaced with a blue sequenced cocktail dress.

This is February, mind you, and everyone is bundled up, but she was in a dress.

I happened to be standing behind her when more pictures were being taken (many years later, my son found some of those picture on a poster, which is on my wall at home).

When she went out on stage the crowd erupted. The whole hillside was packed with GIs. Myself and Grant went around front and I got a movie camera from a friend and captured some great footage. The only trouble was it wasn’t his camera, so I never got to see the movie. I heard it was great.

She must have been on stage for almost an hour singing all the songs she was noted for from her movies. After the show was over, she went back stage and changed into her warm clothes. We escorted her to a jeep that was to take her to the next division where she was to do another show.”

‘Why Marilyn Photoshops Are So Damaging’

Taken by Philippe Halsman in 1954, this photo shows Marilyn sorting through prints from a recent collaboration, and deciding which shots to approve or discard. She took her image very seriously, and as Immortal Marilyn staffer Marijane Gray explains in a new Buzzfeed post, would most likely have taken a dim view of the Photoshopped images that now proliferate on social media.

“With the internet age comes technology used to fool people. Whether it’s a false headline or a photoshopped image, it serves no purpose other than to say ‘gotcha!’. Unfortunately for Marilyn fans, the last few years have shown a trend for creating images with Marilyn’s head or face photoshopped onto someone else’s body. What’s the harm in that? Not only is it incredibly disrespectful to Marilyn, who took pride in her body and worked hard on her figure, it’s disrespectful to the poor woman who’s had her head chopped off and replaced with Marilyn’s.

Photoshopping pictures of Marilyn are muddying the waters for newer generations of her fans. They’re putting in her in situations that never actually occurred, obscuring her history and her true self. They’re presenting an image of her that is completely false and if it continues in this fashion we may lose entirely who she really was.”

Creating the Illusion: Marilyn’s Hollywood Style

Creating the Illusion: A Fashionable History of Hollywood Costume Designers, a new coffee-table book by Jay Jorgensen and Donald L. Scoggins, with an introduction by actress Ali McGraw, will be published by Running Press (in association with TCM) on October 6.

With a cover featuring Marlene Dietrich, this comprehensive study devotes separate chapters to the many designers who worked with Marilyn, including Renie, Elois Jenssen, Orry-Kelly, Charles LeMaire, Jean Louis, William Travilla and Dorothy Jeakins.

For Hollywood costume fans, Creating the Illusion will make a great companion to Christopher Nickens’ excellent 2012 book, Marilyn in Fashion.

Becoming Jewish: Warhol’s Liz and Marilyn

Becoming Jewish: Warhol’s Liz and Marilyn, a new exhibition at New York’s Jewish Museum, explores the parallels between Marilyn and Elizabeth Taylor, who both converted to Judaism, and Andy Warhol’s fascination with the cult of celebrity.

As Flavorpill reports, the exhibition (opening on September 25, through to February 7, 2016) is divided into three sections – Celebrity, Conversion, and Myth & Legend.

The New York Observer reveals that Marilyn’s Menorah will be on display, alongside two 1962 paintings by Warhol, ‘Mint Marilyn’ and ‘Blue Liz’, as well as two print portraits of the women, and assorted photographs, letters, and ephemera.

Great Entrances: ‘Some Like it Hot’

Writing for the Irish Examiner, Paul Whitington includes Marilyn’s arrival on the railway platform in Some Like it Hot among the greatest entrances in movie history.

“It’s that masterful impresario Billy Wilder again. His classic comedy starred Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis as two Chicago jazz musicians who must flee the city in a hurry when they witness the Valentine’s Day Massacre. They pose as women and join an all-girl touring band, and are at a train station when they first see Sugar Kane Kowalczyk (Marilyn Monroe). She walks past them down the platform, in high heels with hips swaying, then jumps aside to avoid a jet of steam. ‘Look at how she moves,’ says Lemmon admiringly. ‘That’s just like Jell-O on springs!'”