Elizabeth Winder on ‘Marilyn in Manhattan’

Elizabeth Winder, author of Marilyn in Manhattan: Her Year of Joy – published today – has spoken to Immortal Marilyn about the different side of MM that she hopes her readers will discover.

“I wish they knew that Marilyn was funny– I don’t mean the witty media quips but that warm-hearted kind of funny that makes you smile and want to hug someone. I wish they knew that Marilyn actually read Ulysses and didn’t just pose with it. I wish they knew that as a starving model she spent her money on books instead of food. I could go on and on– that’s why I wrote Marilyn in Manhattan– I totally fell in love with her!”

Marilyn Book News: Reissues

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Several Marilyn-related titles are being reissued this year. Marilyn in Words and Pictures, due in May, is a repackaging of Richard Havers and Richard Evans’ 2010 book, Marilyn in Words, Pictures and Music – with a new cover, but minus the supplementary CD. (A condensed version was also published as a U.K. ‘bookazine‘ in 2011.)

CCA94DE9-D1EC-4651-9866-EB54A21A9591-COLLAGEDressing Marilyn, Andrew Hansford and Karen Homer’s look at the fabulous movie costumes of Travilla, will be reissued in April. Also next month, Angela Cartwright’s Styling the Stars: Treasures From the Twentieth Century Fox Archives will be republished in paperback.

‘Marilyn: Through the Lens’ at Julien’s

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Julien’s Auctions has announced an online-only sale of photos featuring Marilyn, ending on March 26 – more details here.

“The sale will feature over 100 Marilyn Monroe photographs by the most significant photographers of the era who captured the pop culture icon, including George Barris, Andre de Dienes, Douglas Kirkland, Milton Greene, Joseph Jasgur, Bruno Bernard, Richard Avedon and more.

The featured photographs spanning Marilyn’s career include early images of Norma Jean Baker captured by Joseph Jasgur before her transition to Marilyn Monroe. Rare highlights include photographs by Bruce Davidson of Marilyn Monroe on the set of The Misfits, a John Bryson photograph of Marilyn Monroe with her husband Arthur Miller, Nat Dillinger photographs of Marilyn dancing on the set of Let’s Make Love, and Bruno Bernard photographs of Marilyn on the set of Niagara. The sale also features a selection of rare and recognizable movie stills and publicity photos from Marilyn’s most significant acting roles.

Notable portions of the sale include over 25 photographs taken by Douglas Kirkland during the famous ‘Nude In White Silk Sheet’ photoshoot from November 17th, 1961 … The sale also features a collection of over 25 photographs of Marilyn Monroe taken by George Barris just weeks before the legend’s untimely passing.

A selection of photographs from historic appearances, including a group of 8 images sold with copyright from Marilyn’s arrival in Korea to support and perform for the US troops abroad, as well as a Robert H. McKinley photograph of Marilyn addressing the troops from atop an army tank in Korea. Also offered are personal and introspective photographs of Marilyn including Eve Arnold’s image of Marilyn Monroe sitting quietly reading a favorite book under a tree outdoors.”

Marilyn’s ‘Radical Anti-Fashion’

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An extract from Elizabeth Winder’s new book, Marilyn in Manhattan: Her Year of Joy, looking at her natural sense of style, has been published on the NY Magazine website.

“In an age where women’s hair skewed complex and baroque, Marilyn showed up to movie premieres looking fluffed-up and windblown, in platinum pompadours more tousled than James Dean’s. Friends begged her to brush out her bedhead, which she did rarely, and then only with a gold-plated hairbrush given to her by Frank Sinatra. She hated anything fussy or prissy, refused to wear jewelry, and stuck to a neutral palette — an invisible backdrop to her own pearly beauty. In the wasp-waisted, Dior-dominated ‘50s, Marilyn went back to basics: she went braless, skipped girdles, and commissioned custom-made, simple black slips from a beloved tailor in New York City. She found a template she liked and ordered copies by the dozen, in identical forms and varying fabrics, some matte, some faille, some velveteen, all in black.”

Marilyn, Joan and the ‘Feuding’ Dress

Screenshots by Patrick at Immortal Marilyn
Screenshots by Patrick at Immortal Marilyn

As reported by ES Updates last week, Marilyn’s spat with Joan Crawford was recreated in the opening scene of FX’s Feud: Bette and Joan, although the date (and the dress) has been changed. In an article for Vanity Fair, Joanna Robinson explores the true story, which unfolded at the Photoplay Awards back in 1953.

There’s still some confusion, though – while Robinson concedes that Marilyn won a Golden Globe for Some Like It Hot in 1960, not ’61 as depicted in Feud, she goes on to say that both Crawford and MM were ‘intoxicated’ that evening. It’s not entirely clear which year she is referring to, but her source is Golden Globes veteran Judy Solomon.

In fact, Marilyn did not attend the 1961 ceremony. She returned in ’62, however, to collect an award as ‘World Film Favourite’. The red dress worn by actress Alisha Soper as MM in Feud appears to be inspired by the ‘nude’ gown she wore to sing ‘Happy Birthday, Mr President’ a few months later.

Marilyn at the Golden Globes in February 1962 (left); and at President Kennedy's birthday gala in May (right)
Marilyn at the Golden Globes in February 1962 (left); and at President Kennedy’s birthday gala in May (right)

Pin-Up Artists: Marilyn and Earl Moran

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A lavishly illustrated article about the photographer and artist Earl Moran’s risqué work with a young Marilyn in the 1940s has been posted at Messy Nessy Chic. The photos were used as a basis for his illustrations, and the model’s true identity remained a secret until the 1980s – proving that Marilyn’s more famous calendar for Tom Kelley wasn’t her first experience of posing au naturel.

“In 1946, a nineteen year-old aspiring actress in Hollywood was in need of a job, and fast. Born Norma Jean Dougherty, destined to become Marilyn Monroe, but in between, for those not-so-squeaky-clean modelling jobs, she preferred to go by Mona– with a going rate of $10 an hour.

The famous artist and the unknown aspiring actress struck up an unlikely friendship and for the next four years, Marilyn would pose regularly for Earl, and she credited him with making her skinny legs look better than they were in real-life.

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But with some of Moran’s illustrations the then little known actress’s body seems to have ended up with a not-so-familiar face to the iconic one we’ve come to know so well. Combining poses and facial expressions from more than one model was common practice for pin-up artists. The late artist’s surviving and most accurate depictions of Monroe are of course now considered his most valuable.”

Marilyn, Joan and a Hollywood ‘Feud’

Marilyn at the Photoplay Awards in 1953 (bottom left); and at the Golden Globes in 1960 (bottom right)
Clock’s ticking: Joan Crawford ‘watches’ over Marilyn at the Photoplay Awards in 1953 (bottom left); and at the Golden Globes in 1960 (bottom right)

The upcoming TV series, Feud: Bette and Joan, stars Susan Sarandon as Davis and Jessica Lange as Crawford, the rival actresses whose mutual enmity peaked when they collaborated on Robert Aldrich’s 1961 shocker, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?

As Carolyn L. Todd reveals in an article for Refinery 29, Crawford also bore a grudge against Marilyn, which will be depicted in the show’s opening scene. The older star decried Marilyn’s daring attire – the iconic gold lamé dress – when she accepted a Photoplay award as most promising newcomer. However, while the basic story is true (as recorded by columnist Bob Thomas – more details here), the producers have transposed the event to an occasion closer to their main storyline. In this telling, Crawford makes her dig at Marilyn at the 1960 Golden Globes, where she was named Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy for Some Like It Hot.

However, Marilyn’s appearance on this occasion was relatively demure and while Joan’s original remarks had drawn criticism because Marilyn was, in 1953, a rising star, by 1960 she was a far more established figure. After the public backlash, Joan had made no further comments on Marilyn’s later career. Citing her attack on Marilyn’s overt sexuality as an early example of ‘slut-shaming’, Todd seems unaware that the chronology has been altered.

While switching the date may fit the Feud narrative more neatly, it is also anachronistic and leaves one wondering how many other ‘alternative facts’ will be presented to viewers. Feud will have its premiere on Sunday, March 5, on the US cable channel FX, so for better or worse, we’ll soon find out.

Marilyn Monroe 1926-1962

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