“The person I considered the most talented actor in my class was Marilyn Monroe. She would walk into class with Arthur Miller’s shirts tied at her waist, her feet in flip-flops, the sweet musky smell of Lifebuoy soap wafting after her. Her hair, pulled back with a rubber band, was always a little wet, as if she’d just stepped out of a shower. If she’d stayed with Miller, I believe she would easily have won five Academy Awards.
One afternoon I was sitting in my place on the Lower East Side when my phone rang. I picked it up, and a voice said, ‘Hi, Lou. It’s Marilyn.’ ‘Marilyn who?’ I answered, and when she said, ‘Marilyn from class,’ I had a genuine fit. She was asking me to be in her love scene from Tennessee Williams’ The Rose Tattoo at her next class. She was probably being nice to me because I wasn’t one of the stellar students in the class, like Sidney Poitier, and nobody else was asking me to do love scenes. But here she was, inviting me to play the sailor to her hot-blooded Serafina delle Rose.
I was a kid then, full of juice. I considered myself to be hot to trot, but I knew there was no way on earth I could play that scene. I was so starstruck, I wouldn’t have gotten out one word onstage. I must have stammered something, because she got off the line pretty fast, and I think it was Marty Landau who ended up playing that scene. (I happen to think Mr Landau is one of the most consummate actors I have ever seen on the stage or screen.) To this day, if I catch a whiff of Lifebuoy soap, my olfactory senses take over and I am undeniably aroused.”
The veteran actor will be appearing at the American Cinematheque’s Aero Theatre in Santa Monica, at a double bill of his films, The Hoodlum Priest and Bus Stop, his 1956 screen debut alongside Marilyn Monroe.
(Thanks to ES member Nettie for bringing this book to my attention.)
“Marilyn was crazy about my brothers. She loved to play a little game with them at night. Marilyn was constantly receiving elaborate gift baskets from agents, publicists, and studio types trying to gain her favor. After a long day of shooting, she removed the grapefruits and oranges from the basket and went out onto the balcony.
She’d call down below, ‘Mark! Philip!’
Four year-old Mark raced out onto the balcony with two year-old Philip tottering close behind. They looked up at the pretty blonde lady on the tiered balcony above.
‘Wanna play a little catch?’ Marilyn asked.
‘Okay!’ Mark replied. And so began the nightly ritual of Marilyn Monroe playing ball on the terrace, using grapefruits and oranges as their only sports equipment. First, Marilyn threw a grapefruit. Mark caught it with pride. Next, an orange to Philip. Of course, at two, he couldn’t catch anything, so the fruit rolled onto the balcony below and off the edge to the pool deck, five flights down.
‘Marilyn,’ Mama would say, ‘it’s very sweet of you to do this, but really, you don’t have to.’
‘Are you kidding?’ Marilyn replied. ‘It’s my favorite part of the day! Besides, Vitamin C is very important for growing boys. They have to have their citrus!’
After a few days of this game, during her nightly phonecall to my father in Connecticut, Mama remarked, ‘Oh, sure, Marilyn’s playing catch with the boys on the terrace again. They’re having the time of their lives. And guess who’s gonna have her raggedy ass down at the pool at two in the morning picking up all those goddamn grapefruits and oranges? It ain’t Miss Monroe, that’s for sure!’ “
More details about the publication of Marilyn Monroe’s collected writings and artwork, due for release in September, from the US Macmillan website.
Fragments: Poems, Intimate Notes, Letters
By Marilyn Monroe; Edited by Stanley Buchthal and Bernard Comment
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 9/28/2010
ISBN: 978-0-374-15835-4, ISBN10: 0-374-15835-5,
7 11/16 x 10 inches, 256 pages, 5-Color Throughout
Marilyn Monroe’s image is so universal that we can’t help but believe that we know all there is to know of her. Every word and gesture made headlines and garnered controversy. Her serious gifts as an actor were sometimes eclipsed by her notoriety—and the way the camera fell helplessly in love with her.
But what of the other Marilyn? Beyond the headlines—and the too-familiar stories of heartbreak and desolation—was a woman far more curious, searching, and hopeful than the one the world got to know. Even as Hollywood studios tried to mold and suppress her, Marilyn never lost her insight, her passion, and her humor. To confront the mounting difficulties of her life, she wrote.
Now, for the first time, we can meet this private Marilyn and get to know her in a way we never have before. Fragments is an unprecedented collection of written artifacts—notes to herself, letters, even poems—in Marilyn’s own handwriting, never before published, along with rarely seen intimate photos.
These bits of text—jotted in notebooks, typed on paper, or written on hotel letterhead—reveal a woman who loved deeply and strove to perfect her craft. They show a Marilyn Monroe unsparing in her analysis of her own life, but also playful, funny, and impossibly charming. The easy grace and deceptive lightness that made her performances so memorable emerge on the page, as does the simmering tragedy that made her last appearances so heartbreaking.
Fragments is an event—an unforgettable book that will redefine one of the greatest stars of the twentieth century and which, nearly fifty years after her death, will definitively reveal Marilyn Monroe’s humanity.
RELATED POST: Commentary from Sarah Churchwell, author of The Many Lives of Marilyn Monroe
Two semi-nude shots of Marilyn, taken by Bert Stern in 1962, are featured in The Naked Truthat the Hous Projects Gallery in Los Angeles. Described by Photography Postas ‘a photographic and video visual survey of 50 years of voyeurism, nudity and sex’, the exhibition begins a second run on July 22.
Entertainer Barry Humphries (alias Dame Edna Everage) made this rather catty remark in The Spectator diary, July 3:
“When Arthur Miller shook my hand I could only think that this was the hand that had once cupped the breasts of Marilyn Monroe. I visited Jersey yesterday to see a small Marilyn Monroe exhibition in the Jersey Museum. It was part of a private collection assembled by a colourful local ratbag. The depredations of time had de-eroticised these famous garments, though some of the songs lisped by Marilyn were playing in the background. Alas, few of her fans know that they were mostly mimed by the actress and actually sung by Marni Nixon and Gloria Woods.”
“I don’t know about Gloria Woods but that isn’t right about Marni Nixon, who inserted the high notes Monroe couldn’t reach in ‘Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend’ from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes– sounds to me as though the whole introduction and maybe a few notes at the end are Nixon not Monroe, whose voice is appealing but very different. But the main part of the song is definitely Monroe.”
Date: Wednesday 25th March 2009 – Thursday 30th September 2010
An incredible collection of stage and personal costumes worn by the screen idol Marilyn Monroe. On display for the first time in one exhibition, this stunning collection combines these iconic costumes with accessories, jewellery, keepsakes and trinkets owned by Marilyn. This exhibition is a window into the life of the ultimate Hollywood star.
This exhibition brings together dresses, gowns and swimwear that Marilyn wore in her films.
The Fireball, Niagara, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, How to Marry a Millionaire, There’s No Business Like Showbusiness, The Seven Year Itch, Bus Stop, The Prince and the Showgirl, Some Like it Hot and The Misfits.
Also shown, many for the first time is artwork, personal items, clothes, letters, jewellery and awards owned by the screen icon Marilyn Monroe.
Collection loaned by local resident David Gainsborough Roberts
“Be a part of the honoring Marilyn this August 5th on the 48th anniversary of her passing. We will be placing beautiful flowers at her crypt & making a charity donation in Marilyn’s name to Animal Haven of New York City. Your name will be included on a card to be placed at her crypt beside the flowers. Last day for donations is August 5th.