‘Blondes’ at Film Forum, NYC

“Just months after Gentlemen Prefer Blondes opened, Monroe graced the first cover of Playboy, connecting one boom-time America to another, the Ziegfeld Girl to the Bunny.

In Hawks’s Gentlemen, the flat-chested flappers illustrating Loos’s book are swept aside by not-so-little Monroe and Russell, striding out with ‘Just two little girls from Little Rock,’ their opening bump-and-wiggle …

Russell is supposedly romanced by oval-faced zero-charisma snoop Elliott Reid, but there’s more warmth in her fondly bemused looks at Monroe, whose friendship is a front-row ticket to the best show in town. The girls, untouched by competition, present a united front, even transferring identities—Russell does a dye-job masquerade as Lorelei—until they practically exchange vows with each other in the most ironic wedding in Hollywood history.”

Nick Pinkerton, Village Voice

Book now at Film Forum – showing until August 12

Read my review of the new, improved print

The Literary Lorelei

“One of the most famous lines from the book and film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is: ‘Don’t you know that a man being rich is like a girl being pretty? You wouldn’t marry a girl just because she’s pretty, but my goodness, doesn’t it help?’

In the film, Marilyn Monroe utters those words as the character Lorelei Lee but the lines were written first in the novel by American author Anita Loos.

And Lorelei Lee is one of the most memorable female fictional characters for Australian crime novelist Shane Maloney.”

The Book Show


John Gilmore Remembers Marilyn


“Marilyn was one of the most important individuals in my life. She is a kind of fulcrum at gut’s level. There wasn’t a major hullabaloo after her death, as there is now. I did not even want to write about her. I was talked into it by the French Connection Press, in Paris, people there I am dearly close to. However, while a book was planned, we couldn’t come to terms and another publisher grabbed the project, and that’s how my look at her came into reality. I speak each year at her Memorial in Westwood, California, where her body is entombed, and the 50th will be up in a couple years. I might end my yearly contribution after the 50th, as actually and in a real sense, it leaves me too pained to drag it on.”

Gilmore talks to Maarten Bouw

Marilyn on Film: An Untold Story

Catherine Hicks‘s performance in the 1980 made-for-television biography Marilyn: The Untold Story is generally regarded as the best biographical portrayal of Marilyn Monroe. Produced by Lawrence Schiller, the photographer who took the famous nude photos of Marilyn on the set of Something’s Got to GiveMarilyn: The Untold Story was based on Norman Mailer’s ‘novel biography.’

The film was enhanced by the participation of three talented directors, including Hollywood veteran Jack Arnold. The impressive roster of behind-the-scenes personnel ensured pleasant entertainment, but the three-hour drama lacks insight into Marilyn’s personality and fails to add anything new to the Monroe lore and literature.

Hicks, whose thoughtful performance is the highlight of the production, managed to capture Marilyn’s voice and mannerisms and suggest her alluring presence without resorting to caricature.

Hicks received a well-earned Emmy nomination. (In an ironic twist, Monroe ‘replacement’ Sheree North appears in this film in the role of Marilyn’s mother.)” – Susan Doll, author of Marilyn: Her Life and Legend

The opening scenes from this hard-to-find biopic are now on Youtube, with more to follow.

Marilyn-Inspired Photo Shoots

Madonna recreates the Monroe/Halsman 'Jump', 1990

Ever since Madonna and Stephen Meisel’s 1990 ‘Homage to Norma Jean’ spread in Vanity Fair, celebrities have been imitating Marilyn Monroe’s style – with mixed results.

“This trend of infinite iterations starts and ends with Marilyn Monroe, the dead starlet that every living starlet wants to imitate. As Lynn Hirschberg notes in a profile of Megan Fox (who has a Marilyn tattoo on her forearm), “Monroe was her own brand before branding existed.” What better way to send a career-branding message, then, than to channel the original tortured personal branding bombshell? Or so the logic goes.

But the Marilyn kabuki act rarely works as intended. Every time I see Lindsay Lohan as Marilyn, I question the troubled starlet’s mental health. Every time I see Megan Fox as Marilyn, I wonder if she’s not just an Angelina imitator, but a LiLo imitator, too. When Nicole Kidman did Marilyn, she looked old. When Scarlett did Marilyn—well, that was actually pretty good. But when Jessica Simpson did Marilyn (via famed Marilyn lookalike Virna Lisi, making hers an imitation of an imitation) it was an unmitigated disaster, lifeless and awkward.

This is what the future will look like if we don’t kill the starlets-imitating-starlets trend now. Starlets, stylists, editors: Start cultivating your own iconic looks. Do something original! Surprise us! Otherwise we’ll all be spinning in tutus in the rain for the decades to come, and between the Monroe imitators flipping their skirts up on the sidewalk, and the Mary Tyler Moore imitators spinning with shopping bags, the streets are crowded enough with pantomimes, already.” – Gawker

Fans in the Everlasting Star community have been monitoring this trend for some time now, and you can look back at the many celebrity homages to MM – the good, the bad, and the downright bizarre – in the member’s forum.

Douglas Kirkland recreated his classic Monroe session with Angelina Jolie

Kim Novak on Marilyn

The ‘ice-cool blonde’ immortalised in Hitchcock’s Vertigo (1958) discussed her long career with Liz Smith this week. Perhaps inevitably, the conversation turned to another screen goddess of the fifties – Marilyn Monroe…

“I ask this ultimate survivor – the blonde who got away – why she did survive, and Marilyn Monroe didn’t?

‘I think it’s family, roots. Marilyn didn’t have that. Even if there are troubles in your family, at least it’s there. It gives your life a deeper substance, especially if you are working in a business that is so much about the insubstantial. You need something to fall back on. You need to know you are more than the face or the body or the career. Without that stability, you are lost.’

Kim Novak may never make another movie, but she will be forever remembered as the star who never got lost.”

In a longer Novak profile for Q last year, Smith explored the parallels between Kim and Marilyn in greater detail. Kim was under contract to Columbia, and touted by boss Harry Cohn as a rival to Monroe. Ironically, Marilyn had signed to Columbia years earlier but was dropped (allegedly after refusing Cohn’s advances.)

Additionally, Kim’s birth name was actually Marilyn, but she decided to change it because of Monroe. Not much is known about their association, but Kim was also a guest at the Lawford beach house in 1962 where Marilyn met Bobby Kennedy.

Like many other young actresses, Novak was deeply affected by Monroe’s untimely death:

“A year later, in 1963, Novak was handed a copy of the magazine Eros, in which some of Bert Stern’s famous nudes of Monroe appeared. Kim was horrified when she saw that Stern had released shots which Monroe herself had edited and crossed out. She burst into angry tears. To her, this was an act of cruelty and betrayal.”

The Kim Novak Collection is now available on DVD in the US.

Christina Hendricks on Marilyn

The stunning red-haired actress, best known as sexy, ambitious Joan Holloway on TV’s Mad Men, speaks to Parade about those Monroe comparisons:

“I don’t think any woman in the world could get tired of being compared to Marilyn Monroe. It is embarrassing, though, because I think that I could never hold a candle, but it is also incredibly flattering, and she’s someone I admire greatly. So it’s always a really nice thing to hear.”

Set in the New York advertising world at the dawn of the sixties, Season 2 of Mad Men references MM’s life and impact in depth. In Episode 6, ‘Maidenform’, the creatives devise a campaign slogan for Playtex bras, ‘Are you a Jackie or a Marilyn?’

And episode 9, ‘Six Months Leave’, explores the differing reactions of the characters to Monroe’s death. In a pivotal scene, Joan’s sadness reveals a hitherto unseen vulnerability behind her glamorous persona.

Christina Hendricks Fansite