Gentlemen Prefer Blondes screens at sunset (8.30 – 9pm) on July 16 at the southeast corner of Capitol Hill’s Cal Anderson Park in Seattle.
Concessions will be sold, and a limited number of lawn chairs available for rent. Admission is free, but donations to Three Dollar Bill Cinema are happily accepted. Proceeds benefit efforts to promote LGBT film and visibility.
Marilyn’s star turn as the murderous Rose Loomis in Niagara (1953) makes the list of 100 Essential Female Film Performances on the PopMatters website.
“I first learned about this performance from none other than musician Tori Amos. We were talking about female acting performances that inform and inspire her work during an interview and this was one that she insisted I watch, despite my not ever really warming to Monroe as an actress: ‘I just loved that. I hadn’t been into her, but one of my friends made me watch Niagara and I watched that and I just thought that there are a lot of young women that try and be dangerous Aphrodites, but she, in this role, was really dangerous. And she was seductive. To see how a woman can use her seduction and act as if she doesn’t have a brain in her head, but really is plotting the whole thing and is destroying people’s lives.’ With that recommendation, I had to go out and at least try and see the performance through a new lens, with a different eye. You know what? Tori was right. This is much more than just an icon posturing for her disciples, this was a woman who fought for dramatically substantial parts like Rose and showing people she was more than just an image. With all of the surreally bright rainbow symbolism juxtaposed with the grittiness of Monroe’s diabolical murderess, Niagara is more than just an idol earning a paycheck, and her performance is a force of nature not unlike the film’s foreboding, omnipresent falls of the title. When Tori tells you to watch something, watch it!”
“Ray Tolman, who built music stands, played the flute and taught sociology in his long career, died at his home near Bergen Park on June 28. He was 93.
Tolman, who started building things when he was 9, had one famous client few would guess: Marilyn Monroe. He had met her through her psychiatrist, for whom Tolman built a conference table. According to Tolman, when Monroe saw the table, she asked him to design several things for her home, and he was still building for her when she died in 1962.”
“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.