The Meaning of Marilyn

Philippe Halsman, 1952

Dr Lois Banner, professor of History and Gender Studies at the University of Southern California, considers three recent MM biographies in this month’s Women’s Review of Books, and discusses the difficulty of ‘deconstructing Marilyn’.

Banner is currently writing a scholarly study of Monroe for Bloomsbury Press, An Uncommon Woman: Marilyn Monroe as an American Icon of Passion and Power.

Dr Banner at USC

Lois Banner on Amazon

My own reviews of recent Monroe literature can be found here

‘Diamonds’ Dress Sells for $310,000 at Profiles in History

But is it the same dress that Marilyn wore, asks collector Scott Fortner today…

“The dress Marilyn actually wore in the film (below) is a vibrant and shiny fabric, quite unlike the material of the dress sold at auction (above). In many other examples of proven authentic costumes, they look very much today the same way they did when worn by Marilyn in her films. Most often the colors match, as do the materials and fabrics … The dress that sold at auction is likely a copy of the dress that Marilyn actually wore. We’ll never know for sure if this was in fact the dress Marilyn wore in the number, though personally I don’t believe that to be the case. What is undeniable is the fact that there is more than one pink dress as there are actually two known to exist today.”

UPDATE: A last word from Andrew Hansford, author of Dressing Marilyn, a book about Travilla’s costumes…

 “I was asked by the press if this was the original dress. I did a lot of research and found the following: it had all the right tags and studio numbers so I have to assume it was a Travilla, however and how many time I have said this is amazing, he always made a few of the dresses to check shape and wearability especially in this gown as it was so complicated to create. The dress she wore did have felt lining, this one has not – so no it was not worn in the film. I may have been tried on by her. But it stops there. The dress in the Travilla collection is a prototype and has so many corrections and alterations on it, including at least three cut out linings, which I can only assume did not work. Hense the felt. From his notes he stated she wore two identical copies in that scene as it took so long to shoot and of course no retouching then, any dirt on it and on with the next one.”

Marilyn Opera in Banff

Anyone Can See I Love You, a new opera about the life of Marilyn Monroe, opens at the Banff Centre, Canada, this weekend.

Eivør Pálsdóttir, a singer-songwriter from the Faroese islands, plays Monroe, and the production may tour internationally.

Composed by Gavin Bryars, the opera is based on Marilyn Bowering‘s 1987 poetry collection of the same name, which has also been adapted as a radio play for BBC Scotland.

Incidentally, Monroe herself stayed in Banff while filming River of No Return in 1953.

‘Bus Stop’ in Pitlochry

William Inge’s play, Bus Stop, was filmed with Marilyn Monroe in 1956. The original story is a little different though, set entirely in Grace’s Diner and focussing not just on Cherie and Bo, but several other travellers.

Bus Stop opens at the Pitlochry Festival Theatre, Perthshire, Scotland, on June 15, showing until October 14, with Amanda Gordon in Monroe’s role.

Reviewed in The Stage

Pitlochry Festival Theatre

Marilyn Pin-Up Party in Yuma, Arizona

Over the last 11 days, it has truly been a delight to hear about the many celebrations of Marilyn Monroe’s 84th birthday. Last weekend, Poisonous Pinups of Yuma, Arizona hosted a birthday bash for the queen of all calendar girls – Marilyn Monroe.

Poisonous Pinups can offer rockabilly, psychobilly, retro, pin-up, hot rod and rock & roll fashions for both sexes, and are located at 2615 E. 24th Street #3. It’s between Pacific Avenue and 3E, on the same street as Smitty’s Body Shop and Paradise Pools.

Report and photos from Yuma Sun