Over at Reader’s Digest, Tony DiMarco recalls interviewing Marilyn at Twentieth Century Fox for an army radio show in 1952. DiMarco, and presenter Dave Ketchum, broadcast a weekly program for Camp Roberts, which aired on KPRL in Paso Robles, California. It will come as no surprise to those who know of Marilyn’s loyalty to her fans in the military, but the producers found her a delight to work with, and nothing like the ‘difficult’ star her studio warned them about.
“Not only was Marilyn on time, she was friendly, cooperative and a great interview. When it was over she asked if she could add something and, of course, we said yes. She ad-libbed a touching and heartwarming tribute to the servicemen and women, thanking them for listening and wishing them the very best of luck. She was beautiful, bright and charming. She was the Marilyn we’ll always remember.”
Three years after their encounter on the set of We Were Strangers (see here), Marilyn and John Garfield were early contenders for the lead roles in On the Waterfront, according to Marilyn’s photographer friend, Sam Shaw, who was then developing it as a screenplay. (Director Elia Kazan denied all of this, but Al Ryelander, then a press agent for Columbia Studios, insisted the story was accurate.)
By 1952, Marilyn’s star was rising – but Garfield’s career was destroyed, after he refused to ‘name names’ to the House Un-American Activities Committee, and became the most famous victim of the ‘red-baiting’ era. He died of a heart attack months later, aged 37. Author Robert Knott retold the story, which also touches on Marilyn’s relationships with Kazan and future husband Arthur Miller, in He Ran All the Way: The Life of John Garfield (2003.)
On the Waterfront was released to acclaim in 1954, starring Marlon Brando and Eva Marie Saint. Ironically, the film can be seen as director Elia Kazan’s self-justification for his own decision to name names. One can only imagine how different Marilyn’s subsequent career might have been had she played the role of demure Edie Doyle…
“Shaw gave Monroe the script while she was in New York to take in the Broadway production of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Monroe read the script and passed it on to her lover, Elia Kazan. Shaw, who called himself a ‘half-assed observer at the Actors Studio,’ had met Kazan on the set of the 1950 film Panic in the Streets. ‘Kazan had heard about my script (before Monroe gave it to him) and wanted to see it,’ Shaw said. ‘I wouldn’t give it to him, because he was involved with Arthur Miller on a similar project, The Hook.’ But after Monroe gave Kazan the script, the director called Shaw. ‘You’ve got an interesting script, but it needs a lot of work,’ he told Shaw. ‘Let Budd Schulberg work on it.’ Shaw, seeing the merit in Kazan’s suggestion, raised $40,000 to pay Schulberg to work on the script. According to Shaw, at this point Jack Cohn turned the script over to Sam Spiegel … Within a year Kazan, Spiegel and Schulberg were preparing the film for Columbia Pictures with Marlon Brando … By that point, neither Shaw nor Garfield were involved in any way.”
Zsa Zsa Gabor, whose flamboyant lifestyle and many husbands made headlines for nearly eighty years, has died of a heart attack at her home in Bel Air, aged 99.
The second of three daughters, Sári Gábor was born in Budapest on February 6, 1917 (although she later claimed the year was 1928.) She made her theatrical debut in a Viennese operetta at seventeen, and was crowned ‘Miss Hungary’ two years later. Her first marriage, at twenty, was to politician Burhan Asaf Belge.
In 1942 she married the American hotelier, Conrad Hilton. During their five-year marriage she gave birth to a daughter, Francesca, and co-wrote an autobiographical novel, Every Man For Himself. In 1949 she rejected the lead role in a film adaptation of Lady Chatterley’s Lover, and married the British actor, George Sanders.
In 1950, Sanders was cast as the acerbic theatre critic Addison DeWitt in Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s classic Broadway satire, All About Eve. Among his illustrious co-stars was Marilyn Monroe, as a beautiful young starlet who accompanies DeWitt to a party hosted by ageing star Margo Channing (played by Bette Davis.)
In her 1954 memoir, My Story, Marilyn remembered being seated next to Sanders during lunch at the studio, when a waiter called him to the telephone. On his return, a pale, nervous Sanders quickly paid for his meal and left. That afternoon, his stand-in asked Marilyn to keep her distance.
“I turned red at being insulted like this but I suddenly realised what had happened,” she wrote. “Mr Sanders’ wife, Zsa Zsa Gabor, obviously had a spy on the set, and this spy had flashed the news to her that he was sitting at a table with me, and Miss Gabor had telephoned him immediately and given him a full list of instructions.”
But Zsa Zsa’s jealousy was soon reignited at a Hollywood party. “George went straight over to say hello to Marilyn, but Zsa Zsa got no farther than the door,” photographer Anthony Beauchamp recalled in his autobiography, Focus on Fame. “She too had spotted Miss Monroe, and she turned on me like an infuriated Persian kitten. In a voice that echoed across the room, and with the well-known Gabor intonations, she exploded in indignation: ‘How can you ‘ave this woman in your ‘ouse, I will not stay in the room wis her!’ Nor did she. Zsa Zsa when she gets going is quite powerful – in lungs, accent and gesture.”
“Poor Marilyn was sitting quietly in a corner, making trouble for no one except perhaps for half a dozen men and their wives,” Beauchamp added wryly. “Zsa Zsa swept into a bedroom closely followed by her mother where they sat it out until George was ready to go home.”
Zsa Zsa made her movie debut in the 1952 musical, Lovely To Look At. Her next film, We’re Not Married!, was an anthology about a justice of the peace who accidentally marries several couples on Christmas Eve, two days before his license becomes valid. Marilyn starred as a beauty queen in one episode, and Zsa Zsa played the gold-digging bride of Louis Calhern in another. (Back in 1950, Marilyn had played Calhern’s mistress in The Asphalt Jungle.)
In November 1952, Look magazine further exposed what Marilyn called “the one-sided Gabor feud” by publishing ‘What’s Wrong With American Men?’, an article penned by Zsa Zsa, with marginal notes by Marilyn highlighting their very different attitudes towards the opposite sex (click on the photos below to enlarge.)
Zsa Zsa went on to play roles in Moulin Rouge, The Story of Three Loves and Lilli. After she divorced Sanders in 1954, he went on to marry her sister, Eva. Nonetheless, Zsa Zsa would often describe him as the love of her life.
In the late 1950s, she starred in two cult B-films (The Girl in the Kremlin and Queen of Outer Space), as well as taking in a cameo role in Orson Welles’ masterpiece, Touch of Evil. She continued working in the theatre and was regularly seen on television.
Her sixth marriage was to Barbie doll designer Jack Ryan, and her eighth (to a Mexican actor) was annulled after just one day. In 1986, she joined the ranks of royalty by marrying Frédéric Prinz von Anhalt, a German-American entrepreneur who had paid Princess Marie Auguste of Anhalt to adopt him six years earlier.
In 1989, Zsa Zsa was arrested for slapping a Beverly Hills policeman after he stopped her in her car for a traffic violation. She later recreated the incident in one of her last films, The Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear (1991.)
“Marilyn was a very dull girl,” Zsa Zsa told Playboy (asquotedin The Unabridged Marilyn, 1987.) “She thought that if a man who takes her out for dinner doesn’t sleep with her that night – something’s wrong with her.” She went on to claim that she and Sanders had once counted four men visiting Marilyn’s hotel room in one evening during filming of All About Eve, a tale that is probably apocryphal. “That’s a terrible thing to say about somebody whom the whole country admires,” she admitted.
By 2011, Zsa Zsa had mellowed considerably. “In the beginning I didn’t like her because she was flirting with my husband,” she said, while opening a trunk owned by Marilyn during a fan contest at Planet Hollywood. “We had lunch and we talked it over, and she was very nice and she never flirted with him again.”
Zsa Zsa’s final years were marred by ill-health, and legal and financial problems. When her estranged daughter Francesca died in 2015, Zsa Zsa was too frail to hear the news. She is survived by her last husband, with whom she lived for thirty years.
A new book, Slim Aarons: Women, captures the Life photographer’s elegant portraits of some of the twentieth century’s iconic beauties – including Jackie Kennedy, Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn, as Sean O’Haganreports for The Observer.
“Marilyn Monroe, Beverly Hills, 1952, reading fan mail. ‘She was very nervous about posing,’ Slim said. ‘I reassured her, said all you had to do was think about the nicest possible thing that could happen to you – but think about it with your eyes, and let the rest of your face do what it wanted. Years later, I was on the set of The Seven Year Itch. She happened to walk by me, and I, not wanting to bother her, said nothing. But she stopped before me, looked up, and said, You don’t remember me, do you? I never forgot what you told me … think of the nicest thing possible.'”
Carol Koontz, a baton and drum corps leader who met Marilyn (in her Grand Marshal capacity) while competing at the 1952 Miss America pageant in Atlantic City, has died in Ohio aged 83, reports CantonRep.com.
“For decades, Koontz shared her skills in baton-twirling, music, and pageantry with thousands of local youngsters in Stark and Tuscarawas counties. She started the troupe in 1962 and was still giving weekly baton lessons until about two weeks ago, her daughter Holly Flowers said.
Koontz began teaching the baton in 1948. In 1952, the Tuscarawas County native won the Miss Dennison and Miss Ohio pageants and competed in the Miss America pageant in Atlantic City, N.J. During her talent portion in the national contest, Koontz played a classical piece on the clarinet, then twirled two ‘fire’ batons.
She also had her picture taken with Monroe, who was a special guest.
‘My grandma (Carol’s mother) happened to be in the restroom when Marilyn Monroe was in there, and Marilyn asked her how she kept her hair curly in humid weather,’ Flowers said with a laugh. ‘My grandmother was giving Marilyn Monroe hair tips.’
Years later, Koontz led her troupe on the famed boardwalk at a Miss America commemoration event, her daughter noted.”
Keds Shoes, one of America’s most familiar brands, celebrates its centenary this year. As Rachael Allen reports for Footwear News, Marilyn sported a pair in her opening scene in Clash by Night (1952), and also wore jeans for her role as feisty cannery girl Peggy in the Monterey-set melodrama.
On St Valentine’s Day, Armen D. Bacon shares a romantic encounter with Marilyn – as told to her by 89 year-old George Blair – in an article for the Fresno Bee.
“Pedaling back through time, he began telling us a story that had taken place 65 years ago. Freshly graduated from Stanford University, newly employed in San Francisco, his first assignment was taking him to Monterey’s famed Cannery Row.
One night, while dining solo at the Monterey Mission Inn, he recounts spotting a beautiful woman also sitting alone in the restaurant. The heart is a lonely hunter.
‘In those days, I was petrified of women and very immature,’ he added. But mustering his nerve, he asked the waiter to offer the young lady a drink. To his surprise, not only did she say ‘yes,’ she invited him to join her for dinner.
Which, of course, he did. They talked. He was in Monterey selling chlorination equipment to fish canneries. She was an aspiring actress breaking into the film industry.
‘Very, very attractive,’ he reminded us with verbal repetitions that mirrored a double set of pull-ups. By now, audible heavy breathing filled the gym, excessive calories being burned by overheated imaginations.
Why was such a beautiful woman having dinner alone, we all wondered.
He delighted in answering that her co-star, Barbara Stanwyck, was hosting a birthday party for her maid that night, and she didn’t want to go.
He stopped here for a moment, a sheepish grin covering his face, all of us gasping for air – awaiting the big finish. But according to George, the pair went their separate ways after dinner. She had to be back on the set at 5 a.m. He had to return to San Francisco.
The following morning, he drove past what looked like a movie set with lights and camera equipment surrounding an old Monterey residence on the outskirts of town.
He pulled over. There she stood on the porch. Clad in cut-off denims. I could tell by the look on his face that the vision remained crystal clear in his mind’s ageless eye.
And then, he drove off.
Five years later, he spotted her photo on a matchbox. Marilyn Monroe. Yes, that Marilyn Monroe. The movie was Clash by Night, which premiered in June 1952.”
Ray Anthony, the saxophonist who scored a hit with ‘My Marilyn’ in 1952 – and threw a star-studded pool party in his dream girl’s honour – is now 93, and the subject of a short film, Marilyn and I, directed by Phil Messerer. You can watch it here.
“What inspired me at first was the amazing quality of the original content. Ray spent most of his life in the limelight and so much of his career was documented with beautiful, high resolution photography. This allowed me to generate very dynamic camera movement within the photographs themselves and attempt to create a feeling that we were watching a motion picture rather than a slide show. And I tried pacing it like a modern day music video. It’s basically Ken Burns on speed. Most classic content is treated with great reverence by incorporating a very slow, deliberate editing technique. Our content was fairly lighthearted so I took the rare liberty of approaching historic documents with comic decorum. Most people forget that Marilyn was a comic actress. Her films were predominantly sex comedies. So I actually think this film is very much in tune with her body of work (no pun intended). After studying her career I felt it was practically called for. To do a somber Marilyn story would be a disservice to memory. But the film also has a very touching, very human element; something that I feel Marilyn had and is the reason for her longevity in the hearts of her fans.
Finally, (and I know this sounds a tad pretentious talking about a 14 minute short) I feel that Marilyn and I paints a picture of America itself. Mr. Anthony’s story wasn’t just filled with run of the mill celebrities. These were all Icons of Twentieth Century American culture. Glen Miller – Ray’s first bandleader – the tragic war hero who was the first to make Jazz ‘cool’. Hugh Hefner – Ray’s best friend – who ushered in the sexual revolution. Berry Gordy – Ray’s tennis nemesis – who started Motown and was at the center of the civil rights movement. And of course Marilyn Monroe – who gave us the term ‘sex goddess’.”
Although Marilyn had played leads before (most notably Don’t Bother to Knock), Niagara was her first true star vehicle. Writing for the Niagara Gazette, B.B. Singer looks back at the making of the movie, and the turbulent natural backdrop which seemed to mirror Marilyn’s tempestuous life.
“At the time she came to do location shots (June ‘52) for that movie, Monroe was already used to being hounded by paparazzi; but in a way, Niagara and her stay in this region was the last of her time before the complete onslaught of overwhelming stardom (followed, as the film was, by popular Monroe vehicles like How to Marry a Millionaire and The Seven Year Itch).
The girl first known in Southern California as Norma Jean had married very young to one Jim Dougherty, and it hadn’t lasted. Now as she labored in Niagara under Henry Hathaway’s patient, marvelous direction, she had a new boyfriend some around here still recall from his ball-playing heyday as ‘the Yankee Clipper.’
Newly retired, the celebrated Dimadge came up for some of the shooting, and he and Monroe got out to pretty Niagara County countryside to eat at restaurants like Schimschack’s. Monroe saw the requisite Falls sites, too, and no snob, got along well with extras, chambermaids, and the like.
However, the movie’s Niagara-like storminess would increasingly become her own, as the much-dissected relationship with DiMaggio became a marriage in 1954, one plagued by his silent fits, controlling jealousy (especially when she wore certain attire), and distrust of her friends, agents, fans, and not least, the paparazzi.
Niagara? A good film, and a luffing of sails for Monroe, granting her some transient happiness, that is, before her own personal craft began teetering (as happens to the film’s co-stars Joseph Cotten and Jean Peters) toward the mighty, remorseless cataracts!
Yes, in her case, eddying down toward a last cinematic enterprise beside an aging, doomed Gable, released in ‘61 and appropriately titled The Misfits. And then her tragic, early demise the very next year. Meanwhile, the pitiless Falls kept on tumbling, remaining the most enduring star.”
Photographer Nickolas Muray is the subject of a new retrospective, opening at the Doge’s Palace in Genoa, Italy, and on display until February 8, 2015. Born in Hungary, Muray was also known for his passionate affair with the great Mexican artist, Frida Kahlo. His Hollywood portraits feature Charlie Chaplin, Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, Carole Lombard and a young Elizabeth Taylor. Famed for his work in Kodachrome, Muray photographed Marilyn in 1952, in a unique, Renaissance style.