When Marilyn’s Strap Snapped

The New York Times recounts a press conference at the city’s Plaza Hotel on February 9, 1956, held by Marilyn and Sir Laurence Olivier to announce their upcoming film, The Prince and the Showgirl. When the strap on Marilyn’s dress broke, all hell broke loose as reporters jostled to take pictures. Olivier was horrified, but nonetheless the incident was reproduced in a scene from the movie.

“One news-hen, Judith Crist, The New York Herald Tribune’s film critic, remembers it well. ‘I was directly behind her, pushed against her by the largely male crush of reporters,’ she said via e-mail. ‘There’s a ladies’ room to the right,’ I said, ‘I have a safety pin.’”

Jacques Lowe Pic Sold in London

This photo of Marilyn, taken by Jacques Lowe in NYC, February 1956 (not 1961 as some reports have stated), has sold for £6,050 in a fundraising auction for London’s Kentish Town Primary School.

Lowe was best known for his photos of JFK’s election campaign. His daughter, Thomasina, has children at the school.

More info at London24

Terence Rattigan Centenary

“Perhaps the apex of (Rattigan’s) glittering career can be identified as August 18 1956, the night he threw a party to coincide with the filming of his 1953 play The Sleeping Prince, re-dubbed The Prince and the Showgirl. His two co-stars – Marilyn Monroe and Laurence Olivier – were royally entertained at his country pad in Sunningdale, Berkshire, along with Monroe’s new husband, Arthur Miller, and anyone who was anyone at the time. The whole ritzy episode is being recreated from the diary of bemused set-assistant Colin Clark in a forthcoming star-studded Simon Curtis film, My Week With Marilyn.

Daily Telegraph

With Rattigan at a press conference, February 1956
Dressed for Rattigan’s house party, with husband Arthur Miller in England

Murray on Marilyn: Missing Her Marks

“When you worked with Marilyn Monroe [in ‘Bus Stop’, 1956], there was press around all the time. And everyone was so uptight. Like: ‘Is she gonna know her lines? Is she gonna show up on time?’ And she didn’t know her lines, and she didn’t come on time. But there was kinetic energy [during the shoot] from all of this.

We were all theater people and we knew our lines. She couldn’t put three sentences together. She did her scenes over and over, like, up to twenty takes. You had to be at your best, because, whenever she did it right, they might use that take. It was all start, stop, start, stop. We thought the film was a disaster, but the big impression came at a preview  — it was thanks to [director] Josh Logan and [writer] George Axelrod how good the film was.

Marilyn was experienced by then, she had done about 20 films. But she was missing her marks all the time. You know, there are marks — places to stand where the lighting, sound, camera angle are all correct. So the director [Logan] told me, every time [she wanders], put your hands on her hips and move her back into her marks. I was doing this the whole film!”

Don Murray, speaking with Stan Taffel at Cinecon

Brigitte Bardot Remembers Marilyn

Brigitte Bardot in London, 1956

Brigitte Bardot, the iconic French ‘sex kitten’ of the 1950s and 60s, is one of the few actresses to come close to Marilyn Monroe’s impact in beauty and charm.

The two women met just once, in the ladies’ room of the Empire cinema, Leicester Square, London, at a Royal Command performance of The Battle of the River Plate on October 29, 1956, moments after Marilyn had been formally introduced to Queen Elizabeth II.

‘I stared at (MM) hungrily,’ Brigitte recalled in her 1995 autobiography, Initiales BB, admitting that she was too nervous to speak, and simply gazed at Marilyn’s reflection in the mirror. ‘I found her sublime. She was always for me what every woman, not only me, must dream to be. She was gorgeous, charming, fragile.’

Monroe, then 30, was filming The Prince and the Showgirl with Laurence Olivier. Bardot, at 22, was still on the cusp of fame, having appeared in seventeen films. Her big break came almost a year later, with the release of And God Created Woman.

Bardot retired from films in 1973, aged 39. Since then she has largely abandoned her glamorous image, devoting herself to campaigning for animal welfare. (Marilyn also loved animals and nature, and once told a reporter that she wanted ‘to grow old without facelifts’.)

Brigitte turns 76 later this month, and in recent years has come under fire for her uncompromising views on everything from immigration to homosexuality.

‘People reproach (Bardot) for still being alive, for putting out an image that they don’t want to see,’ Dominique Choulant, author of Brigitte Bardot: The Eternal Myth (2009) and CineMarilyn (2006), tells the Los Angeles Times today.

‘People abandon their icons as they get older,’ Choulant adds. ‘Every 10 years, there is an extraordinary actress who has a sexual impact on a new generation, someone who represents a new type of woman sexually.’ (Often, Choulant notes, they are iconic enough to become known by a single name: Marilyn. Bardot. Madonna. Angelina.)

‘I have a lot of things in common with Marilyn,’ Bardot wrote, ‘and she is very dear to my heart. Both of us had childish souls despite our starlet bodies, an intense sensitivity that can’t be hidden, a great need to be protected, a naivete! We stopped our careers at the same age, but, unfortunately, not in the same way.’

Marilyn On This Day: July 14, 1956

Marilyn arrived at London Airport with husband Arthur Miller. They were met by another famous couple, Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh. Monroe was preparing to film The Prince and the Showgirl with Olivier as director and co-star.

The former London Airport in Croydon, Surrey, is one of the few MM-related sites I have visited (or, to be more accurate, driven by!)

Vintage Newsreel

Marilyn On This Day: June 29, 1956

Photo by Milton Greene

At 7:21pm, Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller were married by Judge Seymour Rabinowitz in a civil wedding at the Westchester County Court House in White Plains, New York. Guests included Arthur’s cousin, Morton.

A more elaborate, Jewish ceremony was held on July 1st, attended by family and friends.