Marilyn (and Dorothy) at the Plaza

One of Marilyn’s favourite New York hangouts was the Plaza Hotel, where in February 1956, she held a press conference with Sir Laurence Olivier – and, much to his amazement, chaos erupted when the strap on his co-star’s dress broke!

John F. Doscher, a bartender (or ‘mixologist’) at the Plaza during the fifties, remembers Marilyn and other stars in his new book, The Back of the Housereports Hernando Today.

“Take for instance his va-va-va voom encounter with Marilyn Monroe. The starlet stayed at the hotel numerous times.

Doscher said he was awestruck by the entourage of photographers, hair stylists and makeup artists accompanying Miss Monroe each time she came in.

‘They were from Life, Look and Photoplay magazines, all there for photo opps, he said, early paparazzis, you know?’

One day Monroe was having a late breakfast in what was the Edwardian Room and sitting by the window overlooking Central Park South. A few tables away with her back to Monroe sat Plaza-regular New York newspaper columnist, Dorothy Kilgallen.

Working the bar that day in the Edwardian, Doscher mentioned to Kilgallen that Monroe was sitting by the window. Kilgallen, he said, ‘Let out a “harrumph” and said, ‘Yes. I saw her. She looks like an unmade bed.’

‘Apparently, there was some animosity there,’ Doscher observed. ‘I mean, Marilyn Monroe has been described many ways in her lifetime, but never the description Kilgallen offered.'”

Dorothy Kilgallen was a syndicated newspaper columnist. In 1952, she reported that journalist Robert Slatzer was a rival to Joe DiMaggio for Marilyn’s affections. (Slatzer has since become a notorious figure in Monroe history, and biographer Donald Spoto considers him a fraud.)

After Gentlemen Prefer Blondes was released in 1953, a sceptical Kilgallen wrote to Darryl F. Zanuck, asking him to confirm that Marilyn’s singing was her own voice, which he did.

Needless to say, none of this endeared her to Marilyn, and in his essay, A Beautiful Child, Truman Capote wrote that MM had described Kilgallen as a drunk who hated her.

Kilgallen lived near the summer house where Marilyn and Arthur Miller stayed in 1957. In 1960, she was photographed with Marilyn at a press conference for Let’s Make Love.

Just days before Marilyn died, Kilgallen alluded to the star’s affair with a prominent man in her column. In the following weeks, she tried to investigate the circumstances behind Monroe’s death – particularly her alleged links to the Kennedy brothers.

In 1965, 53 year-old Kilgallen was found dead in her New York apartment, having overdosed on alcohol and barbiturates, and also having possibly suffered a heart attack.

However, some conspiracy theorists think Kilgallen was murdered, because of her critical comments about the US government.

Marilyn and Her Feline Friend

A rare photo of Marilyn – with Siamese pal – has been published by King Rose Archives. It was taken by Robert Vose in Marilyn’s dressing room, during filming of Let’s Make Love in 1960. She is wearing the dress from the restaurant scene with Yves Montand.

Another shot, taken on the set while Marilyn sang ‘My Heart Belongs to Daddy’, has also emerged. A photo of Marilyn with Arthur Miller is also credited to Vose (although I’ve previously seen it attributed to John Bryson.)

The photos are part of the Look collection in the US Library of Congress.

From Russia With Love

Let’s Make Love (1960)

It’s a highly competitive field, but this week’s runaway winner of the Dumbest MM Rumour award is RT.com, with their report on Ludmila Temnova’s documentary, Monroe in the Land of Dostoyevsky.

‘The film tells the tale of Marilyn’s alleged secret visit to the Soviet capital in 1960, when the actress disappeared for nearly two weeks while shooting – ahem – Let’s Make Love.

Temnova’s movie features the sex symbol’s alleged Soviet friend, talking about their relationship. In the film, the man is known as Vladislav Egorov.

In the late 1950s and 1960s, “Egorov” was a Soviet Secret Service agent in the US. He claims to have met Monroe in 1959, at a Soviet Embassy reception dated to Nikita Khrushchev’s visit to the States.

In 1960, after Monroe had a jealous fight with her husband Arthur Miller, “Egorov” allegedly invited her to visit Moscow. He recounts how he met her at the airport and took her to a hotel overlooking the Kremlin, before escaping to the countryside.’

Camel Racing in Virginia City

Rodeo scene, ‘The Misfits’

“These races started in 1960 when the San Francisco Chronicle and the Phoenix Sun challenged each other to a race. The winner was Hollywood director John Huston, who was filming The Misfits nearby. Two stars of the film, Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable, were among the spectators as camels ran a 100-yard dash through the middle of this Comstock Lode town.” – Wall Street Journal

(I suspect that this event may not have been quite so enjoyable for Marilyn, who like her character, Roslyn, was acutely sensitive to the welfare of animals.)

Tales From Misfit Flats

Photo by Eve Arnold

“The Misfit Flats are among the most beautiful spots in the world to me!! I was utterly mesmerized. I remember vividly the exact first moment I stood there and the exquisite calm that came over me. I felt it was my natural spot. I couldn’t love that stretch of desert more, but then I loved Dayton and that fabulous bar with the dollars on the ceiling. I’ve loved the memories of that film again and again…”

Gail Levin, director of Making The Misfits, speaking to Laura Tennant in advance of the Dayton Historical Society‘s celebration of the movie’s 50th anniversary,  September 18-19.

Reno Gazette-Journal