Liz Smith Remembers Marilyn

 Veteran entertainment writer Liz Smith, who often mentions Marilyn, recalls her brief encounter with MM in today’s Huffington Post.

“I am forever writing here about Marilyn. And people often ask me when and if I met her and was I a good friend? I have already written that we were not friends and never actually met. My vast information about Marilyn springs from my long friendship with her great (and last) press agent Pat Newcomb, from the late PR insiders Lois Smith, and John Springer and from speaking privately with Frank Sinatra, Dean and Jeannie Martin, Pat Lawford , Tita Cahn, Tony Curtis, etc. Marilyn knew a lot of people and I knew those people. And they were all obsessed by her. Lois Smith once told me: ‘I never felt that way about another star ever I worked with. She made you want to protect her from anything hurtful.’ Sinatra would have married her, if Joe DiMaggio hadn’t been around.

But I have often recounted barely recovering, as a fan, back in early 1961, from seeing her smothered in a black sable wrap, very glamorous, very beautiful, very blond, attending the New York premiere of The Misfits in NYC. She was with Montgomery Clift. (The Arthur Miller marriage had already collapsed.) They sat down in front of my aisle and I observed them throughout the film, cuddling, giggling and being very happy in the manner of real pals. So here’s a photo that very night. And I had never seen it before. Perhaps it is one of the few nights in the lives of these two talented stars when they were truly happy. (At least in each other’s company.) Marilyn famously disliked the film and her character, which was based so much on her. Both of them were to die only too young, but they were even then, already legends.”

Dallas Couple Remember Marilyn

Writing for Dallas News, Nancy Churmin investigated Marilyn’s possible connections with the city.

“When seeking as I always do for a Texas connection, I received a slender link courtesy of Gregory Schreiner, Marilyn Monroe expert and the President and founding member of the longest running Monroe fan club in existence today, Marilyn Remembered:  ‘On January 20th, 1961, en route to Juarez, Mexico, to obtain her divorce from Arthur Miller, Marilyn had a two-hour layover at the Dallas Love Field Airport. Supposedly, Marilyn sat alone in an airport cocktail lounge, watching John F. Kennedy’s presidential inauguration.’

It turns out, however, I found a stronger Dallas link: my husband’s thoroughly Texan late parents met her in person when my father-in-law took the family to a business convention in Los Angeles in 1959. While Grandma Vaudie minded the kids in their hotel room, H.L. and Gene Granberry ran into a host of stars leaving the ballroom: Jayne Mansfield, who spent years in the Park Cities, Gina Lollobrigida, Dick Powell and his wife June Allyson, Chuck Connors and Marilyn Monroe.

H.L., being H.L., managed to get a laugh out of Gina Lollobrigida. When she told him she was working on a film called Go Naked in the World (that would be released in 1961), he responded, ‘I would LOVE to!’. And everyone was nice to them. But the one they were most impressed with was Marilyn Monroe. It wasn’t just her looks, although my mother-in-law used to say she had the most translucent, beautiful skin and natural beauty of any one she had ever seen.

‘The word they kept using was gracious,’ my husband recalled. ‘The thing that struck my mother was that she was very warm, very friendly, very unpretentious, down to earth and a little sad. She made the most lasting impression of anyone they met that day. They had a feeling she related more to them, to normal people, than she did to the Hollywood crowd.’

The people’s star. Maybe that is why. to this day, we still can’t let her go.”

Sandra Howard Remembers Marilyn

Sandra Howard – a former model, now wife of Tory politician Michael Howard – has spoken to the Daily Mail about meeting Marilyn at Frank Sinatra’s Beverly Hills home in 1961. (Sandra and her first husband, jazz pianist Robin Douglas-Home, were friends of Sinatra at the time.)

“On one occasion he invited Marilyn Monroe to supper: we ate, without ceremony, on little trays as though in front of the TV. Marilyn was a delight. Shy and warm-hearted, she spoke in her trademark self-deprecating semi-whisper. I warmed to her instantly.

She was wearing white Capri pants and a bright orange sweater cut tight to do full justice to her gravity-defying bosom.

Frank told us discreetly that she needed cheering up but didn’t tell us why. He was inherently caring: out-of-work songwriters were kept in hot dinners; he looked after their widows when they died. He had a very loyal streak — and, of course, he was an open-handed host to us.”

‘Icons and Idols’ Auction Details

Full listings for the Icons and Idols auction (December 1-2) are now online at Julien’s Auctions. A print catalogue – featuring a cover shot of the young Marilyn by Joseph Jasgurs – can be ordered (for $100.)

On the subject of Marilyn-related items, collector Scott Fortner has been lucky enough to acquire the ivory cotton coat she wore throughout 1961, and has posted more details on his MM Collection Blog. (She was photographed in the coat while leaving New York’s Polyclinic Hospital in July, having undergone gallbladder surgery.)

 

Time, 1961: Marilyn’s New Role

This article, first published in Time on February 17, 1961, takes a compassionate look at Marilyn’s decision to enter a hospital, following her divorce from Arthur Miller and related emotional problems. It also suggests that in seeking help for her depression, Marilyn was setting a good example to others.

“In seeking help, she may have done more than the psychiatrists to win popular acceptance of a more modern view of mental illness and treatment for it.”

Thanks to Fraser Penney

When ‘Spud’ Murray Met Marilyn

Meredith W. ‘Spud’ Murray, a pitcher for the New York Yankees from 1960-68, died at home in East Waterford, PA, earlier this month. Writing for the Delaware County Times, Ed Gelbhart recalled a conversation with Murray in which he spoke of meeting Marilyn (probably while Joe DiMaggio was training the Yankees in St Petersburg, Florida, in 1961.)

‘Mr. Murray had a thousand stories, like the time all the players were eating at the same hotel during spring training. The great Joe DiMaggio, by now a batting instructor, entered the dining room a little late. He surveyed the scene, noticed an empty seat at Mr. Murray’s table, and decided to eat with him that night.

Later that spring, Mr. DiMaggio introduced “Spud” to Marilyn Monroe.

“Wow, ‘Spud,’ what did you think of Marilyn?” I once asked him.

“Spud,” a master of understatement, simply replied, “She seemed like a nice girl.” ‘

Len Steckler Exhibit in LA

Len Steckler, who photographed a fateful meeting between Marilyn and the poet, Carl Sandburg, in 1961, is the subject of a new exhibition opening today at the Paley Center, Los Angeles.

“The Center’s multimedia showcase includes Steckler’s acclaimed photographic series The Visit, a 1961 chronicle of an encounter between Marilyn Monroe and Carl Sandburg, and Off the Wall, a recent series of images that, in the artist’s words, “challenge our often-dismissive eyes to linger on imagery and experience the discovery of how to ‘see’ what is beautiful and compelling in these complex times.” With video footage of his acclaimed commercials, such as Joe Namath in pantyhose for Hanes, short films, and television projects including the Emmy-winning Free to Be…You and Me rounding out this multifaceted artist’s showcase.

As a commercial artist, he introduced the world to Diet Pepsi and developed major advertising campaigns for AT&T, Revlon, and American Airlines among others. His story illustrations and photography have appeared in a diverse array of publications including the Saturday Evening PostLadies Home JournalLife, and Look magazines, and he helped shape the direction of modern fashion with his stunning fashion photography in Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar.”

 

‘I Was Marilyn Monroe’s Doctor’

During the days immediately preceding her operation, I saw Marilyn two or three times daily. Often she would be sitting moodily as I entered, but as always she suddenly seemed cheered whenever anyone came to see her. Sometimes she would sitting and gazing out at the skyline visible from her room’s window. When she did, her mood seemed to be that of a caged wilting fawn yearning to return to a freer life outside.

Dr Richard Cottrell, who treated Marilyn in 1961  when she had gallbladder surgery, writing in Ladies’ Home Companion (1965.)

Thanks to Suus-Marie at Everlasting Star

Mad Men: ‘Dr Faye Miller’

It’s 1964 and Marilyn Monroe has been dead for two years, but on Madison Avenue her memory is still very much alive. A new character, Dr Faye Miller, is introduced in the latest episode of Mad Men, ‘Every Wall Glares Like a Glass Ceiling’ (Season 4:4.)

Reviewing the episode for the Vanity Fair blog, James Wolcott wrote:

Don and Roger field short hops from their Lucky Strikes client (regarding new restrictions on cigarette advertising), interrupted by questions over the Pond’s Cold Cream focus group being held in Joan’s office, much to Joan’s chagrin, which she manages to express without a single facial move, entirely through inflection and the No drama eloquence of her wrists.

The focus group is led by Dr. Faye Miller (Cara Buono), the blonde psychologist and motivational researcher who appears to be intended as a younger, dishier model of the impeccable Dr. Joyce Brothers, TV’s original princess of pop psychology. Yet I may be doing Dr. Brothers an injustice, because during the 60s her braininess was supposedly driving quite a classy chassis. “She looks like Loretta Young, walks like Marilyn Monroe, and talks like Dr. Freud,” purred a publicity handout at the time. Actually, I seem to recall Dr. Brothers looking and walking more like June Allyson and talking more like a sensible sedative, but perhaps when she presented herself in a roomful of male execs back then, she exuded the porcelain sex-pow that Dr. Faye Miller projects.

‘Faye Miller’ was one of the many pseudonyms used by Marilyn when she checked into hotels and airports incognito. Miller was, of course, the surname of her third husband, playwright Arthur Miller.

Marilyn used the name in February 1961, just after her divorce from Miller, when she entered the Payne-Whitney Psychiatric Hospital. When Monroe’s psychiatrist, Dr Marianne Kris, persuaded her that she needed treatment, Marilyn was unaware that it was a secure unit.

Marilyn’s stay lasted just four days, and it seems her disguise didn’t work as she later told friends of being stared at constantly by patients and staff.

Her experience was traumatic and she blamed Dr Kris, though curiously the analyst was not removed from Monroe’s 1961 will. Weeks before her death in 1962, Marilyn approached her lawyer, Milton Rudin, about changing the will but he did not act in time.

It was Joe DiMaggio, Marilyn’s second husband, who came to her rescue and had her transferred to Columbia Presbyterian, a general hospital where she recuperated in private.

Actress Cara Buono remained tight-lipped about the significance of her character’s name, suggesting to Entertainment Weekly that the MM reference may be explained later:

Your character’s name, “Faye Miller,” was also the pseduonym Marilyn Monroe used when she checked into a mental facility. What’s the significance there?
Well, all that information is revealed bit by bit…we’ll find out if that has any meaning. I wondered how this [interview] would be because we can only talk about the two episodes I’ve been in that already aired. But, yeah…Matt Weiner is such an amazing storyteller and I think everything is deliberate, or not. You find out what everything means — if not in this season, then in another season. Sometimes you’ll have to go back to season 1 or season 2 and think, ‘oh I remember that, that’s what this person meant…’ There’s much more to be revealed, I think.