The Life archive has taken a look back at the career of actress Sheree North, who replaced Marilyn after she refused to appear in Fox’s How to Be Very, Very Popular (1955.) The parallels between them are also noted in a separate article by Jen Carlson for LAist.com.
Monroe didn’t take the threat very seriously, telling columnist Earl Wilson rather impishly, “Sometimes I kid the fans. They say, ‘Oh, you’re Marilyn Monroe!’ I say, ‘Oh no, I’m Mamie Van Doren’ – or, ‘Sheree North’ – if I’m in a real hurry.”
Six years Marilyn’s junior, Sheree was groomed by the studio as a stand-in for their rebellious star. This was not her decision, as she had no wish to dethrone MM. She later became a respected character actress, even playing Gladys Baker in the TV movie, Marilyn: The Untold Story (1980.)
In 2008, three years after her death, a photo of Ms North being dressed for her role in How to Be Very Very, Very Popular by costume designer Travilla was misidentified as Marilyn in a number of leading newspapers, including the Telegraph.
Fade to Black, a 1980 slasher flick about a young man who becomes infatuated with a Marilyn Monroe lookalike (played by Australian actress and MM impersonator, Linda Kerridge) is reviewed today on the Retroist blog.
Here’s another take on the MM connection, from Unknown Movies:
“Then there is the part of the movie surrounding Kerridge’s character. After she misses the date she had with Binford, the movie simply forgets about her until near the end of the movie. Oh wait – there’s the scene midway through when Binford visits her during the night to do something that makes no sense when you consider how Binford has been treating everyone else that has done him wrong. In any case, it’s still somewhat jarring to see her character suddenly appear again after being forgotten about for so long. Come to think of it, I think every subplot in the movie gets stretched out like this instead of playing out with a more tight feeling.”
Fade to Black‘s other claim to fame is a brief appearance by the young Mickey Rourke.
“Catherine Hicks‘s performance in the 1980 made-for-television biography Marilyn: The Untold Story is generally regarded as the best biographical portrayal of Marilyn Monroe. Produced by Lawrence Schiller, the photographer who took the famous nude photos of Marilyn on the set of Something’s Got to Give, Marilyn: The Untold Story was based on Norman Mailer’s ‘novel biography.’
The film was enhanced by the participation of three talented directors, including Hollywood veteran Jack Arnold. The impressive roster of behind-the-scenes personnel ensured pleasant entertainment, but the three-hour drama lacks insight into Marilyn’s personality and fails to add anything new to the Monroe lore and literature.
Hicks, whose thoughtful performance is the highlight of the production, managed to capture Marilyn’s voice and mannerisms and suggest her alluring presence without resorting to caricature.
Hicks received a well-earned Emmy nomination. (In an ironic twist, Monroe ‘replacement’ Sheree North appears in this film in the role of Marilyn’s mother.)” – Susan Doll, author of Marilyn: Her Life and Legend
The opening scenes from this hard-to-find biopic are now on Youtube, with more to follow.