Actress Sally Kirkland began her career just after Marilyn died, in 1963. She played small roles in some notable films, including The Sting, The Way We Were,A Star Is Born and Private Benjamin, before earning an Oscar nomination for Anna (1987.) She later played Marilyn in The Island, a 1998 comedy which imagines a young man finding Monroe and John F. Kennedy still alive and well on a desert island (which sounds rather like a bizarre sequel to Something’s Got to Give.)
Now 76, Sally has unforunately suffered a head injury after falling during a radio appearance, and is now in hospital undergoing surgery but is expected to make a full recovery. In a 2016 interview with Jeff Cramer for his Stone Cold Crazy blog, she revealed that Marilyn had been an important influence on her career. (The story that Shelley Winters told Sally about Marilyn’s ‘fuck-me shoes’ should probably taken with a large pinch of salt, as Shelley was prone to exaggerate. As far as I know, the phrase was popularised during the 1990s.)
“I stopped being shy sometime in the early ’60s,with what’s called ‘the private moments’ at the Actors Studio where I do my imitation of Marilyn Monroe on the calendar. I would find some way to take my clothes off in a private moment, and with Lee Strasberg’s support. Pretty soon, everybody in the Actors Studio was waiting for me to take my clothes off.
I was obsessed with Marilyn Monroe and also at 18 I had met Shelley Winters who took me under her wing, adopted me. She had lived with Marilyn. So she gave me Marilyn’s shoes that were open toe, open back and they were called ‘Fuck Me Shoes’ according to Shelley. Marilyn’s Fuck Me Shoes. I wore them everywhere. I wore them absolutely everywhere and that gave me the power of being Marilyn Monroe. It also gave me the power to take off all my clothes.”
The tenth anniversary of Arthur Miller’s death is being marked with a London revival of A View From the Bridge – the controversial play that first opened in the same city back in 1956, during filming of The Prince and the Showgirl.
In tribute to Miller, The Guardian has republished a 1998 interview with Labour politician Roy Hattersley, who recalled that Arthur only seemed rattled when asked about Marilyn. (This could have been because their relationship has been so misrepresented in the press.)
“Was there a time when he was to be found by a Hollywood swimming pool in a white dinner jacket? Miller did not even smile. ‘No. I never did that. She wouldn’t have wanted to be there either.’ So she too was a basically serious person? ‘Oh yeah. She had hopes for herself in that direction, but she wasn’t allowed time to develop.’ At the press conference that launched the film version of Terence Rattigan’s Sleeping Prince, Monroe was asked if she really wanted to appear in a stage version of The Brothers Karamazov. [Actually, it was a film version.] She replied that she hoped to play Grushenka, adding, ‘It’s a girl’. The journalist, unwilling to be outsmarted, asked her to spell the name. Miller wrote that, ‘She could not be afforded the dignity of a performer announcing a new project. Sex and seriousness could not exist in the same woman.’ Metaphorically at least, Miller seems to have lived for years with a protective arm around her shoulder, which explains why such a reasonable man took unreasonable exception to the press’s attitude. ‘I thought of her as being very vulnerable, as indeed she was. And the press came in like birds chewing up what was left of the carcass. I understand why they were doing it. She hadn’t gotten out of the old personality – the dumb blonde from Niagara and Asphalt Jungle. She was trying to get out of it.’
‘The last I knew her, I think she was trying to be a tragic actress. She had a tragic life. And part of the attraction of her comedy was that it came out of a very sad person. If you’ve ever known any real funny people – clowns – you know that a lot of them are permanently depressed. In the long run she would probably have ended up as a moderately successful comedienne. Perhaps she already was.’ Questions should have followed about the Kennedys and her death. Decency made them equally oblique. ‘When you look back, do you feel bitter and resentful about what happened to her – bitter and resentful on her behalf?’ The answer was conclusive. ‘The whole thing worked out almost fatefully. The end had to be a tragedy. The cards were stacked too heavily in that direction. There was no way to change that course once she got on it.’ Miller and Joe DiMaggio, the baseball hero who had been Marilyn’s second husband, had agreed at the time of her death that ‘she needed a blessing’. Miller almost smiled. ‘She needed a miracle and there was none available.'”
The 1998 documentary, Marilyn in Manhattan, is now available to view on several video-on-demand channels, reports the New York Post, interviewing Joshua Greene.
“’The Actors Studio, [my father’s] crowd and the jazz scene were doors which took Marilyn into another world which had nothing to do with Hollywood glamour,’ says Greene, who now runs a photo archive in Oregon. ‘She educated herself by surrounding herself with jazz musicians and intellectual minds. It was all about being a professional.’
Meanwhile, Greene still has the stuffed cat with calico fur that Monroe gave him for his second or third birthday. He’s forgotten its name, but will always treasure those playful memories of his beloved stand-in aunt.
‘Water would collect [in the yard] outside our house and I would splash in the puddles,’ he says. ‘I’d be naked as a jaybird, of course, and Marilyn would come and splash with me. We’d have these little water fights, stuff like that. It was pure, simple, innocent fun.’”