Tag Archives: A View From the Bridge

Marilyn at Julien’s: Style and Beauty

Marilyn in costume for 'The Prince and the Showgirl'
Marilyn in costume for ‘The Prince and the Showgirl’

“Marilyn Monroe famously sang ‘Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend,’” Sheila Gibson Stoodley writes for Robb Report, “but collectors of her memorabilia disagree. Seven of the 10 most-expensive Marilyn Monroe items sold at auction are dresses—mainly costumes that the late star wore in her films. The few that she donned outside of the studio earn their high sums thanks to period photographs that prove Monroe wore them.” And over at his MM Collection Blog, Scott Fortner – who helped to catalogue this week’s auction at Julien’s – takes a closer look at the ‘I’m Through With Love‘ dress from Some Like It Hot, and the ‘After You Get What You Want‘ dress from There’s No Business Like Show Business. Both costumes are from the David Gainsborough Roberts collection, and will go under the hammer tomorrow.

4B0C4B67-95B1-4697-9B6F-7F99625E3A20-16590-000008CBD9507BCC_tmpSeveral other items which contributed to Marilyn’s glamorous look are also among the lots. From her modelling days onward, Marilyn often wore her own clothing in photo shoots. These brown leather sandals date back to a 1950 session with photographer Earl Leaf, shot at the Hollywood home of her agent, Johnny Hyde.

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Unlike her cinematic alter-ego Lorelei Lee, Marilyn wasn’t really a material girl. These earrings, worn to the premiere of The Seven Year Itch, were made from simulated diamonds.

Green lace blouse, from 'Bus Stop'
Green lace blouse, from ‘Bus Stop’

Marilyn’s movie costumes were made in duplicates, with her name next to the Fox logo on a sewn-in label. This green lace bodice from Bus Stop was won in a contest by a lucky reader of the British fan magazine, Picture Show.

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These red satin platform shoes – designed by Annello & Davide – were born by Marilyn to the London premiere of Arthur Miller’s controversial play, A View From the Bridge.

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John Moore’s pencil sketches for the form-fitting mermaid gown worn by Marilyn to the premiere of The Prince and the Showgirl are also on offer.

Marilyn’s personal diet plan and skincare regime are available in full.

“A two-page, typed plan titled ‘Calorie Restricted Diet/ 1000 Calories/ 100 Grams Protein’ prepared for Monroe by Dr. Leon Krohn. The pages are undated, but some of the approved foods and meal plans are in line with the notations found in Monroe’s hand in the back of one of her notebooks from 1958. The diet put forth presents sound health advice even by today’s standards, recommending the restriction of sugar, fats and carbohydrates to whole wheat and ‘one small white potato boiled baked or riced’ as a substitution for one slice of bread.

Five sets of instructions, eight pages, from the Erno Laszlo Institute written out for Marilyn Monroe Miller, dated June 5, 6, 11, and 12, 1958, and July 3, 1958, outlining her constantly changing skincare regime in great detail. The instructions not only divide skincare into ‘Morning,’ ‘Evening if dressing,’ and ‘Evening before retiring,’ but also there are instructions on what not to eat: ‘Not one piece of any kind of nuts, olives, chocolate, clams and oysters.’ There are also separate instructions for California and ‘Instructions for Makeup While Making Films.'”

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These white leather shoes by Salvatore Ferragamo are just one of several pairs that she owned. (The spiked heels were 3 inches high, and the size was 7.5B.)

In the spring of 1958, Marilyn made plans to appear at the Cannes Film Festival. Simone Noir sent her an invitation to visit Christian Dior in Paris. Unfortunately, the trip was cancelled, but a separate invoice shows that Marilyn bought a dress and coat by Dior from a Park Avenue boutique.

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That Christmas, Marilyn’s longtime hairdresser, Agnes Flanagan, gave her a bottle of her favourite perfume, Chanel No. 5, purchased from I. Magnin in Beverly Hills.

04CE929F-E2C5-4041-B63B-5942E77CBE29-16590-000008F3381F1DE9_tmpFinally, a costume sketch by Bob Mackie for Something’s Got to Give. Based on a Jean Louis design, the red skirt suit with a swing jacket trimmed in leopard print, and matching hat, was intended as an ‘Outfit Worn on Day Off/Also in Courtroom Sequence.’ However, the ensemble was not worn by Marilyn during wardrobe tests, or any surviving footage from the ill-fated movie.

Marilyn, Arthur and ‘A View From the Bridge’

At the London premiere of 'A View From the Bridge', 1956
At the London premiere of ‘A View From the Bridge’, 1956

Writing for the New Yorker, theatre critic Hilton Als considers the emotive impact of Arthur Miller’s 1955 play, A View From the Bridge, and its symbolic connection to Marilyn.

“In 1951, he made a trip to Los Angeles to work on The Hook, a screenplay he was writing, with the director Elia Kazan. Through Kazan, he met Marilyn Monroe. Returning home, he couldn’t shake the effect that her emotional honesty and beauty had had not only on his stolid middle-class perspective but on his art and his imagination. (One of Miller’s biographers describes him as being emotionally constipated.) The nascent A View from the Bridge remained unfinished, as Miller grappled with the change in himself:

‘For I knew in my depths that I wanted to disarm myself before the sources of my art, which were not in wife alone nor in family alone but, again, in the sensuousness of a female blessing, something, it seemed, not quite of this world. In some diminished sense it was sexual hunger, but one that had much to do with truthfulness to myself and my nature and even, by extension, to the people who came to my plays. . . . Even after only those few hours with Marilyn, she had taken on an immanence in my imagination, the vitality of a force one does not understand but that seems on the verge of lighting up a vast surrounding plain of darkness.’

It was Miller’s good fortune and bad luck that he had found someone who acted as a gateway to greater truth-telling for him as an artist, but who also demanded a degree of attention that took him away from his writing and thus away from a deeper self-examination. By the time he completed his one-act version of A View from the Bridge, Miller and Monroe were romantically involved, but the play still agitated him.

It’s not far-fetched to say that the intimacy Miller struggles with in the play—the intimacy he wants the audience to have with the characters, the intimacy he wants Eddie to have with himself—was due, in part, to the example of Monroe, who drew so much on her own life and feelings in her later roles. Her rawness often led to collapse or hysteria, and it’s that hysteria that sometimes emerges in A View from the Bridge, despite Miller’s attempts to suppress it.

In To the Actors Performing This Play: On Style and Power, a 1964 essay addressed to the actors who were staging the first production of Incident at Vichy, he wrote:

‘Acting has come perilously close to being a species of therapy and has moved too far from art. A too great absorption in one’s own feelings is ordinarily called self-indulgence. . . . It is to be emphasized again that acting is not a private but a social occupation.’

But if the great actors of the day, like Kim Stanley, Marlon Brando, Montgomery Clift, and Monroe—who was unforgettable in her last screen performance, in the 1961 film The Misfits, written by Miller—had put the social responsibility of art first, would they have made the mistakes and the discoveries that make them transcendent poets?”

Marilyn in London: Brian Seed’s View

UK3510_LAURENCE_OLIVIER, MARILYN_MONROE_ARTHUR_MILLERThis photograph of a determined-looking Marilyn, arriving at the Comedy Theatre for the London premiere of husband Arthur Miller’s play, A View From the Bridge, in October 1956 – watched by a wanly smiling Sir Laurence Olivier, with whom she was filming The Prince and the Showgirl – was taken by Brian Seed, an Englishman who worked for Life magazine during the 1950s and 60s. A selection of his work is published today on the Time-Life website.

Unpublished at the time, Brian Seed’s photos of Marilyn are now in demand. In 2013, Brian – who now lives in Illinois – was interviewed by the Chicago Sun-Times. ‘That Marilyn Monroe was a really smart cookie,’ he recalled. ‘Look at this picture — she’s looking directly at me, because she knows I’m likely the only photographer in there who’s working for a magazine, and that the photo that would result would not be used in one day’s paper and then gone forever.’

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From 1998: Miller Shares View of Marilyn

At the UK premiere of 'A View From the Bridge', 1956
At the UK premiere of ‘A View From the Bridge’, 1956

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.'”

Colin Wilson 1931-2013

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Colin Wilson, the British author whose first novel, The Outsider, was published to acclaim in 1956, has died aged 82, reports The Guardian. Initially feted as a major literary discovery, Wilson failed to repeat his early success, but published over a hundred books. He also met Marilyn Monroe in London during filming of The Prince and the Showgirl, as retold on the excellent Nickel in the Machine blog.

“On the 12th October 1956 on his way home from another party (at Faber with TS Eliot in attendance no less), and apparently worse the wear from champagne, Wilson noticed huge crowds outside the Comedy Theatre situated just off the Haymarket. Intrigued he asked the taxi driver to drop him off and he managed to make his way through the thronging crowds to the stage door.

The huge crowds were there to see Marilyn Monroe who was currently in London to appear in a film version of Terrence Rattigan’s play The Sleeping Prince – the film that eventually became The Prince and the Showgirl directed and co-starring Lawrence Olivier.

Marilyn and her husband Arthur Miller had arrived in Britain three months previously in July 1956. The couple had just gone through a tumultuous few weeks. Not only had they just got married the month before but Miller had appeared, three years after his play The Crucible had first been staged, in front of the House Un-American Activities Committee accused of communist sympathies.

Miller had been subpoenaed after applying for a passport to accompany his new wife to London. He refused, in front of the committee, to inform on his friends and fellow writers, and was cited for contempt of Congress – the trial for which would take place the following year.

Monroe, against a lot of advice, had publicly supported Miller through these hearings but generally there was huge worldwide support for the acclaimed playwright. Wary of hurting American credibility around the world, the State Department ignored the committee’s advice and issued Miller with a passport enabling him to accompany his wife to London.

While Marilyn was filming with Lawrence Oliver at Pinewood, Miller decided to put on a rewritten version of his latest play called View From The Bridge to be directed by Peter Brook. The crowds that intrigued Colin Wilson enough to stop his car to investigate, were surrounding The Comedy Theatre in Panton Street hoping to catch a glance of Marilyn Monroe who had come for the premiere of her husband’s play.

Arthur Miller was actually no fan of the ‘trivial, voguish theatre’ of the West End, considering it, not entirely unfairly at the time, as ‘slanted to please the upper middle class’. When the auditions started for View From A Bridge in London he asked the director Peter Brook why all the actors had such cut-glass accents. ‘Doesn’t a grocer’s son ever want to become an actor?’ he asked. Brook replied, ‘These are all grocer’s sons.’

Ironically at the end of the auditions a Rugby-educated lawyer’s son called Anthony Quayle came closest to portraying a working-class American accent and he was chosen to play the main part of Eddie the New York docker.

Luckily Colin Wilson had recently become a slight acquaintance of Anthony Quayle and after pushing through the crowds surrounding the stage-door he used Quayle’s name to be allowed to the party back-stage. He soon saw Marilyn standing alone in front of a mirror where she was trying to pull up a, very beautiful, but tight strapless dress. Wilson noted that, despite her best efforts, the dress ‘was slipping down towards her nipples’. Not wasting the chance of a lifetime, he went to introduce himself – ‘I had been told she was bookish’, he once remembered .

According to Wilson there was a definite ‘connection’ with Marilyn and she actually grasped his hand as they made their way through the throng to their waiting cars.

A gossip columnist buttonholed Wilson before he left the party and asked what he was doing there. Wilson said that he had spent the evening hoping to talk to TS Eliot and ended up meeting Marilyn Monroe.

The next morning the columnist duly wrote about the young author meeting Marilyn at the premiere adding that Wilson, while there, had been asked to write a play for Olivier.”

The Millers arrive at the Comedy Theatre
The Millers arrive at the Comedy Theatre

Michelle Morgan interviewed Wilson for her 2012 biography, Marilyn Monroe: Private and Undisclosed, detailing a second encounter between Wilson and MM:

“On 18 November, during a last public appearance in England, the Millers attended an intellectual discussion at the Royal Court Theatre. The event was supposed to be dedicated to the state of British drama, but was quickly transformed into a war of words between authors Colin Wilson and Wolf Mankowitz. The two members had opposing views on most subjects, leaving the other members of the discussion panel, Arthur Miller, Kenneth Tynan and Benn Levy, lost for words. Sitting on the fourth row and dressed demurely in a black suit, Mrs Miller looked tired but calm as the discussion took place on stage. Wolf Mankowitz remembered that there was a great deal of excitement when Marilyn entered the building, as once again there were rumours abounding that the star was pregnant. He recalled that there was a lot of fuss in order to find her a seat, and many people were ‘running around as if she were about to have a baby on the spot.’

Having been brought in to discuss great British drama, Mankowitz was disappointed to discover that Marilyn’s presence destroyed the point of the occasion, as the audience was far more interested in trying to see her, and Arthur Miller seemed so preoccupied that he could hardly concentrate on the discussion at all. Still, Mankowitz managed to say a few words to Marilyn at the end of the discussion, although he remembered she wasn’t too communicative – something he put down to the rumoured pregnancy.

Colin Wilson also remembered meeting Marilyn in the backstage of the theatre, after the discussion had ended. By this time the crowds had become huge outside, so Wilson found himself helping the Millers make their escape by the back door, and recalled Marilyn grabbing his hand during the ensuing escape.”

Marilyn at the Royal Court Theatre
Marilyn at the Royal Court Theatre

Brian Seed: Photographing Marilyn

Native Londoner Brian Seed photographed Marilyn in 1956, in full movie star regalia at a theatre premiere with her new husband, Arthur Miller, on a night off from filming The Prince and the Showgirl in England, reports the Chicago Sun-Times.

These rare pictures – unattributed until now – will be displayed at this year’s Ray Bradbury Dandelion Wine Festival, today at Bowen Park in Waukegan, Illinois, where Brian now lives.

“‘That Marilyn Monroe was a really smart cookie,’ said Seed, a retired freelance photographer for Life magazine.

Sifting through photos he took of the Hollywood icon in October 1956, he says: ‘Look at this picture — she’s looking directly at me, because she knows I’m likely the only photographer in there who’s working for a magazine, and that the photo that would result would not be used in one day’s paper and then gone forever.’

As it turned out, Seed’s photos from that night outside London’s Comedy Theatre would sit unseen for more than a half-century.

Though Seed was pleased with his results, Life editors didn’t use any of the images they commissioned of Monroe. The magazine would eventually release a career’s worth of negatives to Seed in the late 1970s and he filed everything away until recently stumbling across the images.”

 

Scarlett Johansson on Monroe Comparisons

As Catherine in Arthur Miller's 'View From the Bridge'

Actress Scarlett Johansson is often compared to Marilyn as a sex symbol and comedienne, and she has channelled the Monroe look in many photo shoots. However, as she told USA Today recently, she has no plans to play MM onscreen:

‘Two years ago, Johansson made her Tony-winning Broadway debut a neighborhood away in A View From the Bridge by Arthur Miller, the former husband, of course, of the icon she’s constantly held up against, Monroe.
And though her View part, Catherine Carbone, is legendarily loosely based on Miller’s ex-wife, don’t expect Johansson to become the next in the line of blondes (and one redhead) who have lately channeled the quintessential celluloid siren on screen and in magazine pages.

“There’s a lot there to explore, and I like to watch other people do it, but I have no interest” in joining the Monroe biopic brigade.

“It’s lovely to be compared to somebody as sort of effervescent and charming and fragile and I think kind of an underrated actor, really,” Johansson says. And “you know, beautiful and everything. But it’s never been one for me.”‘