As many fans will know, Norma Jeane Baker was born in Los Angeles to an absent father and her mother suffered from mental illness. For much of her childhood she stayed with friends and family, and also spent time in an orphanage and in foster care.
As children’s services protect vulnerable families during the coronavirus crisis, Marilyn has been chosen to front a campaign for the Raise a Child non-profit organisation based in her hometown, alongside some of today’s celebrities who have also benefited from fostering.
Although Marilyn’s childhood memories were not all happy, she would later lend her name to numerous children’s charities and was reportedly considering adopting a child in the final months of her life, so this campaign is a wonderful way to honour her legacy.
“The faces of some notable former foster children — screen legend Marilyn Monroe, actress/comedian Tiffany Haddish and Olympic gold-medalist Greg Louganis — are featured prominently in a new street-banner campaign that began this week in an effort to recruit foster and adoptive parents.
The campaign by the nonprofit RaiseAChild — which will run through mid-July — is an effort to increase the number of foster and adoptive homes, particularly in Los Angeles County, which manages the nation’s largest child welfare system with 35,000 children in care, officials said.
‘We’re honored to support RaiseAChild’s mission and bring awareness to this important cause,’ said Katie Jones, vice president of entertainment at Authentic Brands Group, which owns the Marilyn Monroe estate.
Jones said many people are unaware that Monroe grew up in the foster care system and often craved the stability of loving parents and a permanent home.”
Marilyn’s smile was her fortune, and like any glamour girl, she took good care of her teeth. As we can see above, her image was once used to promote Pepsodent toothpaste, and in 1952, she was photographed with Dr. Louis Armann for a magazine spread. As reported by Yahoo Finance today, Authentic Brands Group (ABG), the licensor of Marilyn’s estate, have launched yet another merchandising deal with Oral Fitness by Dale Audrey Inc.’s WHITE2NITE brand (the whitening pen includes a limited edition Swarovski crystal cap.)
The Hard Candy makeup and skincare brand has launched a budget range in partnership with ABG, the licensor of Marilyn’s estate, with items priced at $7 or less and available at Walmart, Allure reports.
Authentic Brands Group (ABG), the licensing company who acquired Marilyn’s estate in 2012, have authorised an adaptation of Keith Badman’s book, The Final Years of Marilyn Monroe, Deadline reports. This project was first announced in 2019 (see here) as a serial drama for BBC television. It’s not stated whether the Beeb is still involved, but Final Years will be co-produced by 101 Studios and the UK’s Seven Seas Films, with a screenplay by Dan Sefton (whose credits include The Good Karma Hospital.) As usual with the film industry, it is likely to be a long process; and with a non-fiction source, it differs from the upcoming Netflix biopic based on Joyce Carol Oates’ controversial novel, Blonde (due for release later this year.) Badman’s biography is worth reading, though not without its flaws – read my review here.
As Zales Jewellery launches a Marilyn-themed diamond range in association with her estate, she is ranked 8th on Forbes‘ list of the thirteen Top-Earning Dead Celebrities of 2019, with $13 million earned in this year alone. Michael Jackson tops the poll for the seventh consecutive year, with Elvis Presley just behind, and Whitney Houston, the only other woman, in 12th place.
Marilyn Monroe: Timeless Elegance, an exhibition featuring items of her personal property from the collections of Greg Schreiner and Scott Fortner, plus photos by Lawrence Schiller, is now on display at the Blancpain boutique on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, in association with the licensing wing of Marilyn’s estate, Authentic Brands Group (ABG) until November 23. The items on display include Marilyn’s diamond-ensconced 1930s Swiss Art Deco watch, purchased by Blancpain from Julien’s Auctions in 2016 for $225,000, and her costume from The Prince and the Showgirl, as Roberta Naas reports for Forbes.
Marilyn makes the front page of today’s Financial Times with news about ABG, the licensor for her estate.
“BlackRock has sealed its first major buyout deal, scooping up Authentic Brands, the celebrity and clothing licensing group, as the world’s largest asset manager tries to muscle in on the private equity boom. The asset manager will pay $870m for a controlling stake in New York-based Authentic Brands, which holds the brand rights to Marilyn Monroe … Authentic Brands, which is led by its founder and chief executive Jamie Salter, licenses 50 brands that together generate $9.3bn in annual retail sales, according to the company. Following the deal, BlackRock will be its largest shareholder.”
Susan Bernard, the actress and archivist for her photographer father Bruno Bernard (or ‘Bernard of Hollywood’), has died aged 71, the New York Times reports.
Her father was a German Jew who fled to America in 1937 to escape Nazi persecution; while her mother Ruth Bernard [née Brandman] was an actress and television director. Susan also had a sister, Celeste, who survives her.
Bruno Bernard would take his first photos of model Norma Jeane Dougherty in 1946, several months before she changed her name. Susan had one hazy memory of seeing Marilyn in her father’s car when she was three or four years old. “It’s almost like a mirage,’ Susan told the San Francisco Chronicle. “An apparition. I remember she had blond hair, and she was called Marilyn. She was very sweet. She giggled a lot.”
In 1965, Susan played ‘Linda’, a teenager kidnapped by a trio of go-go dancers, in Russ Meyer’s Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! That December, Susan became Playboy’s Playmate of the Month after visiting Hugh Hefner’s Chicago office with her father; she was later named among the magazine’s 100 Most Beautiful Women of the 20th century. In That Tender Touch (1969) she played a lesbian, and the film has been preserved as part of Outfest’s Legacy Project. Closing out a wild decade, Susan appeared in two seasons of TV’s General Hospital.
In 1974, Susan married playwright Jason Miller (who also played Father Damian Karras in The Exorcist.) The couple divorced nine years later; their son, Joshua John Miller, is a screenwriter. Susan was also married to publishing guru Stanley J. Corwin, and she wrote and developed TV docudramas about Anais Nin, Ernie Davis and Nellie Bly.
Bruno Bernard died in 1987, the same year his Requiem for Marilyn was published. Susan became his chief archivist, publishing two further Monroe books, Bernard of Hollywood’s Marilyn (1993) and Marilyn: Intimate Exposures (2011.) She also edited a full retrospective, Bernard of Hollywood Pin-Ups (1999), and wrote two books on parenting. She turned ‘Bernard of Hollywood’ into an international brand, entering a partnership with ABG after the licensing company purchased Marilyn’s estate.
“I wanted to not just show photos, but show the back of the photos to show the process of the photographer,” Susan told the Examiner‘s Elisa Jordan in 2011. “I thought that was really interesting where they would literally type a story on a typewriter and they’d cut it out and paste it with tape on the back of a photo. Life was different then! He always wanted to tell the back story. The process of what it was like to be a photographer at that time was very interesting to me and I thought it would be very interesting to other people. And I wanted actually show the negatives. I wanted to show that there is a negative of the flying skirt [from The Seven Year Itch] in existence, and that the original proof sheets do exist. That was one of my goals. In picking the pictures, I just wanted to select the pictures that showed not the obvious glamour pictures, but showed her pensive or thinking—pictures that told a story.”
Marilyn: Intimate Exposures also contained rare photographs of Robert F. Kennedy and his family at the remote ranch home of his friend John Bates in Gilroy, California on the same weekend in 1962 when Marilyn died – in a forceful rebuttal of persistent rumours that the Attorney General visited her at home in Los Angeles on her last day alive (Saturday, August 4th.) As Susan explained, “It gives the reader a glimpse into the private files of a renowned photographer who poured out his soul to set the record straight and defend those who were no longer here to defend themselves.”
Susan made regular public appearances across the USA and Europe to promote her father’s work, and his images of Marilyn. She was a guest speaker at the 2018 memorial service for Marilyn in Westwood Memorial Park. She was also interviewed by filmmaker Ian Ayres for his long-awaited documentary, The Birth of Marilyn.
“Marilyn has been my guardian angel,” Susan told the Huffington Post in 2012. “She picks me up when I am down and gives me strength. She empowered women way before Women’s Lib. Marilyn, the writer Anais Nin, and my mother are my inspirations.”
H&M are currently stocking a women’s T-Shirt licensed by Marilyn’s estate – in dark grey, with a classic Milton Greene image – for just £8.99. The UK webstore currently stocks it in sizes XS, Small and Medium – but if you’re looking for a large or XL, try visiting your local branch.
A new pink gin named after Marilyn will be launched in the UK, as Nicola Carruthers reports for The Spirits Business.
“The gin will be launched as part of a five-year partnership with Authentic Brands Group (ABG), owner of the Marilyn Monroe Estate.
Created at the brand’s 45 West Distillery in Leicestershire, Marilyn Monroe Pink Gin is ‘floral and delicate’, made with cherry blossom, hibiscus, rose and pink grapefruit. The bottle design features the iconic image of Monroe in a white dress.
Burleighs recently restructured its management and sales team, allowing the firm to establish a number of routes to market. The brand has also secured listings in Waitrose, Co-op, the UK’s largest wholesaler Tennent’s and Star Pubs.
The brand expects bottle sales to double again after last year with the introduction of the new pink gin. Marilyn Monroe Pink Gin will be available to the UK trade from July. Burleighs is currently in discussions to release the gin in Asia and the US.”