Avedon, the Greenes and Marilyn

Amy and Joshua Greene with Paula Strasberg and Marilyn during filming of ‘Bus Stop’, 1956

Amy Greene is one of many luminaries interviewed by authors Norma Stevens and Steven M.L. Aronson for Avedon: Something Personal, in which she reveals the ties between Milton and Avedon, and later, Marilyn.

“One night in 1950, the photographer Milton Greene was having one of his Friday night open-houses in his penthouse studio, in the old Grand Central Palace building on Lexington Avenue. The room was packed with art directors, admen, models, photographers, actors, and dancers. Dick [Avedon] introduced himself to a fragile-looking blonde with almond-shaped eyes who was standing alone against the wall of the loggia – a wallflower. He broke the ice with, ‘How do you know Milton?’ She said, ‘I was married to him,’ and she filled Dick in: They were high-school sweethearts who had tied the knot in 1942 when she, Evelyn Franklin, was eighteen.

Dick said he was instantly taken by Evie’s feyness and elusiveness … He invited her to dinner that night at the Oyster Bar at Grand Central Terminal. From there the relationship took off like a choo-choo train, and the couple got hitched at the end of January 1951.

Avedon with his wife Evelyn in 1955

Milton Greene had meanwhile taken up with a cute Cuban-born model whom Dick had ‘discovered’, Edilia Franco (Conover, the modeling agency he sent her to, changed her first name to Amy and her last name to – in a nod to Dick – Richards.) In the spring of 1952, the year before he married Amy, Milton invited Dick and Evie to Sunday lunch in the country. ‘I wasn’t feeling so hot,’ Amy recalls. ‘I told Milton I wasn’t up to coming down. ‘Listen,’ he said, ‘I went through this shit for seven years with Evelyn, and I’m not going to put up with it from you. So get the hell up, put something decent on, and make an effort!’ He told me that one of the reasons he divorced Evelyn was she would stay in bed for days on end.

‘When Dick was in Hollywood for three months in 1956 consulting with Paramount on Funny Face, Milton was there producing Bus Stop with Marilyn, and Evelyn and I met for lunch,’ Amy recalls. ‘She and Dick were renting Marilyn and Joe DiMaggio’s old ‘honeymoon house’ on North Palm Drive in Beverly Hills, and she complained that the tour buses would drive by several times a day and the guide would make a big thing over the megaphone about the master bedroom – she said it was sexually inhibiting. The minute Evie discovered that I detested Milton’s mother as much as she did, she started giggling, and we became sort of friends. I remember her grousing that all Dick ever did was work. So I guess there wasn’t much reason for her to get out of bed.’

The former DiMaggio home on North Palm Drive, occupied by the Avedons in 1956

Five years into his marriage to Evie, a movie inspired by Dick’s [first] marriage … lit up screens across the country. ‘Funny Face, by the way, wasn’t really about me. They just used my early fashion escapades as a pretext to make a glamorous musical extravaganza …’ (Avedon)

Amazingly, Dick’s boyhood idol, Fred Astaire, now an old boy of 57, played the 25 year-old lead, named Dick; Audrey Hepburn played Doe, renamed Jo … The day Fred Astaire made his leap into death, some thirty years after Funny Face, Dick appeared in the doorway to [Norma Stevens’] office with tears running down his cheeks. ‘I didn’t cry when Marilyn died, I didn’t cry when [Alexey] Brodovitch (Avedon’s art director at Harper’s Bazaar) died, he told [Stevens.}”

Amy and Joshua Greene Remember Marilyn

In a new interview for the Hello Giggles website, Joshua and Amy Greene talk about Marilyn and their spectacular book, 50 Sessions: The Essential MM By Milton Greene.

“On meeting Marilyn for the first time at Gene Kelly’s house:

AG: So, I also have to tell you that very few people in Hollywood had ever seen Marilyn because she was almost a recluse. She got up, she went to work, and she came back. So Milton said, ‘I’m gonna get Marilyn’ and come back to Gene’s house, [and] that’s where I met her. She came walking in. She was wearing a big Polo coat and no makeup. Her hair looked good. I sort of waved at her and she waved at me. The first break, I went over to her and she threw her arms around me and said, I’m delighted to meet you, and I kissed her. It was lovely because we became girlfriends.

On finding out about Marilyn’s death:

AG: We were in France, in Paris. Milton was doing the collections for Life magazine, and there was a radio. I kept saying, ‘Well let’s try to get some music or something.’ All we got was news, news, news, and neither one of us could understand French that well. All of a sudden, the words Marilyn Monroe came on. We didn’t know what it was. So, we went to [Château de] Fontainebleau, had a wonderful picnic lunch, drove back to Paris, and the first thing we heard—the telephone was ringing off the wall. It was Arthur Jacobs, who was her publicist trying to get us all day. And he said Marilyn’s dead. […] I collapsed. Milton was staggering. That was the last thing we expected.

On the subconscious feminism of Marilyn and Marilyn Monroe Productions:

JG: When you look at the history of what she was up against, what she did—she knew exactly what she was doing with men, and she knew exactly what she wanted to do for herself. With the right help [and] the right people, she was able to change and break the chain, break the glass ceiling, for someone with essentially no power and no money in the ‘50s as a woman. You gotta look at it through those rose-colored glasses. There’s movements that were created based on her life path—things that she wasn’t necessarily doing for that reason—she was just fighting for her freedom.”

Marilyn and the Bullet Bra

89d4cea2d062e0aaa73100b6f64332f5In an article for the Daily Mail about the current revival of vintage-style lingerie, Sandra Howard recalls a youthful encounter with Marilyn. Sandra Howard is a former model, and is now married to the Conservative politician, Michael Howard. She has spoken about her memories of Marilyn before, and fictionalised their meeting in her 2014 novel, Tell the Girl.

“There is one – or rather two – very striking things I remember from meeting Marilyn Monroe.

It was during the early Sixties and I was in California with my first husband [Robin Douglas Home], who was writing a book about Frank Sinatra. I was having the time of my life.

There I was – barely out of my teens – hobnobbing with the likes of Sinatra and meeting all the stars I’d gawped at on the big screen back home.

What did we talk about? I wish I could remember. You see, Marilyn was wearing a silky, clingy, tangerine sweater with cream Capri pants and strappy heels.

But what stood out most of all – what grabbed the attention of everyone in the room, including me, and made us lose all rational thought – were her pointy breasts.

They stuck out like a pair of rockets ready to be launched, upholstered to perfection in the bra shape she made famous: the pointy bullet bra, the shape of the Fifties and Sixties.”

blackandwhite_20_28120_29In private, Marilyn often spurned underwear, but can be seen wearing pointy bras in some professional photos, and during public appearances. According to her friend, Amy Greene, she also wore a bra in bed to keep her bust firm.

The ‘tangerine sweater’ recalled by Sandra Howard is probably the Pucci number worn by Marilyn in this 1962 photo by George Barris. On that occasion, however, she did not appear to be wearing a bra.

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Amy Greene on Marilyn

Amy Greene, widow of Milton Greene, was interviewed recently by Gotham magazine:

“What was it like to live with Marilyn Monroe?
AMY GREENE: I’m a very secure woman, so she was fine. She never got out of line, and I never got out of line, and we became girlfriends. As Sinatra said, ‘She was a good broad.’ I love that statement. You young people don’t know what that means, but it is the highest compliment that a man like Sinatra could say about anybody.

Did she teach you anything?
AG: No, well, makeup! She did teach me one thing, how to brighten the areas around your eyes with a lightener . . . She and I would practice endlessly on making each other over. She would make me over, I would make her over, I mean, what else do you have to do, you’re husband’s working in New York, and you’re in Connecticut.

Would you say Marilyn’s public persona today reflects who she was as a woman?
AG: The interesting thing, and I was thinking about this yesterday, was in the ’50s she was strictly candy for men, but since the feminist movement—which started around my dining room table, thank you very much—women have accepted her, they no longer make fun of her. So in the end, she’s earned respect, which is what she wanted.”

 

New York Shows Love for Marilyn

A launch party for Love, Marilyn was held in New York yesterday, celebrating its upcoming broadcast on HBO (this Monday, June 17th.) Director Liz Garbus is pictured above with actors Jack Huston (John’s grandson), and Lili Taylor, who appear in the film. Among the other guests was Amy Greene.

Variety reports on the event:

“In a room in HBO’s corporate headquarters, attendees enjoyed a beautiful view of Bryant Park and were left to wonder what the exact ingredients were of a ‘Norma Jean’, a purplish concoction created for the event. (The answer? Watermelon-infused vodka and simple syrup, according to a bartender.)

‘You can feel Marilyn through this cacophony of voices,’ said Liz Garbus, the movie’s director.

It’s ‘thespians on thespians,’ said Taylor.

And sometimes, you get the straight story. One of the people featured in the film is Amy Greene, a former model who was a friend of the screen icon.

‘I’m the only one that knew her, and I’m saying what actually happened,’ said Greene, holding forth in a coat closet so her raspy voice could be heard above the din of the reception. ‘No bullshit.'”

Liz Garbus, Lili Taylor, the Today Show

Garbus and Taylor also appeared on The Today Show, and you can view the footage here.

Marilyn also made the cover of the New York Post‘s entertainment section yesterday. Read the full article here.

“‘She wasn’t dumb at all,’ says actress Ellen Burstyn, one of the film’s readers. ‘She was smart — and very well-read. She read all the time, trying to educate herself. But she was fragile. She didn’t have the strength that someone gets if they have a loving mother and father. She was knocked around in foster homes, and she just didn’t have any psychological solidity.’

Still, says Burstyn, ‘she was smart enough to create the character of Marilyn Monroe.’

Amy Greene, widow of Monroe’s favorite photographer, Milton Greene, says Monroe was a lot more clever than she got credit for. ‘She knew everybody loved her as a dumb blonde, and the minute she got off the set she wasn’t that way,’ she says. ‘She was playing a character.'”

Liz Smith on ‘Love, Marilyn’

Amy Greene with Liz Garbus, by Matt Carr

Columnist Liz Smith has reviewed Love, Marilyn for the Huffington Post.

“It is the female stars Ms. Garbus lured that lift the film…the women who recite Marilyn’s own words–alternately scattered, precise, desperate, hopeful. There’s not a false note anywhere. Every woman seems deeply affected. As Garbus said, ‘Marilyn speaks to every woman’s inner self–love, family, the desire for perfection, satisfaction in her work. And the fears that she cannot ‘have it all.'”

Smith has also interviewed Amy Greene, widow of photographer Milton Greene, who helped Marilyn establish her own production company.

“Amy is much as she was more than 50 years ago–highly attractive, chic, acerbic. She was fond of Marilyn, but it is a fondness devoid of sentimentality. ‘She wanted to be a movie star. A sex-symbol. She loved it. And she also wanted to be a great actress. She never saw why she couldn’t be both! And she sat in on every meeting. She knew what was going on, all the time.'”

 

 

Variety Reviews ‘Love, Marilyn’

Variety has reviewed Love, Marilyn, giving us a fuller picture of the cast and materials. (David Strathairn as Arthur Miller is surely inspired casting!)

“With: F. Murray Abraham, Elizabeth Banks, Adrien Brody, Ellen Burstyn, Glenn Close, Hope Davis, Viola Davis, Jennifer Ehle, Ben Foster, Paul Giamatti, Jack Huston, Stephen Lang, Lindsay Lohan, Janet McTeer, Jeremy Piven, Oliver Platt, David Strathairn, Marisa Tomei, Lili Taylor, Uma Thurman, Evan Rachel Wood, Lois Banner, George Barris, Patricia Bosworth, Sarah Churchwell, Amy Greene, Molly Haskell, Jay Kanter, Richard Meryman, Thomas Schatz, Donald Spoto.

Two unearthed boxes of diary entries, letters and whatnot (some of which were published in 2010 as Fragments: Poems, Intimate Notes, Letters by Marilyn Monroe) provide the novelty and appeal to what would otherwise be a standard life-overview. The erstwhile Norma Jean Baker’s awful childhood, her stormy marriages to Joe DiMaggio and Arthur Miller, the paralyzing effects of her insecurities on film shoots, her problematic alliance with the Actors Studio, her pill consumption, et al., all constitute familiar terrain that makes Love, Marilyn seem redundant at times.

The first-person testimonies are more interesting, from archival clips of Susan Strasberg, John Huston, Joshua Logan, Jane Russell, Laurence Olivier and others to excerpts from memoirs and other writings by one of her many shrinks (read by F. Murray Abraham), Miller (David Strathairn), and analysts Gloria Steinem (Hope Davis) and Norman Mailer (Ben Foster), among others. Particularly flavorful are Oliver Platt and Paul Giamatti as Billy Wilder and George Cukor, respectively, both recalling their exasperation working with the hypersensitive box office sensation. There are also present-tense interviews with biographers, critics, Actors Studio contemporary Ellen Burstyn, and close non-celebrity friend Amy Greene (who shares some salty thoughts on Marilyn’s husbands).

While there’s no question Garbus has recruited first-rate talent to pay homage here, some of the most impressive names prove heavy-handed or simply miscast in attempting to channel the love goddess’s fragile spirit; moreover, having them act against green-screened archival materials has a tacky, pop-up televisual feel. Probably most effective in their straightforward readings are Jennifer Ehle, who gets a fair amount of screentime, and (perhaps surprisingly) Lindsay Lohan, who does not.

Limiting clips from predictable movie highlights, and skipping over several well-known titles entirely, the pic tries to emphasize lesser-known materials, including numerous candid photos, behind-the-scenes footage, and one uncomfortable live appearance on TV’s Person to Person.”

‘My Week With Marilyn’: Truth or Fantasy?

The Los Angeles Times reports on the mystery surrounding Colin Clark’s story in My Week With Marilyn, speaking to Michelle Williams, and also those who knew Monroe well during this period, including Amy Greene and Joan Copeland (Arthur Miller’s sister.)

‘Michelle Williams, who spent months watching Monroe’s films and devouring biographies on her, acknowledges that she found Clark to be an “unreliable narrator.”

“When you read both of his books, you do get the sense that he’s writing with the advantage of hindsight, and he’s put some awfully big words in his own mouth,” said the actress, who added that before filming she did not speak to anyone who had known Monroe personally. “I think he says in the book that Marilyn wanted to make love, but he said, ‘Oh, no!’ And you’re like, ‘Oh, sure.’ I’m sure that there was a relationship there. To what extent it was consummated, I don’t know.”

“I was there every day, and I knew what was happening. [Clark] was on the set, and he was a gofer — ‘Hey, I need a cup of coffee,’ or whatever. No one regarded him as anything but a gofer,” said Amy Greene, the widow of Milton Greene, a photographer who was vice president of Monroe’s production company…

Director Simon Curtis and screenwriter Adrian Hodges denied they were ever approached by Greene’s relatives. “The fact that these books were in the public arena and had been cherished by people over the years gave me confidence,” said Curtis. “I have no reason to doubt Colin’s version. Who is to say what happened in those bedrooms on those nights?”

“I never heard anything about the romance. That might be somebody’s illusion. Arthur would not have talked to me about that anyway, if there was an affair,” Copeland said. “But as far as I know, the [other] events they describe are pretty accurate. She was often late and kept people waiting on set. And I know that Arthur found it very difficult to work in that situation.”

But Don Murray, 82, who costarred with Monroe in “Bus Stop,” the film she acted in immediately before “Showgirl,” said he thought a Monroe-Clark romance was conceivable.

“I think that it’s quite possible, because of the disillusionment of her marriage, and she was very, very insecure in her relationships and didn’t really believe in loving forever,” Murray said. “I think it’s quite plausible that something happened and they handled it discreetly.”‘

Zolotow’s Marilyn: Life With the Greenes

With business partner Milton Greene, 1955

These latest extracts from Zolotow’s 1960 biography, first published in the Los Angeles Daily Mirror, recounts Marilyn’s split from husband Joe DiMaggio, and her decision to leave Hollywood; her business partnership with photographer Milton Greene and her personal relationship with his wife, Amy (Marilyn stayed at their Connecticut home in the winter of 1954-55, before moving to New York.)