The Millers at Parkside

Marilyn and Arthur cycling in Windsor Park, 1956

Mike Pope worked as a gardener for the Oliviers at their Notley Abbey home in Buckinghamshire when Marilyn Monroe came to England to film The Prince and the Showgirl in 1956. Marilyn and her husband, Arthur Miller, stayed at nearby Parkside House, Englefield Green, Surrey.

Pope recalls that Vivien Leigh loved tending roses, but his memories of the Millers are succinct:

“He was around for what he hoped would be the most amazing visitor of all – Marilyn Monroe, who was coming to discuss her role with Olivier in The Prince and the Showgirl.

‘We’d been brushing our hair for weeks in anticipation,’ he smiles. But then landed a major blow.

‘We were told by the head gardener that no one was to come up to the house while Marilyn and her husband, Arthur Miller, were staying.

We asked who was going to milk the cattle and remove the cowpats – the Oliviers liked it all tidied up – but they were adamant. In the end the security guards had to milk the cows by hand for two days!'”

Read Mike’s interview in full at the Dorset Echo

Marilyn’s Letters at Bonham’s

A letter written by the young Norma Jeane Dougherty to her half-sister, Berniece Miracle, in June 1945, is among the Marilyn-related documents on auction at Bonham’s and Butterfield’s on Wednesday, April 20.

Also included are Marilyn’s first offer on her Brentwood home from 1962, and a letter from Arthur Miller to director George Cukor, thanking him for his kindness to Marilyn during filming of Let’s Make Love in 1960.

“I just wanted to thank you for the way you have behaved toward Marilyn. The picture, of course, is important to her and to you, but immeasurably more important are the precious days and weeks of her life which your patience and skill and understanding have made humanly meaningful for her. I have never known her so happy at work, so hopeful for herself, so prepared to cast away the worst of her doubts. You must know now some of the reasons why she is so precious to me and will understand the sincerity of my respect for you. / I am at work here, but I don’t know how long I’ll be able to bear this bachelorhood…”

Speaking for Bonham’s, Kathryn Williamson described Monroe as the most ‘collectable’ of stars.

‘Misfits’ Photo Book Reissued

The Misfits: Story of a Shoot, including an essay by Serge Toubiana, an interview with Arthur Miller, and over 200 photos from the Magnum Archive, is being reissued in paperback.

“That we know the story, know what happens after the picture finished, know the heartache, sweat and sheer guts it took to bring the picture to fruition only adds to the book’s greatness. Like I say, whatever your thoughts on the movie, the story of the movie had all the makings of a legend. ‘The Misfits: Story of a Shoot’ treats the legend as is fitting– with class, quality and respect. A truly beautiful publication, the book is one of my personal favorites and will be treasured by any who find it.”

David Marshall, author of ‘The DD Group’ and ‘Life Among the Cannibals’

Honouring ‘The Misfits’

Eve Arnold, 1960

Deanne Stillman, author of MustangTwentynine Palms and Joshua Tree, and an expert on the American West, attended a 50th anniversary screening of The Misfits at the University of Nevada last week, as part of their ‘Honoring the Horse’ exhibition.

She has written an essay on this ‘iconic and underrated’ film, considering what The Misfits can tell us about the West today and why it has often been described as a ‘doomed’ project.

“As I see it, what doomed the cast was the story—the act of re-creating it, living with it and inside it, bedding down at night with the dark heart of the country, having coffee with it in the morning, and, in the end, not telling the truth. For as mighty as it was, The Misfits was essentially another Hollywood lie … In the weeks after The Misfits wrapped, Marilyn would sit for hours in a disguise and watch the horse carousel at the Santa Monica pier. We do not know what was on her mind and in her heart as the gaily painted animals turned forever. A fragile soul on and off the screen, she may have given great thought to what was really going on in Nevada, and to the fact that her lover, Arthur Miller, had torqued the truth to resurrect her career and, because she was in love with him, she had played alone. ‘I don’t know where I belong,’ she tells Perce in the movie—and perhaps she found a moment at the carousel.”

You can read the article in full at Truthdig

Dougray Scott on Playing Arthur Miller

Fan art, Dougray Scott at right

Actor Dougray Scott (Ripley’s Game, Desperate Housewives) will play Arthur Miller in the forthcoming movie, My Week With Marilyn. It will be interesting to see how Miller is portrayed, as Colin Clark was not very sympathetic to him in his memoir, on which the film is based.

“Arthur Miller is also an iconic figure. You have to forget the expectations of other people. He was already established by the time he met Marilyn Monroe and was one of the greatest playwrights of the 20th century. It was great to be able to play him as well. I knew I wanted to be an actor when I read his play, Death Of A Salesman, at school. My dad was a salesman and it gave me a way to get out of my skin.”

Dougray Scott, Daily Record

Miller Reference in ‘The Good Wife’

Nancy Crozier (played by Mamie Gummer) is a recurring character in US legal drama, The Good Wife. In Season 2, Episode 4 (‘Cleaning House’), Crozier, who works for a rival firm, is appointed co-counsel on a case with Alicia Florrick (Julianna Marguiles.)

Florrick is defending a DJ at a nightclub where a young woman died in a stampede, while Crozier represents the security firm on duty when the tragedy occurred.

Judge Jared Quinn is a chauvinist who throws Alicia out of court for wearing trousers. Crozier wins Quinn over when she sees a photograph of his daughter in a high-school production of Arthur Miller’s 1964 play, After the Fall. She tells him that she once played Maggie (the character believed to be based on Marilyn Monroe), and quotes the line, ‘You tried to kill me, mister. I been killed by a lot of people, some couldn’t hardly spell, but it’s the same, mister.’

In the courtroom, Crozier exaggerates her ditzy blonde persona, stating that she knows nothing about the drug world while asking leading questions. She insinuates that the other clubgoers, high on PCP, became aggressive and attacked the woman.

It soon becomes clear that Crozier is seeking to clear the security firm of blame while showing Alicia’s client in a negative light. However, Alicia’s assistant discovers that the skids for holding the revolving stage were uncovered that night, which had caused the guests to trip and fall on top of the victim.

Therefore, Alicia finally outwits Crozier. It is interesting that Crozier had previously played a Monroe-like character in a play, because like Monroe, she is far more intelligent than she lets on, and uses her feminine wiles to manipulate men.

However, unlike Marilyn, Crozier is tough and calculating. Her character is also reminiscent of Elle Woods, the attorney played by Reese Witherspoon in the 2001 comedy, Legally Blonde.

In another plot twist, a deposition made to Alicia by Glenn Childs (Titus Welliver), Peter Florrick’s political rival, is leaked to the press. Childs believes (incorrectly) that Alicia, Florrick’s wife, is the source of the leak.

What’s also intriguing here is that Welliver previously played Joe DiMaggio in the 2001 mini-series, Blonde, while Griffin Dunne, who plays Judge Quinn in the After the Fall sequence, also featured in Blonde as the play’s author, Arthur Miller.

Finally, if Mamie Gummer (Crozier) looks familiar to you, she is, in fact, the 27 year-old daughter of acting legend Meryl Streep. Gummer also stars in the new medical drama, Off The Map, and will appear in John Carpenter’s forthcoming horror flick, The Ward.

Shopping for Menswear With Marilyn

Sam Shaw, 1957

“Sam Anfang owned Gentree, a men’s clothing store in midtown Manhattan, from 1933 to 1978. He turns 100 years old Dec. 31.

‘Arthur Miller was a customer of mine for his whole life. Then Marilyn Monroe married Arthur Miller and it was a great fuss all over the country. So Life magazine called me up one day and said they would like to have Marilyn Monroe come over to the store to shop there, and they wanted to take pictures.  I used to call up to find out what’s doing down at the store, and my partner says to me, ‘The store is closed.’ I said, ‘What do you mean it’s closed?’ He says, ‘Marilyn Monroe is here, they spotted her, they had cops in front of the store and everything.’ I asked, ‘Well, what does she look like?’ He says, ‘Sam, she’s got a dress on with nothing underneath, she’s absolutely fabulous!’

AM New York

After Marilyn: Arthur at the Chelsea Hotel

After separating from Marilyn Monroe in October 1960, Arthur Miller lived for six years at New York’s bohemian Chelsea Hotel. It was during this period that he wrote one of his most divisive plays, After The Fall (1964), seemingly based on his two marriages (the self-destructive singer, Maggie, is reminiscent of Marilyn), and was remarried for a third time to photographer Inge Morath (whom he had first met during filming of The Misfits) in 1962.

Miller noted in his memoir, ‘Timebends’, that it was a place where you could get high from the marijuana smoke in the elevators, deeming the hotel “the high spot of the surreal”. “This hotel does not belong to America,” he wrote. “There are no vacuum cleaners, no rules and shame.” Elsewhere, he paid tribute to the two prevailing atmospheres during that decade: “A scary and optimistic chaos which predicted the hip future and at the same time the feel of a massive, old-fashioned, sheltering family.”

The Observer

Zolotow’s Marilyn: An Unquiet Spirit

“Marilyn Monroe’s great achievement has been the making of herself and the imposition of her will and her dream upon a whole world. Joseph Conrad wrote that when we are born we fall into a dream. Norma Jeane Mortenson, called Norma Jean Baker, fell into the most extravagant of dreams. She made it come true. She made it come true by making herself. She made herself beautiful. She made herself an artist. She triumphed in that arena where the loveliest women in the world contend fiercely for the prizes.

In one sense, then, her life is completed, because her spirit is formed and has achieved itself. No matter what unpredictable events may lie in her future, they cannot change what she is and what she has become. And there will be many surprises and alterations in her life ahead; there will be, in Hart Crane’s phrase, ‘new thresholds, new anatomies’.

In her heart is a questing fever that will give her no peace, that drives her on ‘to strive, to seek, to find,’ and then to strive and seek again. Her soul was always be restless, unquiet.”

This is the final extract from Maurice Zolotow’s 1960 book, Marilyn Monroe: An Uncensored Biography, first printed in the Los Angeles Daily Mirror on December. It covers the filming of Let’s Make Love, and a postscript details her much-publicised affair with co-star Yves Montand.

Zolotow’s biography, considered a definitive early work on Monroe, was reissued in 1990 with a further chapter on The Misfits, and an intriguing prologue where Zolotow describes his first meeting with the actress, at a Hollywood party in 1952, when she was still on the cusp of stardom. They would meet again ten years later, at the Actor’s Studio in New York, after Zolotow’s book was published.