Marilyn and Clifford Odets

‘Clash by Night’ (1952)

One of Marilyn Monroe’s strongest early film roles was as Peggy, the feisty cannery worker in Clash by Night (1952), based on a play by Clifford Odets.

Marilyn knew Odets quite well and later played Lorna Moon in a scene from his most famous play, Golden Boy, at the Actor’s Studio during the late 1950s. She later considered starring in Odets’ screenplay, The Story on Page One (1959), but that role went to Rita Hayworth, and was directed by Odets himself.

Always competitive with Miller, Odets took a rather dim view of The Misfits (1960), Monroe’s last completed film, which Miller wrote and John Huston directed.

Odets was the leading New York playwright of the 1930s and 40s, and his plays focussed on social injustice and the plight of the ‘little man’. He was also involved in the formation of the Group Theatre alongside Lee Strasberg.

Unlike Arthur Miller, the playwright who ultimately eclipsed him, Odets chose to ‘name names’ in the House Un-American Activities Committee trials of the early 1950s, a decision he would bitterly regret. He died in 1963.

In his essay on Monroe in the book, Who the Hell’s in It, director Peter Bogdanovich recalled, ‘Clifford told me that Marilyn Monroe used to come over to his house and talk, but that the only times she seemed to him really comfortable were when she was with his two young children and their large poodle. She relaxed with them, felt no threat. With everyone else, Odets said, she seemed nervous, intimidated, frightened. When I repeated to Miller this remark about her with children and animals, he said, “Well, they didn’t sneer at her.'”

Soon after Monroe’s death, Odets wrote, ‘One night some short weeks ago, for the first time in her not always happy life, Marilyn Monroe’s soul sat down alone to a quiet supper from which it did not rise. If they tell you that she died of sleeping pills you must know that she died of a wasting grief, of a slow bleeding at the soul.’

One of Odets’ later plays, The Country Girl (filmed in 1954 with Grace Kelly) is currently being revived in London. Walt Odets has spoken to the Jewish Chronicle about his famous father and his memories, and mentioned, rather unfavourably, the marriage of Arthur Miller and Marilyn Monroe:

“The Strasberg version of the marriage was that Arthur treated Marilyn badly. So I grew up with bad feelings about Miller. I met Arthur a few times and he was a very hard, cold man. He was the kind of guy who doesn’t like children or dogs. And for a child that is immediately perceptible.”

‘Strictly For Kicks’ at Bonham’s

Rare photographs of Marilyn Monroe in a 1948 stage show, Strictly For Kicks, will be sold in a Bonham’s and Butterfield auction of entertainment memorabilia, to be held in Los Angeles next month. Marilyn wore the same floral bikini and platform sandals in her first movie, Scudda Hoo! Scudda Hay! (1947)

In 1948, Marilyn signed a 6-month contract with Columbia. However, she had previously worked at Twentieth Century Fox, and in March she appeared in a studio talent showcase at the Fox Studio Club Little Theater. An outside arena was built instead of using the stage on the lot, as studio boss Darryl F. Zanuck would be attending.

Marilyn appeared in two brief scenes, and the script included directions such as ‘Miss Monroe butts onto the stage…’

Marilyn appears to be wearing a costume from Ladies of the Chorus, which she filmed at Columbia in April.

In other pictures from the event Marilyn wears a light-coloured dress, which could be the same gown which she would wear in Love Happy (1949.)

Other items on offer at Bonhams’ include contractual papers for Bus Stop; a signed photo; personally-owned scripts for Let’s Make Love and Something’s Got to Give; a handwritten note by Marilyn, reminding herself to call poet Carl Sandburg; a mortgage agreement signed by Monroe and third husband Arthur Miller; a receipt for a gas payment, dated to Marilyn’s last birthday; and some airline tickets.

More details at Jezebel

Thanks to Megan at Everlasting Star

 

When Marilyn Hid From Norman Mailer

“In a few clips about Arthur Miller and Marilyn Monroe, the narrator states that Mailer had visited the Miller home, but Marilyn was not there. It turned out she was upstairs sequestered in a bedroom because she did not want to meet Mailer.”

Carole Mallory’s review of a new documentary, Norman Mailer: The American, alludes to Mailer’s fruitless pursuit of Marilyn Monroe, then married to his literary foe, Arthur Miller. After her death, Mailer would make Monroe the subject of two bestselling, if controversial books: the ‘factoid’ biography, Marilyn, and a fictional memoir, Of Women and their Elegance, both lavishly illustrated; and finally an off-Broadway play, Strawhead, in which Mailer’s daughter, Kate, played Marilyn.

Marilyn in Washington

Marilyn and Arthur Miller in Washington, 1957

“I recently traveled to Washington, DC for vacation, and visits to museums, monuments and even walking down the streets of the US capitol provided associations to Marilyn in varying ways. From Abraham Lincoln to Emilio Pucci, Marilyn’s connection to Washington is evident.”

Scott Fortner recounts his trip to Washington and mulls over the city’s long association with Marilyn, from her girlhood admiration for Abraham Lincoln to her controversial friendship with John F. Kennedy.

Marilyn herself visited Washington on at least one occasion, in May of 1957 with her husband, Arthur Miller, who was later convicted for contempt of Congress after refusing to name associates who had been Communist Party members.

Marilyn supported Miller throughout his trial, and the guilty verdict was repealed in 1958.

Vintage newsreel footage

Marilyn’s Lunch with Carson McCullers

Marilyn watches as Isak Dinesen examines a manuscript at the home of Carson McCullers

An article by Eve Goldberg at The Rumpus about the famous literary lunch date attended by Marilyn Monroe, Carson McCullers, Isak Dinesen (aka Karen Blixen), and Arthur Miller, at McCullers’ home in Nyack, New York on February 5, 1959.

“As the Nyack luncheon with Dinesen and Monroe approached, Carson McCullers was both energized and panicked. Learning at the last minute that Dinesen ate only white grapes and oysters, and drank only champagne, she sent her housekeeper off in a hurried search of the requisite items.

But the anxious hostess soon discovered that she was not the only one with the jitters. ‘Marilyn was very timid and called me three or four times about the dress she was gong to wear, and wanting to know if it should be low-cut or not,’ Carson recollects in her autobiography. ‘I said that anything she wore would be beautiful on her.

Finally the guests arrived. Marilyn, on the arm of her husband, Arthur Miller, looked radiant in a black dress with a plunging neckline and a fake fur collar … Over lunch, Dinesen entertained the group with a story about the killing of her first lion in Africa and how she sent the skin to the king of Denmark. “[She] was a magnificent conversationalist and loved to talk,” recalled McCullers. “Marilyn, with her beautiful blue eyes, listened in a ‘once-upon-a-time-way,’ as did we all…. ‘

Marilyn regaled the group with a story about her culinary adventures. She was preparing home-made pasta for a party, but it was getting late, the guests were soon arriving, and the pasta wasn’t ready, so she attempted to finish it off with a hair dryer. Of Marilyn, Dinesen later told a friend, ‘It is not that she is pretty, although she is incredibly pretty—but that she radiates at the same time unbounded vitality and a kind of unbelievable innocence. I have met the same in a lion cub that my native servants in African brought me. I would not keep her.'”

Marilyn On This Day: June 29, 1956

Photo by Milton Greene

At 7:21pm, Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller were married by Judge Seymour Rabinowitz in a civil wedding at the Westchester County Court House in White Plains, New York. Guests included Arthur’s cousin, Morton.

A more elaborate, Jewish ceremony was held on July 1st, attended by family and friends.

Planter’s Punch at the Jamaica Inn

A recipe for Planter’s Punch, a favourite tipple among guests at the Jamaica Inn, close to where Marilyn and Arthur Miller stayed during their honeymoon at Moon Point on the Caribbean island in January 1957.

“This recipe I give to thee,

Dear brother in the heat.

Take two of sour (lime let it be)

To one and a half of sweet,

Of Old Jamaica pour three strong,

And add four parts of weak.

Then mix and drink. I do no wrong —

I know whereof I speak.”

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