2014: A Year in Marilyn Headlines

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In January, Newsweek published a special issue, Marilyn Monroe: The Lost Scrapbook. Photographer Larry Schiller claimed to own a scrapbook given to Sam Shaw by Marilyn, though expert readers noted the handwriting was dissimilar to her usual style.

Also this month, Unclaimed Baggage – a documentary about ‘the unclaimed trunk of MM‘ – was screened on European television, and George Jacobs, valet to Frank Sinatra, died aged 87.

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In February, Life published The Loves of Marilyn, another magazine special with text by J.I. Baker (author of a conspiracy novel, The Empty Glass.) Many fans were surprised to see the widely discredited Robert Slatzer listed among Marilyn’s alleged paramours. It has since been republished in hardback.

Also this month, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences acquired an archive of 58,000 pictures by press photographer Nat Dallinger. His photos of Marilyn at the Let’s Make Love press conference were featured in the Hollywood Reporter. And archive footage of Marilyn was featured in Bob Dylan’s Chrysler ad, screened during America’s Superbowl.

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In March, Icon: the Life Times and Films of Marilyn Monroe – Volume I, 1926-1956 was publishedMarilyn also graced the cover of Julien’s 90210 Spring Auction catalogue, and was the subject of another magazine special, part of the ‘Etoiles du Cinema‘ series in France.

Stanley Rubin, producer of River of No Return, died aged 96, and William Carroll, one of the first photographers to work with Marilyn, also passed away. Bob Thomas, the veteran Hollywood columnist who reported Joan Crawford’s verbal attack on Marilyn back in 1953, died aged 92.

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Playboy re-released its very first issue – with Marilyn as its cover girl and centrefold – in April, as part of an ongoing celebration of the magazine’s 60th anniversary. And a collection of Elia Kazan’s private correspondence – including a 1955 letter to his wife, Molly, regarding his prior relationship with Marilyn – was also published.

Also in April, Hollywood legend Mickey Rooney (Marilyn’s co-star in The Fireball) died aged 93. And Pharrell Williams released his hit single, ‘Marilyn Monroe’.

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In May, make-up artist Marie Irvine shared her memories of Marilyn with readers of the Daily Mail. AmfAR, the world’s leading charity for AIDS research, held a ‘Red Marilyn’-themed fundraising ball during the Cannes Film Festival.

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June 1st marked what would have been Marilyn’s 88th birthday. Also in June, actor Eli Wallach, Marilyn’s friend and co-star, died aged 98. An archive of ‘lost’ Milton Greene photos was auctioned in Poland, and a revised, updated edition of Carl Rollyson’s MM: A Life of the Actress was published.

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In July, Some Like it Hot was re-released in UK cinemas, winning a 5-star review in The Guardian. Sadly, several people with connections to Marilyn passed away in July, including psychic Kenny Kingston, journalist Robert Stein, and actors James Garner and Elaine Stritch. Meanwhile one of Marilyn’s old haunts – the Racquet Club in Palm Springs – was engulfed by fire.

August marked the 52nd anniversary of Marilyn’s death, with a live stream of the annual memorial service in Los Angeles. Also this month,  Lauren Bacall, Marilyn’s co-star in How to Marry a Millionaire, died aged 89; and Tom Tierney, ‘Marilyn’s paper doll artist’, also passed away.

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In September, Newsweek published a cover feature exposing the many inaccuracies in C. David Heymann’s posthumously-released Joe and Marilyn: Legends in Love. And TV Guide released a special issue dedicated to Marilyn, part of their ‘American Icons’ series.

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Several rare photos of Marilyn were featured in Profiles in History’s Hollywood Auction 65 catalogue, while Britain’s Daily Express published a special supplement about Marilyn’s tragic death, as part of a ‘Historic Front Pages’ series.

Also this month, self-confessed ‘Marilyn Geek’ Melinda Mason launched a new exhibition at the Wellington County Museum in Ontario, Canada; and the chameleon-like actor John Malkovich posed as Marilyn for photographer Sandro Miller.

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In October,  A retrospective of photographer Nickolas Muray opened in Genoa, Italy. Carl Rollyson’s latest book, Marilyn Monroe Day by Day, was published.

A rather sensationalised documentary about Marilyn’s mysterious death – Marilyn: Missing Evidence – was broadcast in the UK. Her death was also the subject of a cover feature in the US magazine, Closer.

Also this month, Kelli Garner was cast as Marilyn in Lifetime’s upcoming mini-series, The Secret Life of MM.

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In November, Gary Vitacco-Robles’ Icon: The Life, Times and Films of MM – Volume II, 1956-1962 and Beyond was published, earning a rave review from columnist Liz Smith. Fansite Immortal Marilyn published a series of myth-busting articles at Buzzfeed. And Anna Strasberg, current owner of Marilyn’s estate, lost a lawsuit against Profiles in History, regarding a so-called ‘letter of despair‘ from Marilyn to Lee Strasberg.

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In December, items from ‘the lost archive of Marilyn Monroe‘ sold for high prices at Julien’s Auctions. Marilyn graced the cover of Esquire‘s Colombian edition, and a new CD boxset, Diamonds, was released. Finally, photographer Phil Stern died aged 95.

AmfAR to Honour ‘Red’ Marilyn at Cannes

Sketch for Bulgari necklace, designed for AmfAR gala
Sketch for Bulgari necklace, designed for AmfAR gala

AmfAR, the charity founded by Mathilde Krim and Elizabeth Taylor, will dedicate this year’s Cinema Against AIDS gala at the Cannes Film Festival to Marilyn, reports Women’s Wear Daily. (Dr Krim was the wife of Arthur B. Krim, the entertainment lawyer who hosted a party at his home after the John F. Kennedy birthday gala in 1962. Marilyn brought Isidore Miller along. And while she never visited Cannes, MM was chosen as the festival’s poster girl back in 2012.)

Design sketch by Ralph Lauren
Design sketch by Ralph Lauren

Exclusive designs by leading houses from Salvatore Ferragamo to Alexander McQueen will be unveiled. Among the celebrities involved are Sharon Stone, Harvey Weinstein and Milla Jovovich, and Lana Del Rey is set to perform a song or two.

“The amfAR benefit on May 22, widely considered the social highlight of the annual Cannes Film Festival in France, will stage a red-themed fashion show of gowns created for the occasion. After shining a spotlight on the colors black and gold in previous years, Carine Roitfeld, who is overseeing the runway show for the third time, said she wanted to dedicate the show to Monroe.

‘She searched for love all her life, and I think she would have been a big supporter of the foundation,’ she told WWD.”

Marilyn Spotting in Cannes, Palm Springs

The 65th Cannes Film Festival has now begun, with Marilyn as its poster girl (and a tribute performance of ‘Candle in the Wind’ from Beth Ditto.)

Across the Atlantic, Seward Johnson’s controversial 26ft sculpture, ‘Forever Marilyn’, has been moved from Chicago’s Miracle Mile to Palm Springs, reports the Los Angeles Times.

 

Beth Ditto’s ‘Candle in the Wind’

Gossip singer Beth Ditto performed Elton John’s tribute to Marilyn, ‘Candle in the Wind’, at last night’s opening ceremony for the Cannes Film Festival.

Beth’s cream ruched dress is similar to the one worn by Marilyn in her 1952 photo session with Philippe Halsman.

Watch video here

More photos of Beth here

 

Cannes and the Magic of Marilyn

Peter Bradshaw, film critic at The Guardian, celebrates the face of this year’s Cannes Film Festival – MM.

“I am perhaps eccentric in finding Monroe slightly less sexy than Jane Russell in Howard Hawks’s ‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’. Russell’s performance is the more real: more worldly, knowing, tolerant, amused. But Monroe is effortlessly funny, and nothing Russell says matches Monroe’s sensational speech: ‘Don’t you know that a man being rich is like a girl being pretty? You wouldn’t marry a girl just because she’s pretty – but my goodness, doesn’t it help?’ There is a sublime quality to her delivery: when her character sees their cruise ship cabin, she says: ‘My, it’s just like a room, isn’t it?’ Her talent was conscious, and she understood how comedy achieved its effects.

It wasn’t until recently that I read her forthright, dyspeptic demolition of ‘The Prince and the Showgirl’ in its final cut, expressed in a memorandum addressed to her colleagues, including Laurence Olivier: ‘I am afraid that as it stands it will not be as successful as the version all of us agreed was so fine. Especially in the first third of the picture the pacing has been slowed and one comic point after another has been flattened out by substituting inferior takes with flatter performances lacking the brightness that you saw in New York. Some of the jump-cutting kills the points, as in the fainting scene. The coronation is as long as before if not longer, and the story gets lost in it …’

This is not a vulnerable icon speaking, nor the shaman-goddess of America’s unconscious, but a tough, shrewd professional with the sort of insight and technical knowledge unavailable to most critics and writers. (Every biographer broods on how Monroe inherited bipolar disorder and schizophrenia from her mother; I like to think she also inherited her cinematic professionalism from this woman, who was an assistant editor, or negative cutter, at Consolidated Studios, a job that nowadays gets you a name-check in the closing credits.)

Whether Monroe could have got more serious roles is beside the point. A more interesting question is: could she have been a director? I like to think that if she had been alive today, Cannes might have given her directorial debut a break – perhaps in the Critic’s Week section. At any rate, Cannes 2012’s poster is fine by me. I just wish the festival had gone further and screened some of her greatest films: Howard Hawks’s glorious ‘Monkey Business’, with Cary Grant; ‘All About Eve’, in which the beguiling newcomer stood poised to steal the older star’s crown; ‘The Misfits’, and ‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’. All these performances, in their various tonal registers – dark, light, happy, sexy, rueful – show again and again the quality that made her a poster girl in the first place: that sublime gift for comedy.”

‘Marilyn Forever’ at Cannes

 A few weeks ago, the Cannes Film Festival official poster, featuring a classic photo of Marilyn blowing out a birthday candle, was revealed. Now the Telegraph reports that Chopard, who are sponsoring the festival, have created a jewelled tribute to Monroe, to be worn by a mystery guest at the festival’s opening night on May 16. They are also hosting ‘Marilyn Forever’, an exhibition of photos by Milton Greene, which will subsequently tour worldwide.

Marilyn: The Face of Cannes, 2012

This photo of Marilyn – taken on her 30th birthday – adorns promotional posters for the Cannes Film Festival, coming in May. It seems fitting that the ultimate movie actress should be chosen to represent the world’s pre-eminent celebration of cinema (and no, I don’t mean the Oscars!)

An official statement explains, “Fifty years after her death, Marilyn remains one of the most important figures of the cinema world with her eternal grace, mystery and seductiveness.”