George ‘Foghorn’ Winslow 1946-2015

11401164_1135200846494211_626814316036863575_nGeorge Karl Wentzlaff, who appeared in two of Marilyn’s films under the stage name of George Winslow – and was nicknamed ‘Foghorn’ for his distinctive baritone – has died aged 69, reports the Santa Rosa Press Democrat.

Born in Los Angeles in 1946, George first found fame at the tender age of six on Art Linkletter’s radio show, People Are Funny. After hearing George on the radio, actor Cary Grant asked him to appear in his 1952 film, Room For One More.

George Winslow in 'Monkey Business' (1952)
George Winslow in ‘Monkey Business’ (1952)

This was followed by a role as a cub scout in Howard Hawks’ Monkey Business, which also starred Cary Grant alongside Marilyn, although she did not appear in any scenes with George. He then played the title role in another Fox comedy, My Pal Gus, opposite Richard Widmark. The press reported that a scene was being filmed outside the Beverly Carleton Hotel, where Marilyn was then living, and she was inadvertently filmed while watching the action from her balcony. However, she cannot be seen in the movie.

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George finally got his chance to work with Marilyn in another Hawks movie, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953.) He plays Henry Spofford III, a billionaire that gold-digger Lorelei Lee (MM) hopes to make a play for while on a cruise. When he sits beside her at the captain’s table, however, she is shocked to discover his true age.

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In another scene, Lorelei sneaks into the cabin of a private detective who is monitoring her antics, but becomes stuck while attempting to climb out through a porthole. Spofford, who is on deck, agrees to help her for two reasons: ‘The first reason is I’m too young to be sent to jail. The second reason is you got a lot of animal magnetism.’

They are interrupted when an elderly English aristocrat, Sir Francis ‘Piggy’ Beekman (Charles Coburn), also appears on deck. Hidden under a blanket, Spofford acts as Lorelei’s ventriloquist, explaining that she has a severe case of laryngitis. ‘A child with the voice of a man, Winslow contrasted with Marilyn, a woman with the voice of a child,’ author Gary Vitacco-Robles observed in his 2014 biography, Icon: The Life Times and Films of Marilyn Monroe, Volume 1 1926-1956.

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Photos taken on the set show a warm affection between George and his leading lady. ‘The thing I remember most is working with this beautiful lady from early in the morning until late at night,’ George said later. ‘Then as my folks were getting me dressed to go home she came out of her dressing room without any makeup. If I hadn’t recognized her voice I’d never have believed she was the same person.’

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George went on to star opposite Clifton Webb in Mister Scoutmaster (1953), and worked with Charles Coburn again in The Rocket Man (1954.) He appeared alongside Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis in their 1956 comedy, Artists and Models. He also acted in TV shows including Ozzie and Harriet and Blondie.

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After his voice broke, the offers dried up, and twelve year-old George played his last film role in Wild Heritage (1958.) Putting stardom behind him, George served in the US Navy during the Vietnam War, and later joined the Postal Service.

After retiring a few years ago, George volunteered at a military antiques store and museum in Petaluma, California, where he enjoyed talking with other veterans. Known as Wally to friends in the west county, George was an easygoing man, quirky and caring and ‘about the nicest guy you could ever know,’ Braafladt said. ‘I think he was genuinely happy with where his life was.’

He survived heart surgery in 2013, but on June 13, he died of a heart attack. Kevin Braafladt, George’s friend and owner of the museum, called at his Camp Meeker home after he failed to show up for work the next day, and found his body.

George was sharing his home with about 25 cats. Braafladt is currently caring for them all, and hopes to find them new homes through an animal shelter. ‘His love was the cats,’ Braafladt said. ‘He’d always talk about them.’

George had said he had no heirs and the coroner’s office was unable to locate any relatives, Braafladt said. A memorial service will be held in Petaluma at a date to be determined. Wentzlaff will be buried with military honors at the Sacramento Valley National Cemetery near Dixon in July.

Richard Anderson Remembers Marilyn

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Although best-known for his role as Lee Majors’ boss in The Six Million Dollar Man, Richard Anderson’s career dates back to the golden age of Hollywood. Born in 1926, he made his movie debut in 1947 – just like Marilyn Monroe. Anderson would later appear in Bus Stop, a TV series based on Marilyn’s 1956 movie. But as he reveals in a new book, Richard Anderson – At Last…, their first encounter occurred long before she appeared before a camera.

“Part of my job as Commissioner of Safety at University High was to sit at the east gate to make sure that the students had a pass to come to school and leave.

One day, I was eating a 15-cent lunch of egg salad sandwich and my favourite dessert – sherbet.

Sitting there eating raspberry sherbet, the east gate door opens and in walks this lady. Blonde with everything else that counts. She gave me a big smile, and I stopped eating.

‘How are you?’ she murmured.

‘I’m fine now,’ I said…

From the east gate to the main building is a long, long walk. She smiled her beautiful smile and then slowly moved away – very slowly – I watched the way she moved until she was out of sight. What a walk. I was transfixed. I also wasn’t hungry anymore…

Moreover, I forgot to ask for her pass!

I would later learn that her name was Norma Jeane Mortenson. But she will be forever be known to all as…Marilyn Monroe.”

Anderson was also a student at University High School, volunteering for the Commissioner of Safety post in 1941. Norma Jeane’s first boyfriend, Chuck Moran – whom she dated that year – was a University High student, although at the time of their relationship, Norma Jeane attended Emerson Junior High.

In September 1941, while living with Grace Goddard and her family, Norma Jeane enrolled at Van Nuys High. But in February 1942, after Grace’s husband was promoted to a post in his native West Virginia, fifteen year-old Norma Jeane returned to live with Ana Lower, and transferred to University High. By June, she had left school to marry Jim Dougherty.

Norma Jeane's University High School Yearbook photo, 1942
Norma Jeane’s University High School Yearbook photo, 1942

Norma Jeane was not yet a blonde at this time, although she could be described as ‘California blonde’ (because her hair lightened in the sun.) But Anderson’s story rings true. By the late 1940s, he was a member of the Actors Lab in Los Angeles, recalling that Marilyn and John Garfield were also regulars.

He also recalls seeing Marilyn, now a major star, in the Fox Commissary with her Monkey Business co-star Cary Grant and director Howard Hawks. Grant went to the trouble of introducing her to Anderson. However, she recognised him instantly.

This story is also believable, as Marilyn never took even the smallest kindness for granted. Anderson writes that he was on loan to Fox for A Life of Her Own (starring Lana Turner), but that film was made at MGM in 1950, two years before Monkey Business.

‘Monkey Business’ for Marilyn and Cary

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Writing for the BFI blog, Samuel Wigley names Monkey Business – the Howard Hawks farce in which Marilyn plays the hapless Miss Laurel – among co-star Cary Grant’s ten best movies. (Wigley gets one thing wrong, though – Lois is the only main character who doesn’t take the serum, and is thus the ‘straight woman’ of the story.)

“No apologies for listing all five of the Grant-Hawks collaborations in a Grant top 10. Their last together, 1952’s Monkey Business is the silliest of the lot and features Grant as Dr Barnaby Fulton, an absent-minded professor whose newly invented elixir of youth ends up being mixed inside the water cooler by a lab chimpanzee. One-by-one Fulton, his wife (Ginger Rogers) and his secretary (Marilyn Monroe) are reverted to the state of immature, prank-pulling children. Echoes of Bringing Up Baby abound in the showdown between fusty expertise and unfettered animal instinct, and if Rogers is little match for Hepburn, Monroe positively sparkles in this early role.”

Julien’s Reveal Marilyn’s ‘Lost Archive’

Julien’s Auctions have announced details of their next auction, ‘Icons and Idols: Property from the Life and Career of Marilyn Monroe‘, set for December 6. Already the subject of many news articles, the auction items can be viewed here.

With Joe in Japan (photo cut in half)
With Joe in Japan (photo cut in half)
Visiting a Geisha house in Japan, 1954
Visiting a Geisha house in Japan, 1954

It is quite simply a treasure trove for biographers. Some of the items are from the collection of Lois Banner, author of MM Personal. However many have never been seen before, and are listed simply as being from ‘the lost archive of Marilyn Monroe’.

“Monroe…willed ‘The Lost Archives’ to her mentor, the legendary acting coach Lee Strasberg,” the Hollywood Reporter writes. “He gave it to a friend he trusted would take proper care. That friend’s family, which Julien said wants to remain anonymous, obviously met Strasberg’s expectations. Many of the letters look as pristine as the day their authors wrote them.”

Photographed by Manfred Kreiner in 1959, while promoting 'Some Like it Hot' in Chicago
Photographed by Manfred Kreiner in 1959, while promoting ‘Some Like it Hot’ in Chicago
At an American Friends of Hebrew University dinner, 1959
At an American Friends of Hebrew University dinner, 1959

Among the 300 items on offer are photos by Andre de Dienes, Joe Jasgur, Milton Greene, and Manfred Kreiner; photos taken during filming of Let’s Make Love and The Misfits; a home movie from the set of The Misfits; photos taken during Marilyn’s trip to Japan and Korea in 1954, and at the American Friends of Hebrew University dinner in 1959; love letters from Joe DiMaggio and Arthur Miller; correspondence from Sam Shaw, Pat Newcomb, May Reis, actors Tom Neal and Delos Smith Jr., Cary Grant, Jane Russell, Sid Ross (the journalist brother of photographer Ben Ross), Lotte Goslar, Henry Rosenfeld, Cheryl Crawford, Amy Greene, James Haspiel, Dr. Margaret Hohenberg, Garson Kanin, Peter Leonardi, Norman Rosten, Jerry Wald, and many others; the black velvet dress she wore to a press conference at New York’s Plaza Hotel in 1956; a favourite overcoat; a photo of Ginger Rogers, signed ‘to Norma Jeane Baker’;  and assorted homeware.

Publicity shots for 'Let's Make Love'
Publicity shots for ‘Let’s Make Love’

Top 10 Classic Hollywood Actors

Marilyn comes in 3rd, after Orson Welles and Humphrey Bogart, on this list from Screen Junkies. Along with Bette Davis, she is the only woman on the list – and she appeared in All About Eve alongside Davis, as well as Cary Grant (Monkey Business), Groucho Marx (Love Happy), and her idol, Clark Gable, in The Misfits – the last film either completed.

‘There were many early Hollywood sex symbols, but Marilyn Monroe brought sexy to a whole new level. Her most famous movies were “Niagara’ (1953), “Some Like it Hot” (1959) and “Seven Year Itch” (1955).’

‘Monkey Business’ Reappraised

Film critic Peter Bradshaw, of The Guardian, thinks Howard Hawks’ Monkey Business (1952), featuring Marilyn as inept secretary Miss Laurel, is an ‘ace ape jape’:

“It is part romp, part druggie-surrealist masterpiece, and a complete joy. ‘Monkey Business’ is undervalued by some, on account of its alleged inferiority to the master’s 30s pictures, and the accident of sharing a title with a film by the Marx Brothers. I can only say that this film whizzes joyfully along with touches of pure genius: at once sublimely innocent and entirely worldly…Dr Fulton drinks [a youth drug]; his short sight is cured and he instantly gets a new youthful haircut, jacket, and snazzy roadster, in which he takes smitten secretary Lois (Marilyn Monroe) for a day’s adventures. (The memory of Grant with his Coke-bottle glasses exchanging dialogue with the entranced Marilyn was revived eight years later by Tony Curtis in ‘Some Like It Hot.’)”

Full review at The Guardian

Monkey Business screens tomorrow at 6pm, NFT2,  in London’s BFI Southbank, as part of the ongoing Howard Hawks season. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes follows at 8.30 pm. Marilyn’s two collaborations with Hawks will also feature in a Hawks season at Edinburgh’s Filmhouse Cinema next month.