Over at Flavorwire, a look back at past depictions of Marilyn in popular culture, in anticipation of Michelle Williams’ upcoming movie role. Pictured above is Catherine Hicks in the TV movie, Marilyn: An Untold Story (1980.)
I would also nominate Theresa Russell’s portrayal of ‘The Actress’ in the 1985 movie, Insignificance; Madonna in her ‘Material Girl’ video and ‘Homage to Norma Jean’ photo shoot; Drew Barrymore’s George magazine cover shot from 1996; and Angelina Jolie’s recreation of Monroe’s 1961 session with Douglas Kirkland.
In your opinion, what are the best – and worst – portrayals of Marilyn around? Or can nobody match the sublime MM?
Maureen Dowd writes in the New York Times about why movies about great stars like Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor etc are so often disappointing:
‘The many actresses who have resurrected Marilyn Monroe can’t hold a candle in the wind to Hollywood’s most luminescent, evanescent siren.
Ashley Judd and Mira Sorvino played two sides of her in the 1996 HBO film “Norma Jean and Marilyn,” which amounted to double trouble. Catherine Hicks tried in the 1980 ABC movie “Marilyn: The Untold Story,” which should have remained untold.
Still we must suffer through a new raft of impertinent impersonators. Michelle Williams stars in “My Week With Marilyn,” about her friction with Laurence Olivier during the making of “The Prince and the Showgirl” in 1957. Then comes Naomi Watts in “Blonde,” based on the Joyce Carol Oates novel.’
Maureen Dowd also reviewed Fragments last year.
“Catherine Hicks‘s performance in the 1980 made-for-television biography Marilyn: The Untold Story is generally regarded as the best biographical portrayal of Marilyn Monroe. Produced by Lawrence Schiller, the photographer who took the famous nude photos of Marilyn on the set of Something’s Got to Give, Marilyn: The Untold Story was based on Norman Mailer’s ‘novel biography.’
The film was enhanced by the participation of three talented directors, including Hollywood veteran Jack Arnold. The impressive roster of behind-the-scenes personnel ensured pleasant entertainment, but the three-hour drama lacks insight into Marilyn’s personality and fails to add anything new to the Monroe lore and literature.
Hicks, whose thoughtful performance is the highlight of the production, managed to capture Marilyn’s voice and mannerisms and suggest her alluring presence without resorting to caricature.
Hicks received a well-earned Emmy nomination. (In an ironic twist, Monroe ‘replacement’ Sheree North appears in this film in the role of Marilyn’s mother.)” – Susan Doll, author of Marilyn: Her Life and Legend
The opening scenes from this hard-to-find biopic are now on Youtube, with more to follow.