Spend St. Valentine’s Day With Marilyn

Some Like It Hot is free to stream on Amazon Prime today (US only.) But while it may have the perfect blend of love and laughs for St. Valentine’s Day, it was inspired by a very different event, as Jack Matthews writes for Gold Derby.

“Let’s face it, Valentine’s Day, more than just about any other day with a title, is a mass marketing scheme playing lovers for suckers, a bonanza for Hallmark Cards and Whitman’s Samplers and one that probably creates as much heartbreak as romantic goodwill. I’m not the sentimental type, but I do have an enormous fondness for one movie in which Valentine’s Day plays a prominent role.

It’s not about mass marketing, but mass murder, and based in fact.

In the early scenes of Some Like it Hot, the 1959 Billy Wilder masterpiece that is consistently chosen by critics and film people as the best comedy ever made, a pair of itinerant Depression Era musicians witness the gangland execution of seven men in a Chicago garage and spend the rest of the movie on the run from the mob.

In real life, the massacre resulted from a territorial feud between the Italian mob led by Al Capone and the Irish gang of Bugs Moran. In the movie, the shooting is carried out by the gang of Spats Colombo (George Raft), who coincidentally encounters the two witnesses, now undercover and in drag in an all girls’ band at a beachside resort in California.

Some Like it Hot received six nominations, including two for Wilder’s script and direction and one for Jack Lemmon as the bass player who gets all too comfortable in high heels. Tony Curtis, equally hilarious as the band member smudging his lipstick on the saxophone, should have received one, as well.

In fact, If time could actually fly, it would go back to 1960 and right the wrongs done to both Curtis and Marilyn Monroe, who is wonderful as Sugar Kane Kowalczyk, a singer hoping to marry well but falling instead for Curtis’ Cary Grant-impersonating phony billionaire.”

Happy Birthday, Mister Lemmon

Marilyn with Jack Lemmon (centre) and Tony Curtis in ‘Some Like It Hot’

Jack Lemmon was born on this day in 1925. Today, Hannah Gatward has posted a selection of Lemmon’s best films on the BFI blog – and unsurprisingly, Some Like It Hot is right up there.

“The first of seven films with Billy Wilder, and Lemmon’s most iconic comedic performance. On the run after witnessing the St Valentine’s Day massacre, musicians Jerry (Lemmon) and his partner Joe (Tony Curtis) disguise themselves as women and escape in an all-girls band, befriending Marilyn Monroe’s magnificent Sugar Kane along the way. It’s timeless farcical fun, with every scene expertly executed. One of the film’s greatest joys is the way Lemmon immerses himself into his alter ego Daphne – his enthusiasm is infectious.”

Meanwhile, the ever-popular Some Like It Hot will be screened soon in two very different, yet fitting venues: firstly, at the Pickwick Theater in Chicago’s upscale Park Ridge district on February 13 (the movie’s storyline begins in Chicago); and secondly, at the Brighton Bar in Long Branch, New Jersey on February 14 (Some Like It Hot also features the notorious St Valentine’s Day Massacre as a plot device.)

Marilyn in the Windy City

As Midway Airport turns 90, the Chicago Sun-Times has published this library photo of a windswept Marilyn landing there in March 1959 for a promotional jaunt including a press conference at the Ambassador East Hotel, and the roadshow premiere of Some Like It Hot.

Marilyn Flies High With United Airlines

This exuberant press shot of Marilyn arriving in Vancouver in July 1953 (en route to film scenes for River of No Return – more info herefeatures in a new display at the remodelled Global Services reception area for United Airlines’ elite customers at Los Angeles International Airport (L.A.X.), as Lewis Lazare reports for Chicago Business Insider. (She also flew from New York to Chicago with United Airlines when she visited Bement, Illinois to honour Abraham Lincoln in 1955.)

Photo by Eve Arnold, 1955

‘Some Like it Hot’ in Michigan

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The Franke Center for the Arts in Marshall, Michigan is offering ‘a hot date with Marilyn’ at 7pm on April 9, when a fundraising screening of Some Like it Hot will be accompanied by costume contests, raffles and some intriguing prizes – including a luxury weekend break in Chicago, where the movie is partly set. Tickets cost $15, with more details available from the Daily Reporter.

The movie will be shown in two parts, with a 25-minute intermission, during which food and concessions will be available. Raffles, prizes, intermission treats and other entertainment will fill out the evening.

‘During one of the raffles, we’re going to give away a two-night stay at the Intercontinental – one of Chicago’s best hotels,’ [Patty] Williams said. ‘Because the movie begins in Chicago, we thought it would be a nice touch to offer a Chicago vacation – even though Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon decide that the town is too hot for them.'”

Marilyn: An Icon in the Making

 

Exhibition curator Bianca Acimovic
Exhibition curator Bianca Acimovic

Marilyn: Celebrating an American Icon – the touring exhibit focusing on the imagery that made MM go global – is due to open at MAMA Albury in Australia on February 12, with a late addition of rare photos depicting a young Marilyn, taken by Art Meyers in Chicago during the Love Happy promotional tour of 1949, and provided by a local businessman, Colin Glassborow, reports the Sydney Morning Herald.

albury rare pics

“Mr Glassborow, 71, says he was bequeathed 12 photographs of the star by his American friend Art Meyers, a freelance photographer who was hired to follow Monroe around Chicago’s Wrigley Stadium in 1949.

Later that day Meyers also photographed the then 23-year-old starlet sitting with the actor Roddy McDowall at Chicago’s infamous Ricketts’ nightclub.

Mr Glassborow, who owns Albury Building Supplies, said he met Meyers when he visited the Playboy building in Chicago in 1974. They became friends after Meyers offered to show him and his brother around Chicago, and over the years holidayed together. Meyers also visited him in Albury in 1995.

‘There are 12 altogether,’ Mr Glassborow said of the black and white photos, prints of which he started selling online via his website marilynmonroe-photos.com to help Meyers financially before the photographer died, at the age of 90, in 2010. He loaned eight images to the museum, six of which will go on display from Friday.

‘He was a freelance photographer at the time and he happened to be there … they were having a pro celebrity match with old legends and Hollywood celebrities,’ Mr Glassborow said of the Wrigley Stadium event Meyers photographed.

‘He was asked if he would take photographs at the old Ricketts’ nightclub … Al Capone used to visit there apparently.’

‘She was there with Roddy McDowall,’ he said of Monroe. ‘She’d only been in bit parts in three small movies, but the next year she got more with it and in a couple of years she was a household name, she quickly took off.’

‘A lot of people are in awe of the photograph,’ he says of the image of Monroe with McDowall, which he has had colourised and blown up, and displays in a gold frame in his secretary’s office.”

Henri Dauman: Photographing Marilyn

March of Dimes fundraiser, 1958
March of Dimes fashion show, January 1957

Time has published an article about photographer Henri Dauman, whose work graced the pages of Life, Newsweek and the New York Times. Dauman photographed Marilyn at several public events during the late 1950s, mostly in New York. Self-taught, and inspired by cinema, Dauman escaped the holocaust and was orphaned at 13, fleeing France for America. A documentary, Henri Dauman: Looking Up, is currently in the fundraising stage.

The Millers at a preview of 'Some Like it Hot', 1959
The Millers at a preview of ‘Some Like it Hot’, February 1959
'Some Like it Hot' premiere, Chicago (March 1959)
‘Some Like it Hot’ premiere, Chicago (March 1959)
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Named as Best Actress for ‘The Prince and the Showgirl’ at the David di Donatello Awards, May 1959.

What’s Next for ‘Forever Marilyn’?

Photo by Danielle Clasing

An editorial for the Chicago Tribune recalls the hullabaloo caused by Seward Johnson’s ‘Forever Marilyn’ in 2011, and speculates on the giant sculpture’s future (as it’s currently in Palm Springs.)

“The California-based foundation that oversees the work of Marilyn’s sculptor, Seward Johnson, won’t say what the immediate future holds for Marilyn. Her next destination is top secret. One day this summer, she’ll be snapped apart without warning, loaded onto a semitrailer and hauled to some other city to show off her gams. Brazil, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Paris and London have invited her. She’ll be in New Jersey next year for an exhibit honoring Johnson that will display more than 100 of his pieces.”

Kenneth Battelle 1927-2013

Photo montage by Yvon Molostoff

Kenneth Battelle, hairdresser to Marilyn, Jackie Kennedy and many others, died in New York last month. He was 86. Read my tribute to Kenneth here.

Chicago Connection: Marilyn and Bob Kotalik

Bob Kotalik, former chief photographer for the Chicago Sun-Times, has died aged 87 in Arizona. He had been suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease.

This photo of Marilyn, during a promotional tour for Some Like it Hot at Chicago’s Ambassador East Hotel in March 1959, is believed to have been taken by Kotalik, according to an article in the Sun-Times, published on May 2nd, 1986.

Thanks to Fabienne Colas, creator of the Films of Marilyn Monroe Facebook page.