British comedienne Miranda Hart has named Colin Clark’s The Prince, the Showgirl and Me among her six favourite books in the Express today. Although its sequel, My Week With Marilyn (after which the 2011 biopic was named), is believed by many fans to be bogus, the first book is quite a good read.
“I was always fascinated by fame. Not the desire to become famous, although I was intrigued by what it might be like, but by the unique quality and lifestyles of true icons. They don’t get more iconic than Marilyn Monroe so I found this diary of a young man becoming her assistant riveting.”
Meanwhile in other celebrity news, Sophie Monk – who played Marilyn in a 2004 TV movie, The Mystery of Natalie Wood, and is currently starring in The Bachelorette in Australia – tells the Brisbane Courier & Mailof an earlier turn as MM :
“My first job was … at Movie World (Gold Coast) as Marilyn Monroe. I got it when I was 17 after I left school and started when I was 18.”
Charles Foster, a former Hollywood publicist, has just published his memoir, CBC reports. Mr Foster claims to have accompanied Marilyn to England in 1956, for the shooting of The Prince and the Showgirl. I must confess to not having heard of him before, but as Marilyn’s own publicist, Arthur P. Jacobs, also came to England with her, perhaps Mr Foster was working for him in some capacity.
From Old Hollywood to New Brunswick: Memories of a Wonderful Life includes a chapter entitled‘Smuggling Marilyn Into London’. This is rather curious, as Marilyn actually arrived in London amid a blaze of publicity, and immediately embarked on a series of press conferences.
Foster’s memories of Marilyn are frankly, a little hard to believe, and seem remarkably similar to My Week With Marilyn author Colin Clark (whose lively account has also been disputed. )They include plenty of star temperament, not to mention some minor nudity with just a dash of Chanel No. 5. But Foster goes one better than Clark with the allegation that he introduced Marilyn to John F. Kennedy.
The proof is in the pudding as they say, so if you’ve read Mr Foster’s book, don’t hesitate to comment!
Donald Zec, entertainment writer for the Daily Mirror, was photographed with Marilyn in 1956 during filming of The Prince and the Showgirl.
In his 1995 book, The Prince, the Showgirl and Me, the late Colin Clark claimed that Mr Zec was a total stranger who had just jumped out of the bushes when this picture was taken.
Of course, this was untrue and Mr Zec took legal action, ensuring that all future editions of the book should be amended. However, last week, a further apology was posted on the Harper Collins website after they omitted to correct the recent reissue.
Journalist Hugh Muir noted the blunder in yesterday’s Guardian. In his book, Clark referred to Zec as a ‘creep’, and supposedly wrote in his diary, ‘D. Zec was telling everyone who would listen that MM was a personal friend of his.’
Considering that many Monroe fans now believe that Clark’s own account of their ‘relationship’ is wildly exaggerated, it’s somewhat ironic that he saw fit to question someone else’s claim to have known her.
“Because it’s based on Clark’s account, published after Marilyn was long dead, we only have his word for what went on behind closed doors (he died in 2002, by the way), and it all starts to feel a little like a laddish fantasy … If Williams or Branagh find themselves with award nominations for their parts, it will be fine and dandy, as both put in good work. But the film strives to be both saccharine and sad at the same time, and, for me, ultimately curdles.”
Sarah Churchwell (author of The Many Lives of Marilyn Monroe) talks to NPR about My Week With Marilyn. (Photo collage by The Marilynette Lounge)
“Michelle Williams’ performance is really quite extraordinary. And as you could hear even in the clip that you played there, she gets the voice unbelievably well. And she also gets Monroe’s in trademark mannerisms. But she resists the temptation to fall into the stereotype of the breathy whisper. She lets her speak like a human being and yet, it sounds and looks like Marilyn. So, that part I think they do really well.
Overall, however, the problem is, is what they’ve chosen to do is to film a story that is only very broadly based in fact. And a lot of its claims, I think most people who know about Marilyn’s life and work are pretty skeptical of the claims of the author of this book to have had some kind of a fling with her.
I mean, look, the basic facts of it are perfectly true. He was the third assistant director on “The Prince and the Showgirl,” which was made in 1956. He certainly met Marilyn and worked with her…(But) he does claim that she told him all kinds of intimate details, which coincidentally appear in virtually every biography of her.
So, there’s nothing in these books specifically about Marilyn that he couldn’t had found out. And more importantly, he waited some 40 years after the fact to publish them, which does make one think, you know, having read all of these biographies, that he capitalized on her fame and her familiarity and wrote a couple of books claiming a little bit more than happened.”
After seeing My Week With Marilyn, Mick LaSalle – film critic at the San Francisco Chronicle – read Colin Clark’s book, which gave him pause for thought:
“Here’s the problem:
In the account of the missing week, he and Marilyn have this wonderful interlude where she is kissing him and hanging out and sneaking off to spend time with him. In the book, unlike the movie, she even is willing to have sex with him, but he declines. They go skinny dipping, sleep in the same bed and really become close.
But in the DIARY section, THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE IN HIS ATTITUDE TOWARD MARILYN AFTER THE MISSING WEEK. Here he is, her big defender, who adores her, who could even have been her lover, had he chosen to do so, and yet at the end of the week, he is, in his PERSONAL DIARY, emotionless and even vaguely disdainful on the subject of Marilyn Monroe.
It’s also weird to write an account of something — AND LEAVE OUT THE BEST PART — and then go back five years later and, as an afterthought, get around to writing about your intimate friendship with a cinematic legend.
The thing that DOESN’T support his account is the issue of sex. One of the things that I liked so much about the film — and that made me initially believe in its veracity — is that MM and Colin never have sex and that it seems she never intends to have sex with him. Men writing accounts of Marilyn usually can’t resist LYING about their exploits with her. The fact that Clark didn’t made me believe him.
But as I alluded to in the above, in the book Marilyn more or less asks Colin if they’re going to have sex. They’re together in the bedroom, and she assumes it’s going to happen. But COLIN says no, you’re married, we mustn’t, you need your rest, etc. I have a much easier time believing in the vanity of an aging memoirist than in the moral restraint of a 23-year-old being offered a night of bliss with the most beautiful woman in the world.”
The Los Angeles Timesreports on the mystery surrounding Colin Clark’s story in My Week With Marilyn, speaking to Michelle Williams, and also those who knew Monroe well during this period, including Amy Greene and Joan Copeland (Arthur Miller’s sister.)
‘Michelle Williams, who spent months watching Monroe’s films and devouring biographies on her, acknowledges that she found Clark to be an “unreliable narrator.”
“When you read both of his books, you do get the sense that he’s writing with the advantage of hindsight, and he’s put some awfully big words in his own mouth,” said the actress, who added that before filming she did not speak to anyone who had known Monroe personally. “I think he says in the book that Marilyn wanted to make love, but he said, ‘Oh, no!’ And you’re like, ‘Oh, sure.’ I’m sure that there was a relationship there. To what extent it was consummated, I don’t know.”
“I was there every day, and I knew what was happening. [Clark] was on the set, and he was a gofer — ‘Hey, I need a cup of coffee,’ or whatever. No one regarded him as anything but a gofer,” said Amy Greene, the widow of Milton Greene, a photographer who was vice president of Monroe’s production company…
Director Simon Curtis and screenwriter Adrian Hodges denied they were ever approached by Greene’s relatives. “The fact that these books were in the public arena and had been cherished by people over the years gave me confidence,” said Curtis. “I have no reason to doubt Colin’s version. Who is to say what happened in those bedrooms on those nights?”
“I never heard anything about the romance. That might be somebody’s illusion. Arthur would not have talked to me about that anyway, if there was an affair,” Copeland said. “But as far as I know, the [other] events they describe are pretty accurate. She was often late and kept people waiting on set. And I know that Arthur found it very difficult to work in that situation.”
But Don Murray, 82, who costarred with Monroe in “Bus Stop,” the film she acted in immediately before “Showgirl,” said he thought a Monroe-Clark romance was conceivable.
“I think that it’s quite possible, because of the disillusionment of her marriage, and she was very, very insecure in her relationships and didn’t really believe in loving forever,” Murray said. “I think it’s quite plausible that something happened and they handled it discreetly.”‘
Colin Clark’s two memoirs have been reissued in a single volume to tie in with today’s movie release. In a review for the Daily Mail, Tom Cox says that the first part (The Prince, the Showgirl and Me) as ‘delightfully gossipy’, but argues that My Week With Marilyn ‘has none of the same charm, and reads like a childish dream sequence about the Monroe legend in its most reductive form.’
If you prefer the listening cure, My Week With Marilyn has also been serialised on BBC Radio 4 this week.
Vera Day, who played Marilyn’s friend Betty in The Prince and the Showgirl, has spoken to The Daily Beast about the challenge of acting alongside the world’s famous star.
“I thought Marilyn was just beautiful. I used to gaze at her and couldn’t take my eyes off her. But she did give everyone a headache because she was late, didn’t turn up, and those types of things…”
She also cast some doubt on Colin Clark’s version of events, as told in My Week With Marilyn:
“I didn’t witness anything between Marilyn and Colin Clark [as in the film]. I actually don’t remember him on the set at all. There weren’t any rumblings of them being together on set. She was very, very into Arthur Miller, and they were on their honeymoon. Goodness me, no. Whatever he said about that … I mean, I can’t accuse him of lying, but I very much doubt there was anything going on there. She was with [Miller] all the time, and when she wasn’t she was working, and he was on the set all the time with her.”