Stern at SoNo Studios

Photo by Matthew Vinci

A report on this weekend’s Stern exhibit at SoNo Studios in Norwalk, Connecticut, from The Hour.

“The exhibit, titled ‘An Evening with Marilyn’ started its opening weekend in Norwalk, will soon be shown all around the country, and even touching base in Canada.

The photos ranging from Monroe in a black dress to a photoset of four of the same picture with different colored crucifixes down the middle were set up in a way that one had to spend a good amount of time looking at each photo before an feeling of understanding was met.

Bert Stern stated, ‘I am thrilled to debut the new show I am creating for Marilyn’s 50th anniversary in Connecticut. It is a place that I hold near and dear to my heart and that was meaningful to Marilyn as well. I’m pleased to bring her home to Connecticut, a place where she felt happy and safe, on this special occasion.'”

Stern Exhibit in Connecticut

‘Marilyn Monroe 2012’, a 3-day exhibition of photos by Bert Stern, will open on Friday, June 8, at SoNo Studios in Norwalk, reports the Connecticut Post. (The studio is managed by three of Stern’s children.)

 “Stern has ‘re-imagined his iconic “Last Sitting” photographs.’ Each piece is unique: The series features 31 photos with enhanced crystal overlays, a technique done by hand that ‘accentuates the saturated glamour of his original photographic images’ in order to ‘enrich the images … with dimensional sparkle and a fresh perspective.’ Photos will range from $10,000 to $25,000.”

UPDATE: Read a report on the exhibition here.

Norman Mailer and The Girl Upstairs

This New York author’s infatuation with Marilyn is the stuff of legend, but according to a new documentary, Norman Mailer: The American, the feeling wasn’t mutual:

“Mailer tells a revealing story about how he almost met Marilyn Monroe, the subject of his fawning, conspiracy-mongering 1973 book, ‘Marilyn.’ In that coffee-table tome, Mailer takes some nasty swipes at fellow Brooklyn-Jewish boy Arthur Miller (who wrote ‘Death of a Salesman’ in the same apartment building where Mailer, in the upper floors, was writing ‘The Naked and the Dead.’)

Miller invited Mailer and Adele (Morales, his then-wife) to his Connecticut home at a time when the playwright and the movie star were married. Mailer showed up with every intention of stealing Monroe away, only to be told that she was out of town. Dirty trick.

Mailer found out later that Monroe, afraid of meeting him, had been hiding upstairs the whole time. At least that’s his version. Sounds like everybody involved dodged a bullet.” Bloomberg


Zolotow’s Marilyn: Life With the Greenes

With business partner Milton Greene, 1955

These latest extracts from Zolotow’s 1960 biography, first published in the Los Angeles Daily Mirror, recounts Marilyn’s split from husband Joe DiMaggio, and her decision to leave Hollywood; her business partnership with photographer Milton Greene and her personal relationship with his wife, Amy (Marilyn stayed at their Connecticut home in the winter of 1954-55, before moving to New York.)

Michael Chekhov Festival in Connecticut

The life and work of Michael Chekhov is celebrated this weekend in Ridgefield, Connecticut.

The nephew of playwright Anton Chekhov, Michael was born in Russia in 1891, studied under Stanislavsky. He later developed his own theories of acting, and moved to the US on the eve of World War II. In 1939, Chekhov founded a drama school in Connecticut.

Chekhov’s most acclaimed screen performance was in Hitchcock’s Spellbound (1945.) Six years later, Marilyn Monroe was introduced to Chekhov by actor Jack Palance, after each had talked about the problem of being typecast due to their distinctive physical appearance. Marilyn began studying with Chekhov twice a week, much to the chagrin of her on-set coach, Natasha Lytess.

Chekhov told Marilyn, ‘Our bodies can be either our best friends or our worst enemies. You must try to consider your body as an instrument for expressing creative ideas. You must strive for complete harmony between body and psychology.’ It was his contention that the only way to really enter a dramatic character was to use creative imagination, to ‘want to be another character’.

Marilyn studied Chekhov’s book, To the Actor, and on his advice, she also read Mabel Elsworth Todd‘s The Thinking Body. Chekhov once admonished Marilyn for her lateness, and she wrote him a letter saying how much she appreciated his patience and valued his friendship.

In 1952 they worked together on a scene from Shakespeare’s King Lear, in which Chekhov played Lear and Marilyn his daughter Cordelia. Though nobody else saw the performance, Marilyn considered it one of her most rewarding experiences as an actress.

At around this time, Marilyn gave Chekhov an engraving of Abraham Lincoln, with the note, ‘Lincoln was the man I admired most all through school. Now that man is you.’

Michael Chekhov died in September 1955. When she heard the news, Marilyn asked Arthur Miller to read with her from Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov.

Marilyn stayed in touch with Chekhov’s widow, Xenia, and remembered her in her will. In 1962, Marilyn told reporter W.J. Weatherby that she wanted to see a statue of Michael Chekhov, and was prepared to petition President John F. Kennedy if necessary. Sadly, she would not live long enough to realise her dream.

Michael Chekhov is not as well-known as Marilyn’s other teachers, Natasha Lytess and the Strasbergs. His approach differed from the ‘Method’, which Marilyn would turn to after his death, in that he emphasised the creative imagination, whereas Strasberg urged his students to delve into their own psychological history to build a character.

This change of style proved controversial and while Marilyn won critical acclaim for her later performances, some friends felt privately that it made her too introspective and self-doubting. While Chekhov was deeply fond of Marilyn and believed in her talent, he never allowed her to become dependent on him as others did. Perhaps this is why she never felt used or let down by him.

More news on the second annual Michael Chekhov Theater Festival at Ridgefield Press or visit the website of The Michael Chekhov Center

Additional information from The Marilyn Encyclopedia by Adam Victor