Mara Lynn’s ‘Diamond’ Role With Marilyn

The actress and dancer Mara Lynn, who had a small part in Let’s Make Love, is profiled in today’s Winchester News-Gazette. Born Marilyn Mozier in Chicago in 1927, she is believed to have attended Winchester High School in Indiana. After studying classical dance with George Balanchine, she found fame on Broadway in Inside USA (1948.) This led to more musicals, and a long career as a dance director and performer in Las Vegas.  She broke into movies with the camp classic, Prehistoric Women (1950), and appeared on television as a glamorous sidekick to comedians Groucho Marx and Milton Berle.

Let’s Make Love is perhaps her most notable film. The article claims that Mara ‘gave acting lessons to Marilyn Monroe at Marilyn’s New York apartment,’ but this seems highly unlikely. She may have helped Marilyn to limber up for her dance numbers, however.

In Icon: The Life, Times and Films of Marilyn Monroe, Gary Vitacco-Robles summarises Marla’s brief scene with Marilyn and Yves Montand.

“Clement [Montand] is used to women who are interested in him for his money and is moved by Amanda’s [MM] noble intention. He claims to sell costume jewellery between acting jobs and offers to sell her the diamond bracelet for five dollars. ‘The box looks like it’s worth more than that!’ she says, agreeing to buy it. Another dancer (Mara Lynn) admires the bracelet as a gift for her sick mother, and Amanda graciously offers it to her. Later, the dancer tells Clement her mother is long deceased. To retrieve the bracelet, he explains that its gems were exposed to radioactive atomic rays to produce their sparkle and will make the skin on her wrist peel. Horrified, the dancer removes the bracelet from her wrist, throws it at Clement, and takes back her money.”

George Chakiris On Working With Marilyn

George Chakiris, the perenially youthful actor, dancer and choreographer, who worked with Marilyn at the start of his movie career in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and There’s No Business Like Show Business, and has spoken fondly of her at several memorial services, has shared his memories with Stephanie Nolasco for Fox News.

“‘She was so intensely concentrated on her work,’ Chakiris told Fox News. ‘She was very quiet. She didn’t speak with anyone, not to be rude, but she was just so concentrated on her work.’

‘Whenever they cut [a scene] for any reason, she didn’t go to the mirror or her dressing room. She went right back to her starting position and was ready to shoot the number again or that portion of it… She was just so strikingly beautiful. She had such fair skin.’

‘I remember one time… Jack Cole was facing Marilyn and behind him, also facing Marilyn was Natasha Lytess,’ recalled Chakiris. ‘But he didn’t know Natasha was behind him. And I guess he was giving Marilyn some kind direction and Natasha was very slowly shaking her head. It looked like, Pay no attention to what he’s telling you, I’ll tell you later. But Marilyn Monroe was wonderfully polite to the both of them.’

‘I know there are those other stories, of course,’ explained Chakiris. ‘But the thing that I noticed was her courtesy, how wonderfully quiet she was, how her main concern was her work… I really admired that… She never made a big, loud entrance.’

‘I always thought that in spite of what anybody said about her in any way, shape or form, I always felt [that] in her heart she was kind. There was a sweetness to her… I respect who she was and what she was trying to do… When you see her in a movie, any movie she’s in, your eyes always go to her… She’s so gifted, I think. She’s musically gifted.’

‘1*9*5*6 Degrees of Separation’

1*9*5*6 Degrees of Separation, choreographer Killian Manning’s new play – exploring an imaginary meeting between Marilyn (played by J. Evarts), Grace Kelly, Diane Arbus and Margot Fonteyn – will be staged at the Manbites Dog Theatre in Durham, North Carolina from June 20-24, reports the Herald-Sun.

“They discuss life with their respective husbands – Roberto ‘Tito’ Arias, a Panamanian diplomat; Rainier III, Prince of Monaco; and playwright Arthur Miller. Later in the scene, photographer Diane Arbus (played by Marcia Edmundson) enters and takes a photo of Kelly. Monroe whispers into Arbus’ ear that all three women ‘met with horrible deaths’ (Fonteyn died of bone cancer, Kelly was killed in a car crash, and Monroe committed suicide). Arbus committed suicide in 1971, and in this play Arbus recites lines to Monroe from a poem her brother, Howard Nemerov, wrote for her after her suicide.”

‘Heat Wave: The Jack Cole Project’

Heat Wave: The Jack Cole Project – a musical tribute to Marilyn’s choreographer, Jack Cole – will receive its world premiere from May 3-20 at the Queen’s Theatre, Corona Park, NYC, Playbill reports today.

‘Produced by Queens Theatre, Heat Wave is “an all-singing, all-dancing tribute to the work of Jack Cole, featuring recreations of more than two dozen Cole numbers from such films as ‘There’s No Business Like Show Business,’ ‘Kismet,’ ‘Les Girls’ and ‘On the Riviera,’ as well as new pieces choreographed in Cole’s inimitable style,” according to Queens Theatre notes.’

‘Phenomenal’: Chakiris on Marilyn

Dancer George Chakiris has spoken of his work with Marilyn with fondness and respect.

“It’s obvious that working with Monroe holds a special place in Chakiris’ memory. ‘The Diamonds number was choreographed by Jack Cole who was Marilyn’s favorite choreographer and Marilyn was absolutely right,’ Chakiris comments. ‘Jack choreographed for women unlike any other choreographer. One of my favorite credits is to say that I worked behind Marilyn Monroe and I love saying that. She was phenomenal. She only about twenty six when she made that film but Marilyn was an actress who was deeply concerned about her work and was very conscientious. Let me give you an example of her professionalism: If there ever was a cut for any reason, she never went back to her trailer to check her makeup. She’d be there on her starting mark and ready for the next take. Of course, she was extremely beautiful. I mean, what you see on film was what you’d see in person. There was a certain quality about Marilyn that I found to be kind, sweet and I’m sure she was a person who would never hurt a fly. I also remember her as being very quiet. She was not gregarious but was very concentrated on her work and it was phenomenal to watch her.’

Speaking of Marilyn Monroe’s dancing skills, Chakiris goes on, ‘She may not have been a trained dancer but she was musically gifted. She moved really well, she sang very well and she was a beautiful actress. She was a knock-out in every way. Her personal qualities came through on film. It’s like Audrey Hepburn whose personal qualities modified by her talent as an actress automatically came through on the screen. The person she was is what set her apart from other actresses. It was so rich and beautiful. Natalie Wood had that beautiful person quality as well. That’s what made these ladies so special.’

Chakiris recalls working on THERE’S NO BUSINESS LIKE SHOW BUSINESS which starred Ethel Merman, Mitzi Gaynor, Donald O’Connor and Marilyn Monroe. There was a cocktail party to which the dancers had been invited. Monroe walked in quietly with a few of her friends. ‘My partner in that film, Drusilla Davis, decided to ask Marilyn to come over and kiss me on the cheek. Marilyn sweetly looked over in my direction and said to Drusilla, But I don’t know him, and gently refused. I think little things like that are rather telling. She was very correct in her behavior and I admired her for that.'”

Broadway World

Tango With Marilyn in Greece

An MM-inspired evening of dance, on June 26 from 10pm, is part of the ongoing ‘Marilyn Monroe in the Arts’ exhibit at DEKK, the International Exhibition Centre of Crete.

More details on Facebook, translated here via Google:

‘ The Institute for Cultural Exchange invites their friends to Tango in the foyer of the exhibition “Marilyn Monroe in the Arts”.

All lovers of tango and those who wish to experience the magic up close, you will have the opportunity to attend from 18:30 to 22:00, 40 minutes free seminars with the tango masters of Crete. Then follows a night of Argentine Tango (Milonga).

At the same time, guests can visit the showroom “Marilyn Monroe in the Arts”, which consists of 200 authentic artifacts, 80 international artists (Andy Warhol, Erro, Werner Berges, Mel Ramos, Heidi Popovic, etc.) inspired by most famous woman of the 20th century. The report is presented for the first time in Greece and during her tour in America, 651,000 people visited.

The price of the ticket includes:
· Drink
· Free tango classes (supply teachers)
· Free entrance to the exhibition “Marilyn Monroe in the Arts”

Friendly participation:
Department of Styling IIEK MORFI and Schools KEPANSI

General Admission: 8 euros
Student ticket: € 6

Contact:
Nicholas Smyrnakis
2810-763301
2810-763302’

George Chakiris Remembers ‘Blondes’

‘Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend’ (with George Chakiris at Marilyn’s right)

George Chakiris, who danced alongside Marilyn in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, appeared at this week’s TCM Classic Film Festival in Los Angeles, and recalled his work with choreographer Jack Cole.

“Jack Cole and Robert Alton were the two everyone wanted to dance for. I remember during rehearsal Cole was sitting in his chair and he got up to demonstrate. It was an explosion of dance.

I’m so glad I got to work once for him in that incredible number. He made Jane Russell look so good too.

I loved that time in my life. I was part of the last generation. You would come to work, everyone’s in rehearsal clothes. For filming, you’re all in costume and make up. And there’s that lovely shiny floor…

You’ve been rehearsing to a piano. When they play the orchestra music on the set, it gives you energy you didn’t have. It gives you adrenaline.”

‘West Side Story’ (1963)

Chakiris is best known for his role as Bernardo, leader of The Sharks, in West Side Story (1963.) In the dance number, ‘America’, a peeling billboard for The Misfits, with a painting of Marilyn’s face, can be glimpsed. It was filmed in New York in 1962, where the Metropolitan Opera now stands.

He had also danced with Marilyn, and Cole, in There’s No Business Like Show Business (1954). In 2007, Chakiris spoke to Michelle Morgan, author of Marilyn Monroe: Private and Undisclosed:

“When Marilyn died, I was in Japan making a movie, and I remember being so sad because it seemed to be our loss … She was so gifted.”

Celebrating Jack Cole

Jack Cole coaches Marilyn for ‘My Heart Belongs to Daddy’, from ‘Let’s Make Love’ (1960)

“The Jazz/Musical Theatre Dance Program of the School at Jacob’s Pillow (Becket, MA) is presenting works that Chet Walker has created in the Jack Cole tradition in two final performances: a free presentation on the Inside/Out Stage on Saturday, Aug. 21, at 6:15 and a sold-out benefit concert in the Ted Shawn Theatre on Sunday, Aug. 22, at 8pm.”

Jack Cole was Marilyn’s choreographer and trusted friend, working with her on Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) and throughout her dazzling career.

Among their most memorable collaborations are Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend and My Heart Belongs to Daddy.

Debra Levine profiles Cole in today’s Huffington Post

Read her Los Angeles Times article from 2009, examining Cole’s fruitful partnership with Marilyn.

Indiana Ballet Features Marilyn

“‘Marilyn Monroe was labeled a certain way’ that was only partly related to the 1950s sex symbol’s true identity, Hancock said. So The Scarlet Letter is ‘about the loss of innocence,’ refracted through a Monroe split seven ways with seven dancers representing aspects of the star — ‘the sensual side of her, the naïve side of her, all the essences of Marilyn Monroe that can add to the dance.'” – IndyStar.com

American Classics is an intriguing new ballet from Gregory Hancock, inspired by the imagery of Nathaniel Hathorne’s The Scarlet Letter, Thornton Wilder’s Our Town, and, of course, Marilyn.

The ballet will be staged at the Pike Performing Arts Centre, Indiana, on August 13-14.