The town of Dayton, Nevada is rightly proud of its connections to Marilyn and The Misfits, as Carson Now reports. On Wednesday, November 14, Laura Tennant of the Historical Society of Dayton Valley will give a presentation on the movie which was partly filmed on the streets of Dayton and the Stagecoach Flats in the summer of 1960. There will also be a photo display. This free event is at the Dayton Valley Community Center at 170 Pike Street, Old Town Dayton, beginning at 7 p.m. with refreshments. and the presentation starts at 7:30 p.m.
Marilyn famously made denim stylish for women in The Misfits. Writing for the Levi Strauss blog, Tracey Panek revisits the Nevada locations where the movie was shot.
It is a very interesting article. However, it should be noted that Marilyn stayed with the cast and crew at the Mapes Hotel in Reno for most of the shoot, although she did move into another suite after her marriage to Arthur Miller hit the rocks.
As Panek notes, she also briefly stayed at a country inn, which offered her a brief respite – but this was only while filming scenes on location in nearby Dayton.
“I started my journey in the Comstock at Virginia City’s Edith Palmer’s Country Inn, the place where Marilyn stayed while filming The Misfits.
‘She didn’t want to stay with the rest of the crew,’ said inn owner Leisa Findley. ‘Marilyn’s chauffeur picked her up and dropped her off here every day.’ Theorizing about Monroe’s motivation for separate living quarters (her room pictured below) Leisa explained, ‘It was during the time that she was leaving her husband.’
I interviewed the inn owner about her memories of The Misfits. Leisa was only ten years old during the filming and recalled the memorable scene when Monroe makes a ruckus beating a paddle ball in a cowboy bar. ‘I could hear them,’ Leisa said, ‘The entire crew would count aloud.’ During the scene, Monroe hits the paddle ball repeatedly and the entire bar erupts into counting. While the film makes it looks seamless, it took Monroe multiple takes to capture the continuous paddling.
Although Monroe wore a dress for the bar scene, she donned Lady Levi’s® jeans in other key scenes in the film, a flattering fit for her signature curves. In one scene Monroe wears jeans while gardening, her sexy silhouette prompting admirers to purchase their own Levi’s® jeans.
After Virginia City, I drove to Dayton, the place where The Misfits was filmed. Monroe’s Levi’s® jeans may have been purchased at Braun & Loftus General Merchandise in Dayton. The town remains much the same is it did during the filming. I spotted the Braun & Loftus building, today a restaurant, by its colorful exterior sign.
I finished my journey viewing the flat lakebed near Dayton where one of the final film scenes was shot. Wild horses still roam the area and I was fortunate to spot a few in the distance. In the climactic scene, Monroe is distraught as she watches Gable breaking a wild horse. She is dressed in Levi’s® jeans as she runs across the open lakebed and pleads with Gable to stop. Monroe looks at once rugged and practical, cowgirl Western yet stylish and cool.
Despite her death from an overdose one year later, Monroe left an imprint on the places and people she touched in The Misfits. ‘To Edith Palmer and her oasis in the desert and warm hospitality,’ Monroe wrote to the inn owner who made her feel at home during the filming. ‘May I always be a welcome guest. Marilyn Monroe.’ Despite its lack of popular appeal, the film received critical acclaim. More importantly, Monroe’s appearance in Levi’s® jeans helped popularize the denim pants — women wanting to dress as Marilyn bought their own blue jeans.”
Niagara will be screened at the Dayton Arts Institute next Wednesday, April 23, at 7pm. The 1953 thriller will be preceded by a vintage TruColor Niagara Falls Travelogue and a classic Warner Brothers cartoon.
“Toni Westbrook-Van Cleave was only 6 at the time, but she still remembers Marilyn Monroe strapping on a toy gun belt and playing cowboys and Indians with her young brother during a break in filming of The Misfits.
Like other residents of the small northern Nevada town of Dayton, she had no clue of the demons that drove Monroe to be consistently late on the set, causing frustrating delays for director John Huston and co-stars Clark Gable and Montgomery Clift.
‘She was gorgeous, very sweet, naive,’ recalled Van Cleave, who was a $10-a-day extra during a rodeo scene. ‘She wasn’t snobby. She seemed real down to earth and friendly.'”
“Celebrating her 90th birthday soon, Kay recalls watching Hollywood’s favorite movie stars acting on Pike Street: ‘We watched it being filmed,’ she said of Marilyn’s famous paddle board scene taken in the Odeon’s Saloon. ‘That silk dress she wore was really tight,’ she laughed at the memory.”
“The Misfit Flats are among the most beautiful spots in the world to me!! I was utterly mesmerized. I remember vividly the exact first moment I stood there and the exquisite calm that came over me. I felt it was my natural spot. I couldn’t love that stretch of desert more, but then I loved Dayton and that fabulous bar with the dollars on the ceiling. I’ve loved the memories of that film again and again…”
“The Historical Society of Dayton Valley and Dayton Valley Days committee are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the filming of The Misfits in Dayton and Stagecoach on Sept. 18 and 19 on Dayton’s 160-year-old streets. Here’s a chance to connect with this community’s roots.
To make this event special, we are asking locals who remember the shooting of The Misfits to share their favorite local story, photographs or unique memorabilia on Saturday, Sept. 18, at a ‘Reminiscing The Misfits’ rap session at the Dayton Valley Community Center at 170 Pike St., Old Town Dayton beginning at 2 p.m.
To add to the fun, the historical society is sponsoring a Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable ‘look alike’ contest with a $50 cash prize going to each winner. Contestants are being asked to participate in the parade that begins at 10 a.m. Judges will finalize their decisions after the parade about 11:30 at the community center.
On Saturday afternoon at 4:30 p.m. and at 6:30 p.m., the Misfits Theater Group is presenting a melodramatic skit telling a tale about your favorite stars in The Misfits movie. The live act is being held at the famous Odeon Hall’s ballroom where many of the movie’s action scenes occurred.
“Not far from Virginia City is the former mining town of Dayton. However, Dayton — immediately off Highway 50 — became famous not for gold and silver, but for its role as a backdrop for The Misfits, a 1961 movie starring Clark Cable, Marilyn Monroe and Montgomery Clift.
In the movie, Mia’s restaurant in Dayton was used, and if you take a little time to visit the restaurant’s contiguous bar, you’ll see life-size photographs of Marilyn Monroe.
Knowing about the movie’s impact on the area, we camped one night in Dayton and then watched the movie on DVD. With a little direction from the bartender, we found the setting for a major scene in which Marilyn Monroe had sat on a pile of trash, listening as Montgomery Clift poured out his tales of broken-hearted loves. Clift played a masterful role as a cowboy working rodeos, and Gable had the role of an aging cowboy determined at times to lose himself in the empty space of Nevada. Here, we soon discovered, you can easily do that better than most any place else in America, definitely making Highway 50 the road to ride.”
Footage from The Misfits
If you remember The Misfits filming in Dayton, please share your memories – more info here
“Usually late for filming, while other stars waited impatiently, Marilyn arrived, acting nonchalantly, taking time for the kids and locals.
So far, we expect The Misfits Troupe to participate in a melodramatic skit at the Odeon where much of the movie was shot, display photo exhibits of the stars, reminiscences of those who were part of the action, a Misfits’ theme for the DVD’s parade and much more.
If anyone has photographs or remembrances of the summer, fifty years ago, that The Misfits arrived in Dayton or who were extras in the movie, we’d like to hear your personal stories.”
Laura Tennant is a Nevada native, Dayton historian and the Leader-Courier’s former editor. Comments are welcome. Call 775-246-3256, e-mail, L10ant38@gmail.com or write, P.O. Box 143, Dayton, NV, 89403.