Marilyn, Drew, JFK Jr. and a Notorious Cover Story

Over at Esquire, Kate Storey reports on George, the political magazine launched by John F. Kennedy Jr. in the 1990s. While some were shocked by the 1996 cover featuring actress Drew Barrymore as Marilyn, the original idea – to have ex-girlfriend Madonna pose as John’s mother, Jackie Kennedy – was even more daring, and a step too far even for the pop superstar. So why was John so willing to send up his own family myths? As the article reveals, it seems that Junior was ahead of his time in exposing fake news…

“With Madonna out, the September cover took a decidedly different turn—instead of referencing his mom, Kennedy chose to nod at another well-known woman in his dad’s life: Marilyn Monroe.

Drew Barrymore was posed in a nude-colored cocktail dress and platinum wig, with a mole perfectly placed on her left cheek. The idea came from George’s executive editor, Elizabeth Mitchell, who suggested it as a fiftieth-birthday tribute to President Bill Clinton. The reference: In May 1962, in front of fifteen thousand people during a Democratic-party fundraiser at Madison Square Garden, Monroe had famously serenaded Kennedy’s father ten days before his forty-fifth birthday with a breathy, seductive ‘Happy Birthday, Mr. President.’ The subtext to the song, of course, is that the president and the actress were rumored to have had an affair.

That photograph might seem a strange choice for a man who adored his mother—even stranger than asking Madonna to impersonate her—but the thing was, according to Mitchell, Kennedy never believed anything had happened between his dad and Monroe. ‘He just thought it was sort of tweaking the expectations of the public,’ she says all these years later.”

Another aspect to this story is that Drew Barrymore is a lifelong Marilyn fan. As a teenage starlet, she was photographed in her bedroom, surrounded by Monroe posters. In a 2010 interview, Drew named Marilyn among her fantasy dinner guests; and in 2014, she filmed an introduction to Bus Stop with TCM host Robert Osborne.

Madonna as Marilyn, 1993

And while Madonna’s fascination with Monroe is well-known, she had already pipped George to the post by singing ‘Happy Inauguration Mr. President’ on TV’s Saturday Night Live in 1993, marking Clinton’s electoral victory.

Drew Barrymore Joins Marilyn at the ‘Bus Stop’

To all our readers in the US, don’t miss January 3rd‘s episode of The Essentials on Turner Classic Movies (Saturday, at 8pm), when Robert Osborne will introduce a screening of Bus Stop by discussing the 1956 comedy with his celebrity co-host, actress turned director and producer Drew Barrymore.

Drew is a lifelong fan of Marilyn, and even posed as her idol for the cover of John F. Kennedy Jr’s magazine, George, when it launched in 1996. In an article for the TCM website, Roger Fristoe explains what makes Bus Stop a classic:

“Most importantly, Bus Stop marked what is generally considered to be the outstanding performance of a true American icon: Marilyn Monroe…Whatever difficulties in achieving it, her performance shines like a beacon through a film that otherwise may seem a bit dated for modern audiences…Some critics felt that Monroe surpassed Stanley’s highly lauded turn on Broadway.

It’s simply a great performance, one that grows more impressive with repeated viewings. There was no justice in the fact that, while Murray was Oscar-nominated for his one-dimensional, at times almost cartoon-like portrayal, Monroe was not. This was a great disappointment to many including director Logan and Monroe herself.”

Thanks to Christy Putnam

 

‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’

Over at Flavorwire, a look back at past depictions of Marilyn in popular culture, in anticipation of Michelle Williams’ upcoming movie role. Pictured above is Catherine Hicks in the TV movie, Marilyn: An Untold Story (1980.)

I would also nominate Theresa Russell’s portrayal of ‘The Actress’ in the 1985 movie, Insignificance; Madonna in her ‘Material Girl’ video and ‘Homage to Norma Jean’ photo shoot; Drew Barrymore’s George magazine cover shot from 1996; and Angelina Jolie’s recreation of Monroe’s 1961 session with Douglas Kirkland.

In your opinion, what are the best – and worst – portrayals of Marilyn around? Or can nobody match the sublime MM?

Drew Barrymore Invites Marilyn to Fantasy Dinner


“If you could invite any five people, dead or alive, to a dinner party, who would you choose?
My grandfather (legendary actor John Barrymore), Blake Edwards (film director), Marilyn Monroe, Rachel Maddow (US radio presenter), and Jeff Spicoli (the character played by Sean Penn in ‘Fast Times at Ridgemont High’).”

BlackBookMag.Com

I think nearly everyone who answers that question puts Marilyn on their list!

“In honour of Bill Clinton turning 50 in September 1996, John Kennedy Jr. had Drew pose as Marilyn Monroe on the cover of his magazine, George, with the heading, ‘Happy Birthday, Mr. President’, which Marilyn Monroe sang to his father at the now-infamous 19 May 1962 Birthday Salute to President John F. Kennedy.”

Miss Barrymore.com