How to Be Very, Very Marilyn

sheree north travilla
Sheree North with Travilla

The Life archive has taken a look back at the career of actress Sheree North, who replaced Marilyn after she refused to appear in Fox’s How to Be Very, Very Popular (1955.) The parallels between them are also noted in a separate article by Jen Carlson for LAist.com.

Monroe didn’t take the threat very seriously, telling columnist Earl Wilson rather impishly, “Sometimes I kid the fans. They say, ‘Oh, you’re Marilyn Monroe!’ I say, ‘Oh no, I’m Mamie Van Doren’ – or, ‘Sheree North’ – if I’m in a real hurry.”

Six years Marilyn’s junior, Sheree was groomed by the studio as a stand-in for their rebellious star. This was not her decision, as she had no wish to dethrone MM. She later became a respected character actress, even playing Gladys Baker in the TV movie, Marilyn: The Untold Story (1980.)

In 2008, three years after her death, a photo of Ms North being dressed for her role in How to Be Very Very, Very Popular by costume designer Travilla was misidentified as Marilyn in a number of leading newspapers, including the Telegraph.

Esther Williams 1921-2013

Swimming champion turned Hollywood star, Esther Williams – nicknamed ‘The Million Dollar Mermaid’ – has died aged 91, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Esther is pictured here with Marilyn and columnist Earl Wilson at a Hollywood party in December 1952. She also attended the Photoplay Awards in March 1953, where Marilyn collected her statuette as the ‘Fastest Rising Star’, and upstaged everyone – including an outraged Joan Crawford – by wearing a diaphanous gold dress.

‘Williams figured that her own champagne-coloured strapless evening gown with matching orchids made her a “classy counterpoint” to MM,’ Les Harding notes in his 2012 book, They Knew Marilyn Monroe, sourced from Esther’s 1999 memoir.

But, as Florabel Muir noted in the Los Angeles Daily Mirror after the event, Next to Marilyn, all the others seemed so dull.’