A staged reading of Marilyn, Mom & Me – Luke Yankee’s play about his late mother, actress Eileen Heckart’s friendship with Marilyn during filming of Bus Stop – will be available to stream later today on YouTube, through to Sunday.
A staged reading of Marilyn, Mom & Me – Luke Yankee’s new play about Marilyn’s “intense but short-lived” friendship with his mother, actress Eileen Heckart, during filming of Bus Stop (1956) – will be held at the Stella Adler Theatre in Los Angeles on October 16th. Another reading will follow at the Manhattan Theatre Club rehearsal space in New York on January 19th, 2020. Alisha Soper, briefly glimpsed in Feud: Bette and Joan (2017), will play Marilyn. A seasoned playwright, director and teacher of acting, Luke Yankee is also the author of Just Outside the Spotlight: Growing Up With Eileen Heckart (2006), now available in paperback and via Kindle.
“Like two strangers linked by fate on a Greyhound bus, the unlikely personal and professional friendship that developed between vulnerable, lost and emotionally needy Marilyn Monroe and crusty, maternal, no-nonsense Eileen Heckart on the western rodeo set of Bus Stop has now been preserved in amber by Luke Yankee as a stirring footnote to movie history you won’t want to miss. It’s a funny, dark, heartbreaking and unforgettable new play that wraps you in cashmere. Marilyn, Mom & Me is devastating!”Rex Reed
Marilyn’s annual service was held at Westwood Memorial Park yesterday, hosted as always by Greg Schreiner of Marilyn Remembered. Speakers included Margaret Kerry (the model for Disney’s Tinkerbell); Jeff Arden, grandson of cinematographer Sol Halperin; Scott Morrow, photographer and child actor; Megan Carey, granddaughter of actor Macdonald Carey (Let’s Make It Legal); actress Kathleen Hughes, widow of River of No Return producer Stanley Rubin; Luke Yankee, son of Marilyn’s Bus Stop co-star Eileen Heckart; Edward Lozzi, publicist for actress Renee Taylor (who met Marilyn during her Actors Studio days); and Blue Book model Lydia Reed. You can watch the webcast here.
Photos by Scott Fortner
In honour of International Women’s Day, Flavorwire’s Emily Temple placed Donald Spoto’s Marilyn Monroe: The Biography 23rd on her list of 50 Great Books About 50 Inspiring Women. (While Spoto’s book is a good choice, I would nominate Michelle Morgan’s Marilyn Monroe: Private and Undisclosed as the best biography of Marilyn written by a woman.)
Over at Papermag, Michael Musto shares his choices for The 10 Best Celebrity Memoirs, including Marilyn’s own My Story. “Far from a giddy bombshell, Monroe was a keenly perceptive observer of the human condition,” Musto comments. “In this unfinished book — released years after her death — the sex symbol talks about her unhappy childhood and her adult stardom, revealing a mind full of illumination and curves. Who knew she was an intellectual, in her own way?”
Musto’s list also includes two other books in which Marilyn features prominently: Susan Strasberg’s Bittersweet, and Just Outside the Spotlight: Growing Up With Eileen Heckart, a tribute to Marilyn’s Bus Stop co-star penned by her son, Luke Yankee.
According to New Canaan News, the site of the former White Barn Theatre in Norwalk, Connecticut is being eyed by a housing development firm. The Save Cranbury Association opposes the plans to build on the two-acre site. ‘This is one of the last pieces of open space,’ said local resident Tim Hawks, whose house abuts the land. ‘I’m all about protecting it.’
As the above photo reveals, Marilyn visited the theatre (circa 1955) and signed its guestbook. Another rare photo, seemingly from the same visit, shows her with poet Norman Rosten, a close friend.
The White Barn Theatre was founded by actress, producer and impresario Lucille Lortel on the property of her estate. Numerous plays from major dramatists premiered there, including Rosten’s 1966 work, Come Slowly Eden. Eileen Heckart, Marilyn’s co-star in Bus Stop, performed there in Unfinished Business (1989.)
In this extract from Just Outside the Spotlight: Growing Up with Eileen Heckart, Luke Yankee writes about his mother’s offscreen relationship with her co-star, Marilyn Monroe, during production of Bus Stop in 1956.
(Thanks to ES member Nettie for bringing this book to my attention.)
“Marilyn was crazy about my brothers. She loved to play a little game with them at night. Marilyn was constantly receiving elaborate gift baskets from agents, publicists, and studio types trying to gain her favor. After a long day of shooting, she removed the grapefruits and oranges from the basket and went out onto the balcony.
She’d call down below, ‘Mark! Philip!’
Four year-old Mark raced out onto the balcony with two year-old Philip tottering close behind. They looked up at the pretty blonde lady on the tiered balcony above.
‘Wanna play a little catch?’ Marilyn asked.
‘Okay!’ Mark replied. And so began the nightly ritual of Marilyn Monroe playing ball on the terrace, using grapefruits and oranges as their only sports equipment. First, Marilyn threw a grapefruit. Mark caught it with pride. Next, an orange to Philip. Of course, at two, he couldn’t catch anything, so the fruit rolled onto the balcony below and off the edge to the pool deck, five flights down.
‘Marilyn,’ Mama would say, ‘it’s very sweet of you to do this, but really, you don’t have to.’
‘Are you kidding?’ Marilyn replied. ‘It’s my favorite part of the day! Besides, Vitamin C is very important for growing boys. They have to have their citrus!’
After a few days of this game, during her nightly phonecall to my father in Connecticut, Mama remarked, ‘Oh, sure, Marilyn’s playing catch with the boys on the terrace again. They’re having the time of their lives. And guess who’s gonna have her raggedy ass down at the pool at two in the morning picking up all those goddamn grapefruits and oranges? It ain’t Miss Monroe, that’s for sure!’ “