In a fascinating, 3-part guest post for Elisa Jordan’s regular column at the Examiner, Eric Woodard looks behind at the ill-fated Rain, planned as a TV movie in 1961. Cast as prostitute Sadie Thompson, who clashes with an obsessive preacher in an adaptation of Somerset Maugham’s classic short story, Marilyn hoped to follow in the hallowed footsteps of Jeanne Eagels, Gloria Swanson, Joan Crawford and Rita Hayworth, all of whom had previously played the role. (The project was suggested by her Actors’ Studio guru, Lee Strasberg, and her faith in his vision would cost her deeply.)
Elisa Jordan, whose regular column on Marilyn is published at the Examiner, has launched an entertainment tour company, L.A. Woman. Her ‘Marilyn’s Hollywood’ tour will go ahead next month:
- Noon-4 p.m., Sat., July 28 and 2:30-6:30, Sun., August 5
- Reserve your seat at http://lawomantours.com/marilynshollywood/
- Cost: $60 per person (Tours takes place in a comfortable mini coach that makes various stops for photo opportunities, so remember to bring a camera.)
- Departs from The Hollywood Museum, 1660 N. Highland Ave. (corner of Hollywood & Highland)
- Some of what you will see: the orphanage where Norma Jeane dreamed of becoming a star, the former beauty salon where she first became a blonde, the restaurant where she met Joe DiMaggio on a blind date, and the nightclub where she stood up for civil rights.
Sunny Thompson’s acclaimed one-woman show, Marilyn: Forever Blonde, will be performed at North Hollywood’s El Porto Theatre on August 2nd-5th, marking the 50th anniversary of Monroe’s death.
Elisa Jordan reports for the Examiner:
“The parking lot for the El Portal is the same lot used during the day by Lankershim Elementary School where Norma Jeane Baker attended sixth grade in 1937.
In conjunction with the Immortal Marilyn fan club, a special performance of Marilyn: Forever Blonde is planned on Saturday, August 4, for fans visiting Los Angeles during the memorial week.”
Marijane Gray, who has written several articles about Marilyn, was interviewed by Elisa Jordan for The Examiner recently, and spoke out about ABG and Facebook’s treatment on Monroe’s fans – and in particular, the mass deletion of non-profit tribute pages.
“It would do a lot to restore public opinion of them if they admitted they were wrong about what constitutes a copyright violation and left the non-commercial tribute pages in peace. There are enough people out there selling fake autographs, fake memorabilia, putting Marilyn’s face on cheap junk … go after them, not the people who want to look at photos or have a chat about her.”
Over at the Examiner, Elisa Jordan takes a look at Johnny Hyde, the first agent to recognise Marilyn’s star potential. He also fell in love with her…
‘It’s difficult to say what would have happened to Marilyn and Johnny’s relationship if he had lived. One thing is certain, though, and that is Marilyn’s gratitude for Johnny Hyde, the man who mentored her, had faith in her and loved her. “I don’t know that any man ever loved me so much,” she said later. “Every guy I’d known seemed to want only one thing from me. Johnny wanted that, too, but he wanted to marry me, and I just couldn’t do it. Even when he was angry with me for refusing, I knew he never stopped loving me, never stopped working for me.”’
Elisa Jordan looks back at the tensions on the set of The Prince and the Showgirl:
“Because of all the turmoil on the set, history has often overlooked the positive aspects of the picture. First and foremost, let’s remember that Marilyn Monroe, who had been written off as a dumb sex symbol by so many, actually produced a movie with her own production company. And because she was an independent contractor, as opposed to under contract to a studio, she netted 10 percent of the movie’s profits. All this was practically non-existent in the 1950s. It was a huge leap for all actors in Hollywood—but especially for women.
Finally, let’s remember that this woman had the courage to hire the century’s most renowned and respected actor—Laurence Olivier. Not many in her shoes would have done the same. For all the attention that Marilyn’s behavior on the set gets, let’s not forget that Olivier wasn’t always a pleasant person to be around, either. To her credit, Marilyn stood up to him. And it’s also important to point out that while Olivier didn’t always treat Marilyn with respect, it wasn’t just a matter of two actors. Olivier seems to forget that this woman, whom he spoke so ill of, was also his boss.”
Author Susan Bernard talks to Elisa Jordan at The Examiner about her new book, Marilyn: Intimate Exposures; her father, Bruno Bernard’s photo archive; and the claim that he introduced Marilyn to agent Johnny Hyde.
“I wanted to not just show photos, but show the back of the photos to show the process of the photographer. I thought that was really interesting where they would literally type a story on a typewriter and they’d cut it out and paste it with tape on the back of a photo. Life was different then! He always wanted to tell the back story. The process of what it was like to be a photographer at that time was very interesting to me and I thought it would be very interesting to other people. And I wanted actually show the negatives. I wanted to show that there is a negative of the flying skirt [from The Seven Year Itch] in existence, and that the original proof sheets do exist. That was one of my goals. In picking the pictures, I just wanted to select the pictures that showed not the obvious glamour pictures, but showed her pensive or thinking—pictures that told a story.”
Tapes recorded in 1998 by Jeff Platts, nephew of George Masters, suggest that the celebrity stylist was with Marilyn the night before she died:
“About a month before he passed away, he sat down and recorded some discussions with Platts. Recently, Platts shared a portion of the tapes with me, specifically one that dealt with Monroe’s last night.
In a frail but controlled voice, here’s what Masters remembered about the last night he saw Monroe alive.
Masters was one of Hollywood’s top hairdressers, and he styled Marilyn’s hair for her ‘Last Sitting’ with Bert Stern in June 1962. He can also be seen with Marilyn in photos taken at a Miami airport earlier that year, en route to Mexico.
Though she admired his skills as a stylist, Marilyn never seemed to confide in Masters as much as some of her other aides, eg make-up man Whitey Snyder or masseur Ralph Roberts. According to Platts, Masters did not remember Monroe fondly:
“George and Marilyn had a love-hate relationship. He described her as the coldest person he’d ever known. He said she’d never really loved anyone but herself. She would do whatever was necessary to keep all the attention focused on her. Her public image was a complete fabrication. George stayed with Marilyn because she was his biggest client (financially as well as level of celebrity).”
These claims appear in an article by Chris Epting for AOL. Epting is also the author of Marilyn Monroe Dyed Here: More Locations of America’s Pop Culture Landmarks.
Over at The Examiner, Elisa Jordan offers her opinion on these latest allegations:
“Let’s start here: Pat Newcomb (Monroe’s publicist) said she slept over at Marilyn’s house that night, but doesn’t address whether or not Marilyn was there—only that Marilyn woke up about noon.
Actually, although Newcomb has spoken very little, at least publicly, about her relationship with Marilyn, she has stated that she and Marilyn went out to dinner at a local restaurant that Friday night. Some people maintain that the women were with Peter Lawford. And even other stories report that Bobby Kennedy was there. I tend to believe it was a low-key evening at a restaurant with Marilyn and Pat, but I wasn’t there. The important thing to remember is that in all versions of the story, Marilyn and Pat were out together on the night of August 3. How could Marilyn have been in Lake Tahoe?
And let’s address Lake Tahoe. Epting does ask some important questions. Were there other people on the plane, for instance? It’s unclear. I would like to take that a step further. What about the pilots? Were there flight attendants? Airport employees?
Masters claims he drove Marilyn home from LAX, but who picked her up in Lake Tahoe? Wasn’t there a driver? Where is he? What about the employees at the Cal-Neva? Cooks? Waitresses? Maids? Bellhops? No one saw Marilyn Monroe, the world’s most famous movie star, at the lodge that night? No other guests saw her? These types of people were able to place her at the Cal-Neva a week earlier. Why not on August 3, too?”
Jordan also adds some thoughts on Master’s credibility:
“If Epting’s reporting is correct—and I believe that it is—then Masters died broken and drug addicted. And if George Masters and Marilyn Monroe had a ‘love-hate’ relationship as reported in Epting’s article, was Masters merely trying to get the last word over Marilyn? Did he merely want to involve himself in one of the most famous mysteries of the 20th century?
Sound like a credible witness to you? Not to me, but I admit that I’m cynical about stories people tell about Marilyn Monroe—especially stories concerning her death. At this point there are so many that it’s nearly impossible to keep them straight.
Now George Masters has added himself to that list. Is it any wonder why people are so fascinated with Marilyn Monroe’s death? The victim is an American icon. The suspects and coconspirators are also celebrities, including a beloved President of the United States. It is a story that instantly makes you famous if you claim to be involved in it. And everyone, it seems, wants to be involved.”
My personal view on these tapes is that though interesting, I am highly sceptical of Masters’ claims. I find it hard to believe that Marilyn really did visit Lake Tahoe the night before she died, because there are no other witnesses. I think she probably spent the evening with Pat Newcomb, and perhaps stayed at home because Pat was unwell that weekend.
Pat Newcomb is still alive and in her eighties. She has never spoken publicly about Marilyn’s death and I doubt she ever will. The truth, I suspect, is more mundane – and even more sad – than the conspiracy theories espoused by Masters et al.
I think Newcomb is the only person still living who knows the truth about Marilyn’s final days. Even if she did tell all, the rumours would carry on regardless. So while her silence may be frustrating to those of us who would like to see the record set straight for once and for all, I can understand her reluctance, and even respect it.