In January, exhibitions featuring Milton Greene and Douglas Kirkland’s photographs of Marilyn opened in London and Amsterdam. In New York, the Museum of Modern Art paid tribute to Marilyn’s choreographer, Jack Cole. Also this month, James Turiello’s book, Marilyn: The Quest for an Oscar, was published. And Edward Parone, assistant producer of The Misfits, died.
In April, a special edition of Vanity Fair magazine – dedicated to MM – was published. A campaign to save Rockhaven, the former women’s sanitarium where Marilyn’s mother Gladys once lived – was launched. And actress Anne Jackson – wife of Eli Wallach, and friend to Marilyn – passed away.
In May, Marilyn graced the cover of a Life magazine special about ‘hidden Hollywood’, and Sebastien Cauchon’s novel, Marilyn 1962, was published in France. Cabaret singer Marissa Mulder’s one-woman show, Marilyn in Fragments, opened in New York, while Chinese artist Chen Ke unveiled Dream-Dew, a series of paintings inspired by Marilyn’s life story. The remarkable collection of David Gainsborough Roberts was displayed in London. Finally, Alan Young – the comedian and Mister Ed star, who befriended a young Marilyn – died.
In July, the birthday celebrations continued in Marilyn’s Los Angeles hometown with tributes from painter David Bromley, and another Greene exhibition. A new musical, Marilyn!, opened in Glendale. Rapper Frank Ocean appeared alongside a Monroe impersonator in a Calvin Klein commercial. And Marni Nixon, the Hollywood soprano who sang the opening bars of ‘Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend’, passed away.
August 5th marked the 54th anniversary of Marilyn’s death. Also this month, it was announced that Seward Johnson’s ‘Forever Marilyn’ sculpture may return permanently to Palm Springs. April VeVea’s Marilyn Monroe: A Day in the Life was published, and Marilyn’s role in Niagara was featured in another Life magazine special, celebrating 75 years of film noir.
In September, Marilyn: Character Not Image – an exhibition curated by Whoopi Goldberg – opened in New Jersey. Terry Johnson’s fantasy play, Insignificance, was revived in Wales. Two locks of Marilyn’s hair were sold by Julien’s Auctions for $70,000. And author Michelle Morgan published The Marilyn Journal, first in a series of books chronicling the Marilyn Lives Society; and A Girl Called Pearl, a novel for children with a Monroe connection.
MM superfan Sirkku Aaltonen is a 31 year-old Home Economics teacher living in Helsinki, Finland. She is also one of Everlasting Star’s original members and an esteemed moderator. Sirkku wrote the ES Updates biography of Marilyn, and maintains a Monroe Book Blog in both Finnish and English.
For several years, Sirkku has been writing a thesis about Marilyn’s relationship with food, as part of her ongoing studies at the University of Helsinki. An interview with Sirkku – all about Marilyn, and cookery – has now been published by Savon Sanomat. (And if you don’t know any Finnish, there’s always Google Translate!)
In January, Marilyn was named as the ‘new face’ of Max Factor cosmetics. Also this month, Joe Franklin (Marilyn’s first biographer) and Anita Ekberg, a fellow blonde bombshell of the fifties, both passed away.
In February, New York Fashion Week included a Fall 2015 collection from Max Mara, inspired by Marilyn’s 1960s style. A hologram of multiple Marilyns appeared in the Oscars opening ceremony. Also this month, Richard Meryman – the last person to interview Marilyn – passed away.
In March, Marilyn was featured in a vintage-inspired ad campaign for Coca Cola. In book news, the long-awaited first volume of Holding A Good Thought For Marilyn, a two-part biography by Stacy Eubank, was published.
On June 1 – Marilyn’s 89th birthday – the British Film Institute launched a month-long retrospective of Marilyn’s movies, and a nationwide reissue of The Misfits. Menswear designer Dries Van Noten used iconic images of Marilyn in his Spring 2016 collection. A benefit performance of Bombshell (the Marilyn-inspired musical subject of TV’s Smash) spurred plans for a full Broadway run. And Marilyn Monroe: Missing Moments, a summer-long exhibit, opened at the Hollywood Museum.
On June 29, Julien’s Auctions held a Hollywood Legends sale dedicated to Marilyn, and her floral dress from Something’s Got to Givesold for over $300,000. Sadly, it was also reported that the ‘Dougherty House’ in North Hollywood, where Marilyn lived from 1944-45, has been demolished – despite protests from local residents. And George Winslow, the former child actor who appeared in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, passed away.
In August, the Marilyn Remembered fan club’s annual memorial service was held at Westwood Memorial Park, marking the 53rd anniversary of Marilyn’s death. It was reported that hip hop producer Timbaland would sample ‘Down Boy’, a ‘lost’ song recorded by Marilyn for Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. And the Daily Express published rare photos of a young Marilyn in Salinas.
So many rare photos of Marilyn have resurfaced over the years, and it’s impossible to cover them all. However, Everlasting Star members have uncovered a series of photos relating to an early public appearance that was hitherto unknown.
On April 15, 1947, Marilyn attended the annual ceremony and presentation of Honorary Colonels at the Hollywood Legion Stadium, wearing the same dress that she had also worn for colour and sound tests at Twentieth Century-Fox that month.
Click to enlarge the photos below for more details…
In January, Newsweek published a special issue, Marilyn Monroe: The Lost Scrapbook. Photographer Larry Schiller claimed to own a scrapbook given to Sam Shaw by Marilyn, though expert readers noted the handwriting was dissimilar to her usual style.
In February, Life published The Loves of Marilyn, another magazine special with text by J.I. Baker (author of a conspiracy novel, The Empty Glass.) Many fans were surprised to see the widely discredited Robert Slatzer listed among Marilyn’s alleged paramours. It has since been republished in hardback.
Stanley Rubin, producer of River of No Return, died aged 96, and William Carroll, one of the first photographers to work with Marilyn, also passed away. Bob Thomas, the veteran Hollywood columnist who reported Joan Crawford’s verbal attack on Marilyn back in 1953, died aged 92.
Playboy re-released its very first issue – with Marilyn as its cover girl and centrefold – in April, as part of an ongoing celebration of the magazine’s 60th anniversary. And a collection of Elia Kazan’s private correspondence – including a 1955 letter to his wife, Molly, regarding his prior relationship with Marilyn – was also published.
Also in April, Hollywood legend Mickey Rooney (Marilyn’s co-star in The Fireball) died aged 93. And Pharrell Williams released his hit single, ‘Marilyn Monroe’.
In September, Newsweek published a cover feature exposing the many inaccuracies in C. David Heymann’s posthumously-released Joe and Marilyn: Legends in Love. And TV Guide released a special issue dedicated to Marilyn, part of their ‘American Icons’ series.
Several rare photos of Marilyn were featured in Profiles in History’s Hollywood Auction 65 catalogue, while Britain’s Daily Express published a special supplement about Marilyn’s tragic death, as part of a ‘Historic Front Pages’ series.
Also this month, self-confessed ‘Marilyn Geek’ Melinda Mason launched a new exhibition at the Wellington County Museum in Ontario, Canada; and the chameleon-like actor John Malkovich posed as Marilyn for photographer Sandro Miller.
A rather sensationalised documentary about Marilyn’s mysterious death – Marilyn: Missing Evidence – was broadcast in the UK. Her death was also the subject of a cover feature in the US magazine, Closer.
Also this month, Kelli Garner was cast as Marilyn in Lifetime’s upcoming mini-series, The Secret Life of MM.
“I like how they’re showing the writing process in this episode, because before it seemed like songs were being written one a day. Now we see what’s something actually goes into it, Julia is trying to picture what Joe and Marilyn yearned for. Tom says they wanted privacy, a nice little house, a home-cooked meal. Julia says that’s not what they wanted – they wanted a simple life together, uncomplicated.”
Eagle-eyed MM fans will notice that Megan Hilty’s blue dress is similar to one worn by Marilyn in 1957, when Sam Shaw photographed her with another husband, Arthur Miller.
ES member Megan found this intriguing newspaper item, from the Long Beach Press Telegram, dated September 16th, 1952.
My Pal Gusis a comedy starring Richard Widmark as a harrassed single dad. Widmark had previously co-starred with MM in Don’t Bother to Knock. George Winslow – Henry Spofford III in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes – plays Gus.
Marilyn lived at the Beverly Carlton Hotel (now known as The Avalon) on and off between 1949 and 1952. We can’t see her in the movie, but maybe you can – My Pal Gus is available on DVD and can also be viewed online.
Thanks to Angel aka ‘timetravelangel’ at Everlasting Star for her review of the Bus Stop revival at Newcastle-Under-Lyme’s New Vic Theatre.
“I have seen some truly wonderful theatre at the New Vic over the years and so I was thrilled when I found out my local professional theatre was doing Bus Stop by William Inge. Though I love all Marilyn Monroe movies, I must confess that certain scenes in the movie Bus Stop grate on my nerves – mostly Bo Decker’s persistent whooping and some of his more moronic moments.
However, a Marilyn movie is a Marilyn movie and I was very excited about the opportunity to see the original theatrical version. Would it be better? Would it be different?
Comparisons between play and movie … In the play, there are eight characters. As in the movie we have Bo Decker and his friend, the guitar-strumming Virgil Blessing, Chérie (just “Chérie” – one name is all a chanteuse needs!), Elma Duckworth – the scholarly young waitress, Grace the owner of the diner and the bus-driver Carl. Two characters who do not appear in the movie are the sheriff and the professor (more on them later).
In the movie, I don’t think anyone could disagree that Chérie and Bo are at the heart of the story. Bo’s journey into maturity and Chérie’s journey to learning what love really is are the meatiest character developments.
But in the play Elma features a lot more. In fact, it appeared that Elma was the central figure. Her naivety is like the prism through which we see the other characters. She mediates between the other characters on several occasions, and it is she who persuades Chérie to get on a table and sing ‘That Old Black Magic.’
The play focuses on the theme of one persons need for another: even an individualist rancher, an itinerant night-club singer, a long-distance driver,or a lonely diner-owner. Virgil’s loneliness is particularly poignant especially at the end of act two when the diner has closed, the bus has left and he is left alone in the snow. Though he is alone, Virgil had mentioned that it has been his own choice to remain so.
This character has more depth in the play and I felt that this was the character with whom the playwright most identified; the outsider, the traveller, the wandering minstrel. In this production the final image was Virgil, alone on the stage with his guitar and a stream of snowflakes falling onto his widebrimmed cowboy hat. It was very effective. Perhaps the movie missed a trick in leaving out this angle?
On reflection, this theme of the need for another’s company being central to the human condition has been better dealt with by other American writers, for example, in ‘Of Mice And Men’ by Steinbeck. In fact, I kept thinking that the play had a second-hand feel to it and that it was a minor work.
There is something about the freshness of Marilyn Monroe’s performance that makes the work seem more original than it is – and I don’t think I’m saying that only because I am a devoted fan. She brings an emotional truth and a depth to the piece that I had appreciated before, but never so much as I do now.
It is a one-set play, the one set being Grace’s Diner. The snow storm forces these eight people to spend the night at the diner, even the telephone lines are down so the only interaction is between these eight people holed up at this bus stop.
The scenes which we see in the movie showing other locations, such as Bo’s ranch, the ‘Blue Dragon’ night spot, the parade and rodeo etc., are only experienced through reported speech. So, as you can imagine, act one is heavy on the exposition and it takes quite a bit of time to really get going.
Naturally, due to the constraint of one set, it lacks the spectacle of the film and I really began to appreciate what a fine job the screenwriter (George Axelrod) did in ‘opening out’ the play into the many locations we see in the movie.
Grace, the worldly owner of the diner is pretty much the same as in the movie and Grace’s lover, Carl the bus driver is present too. As I mentioned, two characters not seen in the movie are Sheriff Will Masters, the face of law and order and the professor, Dr. Gerald Lyman.
From what I could tell, in the movie version the sheriff’s role was merged with the role of Carl the bus driver. In the play it is the sheriff who stands up to Bo, beats him in a fight and insists he make his apology to Chérie.
Dr. Lyman’s loneliness has caused him to become a drunkard and a serial seducer of young girls. During the night at the bus stop, he faces up to his past misdeeds and as proof he has turned over a new leaf he even releases Elma from the date he had made with her.
The role of Dr. Gerald Lyman is completely absent from the film, but I don’t think the film is any the worse for it. I kept thinking of Blanche DuBois from ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’, another character that looks for love in all the wrong places, and I kept thinking how much better Tennessee Williams’ treatment of that theme is.
I think the movie was right to concentrate on Bo and Chérie and their development. (To be fair though, there is a moment in act two when Lyman and Elma re-enact the balcony scene from ‘Romeo and Juliet’, and Lyman is reciting Romeo’s pledge that if Juliet will swear love for him he will henceforth be Romeo no more. At this moment, Lyman is struck by the realisation that love might transform him into a better man and that he might leave behind his shame. This moment serves as testament to the transforming power of theatre/ performance too. It was skilfully acted and one of the most affecting moments in the play.)
In the screenplay, a major improvement is made to character of Chérie. It is her dream of getting to Hollywood (‘Hollywood and Vine!’) which is so exuberantly expressed by Marilyn Monroe that helps flesh out Chérie – gives her aims in life, hopes and dreams, albeit impossible dreams. This extra dimension is absent in the play.
Also, the movie Chérie is less shallow than her theatrical counterpart. In the play it is Elma who tells her that her name means ‘dear one’, Chérie responding that she picked the name because she just thought it sounded pretty.
The scenes in the ‘Blue Dragon’ definitely add to the character. It is so much better to actually see Chérie sing there, to get a sense of how far she is from achieving her dream, and to see Bo adoring her. Learning of it through reported speech just isn’t the same.
In the play, it is also reported that Bo and Chérie have “had relations” (as he puts it) before he abducts her. I’m guessing this was axed from the movie because of the Hays Code censorship. However, I don’t think the movie suffers because of that.
The play had the effect of making me love the movie more. When I think of all the stand-out moments: that first image of Marilyn sitting in the window; Marilyn purposely singing badly with such courage and conviction, warbling ‘That Old Black Magic’ in the mermaid costume and casting a wink at Bo; Marilyn telling Bo he is “real beau regard”; Marilyn’s monologue on the bus; Marilyn trying to reach out to Bo when he gets beat; Marilyn’s sensitivity when she attempts to lessen Bo’s heartache by telling him she has led a wicked life and perhaps he’s better off without her; Marilyn getting into Bo’s warm coat – a metaphor for the warmth and protection true love affords.
If you have seen the movie but not the play, I think you have seen the best of this work. If you have seen the play but not the movie, I’d say see the movie. And if you have seen both you come away thinking- that Marilyn Monroe- wow! She was gooood and extremely underrated. And she is very much missed.
This production … All of the actors were excellent and their Mid-West American accents were spot-on. Each character was defined and memorable. Throughout the play, most of the characters remained onstage meaning that they had to find some stage business to do. This was easy for the actress playing Elma – she could brush up, wipe down tables etc.
But the poor actress playing Chérie (Louise Dylan) was given nothing to do but get out her compact and reapply her make-up – which she did like, ten times. It made her character less sympathetic because she appeared vain and shallow. I think the director should have given her something else to do.
That said, they all stayed in character and gave very detailed performances. As I stated before, Virgil and Lyman both provided poignant moments. Elma was clear, youthful chirpy and Grace provided the biggest laugh by barging on to the stage to watch the brawl- but with serious bedhair, thus giving away what she and Carl had been up to upstairs.
Bo gave just the right amount of brash chauvinism, beautifully countered by insecurity and bewilderment. His entrance gave a much-needed boost of energy to act one.
The set design is always incredible at the New Vic and ‘Bus Stop’ is no exception. It was detailed and practical to the extent of cooking eggs on a griddle! The aroma filled the theatre making me wish I could put in an order myself.
A large, three-dimensional ‘Bus Stop’ sign in chrome and blue light hung over the centre of the stage and a period jukebox provided some background music and added to the atmosphere at key moments.
I don’t think it is the greatest play ever written and I came away wondering why they chose to do it at all. That said, the production was faultless and it was a good night out.”