The legendary Moon of Baroda diamond – valued by its current owner at between $500,000 and $750,000 – is now on display at Christie’s in Los Angeles until October 20, and will be auctioned in Hong Kong on November 27 alongside a signed photo of Marilyn wearing it, as Jordan Riefe writes for the Hollywood Reporter.
“‘It’s gorgeous,’ said Marilyn Monroe when first gazing upon the Moon of Baroda; not a heavenly body to match her own, but a diamond, a rare 24.04-carat canary yellow gem pulled from the legendary Golconda mine, outside Hyderabad, in 16th-century India.
Monroe was on a publicity tour for her breakout 1953 comedy Gentleman Prefer Blondes with its unforgettable song, ‘Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend’ when the Moon of Baroda became her best friend, on loan from Meyer Jewelry Company in Detroit.
Meyer Rosenbaum loaned it to the legendary actor for publicity purposes surrounding Howard Hawks’ classic comedy, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, co-starring Jane Russell, and photos of Monroe wearing it went viral.
What won’t add to its price is a rumored curse alleging that if the gem travels overseas, bad luck will come to its owner. Its 19th century stint in Austria ended with the death of Maria Theresa, and others claim that Monroe’s fortunes took a southward turn after wearing it in 1953, when Gentlemen Prefer Blondes launched her to stardom.”
Londoners can enjoy the gift of Marilyn at the Barbican on December 11 with a special presentation by Film London CEO Adrian Wootton at 6:45 pm, as part of his Hollywood Legends series; and this will be followed by an 8:30 screening of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.
The polka dot dress worn by Marilyn for her grand entrance in The Seven Year Itch, plus a replica of the ‘subway scene’ dress (worn by Mira Sorvino in the 1996 TV mini-series, Norma Jeane and Marilyn), as well as Travilla’s other iconic designs for MM in Bus Stop and the ‘Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend’ number from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, will be on display as part of a free exhibition showcasing the Gene London Collection at the Eastview Mall in Victor, New York from September 24-October 8, the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle reports.
Jon W. Chu, director of this summer’s hit comedy Crazy Rich Asians, was influenced by How to Marry a Millionaire, as Christopher Campbell reports for Film School Rejects. (Although Millionaire isn’t a musical, it’s great to see it still inspiring today’s filmmakers.)
“Growing up in America, Chu likely was exposed more to Hollywood musicals than anything that looked like Crazy Rich Asians. In an interview for Birth.Movies.Death, he cites the movie How to Marry a Millionaire (pictured) starring Marilyn Monroe, Lauren Bacall, and Betty Grable as women who, unlike Rachel in Crazy Rich Asians, are gold diggers trying to snag a wealthy beau. Chu says:
‘I was taking from old musicals like How to Marry a Millionaire – old Hollywood films, and I love the idea that we could have been in those movies, but we weren’t. We had the same style and swag. So to be able to nod to that in our score, our costumes, was really nice…’
While you’re at it, go ahead and watch Marilyn Monroe’s other hit musical from the same year, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. She plays a golddigger in that movie, too, and famously sings about her love of diamonds in a musical number that inspired the video for Madonna’s ‘Material Girl,’ which is on the Crazy Rich Asians soundtrack as covered by Sally Yeh.”
“An ungodly amount of kitsch surrounds the suffering and decline of Marilyn Monroe, obscuring how much fun she was to watch. A double bill of 1953’s Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (July 31-Aug. 12) and How to Marry a Millionaire(July 31-Aug. 5) explains the appeal.
Marry isn’t as magic—it’s a reprise of a frequently filmed script with three Manhattan ladies (Lauren Bacall, a myopic Marilyn, and Betty Grable) trying their luck with various menfolk. But for some reason Monroe excelled in 1920s settings, as in Some Like it Hot.
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is based on Anita Loos’ superb comedic novel about Jazz Age siren and showgirl Lorelei Lee (Monroe) boating to Paris with her traveling companion Dorothy (Jane Russell, dark, shrewd and macha, where Marilyn is tentative, breathy and squeaky.)
The effervescent composer Jule Styne gave MM two of her best numbers. Her duet with Russell on ‘Two Little Girls from Little Rock’ is an outrageously bold opener of spangles, tinsel and girl power. ‘Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend’ is the moment when Marilyn started to captivate the world. Producer and director Howard Hawks told biographer Joseph McBride that he hadn’t been interested in production numbers. Thus this brief 91-minute musical has the sharpness and compact size of great cabaret, highlighting the bright screwball comedy and the hot pink and fire-orange color scheme.”
Korea has a unique resonance in Marilyn’s history, so it’s fitting that both Niagara and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes are among twelve classic films featured in ‘The History of Visual Magic in Technology Pt. 2: Technicolor’, a special program starting tomorrow (July 18) at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Seoul.
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes was first released in the US on July 15, 1953 – exactly 65 years ago today. In many ways it’s the definitive Marilyn Monroe movie – although Some Like It Hot is better-known, she truly dominates the screen as Lorelei Lee. Her unforgettable performance of ‘Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend’ inspired Madonna’s ‘Material Girl’, and her comedic partnership with co-star Jane Russell is peerless. For all those reasons (and many more), Gentlemen Prefer Blondes still feels timely and relevant today.
Over at Marilyn Remembered, Lorraine Nicol celebrates this happy anniversary; and you can read my review of the 2010 big-screen reissue here.
A new exhibition, Marilyn: A Woman Behind Her Roles, has opened at the Vapriikki Museum in Tampere, Finland. Showcasing the collection of Ted Stampfer, it’s a unique opportunity to see a wide range of Marilyn-owned items and memorabilia, and will be on display until December. Additionally, Risto Pitkänen’s collection of MM postcards will be displayed at the Postcard Museum from June 19-August 26. And Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, The Seven Year Itch and The Misfits will be screened at the Niagara Arthouse Cinema this summer.