2014: A Year in Marilyn Headlines

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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.

Also this month, Unclaimed Baggage – a documentary about ‘the unclaimed trunk of MM‘ – was screened on European television, and George Jacobs, valet to Frank Sinatra, died aged 87.

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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.

Also this month, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences acquired an archive of 58,000 pictures by press photographer Nat Dallinger. His photos of Marilyn at the Let’s Make Love press conference were featured in the Hollywood Reporter. And archive footage of Marilyn was featured in Bob Dylan’s Chrysler ad, screened during America’s Superbowl.

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In March, Icon: the Life Times and Films of Marilyn Monroe – Volume I, 1926-1956 was publishedMarilyn also graced the cover of Julien’s 90210 Spring Auction catalogue, and was the subject of another magazine special, part of the ‘Etoiles du Cinema‘ series in France.

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.

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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’.

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In May, make-up artist Marie Irvine shared her memories of Marilyn with readers of the Daily Mail. AmfAR, the world’s leading charity for AIDS research, held a ‘Red Marilyn’-themed fundraising ball during the Cannes Film Festival.

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June 1st marked what would have been Marilyn’s 88th birthday. Also in June, actor Eli Wallach, Marilyn’s friend and co-star, died aged 98. An archive of ‘lost’ Milton Greene photos was auctioned in Poland, and a revised, updated edition of Carl Rollyson’s MM: A Life of the Actress was published.

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In July, Some Like it Hot was re-released in UK cinemas, winning a 5-star review in The Guardian. Sadly, several people with connections to Marilyn passed away in July, including psychic Kenny Kingston, journalist Robert Stein, and actors James Garner and Elaine Stritch. Meanwhile one of Marilyn’s old haunts – the Racquet Club in Palm Springs – was engulfed by fire.

August marked the 52nd anniversary of Marilyn’s death, with a live stream of the annual memorial service in Los Angeles. Also this month,  Lauren Bacall, Marilyn’s co-star in How to Marry a Millionaire, died aged 89; and Tom Tierney, ‘Marilyn’s paper doll artist’, also passed away.

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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.

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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.

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In October,  A retrospective of photographer Nickolas Muray opened in Genoa, Italy. Carl Rollyson’s latest book, Marilyn Monroe Day by Day, was published.

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.

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In November, Gary Vitacco-Robles’ Icon: The Life, Times and Films of MM – Volume II, 1956-1962 and Beyond was published, earning a rave review from columnist Liz Smith. Fansite Immortal Marilyn published a series of myth-busting articles at Buzzfeed. And Anna Strasberg, current owner of Marilyn’s estate, lost a lawsuit against Profiles in History, regarding a so-called ‘letter of despair‘ from Marilyn to Lee Strasberg.

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In December, items from ‘the lost archive of Marilyn Monroe‘ sold for high prices at Julien’s Auctions. Marilyn graced the cover of Esquire‘s Colombian edition, and a new CD boxset, Diamonds, was released. Finally, photographer Phil Stern died aged 95.

Marilyn, Pharrell and ‘Mr S’ Movie Plans

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In her latest column for the Chicago TribuneLiz Smith suggests that Mr S: My Life With Frank Sinatra – George Jacobs’ 2003 memoir – may be adapted for the big screen. Jacobs, who was Sinatra’s valet for 15 years, died late last year. Rumour has it that Pharrell Williams – whose latest hit is called ‘Marilyn Monroe’ – hopes to star.

Personally, I found Mr S rather overblown and trashy, so I don’t hold out much hope for this project – although it might be interesting to see a different view of Sinatra’s world. However, Liz – who has been documenting the show-business scene for over half a century – thinks otherwise…

“Well, there’s going to be plenty of Sinatra-style ring-a-ding-ding if plans to film Mr. S: My Life with Frank Sinatra come to fruition. You remember Mr. S. It was the memoir of Frank Sinatra’s longtime valet George Jacobs. The book, published in 2003 is wildly entertaining. Perhaps too wild.

It was co-written by William Stadiem, the man who gave us Marilyn Monroe Confidential, which purports to be the memoirs of Lena Pepitone, Monroe’s Manhattan maid. It, too, is pretty wild. Several years after the book had become accepted as fact, Ms. Pepitone, whose relationship with the English language was not expert, admitted that the whole thing was ‘made up.’

But I have to say, Mr. S has always had the ring-a-ding-ding of truth, to me. The tantrums, jealousies, hookers, spontaneous generosity, obsessive love for Ava Gardner, his protective attitude toward Marilyn Monroe — all fell within what I knew about Frank, at least in his younger days. (By the time I met Mr. S, he had mellowed considerably.) After 15 years with Sinatra, the savvy, observant Jacobs was canned after he took Frank’s then-wife, Mia Farrow, out dancing at the legendary Candy Store discotheque.

Several years ago, Chris Rock was attached to the project, but that fell through. Now — so grinds the rumor mill — it is the hot singer Pharrell Williams who wants to portray George Jacobs! Pharrell is said to be a major Sinatra fan, and his signature over-size hats are a nod, some say, to Frank’s famous fedoras.

And Pharrell’s latest single is titled ‘Marilyn Monroe,’ a song that pays homage to Miss M. and other alluring ladies. If the movie happens, how about Scarlett Johansson as Monroe? — well, after Scarlett gives birth, naturally. (One of Jacobs’ most colorful memories of Monroe was when she would model high heels for him. She was always looking for the shoe that would make her legs look longer. What made these modeling sessions memorable, according to Jacobs, is that she modeled the heels in the nude.)

Speaking of Ava, good luck on casting that incredible beauty.

BUT, who would play the pivotal role of Mr. S? Chris Pine, perhaps best known for Star Trek, is said to be wanted. (I know, I know — why not George Clooney? But Jacobs’ book centers on the 1950s and ’60s. Clooney is just a shade too mature.)

Right now, this is simply chatter from the innards of Warner Bros. who own the rights to Mr. S. Of course, the still-protective Sinatra family will likely chime in.

That ring-a-ding-ding might not be terribly melodious.”

George Jacobs, Sinatra’s Valet, Has Died

George Jacobs, who served as valet to Frank Sinatra for 15 years, died of natural causes on December 28th, 2013, at his home in Coachella Valley, reports the Los Angeles Times. He was 87.

His 2003 book, Mr S: The Last Word on Frank Sinatra (aka My Life With Frank Sinatra), featured memories from his years with the superstar and his circle, including Marilyn Monroe. Jacobs mentioned that he was Marilyn’s neighbour for a few months in 1961, when she was living at North Doheny Drive in Los Angeles.

Mr S was ghostwritten by William Stadiem, who also wrote Marilyn Monroe Confidential, the 1980 memoir of Marilyn’s former New York maid, Lena Pepitone. The depiction of Marilyn in Mr S – as promiscuous, and unkempt – is very similar to Stadiem’s earlier book, which some fans felt was a distortion of the truth.

What comes across in Mr S is how boorish Sinatra and his ‘Rat Pack’ could be. Jacobs claimed that Marilyn was nicknamed ‘The Girl Who Couldn’t Say No,’ although I’ve never heard this mentioned elsewhere. Nonetheless, it’s difficult not to conclude that this fast-living, womanising scene wasn’t ideal for the more sensitive Marilyn.

Jacobs’ association with Sinatra reportedly ended in 1968, after the singer found his valet dancing with Sinatra’s ex-wife, Mia Farrow, in a nightclub, and flew into a jealous rage.  As with other former friends who had displeased him, Sinatra cut Jacobs off completely. ‘I had lost my best friend, my idol, my boss,’ Jacobs said.

After the book was published, Frank Sinatra Jr denounced it as a ‘character assassination.’ However, Jacobs insisted that he was devoted to his ex-boss, visiting Sinatra’s grave every year.