As Shelby Rowe Moyer notes in her ‘History of the Polka Dot’ for South Sound magazine, Marilyn wore a number of polka-dot dresses (and a bikini) to great effect. Originally known as Dotted Swiss, the print took off during the Industrial Revolution and later renamed after the Polka, a Czech peasant dance popularised in the 1830s.
In 1926, the year Marilyn was born, Norma Smallwood seized victory in the Miss America contest wearing a polka-dot bathing suit, and launched a fashion craze. In 1952, Marilyn wore an ivory rayon Ceil Chapman dress with oversized red polka dots while visiting Atlantic City, where she greeted contestants in that year’s Miss America pageant. A year prior, she had caused sensation on the Love Nest set by sporting a bikini with hot pink polka-dots designed by Renié, and considered daring for the era.
The white cotton halter-neck sheath dress that Marilyn wore to Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in 1953, designed by Dorothy Jeakins, wasn’t quite ‘polka-dot’ but spotted with eyelets. Marilyn makes her first entrance in The Seven Year Itch (1955) wearing a polka-dot dress, one of Travilla’s spectacular designs for the film. And finally, she wore a blue polka-dot sundress for a photo shoot with Sam Shaw in 1957.
The results are in for this year’s Legends sale at Julien’s Auctions. A number of photos from the Manfred ‘Linus’ Kreiner archive (see above) were sold, with the Marilyn-related lots fetching up to $3,800. These photos were recently featured in Parade magazine (see here.)
Within the fan community, biographer Gary Vitacco-Robles won a telegram from Lauren Bacall congratulating Marilyn after her wedding to Joe DiMaggio, for $1,582.50. The biggest Marilyn-related sales, however, were her costume from A Ticket to Tomahawk (sold for $22,400), and her bathrobe from How to Marry a Millionaire (which fetched $28,800.) Here are some more highlights:
A rare ‘Page 3’ copy of Playboy‘s first issue, signed by Hugh Hefner ($16,00)
A cast of Marilyn’s hands and feet from Grauman’s Chinese Theatre ($25,600)
A black chiffon overblouse ($19, 200)
A six-strand, iridiscent crystal necklace in purple and green ($11,250)
A pair of rhinestone clip earrings ($28,125)
Marilyn’s script for Something’s Got to Give, dated August 30, 1961 ($12,800)
And finally, I’ve added the maximum bids for each item featured in my previous posts – learn more about this fascinating auction here.
In another look at the upcoming Legends sale at Julien’s Auctions on June 13-14 (see previous posts here), Marilyn rubs shoulders with her fellow stars.
UPDATE: I have added the final bids to each item.
“A group of eight telephone messages from April, May and June 1961 while Marilyn was staying at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Messages from those instantly recognized in Marilyn’s inner-circle include Frank McCarthy of Twentieth Century-Fox, comedian Ernie Kovacs, and director George Cukor. Interestingly, Marilyn received a message from a “Dr. Goddard” on May 28. Dr. Goddard is presumably the husband of Grace Goddard, who fostered Marilyn as a young child.” (SOLD for $1,600)
“A typed form letter from Dorothy Frooks, publisher of The Murray Hills News, inviting Marilyn to the annual Pro-American Rally on September 25, 1959, which would take place ‘between 37th and 38th Streets.’ Included is a handwritten letter from Cowboy Tex Weinstein asking Marilyn to attend. ” (SOLD for $375)
“A telegram to Marilyn from Lauren Bacall, dated January 18, 1954, congratulating Marilyn on her marriage to baseball legend Joe DiMaggio. The telegram reads, ‘All the best luck always. Couldn’t be more delighted for you. Now you’ll really know how wonderful life can be. Love, Schatze Bogart.’ Interestingly, Bacall signed the telegram using the first name of her character in How to Marry a Millionaire, the film she had starred in with Marilyn the year prior to the Monroe/DiMaggio wedding, and the last name of her movie star husband, Humphrey Bogart. The telegram is addressed to ‘Mrs. Joe DiMaggio’ at Marilyn’s apartment on North Doheny Drive in Beverly Hills.” (SOLD to Gary Vitaccco-Robles, author of Icon: The Life, Times and Films of Marilyn Monroe, for $1,562.50)
“A one-page typed letter to Marilyn from television personality Jack Benny, dated July 13, 1961. The letter reads in part, ‘This little note is merely to say that I do hope you will be feeling much better and that I miss seeing you – even though it is on rare occasions.’ The letter is signed, “Love – Jack,” in his own handwriting. Also, a holiday card from Mary and Jack Benny from 1954. Marilyn’s first-ever television appearance was on The Jack Benny Show on September 13, 1953. They remained friends throughout her entire life.” (SOLD for $750)
“A one-page typed letter to Marilyn, dated June 17, 1958, in regards to the release of SNOOPY, the new book by famed cartoonist Charles Schulz, creator of the comic strip Peanuts. The letter reads, ‘Dear Miss Monroe, As I promised some weeks ago I am having sent to you under separate cover a few copies of Charles Schulz’s new “Peanuts” book, SNOOPY, which just came in from the bindery. I hope you like SNOOPY as much as we like publishing him.’ The letter is signed, ‘Sincerely yours, Theodore S. Amussen, Vice President.'” (SOLD for $576)
“A collection of approximately 30 vintage magazines, books, and other publications, from the collection of actress Morgan Fairchild: including Movieland magazine (October 1952); Silver Screen magazine (October 1953); Song Fan magazine (July 1954); LIFE magazine (November 1959); TV and Movie Screen magazine (September 1960); LOOK magazine (January 1961); LIFE magazine (August 1964); the cover of Show magazine (September 1972, framed); Parade magazine (framed); and the August 6, 1962, edition of the Los Angeles Times with the headline ‘Marilyn Monroe Found Dead.’ Together with six books on the life of Monroe, several greeting cards with Monroe’s image, and a poster produced from a photo by Philippe Halsman showing Monroe at the gym.” (SOLD for $768)
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes will be screened at the TCL Chinese Theater (formerly Grauman’s Chinese) on Thursday, August 3, as part of the memorial week activities organised by Los Angeles-based fanclub Marilyn Remembered to commemorate the 55th anniversary of her death. George Chakiris, who danced with Marilyn in the classic musical comedy, will be a special guest. Tickets are going fast, so if you’d like to attend, book here.
Marilyn herself visited the Chinese Theater many times as a child, and famously signed her name in cement outside the venue alongside co-star Jane Russell shortly after the enormous success of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes in 1953. The original, rather risqué costume for her signature ‘Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend’ number, and another Travilla gown (not seen in the movie, but subsequently worn by Marilyn at public events) will be displayed on the night, courtesy of collector and Marilyn Remembered founder Greg Schreiner.
For more information on the Marilyn Remembered itinerary for this year’s memorial week, click here.
The former Grauman’s Chinese Theatre – renamed TCL Chinese Theatre by new owners in 2013 – was at the centre of an online controversy this weekend, after photos emerged of merchandising carts placed outside, where the handprints of Marilyn, Jane Russell and other movie greats are immortalised in cement. In an article for the Hollywood Reporter, Chris Gardner explains how a fan-led social media campaign led to the carts being swiftly removed – let’s hope the decision is permanent.
“The removal comes after a dust-up on social media kick-started by notable Hollywood documentarian Alison Martino and her Vintage Los Angeles Facebook page, which posted a photo on Sept. 30 taken by Brian Donnelly. The image showed a retail structure selling inexpensive hats and T-shirts while covering iconic cement blocks lining Hollywood Boulevard in front of the theater.
The post generated more than 750 comments and 530 shares and was enough to launch a Change.org petition requesting the removal of the vendor carts from the forecourt, as well as a news story on Curbed Los Angeles. The petition, signed by more than 2,600 supporters as of Monday afternoon, called for the removal of the carts out of respect for Hollywood history and the millions of tourists who flock to the block each year.
While it can be assumed that TCL opted to move the retail structures following the controversy, it’s not confirmed because a rep for TCL Chinese Theatres declined comment. It remains unclear where the vendor carts will go, though a source indicated they may be relocated to the nearby Hollywood & Highland mall.
Martino offered to talk, telling The Hollywood Reporter that she drove to the block on Monday once she heard that the carts were no longer in place. ‘It’s unbelievable — power to the people,’ she said, crediting Donnelly with the original image and Elena Parker for launching the petition. ‘I’ve been operating the Vintage Los Angeles page for five years and I’ve never seen a reaction like this. The outcry and outrage grew really fast. My VLA community really took it to heart. It was their passion and perseverance that drove this. Social media is an incredible force.'”
Sixty years ago today, Marilyn and her Gentlemen Prefer Blondes co-star, Jane Russell, were immortalised in true Hollywood fashion: by dipping their hands and feet in cement outside Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. Jennifer Jean Miller looks back at this event over at Inside Scene L.A.
A painting of the first Playboy cover featuring Marilyn, by artist Victoria Fuller, has been donated to Hollygrove, formerly the orphanage where Norma Jeane lived as a child.
Signed by the magazine’s founder, Hugh Hefner, the painting is on display at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre until August 31, when will be sold at a base price of $10,000. All proceeds will help children in crisis and their families.
Hefner has spoken about his lifelong muse to CBS News:
“Soraya Fadel asked him if he would have liked to have dated the bombshell. ‘Oh yeah. I would have loved to,” he says, candidly, ‘I’m a sucker for blondes and she is the ultimate blonde.’
His favorite Monroe movie? ‘Without question, it’s Some Like it Hot It was at the end of her career and it indicated how much real talent she had.’
Marilyn long dead, Hefner would still love the opportunity to thank her for what he did for his life. ‘I would have told her how much she meant to me and still does.'”
Scott Michaels, founder of FindADeath.com and the LA-based Dearly Departed Tours, has launched a petition to have Marilyn’s star moved from the Walk of Fame on Hollywood Boulevard to Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, where her iconic handprints are sited.
“50 years after her death, Marilyn Monroe is still the biggest movie star of all time. She is also one of the most famous people in history.
Marilyn Monroe has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in front of the McDonalds restaurant on the 6700 block of Hollywood Blvd.
This particular location on the Walk of Fame is narrow, littered with spilled food and drink, and crowded with threatening and agressive panhandlers.
People come from all over the world to visit the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and it’s close to impossible to photograph Marilyn’s star..
Considering the millions of dollars Marilyn Monroe generates for Hollywood, don’t you think she deserves better than this?
Please join Scott Michaels in urging the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce to move Marilyn Monroe’s star to the front of Grauman’s Chinese Theater, one of her favorite places.
Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood has teamed up with Playboy to host a Marilyn Monroe Film Festival, starting with Some Like it Hot on June 1 (Marilyn’s birthday.) You can also catch There’s No Business Like Show Business (2nd), How to Marry a Millionaire (3rd), The Seven Year Itch (4th), Bus Stop (5th), The Misfits (6th), and finally on June 7th, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.
Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, where Marilyn Monroe and other stars dipped their hands in cement, is not what it used to be, reports the Los Angeles Times.
Donald Kushner of Grauman’s Chinese says the theater will need to begin taking out some imprints in the near future. ‘Some of the handprints are going to have to be removed so we can preserve them,’ he said. ‘Some of them, like Groucho Marx, have almost disappeared.’
This year has seen a record number of new entries – some perhaps reasonable enough, like Mickey Rourke, Jennifer Aniston and Robert Pattinson – and other more dubious choices, including Alvin and the Chipmunks and DJ David Guetta.
This had led some critics to protest that the ‘honour’ is being bestowed far too indiscriminately, and also to concerns that older stars’ prints may be removed to promote passing fads.
I suspect that Marilyn’s spot is safe enough for now. But Hollywood is where the American film industry began, and trifling as it may seem, the Walk of Fame is one of the few lasting memorials to the creative artists who made it great.