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.
As I have often observed on this blog, plays about Marilyn are becoming a staple of fringe drama. Few have managed to rise from obscurity, but MARILYN! – a new musical previewing for one night only at the Alex Theatre in Glendale, California on July 29 – has impressive credentials, as Broadway World reports.
“The one-evening-only July 29 event, celebrates the life Marilyn Monroe with a short documentary film featuring Monroe’s former boyfriend Bill Pursel, Monroe’s Bus Stop co-star Don Murray, Monroe author, Michelle Morgan, President of ‘Marilyn Remembered’ Greg Schreiner, and Actors Studio classmate, James Karen, among other key figures.
Audience members will be treated to an exclusive collection of Monroe’s artifacts from Schreiner’s personal collection at a pre-show reception. But the highlight of the evening is the world premiere of the full length musical MARILYN!, which chronicles the star’s childhood and tumultuous path to stardom with stirring and emotional songs …
Prospect House Entertainment is also pleased to announce a collaboration with Hollygrove, formerly Los Angeles Orphan Home, where Marilyn Monroe stayed as a child. Hollygrove will receive a percentage of the event’s proceeds in perpetuity. MARILYN! additionally holds the distinction of being produced with the blessing of the Marilyn Monroe Estate.
MARILYN! Is set in the present day – Michelle is a young journalist from England researching Marilyn Monroe to commemorate the actress’ 90th birthday. She visits Charlie Page, one of Marilyn’s drivers, who is now living a life of solitude. Two stories emerge as Charlie bonds with Michelle he recalls Marilyn Monroe’s phenomenal life in flashback and reveals the real reason behind his living as a recluse for over forty years…
MARILYN! stars Kelley Jakle (Universal’s Pitch Perfect and Pitch Perfect 2, Spring Awakening in Concert) as ‘Marilyn Monroe’; Kelley Dorney (PBS Concert Special:A Tale of Two Cities) as ‘Norma Jeane’; Samantha Stewart (CBS’ Days of Our Lives) as ‘Michelle Morgan’; and Marvin Gay as ‘Charlie Paige’.”
A very special 90th birthday party for Marilyn went down last night at Heritage Auctions in Beverly Hills, as part of a Limited Runs pop-up exhibition. Among the guests were collectors Greg Schreiner and Scott Fortner, impersonator Holly Beavon, Tom Kelley Jr (whose father photographed Marilyn’s nude calendar), actress Kathleen Hughes (widow of River of No Return producer Stanley Rubin), and Marian Collier (who played Marilyn’s bandmate Olga in Some Like it Hot.) Photos and videos from the evening have been posted on the Facebook page for Marilyn Remembered.
Goodnight Marilynis a new, weekly internet radio show, hosted by Nina Boski and focusing on Marilyn’s glittering career and untimely death (with a feature film also planned.) Recent guests include biographer Gary Vitacco-Robles, Marilyn Remembered’s Greg Schreiner (who owns one of the world’s largest MM collections, and also organises the annual memorial service in Los Angeles), and Immortal Marilyn’s president, Mary Sims.
It isn’t yet available elsewhere, but I would advise fans to be patient rather than paying vast prices on Ebay. The magazine will be on sale until March 14, and speaking as a UK resident, I’ve found it’s normal for American magazines to arrive up to a month after publication. (And as I’ve mentioned before, previous Newsweek specials have been sold at WH Smith.)
Over on the Marilyn Monroe Collection Blog today, Scott Fortner gives us a preview – including several pages dedicated to Marilyn’s personal property, now owned by himself, and others by Greg Schreiner.
As to the rest of the magazine, Scott tells us that it ‘includes an introduction written by Joshua Greene, and has many photos of Marilyn along with comments from photographers Douglas Kirkland, Lawrence Schiller and Elliott Erwitt. Other information on Marilyn is also included in glossy, full color spreads.’
Despite the rather distasteful rumour-mongering about Marilyn’s relationship with Sam Shaw that has dominated media coverage of this issue, I remain confident it will be a must-have for fans.
Princess Tenko is ‘a Japanese pop singer turned magician specialising in grand illusions’ (according to her Wikipedia page.) A new documentary, Unclaimed Baggage, focuses on a Louis Vuitton trunk she bought at auction, which supposedly belonged to Marilyn.
The story is that the trunk was sent by the Vanderbilts, whom Marilyn met on her trip to Mexico in 1962. Born into one of America’s richest families, Fred Vanderbilt-Field was an expatriate who had embraced communism. (Ironically, there are few more potent symbols of capitalism than a Louis Vuitton trunk.)
The Vanderbilts stayed at Marilyn’s New York apartment in the spring of 1962, while she was filming Something’s Got to Give in Hollywood. After they left, Marilyn received a reprimand from the owners of her apartment building – probably because of her guests’ left-wing affiliations.
Until Princess Tenko’s purchase in 2005, it’s said that the trunk languished in a New York warehouse. After performing at President Kennedy’s birthday gala in May, Marilyn returned to Los Angeles where she died in August. If the trunk was a gift, it’s possible that she never had the chance to accept it.
Personally, I’m not convinced that this trunk really belonged to Marilyn. However, the emotional response of people to items connected with MM intrigues me, and the vast sums of money some are willing to pay – whether or not they are genuine. Maybe that is the real point of this documentary, which features appearances by Greg Schreiner (president of Marilyn Remembered), and authors Lois Banner and John Gilmore, among others.
Unclaimed Baggage will be shown on French television next week (France 1, 16th January at 21.35.) You can read more about it (and view trailers) over at Messy Nessy Chic.
Back by popular demand, ‘Marilyn – The Exhibit: Hollywood Icon‘ is open now at the Hollywood Museum, through to September 8th, reports Scott Fortner on his MM Collection website.
“The scope of the exhibition encompasses Marilyn’s costumes, jewelry, furs and accessories from her films; publicity gowns and personal wardrobe; her 1961 Fleetwood Cadillac limousine; original Marilyn Monroe artwork, photographs and documents from her private files; and many of Marilyn’s personally owned artifacts.
‘Marilyn Monroe: The Exhibit’ displays the million-dollar dress Marilyn wore on her honeymoon with Joe DiMaggio, one of the highlights of The Hollywood Museum’s permanent collection. In addition to THM’s permanent collection, items from the Scott Fortner Marilyn Monroe Collection and the Greg Schreiner Marilyn Monroe Collection are featured in this exclusive exhibit, including film costumes from The Prince and The Showgirl, There’s No Business Like Show Business, and clothing and furs from Marilyn’s personal wardrobe, including the brilliant green Pucci jersey top.
Highlighting the exhibit are exclusive photos by world-renowned photographer George Barris, who shot Marilyn’s the last photo sitting while collaborating on a book at the time of her death 50 years ago. Barris Photography: www.inhollywoodland.com
This exhibit also includes original works of art by famed celebrity artists LUDVIC, original photographs, including the legendary “red velvet” nude photographs shot by Tom Kelley, and a vast photograph collection of her childhood, family and early modeling career when she was still Norma Jeane Baker; and much more.
Additional Marilyn commemorative events planned:
• Saturday, August 3, 1-3 PM Meet & Greet with collectors Greg Schreiner, Scott Fortner and THM President Donelle Dadigan at The Hollywood Museum
• Sunday, August 4, 1-3 PM George Barris Book and Photo Signing at The Hollywood Museum
• Monday, August 5 TBD ‘Marilyn Remembered’ Annual Memorial Service, co-sponsored by The Hollywood Museum, at Westwood Mortuary“
Unfortunately, the museum currently holds just one item of Marilyn’s property – a pair of white gloves. Curator Dwight Bowers hopes to acquire more for a forthcoming exhibit on popular culture, according to AFP.
Let’s hope more private collectors decide to donate and share their treasures with the public. In the meantime, ‘MM: The Exhibit’ (featuring the collections of Greg Schreiner and Scott Fortner) is on display at the Hollywood Museum until September 2.
“Donated by a private collector, the gloves make up the entire Marilyn Monroe collection at the publicly-funded Smithsonian Institution, the world’s largest network of museums and, in principle, repository of all things Americana.
Bowers, who plans to include the gloves in an forthcoming Smithsonian exhibition on American popular culture, said it’s ‘logical’ for the museum to hold more Monroe memorabilia.
‘But Hollywood material and Hollywood celebrities are big business in the auction world,’ he told AFP in the windowless storeroom that’s packed floor to ceiling with show-business artifacts from vaudeville to today.
‘Private collectors are part of our competition — and private collectors have a much bigger budget than we have.’
‘A lot of these high-profile pieces, when they come up for auction, are going to the Asian countries,’ Los Angeles collector Scott Fortner, whose own Monroe objects are part of the Hollywood Museum exhibition, told AFP.
‘I find it disappointing that some of these pieces literally just disappear and we have no idea where they go,’ added Fortner, who has catalogued his entire collection — from a feather boa to make-up and eye drops — online.”
A catalogue for the ongoing Marilyn exhibit at the Hollywood Museum is now available to order here. Upcoming events include a meet & greet with exhibit curators Greg Schreiner and Scott Fortner on August 2, and a guest appearance by photographer George Barris on August 4. More details at MM Collection Blog.