Paul Donnelley, author of Pocket Essentials: Marilyn Monroe (2000), has written a list of trivia for the UK’s Daily Star, in advance of what would be Marilyn’s 93rd birthday this Saturday, June 1st. Here are a few selections…
“Marilyn was born in Los Angeles as Norma Jeane Mortenson. She was not named for fellow blonde bombshell Jean Harlow despite numerous reports to that effect – when Marilyn was born, Harlow was only 15 and at least two years away from her film debut.”
“Marilyn’s half-sister, Berniece Miracle, will celebrate her 100th birthday on July 30. Her half-brother, Robert, died in 1933, aged 15.”
“Marilyn has a reputation for being promiscuous but she was choosy about who she bedded. Groucho Marx confessed he spent $8,000 wining and dining her, trying to get her into bed but was unsuccessful. Harry Cohn, the head of Columbia Pictures, tore up her contract because she wouldn’t sleep with him.”
“In 1953, the town of Monroe, New York changed its name for one day to Marilyn Monroe, New York in tribute to Marilyn.”
Love Happy (1949) was the final, and least successful Marx Brothers film. Today it is chiefly remembered for a short scene pairing Groucho and a young Marilyn. Writing for Pop Matters, Jose Solis takes another look at this comedic curiosity.
“It seems as if the film created a rift in the siblings’ relationship, as Groucho would pretty much go on to disown this film from existing within the canon of official Marx Brothers’ movies, going as far as to completely ignore it in his autobiography. It seems as if the only cause of pride he found in the film was his ‘accidental’ discovery of an actress who would go on to become one of Hollywood’s brightest icons: Marilyn Monroe, who would be dead little over a decade after the film was made.
Love Happy is by no means a bad film—it has some of the funniest scenes in the Marx Brothers’ filmography. When watching the movie, however, its problematic production history is obvious. For example, there are no scenes featuring all three brothers together, despite director David Miller’s sly hints teasing the audience into believing this will occur at some point. (Miller would go on to direct camp classic Sudden Fear starring Joan Crawford). There is an epic scene towards the end that seems to promise us of the explosive encounter to come, which then never materializes.
By the time they made the film, the Brothers weren’t even performing together as an act. Perhaps Love Happy is nothing but a reminder of the power money has over artists. Perhaps it’s an interesting reminder of how Hollywood has time and time again made people who weren’t on the best terms work together to create something. Or, perhaps, it should simply be remembered or thought of, as the movie where Marilyn first took the world’s breath away, at least for a few seconds. (Her ‘official’ debut would come the following year in All About Eve).”
Marilyn comes in 3rd, after Orson Welles and Humphrey Bogart, on this list from Screen Junkies. Along with Bette Davis, she is the only woman on the list – and she appeared in All About Eve alongside Davis, as well as Cary Grant (Monkey Business), Groucho Marx (Love Happy), and her idol, Clark Gable, in The Misfits – the last film either completed.
“There were many early Hollywood sex symbols, but Marilyn Monroe brought sexy to a whole new level. Her most famous movies were Niagara (1953), Some Like it Hot (1959) and Seven Year Itch (1955).”
Marilyn’s screen time in the final Marx Brothers movie, made in 1949, adds up to less than a minute – but she certainly made the most of it!
Funding was withdrawn before shooting ended, hence a very long rooftop chase scene where the actors pass countless neon advertising signs. Despite only having a walk-on role, Marilyn was chosen to promote the film and flew to New York City – probably for the first time – in July.
It’s rather an odd film but well worth seeing if you’re a diehard Marx or Monroe fan. Available on DVD, and showing this Sunday, August 1, at 6pm, and again on Tuesday, August 3rd, at 6pm, at the Bio Orion in Helsinki.