2016: A Year In Marilyn Headlines

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In January, exhibitions featuring Milton Greene and Douglas Kirkland’s photographs of Marilyn opened in London and Amsterdam. In New York, the Museum of Modern Art paid tribute to Marilyn’s choreographer, Jack Cole. Also this month, James Turiello’s book, Marilyn: The Quest for an Oscar, was published. And Edward Parone, assistant producer of The Misfits, died.

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In February, Marilyn ‘starred’ with Willem Dafoe in a Snickers commercial for the US Superbowl. Monroe Sixer Jimmy Collins’ candid photographs were sold at Heritage Auctions, and the touring exhibition, Marilyn: Celebrating an American Icon, came to Albury, Australia.

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Another major Australian exhibition, Twentieth Century Fox Presents Marilyn Monroe, featuring the collections of Debbie ReynoldsScott Fortner, Greg Schreiner and Maite Minguez Ricart – opened at the Bendigo Art Gallery in March. And Barbara Sichtermann’s book, Marilyn Monroe: Myth and Muse, was published in Germany.

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In April, a special edition of Vanity Fair magazine – dedicated to MM – was published. A campaign to save Rockhaven, the former women’s sanitarium where Marilyn’s mother Gladys once lived – was launched. And actress Anne Jackson – wife of Eli Wallach, and friend to Marilyn – passed away.

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In May, Marilyn graced the cover of a Life magazine special about ‘hidden Hollywood’, and Sebastien Cauchon’s novel, Marilyn 1962, was published in France. Cabaret singer Marissa Mulder’s one-woman show, Marilyn in Fragments, opened in New York, while Chinese artist Chen Ke unveiled Dream-Dew, a series of paintings inspired by Marilyn’s life story. The remarkable collection of David Gainsborough Roberts was displayed in London. Finally, Alan Young – the comedian and Mister Ed star, who befriended a young Marilyn – died.

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June 1st marked what would be Marilyn’s 90th birthday. Also in June, New Yorkers were treated to an Andre de Dienes retrospective, Marilyn and the California Girls. An exhibition of the Ted Stampfer collection, Marilyn Monroe: The Woman Behind the Myth, opened in Turin, Italy. A new documentary, Artists in Love: Arthur Miller and Marilyn Monroe, was broadcast in the UK, while Australia honoured Marilyn with a commemorative stamp folder, and genealogists investigated Marilyn’s Scottish ancestry.

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In July, the birthday celebrations continued in Marilyn’s Los Angeles hometown with tributes from painter David Bromley, and another Greene exhibition. A new musical, Marilyn!, opened in Glendale. Rapper Frank Ocean appeared alongside a Monroe impersonator in a Calvin Klein commercial. And Marni Nixon, the Hollywood soprano who sang the opening bars of ‘Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend’, passed away.

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August 5th marked the 54th anniversary of Marilyn’s death. Also this month, it was announced that Seward Johnson’s ‘Forever Marilyn’ sculpture may return permanently to Palm Springs. April VeVea’s Marilyn Monroe: A Day in the Life was published, and Marilyn’s role in Niagara was featured in another Life magazine special, celebrating 75 years of film noir.

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In September, Marilyn: Character Not Image – an exhibition curated by Whoopi Goldberg – opened in New Jersey. Terry Johnson’s fantasy play, Insignificance, was revived in Wales. Two locks of Marilyn’s hair were sold by Julien’s Auctions for $70,000. And author Michelle Morgan published The Marilyn Journal, first in a series of books chronicling the Marilyn Lives Society; and A Girl Called Pearl, a novel for children with a Monroe connection.

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In October, Happy Birthday Marilyn – a touring showcase for the collection of Ted Stampfer – came to Amsterdam, while Marilyn: I Wanna Be Loved By You, a retrospective for some of her best photographers, opened in France. Marilyn Forever, Boze Hadleigh’s book of quotes, was published. Marilyn’s friendship with Ella Fitzgerald was depicted on the cult TV show, Drunk History. And on a sadder note, photographer George Barris, biographer John Gilmore, and William Morris agent Norman Brokaw all passed away this month.

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In November, Marilyn’s ‘Happy Birthday Mr President‘ dress was sold for a record-breaking $4.8 million during a three-day sale at Julien’s Auctions, featuring items from the David Gainsborough Roberts collection, the Lee Strasberg estate, and many others including the candid photos of Monroe Sixer Frieda Hull. Also this month, comedienne Rachel Bloom spoofed ‘Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend’ in a musical sequence for her TV sitcom, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. And Marilyn Monroe: Lost Photo Collection, a limited edition book featuring images by Milton Greene, Gene Lester and Allan ‘Whitey’ Snyder, was published.

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Marilyn at Amsterdam EYE

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Photo by Ralf at Immortal Marilyn

If you’re in Amsterdam this Christmas, don’t miss the Happy Birthday Marilyn: 90 Years Ms Monroe  exhibit (featuring the Ted Stampfer collection), on display at De Nieuwe Kerk until next February. And from next Thursday (December 22), the city’s EYE Film Institute will be screening seven of Marilyn’s best movies: Niagara, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, How to Marry a Millionaire, The Seven Year Itch, Bus Stop, Some Like It Hot and The Misfits.

Going Dutch With Marilyn

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With collector Ted Stampfer’s latest exhibition, Happy Birthday Marilyn, opening in Amsterdam on October 1, an accompanying catalogue (in Dutch) will be made available from online bookstores worldwide. Mr Stampfer previously compiled a catalogue for The Private Marilyn, a 2013 exhibition in Switzerland.

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Also coming from the Netherlands in October is Marilyn and Audrey: The Battle, a children’s book by Hanneke Groenteman, about two girls studying MM and Audrey Hepburn for a school project – and as they dig into the stars’ lives the girls learn about friendship, love and jealousy.

‘Magnum on Set’ in the Netherlands

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Following the opening of an exhibition in Amsterdam featuring Milton Greene’s and Douglas Kirkland’s photos of Marilyn, there is more good news for our Dutch readers. ‘Magnum on Set‘, a retrospective of the legendary agency’s cinematic photojournalism (including coverage of The Seven Year Itch and The Misfits) is now on display at the Boscotondohal in Gemeentemuseum Helmond until March 27.

Thanks to Sacha at Immortal Marilyn

Greene, Kirkland and Marilyn in Amsterdam

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Milton Greene’s 1955 portrait of Marilyn – posing with a girl’s best friend, her dog – graces the January 2016 cover of Focus, a Dutch photography magazine. Inside is a short item about Marilyn Monroe: The Woman Who Made Love to the Camera, an exhibition of images by Greene and Douglas Kirkland, on display at the Eduard Planting Gallery in Amsterdam from January 9-March 5.

Thanks to Sacha and Johann at Immortal Marilyn

‘Waiting For Miss Monroe’ on CD

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Robin De Raaff’s opera, Waiting For Miss Monroe, was staged at the Dutch National Opera in Amsterdam in 2012, starring Laura Aikin as Marilyn. A CD recording is now available, with a 4-star review from The Guardian‘s Andrew Clements.

“In Waiting for Miss Monroe, De Raaff and his librettist Janine Brogt concentrate on the last few months of the star’s life in 1962, including her famous appearance at President Kennedy’s birthday party, the problems surrounding her final film, and her lonely death, when she is confronted by memories of her former self, Norma Jean, and rejected by all the men who formerly worshipped her. De Raaff and Brogt are emphatic that what they devised is not a biopic but a fictionalised work that attempts to explore Monroe’s inner world, as revealed in her conversations with a young woman, Eve, who arrives to take photographs of her, which are intercut with the film studio confrontations and the Kennedy party.

It all works convincingly enough up to a point. The text is sung in English and some of Raaff’s vocal writing, wide-ranging but fundamentally tonal, curiously echoes passages in the later work of Michael Tippett, The Ice Break especially, though Raaff’s orchestral writing is much more unbuttoned and eclectic. Yet the passages of melodrama, when the characters resort to spoken dialogue, somehow breaks the operatic spell; it’s as if the music is abdicating its expressive responsibilities in a work that otherwise doesn’t flinch from the having the most commonplace exchanges sung. The score is haunted by the ghosts of songs associated with Monroe, especially I Wanna Be Loved By You, though the references are never too explicit. It is an intelligent if not entirely successful attempt on a tempting but, perhaps in the end, a dramatically intractable subject.”

Marilyn in Dundee

 Fifteen images of Marilyn – taken throughout her career – are on display at Dundee’s art24sevenmedia gallery, and will be auctioned, reports The Courier.

“The collection of 15 pictures have been taken from vintage negatives shot by infamous Hollywood photographers Gerry Franks and Earl Leaf, among others.
The candid images include Marilyn in a drama class with coach Natasha Lytess and relaxing in the garden of Johnny Hyde who is credited with discovering her.

There are also test shots taken early in her career for publicity and to see if she was photogenic.

Gallery owner Fiona Henzie said: “The photographs are taken from vintage negatives and some are very collectible items.

‘They are totally unique and have only been seen once before in a museum in Holland.

‘They have all been in the hands of some quite famous people.

‘One was owned by Elizabeth Montgomery, also known as Samantha in Bewitched, before she sold it on.'”

I contacted Fiona via the gallery’s Facebook page, and she gave me further information about the collection:

“The 15 Marilyn pics will remain on show along with the other great photography during March…Everyone seems to have their own favourite – in the meantime if anyone would like to place an offer or request further information they can send a message to bids@art24sevenmedia.com

It is a silent auction so all the information will be collated and the highest bids will be contacted… They have a very fair estimated value of £1500 (in today’s market) and we can guarantee that these are originals taken from the original vintage negative at the present time as a one off but sole exclusivity may be available. I will be posting details of where they can all be seen more clearly. The Scotsman newspaper are interested in doing a feature for this coming weekend .. the actual interview still has to be confirmed so I will try and post the news on our FB page if I believe it is happening.”

All photos on this post were taken by Fraser Penney – my fellow Immortal Marilyn staffer and longtime friend of ES Updates. He visited the gallery this weekend.

Marilyn Opera in Amsterdam

The New York Times reports on ‘Waiting for Miss Monroe’, an opera starring Laura Aikin which has just opened in Amsterdam. (As ES Updates noted in April, it is said to be loosely based on the highly dubious Miner transcripts.)

“After about 15 minutes one grasped the extent of Mr. de Raaff’s musical palette and sensed that Marilyn’s personality and the opera’s ambiance generally needed more variety. Only in fleeting moments did Mr. de Raaff break with austerity, as when rumblings of jazz announced the Kennedys or a quotation from Shakespeare brought a hint of something Elizabethan.

Originally conceived at 90 minutes without a break, the opera lasted two and a half hours, with one intermission. The original idea might have been better.

Fortunately, the vocal lines are well conceived for the voices — a decisive factor in Laura Aikin’s tour-de-force portrayal of the title role. She soars in the vocal stratosphere, shaping phrases expressively and with purpose. And her resemblance to the real Marilyn — figure and all — as dressed in the star’s familiar fashions (recreated by Clement & Sandôu, also responsible for the realistic décor) was uncanny.”