Natalie Trundy 1940-2019

Actress Natalie Trundy has died aged 79, the Hollywood Reporter has confirmed.

The daughter of an insurance executive, Natalie made her Broadway debut at twelve years old, and modelled and acted on television as a teenager. She met the press agent Arthur P. Jacobs on the set of her first film in 1956, and went on to star with Dean Stockwell in The Restless Ones (1957.) She also appeared in episodes of TV’s Bonanza and The Asphalt Jungle, a series based on the 1950 movie.

After her first marriage was annulled, Natalie was cast in Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation (1962), a family film produced at Twentieth Century Fox, starring James Stewart and Maureen O’Hara, with a script by Nunnally Johnson (How to Marry a Millionaire) and directed by Henry Koster (O. Henry’s Full House.) It is believed that she became engaged to Jacobs, who was eighteen years her senior, at around this time, although they would not marry until 1968.

On August 4th, 1962 – the eve of her 22nd birthday – Natalie was celebrating at a concert at the Hollywood Bowl with Jacobs, plus director Mervyn LeRoy and his wife. (At first it was thought to be a Henry Mancini concert, but it since emerged that pianists Ferrante & Steicher were performing there on that night.) According to Natalie, a messenger came to their box at around 10:30 pm, bringing news to Jacobs that his client of seven years, Marilyn Monroe, was either dead or dying at her home in Brentwood. Jacobs asked the LeRoys to drive Natalie home to her apartment on Canon Drive, just a few doors away from where Marilyn’s publicist, Pat Newcomb (then part of Jacobs’ company), lived.

Marilyn with Arthur P. Jacobs, 1955

Interviewed by author Anthony Summers, Natalie said she thought the call came from Newcomb. She later told another biographer, Donald Spoto, that she ‘had the distinct impression’ that the message was actually from Marilyn’s lawyer, Milton Rudin. ‘Arthur said it was horrendous,’ she recalled. ‘He never gave me any details, and I never asked him. He said only that it was too dreadful to discuss.’ She didn’t see him again for two days. Natalie’s account has been added to the many controversies surrounding Marilyn’s time of death.

Natalie and Arthur

In January 1963, Natalie appeared in an episode of The Twilight Zone. A few months later she was hit by a car and suffered a ruptured disc in her back, and would spend the next year recovering in a back brace. She went on to play roles in four of the Planet of the Apes movie series, which Jacobs produced. He died in 1973, and Natalie took over his production company and sold the franchise rights to Fox.

In 1974, she married Gucci executive Roberto Carmine Foggia, and they had two children, Alessandra and Francesco. Her last screen credit was a 1978 episode of Quincy, M.E. She would marry twice more, and spent years volunteering at Mother Theresa’s hospice in Calcutta, India.

Marilyn and Joe’s Hollywood Hideaway

Any property with a connection to Marilyn, however spurious, will always make headlines when it goes on the market.  And as Curbed LA reports, this 4-bed, 4-bath hillside home at 2393 Castilian Drive – now on sale from Coldwell Banker at $2.4 million – served as a hideaway for Marilyn and Joe DiMaggio when their much-publicised romance began in 1952.

Joe visits Marilyn on the ‘Monkey Business’ set, 1952

Although not her official address – Marilyn moved several times in that year alone – the house (which was considerably larger than her usual bachelorette-style residences) gave her some privacy to spend time with Joe whenever he came to town. It is situated near the Hollywood Bowl in the exclusive Outpost Estates suburb, and rent checks signed by Marilyn in September 1952 and January 1953 have since made their rounds on the auction circuit.

Marilyn may also have been reminded of a previous house near the Hollywood Bowl, at 6812 Arbol Drive. It was the first home seven year-old Norma Jeane shared with mother Gladys in 1933. Unfortunately Gladys’ finances were overstretched when she bought the property, and while both were happy there at first, it would not be the dream home they both hoped for. Arbol Drive was later razed to make way for an extension of the Hollywood Bowl gardens,  but Selma Elementary School, which Norma Jeane attended at the time, is still open today.

UPDATE: The property has been sold for $2.727 million (exceeding the asking price by around $300K.)

Lady Gaga’s Birthday Serenade

Lady Gaga helped celebrate the ten-year anniversary of former president Bill Clinton’s Foundation and his 65th birthday at the ‘Decade of Difference’ concert last night at the Hollywood Bowl. The singer took the stage for three songs, plus a Marilyn Monroe-esque ‘Happy Birthday’.

Clinton admitted, “I got nervous when Gaga said she was planning to have a Marilyn moment. I thought, my God, I get Lady Gaga and I will have a heart attack celebrating my 65th birthday.” Rather gracelessly, Gaga quipped,”I’m having my first real Marilyn moment. I always wanted to have one, and I was hoping that it didn’t involve pills and a strand of pearls.”

But Gaga is only the latest in a long line of Monroe impersonators – Madonna, to whom Gaga is often compared, sang ‘Happy Inauguration’ to Clinton, MM-style, via Saturday Night Live in 1993.

Marilyn at the Hollywood Bowl

Marilyn with Danny Thomas at the Hollywood Bowl, 1953

The Hollywood Reporter takes a look back at the history of the Hollywood Bowl:

“Comedian Danny Thomas (with Marilyn Monroe) hosted a September 1953 concert at the Bowl to raise money for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. Monroe was the evening’s main attraction and performed a song from ‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’.”

Some accounts suggest that the benefit actually took place in July, not September of 1953. Unfortunately, no audio or movie footage has resurfaced as yet, though Marilyn was widely photographed at the event, by Bruno Bernard and others.

She wore her orange dress from the dining room scene in Blondes. Co-stars Jane Russell, and Robert Mitchum (River of No Return) also attended.

George Forrester, who worked as a security guard for Marilyn that night, spoke to Hollister Freelance News in 2007:

“Forrester was a 22-year-old college student in Los Angeles when he worked a temp job in 1953 at the Hollywood Bowl where comedian Danny Thomas hosted a huge fundraising event for his St. Jude Children’s Hospital charity. Forrester was hired to man the stage entrance for the show. He saw a parade of famous film celebrities pass through, and the biggest star of all was Marilyn Monroe, the main attraction of the evening. Everyone waited anxiously for midnight when the movie goddess would end the show by performing songs from her hit film ‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’.

Fate somehow maneuvered George Forrester to literally bumped into Monroe. He had gone backstage to get a Coke to drink. When he turned around, he accidentally collided into the actress and spilt his soda on the star’s tangerine-colored skin-tight dress.

‘She was able to brush it all off,’ Forrester told me in a phone chat the other day as we discussed the differences between Monroe and Smith. ‘Her bodyguard grabbed me by the neck and lifted me into the air. It was Marilyn who said, “Sam, put him down. Put him down.” ‘

After Sam had set Forrester back on the ground, Marilyn tried to comfort the young man. ‘She made me feel comfortable because she saw that I was shook up,’ he recalls. ‘She apologized for (Sam’s behavior) and we sat down.’

Although this was a big night where Marilyn was the focus of everyone’s interest, the actress focused her own attention on Forrester. She asked him about his life plans and he told her he was a senior in college majoring in drama and minoring in pre-dental. He told her about his ambitions to be a big-shot actor. Perhaps all too wary of the ways of the motion picture business, she advised him to stick to pre-dental.

Perhaps this very down-to-earth conversation with Forrester helped shield Monroe’s mind from the overwhelming media hype she had to face that night. ‘I have a feeling she kept me with her because everyone was trying to get a photo-shoot with her or talk to her,’ Forrester said. ‘She looked at me, her eyes looked in my face constantly when we were talking, which always makes you feel good.’ “

According to biographers, Marilyn’s debut at the Hollywood Bowl occurred much earlier, when as a child she appeared in a religious pageant. She also briefly lived with her mother in a bungalow at Arbol Drive, close to the Hollywood Bowl (the house was later demolished.)