Barbara Rush Remembers Marilyn

Actress Barbara Rush has shared memories of her long career with Stephanie Nolasco for Fox News. Born in 1927, she met a young Marilyn Monroe in the late 1940s, while both were residents at the Hollywood Studio Club, a home for aspiring actresses.

‘Oh yes, we were friends,’ she said. ‘We were in the studio club together. At least with me, when you first come to Hollywood, and I went to Paramount, they put me immediately in the studio club. It’s kind of like a sorority house. And Marilyn Monroe was there. I loved her. Marilyn was such a darling lady. She was very sweet and nice. All the girls in the studio club just had a good time.’

In 1954, Barbara won the Golden Globe award as ‘Most Promising Newcomer – Female’ for her role in the sci-fi classic, It Came From Outer Space. She was then married to actor Jeffrey Hunter. She played the wife of James Mason in Bigger Than Life (1956.) Director Nicholas Ray, a mutual friend of Marilyn, offered the star – who was filming Bus Stop on another soundstage at Twentieth Century Fox – a cameo role in his film, but due to Marilyn’s nerves, it never transpired.

In The Young Lions (1958) Barbara starred opposite Marlon Brando and Montgomery Clift, who would later work with Marilyn on her last completed movie, The Misfits.

Barbara married Hollywood publicist Warren Cowan in 1959. As Marilyn’s biographer Gary Vitacco Robles tells me, ‘Warren Cowan was part of a publicity firm (Rogers & Cowan) that had merged with Arthur P. Jacobs’ Company. I believe the two firms separated again around 1959. Both had represented Marilyn.’

Barbara still remembers her disbelief at hearing of Marilyn’s death three years later. ‘It was in the middle of the night when we got the call,’ she recalled. ‘My husband, who handled her, was very shocked. So shocked. I just kept hearing him go, Oh my God, over and over… We were all just very disturbed by it.’

During this time Barbara also worked in television, including a memorable role as the devious Nora Clavicle in Batman. She also appeared in the Rat Pack musical, Robin and the 7 Hoods (1964), and with Paul Newman in the 1967 Western, Hombre.

In 1970, Barbara won the prestigious Sarah Siddons Award (referenced in All About Eve) for her stage role in Forty Carats. She would later star in a one-woman Broadway show, A Woman Of Independent Means. She returned to her sci-fi roots with a recurring part as Lindsay Wagner’s mother in TV’s The Bionic Woman. Since 1997 she has lived at the Harold Lloyd Estate in Beverly Hills, where Marilyn was photographed by the former silent movie comedian back in 1953.

Barbara’s most recent screen credit was in 2007, when she appeared in several episodes of another television series, Seventh Heaven. She is still active, having just made a short film and attending a Hollywood Museum exhibition, Batman ’66.

Marilyn’s Studio Club Days

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The Hollywood Studio Club was a home for young actresses where Marilyn lived in 1946-47 (and again in 1948.) Her roommate was Clarice Evans, and fellow residents included another star-in-waiting, Eleanor Parker. The photo shown above, taken in 1948, was published in the Greater Los Angeles Press Club brochure, and  inscribed by Marilyn to Clarice’s sister, Louise Evans.

The illustrious history of Marilyn’s ‘forgotten Hollywood sorority’ is traced in a fascinating new article for the Messy Nessy Chic website. (Although Marilyn later claimed to have posed nude to pay the rent, her famous calendar shoot actually occurred in 1949, after she left the Studio Club. She needed the fifty dollars to get her car repaired. However, she had frequently posed for cheesecake artist and photographer Earl Moran during the lean years.)

“It was described as a Hollywood sorority, a chaperoned dormitory and one newspaper article in 1946 even called it a rescue home for wayward girls. The club was founded in 1916 when a Mrs. Eleanor Jones began noticing groups of young women hanging around at her library until closing time, clearly with nowhere else to go.

The Hollywood Studio Club got a fancy new home in 1926, a grand renaissance revival building designed by the same architect who did Hearst Castle. Warner Brothers, Metro Goldwyn and even Howard Hughes helped fund its construction.

The club provided residents with accommodation, two meals a day, sewing machines, hair driers, laundry equipment, typewriters, theatre literature, practice rooms, stage and sundeck. Performing arts classes were also available and the club regularly hosted industry-related events.

There was always a long waiting list for the club, but the only qualification needed was for an applicant to be seeking a career in the motion picture business. Some would make it as actresses, writers or designers, others would settle as a studio secretary.”

Thanks to Jackie Craig

Eleanor Parker 1922-2013

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Actress Eleanor Parker – perhaps best-known for her role as the scheming baroness in the 1965 musical, The Sound of Music – has died aged 91.

Born in Ohio, Eleanor Jean Parker made her screen debut at 18, in They Died With Their Boots On (1941.) However, her scenes were cut. Signed to Warner Brothers, she played Mildred Rogers in Of Human Bondage (1946); and starred in the 1948 adaptation of Wilkie Collins’ mystery novel, The Woman in White.

In 1950, Parker was nominated for an Oscar for her role as a teenage convict in Caged. She was nominated again in 1951, for another Noir role, in Detective Story. Her third nomination was for Interrupted Melody (1955), a biopic in which she played Marjorie Lawrence, an Australian opera singer stricken with polio. She also starred alongside Frank Sinatra in The Man With the Golden Arm (1956), a harrowing look at heroin addiction; and in another Maugham story, The Seventh Sin (a 1957 remake of Garbo’s The Painted Veil.)

Parker had three children, and found lasting happiness with her fourth husband, Raymond N. Hirsch, whom she married in 1966. Her last screen role was in 1991. An unusually versatile actress, Parker was known as the ‘woman of a thousand faces’.

What movie fans may not know is that Eleanor Parker was also a friend of Marilyn Monroe. They met during the late 1940s, when they were both living at the Hollywood Studio Club, a hostel for aspiring actresses – as Marilyn later revealed in ‘I Want Women to Like Me!’, a signed-by (or approved) article, published in Photoplay magazine’s November 1952 issue.

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You can read the article in full at Everlasting Star

Remembering the Studio Club

Collage by Sergio Serrano

Writing for the McLeansboro Times-Leader, Helen Sue Johnson remembers her stay at the Studio Club, the hostel for young actresses where Marilyn once lived:

“Back in the 1950s, when I was an aspiring actress and singer, I stayed at the Studio Club, a place for young ladies wanting to go into the theater.

Though Marilyn was famous later, she was there for a while and then left to move somewhere else; I got her room and roommate, Clarice Evans, whom I ran into after Marilyn was famous. We talked about Marilyn at the Studio Club; Clarice said she was just like the other girls, pretty, but she got lucky.

Believe it or not, Marilyn attended the Christian Science church, and so did Elizabeth Taylor, during their younger years.”

Marilyn at the Hollywood Studio Club

Photo by Laszlo Willinger

Marilyn Monroe, as a virtually unknown 22 year-old, lived at the Hollywood Studio Club, 1215 North Lodi Place, a hostel for young actresses, between 1946-47, sharing room 307 with Clarice Evans. She returned for a second stay in 1948.

The Studio Club closed in 1975, and the building is now owned by the YMCA. Other famous alumni include Kim Novak, Ayn Rand, Peg Entwhistle and Sharon Tate.

Vintage interview with roommate Clarice Evans at The Pittsburgh Press

Mini-documentary on the Studio Club, posted by The Actors’ Workshop on Youtube

Thanks to Megan at Everlasting Star – more information here