The latest issue of UK magazine Yours Retro includes a four-page cover story celebrating 60 years of Some Like It Hot.Marilyn is also featured alongside fellow bombshells Jean Harlow, Marlene Dietrich, Rita Hayworth and Lana Turner in a separate article about Hollywood makeovers.
In the current issue of Scotland’s Weekly News, her role as short-sighted Pola in How to Marry a Millionaire is mentioned in an article about wearing glasses. (And don’t forget her recent spot in Country Life magazine.)
In some ways, Rock Hudson was Marilyn’s male counterpart as a misunderstood sex symbol of 1950s Hollywood. They partied together at the How to Marry a Millionaire premiere in 1953, and in 1962 Rock would present Marilyn with her final award at the Golden Globes. Sadly they never worked together, but Rock was the initial favourite for her leading man in Bus Stop; and in 1958, she was considered for Pillow Talk before deciding to make Some Like It Hot instead. (Doris Day got the part, the beginning of a great comedy partnership with Rock.)
Until now, it has been unclear how well the two stars knew each other (although a recent hack tome made the unlikely claim that Marilyn and Rock were lovers – as we now know, Hudson was gay.) In a critically praised new biography, All That Heaven Allows, author Mark Griffin draws on interviews with Rock’s secretary, Lois Rupert, who claims they often spoke on the phone. Although the frequency of their conversations may be questioned, the obvious affection of their Golden Globes photos combined with this information could suggest that Rock was one of the few Hollywood figures trusted by Marilyn in her final months – and Griffin also reveals that Hudson generously donated his fee for narrating the 1963 documentary, Marilyn, to a cause very close to her heart.
“It was while he was on location for A Gathering Of Eagles that Rock received word that a friend had died. As Lois Rupert recalled, ‘Rock met me at his front door with the news … “Monroe is dead” is all he said.’
Only five months earlier, Rock and Marilyn Monroe had posed for photographers at the annual Golden Globes ceremonies. In images captured of the event, Monroe, who was named World Film Favourite, is beaming as Hudson enfolds her into a protective embrace. With a shared history of abuse and exploitation, it was inevitable that these two should be drawn to each other. Recognising that he posed no sexual threat to her, Monroe had latched on to Hudson and had lobbied for Rock to co-star with her in Let’s Make Love as well as her uncompleted final film, Something’s Got to Give.
Lois Rupert remembered that in the early 1960s, Rock regularly received late-night distress calls from Monroe as well as another troubled superstar. ‘If it wasn’t Marilyn Monroe crying on his shoulder, then it was Judy Garland,’ Rupert recalled. ‘It was almost like they took turns. Marilyn would call one night and Judy the next. He was always very patient, very understanding with both of them, even though he wasn’t getting much sleep. I think he liked playing the big brother who comes to the rescue.’
Within ten months of Monroe’s death, 20th Century-Fox would release a hastily assembled documentary entitled Marilyn. Fox had initially approached Frank Sinatra about narrating, but when the studio wasn’t able to come to terms with the singer Hudson stepped in. Hudson not only provided poignant commentary – both on and off camera – he donated his salary to help establish the Marilyn Monroe Memorial Fund at the Actors Studio.”
On November 4, 1953, one of Marilyn’s most popular movies – How to Marry a Millionaire – opened in Beverly Hills. It was Marilyn’s first big premiere, and she was dazzling that night. I was lucky enough to see it on the big screen earlier this year, and you can read my review here. Over at Marilyn Remembered, Lorraine shares some facts about the movie.
Jon W. Chu, director of this summer’s hit comedy Crazy Rich Asians, was influenced by How to Marry a Millionaire, as Christopher Campbell reports for Film School Rejects. (Although Millionaire isn’t a musical, it’s great to see it still inspiring today’s filmmakers.)
“Growing up in America, Chu likely was exposed more to Hollywood musicals than anything that looked like Crazy Rich Asians. In an interview for Birth.Movies.Death, he cites the movie How to Marry a Millionaire (pictured) starring Marilyn Monroe, Lauren Bacall, and Betty Grable as women who, unlike Rachel in Crazy Rich Asians, are gold diggers trying to snag a wealthy beau. Chu says:
‘I was taking from old musicals like How to Marry a Millionaire – old Hollywood films, and I love the idea that we could have been in those movies, but we weren’t. We had the same style and swag. So to be able to nod to that in our score, our costumes, was really nice…’
While you’re at it, go ahead and watch Marilyn Monroe’s other hit musical from the same year, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. She plays a golddigger in that movie, too, and famously sings about her love of diamonds in a musical number that inspired the video for Madonna’s ‘Material Girl,’ which is on the Crazy Rich Asians soundtrack as covered by Sally Yeh.”
In the New York Times, Winnie Hu looks back at the history of the ticker-tape parade car which made a brief appearance in How to Marry a Millionaire.
“It is not built for speed. It burns through gas. And it is too big to park on any street. But none of that matters when it is a 1952 Chrysler Imperial Parade Phaeton.
The open-air car in glossy black with red leather seats is New York City’s official parade car and the grande dame of the 30,000 vehicles in the nation’s largest municipal fleet. It stretches 20 feet from front to back to seat up to eight passengers, and it comes with its very own red-carpet floor. It has only one job: ushering V.I.P.s through blizzards of ticker tape on Broadway.
For more than six decades, its back seat has been filled with a who’s who of world leaders and celebrities … The 1952 Phaeton was one of only three that Chrysler made — part of a tradition of custom-made parade cars that once carried the newsmakers of the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s in grand style, all while showing off Chrysler’s latest design in the ultimate bit of product placement. No need to advertise with Queen Elizabeth II, John F. Kennedy, Neil Armstrong and Joe DiMaggio in the car.
The three Phaetons — each in a different color — were owned by the Chrysler Corporation, which based them in New York, Los Angeles and Detroit, and lent them out for processions around the country … The New York car made a cameo in the 1953 film How to Marry a Millionaire, starring Marilyn Monroe.”
“An ungodly amount of kitsch surrounds the suffering and decline of Marilyn Monroe, obscuring how much fun she was to watch. A double bill of 1953’s Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (July 31-Aug. 12) and How to Marry a Millionaire(July 31-Aug. 5) explains the appeal.
Marry isn’t as magic—it’s a reprise of a frequently filmed script with three Manhattan ladies (Lauren Bacall, a myopic Marilyn, and Betty Grable) trying their luck with various menfolk. But for some reason Monroe excelled in 1920s settings, as in Some Like it Hot.
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is based on Anita Loos’ superb comedic novel about Jazz Age siren and showgirl Lorelei Lee (Monroe) boating to Paris with her traveling companion Dorothy (Jane Russell, dark, shrewd and macha, where Marilyn is tentative, breathy and squeaky.)
The effervescent composer Jule Styne gave MM two of her best numbers. Her duet with Russell on ‘Two Little Girls from Little Rock’ is an outrageously bold opener of spangles, tinsel and girl power. ‘Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend’ is the moment when Marilyn started to captivate the world. Producer and director Howard Hawks told biographer Joseph McBride that he hadn’t been interested in production numbers. Thus this brief 91-minute musical has the sharpness and compact size of great cabaret, highlighting the bright screwball comedy and the hot pink and fire-orange color scheme.”
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and How to Marry a Millionaire, both of which turn 65 this year, will be screened as a double bill on June 5th at the Royal Theatre, NoHo 7, and Playhouse 7 in Los Angeles, as part of the Laemmle Anniversary Classics series. The Royal screening of Blondes will be introduced by Debra Levine, editor of Arts Meme and an expert on choreographer Jack Cole.
How to Marry a Millionaire will be screened at the Chinese Theatre in Hollywood at 2:15 pm on Friday, April 27, as part of this year’s TCM Classic Film Festival. Passholders will be seated first, but individual tickets can be purchased (for around $20) on a first-come, first-served basis just prior to the start-time. (And while you’re there, check out Marilyn’s hand and footprints, immortalised in cement outside the theatre on Hollywood Boulevard.)
“Sixty-five years ago, writer-producer Nunnally Johnson dusted off Zoe Akins’ 1930 play The Greeks Had a Word for Itto create a showcase for three of the screen’s biggest stars: Betty Grable, Lauren Bacall and Marilyn Monroe. The idea of turning a simplistic plot into a talent showcase was nothing new in Hollywood. Samuel Goldwyn had first filmed the play in 1932, with Joan Blondell, Madge Evans and Ina Claire. Remakes followed in 1938 (Three Blind Mice) and 1941 (Moon Over Miami), along with dozens of imitations. In this version—shot in glorious Cinemascope—the three women are fashion models who pool their resources to rent a posh apartment they hope to use to attract marriage proposals from wealthy men. It doesn’t quite turn out that way but it certainly leads to some great comic situations, particularly for Monroe as a near-sighted model who steadfastly refuses to wear her glasses. It’s a surprising revelation as to which woman lands her prey (it’s a shock within the film too), but along the way they mix it up with William Powell, David Wayne, Rory Calhoun and Cameron Mitchell. The film was such a hit that director Jean Negulesco transplanted the story to Rome a year later for Three Coins in the Fountain. “