“A Highlands clan with links to Hollywood star Marilyn Monroe has traced its origins back more than a thousand years ago to Ireland.
The same project has traced American movie idol Monroe’s ancestors to a Munro family that lived in Moray. The seat of Clan Munro is Foulis Castle near Evanton in Easter Ross in the Highlands.
Clan chief, Hector Munro of Foulis, said for him the most interesting thing to have emerged from the project so far were the origins of the clan.
He said: ‘The origins of name Munro has puzzled historians for generations. Tradition has it that we were mercenary soldiers from near the River Roe in Derry, Northern Ireland, hence the name Munro – Mac an Rothaich in Gaelic. But it had proved impossible to verify.’
The chief said the DNA project had identified an Irishman from 1,750 years ago with four distinct male lines with living descendants. He said: ‘All four lines can be traced back to south west Ireland.'”
So many fans have discovered Marilyn through a TV documentary or magazine spread – so it’s a pity that the information isn’t always accurate. Not so, however, if that article is written by respected author Michelle Morgan. This biographical piece first appeared in Emirates Woman back in 2012, and has now been reprinted – and lavishly illustrated – in Social & Personal magazine. Unfortunately, this publication is only sold in Northern Ireland, although Michelle has posted a sneak preview here.
A new Irish exhibition exploring sex symbols and the Playboy empire features two key artefacts related to Andre de Dienes’ iconic images of Marilyn, as Catherine Sanz reports for The Times.
“Supermodels and Playboy: The Evolution of Sex Symbols, which opened yesterday at the Museum of Style Icons at Newbridge Silverware, Co Kildare, features some of the most famous women of the second half of the 20th century — clothed and unclothed.
The exhibition is a collection of items in the museum’s archive, placed together to take the visitor on a journey from Monroe, the ‘original pin-up girl’, to catwalk supermodels of the 1990s, including Christy Turlington, Heidi Klum and Cindy Crawford.
The showcase begins with the camera used by Andre de Dienes, a Hungarian photographer, to capture Monroe on a Long Island beach in 1949. Images displayed next to the camera show the actress in a bathing suit and posing with a red polka dot umbrella. The umbrella has been on permanent display at the museum.
De Dienes’s camera was discovered in storage by Simone Hassett, the museum’s curator. She said finding it was the genesis for the exhibition.
‘Occasionally while we are rummaging around in the archive room we unearth some gems,’ she said. ‘We came across the camera belonging to Andre de Dienes which photographed one of Marilyn’s most famous risqué shoots in 1949 and this started the ball rolling.’
Aileen O’Brien, publicist for the exhibition, said that the idea was to showcase how being provocative had changed. She said the images of Monroe contrasted against the more blatantly sexy 1980s and 1990s models.
‘Despite appearing innocent and almost childlike at times, Marilyn’s confidence in the photographs was striking and she commanded the viewer to look,’ she said. ‘Her bathing suit appears quite demure but it was would have been very risqué at the time.'”
Reviews are in for Annie Ryan’s recent production of The Misfits at the Dublin Theatre Festival. It’s unclear as yet whether a full run will follow, so watch this space!
“Roslyn (Aobhínn McGinnity), first played by Monroe, is stronger, more worldly, and more sardonic than the original, and, crucially, she is a brunette, instantly drawing a distinction with Monroe … The play suffers from the same problems Miller’s original novella and screenplay did; it is an awkward narrative that constantly changes tone, and is eventually unclear in what it wanted to say. This production, though, one of the most anticipated of the Dublin Theatre Festival, does not disappoint.” – Ciarán Leinster, Reviews Hub
“If there appears to be a lack of nuance in the characters, it’s one that has been forced on them by their circumstances. It’s a strength of Miller’s writing that he is still able to reveal a humanity in the characters … Aoibhinn McGinnity’s Roslyn and Úna Kavanagh’s Isabelle hold the keys, even if in the latter case it’s just the key to the bar, both just as much misfits to the power dynamic of a very male-centred world.” -Noel Megahey, The Digital Fix
“Stage-plays migrate into movies frequently, often with great success; the traffic is lighter in the other direction. Some of the technical challenges are here very well met by movement director Justine Cooper; the lassoing of the mustang is effective, complete with the character of Isabelle embodying the struggling horse.
All five performances are first-rate, each actor taking plenty of risks. This is a thoroughly enjoyable dramatic probe into what’s biting the American male; it ends on a profound and optimistic note.” – Irish Independent
“While Roslyn stirs their passions, she is not the flaky sex object that a visibly unhappy Marilyn Monroe played in her final movie. She instead becomes the means of exposing the men’s rootlessness, insecurity and uncertain sense of self. Miller may have seen himself as a misfit in the sense of being a political malcontent, but Ryan’s version reminds us that at the heart of the story is a wider crisis in masculinity.” – Michael Billington, The Guardian
A stage adaptation of The Misfits is set to open at the Dublin Theatre Festival on September 27. Ahead of the premiere, Donald Clarke surveys the production for the Irish Times. As the photos indicate, the cast and crew are not going to replicate the 1961 movie (Aoibhinn McGinnity, who will play Roslyn Tabor, hasn’t seen it.) This is probably a wise decision as the original is so iconic – however, director Annie Ryan has much to say about it, and Marilyn’s performance.
“The picture has an awkward position in film history. It is remembered for a famously disordered production … Most poignantly, the last scene in The Misfits, showing Monroe and Gable sharing the front seat of a truck, stands as a farewell to both those imperishable stars.
Elements of the picture deserve celebration … Monroe really does make something of a dramatic role. Working with Paula Strasberg, one of the era’s great acting coaches, she managed to excise almost all traces of the breathy comic persona that helped her to superstardom.
‘The work in it,’ Ryan sighs. ‘You can really feel Paula Strasberg right behind the camera. She is going for a moment-to-moment method acting truth, but what I see there is the effort in every scene. I watch it thinking: that poor woman. From an acting perspective, it is absolute torture.’
The Misfits is something different. Even before we sit down, Ryan, her Chicagoan accent still largely intact, is giving out about the way Thelma Ritter is underused and about how uncomfortable she is with Miller’s attempts to ‘save’ Marilyn through art.
‘This isn’t a great film. It’s a really flawed film,’ she says. ‘I came upon it because it’s in his collected plays. My impulse came before the 2016 election. There isn’t a strong narrative, but there could be something to it. And it only has five people. I can’t afford a bigger cast than that unless I partner with a bigger company. Part of my thinking was: Can this work?’
She mentions the 2016 US presidential election. Obviously, all American art is now about Donald Trump. You can’t get away from him. The Misfits finds Monroe’s Roslyn, in Reno for a divorce, meeting three very different, but equally damaged, hunks of cowboy masculinity and then following them as they hunt mustangs in the nearby desert. Over 50 years ago, these characters were already complaining that the world had passed them by.
‘I suspect 60 or 70 per cent of those going in won’t have seen the film,’ Ryan says. ‘But they’ll know the iconography. They’ll have seen the photographs. Everyone knows about The Misfits even if they haven’t seen it. The image of the expanse. The image of Marilyn in the hat and the shirt. They are famous images. You have to accept they are in the room.’
It helps that Ryan is not working from the original script. Her production of The Misfits is officially an adaptation of a novella that Miller published to tie in with the release of the film.
‘That’s what I have the rights to cut,’ she says. ‘It’s very hard to get the rights to a film because the film company owns the rights.’
‘I think Miller did [Marilyn] a disservice by writing a version of herself,’ Ryan says. ‘He did this as a gift. But there’s no mask. She has an innocence. She has a compassion for all living things, which comes from Marilyn. She has an incredibly dysfunctional family background, which comes from Marilyn. Men are falling over each other to be next to her. There is a lot of language in the text about “the golden girl” arriving. No actor can play themselves. Most actors can’t face speaking in public, They just can’t bear it.’
Echoes of the #MeToo movement creep into The Misfits. The production will have much to do with how men interact with (and sometimes ignore) women in social engagements. Marilyn Monroe suffered more from those abuses than most. You see it in her films. You read about it in her life.
‘We see how she has become expert at saying “no” in a really nice way,’ Ryan says of Roslyn. ‘We have all been there to some degree. What would it be like to imagine that character now without sexing her up?’
Some reclaiming and revaluating is in order.
‘I feel that we are doing this for Marilyn’s ghost in some way.'”
The Misfits will have its first ever stage adaptation (as far as I’m aware) at the Dublin Theatre Festival from late September to mid-October, as Jennifer O’Brien reports for The Times. While I don’t think the movie should ever be remade, I’m glad to see Arthur Miller’s creation getting a new lease of life.
The Misfits already has an Irish connection, as prior to filming in 1960, Arthur had visited director John Huston at St. Cleran’s, his estate near Galway, to discuss the project (while Marilyn was filming Let’s Make Love in Hollywood.) No dates have yet been announced, but it will be staged at the Corn Exchange – and I’ll be keeping you posted, so watch this space!
“The production, directed by Annie Ryan, was announced as part of the line-up for the Dublin Theatre Festival … [Aoibhinn] McGinnity, 31, said that while she was looking forward to playing Tabor at the Corn Exchange, she had not watched the film that inspired the play.
‘I hadn’t seen the film, but had met Annie to chat about the concept, and it was like, You know what, maybe don’t watch the film,’ she said. ‘We are not going to play it like Marilyn Monroe; we are going to do our own spin.’
Ryan has promised that her version of The Misfits will offer it ‘the space to come into its fullest expression’. ‘Annie is trying to rewrite it from a different angle and it brings in so many things about feminism and masculinity,’ McGinnity said.”
UPDATE: The Misfits will be staged at Dublin’s Corn Exchange from September 27-October 1. More details here.
Plays about Marilyn are increasingly popular, though often of dubious quality. But Leonor Bethencourt scores top marks for originality, using Marilyn’s brief stopover at Shannon Airport (while flying home to New York after filming The Prince and the Showgirl in November 1956) as a starting point for a zany one-woman show, as Charlie McBride reports for the Galway Advertiser. In Marilyn Monroe Airlines: Always Late and Unreliable! she plays Marilyn-worshipping air hostess Zocorro. You can catch the play at the Cava Bodega restaurant on April 20-21, as part of the Galway Theatre Festival.
“Zoccoro is the sole crew member of an accident-prone budget airline, one who proudly perpetuates the spirit of Marilyn Monroe. Simmering with raw emotions, this is a comedy about flying and reaching for the stars. How can Zocorro, masked Spanish ingénue, sustain the teasing sensuality demanded by the aviation business? Marilyn has the answer…
‘Zocorro is like a female Zorro, she wears a mask like his,’ Bethencourt tells me. ‘She’s from a small village in Spain and finds herself in different situations. In my previous show, Zocorro – Rose of Tralee, she infiltrated that contest by pretending to have Irish roots and this show is a different adventure in which she is committed to perpetuating the memory of Monroe on a budget airline.’
Bethencourt herself is Hispano-Irish, with her mother hailing from Strabane and her father from Madrid where she grew up. She expands on the character of Zocorro: ‘As a child, Zocorro took an overdose of iron tablets and was taken to hospital. Doctors were all around her, and she realised then how to be the centre of attention which is a big factor with her. Being an air hostess everyone has to listen to her so she enjoys that attention and also the safety and comfort of the passengers depends on her.’
‘She relates different adventures that happened with Marilyn Monroe Airlines– it has a lot of security issues, there is a good chance at any time that things will go wrong. The nervousness passengers might feel on the flight is like how Marilyn Monroe was unable to leave her trailer during film shoots because of stage fright.'”
UPDATE: You can read a review of the show here.
The former home of Johnny Hyde, Marilyn’s agent and lover, was recently featured on the website of realtor Joyce Rey, prior to being snapped up (for $21K per month) by a lucky tenant on March 10. Marilyn often stayed there during their two-year relationship, which lasted from early 1949 until Hyde’s death in late 1950. Marilyn was heartbroken by the death of her greatest champion, who secured important roles and a contract with Twentieth Century Fox for the young actress. She was photographed by Earl Leaf at 718 North Palm Drive (off Sunset Boulevard) just months before Hyde passed away.
For Irish house-hunters, here’s something completely different: a €185,000 house in the Dublin suburb of Clondalkin, decorated throughout with Marilyn memorabilia by its owner, a diehard Marilyn fan. The property has been viewed online by over 200,000 people since going viral on St Patrick’s Day, reports the Irish Independent.
Thanks to Michelle at Immortal Marilyn
The full catalogue for the upcoming Marilyn-only event at Julien’s Auctions is now online. Among the 1,015 items on offer are movie costumes from the collection of David Gainsborough Roberts; rare candid photos formerly owned by Monroe Sixer Frieda Hull; and personal property from the Lee Strasberg estate.
Some items were previously sold at Christie’s in 1999, while various writings, drawings and correspondence have been published in books like Fragments, MM Personal and Girl, Waiting. However, there is still a great deal of unseen material, yielding fresh insight into Marilyn’s life and times.
In advance of the auction in Beverly Hills on November 17 the Happy Birthday dress will be on display for one week only from tomorrow at the Museum of Style Icons at Newbridge Silverware in County Kildare, Ireland.
ES Updates will be covering all aspects of the sale, including a series of detailed posts about what’s on offer. You can also read an article about it on Immortal Marilyn now, while Scott Fortner will be interviewing Anna Strasberg at his MM Collection blog on November 1.
Marilyn Monroe: The Legacy of a Legend, an exhibition of the David Gainsborough Roberts collection, opened at London’s Design Centre last week. Fellow collector Scott Fortner attended the launch, alongside impersonator Suzie Kennedy and actress Linda Gray (aka Sue-Ellen Ewing from TV’s Dallas.)
In an article for the Telegraph, Bethan Holt discussed the ‘lipstick, diamonds and cigarettes’ among Marilyn’s personal effects, while Ben Miller looks at the ‘vulnerability and humanity’ revealed by her drawings and notes in his review for Culture24.
After closing on June 20, the collection will move to the Museum of Style Icons at Newbridge in County Kildare, Ireland, where it will be on display from June 25-July 25.
All photos by Scott Fortner @MarilynMonroeCollection