Gainsborough-Roberts Collection in London

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

Gainsborough-Roberts Collection: Tour and Sale

The collection of David Gainsborough Roberts – one of the world’s largest Marilyn archives, including many of her iconic movie costumes – will be sold in November, Julien’s Auctions has announced.

Although the live auction will be held in Los Angeles, UK fans will be able to see Roberts’ full collection at London’s Design Centre from May 25- June 20. It will then visit the Newbridge Museum of Style Icons in Ireland from June 25-July 25, before crossing the Atlantic on Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 in August, with more US exhibition dates to be confirmed.

Fellow collector Scott Fortner has been helping to catalogue the items, and is reporting his findings on the MM Collection blog. And finally, here’s an excerpt from the Julien’s press release.

“Highlights from this historic sale include a sheer black beaded and sequined dress worn by Monroe in her Golden Globe winning role Sugar Kane as she crooned ‘I’m Through With Love’ in the award winning 1959 film Some Like it Hot; an elaborate embellished stage gown worn by Monroe as she sang ‘After You Get What You Want You Don’t Want It’ in the 1954 comedy There’s No Business Like Show Business which was designed by one of Marilyn’s all-time favorite designers, William Travilla; a pink linen halter wiggle dress designed for Monroe by Dorothy Jeakins for the 1953 thriller Niagara; a green satin one-piece with black sequins and gold fringe worn by Monroe as she sang ‘That Old Black Magic’ in the 1956 film Bus Stop; a lilac satin leotard worn by Monroe as Lillian Russell in the 1958 photo series by Richard Avedon and featured in Life magazine in 1958. Additional film pieces offered include costumes from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and Let’s Make Love, along with a pair of rhinestone earrings worn by Monroe in How To Marry A Millionaire and a pair of sequin embellished opera gloves from the Rachmaninoff scene of The Seven Year Itch.

Monroe’s personal style is represented by a figure hugging black cocktail dress by Ceil Chapman, a favorite of Monroe; a slender fitting bias cut crepe evening gown worn by Monroe to the 1955 premiere of The Rose Tattoo; an embellished slubbed silk Lanvin gown; and rhinestone jewelry. Personal items include prescription pill bottles, Victoria and Albert museum exhibited high heels, a plastic doll in the likeness of Monroe given as a souvenir at her 34th birthday party; documents and correspondences; household items; and Monroe’s Detroit Free Press New Faces Award from 1952.”

Maureen O’Hara 1920-2015

Actress Maureen O’Hara has died in her sleep at her home in Boise, Idaho aged 95, reports the Washington Post.

Maureen FitzSimons was born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1920. From early childhood she dreamed of going on the stage. While training at the Abbey Theatre, she went to London for a screen test. The footage was seen by actor Charles Laughton, who was so impressed by Maureen’s red-haired beauty and large, expressive eyes that he signed her to his movie production company, Mayflower Pictures.

Her first major role was as Mary Yellen in Jamaica Inn (1939), Alfred Hitchcock’s adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s classic novel. She was then cast as Esmerelda, opposite Laughton in The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Now under contract to RKO in Hollywood, Maureen starred in John Ford’s Oscar-winning How Green Was My Valley (1941.) By 1947, she had moved to Twentieth Century-Fox, playing the mother of a young Natalie Wood in the classic Christmas movie, Miracle on 34th Street. In the same year, Natalie appeared in another Fox production, Scudda Hoo! Scudda Hay! – which is chiefly remembered as Marilyn Monroe’s screen debut.

In Sitting Pretty (1948), O’Hara starred opposite Clifton Webb. Marilyn was photographed with Webb in a promotional shot for the comedic movie, though she had no part in it. By the time Sitting Pretty was released, Marilyn was working at Columbia.

In 1950, Maureen appeared with actor John Wayne in a Western, John Ford’s Rio Grande. O’Hara and Wayne became one of cinema’s great couples, making five films together, and were good friends. They were reunited in Ford’s The Quiet Man (1952), perhaps Maureen’s most celebrated film.

By then, Marilyn had returned to Fox and would appear alongside Charles Laughton in O’Henry’s Full House (1952.) She never worked with Maureen, but the stars were on good terms. In her autobiography, ‘Tis Herself, O’Hara shared a personal memory of Marilyn.

“Marilyn had called and asked me to play a joke on her husband, Joe DiMaggio. Apparently, Joe was a fan of mine and always teased Marilyn about how attracted to me he was. She was sick and tired of hearing her husband talk about me and I don’t blame her. She asked me if I would mind being wrapped in a big box with a ribbon tied in a bow around it, to be her gift to Joe on his birthday. The huge box would be on a large table, and right before he opened it, she was going to say, ‘Now, Joe, after I give you this, I don’t ever want to hear about Maureen O’Hara again.’ Then as he pulled the bow and ribbon off, I was supposed to pop out of the box while the crowd shouted, ‘Surprise!’ I thought it would be great fun, sadly, they separated just before it could be done.”

A gifted soprano, Maureen sang on numerous television shows, and recorded two albums. Her later films include Our Man in Havana (1959) and The Parent Trap (1961.) After her third marriage in 1968, she went into semi-retirement, returning to the big screen in 1991 for Only the Lonely, opposite John Candy.

After suffering a stroke in 2005, Maureen moved permanently to County Cork, Ireland. In 2011, she hosted a classic film festival, with Susan Bernard (daughter of photographer Bruno Bernard) introducing a screening of Marilyn’s timeless comedy, Some Like it Hot.

Following reports of elder abuse in 2012, Maureen left Ireland to live with her grandson in Idaho. In 2014, she received an honorary Oscar from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, attending the Los Angeles ceremony.

Flying Visit: Marilyn at Shannon Airport

It’s a little-known fact that, while returning from England in November 1956 (after filming The Prince and the Showgirl), Marilyn and her husband Arthur Miller enjoyed a brief stopover in the West of Ireland – or at Shannon Airport, to be exact – where they were photographed sampling an Irish coffee.

Though it can hardly be termed a holiday, this fleeting appearance can be added to the small handful of countries Marilyn visited in her short lifetime (along with Japan, Korea and the Caribbean.) Incidentally, Miller would return to Ireland alone in 1960 (while Marilyn was filming Let’s Make Love), to discuss their upcoming project, The Misfits, with director John Huston at his Galway home.

Along with Bob Hope, Gene Kelly and other famous names, Marilyn’s visit will be commemorated in a display of memorabilia in Shannon Airport’s transit lounge, reports the Limerick Post. Anyone with items they wish to have included in the collection such as photographs, autographs, posters and souvenirs purchased at the airport, should contact Dorothy Quinn, Terminal Operations, Shannon Airport. Tel. 061 712218 or email dorothy.quinn@shannonairport.ie.

Marilyn’s Rhinestone Earrings in Ireland

The rhinestone earrings worn by Marilyn at the Rose Tattoo premiere in 1955 – recently sold at Julien’s Auctions for $185,000 – will be displayed at the Newbridge Museum of Style Icons in County Kildare, Ireland, for a limited period this summer, reports the Irish Independent. (The museum also boasts a permanent collection of MM artefacts, including a pink Pucci dress and a coat worn in The Prince and the Showgirl.)

A Girl, A Grate and the Censors

US poster - unaltered
US poster – unaltered

Although tame by today’s standards, Marilyn’s movies often fell foul of the rigid censorship code of the time. The Seven Year Itch was toned down to gloss over its theme of adultery, while the famous ‘skirt-blowing scene’, which garnered huge publicity, was cut to a minimum.

Even after its release, the film was considered risque. The Irish Examiner notes that posters featuring Marilyn’s windblown skirt were altered so that her thighs were entirely covered. And in Spain, another Catholic country, the same tactic was used.

‘I think they were doing it because they were afraid the local parish priest would close it down,’ said Dublin auctioneer Ian Whyte.

Irish poster
Irish poster

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Spanish poster

Travilla in Ireland

An exhibition of Travilla’s costumes and personal effects opens tomorrow at the Newbridge Silverware Museum of Style Icons in County Kildare, Ireland, through to September 30th.

The exhibition is presented in association with Julien’s Auctions. It was previously announced that the exhibition was a preview for the Icons and Idols: Fashion sale, but please note: the auction date has now been moved to November 8th.

“The never before seen collection was bequeathed to the partner of the late designer when he passed in 1990, this exhibition is the first time it will be seen anywhere in the world. Some of the Marilyn Monroe highlights of the ‘Collection of William Travilla’ exhibition include a Monroe/Andy Warhol Blue Tribute Dress which was created for an Andy Warhol memorial service at the Beverly Hilton and mimics the famous Seven Year Itch dress, a Marilyn Monroe Gentlemen Prefer Blondes inspired gown by Travilla featuring the gold lame sunburst halter gown design, (a Gentlemen Prefer Brunettes Travilla sketch), Travilla’s There’s No Business Like Show Business Academy Award plaque. a 1953 Travilla Gentlemen Prefer Blondes costume sketch and a Marilyn Monroe Seven Year Itch inspired Travilla gown along with several other pieces.”

Travilla Auction at Julien’s

Items from the estate of William Travilla, including costumes designed by Marilyn, will be sold by Julien’s Auctions on October 11th, with prior exhibitions at the auction house in Beverly Hills, and the Newbridge Silverware Museum of Style Icons in County Kildare, Ireland, reports Broadway World.

“Some of the Marilyn Monroe highlights of the ‘Property from the Estate of William Travilla’ auction include a Monroe/Andy Warhol Blue Tribute Dress which was created for an Andy Warhol memorial service at the Beverly Hilton and mimics the famous Seven Year Itch dress (Estimate: $4,000-$6,000), a Marilyn Monroe Gentlemen Prefer Blondes inspired gown by Travilla featuring the gold lame sunburst halter gown design (Estimate: $10,000 – $20,000), Travilla’s There’s NoBusiness Like Show Business Academy Award plaque ($3,000-$5,000), a 1953 Travilla Gentlemen PreferBlondes costume sketch (Estimate: $6,000-$8,000), and a Marilyn Monroe Seven Year Itch inspired Travilla gown (Estimate: $20,000-$30,000) along with several other pieces.

Prior to the auction the collection will also exhibit exclusively at Newbridge Silverware’s Museum of Style Icons (MOSI) in Ireland as well as Julien’s Auctions Beverly Hills.”

EDIT: The auction will now take place on November 8th.