Marilyn’s choreographer and friend, Jack Cole, is the subject of a new retrospective at New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), ArtForum reports. Opening tomorrow (January 20), ‘All That Jack (Cole)‘ is a two-week tribute, and will include screenings of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, There’s No Business Like Show Business and Let’s Make Love.
Diamond manufacturer Cartier has made an enchanting Christmas commercial, featuring a cover version of ‘Diamonds Are a Girl Best Friend’, performed by supermodel Karen Elson, from an arrangement by Jarvis Cocker. Of course, Cartier was referenced in Marilyn’s signature song from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, and Elson is shown being carried aloft by tuxedoed suitors, in a nod to Jack Cole’s original choreography. It was filmed in Paris, where Blondes is partially set. The neckline of her red dress is similar to Marilyn’s in Niagara, and the scene where her flared skirt billows over a subway grate recalls The Seven Year Itch. You can watch the clip here.
Writing for the Chicago Reader, Ben Sachs reviews Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, recently screened in the city. Though he focuses more on Howard Hawks’ direction than Marilyn’s performance, it’s an interesting read. He examines Jane Russell’s ‘Ain’t There Anyone Here For Love?’ setpiece in depth, though as a comment below the article notes, this was actually choreographed by Jack Cole, and that by choice, Hawks had comparatively little input on the musical numbers.
“What I want to address here is how Gentlemen Prefer Blondes approaches what Alfred Hitchcock called ‘pure cinema’, the conveyance of meaning through the harmonious interplay of all aspects of filmmaking. The presentation of Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell in front of single-tone backdrops is one example of this. Against the bold color, they seem, literally, like jewels, and this underscores the Monroe character’s materialism as well as the overpowering charisma of both women.”
Goodbye Miss Monroe is a new play by Liam de Burca about choreographer Jack Cole, reports the Herald Sun. Cole is played by Matt Young, while Anna Burgess plays the various Hollywood actresses he coached, including Marilyn and Rita Hayworth.
Goodbye Miss Monroe will be staged at the Chapel off Chapel in Prahran, a suburb of Melbourne, Australia, from April 29-May 4.
Mitzi Gaynor, who starred alongside Marilyn in There’s No Business Like Show Business (1954), will appear at a tribute evening for choreographer Jack Cole at UCLA’s Billy Wilder Theatre on August 4 (the anniversary of Marilyn’s death) at 7.30 pm, reports Film Noir Blonde.
‘Choreography by Jack Cole’, a 4-film homage featuring Gentlemen Prefer Blondes at 11.45 pm, will air on TCM (US-only) on September 10.
“Lindsay Roginski is cute and capable, but she’s no Marilyn in the title number…Small wonder that the most effective numbers were designed for the stage…Cole himself was skeptical about the value of all Hollywood choreography. ‘Heat Wave’ is honest enough to quote him saying wryly about it, ‘We must all be patient.’ For a show that puts his work back on Broadway, more patience will be required.”
Heat Wave: The Jack Cole Project – a musical tribute to Marilyn’s choreographer, Jack Cole – will receive its world premiere from May 3-20 at the Queen’s Theatre, Corona Park, NYC, Playbill reports today.
‘Produced by Queens Theatre, Heat Wave is “an all-singing, all-dancing tribute to the work of Jack Cole, featuring recreations of more than two dozen Cole numbers from such films as ‘There’s No Business Like Show Business,’ ‘Kismet,’ ‘Les Girls’ and ‘On the Riviera,’ as well as new pieces choreographed in Cole’s inimitable style,” according to Queens Theatre notes.’
Dancer George Chakiris has spoken of his work with Marilyn with fondness and respect.
“It’s obvious that working with Monroe holds a special place in Chakiris’ memory. ‘The Diamonds number was choreographed by Jack Cole who was Marilyn’s favorite choreographer and Marilyn was absolutely right,’ Chakiris comments. ‘Jack choreographed for women unlike any other choreographer. One of my favorite credits is to say that I worked behind Marilyn Monroe and I love saying that. She was phenomenal. She only about twenty six when she made that film but Marilyn was an actress who was deeply concerned about her work and was very conscientious. Let me give you an example of her professionalism: If there ever was a cut for any reason, she never went back to her trailer to check her makeup. She’d be there on her starting mark and ready for the next take. Of course, she was extremely beautiful. I mean, what you see on film was what you’d see in person. There was a certain quality about Marilyn that I found to be kind, sweet and I’m sure she was a person who would never hurt a fly. I also remember her as being very quiet. She was not gregarious but was very concentrated on her work and it was phenomenal to watch her.’
Speaking of Marilyn Monroe’s dancing skills, Chakiris goes on, ‘She may not have been a trained dancer but she was musically gifted. She moved really well, she sang very well and she was a beautiful actress. She was a knock-out in every way. Her personal qualities came through on film. It’s like Audrey Hepburn whose personal qualities modified by her talent as an actress automatically came through on the screen. The person she was is what set her apart from other actresses. It was so rich and beautiful. Natalie Wood had that beautiful person quality as well. That’s what made these ladies so special.’
Chakiris recalls working on THERE’S NO BUSINESS LIKE SHOW BUSINESS which starred Ethel Merman, Mitzi Gaynor, Donald O’Connor and Marilyn Monroe. There was a cocktail party to which the dancers had been invited. Monroe walked in quietly with a few of her friends. ‘My partner in that film, Drusilla Davis, decided to ask Marilyn to come over and kiss me on the cheek. Marilyn sweetly looked over in my direction and said to Drusilla, But I don’t know him, and gently refused. I think little things like that are rather telling. She was very correct in her behavior and I admired her for that.'”
Read my comparison of two Hollywood sex symbols here
“Jack Cole and Robert Alton were the two everyone wanted to dance for. I remember during rehearsal Cole was sitting in his chair and he got up to demonstrate. It was an explosion of dance.
I’m so glad I got to work once for him in that incredible number. He made Jane Russell look so good too.
I loved that time in my life. I was part of the last generation. You would come to work, everyone’s in rehearsal clothes. For filming, you’re all in costume and make up. And there’s that lovely shiny floor…
You’ve been rehearsing to a piano. When they play the orchestra music on the set, it gives you energy you didn’t have. It gives you adrenaline.”
Chakiris is best known for his role as Bernardo, leader of The Sharks, in West Side Story (1963.) In the dance number, ‘America’, a peeling billboard for The Misfits, with a painting of Marilyn’s face, can be glimpsed. It was filmed in New York in 1962, where the Metropolitan Opera now stands.
He had also danced with Marilyn, and Cole, in There’s No Business Like Show Business (1954). In 2007, Chakiris spoke to Michelle Morgan, author of Marilyn Monroe: Private and Undisclosed:
“When Marilyn died, I was in Japan making a movie, and I remember being so sad because it seemed to be our loss … She was so gifted.”