Why Marilyn Wasn’t ‘Always at the Carlyle’

Marilyn with Isadore Miller (1962)

Always At The Carlyle, a new documentary about one of New York City’s legendary hotels, puts paid to the enduring myth that Marilyn and John F. Kennedy enjoyed a romantic tryst in the Presidential Suite after the 1962 gala where she sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to him.  ‘Much is made of a story about how John F. Kennedy smuggled Marilyn Monroe through a tunnel to the Carlyle,’ the Times reports, ‘but then the idea is pretty convincingly debunked.’ In fact, at the end of the evening Marilyn accompanied her elderly former father-in-law Isadore Miller – who was her escort at the gala and after-party – back to his hotel, before returning home alone. This was confirmed by superfan James Haspiel, who clocked Marilyn entering her apartment building in the small hours.

First Look: Kelli Garner as Marilyn

Actress Kelli Garner is pictured in today’s Mail, filming a scene from Lifetime’s upcoming mini-series, The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe. This scene is probably based on James Haspiel’s touching anecdote about Marilyn saving pigeons from captivity.

“There was another pocket park at the end of 58th Street, and Marilyn went over there one night, this time on her own, and she came upon two young boys who were capturing pigeons, trapping the birds in nets, then caging them. Marilyn asked the lads why they were doing this, and they informed her that they made money by catching pigeons and selling them to a meat market for 50 cents a piece. Marilyn then counted the pigeons thrashing desperately about the cage, and asked the boys, “If I give you the money, will you free the birds?” They agreed, the cage was opened, and the pigeons took their leave. Marilyn then took the situation at hand a step further, arranging to meet these fellows on the nights they worked catching and caging pigeons at the end of which evenings she would pay them for the birds, then watch as they were released back into the air over the East River.” 
– James Haspiel, Marilyn: The Ultimate Look At The Legend

Marilyn in August

Most Marilyn fans associate the month of August with her tragic death. But James Haspiel – MM’s teenage fan, who went on to write 3 books about her – tells the New York Post‘s Cindy Adams that there are many more reasons to remember Marilyn in the first of August.

“Marilyn Monroe died Aug. 5. Her funeral, Aug. 8 — tomorrow — 52 years ago. Per her friend Jim Haspiel, this week dominated her life. Aug. 2, 1945, she registered at the Blue Book Model Agency. Aug. 6, 1950, landed her first newspaper cover, the Chicago Sunday Tribune. Aug. 10, 1954, began filming The Seven Year Itch. Aug. 1, 1957, Marilyn lost her baby boy. Aug. 4, 1958 began filming Some Like It Hot. Aug. 3, 1962, was her final interview, Life magazine. MM’s first film Dangerous Years, still as Norma Jean, had an Aug. 4, 1947, contract.

And Aug. 5, which became her very last day, she was to meet the man [Sidney Skolsky] who planned to produce and star her in The Jean Harlow Story.”

‘American Classic Screen’ Remembered

Published from 1976-84, American Classic Screen was the magazine of The National Film Society. Intended for scholars and general readers interested in films from the golden age of cinema and beyond, the magazine ran for a decade and included original interviews, profiles, and articles that delved deep into the rich history of Hollywood.

Published in 2010, American Classic Screen Profiles is a 256pp compendium of profiles of Hollywood stars and filmmakers. A portrait of Marilyn adorns the cover, with ‘Marilyn: A Personal Reminiscence’ – a short interview with Frank Radcliffe, who danced with her in three films – among the articles inside.

In a separate profile of Jayne Mansfield, James Robert Haspiel acknowledges the debt she owed to Marilyn, who inspired her ‘blonde bombshell’ image. Haspiel was formerly a teenage fan of Monroe, and became her friend. He wrote three well-received books about her, lavishly illustrated with rare studio and candid photos.

Haspiel’s feature on MM, ‘How a Cinema Legend Was Born: The Screen Testing of Marilyn Monroe’, is published in a 344 pp companion volume, American Classic Screen Features.

Alleged Blue Movie Resurfaces

Another alleged sex tape has resurfaced, to be auctioned by Spanish collector Mikel Barsa. This tape is nothing new – it was released as a DVD a few years ago, rather cheekily entitled The Bluest Marilyn Monroe.

Speaking to NPR, Los Angeles-based collector Scott Fortner confirmed what most informed fans believe – that the girl in the clip was not Marilyn:

“That’s not Marilyn. The chin is not the same, the lips are not the same, the teeth are not the same. Marilyn was a tiny little thing. And I know that for a fact. I own her clothing…In the Marilyn community, people have debated this for years and years and for the most part it’s widely believed that this is not her.”

However, Barsa insists that the woman is indeed the young, pre-stardom Monroe:

“People with romantic notions have denied that it’s Marilyn Monroe, and have invented stories…This film shows the real Marilyn Monroe — it was only later that the studios discovered her and transformed her.”

Barsa first made the film public in 1997, and at the time CMG – then MM’s licensing company – threatened to sue. While it is true that Marilyn’s appearance subtly changed over the years, in my opinion her jaw was never as square as that of the unidentified girl in the clip.

For comparison, here’s a photo by J.R. Eyerman of a noticeably slimmer Marilyn in one of her early movies, Love Happy (1949.)

Another stag film attributed to MM, The Apple-Knockers and the Coke, was correctly identified as starring Playboy model and MM lookalike Arline Hunter by collector (and friend of Marilyn) James Haspiel as long ago as the 1970s.

While Marilyn did pose topless or even nude on occasion, no sex film has ever been attributed to her. And yet rumours continue to circulate, and titillate a scandal-hungry public.

Mr Barsa plans to auction the film in Buenos Aires on August 7, days after the 49th anniversary of Marilyn’s. Coincidence, or marketing opportunity? You decide…

UPDATE: An excellent blog post from Scott Fortner points out the main differences between the girl in the film and the young Marilyn.

Marilyn Monroe Porno? The Widow’s Peak Speaks

Immortal Marilyn in April

Among this month’s updates at Immortal Marilyn are Claire Stevenson’s fascinating profile of James Haspiel, the teenage fan who became a friend to Marilyn and took many candid photos of her; a feature on Natasha Lytess from club president Mary Sims; another vintage magazine article from Tony; and Fraser’s review of Lois Banner’s MM – Personal.

Bruce Conner’s ‘Marilyn Times Five’

Arline Hunter

Bruce Conner was an avant-garde artist, and his work has been celebrated in a new documentary, Bruce Conner: The Art of Montage. The film includes a short clip called ‘Marilyn Times Five’, which purportedly shows a semi-naked Monroe, fondling – wait for it – an apple, and a Coca Cola bottle.

However, it has long since been established that the woman in the clip is not Monroe, but actress and glamour model Arline Hunter.

James Haspiel, who got to know Monroe as a teenage fan, is now considered an expert on the actress. In his 1991 book, Marilyn: The Ultimate Look at the Legend, Haspiel noted that Hunter had recreated Marilyn’s famous nude calendar pose for Playboy in 1954. Hunter had appeared in several ‘stag films’, which were falsely marketed as featuring a young Monroe.

Marilyn in court, 1952

Marilyn had appeared in court in 1952 to testify that pornographic photos sold by mail order were not of her. These pictures, too, were of Hunter.

Haspiel noted that one of Hunter’s blue movies, The Apple-Knockers and the Coke, was screened in a New York cinema in 1970, with Marilyn Monroe incorrectly billed as its star.

‘Ultimately,’ Haspiel commented, ‘Hunter’s Monroe masquerade in that nudie short resulted in a box-office bonanza for those theatres daring enough to utilise the Monroe name and image in their advertisments.’