Jane Fonda Flattered by Marilyn Comparison

Jane Fonda in ‘Period of Adjustment’ (1962)

Screen legend Jane Fonda – who has spoken before of her admiration for Marilyn, whom she met a few times – was interviewed by another MM fan, Liz Smith, recently.

“WE HAD fun talking about some of Jane’s earlier films … Jane thinks Barefoot in the Park holds up well. And she was astonished when I mentioned that in Period of Adjustment she had reminded me of Marilyn Monroe, in Bus Stop. Jane said, ‘Really? Wow. Any comparison to Marilyn is a compliment. Did you know that was
Tennessee Williams’ only comedy?’ I replied: ‘Well, his only intentional comedy. We all remember The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore. (The play became the movie Boom!) Jane and I had a big laugh over that.” – Huffington Post

Marilyn was friendly with Tennessee Williams, who called her a ‘golden girl’. And the formidable movie critic Pauline Kael, though not a fan of MM, also thought she would have suited Fonda’s role in Period of Adjustment.

Jane Fonda Remembers Marilyn

In a CNN interview with Piers Morgan last week, Jane Fonda recalled meeting Marilyn:

“I was very, very drawn to her. To me, she was like a golden child. She radiated light and vulnerability. And I think that she was attracted to me as — she used to gravitate a little bit to me at parties, because she knew that I was not very secure, either. And she was fragile. I was very touched by her.

Michael Jackson, also, someone who was fragile. You know, both of them had these beyond famous iconic images. And yet in their innermost selves, they were very, very vulnerable, damaged people. And it was the tension between those two things, perhaps, that made them so brilliant in their — each in their own way.”

The daughter of actor Henry Fonda, Jane was eleven years younger than Marilyn. In her 2005 autobiography, My Life So Far, Jane explained how she decided to train at the Actor’s Studio after meeting Marilyn and the Strasbergs on the set of Some Like it Hot.


Year of the Dress

“I have a feeling some records are going to be broken with this gown,” artist Liz Grammaticas posted to her blog on the eve of the Debbie Reynolds auction. She was, of course, referring to the immortal white halter-dress that blew up as Marilyn stood over a subway grating in The Seven Year Itch (1955.)

And Liz was right, of course – the dress sold for £2.8 million, along with many other Monroe-related items as Melinda reported on The Mmm Blog.

The Guardian reported on the history of Marilyn’s dress, quoting its now deceased designer, Travilla: “I wondered what could I do with this most beautiful girl that Marilyn was to play to make her look clean, talcum-powdered, and adorable.”

Over at Bloomberg, Virginia Postrel noted that, contrary to myth, MM was definitely not a plus-size: “In fact, the average waist measurement of the four Monroe dresses was a mere 22 inches, according to Lisa Urban, the Hollywood consultant who dressed the mannequins and took measurements for me. Even Monroe’s bust was a modest 34 inches.”

However, Scott Fortner – who attended the auction – asked on his blog, ‘Was it the dress?’ As many fans will know, designers often made up to five versions of any costume. After liaising with Andrew Hansford, curator of the Travilla Estate, Scott recorded his findings in another post, ‘Say YES to the dress’. It is a well-researched article, pointing out differences between the dress worn in the outdoor photo shoot, and the version used in the later, studio-staged scene.

On a sombre note, many have lamented the dissembling of one of the world’s most spectacular collections of Hollywood memorabilia. None more so than Debbie Reynolds herself, who tried for many years to open a museum.

Finally, who bought the dress? Nothing has been confirmed, but Jane Fonda posted on her blog last week, “A Canadian consortium that has all of Marilyn Monroe’s estate and possessions bought her white Seven Year Itch dress for many millions.”

If Jane is correct, hopefully this won’t be the last we’ll see of the world’s most iconic dress.