Tag Archives: Jayne Mansfield

April VeVea on Marilyn, Jayne and Typecast Blondes

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‘Bus Stop’ (1956)

April VeVea (author of Marilyn Monroe: A Day in the Life) has created a new blog, Classic Blondes – dedicated to Marilyn and her contemporaries. In her latest post, April examines the longstanding assumption that Marilyn’s talents were wasted due to her being typecast in ‘dumb blonde’ roles at Twentieth Century Fox.

“With the exception of Bus Stop, Marilyn’s dramatic roles were NOT making nearly as much as her comedic roles. Fox wasn’t going to throw money into pictures so Marilyn could play in serious roles when they could have hits if she stuck to her comedic skill set. The public was the ultimate typecaster of Marilyn, not Fox … Marilyn actually had a pretty diverse career. Her pictures were evenly spread out between serious and comedic and she shone brightly in most. Her ability to keep herself at a 50/50 split once achieving stardom is amazing. That deserves praise and recognition.”

In another article, April compares Marilyn’s career to that of another fifties bombshell, Jayne Mansfield.

“While Jayne’s movies never grossed as highly as Marilyn’s, it’s safe to say that she was a solid earner for Fox when she was in her element. People wanted to see Jayne in glitz and glamour but her movies also needed to have a solid story line, like Marilyn’s … Jayne wasn’t a bad actress nor was she ‘over’ before she hit 30. She was just promoted incorrectly by Fox and dumped when Marilyn went back to her niche.”

Marilyn’s Contemporaries: Jayne Mansfield

Jayne Mansfield, photographed by Milton Greene in 1956
Jayne Mansfield, photographed by Milton Greene in 1956

Unfairly dismissed as the poor man’s Monroe, Jayne Mansfield was a star in her own right and, like Marilyn, far more talented and intelligent than she was given credit for. April VeVea (author of Marilyn Monroe: A Day in the Life) is currently writing a book about Jayne, and compares the iconic blondes in an article for Immortal Marilyn.

Through the Looking Glass With Marilyn

Pullen Natural Woman

Some recent academic titles, focusing on Marilyn among other stars of old Hollywood, caught my eye recently. Ed Clark’s photo of Marilyn and Jane Russell on the set of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes graces the cover of Kirsten Pullen’s Like a Natural Woman: Spectacular Female Performance in Classical Hollywood (2014.) The same image was recently used in an ad campaign for Coke. In her introduction, Pullen discusses a characterisation of Marilyn’s that is generally overlooked: that of the ambitious showgirl, Vicky Parker, in There’s No Business Like Show Business.

Ana Salzberg’s Beyond the Looking Glass: Narcissism and Female Stardom in Studio-Era Hollywood (2014) includes a chapter entitled ‘Marilyn Monroe: The Last Glimmering of the Sacred‘, in which she argues that Marilyn ‘both inherited and surpassed a cinematic legacy of the ideal feminine.’

Larger Than Life

Larger Than Life: Movie Stars of the 1950s (2010) is edited by R. Barton Palmer. Part of a Rutgers University Press series, ‘Star Decades: American Culture/American Cinema’, it includes an essay by Matthew Solomon, ‘Reflexivity and Metaperformance: Marilyn Monroe, Jayne Mansfield and Kim Novak.’ The cover features an unusual wardrobe test shot of Marilyn in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, alongside other stars of the era.