American Dior, by Kate Betts, is a high-gloss look at how the French designer conquered the US market. A photo of Marilyn in an elegant black dress, taken by Bert Stern in 1962, graces the cover. (The dress was recreated by Dior for the recent ‘Picturing Marilyn’ exhibit in New York.)
If thrillers are more to your taste, Edward Wilson’s The Midnight Swimmer, though set in early 1960s England, alludes to Kennedy, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and Marilyn:
‘This novel about what turns into the Cuban Missile Crisis is full of sidelights on the Profumo Affair, the French Connection and precisely why Marilyn Monroe sang “Happy Birthday” to JFK.’
The English-born actor, Peter Lawford, was one of the last people to speak to Marilyn on the night she died. A new radio documentary, Brother-in-Lawford, about his glamorous life and tragic decline, airs tomorrow at 10pm on BBC Radio 2 – narrated by Buddy Greco, with input from Lawford’s son, Christopher, reports the Daily Express.
‘“Marilyn taught me to dance the twist but it didn’t feel amazing at six years of age – only when I told people later,” says Christopher.
Indeed his father introduced Marilyn Monroe to JFK and brought her to Kennedy’s 45th birthday party to sing her infamous rendition of happy Birthday.’
Following Joan Copeland‘s recent – and rather silly – claim that Marilyn’s ‘breathless’ rendition of ‘Happy Birthday Mr President’ was due to her getting lost on the way to the stage, Scott Fortner takes an behind-the-scenes look at the legendary performance, with testimony from Susan Strasberg and Eunice Murray, over at his MM Collection Blog.
“Marilyn was at Madison Square Garden in plenty of time for her performance, and it had been planned all along that she would close the show, and her lateness would be a running joke throughout the program. Marilyn was not late for her performance, she did not have a problem finding the correct door for the stage, and she was not out of breath when she sang Happy Birthday to President Kennedy. She was America’s sex symbol, and she delivered the performance that she’d planned and rehearsed.”
Joan Copeland, the actress sister of Arthur Miller, claims that Marilyn’s breathless rendition of ‘Happy Birthday Mr President’ was not intentional, but due to her late arrival, reports the Daily Mail.
This is a funny story, but Marilyn was not late. She was backstage for the entire concert. Peter Lawford introduced her as ‘the late Marilyn Monroe’ as a joke. And the sexiness of her vocal was entirely deliberate!
Copeland says she attended the gala. Now 89, she recently performed a one-woman show in New York. But Arthur Miller’s father, Isadore, was Monroe’s escort, and he accompanied her to a party afterwards.
The ‘nude’ sequinned dress, designed by Jean Louis and worn by Marilyn on John F. Kennedy’s birthday in 1962, features in 100 Unforgettable Dresses, a new book by Hal Rubinstein (as well as Travilla’s white halter-neck dress from The Seven Year Itch.)
“SIREN’S HEART is not the familiar victim narrative about Marilyn Monroe. She is still a living icon in the hearts & minds of millions, but in her own time, Norma Jean was suffocated by the mask of Marilyn & the weight of living up to that impossible ideal of beauty, crushed her. This play with music imagines another place where we see Marilyn, or Norma Jean, as she might have been; as she wanted to be: the well-rounded, unhaunted person she couldn’t be in her all-too-brief life.”
Siren’s Heart isn’t the first play about Marilyn, and it probably won’t be the last either. As Broadway.com reports, Marilyn (and JFK) topped a recent poll by theatregoers of famous couples they’d like to see brought to the stage.
Robin Ramsay casts a sceptical eye upon one of the more exotic conspiracy theories linking Marilyn with JFK and UFOs in The Fortean Times, in response to allegations recently made in the UK’s Daily Mail.
In his article, Ramsay traces the Monroe connection to journalist Dorothy Kilgallen, who knew Marilyn professionally throughout her Hollywood years – though they were not close friends – and was one of the first to investigate the Kennedy rumours after her death.
However, the rumour appears to be based on documents compiled by Majestic 12, a secret committee formed at the orders of President Harry S. Truman in 1947, after the Roswell Incident. The FBI has since declared documents authorised by MJ-12 ‘completely bogus’ – though UFO enthusiasts will disagree.
The rumours about Marilyn and JFK are unending. In the Redding Record Searchlightthis weekend, local historian Dottie Smith outlines the story of an alleged tryst at a log cabin in Castella, California in 1962 (now owned by Brian Theriot, also who took these photos.)
Personally I find it hard to believe that the notoriously restless president would have spent a whole weekend with a supposed girlfriend – even if she was Marilyn Monroe. However, it’s an interesting read nonetheless.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Marilyn’s ‘Happy Birthday’ performance at the Kennedy gala of 1962 tops this list, compiled by San Jose Mercury News. Elvis Presley’s meeting with Richard Nixon, and Bill Clinton’s saxophone solo on TV’s Arsenio Hall Show also feature.