Marilyn and the Little Dancer

Bus Stop director Joshua Logan took this charming photograph of Marilyn with Edgar Degas’ most famous sculpture at the home of William B. Goetz, Vice-President of Twentieth Century Fox, in 1956. In a new book, Little Dancer Aged Fourteen, author Camille Laurens traces the history of a modern masterpiece, as Celia Wren reports for the Washington Post.

“By creating a sculpture largely made of wax — and wearing real clothing and shoes — Degas was rejecting prevailing aesthetic rules. In the late 19th century, such a piece would have struck viewers as worthy of a toy shop or milliner’s window, not a high-art showcase. Just as shocking was the subject matter: Degas was paying tribute to one of the young Paris Opera dance trainees known as ‘little rats,’ a group that had a scandalous reputation, largely because of their generally impoverished backgrounds, which made them easy prey for lecherous men. ‘Little Dancer’ stirred controversy when it initially appeared in a Paris exhibition in 1881.”

When she first saw the Little Dancer, Marilyn was moved to tears. Art historian Monica Bowen has explored Marilyn’s love of art on her blog, Alberti’s Widow. “I have been researching stars and celebrities of the mid-20th century over the past several months,” she wrote in 2016. “Out of all of the people that I have studied thus far, Marilyn Monroe stands out as one of the people who is most interested in the Western artistic tradition.”

Marilyn, Arthur and ‘The Crucible’

Veteran off-Broadway producer Paul Libin shared his theatrical memories with the New York Times recently, including an anecdote about the day he met Arthur Miller – with his then-wife, Marilyn Monroe.

“Arthur Miller, more than anyone else, kept emerging in the table talk, almost Zelig-like. For starters, seeing a 1950 production of Miller’s Death of a Salesman back home in Chicago convinced a 19-year-old Paul Libin to pursue an acting career. This was not an ambition destined for fulfillment. He came to New York and, in 1953, auditioned for a part in Wish You Were Here, a Joshua Logan musical comedy. He did fine with his spoken lines.

‘And then,’ Mr. Libin said, ‘I had to sing. I heard Josh Logan say: Next! And that was it.’

Four years later, he decided that producing was for him, and he aimed high. His first play was The Crucible. Arthur Miller again.

‘What a producer is, at least in my mind, is putting the parts together and making it work with what you have,’ Mr. Libin said. But first you need those parts. For The Crucible, he did not even have a theater. He had to build one. But where?

On his way to the dentist one day, he passed the old Martinique Hotel, at Broadway and 32nd Street.

‘I saw a sign that said a ballroom was available,’ he recalled. ‘I talked to the manager of the hotel, a Mr. Foreman. A really tough character. Used to carry a snub-nosed .38.’ He explained his idea, and Mr. Foreman was unenthusiastic. Nonetheless, Mr. Libin phoned Miller’s agent and said, ‘We have the theater.’

‘Actually, we didn’t have anything,’ he said at lunch, his voice turning almost conspiratorial. ‘That’s what a producer has to do: be very positive about circumstances.’

Miller wanted to see for himself if the ballroom could be converted into a theater. He showed up at the Martinique with his wife. You may have heard of her: Marilyn Monroe.

In walked the hotel manager, who somehow failed to notice Monroe. He focused his attention on Miller and Mr. Libin.

‘I said, I’d like you to meet his wife,’ Mr. Libin said. ‘When the guy turned, I thought he was going to melt right there. He could hardly speak.’ By the time the young producer made it back by subway to the Upper West Side, where he worked, Mr. Foreman had left a message for him: ‘When are we going to sit down and make the deal?'”

Marilyn at Heritage Auctions

Marilyn graces the cover of the latest Heritage Auctions catalogue (price: $50, or view as PDF), accompanying the next Entertainment & Music Memorabilia auction, to be held in Dallas (and online.) Among the MM-related items on offer are several sets of rare photographs, featuring Betty Grable, Joshua Logan and others.

Marilyn at the Hollywood Foreign Correspondents Luncheon hosted by 20th Century Fox, 1951
Marilyn at home
Marilyn with Betty Grable
During filming of Bus Stop, 1956

‘Monroerama’ in France

Marilyn makes the cover of the latest Les Inrockuptibles magazine, with an article inside about a new, myth-busting book, Monroerama.

Girl Waiting, a 64pp paperback featuring drawings by Marilyn and photos by Joshua Logan, has just been published with the permission of Monroe’s estate (no word on an English version as yet.)

And finally (for now), a special edition ‘Star Book’ magazine dedicated to Marilyn has also been released.

More updates at Club Passion Marilyn or its sister page, MM Books.

MM Estate’s Publishing Plans

Marilyn poses with Edgar Degas’ ‘Little Dancer’ at the home of Joshua Logan, 1956

Following the success of Fragments, Marilyn’s estate have approved two new books to be published later this year, reports

“The first book Girl Waiting, to be published in May, brings together drawings of Marilyn Monroe, unreleased, and a series of photographs where the blonde icon appears in front of paintings by great masters. These photos were taken by Joshua Logan shortly after the filming of Bus Stop.

The other book, edited by Bernard Comment, features the entire personal archive of Marilyn Monroe kept partly in New York and partly in Los Angeles. Some 500 documents were selected from the archives, to a large volume to be published in November 2012.”

Marilyn and Jean Seberg

Actress Jean Seberg had a few things in common with Marilyn. They shared two directors, Otto Preminger and Joshua Logan. I have often thought that Jean’s role in Logan’s Paint Your Wagon might also have suited Marilyn.

Both Marilyn and Jean were monitored by the FBI during the J. Edgar Hoover era. Marilyn was followed, and perhaps even bugged, because of her connections with liberals like Arthur Miller and, possibly, the Kennedys (whom Hoover hated.)

During the 1960s, Seberg was pursued for her radical views on issues like civil rights. The FBI used illegally obtained information to plant a false story in Newsweek, claiming that a leading member of the Black Panthers had fathered her child.

Some researchers believe that the FBI campaign against Jean led to her suicide in 1979. Like Marilyn, she suffered from depression, and died of an overdose. Unlike MM, however, Jean left a note.

Seberg’s death is now the subject of a docu-drama, The Murder of Jean Seberg, and the stills of Daphne Guinness as Jean are somewhat Monroe-esque.

“I want to write that allusions to Marilyn Monroe coupled with the presence of alcohol and cigarettes indicate self-destruction. I want to write about the sunglasses that often conceal Guinness’ eyes, and the way her eye sockets turn into hollow holes of light when she takes them off—that this suggests a lack of identity. I want to write about the inclusion of limiting traffic signs (‘No Parking’ and ‘Dead End’), and the voice-overs and footage from past political horrors, which allude to society’s capacity to subordinate. I want to write that these elements are all suggestive of the way Hollywood and society metaphorically- or literally- murder those whom we worship, and rob the famed of individual identities through exploitation. I want to say that the film is a meditation on fame’s destruction of the celebrity. But I shouldn’t…”

Wonder Mode