Made on a shoestring over ten days as a Columbia B-feature, Ladies of the Chorus (1948)gets a rare screening at the Star Cinema in Bendigo, Australia next Wednesday, June 1 (Marilyn’s 90th birthday), reports the Bendigo Advertiser. While not a great film by any means, Ladies of the Chorus (also streaming on Youtube)offered Marilyn her first lead role, plus a chance to sing and dance, and her first screen kiss. It comes first in a double bill with River of No Return, while The Seven Year Itch is showing on June 25. These screenings accompany the Bendigo Art Gallery‘s acclaimed exhibition, Twentieth Century Fox Presents Marilyn Monroe, on display until July 10.
Ladies of the Chorus, a little-known 1948 musical, gave Marilyn her first lead role. Shot over ten days on a tiny budget, it was released as a ‘B movie’ and went virtually unnoticed at the time. It is now available on DVD.
“If you have an appreciation for Marilyn Monroe or if you’re simply curious about how she started out, ‘Ladies of the Chorus’ is a must-see film. Often people mistakenly believe that Monroe didn’t star in a film until the 1950’s…In this movie she shines as a songbird and dancer. She comes off as fresh and sweet and full of that hope unique to first loves…This early film of hers certainly shows that she was extremely talented and fleshes out the many reasons that she will be remembered for generations to come.”
These extracts from Maurice Zolotow’s Marilyn Monroe: The Uncensored Biography, published in the Los Angeles Daily Mirroron this week in 1960, cover Marilyn’s early career, including her modelling work with David Conover and Tom Kelley, her romance with Fred Karger, and her scene with Groucho Marx in Love Happy (1949.)
Rare photographs of Marilyn Monroe in a 1948 stage show, Strictly For Kicks, will be sold in a Bonham’s and Butterfield auction of entertainment memorabilia, to be held in Los Angeles next month. Marilyn wore the same floral bikini and platform sandals in her first movie, Scudda Hoo! Scudda Hay! (1947)
In 1948, Marilyn signed a 6-month contract with Columbia. However, she had previously worked at Twentieth Century Fox, and in March she appeared in a studio talent showcase at the Fox Studio Club Little Theater. An outside arena was built instead of using the stage on the lot, as studio boss Darryl F. Zanuck would be attending.
Marilyn appeared in two brief scenes, and the script included directions such as ‘Miss Monroe butts onto the stage…’
Marilyn appears to be wearing a costume from Ladies of the Chorus, which she filmed at Columbia in April.
In other pictures from the event Marilyn wears a light-coloured dress, which could be the same gown which she would wear in Love Happy (1949.)
Other items on offer at Bonhams’ include contractual papers for Bus Stop; a signed photo; personally-owned scripts for Let’s Make Love and Something’s Got to Give; a handwritten note by Marilyn, reminding herself to call poet Carl Sandburg; a mortgage agreement signed by Monroe and third husband Arthur Miller; a receipt for a gas payment, dated to Marilyn’s last birthday; and some airline tickets.