Schiller Exhibit in Berlin

Lawrence Schiller‘s ‘A Splash of Marilyn’ exhibition – featuring photos from Marilyn’s last, unfinished movie, Something’s Got to Give – is coming to Berlin’s Galerie Mellili Mancinet on October 4th, through to November 9th.

‘Mad About Marilyn’ in September

My review of Lawrence Schiller’s Marilyn & Me: A Memoir in Words and Photographs has been published in Issue 25 of the Mad About Marilyn fanzine, which also includes an in-depth profile of photographer Earl Thiesen and ‘I Dress for Men’, an article penned by Marilyn herself in 1953.

You can read my review in full here. For more details on Mad About Marilyn, contact emmadowning@blueyonder.co.uk

Reel Life: Marilyn Monroe

The Reelz Channel in the US has just announced a new documentary, Reel Life: Marilyn Monroe, to premiere on Friday, August 3rd.

“Hosted by television personality Dayna Devon, Reel Life: Marilyn Monroe explores the continued and unrelenting popularity of the woman who wanted nothing more than to be taken seriously as an actress. We’ll talk to the stars of the hit television series Smash, Katharine McPhee and Megan Hilty, whose characters are vying to be the lead in a Broadway musical based on Monroe’s life as well as Oscar-nominee Michelle Williams, who played Monroe in My Week With Marilyn about Monroe’s enduring legacy.

Fellow Hollywood icons George Hamilton and Mitzi Gaynor – Monroe’s co-star in There’s No Business Like Show Business – reveal the personal side of the woman they knew. Reel Life: Marilyn Monroe also takes a look at Monroe’s rise to sex symbol, including candid interviews with Playboy magazine founder Hugh Hefner, who discusses how Monroe’s nude photos helped launch his empire and catapult Monroe to superstar status. Also featured are interviews with photographers Lawrence Schiller and George Barris who share their personal stories of working with Monroe, including the story behind her last ever photo shoot.”

Banner, Schiller and the Many Sides of Marilyn

Jeff Simon’s review of Lois Banner’s Marilyn: The Passion and the Paradox – due out in the US later this month – suggests that this will be a controversial book.

(Now personally, I’m all in favour of opening up the debate – and books which make me re-evaluate my preconceptions, whether or not I agree. So I won’t be adding my own opinions here until I’ve read the book in full.)

What interested me most in this review was the contrast between Banner’s portrayal of Marilyn and Lawrence Schiller’s in his recent book, Marilyn & Me.

“While Banner’s guess is that Monroe might have gone on to have a career like Barbara Loden’s – the actress who was married to Elia Kazan and who portrayed the Monroe figure in Arthur Miller’s ‘After the Fall’ – it is also more than possible that the rebel generation coming up in Hollywood would have seen a sympathetic soul at the very least and might have figured out whole new masterpieces for her and whole new ways of filming her quite different than the routine humiliations of even some of her greatest films. (Think of what Scorsese or Altman or Hal Ashby or Francis Ford Coppola might have invented for Monroe in her 40s as feminism changed completely the savage spotlight that followed her – and demeaned her – everywhere.)

…Lawrence Schiller took the famous, unique late-period nudes in which she revealed herself to be the greatest genius of all in the art of exploiting Marilyn Monroe. Quite possibly she was cognizant even then of what would become her true immortality – not completely as a film actress, where she was erotic and radiantly beautiful but often painful to watch in a post-feminist era, but a photographer’s model. It’s there where she can be captured to perfection – frozen in time, all exterior, a flesh and blood masterpiece of white on white, suitable for any and all gallery walls.”

Read the review in full at Buffalo News

Mary Ann Lynch at the ‘Marilyn & Me’ Launch

Photo by Mary Ann Lynch

Photographer and artist Mary Ann Lynch, who has been capturing unusual Marilyn sightings since 1992, attended the recent launch of Larry Schiller’s Marilyn & Me: A Memoir in Words and Photographs, at New York’s Steven Kasher Gallery.

Some more of Mary Ann’s images from the event, with personal commentary, are posted on my personal website, here.

Over the next few weeks I will be reviewing this stunning book, and Mary Ann Lynch will be treating us to a further, in-depth article on Schiller and Marilyn’s legacy.

Schiller On Marilyn, Vanity Fair

Photographer Lawrence Schiller has spoken to the Huffington Post about Marilyn & Me, recently featured in a Vanity Fair cover story.

“‘I was very flattered they printed 9,000 words of mine — the Taschen book is only 30,000 words, so in essence a third of the book was published in that issue,’ said Schiller at a book signing in Beverly Hills Thursday night. ‘But if you read the book in its entirety, you’ll see it has a little more intrigue and mystery. Of course, I think Graydon Carter, (the editor in chief of Vanity Fair) did a wonderful job. He and I certainly had some disagreements — not on the layout or the words but on certain other aspects — but I respect him immensely.'”

Why Women Love Marilyn

Marilyn and her acting coach, Paula Strasberg, during filming of Something’s Got to Give (1962)

Larry Schiller has spoken to Peter Howell, movie critic at Toronto.com, about his new book, Marilyn & Me.

“I think there’s another reason (why she succeeded). I think Marilyn didn’t offend women. Women were never insulted that their husband and boyfriend were looking at a picture of Marilyn Monroe. You can offend a man and get away with it. You cannot get away with offending women.

She was instinctively the kind of woman that women understood. She was a sympathetic figure to them, because of her miscarriages and husband problems. Her sexuality didn’t offend women.”

Schiller on Marilyn and Her Demons

In an interview with the Miami New Times, photographer Larry Schiller talked about working with Marilyn:

“On the set of Let’s Make Love, you were photographing her in her dressing room and she asked you, ‘How often do you lie?’ Why do you think she was an insecure person?
Compare Marilyn Monroe to a great comedian or a great actress like Ana Magnani or Bette Davis. I think everybody is insecure in some way; otherwise they wouldn’t be a great talent because they are trying to express themselves and prove themselves to themselves and to the world, and I think Marilyn had a lot of demons in her life. A lot of demons. One of the demons that haunted her tremendously was the insanity in her own family — her mother being in a mental institution, her father attempting suicide, and she herself in pain. I think that inside there were demons we never knew about and dealt with. That’s number one.

Number two, I have a theory — which is based not on speculation or rumor, but based on what I’ve observed — and that is Marilyn was very secure in front of the still camera because she didn’t have to walk and talk all the time. In front of the moving camera, I think that she became very insecure because she had to have two or three things going on simultaneously. But she went to one of the greatest acting schools in the world, The Actors Studio, and she had one of the greatest acting coaches in the world, Lee Strasberg. She was a fine actress, but the world didn’t accept her as that. They accepted her as the dumb blonde. But I believe that that was a role she was playing all the time. Laurence Olivier played roles, Walter Matthau, all actors. But she played the same role all the time, and they wouldn’t let her out of that role by giving her other screenplays. That made her more insecure.”

Schiller claims to have visited Marilyn at home on the day she died to discuss selling photos of her nude swim to Playboy. He has also said that Bobby Kennedy was in the house when he called.

“You witnessed things many people didn’t, like Robert Kennedy at her home shortly before she died. Do you believe there was a conspiracy to kill Marilyn?
You know you can’t prove a negative — you can’t prove there are no flying saucers. Personally, I spent a lot of time with Bobby Kennedy after that. I was a photographer and I photographed his campaigns. I don’t think the Kennedys were the type of people that would deal with a problem that way. I also don’t believe there was a conspiracy to kill Robert Kennedy, just as I don’t believe there was a conspiracy to kill John F. Kennedy.”

Happy Birthday Marilyn!

Norma Jeane Mortenson (aka Marilyn Monroe) was born on June 1, 1926, 86 years ago. This photo, taken by Lawrence Schiller in 1962, shows her celebrating her 36th birthday with co-star Dean Martin, on the set of Something’s Got to Give.