As expected, Marilyn’s ‘Heat Wave’ costume from There’s No Business Like Show Business was the biggest seller at Julien’s Auctions yesterday, fetching $280,000 (over three times the maximum estimate) in the Property From the Life and Career of Marilyn Monroe sale – and Travilla’s ‘Heat Wave’ design sketch sold for $11,520. Marilyn’s ‘Little Rock’ costume from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes was close behind at $250,000 (while Jane Russell’s matching gown fetched $43,750.) Her River of No Return costume fetched $175,000, and the black cocktail dress she wore to the Some Like It Hot press conference reached $100,000.
Other big sellers included the chair from Marilyn’s Brentwood home, at $81,250; her green Pucci ensemble, at $46,875; the bathing suit from Let’s Make It Legal, at $37, 500; the pink Ferragamo shoes worn by Marilyn in the ‘Incurably Romantic’ number from Let’s Make Love, at $25,000; the white parasol from her 1949 photo-shoot with Andre de Dienes, and her necklace from the 1953 Cinerama party, at $21,875 each; and finally, her custom-made MGM bathing suit, and Dr Ralph Greenson’s couch at $11,250 each.
I have now updated all my posts on this sale with final bids – see here.
In the first of several posts about Property From the Life and Career of Marilyn Monroe (coming to Julien’s Auctions on November 1), I’m looking at the lots relating to Marilyn’s personal style. The three movie costumes and the black cocktail dress shown above have been widely publicised, so here’s the best of the rest. (You can read all my posts on the sale here.)
“Marilyn Monroe’s bathing suit from Let’s Make It Legal(20th Century Fox, 1951), worn by the star as ‘Joyce Mannering’ in the scene where she utters the funny line of ‘Who wouldn’t want to meet a man who has millions who isn’t even bald?’
A black silk jersey fabric with a gold and black ‘lace’ print, center is gathered with a wider band of gold down the front, back zip-up closure, interior with attached strapless under-wire brassiere, label reads ’20th Century Fox,’ further handwritten annotation reads ‘M. Monroe’ though that appears to have been added later.
Included with a March 1952 issue of Pageant Magazine where an image of Marilyn Monroe wearing this bathing suit is on the back cover.
(Please note the top of the bust appears to have been slightly altered for a later use.)”
SOLD for $37,500
“Bubble gum-pink satin high-heeled shoes, inside stamped ‘Creations / Ferragamo’s / Florence / Italy,’ black fountain pen ink handwritten annotations on interior of both note in part ‘7 1/2 AA,’ leather interior and sole, further handwritten annotation in same ink on each sole reads in part ‘M.M. F-13,’ soles additionally stamped ‘Handmade in Italy;’ worn by the star as ‘Amanda Dell’ in the ‘Incurably Romantic’ song and dance number from Let’s Make Love (1960.)”
SOLD for $25,000
“A black stretch rayon fabric bathing-suit, shoulder straps, light blue satin bow on bust with matching pleated detail on either side, back zip-up closure, label reads ‘Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer / M. Monroe.’ [Marilyn made three pictures for MGM in 1950, but never wore this onscreen.]
SOLD for $11,250
“A tan wide-wale corduroy skirt, knee-length, straight, kick pleat in back, side zip-up closure, label reads ‘designed by Jax.'”
SOLD for $3,750
“A mint green jersey silk Pucci ensemble; the top sleeveless, boat neck, elasticized waistband, label reads ‘Emilio Pucci / Florence – Italy / Made in Italy / 100% Pure Silk’ and another one reads ‘Made in Italy Exclusively For / Saks Fifth Avenue;’ together with a matching straight skirt, knee-length, elasticized waistband.”
SOLD for $46,875
“A cabochon black oval necklace in gold-tone casing with gold-tone box link chain worn by Marilyn Monroe to a Cinemascope launch party held at the Cocoanut Grove nightclub in Hollywood, and in a circa 1954 portrait with her drama coach, Natasha Lytess.”
SOLD for $21,875
A small brown box containing false eyelashes by Martha Lorraine for Saks Fifth Avenue; and a small white box with an unopened bottle of Chanel No. 5 inside.
False eyelashes SOLD for $8,960; Chanel No. 5 SOLD for $10,000
Marilyn’s annual service was held at Westwood Memorial Park yesterday, hosted as always by Greg Schreiner of Marilyn Remembered. Speakers included Margaret Kerry (the model for Disney’s Tinkerbell); Jeff Arden, grandson of cinematographer Sol Halperin; Scott Morrow, photographer and child actor; Megan Carey, granddaughter of actor Macdonald Carey (Let’s Make It Legal); actress Kathleen Hughes, widow of River of No Return producer Stanley Rubin; Luke Yankee, son of Marilyn’s Bus Stop co-star Eileen Heckart; Edward Lozzi, publicist for actress Renee Taylor (who met Marilyn during her Actors Studio days); and Blue Book model Lydia Reed. You can watch the webcast here.
According to WWD, the Scottish-born, London-based designer Christopher Kane’s new pre-fall collection is inspired by John Vachon’s photos of Marilyn on location for River Of No Return in the Canadian Rockies (collected in the 2010 book, Marilyn, August 1953: The Lost Look Photos.) The connection isn’t obvious – and the image on this pink sweatshirt was actually taken in 1951, on the set of Let’s Make It Legal. However, Kane does incorporate elements of her pin-up style in the collection.
Among the cast of All About Eve (1950), three would die in tragic circumstances: Marilyn, George Sanders, and Barbara Bates, who appears as wannabe actress Phoebe in the final scene. Although her screen time was brief, it amounts to one of the greatest endings in Hollywood history. Interestingly, her part was reportedly considered for Marilyn before she was cast as Miss Caswell. Barbara also appeared in another early Monroe film, Let’s Make It Legal (1951).
Barbara was born in Denver on August 6, 1925, and came to Hollywood in her teens after winning a beauty contest. There she met Cecil Coan, a publicist for United Artists. They were married, and despite Barbara’s extreme shyness, she submitted to his designs to make her a star, appearing in such films as Johnny Belinda, June Bride and Cheaper By the Dozen. Like Marilyn, Barbara alternated between bit parts and posing for cheesecake, but her career didn’t take off as Marilyn’s did.
By the mid-1950s, Barbara’s emotional instability made her increasingly unreliable, and her last screen credit was in a 1962 episode of the British TV series, The Saint. After her husband was diagnosed with cancer, Barbara gave up acting to care for him, but the strain made her depression worse. A year after his death in 1967, Barbara was remarried to a childhood friend in Denver. But sadly this still wasn’t enough to turn her life around, and in early 1969, she was found dead by gas poisoning in a car inside her mother’s garage.
“I have no horror stories to tell. I thought she was a terrific woman and I liked her very much. When I knew her, she was a warm, fun girl. She was obviously nervous about the test we did together, but so was I. In any case, her nervousness didn’t disable her in any way; she performed in a thoroughly professional manner. She behaved the same way in Let’s Make It Legal, the film we later made—nervous, but eager and up to the task.
Years later, Marilyn began dropping by the house where Natalie [Wood] and I lived. Our connection was through Pat Newcomb, her publicist. I had known Pat since our childhood. She had also worked for me and often accompanied Marilyn to our house. I bought a car from Marilyn—a black Cadillac with black leather interior.
Marilyn had an innately luminous quality that she was quite conscious of—she could turn it on or off at will. The problem was that she didn’t really believe that it was enough. My second wife, Marion [Marshall] knew her quite well; she and Marilyn had modeled together for several years, and were signed by Fox at the same time, where they were known as ‘The Two M’s.’ Marion told stories about how the leading cover girls of that time would show up to audition for modeling jobs. If Marilyn came in to audition, they would all look at each other and shrug. Marilyn was going to get the job, and they all knew it. She had that much connection to the camera.
When Marilyn died, Pat Newcomb was utterly devastated; Marilyn had been like a sister to her, a very close sister, and she took her death as a personal failure. Marilyn’s death has to be considered one of show business’s great tragedies. That sweet, nervous girl I knew when we were both starting out became a legend who has transcended the passing of time, transcended her own premature death.”
Actor Robert Wagner is now 84, and still busy – both onscreen, and in print. He began his career at Twentieth Century-Fox in 1950.
On June 14, 1951, Wagner made a screen test alongside one of the studio’s most promising starlets. “I was the guy they always used when the studio was making screen tests of new actresses,” he told author Warren G. Harris in 1988. “And believe me, no job is more dead-end than that. The only interesting thing that came out of it was when they were testing a new kid and asked me to do a couple of scenes with her. Her name was Marilyn Monroe.”
On the strength of this test – a love scene – Wagner was cast alongside Marilyn in a romantic comedy, Let’s Make It Legal, starring Claudette Colbert. The pair never acted together, but became friends and were often pictured together at Hollywood parties. Wagner, who had affairs with many beautiful actresses, was never romantically involved with MM.
“Nothing happened easily for Marilyn,” he said later. “It took a lot of time and effort to create the image that became so famous.”
In recent years, Wagner has published two books: Pieces of My Heart (2008), an autobiography; and the just-published You Must Remember This, a memoir of Hollywood’s golden age, in which he recalls Marilyn’s tragic death.
“It’s odd how your mind associates certain people with certain events. In August 1962 I was in Montecatini, Italy, the same time as Sheilah Graham [the Hollywood gossip columnist.] I was on the terrace of my hotel when she leaned out a window and yelled, ‘Marilyn Monroe died! Marilyn Monroe died!,’ to the world at large, in exactly the same way she would have announced that her building was on fire. That was how I found out that the girl I had worked with twelve years earlier, and who had since become a legend in a way nobody could have foretold, was gone.”
Wagner is no stranger to tragedy. His wife, Natalie Wood, drowned in 1981 during a yachting trip. Her death, like Marilyn’s, is the subject of endless speculation.
Natalie was the child star of Marilyn’s first film, Scudda Hoo, Scudda Hay! She admired Marilyn, and spoke with her at a party weeks before her death.
Natalie married Robert in 1957 and they divorced five years later, but were remarried in 1972. There are shades here of Marilyn’s relationship with Joe DiMaggio, who had grown close to her again in the years before her death.
Dr Thomas Noguchi, so-called ‘Coroner to the Stars’, performed autopsies on both women. He was demoted in 1982, after speaking too freely in the media about the case, and in that year’s reopened investigation of Monroe’s death. His career has since recovered, however.
In Pieces of My Heart, Wagner criticised Noguchi:
“Noguchi was a camera-hog who felt he had to stoke the publicity fire in order to maintain the level of attention he’d gotten used to. Noguchi particularly enraged Frank Sinatra, who knew the truth and, in any case, would never have allowed anyone who harmed Natalie to survive.”
Natalie’s case would also be reopened in 2011, when the captain of the boat claimed that a fight with Wagner had led to her drowning. The official cause of death was later amended from accidental drowning to ‘drowning and other undetermined factors.’ Wagner was ruled out as a suspect.
In You Must Remember This, he speculates on the proliferation of conspiracy theories in the internet age:
“Intellectually, I understand the perception that the rich and privileged are invincible. That’s why some people need to believe, for example, that Marilyn Monroe was murdered by the Kennedys…The randomness of life and death can be terrifying, so a certain kind of person seizes on minor discrepancies of memory or the garbled recollections of marginal personalities to cast doubt on a reality they don’t want to acknowledge.”
This illustration by Istvan Banyai accompanies Maureen Dowd’s anniversary tribute to Marilyn in the New York Times.
TheLos Angeles Times, meanwhile, reports that artist Launa Eddy has recently inherited a trove of unseen photos by Bert Stern, including some of Marilyn, from her former employer, Edward Feldman.
LA-based artist Hildegarde Duane’s 2008 work, 14 Stations, a series of evocative photos of Marilyn-related locations, is flagged up by Archinect.
And Scott Blake, the man behind Barcode MM, has created a new video, Marilyn Monroe Supercut – a montage of Marilyn entering and exiting through 100 doors – including a clip from every one of her films except Let’s Make it Legal, reports the Huffington Post.
It’s well-known in Durango, Colorado, that the then up-and-coming actress, Marilyn Monroe, visited the town in 1949 to film a small role in the comedy Western, A Ticket to Tomahawk. But did you know that MM returned a year later, during filming of another Western, Across The Wide Missouri, starring none other than her idol, Clark Gable?
Interestingly, Across the Wide Missouri was released in November 1951, on the same week as another early Monroe film, Let’s Make it Legal.
Mickey Hogan, now 82, remembers meeting the hopeful starlet in today’s Durango Herald:
“So, what was she doing in Durango in 1950? She has no credited role in Across the Wide Missouri. She could have been trying to land a role, or trying to catch someone’s attention. Clark Gable was among her favorite actors – maybe she was observing.
‘As I remember, she liked Durango and had a great time here (during Ticket to Tomahawk) and wanted to come back,’ Hogan said.
A major battle scene between the mountain men and the Native Americans was shot by Andrews Lake near the top of Molas Pass. That’s where he became acquainted with Monroe.
The topsoil around Andrews is a spongy peat moss that is flammable, Hogan said. Most everyone on the crew and the hordes of spectators were smokers, creating a potential fire danger. Hogan traveled on a horse with a fire extinguisher, putting out any smoldering spots in the peat moss.
Monroe asked if she could join Hogan on his rounds, and she was set up with a horse and fire extinguisher of her own.
‘People got bored to death,’ Hogan explained. ‘And that’s where Marilyn got involved with me and putting fires out. She didn’t have anything to do. … She just enjoyed riding and doing something. It wasn’t any other reason she had.’
She joined him two or three times, and that was it: Hogan’s brush with Marilyn Monroe. He assumes she was just building her career and thought that people involved with the movie could help.
‘That’s just a guess on my part,’ Hogan said, ‘but I’m pretty sure it’s true.’
He also remembers Monroe visiting Hogan’s Store, and his father, Charles Hogan, waiting on her.
‘My dad was very attentive on providing her with (jeans) to try on,’ Hogan chuckled. ‘I never will forget that. I just laughed at my dad.'”