Tom Tierney: Marilyn’s Paper Doll Artist

Artist Tom Tierney, who created over 400 ‘paper dolls’ books, died on July 12 at his Texas home, reports the New York Times. He was 85.

He briefly knew Marilyn in 1958 when they were both living in New York, Tierney told Michelle Morgan, author of MM: Private and Undisclosed. Tierney’s neighbours at the time were magazine editors Jack Hamilton and Charles Schneider, and Marilyn often attended ‘interview parties’ in their apartment with husband Arthur Miller.

“Marilyn was a very quiet girl and Miller did all the talking,” Tierney recalled. “They came on several occasions so that I finally felt comfortable chatting with them, especially Marilyn.”

One day, Tierney met Marilyn on the stairs while he was taking out the garbage. She instantly offered to help. “She was definitely a sweetheart,” Tierney commented, “and I’ll never forget our brief acquaintance.”

Originally published in 1979, Marilyn Monroe Paper Dolls was the first in the series to make the Times bestseller list – and is one of the few Marilyn-related books to remain in print ever since.

In 2012, Tierney was commissioned by William Travilla’s estate to create a book dedicated to the famed designer’s costumes for Marilyn. (More info here.)

Marilyn Returns … to the Library

Today’s New York Post reports on one Marilyn fan’s guilty secret – two rare (and now quite valuable) vintage magazines, swiped by a 15 year-old boy from the Jefferson Market Public Library in Greenwich Village over fifty years ago. These long-lost issues of Life and Look, both published in 1953, are among Marilyn’s most iconic, sought-after magazine covers.

“‘He said it was on his conscience all these years and that basically he wanted to make it right,’ said Frank Collerius, the public-library manager at the Jefferson Market branch in the Village, who told the Post it finally reclaimed the well-ogled Look and Life magazines last fall.

‘He was such a passionate fan, that in his passion, he inadvertently took them home,’ Collerius said of the 65-year-old. ‘Fifty years is a long time to make amends.'”

While reading this, I was reminded of the moral dilemma I faced while living in Derbyshire about ten years ago. I borrowed an original copy of Pete Martin’s 1956 book, Will Acting Spoil Marilyn Monroe? Now considered an essential resource by MM scholars, this book sells for high prices on Ebay.

I was sorely tempted to keep it, but my conscience got the better of me. I finally purchased a copy for myself earlier this year (minus the dustjacket, sadly.)

So, dear reader – do you have any Marilyn-related crimes to share?

Coming Soon: Reading With Marilyn

Marilyn at home by Bob Beerman, 1953

The literary world’s interest in Marilyn shows no sign of abating, with several major books due to be published in the coming months.

1) Michelle Vogel’s Marilyn Monroe: Her Films, Her Life is now available via Kindle. Print copies can be ordered from McFarland Publishing, and will soon be stocked by Amazon and other bookstores. It is ‘essentially a filmography interlaced with a complex biographical account of Marilyn Monroe’s life and loves throughout her career.’

2) Novelist Anna Godbersen is the author of the bestselling The Luxe and Bright Young Things series for teenagers. Her first adult novel, The Blonde, will be published on May 13. It reimagines Marilyn’s relationships with the Kennedy brothers, and while it’s sure to cause a stir, some may feel this work of fiction takes too many liberties with the facts. Here’s a synopsis:

“In Anna Godbersen’s imaginative novel, set at the height of the Cold War, a young, unknown Norma Jean meets a man in Los Angeles—a Soviet agent? A Russian spy?—who transforms her into Marilyn the star. And when she reaches the pinnacle of success, he comes back for his repayment. He shows her a photo of her estranged father and promises to reunite them in exchange for information: Find out something about presidential candidate John F. Kennedy that no one else knows. At first, Marilyn is bored by the prospect of, once again, using a man’s attraction to get what she needs. But when she meets the magnetic Jack Kennedy, she realizes that this isn’t going to be a simple game. What started with the earnest desire to meet her father has grave consequences for her, for the bright young Kennedy, and for the entire nation. The Blonde is a vivid tableau of American celebrity, sex, love, violence, power, and paranoia.”

3) Jay Margolis, author of MM: A Case for Murder (2011), has penned a new book on the subject with Richard Buskin, author of Blonde Heat: The Sizzling Screen Career of MM (2001.) The Murder of Marilyn Monroe: Case Closed is currently slated for release in June (US) and August (UK.)

“Implicating Bobby Kennedy in the commission of Marilyn’s murder, this is the first book to name the LAPD officers who accompanied the US Attorney General to her home, provide details about how the Kennedys used bribes to silence one of the ambulance drivers, and specify how the subsequent cover-up was aided by a noted pathologist’s outrageous lies. This blockbuster volume blows the lid off the world’s most notorious and talked-about celebrity death, and in the process exposes not only the truth about an iconic star’s tragic final hours, but also how a legendary American politician used powerful resources to protect what many still perceive as his untarnished reputation.”

4) Meanwhile, Carl Rollyson’s Marilyn Monroe: A Life of the Actress, Revised and Updated is set for US release in June, coming to the UK in August. As the first edition of Rollyson’s biography, published in 1987, was highly acclaimed and remains a fan favourite.

“Through extensive interviews with many of Monroe’s colleagues, close friends, and other biographers, and a careful rethinking of the literature written about her, Rollyson is able to describe her use of Method acting and her studies with Michael Chekhov and Lee Strasberg, head of the Actors’ Studio in New York. The author also analyzes several of Monroe’s own drawings, diary notes, and letters that have recently become available. With over thirty black and white photographs (some published for the first time), a new foreword, and a new afterword, this volume brings Rollyson’s 1986 book up to date. “

5) Fan Phenomena: Marilyn Monroe, edited by Marcelline Block, is part of a series on fandom, and is also headed for an early summer release. You may spot some familiar names in there!

” Marilyn Monroe was an actress, singer, and sex symbol whose influence far outlasted her short life. Contributors to Fan Phenomena: Marilyn Monroe situate the platinum blonde starlet’s omnipresent cultural relevance  within the zeitgeist of current popular culture and explore the influence she has had on numerous elements of it…The essays here explore representations of Monroe in visual culture by looking at the ways she is reimagined in visual art while also considering how her posthumous appearance and image are appropriated in current advertisements. With an inside look at the universe of Marilyn Monroe impersonators and look-alike contests for both males and females, the book also explores numerous homages to Monroe in music…The definitive guide to one of the most famous women who ever lived, the book will be essential reading for any scholar of twentieth-century American popular culture.”

6) As I mentioned yesterday, Gary Vitacco-Robles’ Icon: The life, Times and Films of MM, Volume II (1957-1962) will also be published this summer.

7) C. David Heymann’s Joe and Marilyn: Legends in Love was originally due to be published in 2013, but was postponed (perhaps because the author passed away in 2012.) It is now set for release in July. High hopes are riding on a definitive account of Marilyn’s most enduring relationship. However, as previously noted here, many of Heymann’s celebrity biographies have proved controversial.

According to the blurb, Joe and Marilyn is  ‘based on extensive archival research and personal interviews with family and friends….Sixteen pages of striking photos accompany this unforgettable and quintessentially American story.’

8) As previously mentioned on this blog, Jacqueline Rose’s Women in Dark Times will be published in September.

“Jacqueline Rose’s heroines could not appear more different from each other: revolutionary socialist Rosa Luxemburg; German-Jewish painter Charlotte Salomon, persecuted by family tragedy and Nazism; film icon and consummate performer Marilyn Monroe.

Yet historically these women have a shared story to tell, as they blaze a trail across some of the most dramatic events of the last century – revolution, totalitarianism, the American dream. Enraged by injustice, they are each in touch with what is most painful about being human, bound together by their willingness to bring the unspeakable to light.”

9) The recent Life magazine special, The Loves of Marilyn, will be published in hardback in September. Although lavishly illustrated, the text is rather gossipy and speculative.

10) And finally, a second, fully illustrated book by Carl Rollyson – Marilyn Monroe Day By Day: A Timeline of Places, People and Events – is slated for US release in October, reaching the UK in December.

“Carl Rollyson provides a documentary approach to the life and legend of this singular personality. With details of her childhood, her young adult years, her ascent to superstardom, and the hour by hour moments leading to her tragic early death, this volume supplements—and, in some cases, corrects—the accounts of previous biographies. In addition to restoring what is left out in other narratives about Marilyn’s life, this book also illuminates the gaps and discrepancies that still exist in our knowledge of her. Drawing on excerpts from her diaries, journals, letters, and even checks and receipts—as well as reports of others—Rollyson recreates the day-to-day world of a woman who still fascinates us more than fifty years after her death.”

Looking forward to next year, Marilyn’s Blue Book Years: Marilyn Monroe in Unseen Pictures and Letters, by Michelle Morgan (author of MM: Private and Undisclosed) and Astrid Franse, will be published by The History Press in 2015. And Elle Andra-Warner’s American Icon: The Legacy and Death of Marilyn Monroe, originally slated for release this year, has been postponed until next spring.

American Icon: The Legacy and Death of Marilyn Monroe is a blockbuster book that delves deep into her life and death, and separates it from the myth, rumors and Hollywood chatter. Was Monroe’s death a suicide or were dark sinister forces at work? Based on strong research, interviews, investigations, news clippings and files, American Icon takes the reader along on a unique journey that looks at Marilyn from a fresh perspective, neither sensationalizing nor sugar-coating the truth. Her life ran the gamut from happy, bored, funny, loving and loved to shocking and scandalous. She did whatever she had to do to reach her childhood dream goal to be a famous movie star. American Icon: The Legacy and Death of Marilyn Monroe delivers a fast-paced, fact-filled page turner of a book about one of the great cultural legends of the 20th century.”

The Secret Life of ‘LIFE’

Marilyn, as photographed by Alfred Eisenstadt (1953)

If you’re wondering why you’ve never seen this magazine cover before, that’s because it was never published. In fact, it’s one of several mock-ups featured in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, the latest big-screen adaptation of James Thurber’s classic short story, starring Ben Stiller as the hapless daydreamer. You can view a selection of fantasy Life covers here.

Pictured below: Marilyn with Danny Kaye, who first played Mitty in 1947; and a selection of actual Life covers (the one in the middle is a special tribute issue from 2009, reviewed here.)

Hannah Höch: A Dadaist Marilyn

The German Dada artist, Hannah Höch, is the subject of a retrospective exhibition at London’s Whitechapel Gallery (on display from January 15th – March 23rd.) One of her late photo-montages, ‘Kleine Sonne’ (‘Little Sun’, 1969) depicts the grinning mouth of Marilyn Monroe hovering beside a fish’s eye.

Her source may have been Richard Avedon‘s 1959 photo of Marilyn which graced the cover of Life magazine. You can read more about Hannah Höch in today’s Guardian.

Arthur Miller: ‘My Wife, Marilyn’

In late 1958, Arthur Miller wrote ‘My Wife Marilyn’, a personal tribute for Life magazine. Over at Booktryst today, a closer look at how the article took shape.

“As in life so in these pictures — she salutes fantasy from the shore of the real until there comes a moment when she carries us, reality and all, into the dream with her, and we are grateful. Her wit here consists of her absolute commitment to two ordinarily irreconcilable opposites — the real feminine and the man’s fantasy of femininity. We know she knows the difference in these pictures, but is refusing to concede that there is any contradiction, and it is serious and funny at the same time.” – Arthur Miller

Brian Seed: Photographing Marilyn

Native Londoner Brian Seed photographed Marilyn in 1956, in full movie star regalia at a theatre premiere with her new husband, Arthur Miller, on a night off from filming The Prince and the Showgirl in England, reports the Chicago Sun-Times.

These rare pictures – unattributed until now – will be displayed at this year’s Ray Bradbury Dandelion Wine Festival, today at Bowen Park in Waukegan, Illinois, where Brian now lives.

“‘That Marilyn Monroe was a really smart cookie,’ said Seed, a retired freelance photographer for Life magazine.

Sifting through photos he took of the Hollywood icon in October 1956, he says: ‘Look at this picture — she’s looking directly at me, because she knows I’m likely the only photographer in there who’s working for a magazine, and that the photo that would result would not be used in one day’s paper and then gone forever.’

As it turned out, Seed’s photos from that night outside London’s Comedy Theatre would sit unseen for more than a half-century.

Though Seed was pleased with his results, Life editors didn’t use any of the images they commissioned of Monroe. The magazine would eventually release a career’s worth of negatives to Seed in the late 1970s and he filed everything away until recently stumbling across the images.”

Inside the Hollywood Jewellery Box

Sadie Mintz is the 105 year-old founder of the Hollywood Jewellery Box, and designer of the earrings worn by Marilyn in Some Like it Hot, reports Emily Smithack for the Smithsonian blog.

“On one occasion in the 1950s, I rented several pairs of the same rhinestone earrings. Evidently they were worn by Marilyn Monroe and several other cast members in Some Like It Hot. My husband and I made the earrings. We were supposed to make them with a lot of rhinestones, very noticeable. These earrings were the very same that Marilyn Monroe had on in the famous LIFE magazine photograph of her, which I always kept framed on the wall.

Years later, I sold my inventory back to the studios. I kept some things for the grandkids – I had three granddaughters, and they used to love to come play in the drawers. But I did keep those rhinestone earrings. I tried to have them sold by Christie’s or Butterfield’s – I don’t remember which auction house. They agreed it was the same design, but I had no proof that these were the very same earrings worn by the stars, so they could not ‘authenticate’ them. I wonder what more information they needed since I was already in my mid-nineties and remembered everything! My eldest granddaughter even got me a clip of the video showing the earrings. These were indeed the same earrings. I ended up having them sold at auction by the Screen Actors Guild, which was more lax on the authenticity rules.”