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2016: A Year In Marilyn Headlines

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In January, exhibitions featuring Milton Greene and Douglas Kirkland’s photographs of Marilyn opened in London and Amsterdam. In New York, the Museum of Modern Art paid tribute to Marilyn’s choreographer, Jack Cole. Also this month, James Turiello’s book, Marilyn: The Quest for an Oscar, was published. And Edward Parone, assistant producer of The Misfits, died.

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In February, Marilyn ‘starred’ with Willem Dafoe in a Snickers commercial for the US Superbowl. Monroe Sixer Jimmy Collins’ candid photographs were sold at Heritage Auctions, and the touring exhibition, Marilyn: Celebrating an American Icon, came to Albury, Australia.

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Another major Australian exhibition, Twentieth Century Fox Presents Marilyn Monroe, featuring the collections of Debbie ReynoldsScott Fortner, Greg Schreiner and Maite Minguez Ricart – opened at the Bendigo Art Gallery in March. And Barbara Sichtermann’s book, Marilyn Monroe: Myth and Muse, was published in Germany.

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In April, a special edition of Vanity Fair magazine – dedicated to MM – was published. A campaign to save Rockhaven, the former women’s sanitarium where Marilyn’s mother Gladys once lived – was launched. And actress Anne Jackson – wife of Eli Wallach, and friend to Marilyn – passed away.

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In May, Marilyn graced the cover of a Life magazine special about ‘hidden Hollywood’, and Sebastien Cauchon’s novel, Marilyn 1962, was published in France. Cabaret singer Marissa Mulder’s one-woman show, Marilyn in Fragments, opened in New York, while Chinese artist Chen Ke unveiled Dream-Dew, a series of paintings inspired by Marilyn’s life story. The remarkable collection of David Gainsborough Roberts was displayed in London. Finally, Alan Young – the comedian and Mister Ed star, who befriended a young Marilyn – died.

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June 1st marked what would be Marilyn’s 90th birthday. Also in June, New Yorkers were treated to an Andre de Dienes retrospective, Marilyn and the California Girls. An exhibition of the Ted Stampfer collection, Marilyn Monroe: The Woman Behind the Myth, opened in Turin, Italy. A new documentary, Artists in Love: Arthur Miller and Marilyn Monroe, was broadcast in the UK, while Australia honoured Marilyn with a commemorative stamp folder, and genealogists investigated Marilyn’s Scottish ancestry.

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In July, the birthday celebrations continued in Marilyn’s Los Angeles hometown with tributes from painter David Bromley, and another Greene exhibition. A new musical, Marilyn!, opened in Glendale. Rapper Frank Ocean appeared alongside a Monroe impersonator in a Calvin Klein commercial. And Marni Nixon, the Hollywood soprano who sang the opening bars of ‘Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend’, passed away.

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August 5th marked the 54th anniversary of Marilyn’s death. Also this month, it was announced that Seward Johnson’s ‘Forever Marilyn’ sculpture may return permanently to Palm Springs. April VeVea’s Marilyn Monroe: A Day in the Life was published, and Marilyn’s role in Niagara was featured in another Life magazine special, celebrating 75 years of film noir.

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In September, Marilyn: Character Not Image – an exhibition curated by Whoopi Goldberg – opened in New Jersey. Terry Johnson’s fantasy play, Insignificance, was revived in Wales. Two locks of Marilyn’s hair were sold by Julien’s Auctions for $70,000. And author Michelle Morgan published The Marilyn Journal, first in a series of books chronicling the Marilyn Lives Society; and A Girl Called Pearl, a novel for children with a Monroe connection.

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In October, Happy Birthday Marilyn – a touring showcase for the collection of Ted Stampfer – came to Amsterdam, while Marilyn: I Wanna Be Loved By You, a retrospective for some of her best photographers, opened in France. Marilyn Forever, Boze Hadleigh’s book of quotes, was published. Marilyn’s friendship with Ella Fitzgerald was depicted on the cult TV show, Drunk History. And on a sadder note, photographer George Barris, biographer John Gilmore, and William Morris agent Norman Brokaw all passed away this month.

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In November, Marilyn’s ‘Happy Birthday Mr President‘ dress was sold for a record-breaking $4.8 million during a three-day sale at Julien’s Auctions, featuring items from the David Gainsborough Roberts collection, the Lee Strasberg estate, and many others including the candid photos of Monroe Sixer Frieda Hull. Also this month, comedienne Rachel Bloom spoofed ‘Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend’ in a musical sequence for her TV sitcom, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. And Marilyn Monroe: Lost Photo Collection, a limited edition book featuring images by Milton Greene, Gene Lester and Allan ‘Whitey’ Snyder, was published.

05E065FF-9E98-4677-8946-85623619BBF3-2686-0000014DE181D724_tmpFinally, in December the EYE Film Institute began a Marilyn movie season in Amsterdam. The Asphalt Jungle was released on Blu-Ray by Criterion. And actresses Zsa Zsa Gabor and Debbie Reynolds both passed away.

Publicist Shares Tales of Marilyn

Marilyn arrives in London, 1956
Marilyn arrives in London, 1956

Charles Foster, a former Hollywood publicist, has just published his memoir, CBC reports. Mr Foster claims to have accompanied Marilyn to England in 1956, for the shooting of The Prince and the Showgirl. I must confess to not having heard of him before, but as Marilyn’s own publicist, Arthur P. Jacobs, also came to England with her, perhaps Mr Foster was working for him in some capacity.

From Old Hollywood to New Brunswick: Memories of a Wonderful Life includes a chapter entitled ‘Smuggling Marilyn Into London’.  This is rather curious, as Marilyn actually arrived in London amid a blaze of publicity, and immediately embarked on a series of press conferences.

Foster’s memories of Marilyn are frankly, a little hard to believe, and seem remarkably similar to My Week With Marilyn author Colin Clark (whose lively account has also been disputed. )They include plenty of star temperament, not to mention some minor nudity with just a dash of Chanel No. 5. But Foster goes one better than Clark with the allegation that he introduced Marilyn to John F. Kennedy.

The proof is in the pudding as they say, so if you’ve read Mr Foster’s book, don’t hesitate to comment!

Pop-Up Marilyn in Fulham

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If you’re going to Chelsea Harbour for the Design Centre exhibition, there’s another Marilyn-related event to check out in nearby Fulham. Happy Birthday Miss Monroe, a pop-up display of classic images from Milton Greene, Bert Stern, Douglas Kirkland and others, opens at The Showroom Presents from tomorrow and throughout June, Jess Denham reports for the Independent.

Gainsborough-Roberts Collection in London

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Marilyn Monroe: The Legacy of a Legend, an exhibition of the David Gainsborough Roberts collection, opened at London’s Design Centre last week. Fellow collector Scott Fortner attended the launch, alongside impersonator Suzie Kennedy and actress Linda Gray (aka Sue-Ellen Ewing from TV’s Dallas.)

Photo by Scott Fortner

In an article for the Telegraph, Bethan Holt discussed the ‘lipstick, diamonds and cigarettes’ among Marilyn’s personal effects, while Ben Miller looks at the ‘vulnerability and humanity’ revealed by her drawings and notes in his review for Culture24.

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After closing on June 20, the collection will move to the Museum of Style Icons at Newbridge in County Kildare, Ireland, where it will be on display from June 25-July 25.

All photos by Scott Fortner @MarilynMonroeCollection

Gainsborough-Roberts Collection: Tour and Sale

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The collection of David Gainsborough Roberts – one of the world’s largest Marilyn archives, including many of her iconic movie costumes – will be sold in November, Julien’s Auctions has announced.

Although the live auction will be held in Los Angeles, UK fans will be able to see Roberts’ full collection at London’s Design Centre from May 25- June 20. It will then visit the Newbridge Museum of Style Icons in Ireland from June 25-July 25, before crossing the Atlantic on Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 in August, with more US exhibition dates to be confirmed.

Fellow collector Scott Fortner has been helping to catalogue the items, and is reporting his findings on the MM Collection blog. And finally, here’s an excerpt from the Julien’s press release.

“Highlights from this historic sale include a sheer black beaded and sequined dress worn by Monroe in her Golden Globe winning role Sugar Kane as she crooned ‘I’m Through With Love’ in the award winning 1959 film Some Like it Hot; an elaborate embellished stage gown worn by Monroe as she sang ‘After You Get What You Want You Don’t Want It’ in the 1954 comedy There’s No Business Like Show Business which was designed by one of Marilyn’s all-time favorite designers, William Travilla; a pink linen halter wiggle dress designed for Monroe by Dorothy Jenkins for the 1953 thriller Niagara; a green satin one-piece with black sequins and gold fringe worn by Monroe as she sang ‘That Old Black Magic’ in the 1956 film Bus Stop; a lilac satin leotard worn by Monroe as Lillian Russell in the 1958 photo series by Richard Avedon and featured in Life magazine in 1958. Additional film pieces offered include costumes from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and Let’s Make Love, along with a pair of rhinestone earrings worn by Monroe in How To Marry A Millionaire and a pair of sequin embellished opera gloves from the Rachmaninoff scene of The Seven Year Itch.

Monroe’s personal style is represented by a figure hugging black cocktail dress by Ceil Chapman, a favorite of Monroe; a slender fitting bias cut crepe evening gown worn by Monroe to the 1955 premiere of The Rose Tattoo; an embellished slubbed silk Lanvin gown; and rhinestone jewelry. Personal items include prescription pill bottles, Victoria and Albert museum exhibited high heels, a plastic doll in the likeness of Monroe given as a souvenir at her 34th birthday party; documents and correspondences; household items; and Monroe’s Detroit Free Press New Faces Award from 1952.”

‘Hello Norma Jeane’ in London

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Hello Norma Jeane, Dylan Costello’s comedy about an Essex grandmother who might just be Marilyn Monroe, has opened at the Park Theatre in Finsbury Park, North London. Here’s what the critics have to say…

Vicki Michelle as 'Lynnie'
Vicki Michelle as ‘Lynnie’

“The cast launch themselves into their characters with enthusiasm … The first half in particular seemed to zing with energy and snappy one-liners that had the audience laughing; the second half seemed to lose a little pace and perhaps needs to be a little tighter in order to maintain focus.” Gay Star News 

“Costello’s play wavers uncertainly between camp comedy and sentimental melodrama before finally settling on the latter, and despite the occasional delightfully bitchy joke, the moments of touching affection between grandmother and grandson are the most satisfying things on offer here.” The Stage 

“Vicki Michelle starts off in hilarious form as the crimplene-clad Lynnie … Her Lynnie is funny, charming, and cheerily blue in her use of language, yet she is also vulnerable and more frail than she wants to admit. .” The Reviews Hub

Farrel Hegarty in 'Hello Norma Jeane'
Farrel Hegarty as an imaginary Marilyn in ‘Hello Norma Jeane’

“It is a credit to the writing that by the end of the second act, I had changed my mind a dozen times as to whether Lynnie was or wasn’t Marilyn. In fact, I have seen the second act twice – and not just because of Peter McPherson’s abs – and come to a different conclusion each time.”London Theatre 1

“Michelle’s performance maintains buoyancy through the second act transition from comedy to reflections on ageing, but there’s some squelchy sentimentality and facile sub-plotting … it’s expanded to a needless two hours 15 when the sweetness of the idea really demands the sharpness of an hour-long version.” The Londonist 

“The plot is intriguing but the acting sometimes falls flat … a warm-hearted and at times very funny play. With more polish it has the potential to go far. It is unpredictable, which is its greatest charm.” The Upcoming 

Marilyn Goes ‘Blonde’ in London

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Marilyn by Douglas Kirkland (1961)

After ES Updates reported last week of an exhibition featuring Milton Greene and Douglas Kirkland’s photos of Marilyn opening in Amsterdam, comes news of another Greene/Kirkland show, in the UK. As announced by Luxury London, ‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes Starring Marilyn Monroe’ will be on display at the Little Black Gallery on Park Walk, Chelsea, from January 19-February 27, with a selection of prints for sale.

Hollywood Icons: Cooper, Hepburn and Marilyn

Marilyn in London, 1956
Marilyn in London, 1956

‘Archetype of the American Hero’, Alistair Cooke’s tribute to Gary Cooper, was published in The Guardian after Cooper’s death in May 1961. In this extract from Alistair Cooke at the Movies, Cooke considers how movie stars were then so often dismissed as mere ‘personalities’, and rarely credited with much talent or intelligence.

“It is easy to forget now, as always with artists who have matured a recognisable style, that for at least the first dozen years of his film career Gary Cooper was the lowbrow’s comfort and the highbrow’s butt. However, he lasted long enough, as all great talents do, to weather the four stages of the highbrow treatment: first, he was derided, then ignored, then accepted, then discovered. We had seen this happen many times before; and looking back, one is always shocked to recognise the people it has happened to. Today the intellectual would deny, for example, that Katharine Hepburn was ever anything but a lovely if haggard exotic, with a personal style that might enchant some people and grate on others, but would insist she was at all times what we call a serious talent. This opinion was in fact a highly sophisticated second thought, one which took about a decade to ripen and squelch the memory of Dorothy Parker’s little tribute to Miss Hepburn’s first starring performance on Broadway: ‘Miss Hepburn ran the gamut of human emotions from A to B.’

Marilyn Monroe is a grosser example still. Universally accepted as a candy bar or cream puff, she presented a galling challenge to the intelligentsia when she married Arthur Miller, a very sombre playwright and indubitably un homme serieux. The question arose whether there had been serious miscalculation about a girly calendar that could marry a man who defied the House Un-American Activities Committee. The doubt was decided in Miss Monroe’s favour when she delivered pointed ripostes to dumb questions at a London press conference.”

Gary Cooper was one of many stars who attended a party in Marilyn’s honour at Romanoff’s restaurant in Hollywood, to celebrate her filming The Seven Year Itch in November 1954. He also attended the 1959 Fox luncheon for Soviet premier Nikita Krushchev, where he was seated at Marilyn’s table.

garycooperAt the auction of Dame Joan Collins’ personal property at Julien’s earlier this month, a June 1960 letter from Cooper to Marilyn was sold for $1,280. Cooper was then in hospital, and thanked Marilyn for sending him roses, expressing his regret at being unable to attend a recent party (possibly her 34th birthday celebrations, on the set of Let’s Make Love.) Click on the picture below to read his letter in full.

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Marilyn at the BFI: Full Schedule Announced

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Flyer shared by Valerie

The full programme for the BFI’s June season of MM films is now online, with tickets available now for members, or from May 12 for non-members. All of Marilyn’s films from 1952-62 are included (apart from O. Henry’s Full House), with multiple showings of The Misfits as part of its nationwide reissue, and a new print of Niagara. This retrospective includes two other events: ‘Who Do You Think You Are, Marilyn Monroe?‘ on June 3rd, featuring authors Jacqueline Rose and Bonnie Greer; and a Marilyn Monroe Study Day on June 27, with guests including Sarah Churchwell. You can view the digital guide for June here.

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