Marilyn and the Studio Club Women

Film historian Cari Beauchamp, who last year wrote ‘Atomic Blonde‘, an article detailing Marilyn’s mysterious 1953 PSA for the US Military, has now contributed a definitive history of the all-female Hollywood Studio Club, where Marilyn lived on and off during the late 1940s, to Vanity Fair. (Marilyn had mixed feelings about her stay, often finding it restrictive and perhaps reminding her of her time in an orphanage. However, there is little doubt that the Studio Club offered her some much-needed stability in the early days of her career.)

“For more than a century in Hollywood, young women have learned in horrendous ways that men in power often consider them goods to be bartered or simply consumed. There is little new about #MeToo, but what is new is that women are shattering their isolation by speaking out and finding strength and community as a result. Yet for nearly 60 years there was a residence that housed women (10,000 in all) in a protected and supportive environment. And though few people remember the Hollywood Studio Club, a recounting of its neglected history reveals how little has changed—and how powerful female friendships can be.

[Julia] Morgan’s multiarched structure, designed in the Italian Renaissance Revival style, opened to much fanfare in 1926. The first floor featured a spacious lobby, writing rooms, a library, a large dining area, and a stage. The two upper stories consisted of single, double, and triple rooms to house 100 women—each paying 10 to 15 dollars a week for lodging and two meals a day. They were indirectly inspired by Hollywood luminaries such as Gloria Swanson, Jackie Coogan, and Frances Marion, whose names appeared on small brass plaques above the bedroom doors. (Each had donated $1,000 to the club. Norma Talmadge had pitched in $5,000.) The rules of the house were simple: You had to be working or seeking work in show business, be between 18 and 35 years old, and not stay longer than three years. Men were prohibited above the first floor.

Today, the fellow resident [Barbara] Rush remembers best is Marilyn Monroe: ‘She wasn’t a bombshell then, and was so sweet with that whispery voice.’ Robert Wagner, who, along with Monroe, was under contract at Twentieth Century Fox, recalls dropping off Monroe at the HSC and thinking ‘the concept of the place was just fantastic,’ especially for someone like her, who ‘everybody loved and felt protective of.’

In late 1949, Monroe secured a part in John Huston’s The Asphalt Jungle. While she had had small roles at Fox, Monroe would later say that she so needed $50 in 1949 that she agreed to pose for what would become her infamous nude calendar. Even if the HSC suffered negative backlash as a result, house director Florence Williams fondly remembered Monroe. When asked who was the most stunning woman she ever encountered there, Williams answered, ‘Marilyn Monroe, because she was even beautiful first thing in the morning.’

As the ’60s and ’70s brought about enormous culture shifts, the number of residents dwindled to the point that the Hollywood Studio Club was no longer financially sustainable. The doors were closed in 1975 and the furnishings were auctioned off. Several years later, the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places and continued to be maintained by the Y. In the fall of 2018, Faye Washington, CEO of the YWCA Greater Los Angeles, announced a new partnership with PATH (People Assisting the Homeless) to provide transitional housing for about 60 homeless women at the HSC. One of the rules: Residents, like the starry-eyed women of years past, would be allowed to stay for a maximum of three years.”

Marilyn Goes ‘Funko Pop’ in Hollywood

This Marilyn-inspired doll is one of several created for the launch of Funko Pop’s new Hollywood store. The white dress and matching fur stole are seemingly based on Marilyn’s look at the Call Me Madam premiere in 1953, when she wore a variant on Travilla’s ‘Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend’ gown. Interestingly, Marilyn is the only actor represented in the new range; the others (such as Wonder Woman) are all fictional characters. The doll is getting snapped up quickly, but please don’t be tempted by the high prices on eBay, as it’s rumoured to be set for general release in the coming months.

‘ORRY’ at the Lee Strasberg Theatre

Orry, a tribute to the Australian-born costume designer Orry-Kelly (who won an Oscar for Some Like It Hot), written and performed by Paul Hardcastle, is playing at the Lee Strasberg Theatre in Los Angeles until November 11.

“You’re invited to the funeral of three-time Oscar winner and Hollywood legend, costume designer Orry-Kelly. Don’t expect a little thing like death to stop the whip tongue and quick wit of the unapologetically gay Australian rascal who dressed and heard the secrets of stars like Marilyn Monroe, Bette Davis, Olivia de Havilland, Merle Oberon, Ingrid Bergman and Mae West – just to name a few. Fearless, funny and outspoken, Orry-Kelly lived life to the fullest, from his childhood in Kiama, to reveling in Sydney’s underworld nightlife, to chasing his dreams of acting in New York, to Hollywood. Based on his memoir Women I’ve Undressed – found in a pillowcase in suburban Sydney nearly 51 years after his death – Orry incorporates music, dance, vaudeville routines, puppetry, digital art, special effects and a taste of those incredible gowns to share his irresistible story. Anyone who loves classic movies, fashion, gossip and Cary Grant will love Orry.”

Broadway World

Marilyn Sightings in L.A., Madrid

Fans have posted their latest Monroe sightings on the Marilyn Remembered Facebook group. Firstly, ChadMichael Christian Morrissette found this mural (based on Alfred Eisenstadt’s famous 1953 photo of Marilyn) on Highland in Hollywood.

And secondly, Lorenzo Presti spotted Marilyn gracing the cover of the ironically-titled Marilyn Had Eleven Fingers On Her Feet, a book of Hollywood-themed paintings by artist Maria Herreros on sale in Madrid. This portrait was inspired by Milton Greene’s 1953 Laurel canyon series. And of course, Marilyn had no extra fingers, or toes – this rumour was debunked by Snopes.

Incidentally, another of Maria’s portraits – based on another shot of Marilyn by Eisenstadt – is featured on the cover of Autobiografía de Marilyn Monroe, a novel by Rafael Reig.

Marilyn Statue Stolen in Hollywood

When it comes to public art, it seems that some folks just can’t keep their hands off Marilyn. This isn’t the first theft – in the past few years, we’ve reported stolen statues in Auckland, New Zealand; Devizes, UK; a Warhol screenprint in Staten Island, NY; and a mural in Victoria, Canada – and it probably won’t be the last, but it’s surely the most egregious yet. Created by Catherine Hardwicke and unveiled in 1994, the ‘Four Ladies of Hollywood‘ is a gazebo entry to the Hollywood Walk of Fame, upheld by four movie queens of multi-ethnicity (Mae West, Dorothy Dandridge, Anna May Wong and Dolores Del Rio), and topped by a gilded, miniature Marilyn ‘weathervane’ with her skirt blowing, à la Seven Year Itch.

Whether this heinous act of vandalism was perpetrated by a misguided fan or professional art thief, I urge them to return it immediately. Marilyn’s image is synonymous with Hollywood history and however much some individuals may want to have a piece of her, this work of art belongs to all of us. You can watch a TV news report here.

“LAPD detectives, including a forensics expert, and the Los Angeles Fire Department arrived at the scene at the Hollywood and La Brea Gateway to assist LAPD with the investigation … A ladder was hoisted up above to allow the forensic scientist to climb to the top of the crime scene.

‘I am calling this the great Marilyn caper of 2019,’ said Councilman Mitch O’Farrell. ‘We have a witness who saw someone climb this structure and saw off the statue at the top and it’s a Marilyn Monroe image.’

‘It’s not okay to come and vandalize public art,’ O’Farrell said.

LAPD Hollywood division detective Douglas Oldfield said forensics already found some evidence in the case. 

‘We got a few prints with our experts up there,’ said LAPD detective Douglas Oldfield. ‘We noticed the suspect used the Ws as footing. It [the sculpture] means something to the community and we’re going to investigate this to the best of our ability.'”

NBC Los Angeles

‘Marilyn Tower’ Planned for L.A.

You may have heard of the ‘Marilyn Monroe Towers’ apartment complex at Mississauga in Ontario, Canada. But as Steven Sharp reports for Urbanize Los Angeles, another architectural tribute is being planned right in Marilyn’s hometown.

“A proposed high-rise development in Downtown’s booming South Park neighborhood takes inspiration from California’s famed Redwood trees.

The project, the first in Los Angeles by the Australian developer Crown Group, would replace a mid-century warehouse at the southwest corner of 11th and Hill Streets … A revised plan, calls for a larger 70-story edifice designed by Sydney-based Koichi Takada Architects.

The tower would greet the corner of 11th and Hill with an undulating canopy, a reference to the blowing skirt of actress Marilyn Monroe in the film The Seven Year Itch. The project from Crown Group is one of four potentially skyline-altering developments planned for the 11th Street corridor …”

Marilyn Slept Here: Sinatra, Crosby Homes for Sale

Unlike her celebrity peers, Marilyn preferred to live modestly. Nonetheless, you may recall that a Los Angeles home she shared with Joe DiMaggio was recently put on the market (see here) – and it has now been joined by two luxury estates with connections to Marilyn. As reported in Architectural Digest, Frank Sinatra’s former Los Angeles home is on sale for $12.5 million.  (It was last put up for sale in 2012, as reported here.)

Marilyn stayed in Sinatra’s guesthouse (shown at top) in 1961. They were having an on-off relationship, and Frank was abroad on tour. She later spent a few months renting an apartment in the Doheny Drive complex he owned, as a neighbour to his secretary, Gloria Lovell.

“Old Blue Eyes himself lived in the sprawling home in the 1950s and 60s and frequently hosted his famous friends … the home seems preordained to shelter celebrities from the Hollywood hullabaloo, as it rests at the end of a near mile-long driveway atop a private promontory that overlooks the vast 1,325-acre Chatsworth Reservoir nature preserve.

Constructed in 1949 by William Pereira, Byrdview is only one of four homes the famed architect designed. Sitting on seven acres, the midcentury-modern house comprises three structures: the main house, a guest house (with its own pool), and a cabana … Outdoors, beyond the pool, there’s a parking space for 100 cars and enough agricultural-zoned acreage that, should the new owners like their wines, a vineyard could be built.”

Secondly, the Rancho Mirage estate of Bing Crosby (near Palm Springs), where Marilyn and John F. Kennedy were among the weekend guests during the March 1962 Democratic Convention, is on sale for $5 million ( although the property has been available for some time, as reported here.) This is the only verified occasion when Marilyn and the president spent a night at the same address, and rather predictably, it’s being promoted as ‘the tryst house’, according to Bloomberg. (Incidentally, Sinatra had hoped to host Kennedy and was reportedly furious that he chose Crosby, a Republican, instead!)

“The 6,700-square-foot estate, spread across more than an acre, was built for the crooner and his second wife, Kathryn, in 1957. The single-story home, with a 1,400-square-foot master suite along with four other en-suite bedrooms, has been on and off the market since 2010, when it was first listed for $3.4 million. It’s also been available for rent through Airbnb for $3,400 a night.”