Marilyn and the Hollywood Dogs

Marilyn and Maf by Eric Skipsey, 1961 (Thanks to Nicola from Marilyn Remembered)

Hollywood Dogs, featuring vintage shots of movie stars and their canine pals taken from the John Kobal Foundation, has been reissued in compact format. The first edition, published in 2013, also included a photo of Marilyn from her starlet days (more info here.)

Marilyn at Tiffany’s

“Another influence on Capote’s sense of this bright new character in American fiction was Marilyn Monroe. He loved the wit and the strange sadness Marilyn expressed in her friendship with him; the sense of aloneness and of running away from the past, which turns out to be the exact feeling behind the ”mean reds’’, the depressions that lead Holly Golightly to take a cab to 5th Avenue and eat breakfast in front of Tiffany’s window.

Capote wanted Marilyn for the film and he was never happy with the casting of Audrey Hepburn. The author had wanted a kind of literary magic to light up the screen, the book’s black lining to show through the tinsel and peroxide, but the film starring Hepburn would prove to be as light as soufflé and Givenchy-cool.

(Martin Jurow, the film’s co-producer, recalls a meeting at which Capote insisted he himself play the male lead. ”Truman, this role just isn’t good enough for you,’’ said Jurow, thus saving the author’s face and probably saving the film, too.) But Capote was always more bitter about the casting of Holly. ”Paramount double-crossed me in every conceivable way,’ he said. ‘Holly had to have something touching about her – unfinished. Marilyn had that. Audrey is an old friend and one of my favourite people but she was just wrong for that part.’

Sadly for Marilyn, the people around her (including herself: by this point she was failing, and more around herself than in her own skin) thought it too obvious that she play a hooker. When they first offered the part to Hepburn, she didn’t want to be a hooker either. The producer insisted Holly wasn’t a hooker, but ‘a dreamer of dreams, a lopsided romantic.’ The character was to become a midcentury classic: on screen, she was less vulnerable, less dark and less raw, but Hepburn gave her a classy easefulness that was more in touch with the Sixties.”

Extract from ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s: 50 Years of Sunshine and Heartbreak’, an article by Andrew O’Hagan (author of the 2010 comic novel, The Life and Opinions of Maf the Dog and of His Friend Marilyn Monroe), published in today’s Telegraph.

‘Maf the Dog’ at Bridport Literary Festival

“Movie icon Marilyn Monroe had a life that could only happen in Hollywood and had it all played out in the tabloids. As part of the Bridport Literary Festival, Andrew O’Hagan will be talking about Marilyn’s story, but with a twist. In November 1960 Frank Sinatra gave her a dog called Maf, and Maf the dog became a star in his own right. Marilyn died in 1962 and Maf was by her side throughout the last two years of her life. Andrew O’Hagan chronicles the time shared by the star and her devoted pooch, bringing a unique look at a life you might think you know. The talk takes place at Bridport Arts Centre on Saturday, November 6th at 4pm and tickets cost £8. Following the talk, there will be a screening introduced by O’Hagan of The Misfits – a film directed by John Huston and a script by Monroe’s husband Arthur Miller, which won great critical acclaim and proved to be the last film Marilyn made.”

View From Publishing

Read my review of Andrew O’Hagan’s delightful comic novel, The Life and Opinions of Maf the Dog and of His Friend Marilyn Monroe

Maf the Dog: Call Off the Search

“My reporter was eager to ask Angelina Jolie about her plans to play Marilyn Monroe when they spoke at Monday’s premiere of Jolie’s new thriller, Salt. According to reports, author Andrew O’Hagan told the Edinburgh Book Festival that the star would fill Marilyn’s shoes in a film version of his novel, The Life and Opinions of Maf the Dog, opposite George Clooney as Frank Sinatra. But Jolie just looked bewildered. ‘Where did all these rumours come from?’ she asked. ‘I haven’t heard a thing about it! I don’t even know if I’d be the best person to play her.’ As to her rumoured co-star, she added, ‘I haven’t even talked to George about it.’ An embarrassed (or incensed?) O’Hagan – whose book contains the memories of Maf, a Maltese terrier given to Marilyn by Sinatra – went so far as to issue a statement about the confusion: ‘Despite what was said in the unchecked stories that appeared in the papers… I made no public statement about Ms Jolie or Mr Clooney… Everything about the film has still to be decided.’ Scarlett Johansson, anyone?”

The Independent

Jolie Casts Doubt on Marilyn Role

“‘It’s really funny because I have just heard about this for the first time today,’ Angelina Jolie told Sky News, regarding her rumoured role as MM in an upcoming film of Andrew O’Hagan’s novel, Maf the Dog. ‘It’s news to me. I’m flattered – I suppose!'”

Video

Jolie, Clooney Tipped for ‘Maf the Dog’

Photo by Douglas Kirkland

Andrew O’Hagan’s comic novel, The Life and Opinions of Maf the Dog and of His Friend Marilyn Monroe, is set for Hollywood, according to today’s Guardian.

A few years ago, Douglas Kirkland recreated his 1961 Monroe photo shoot with Angelina Jolie, to stunning effect. While I do wonder if Jolie can recapture Marilyn’s fragile charm, she is a gifted actress and Hollywood’s biggest star right now. (Her performance in Life Or Something Like It, back in 2002, drew comparisons to Monroe in some quarters.)

Screen adaptations of two other Marilyn-related books, My Week With Marilyn and Blonde, are also rumoured to be in the pipeline.

‘Maf the Dog’ Movie Plans

Eric Skipsey, 1961

Plans are afoot to bring Andrew O’Hagan’s comic novel, The Life and Thoughts of Maf the Dog and of His Friend Marilyn Monroe, to the big screen, it is confirmed in today’s Daily Telegraph, ahead of a live reading from his book at the Southbank Centre this Sunday.

The movie plans were first reported in the Scottish Herald in May:

“At the time of writing, O’Hagan reports that director Stephen Soderbergh (Traffic, Ocean’s Eleven) is in the frame. They are even negotiating sequel rights for reasons we shall come to later. Meanwhile, rumour has it that George Clooney wants to play Frank Sinatra – Ol’ Blue Eyes gave Marilyn Maf, short for Mafia Honey, in November 1960 – opposite Scarlett Johansson as the angel of sex herself, although O’Hagan confides that his own heart is set on the ‘delicious’ Christina Hendricks (Joan in Mad Men). We agree, however, that Maf, who was Marilyn’s constant companion for the last two years of her life, who ‘breathed the secrets of her pillow’, should be voiced by only one actor, O’Hagan’s friend Ewan McGregor.”

This sounds promising, though I do wonder if the book’s subtle whimsy will translate on film. Judging by some of the reader reviews on Amazon, not everyone was as charmed by Maf the Dog as me.

But I suspect this all depends on your preconceptions about Marilyn (O’Hagan is positively rapturous about her), and your willingness to suspend disbelief and accept a canine narrator.

Two other MM-related movies are currently in the works: an adaptation of Joyce Carol Oates’ Blonde, starring Naomi Watts; and My Week With Marilyn, based on Colin Clark’s memoir, with Michelle Williams.

Who knows how these projects will turn out, but I’ve read all the books that they’re based on, and Maf’s story is easily my favourite of the three!

UPDATES:

Jolie Casts Doubt on Marilyn Role

Maf the Dog: Call Off the Search