Becoming Marilyn Monroe, the new documentary about Sunny Thompson’s one-woman show (Marilyn: Forever Blonde), is set to have its world premiere at the American Documentary Film Festival in Palm Springs on April 10. Sunny recently spoke about her long-running stage role with Bruce Fessier of the Desert Sun.
“Why is Marilyn still fascinating more than 55 years after her death?
I think it has a lot to do with her softness. You can see it in her eyes in all of her photos … I have met young girls who came to the play and said they were big Marilyn fans and yet they had never seen a movie with Marilyn in it. Only her photos! They had fallen in love with an image.
After 10 years, what did you learn that was most interesting about her?
Maybe how absolutely terrified she was facing the press and yet how charming and witty she was at answering their questions, like coming up with something engagingly clever.
Have you learned to turn the Marilyn character on and off the way Marilyn did?
Funny you mention that because I think I might have an inkling as to how Marilyn must have felt around people. She couldn’t really just be herself … People come up to me and say ‘You play Marilyn Monroe?’ And if I just say yes, they are disappointed. But if I light up and sparkle a bit, and give them a little Marilyn look, then they go away happy.
How would you describe Marilyn’s state of mind on the last day of her life?
I lived that day on stage hundreds of times and I always felt Marilyn was feeling unloved and disillusioned. I play her reliving her life before an audience and deathly afraid that when her looks go and her body goes she will be nothing! I want to believe she didn’t purposely take her own life.”
Of all the Marilyn-inspired plays staged in recent years, Marilyn: Forever Blonde – a one-woman show starring Sunny Thompson – is perhaps the only one to win the hearts of fans as well as critical acclaim. And now Becoming Marilyn Monroe, Tammy Plimmer’s new hour-long documentary about the making of a star tribute, will have its premiere on April 10 at the Camelot Theatre in Palm Springs, as part of the American Documentary Film Festival.
“In 1952, a 10-year-old boy falls in love with a picture of Marilyn Monroe on the cover of a magazine. 47 years later he marries her. This improbable true story of a successful producer of musical revues who discovers a young girl from a small town in Northern Minnesota, marries her, and makes her the star of his one-woman theatrical tribute to Hollywood’s most famous star, Marilyn Monroe. This results in an award-winning, critically-acclaimed theatrical play with music, Marilyn Forever Blonde.”
Actress Doris Roberts – perhaps best-known for her role as Marie Barone in the TV sitcom, Everybody Loves Raymond – has died in Los Angeles, aged 90.
Born in St Louis, Missouri, Roberts was raised in the Bronx, New York. She began her acting career in the 1950s, appearing on stage and screen. ‘I was a member of the Actors Studio,’ she said in 2009, as reported by the Los Angeles Times. ‘Marilyn Monroe used to come to class. Martin Balsam was there. Anne Bancroft was there. Geraldine Page.’
Monroe, she said, would sit in the class led by the legendary Lee Strasberg ‘in a coat, with her collar up and a scarf over her head. She would get up and do a scene and she was wonderful. She was a scared little bird.’
‘I used to sit near Marilyn Monroe in the Actor’s Studio,’ Roberts was quoted as saying in a 2003 interview for A&U magazine. ‘I didn’t know who she was then. She’d get dressed up in those [sexy] dresses because that was her identity. Sad. Those cameras wouldn’t leave her alone. She didn’t know where to hide.’
By the 1980s, Roberts was a respected character actress, and was cast as Mildred Krebs in the popular TV detective series, Remington Steele. In recent years, she was spotted at a number of Marilyn-related events, including a Los Angeles performance of Sunny Thompson’s one-woman show, Marilyn: Forever Blonde in 2012, and at the opening of the Hollywood Museum’s summer exhibit, Marilyn Monroe: Missing Moments in 2015.