‘Happy Birthday, Mr President’ at 56

This rare photo was taken by a fan after Marilyn sang ‘Happy Birthday Mr. President’ to John F. Kennedy at Madison Square Garden, 56 years ago today.  Marilyn looks far younger than her thirty-five years, and the dress worn by her loyal publicist Pat Newcomb can be seen close behind. Over at Getty Images, Bill Ray – the LIFE magazine photographer who covered the event – shares memories of that legendary evening.

“A quick scan of the program for ‘New York’s Birthday Salute to President Kennedy’ on May 19, 1962, reveals a veritable who’s who of Old Hollywood: Jack Benny, Ella Fitzgerald, Henry Fonda, Danny Kaye. And there, nestled between Peter Lawford and Jimmy Durante, an unmissable entry: Marilyn Monroe. No explanation. No footnote.

‘You could have heard a pin drop,’ recalls Bill Ray … who made the now-iconic image of the actress from behind. ‘I think people were stunned when she finished.’

Due to the disparate lighting conditions — Monroe in a bright spotlight, Kennedy in total darkness — Ray’s dream of getting the two in the same picture didn’t come to fruition. ‘If I’d been luckier, there would have been a tiny bit of light that would have spilled onto Kennedy, who was over her shoulder between the podium and her head.'”

Helena Christensen Inspired by Marilyn

Supermodel and photographer Helena Christensen tells The Guardian today that Marilyn would be her ideal subject.

“I wish I could have shot Marilyn Monroe. Every picture of her shows so much rawness. Vulnerability. She’d been a male subject her entire life and is one of those people you want to go back and hold close to you, shield them.”

Book News: ‘Marilyn My Marilyn,’ and More

Marilyn, My Marilyn, a novel by Art Johnson, has just been published in paperback and via Kindle. The eye-catching cover shows Marilyn backstage in 1956. Here’s a brief synopsis:

“It’s the summer of ’62, and twenty-five-year-old journalist Rory Long receives a phone call at quitting time: it’s Marilyn Monroe. She wants to personally compliment him on a review he wrote of the new collected works of poet Carl Sandburg. She then enlists the cub reporter to tell her story; she doesn’t want to be remembered as a joke. When they meet, Rory is captivated by her knowledge of classical music, art and literature. As their relationship intensifies, Rory experiences a coming-of-age inspired by this side of Marilyn few know, and at the same time, Marilyn is influenced by Rory to begin reassessing her own life …”

And coming in August, Marilyn in Manhattan is a novel by French author Philippe Ward, published in English for the first time. (It shares its title with Elizabeth Winder’s 2017 non-fiction book, as well as a 1996 documentary.)

“Kristin Arroyo is a former Marine who served in Iraq. In the personal effects of her late grandfather – a once famous photographer – she discovers several unpublished photos of Marilyn Monroe. With the help of a friend, she decides to put on an exhibition to honor her grandfather; unfortunately, nothing goes as planned, as a mysterious organization suddenly starts pursuing her, trying to kill her. Kristin comes to realize that her fate is mysteriously tied to the photographs of Marilyn and, if she is to save her life, she must reconstruct the last days of the Hollywood star and solve the mystery surrounding her death – but did Marilyn really die on August 5, 1962?”

‘Forever Marilyn’ Heads to Connecticut

‘Forever Marilyn’ assembled for a previous stay in Bendigo Park, Australia (2016)

Seward Johnson’s giant sculpture, Forever Marilyn, is coming to Latham Park in Stamford, Connecticut this summer, as part of an outdoor art exhibition, Seward Johnson: Timeless, as Annette Einhorn reports for Hamlet Hub. You can read more about the exhibit and other events (including a screening of The Seven Year Itch at the Avon Film Centre on June 7) here.

“The installation will begin on Monday, June 4 when a crane will lift the 26-foot, 30,000 pound Marilyn, in various parts, high into the air before she is assembled in place in Latham Park in Stamford Downtown. The opportunity to capture photos of the flying sculpture parts; legs, torso, skirt, will be from 10:30am to 2pm.

The monumental Forever Marilyn, sponsored by Avon Theatre Film Center, from the Icons Revisited Collection, is just one of 36 sculptures that will be on display in Stamford Downtown. 35 life-size, realistic sculptures from Seward Johnson’s Celebrating the Familiar series will also be on display as part of UC Funds presents Timeless – The Works of Seward Johnson for the Summer of 2018. Installation of the life-size works begins May 30.

The exhibition will kick off with an opening night celebration on Wednesday, June 6, hosted by Stamford Downtown. The event will be held at the Palace Theatre at 61 Atlantic Street from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m. Trolley tours are set to run throughout the evening, offering guests a chance to view many of the sculptures.”

‘The Marilyn’ Blocked From Two Bridges

Permission to open ‘The Marilyn’, a new speakeasy-style cocktail on Monroe Street, NYC, has been denied, Bowery Boogie reports. Monroe Street is in the Two Bridges district of Manhattan. While in theory it sounds like perfect branding, it seems the developers failed to address residents’ concerns.

Two Bridges is located near the footings of the Manhattan Bridge and Brooklyn Bridge, the subject of a touching 1955 poem by Marilyn…

Margot Kidder 1948-2018

Margot Kidder as Cherie in HBO’s ‘Bus Stop’ (1982)

Yesterday brought the sad news that Canadian-born actress Margot Kidder has passed away aged 69. Many children of the 1970s (myself included) will remember her as Lois Lane in the Superman movies. But did you know she also played Cherie in a 1982 television remake of Bus Stop? Filmed for HBO at the Claremont Theatre in California, it was a more literal adaptation of William Inge’s play, featuring additional characters not seen in Marilyn’s 1956 movie. If you’re curious about Margot’s performance, watch this Youtube clip from 6:20 onwards – and a full copy can be purchased for $23 from DVD Cafe.

Warhol Family to Sell ‘Double Marilyn’

Paul and Anne Warhola with Warhol’s ‘Double Marilyn’

Double Marilyn (or Two Marilyns), originally a gift from Andy Warhol to his late brother, is to be sold as part of the 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale this Thursday (May 17) at the Phillips auction house on Park Avenue, NYC, with an estimate of $3-4 million, as Marylynne Pitz reports for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

“Seven of the artist’s nieces and nephews, who range in age from 58 to 75, will share the proceeds. They are the children of Paul Warhola, who died in 2014, and his wife, Anne, who died in 2016.

Until last fall, ‘Double Marilyn’ and 10 early Warhol artworks owned by the Warhola family hung at The Andy Warhol Museum on the North Side. James Warhola, who lives in Long Island City in the New York borough of Queens, took them back after he was unable to arrange a sale or trade with museum director Patrick Moore.

‘My dad was the oldest brother,’ said James Warhola, a 63-year-old artist. ‘He saved the early works when my uncle left for New York. They have been in the family ever since as well as the “Double Marilyn” silkscreen. That was part of our household for close to 60 years.’

He said The Andy Warhol Museum ‘would have loved for us to have donated the collection’ but that was not possible.

‘My uncle’s estate went to a foundation. We didn’t get anything from the foundation. We’re not the Rockefellers. It was my dad’s main asset,’ Mr. Warhola said.

Pre-sale estimates are not always indicators of a painting’s actual auction price. Warhol’s works often sell for more than the pre-sale estimate. A 1962 ‘White Marilyn’ silkscreen by Warhol was estimated to sell for $12 million to $18 million in 2014. It fetched slightly more than $41 million at a Christie’s auction on May 13, 2014.

In this case, Phillips auction house has a third-party guarantee on ‘Double Marilyn.’ This means that one bidder has guaranteed a price of $3 million for the painting if no one bids higher.”

UPDATE: ‘Double Marilyn’ has been sold at Phillips for $3.6 million, as reported in an editorial for the Post-Gazette.

Marilyn’s Dress to Raise Funds for Lincoln Foundation

A dress owned by Marilyn will be auctioned at the annual Hollywood Legends sale hosted by Julien’s in Las Vegas on June 23 to save a valuable collection of items belonging to her idol, Abraham Lincoln, as Ray Long reports for the Chicago Tribune. The dress is authenticated as it was previously listed in the famous Christie’s auction of Marilyn’s estate back in 1999, where it was purchased as an addition to the Lincoln collection. (I think it may be Lot 215, shown between two other black dresses on P160 of The Personal Property of Marilyn Monroe.)

“Struggling to pay back a loan used to buy Abraham Lincoln artifacts, the foundation that supports the 16th president’s library in Springfield [Illinois, Lincoln’s birthplace] is selling a black wool dress once owned and worn by movie star Marilyn Monroe.

The three-quarter-length, long-sleeved dress with a scooped neck is the centerpiece of nine items the Lincoln foundation is putting on the block … The auctioneer estimates the dress is worth $40,000 to $60,000, but could sell for much more.

It’s a windfall the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation could use. The group acquired the Monroe dress as part of a private collection of more than 1,000 items from Louise Taper 11 years ago. The foundation financed the purchase with the help of a $23 million loan … The foundation raised private money and whittled the debt down to $9.7 million, but officials said they’ve run into trouble on the loan, which comes up for renewal in October 2019 …

Proceeds from the auction of the non-Lincoln items, including the Monroe dress, seven photographs of the 1950s bombshell shot by noted photographer Arnold Newman, and a bust of Chicago poet Carl Sandburg that she owned, could help make the loan payments.”

Marilyn with Lincoln’s biographer Carl Sandburg, 1962