Over at Refinery 29, Valis Vicenty investigates how Marilyn’s beauty tips hold up today – saying ‘yes’ to bedroom eyes and contoured lips, but ‘no’ to Vaseline. The article rather overestimates the influence of Max Factor – Marilyn perfected many of her unique flourishes by herself, or with Fox makeup man Allan ‘Whitey’ Snyder – but is otherwise an interesting look at how new technologies have streamlined our routines.
Plays about Marilyn are increasingly popular, though often of dubious quality. But Leonor Bethencourt scores top marks for originality, using Marilyn’s brief stopover at Shannon Airport (while flying home to New York after filming The Prince and the Showgirl in November 1956) as a starting point for a zany one-woman show, as Charlie McBride reports for the Galway Advertiser. In Marilyn Monroe Airlines: Always Late and Unreliable! she plays Marilyn-worshipping air hostess Zocorro. You can catch the play at the Cava Bodega restaurant on April 20-21, as part of the Galway Theatre Festival.
“Zoccoro is the sole crew member of an accident-prone budget airline, one who proudly perpetuates the spirit of Marilyn Monroe. Simmering with raw emotions, this is a comedy about flying and reaching for the stars. How can Zocorro, masked Spanish ingénue, sustain the teasing sensuality demanded by the aviation business? Marilyn has the answer…
‘Zocorro is like a female Zorro, she wears a mask like his,’ Bethencourt tells me. ‘She’s from a small village in Spain and finds herself in different situations. In my previous show, Zocorro – Rose of Tralee, she infiltrated that contest by pretending to have Irish roots and this show is a different adventure in which she is committed to perpetuating the memory of Monroe on a budget airline.’
Bethencourt herself is Hispano-Irish, with her mother hailing from Strabane and her father from Madrid where she grew up. She expands on the character of Zocorro: ‘As a child, Zocorro took an overdose of iron tablets and was taken to hospital. Doctors were all around her, and she realised then how to be the centre of attention which is a big factor with her. Being an air hostess everyone has to listen to her so she enjoys that attention and also the safety and comfort of the passengers depends on her.’
‘She relates different adventures that happened with Marilyn Monroe Airlines– it has a lot of security issues, there is a good chance at any time that things will go wrong. The nervousness passengers might feel on the flight is like how Marilyn Monroe was unable to leave her trailer during film shoots because of stage fright.'”
UPDATE: You can read a review of the show here.
The annual Hollywood Legends auction at Julien’s, set for April 29, features a number of Marilyn-related items, including a 1961 check book which, as UK tabloid The Mirror reports, shows she was overdrawn at the time.
Here are some of the more unusual lots…
“A Marilyn Monroe novelty game night set. The Brown & Bigelow set contains two decks of playing cards, one showing Monroe in the ‘A New Wrinkle’ pose and one of Monroe in the ‘Golden Dreams’ pose from her 1949 Red Velvet photo session with Tom Kelley, and a set of four tin coasters showing Monroe in the ‘Golden Dreams’ pose and ‘Marilyn Monroe’ printed on each. Contained in a black flocked presentation box, stamped with an image of Monroe and branded text that reads ‘Always First/ with the Best Figures/ T D F CO.’ at lower right.”
Rare photos taken by Bruce Davidson during filming of Let’s Make Love.
A number of items related to photographer John Florea, including this contact sheet from the ‘Heat Wave’ number in There’s No Business Like Show Business.
A personal note from photographer Zinn Arthur to Marilyn and Milton Greene, probably penned during filming of Bus Stop.
And an invitation to the 1961 Berlin Film Festival…
This lovely image of Marilyn performing for US troops in Korea during her morale-boosting 1954 tour, taken by photo-journalist Eddie Adams, is featured in a new book, Eddie Adams: Bigger Than the Frame, reports The Guardian.
Posing as Marilyn is becoming a rite of passage for ex-Disney starlets: following Dove Cameron’s recent lead is Bella Thorne, in a new shoot by Mona Kuhn for Harper’s Bazaar, channeling Douglas Kirkland’s legendary 1961 session. Madonna and Christina Aguilera are among earlier stars who’ve paid homage; Kirkland has himself recreated the scene with Angelina Jolie. Over at Yahoo Style, Hayley Fitzpatrick looks back on other celebrity tributes to Marilyn, both in and out of those silky sheets.
A four-page spread is devoted to Marilyn in Classic Film: Your Essential Guide to Retro Cinema, a one-off special from UK magazine Total Film. “Though she may be plastered on everything from commemorative plates to clothes, Monroe is worth checking out on celluloid,” the article begins. “An underrated comedienne, a seductive on-screen femme fatale and a mesmerising star, she left an indelible impression on cinema and popular culture. Miss Monroe, we salute you!”
Released last month, you can still buy it at good newsagents or online (I found it here.) The large-format edition looks back at more than a century of movie history, although the focus is mainly on the 1950s onwards. There are some interesting quotes about Marilyn from her directors and co-stars, as well as more recent acolytes like Michelle Williams and Naomi Watts. Unfortunately, two of the quotes attributed to Marilyn are fake – can you spot them?
Thanks to Fraser Penney
An original review of Maurice Zolotow’s 1961 biography of Marilyn – the first detailed study of her life – is republished today in The Guardian, with critic Richard West proving that highbrow condescension is nothing new. (The above dedication was penned by Zolotow for teenage superfan James Haspiel, with Marilyn adding her two cents below.)
“The British intelligentsia are suckers for the Cinderella myth. Show them a pin-up girl turned movie star and they will rush to recognise her as a ‘natural actress,’ ‘a born comedienne,’ or ‘artlessly touching.’ One can think of at least three beautiful women, with no acting capabilities whatsoever, who have been acclaimed as actresses by the serious British critics. The same critics had very probably jeered at these same girls when they were merely ‘sex symbols.'”
Marilyn Monroe: Auction of a Lifetime, a new documentary about last November’s dedicated sale at Julien’s Auctions, will be aired on Channel 4 in the UK tonight at 9pm.
UPDATE: You can read my review here.
Blogger Caroline Colvin takes a closer look at Gentlemen Prefer Blondes in her RomCom of the Week series, arguing that its portrayal of female sexuality is far more progressive than early critics realised.
“When the film first came out, critics berated Lorelei and Dorothy (and by extension, Monroe and Russell) for their sexual confidence. Their forwardness, by modern standards, however, is considered praiseworthy. It’s two sides of the same coin: either the women’s sexiness makes them solely objects for male consumption or their fearless sex appeal is a mark of empowerment, making them subjects, autonomous, active players in their own adult lives.
Are Dorothy and Lorelei villains of female sexuality, preying on and victimizing men? Or are they modern-day heroes for finessing the patriarchal, capitalist framework they’re living in?
Often, the process of unpacking gendered implications in film is like looking for a diamond in the rough. And as seen with with Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, sometimes, it takes a little extra sifting.”
Following news that the American pop artist James Rosenquist has died aged 83, here’s a closer look at one of his most celebrated works, from The Art Story.
“Marilyn Monroe, I (1962)
James Rosenquist painted this inverted and fragmented portrait of Marilyn Monroe just following her unexpected death in 1962. Like fellow Pop artist Andy Warhol, Rosenquist transformed Marilyn’s iconic image. But whereas Warhol used well-known photographs of the celebrity sex symbol repetitiously, Rosenquist chose to present her in a manner that denied immediate recognition, while preserving her coquettishness. He achieved this by breaking apart her eyes, lips, and hand, reassembling the pieces into a seemingly random configuration, and boldly overlaying letters that are themselves fragments of her name.
Below the lettering appears a fragment of the word ‘Coca-Cola’ in the soda’s trademark script. Through this association with branding, mass-production, and popular culture, the artist draws attention not so much to Monroe as a person as to how she was packaged in the mass media and marketed based on her sex appeal, here synecdochically referred to through images of her smiling mouth and attractive blue eyes artistically repackaged. Rosenquist’s painting of Marilyn Monroe is one of countless others painted by his contemporaries, including Andy Warhol and Willem de Kooning, that attest to the increasing power of mass media and its impact on art production during the 1960s.
Oil and spray enamel on canvas – Museum of Modern Art, New York”