Check Out Marilyn’s Style Staple at M&S

Marilyn had a yen for tight-fitting, black-and-white checked trousers, which she wore frequently – and stylishly – over the years. Purchased by her from Los Angeles boutique Jax, the pair shown below (at left) fetched $26,000 at Julien’s Auctions in 2005. Now, thanks to the UK high street retailer Marks & Spencer, you can copy her look with this pair (below right) for just £25 – order here.

Thanks to Michelle

How Marilyn Captured a Critic’s Heart

In an article for Cardinal & Cream – the student magazine for Union University in Jackson, Tennessee – Randall Kendrick reveals how watching Some Like It Hot for the first time changed his opinion of Marilyn.

“Growing up, I never understood the appeal of Marilyn Monroe. Monroe just seemed like a dated icon, a symbol of Hollywood sex appeal in the much idolized decade of the ’50s. Never having any experience with any of her film roles, I figured her personality was as shallow as those of the girls in early James Bond movies (i.e. a one-dimensional accessory that’s just there to look pretty).

For a long time, I’ve had the classic 1950s comedy, Some Like It Hot, on my watch list, and for much of that time, I wasn’t even aware that Monroe was in it. Even after I learned that Monroe starred in it, her appearance had no weight on my decision to watch the movie, and frankly, I didn’t think my opinion of her would be changed afterward.

As talented as the male leads are, though, they are absolutely out-shined by Monroe. The first time Monroe’s smile filled the screen, she completely stole the movie. Her charm and magnetic personality completely sold me on her appeal. Totally unlike my original perception of her, Monroe had her own personality that shined through the screen and made her more than a pretty accessory to the plot. She was a very talented actress that created some of the funniest and most memorable moments in the film.

Monroe was so likable and had me so enraptured, that before the movie was even over, I considered going online to buy (or at least browse) Marilyn Monroe memorabilia. I didn’t end up following through with that thought, but that it even crossed my mind is a testament to why she had an incredible impact on people during the ’50s. She was the quintessential Hollywood actress with a brilliant smile, an irresistible personality and glamorous looks.

While Some Like It Hot is a good comedy on its own, it wouldn’t have achieved the status it has without the energy that Monroe brought to the table. After seeing her in action, I now honestly feel sorry I doubted the charm of Monroe and the people who propped her up as a Hollywood legend.”

Marilyn ‘Re-Imagined’ in Spartansburg

Artist Kirkland Thomas Smith’s portrait of Marilyn – inspired by Bert Stern, and assembled with reclaimed materials – is featured in her new exhibition, Re-Imagined, at the Curtis R. Harley Gallery in Spartansburg (part of the University of South Carolina Upstate) until September 21, as Samantha Swann reports for GroupState.

“The series carries an environmental message, which Smith said was inspired by the plastic toys that her four children accumulated. That caused her to think about just how many plastic items people can accumulate, even when trying not to. Before starting this series of work 10 years ago, Smith focused on traditional portraiture.

‘When I was trying to figure out how I could paint a picture of our consumerism, I just didn’t feel like I could make a bold enough statement painting a picture of it, and that’s where I got the idea to just use the stuff as my paint,’ Smith said.

Smith said that before starting the project, she, like many people, assumed that all plastics were recyclable. They are not. In fact many are not, she said. The items Smith uses would normally be thrown away — some are items that she or others have saved from trash cans, while others were purchased at yard sales or thrift stores.

While she wants the work to be fun, she also hopes that it will make viewers think about the amount of plastic and non-recyclable items in their daily lives and about the legacy being left for future generations.”

Roll Call for Magnum (and Marilyn)

Writing for the Mutual Art website, Jordan Mitchell explores the history of the Magnum Photos agency through ten iconic photographers. Marilyn is mentioned in relation to Eve Arnold (see above), but three more of the other artists also photographed her on the set of The Misfits

Henri Cartier-Bresson
Bruce Davidson
Inge Morath

What Makes Marilyn a ‘Timeless’ Icon?

Marilyn Monroe: Timeless, the exhibition which opened at Moyse’s Hall Museum in Bury St Edmunds on June 1 (Marilyn’s birthday), remains on display until September 30. Among the photographs is an important Monroe artifact – the framed Cecil Beaton ‘triptych’ gifted to her by Joshua and Nedda Logan in 1956, when she married Arthur Miller.

Over at the Eastern Daily Press, arts editor (and MM aficionado) Andrew Clarke asks why is Marilyn – along with only a few other stars, like Steve McQueen and Audrey Hepburn – still iconic today?

“Marilyn continues to transcend time. All these pictures were taken between 1948 and 1962. They are a window into a life which has long since ended and reveal a world that no longer exists. Marilyn lived at a time when Hollywood studios still had stars under contract and America was yet to be scarred by the Vietnam War and long-drawn out wars in the Middle East.

These images shouldn’t speak to us but they do. Marilyn Monroe, as the exhibition makes clear in its title, is timeless. She has a talent and personality that not only continue enchant fans who grew up with her but, judging by the age of my fellow visitors, who were largely young women, she continues to attract new fans.

Although her films continue to find new audiences – restoration film company Park Circus have re-issued Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and Some Like It Hot in recent years – the real secret to her success is that her image speaks louder than her work.

This then begs the question when does a star become an icon? Stars fade but do icons live forever? It’s an interesting question. If that is the case, what attributes do you need to become an icon?

Popularity is part of the equation but it’s not everything. You have got to have presence and you’ve got to have a unique style about you. It’s that uniqueness that will help you stand the test of time – and you have got to have a quality that speaks to people and makes them care about you.”

Burt Reynolds 1936-2018

Burt Reynolds, one of the most popular actors of the 1970s and beyond, has died aged 82. Born in Lansing, Michigan in 1936, he came from a military family and his father later became a chief of police. Burt attended Florida State University on a football scholarship, and when injuries ruled out a sporting career, his interest turned to acting. He moved to New York to pursue his new career, where as Vanity Fair reports, he caught his first glimpe of stardom.

“The actor’s life was brimming with stories like this, close brushes with some of the most famous women in the film industry. Reynolds also had a particularly bittersweet anecdote about taking an acting class with Marilyn Monroe as an up-and-comer in the late 1950s. He would walk with her from 58th Street to the Actors Studio, he said, surprised by the blonde icon’s quietude. ‘She didn’t say much, but she didn’t have to,’ he recalled in a March interview with Conan O’Brien. He was also surprised to see that one of the most famous women in the world wasn’t getting swarmed on the street. ‘How come they don’t jump up and down?’ he asked her, referring to the people breezing past her. ‘She said, “Oh—do you wanna see her?”’ And with that, the actress threw her shoulders back and started strutting with purpose. Within 20 feet, she was ‘surrounded by about 40 people,’ Reynolds said. ‘I liked her so much . . . she was so real and sweet and kind.'”

This is a familiar tale, similar to anecdotes shared by Eli Wallach, Sam Shaw and others – but Burt’s comments are warm and sensitive. He began to make his name during the 1960s, with appearances on television shows including Gunsmoke. His big-screen breakthrough was in Deliverance (1970), proving he had more to offer than just good looks. He famously posed nude for Cosmopolitan in 1972, the magazine’s first male centrefold. Over the next two decades, he juggled blockbuster hits with more dramatic roles, and branched out into directing.

Like Marilyn Monroe, Burt’s racy image meant that he wasn’t always taken seriously, though he would win a Golden Globe – and Oscar nomination – for Boogie Nights (1997.) He was married to actresses Judy Carne and Loni Anderson (a blonde bombshell in her own right), but by his own admission, his greatest love was Sally Field. In 2014, he faced bankruptcy. Burt Reynolds died of cardiac arrest, and his final movie was fittingly entitled The Last Movie Star.

Christopher Lawford 1955-2018

Christopher Lawford, the son of actor Peter Lawford and wife Patricia ‘Pat’ Kennedy, has died aged 63.  He had suffered a heart attack while at a yoga studio in Vancouver.

Christopher was born in 1955, a year after his parents’ marriage. He had three younger sisters, and was raised at the Lawfords’ beachfont home in Santa Monica.

Marilyn grew close to both Peter and (especially) Pat after returning to Los Angeles in 1961. Christopher shared a childhood memory of Marilyn in his autobiography…

“There were a lot of beautiful people hanging around our backyard pool on the beach in Santa Monica. Marilyn Monroe was there in her scarf, trying to stay out of the sun. She had a quiet voice, would smile at me and head out to walk on the sand with my mom. My mother told me Marilyn was like ‘her little sister.’ It surprised her that Marilyn was so open with her. My mom didn’t come from a background where emotions and feelings were openly shared. Marilyn Monroe trusted my mother’s love for her. There was nothing Marilyn had that my mom needed.”

After his parents divorced in 1966, Christopher moved to New York with his mother.  Unfortunately, he developed a serious drug problem in adulthood, and was forced to confront his demons when his cousin David died of a drug overdose in 1984.

Having earned qualifications in both law and psychiatry, in 1988 Christopher decided to follow in his father’s footsteps, acting on television (including a 3-year stint in the soap opera, All My Children.) He also worked as an independent film producer, and tried unsuccessfully to make a film about the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. His memoir, Symptoms of Withdrawal: A Memoir of Snapshots and Redemption, was published in 2005.

Christopher was also politically active, working for the Democratic National Committee and for his uncle, Senator Edward Kennedy. He also worked tirelessly to help people suffering from addiction.

Married three times, Christopher is survived by a widow and three children. You can read more about Marilyn and the Lawfords here.

Marilyn Book News: Comic Confidential

Hot off the press, Marilyn’s Monsters is a graphic novel by Tommy Redolfi which retells her story as a dark fairytale. Now available with a preface by cult filmmaker David Cronenberg, it was previously published in France as Marilyn in Holy Wood.  You can find out more and view sample pages here.

Also just published, Samantha Barbas’ Confidential Confidential looks at the forces behind the notorious scandal magazine which exposed the secrets of Marilyn and other 1950s stars.

A new photo book set for release next month, Marilyn: Lost Images From the Hollywood Photo Archive  includes images from the collection of publicist Colin Slater, with text by Boze Hadleigh, who recently authored Marilyn Forever, a book of quotes about the star from celebrities past and present. More info on the archive here.

Also due in October is Rockhaven Sanitarium, a history of the pioneering women’s psychiatric clinic where Marilyn’s mother Gladys lived for almost fifteen years, authored by LA Woman Tours boss (and friend of this blog) Elisa Jordan. (You can read more about Rockhaven’s history here.)

Avedon’s Marilyn: Rare Nudes Emerge

An extremely rare (and very charming) series of semi-nude photos shot by Richard Avedon, featuring Marilyn with hairdresser Kenneth Battelle,  has surfaced on the website of the Edward Cella Gallery in Los Angeles.

This was probably shot during the same session that made the cover of Life magazine to promote Some Like It Hot in April 1959, although Marilyn had worked with Avedon the previous summer on the ‘Fabled Enchantresses’ sessions (published in Life in December 1958.) Avedon had been unhappy with some of the shots, so these nudes could have been among the rejects. However, Marilyn’s slightly bouffant hairstyle more closely resembles her look in March 1959, when Battelle accompanied Marilyn to the Some Like It Hot premiere in Chicago (see here.)

Interestingly, this was not the first time Marilyn stripped off for Avedon – she also posed topless for his ‘Photomatic’ series in 1957 (see here.) The playful nature of these images reflects Marilyn’s trust in Avedon – which was seemingly well-placed, considering how long it has taken for the shots to appear.

Thanks to Paul and Johann