Tag Archives: Marilyn Monroe

Stern’s ‘Avant Garde’ Marilyn in Paris

Bert Stern’s ‘avant garde’ 1962 photo shoot with Marilyn is featured in a new exhibition at the DS World car showroom in Paris. (The photo above shows Marilyn’s scar after gallbladder surgery.)

“DS World Paris is hosting the ‘Marilyn, The Last Sitting’ exhibition from 8 June 2017 to 6 January 2018.

The session took place in Hotel Bel Air in Los Angeles in 1962 over two days and one night, consisting of three long photo shoots by Bert Stern for Vogue magazine. The photographer took a total 2,571 pictures; the 59 most emblematic are on show at DS World Paris.

For Julien Faux, Director of DS World Paris, the exhibition is ‘a way of keeping alive the legend of this extraordinary woman, who was ahead of her time. It is also a perfect opportunity for drawing parallels between the timelessness of this artist, who has since become an icon, with the spirit of avant-garde of the current models in the DS collection, descended directly from the DS, another icon of the 20th century.’

The exhibition is showing at DS World Paris at 33 rue François 1 in Paris. Free admission.”

Thanks to Eric Patry

Marilyn in the Saturday Evening Post

Marilyn graces the cover of The Golden Age of Hollywood, a  new one-off special from the Saturday Evening Post. It costs $12.99 and can be ordered directly here. (Unfortunately I don’t yet know if it ships outside the US, but I’ll update you if I find out.)

Marilyn has a long history with the Post, as one of her most revealing interviews with Pete Martin, ‘The New Marilyn Monroe’, was serialised over three weeks in 1956, and later published in book form with the playful title, Will Acting Spoil Marilyn Monroe?

On Marilyn’s birthday this year, the Post paid tribute with a blog about the sex symbols who preceded her – including Lillian Russell, Theda Bara and Clara Bow, all of whom she impersonated in her extraordinary ‘Fabled Enchantresses’ shoot with Richard Avedon. But she turned down the chance to play showgirl Evelyn Nesbit in The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing (the role went to Joan Collins.) And of Mae West, she told W.J. Weatherby, ‘I learned a few tricks from her – that impression of laughing at, or mocking, her own sexuality.’ Jean Harlow, perhaps Marilyn’s greatest influence, is a surprising omission.

You can read Marilyn’s Post interview here.

All About History: Scandalising Marilyn

Marilyn is featured in a new ‘bookazine’, the All About History Book of Scandals, available from UK newsagents or via Newsstand. In its regular edition, All About History profiled Marilyn back in 2015. Unfortunately though, this latest article doesn’t really do her justice.  Over six pages, ‘The Undoing of Marilyn Monroe’ lists her alleged lovers, focuses on her ‘difficult’ behaviour and drug problems (which, in fact, didn’t affect her work until the final years), and rehashes conspiracy theories about her death while admitting that nothing has been proved. It’s most definitely a tabloid perspective and, in my opinion, the photos of Marilyn are the best thing about it.

Reprieve for Hollywood’s Formosa

The historic Formosa Cafe on Santa Monica Boulevard – where the cast and crew of Some Like It Hot regularly dined – closed its doors in January. But as Chris Nichols reports for L.A. Magazine, it is now under new management.

“Six months after the Formosa Café on Santa Monica Boulevard unexpectedly shuttered, the West Hollywood landmark is coming back to life. The ancient Chinese restaurant, known for its famous clientele and appearances in films including L.A. Confidential, will be restored by the 1933 Group and will reopen next summer. Owners Bobby Green, Dimitri Komarov, and Dima Liberman have signed a long-term lease with the owners of the West Hollywood Gateway shopping center, which owns the restaurant property.

The group plans to keep the neon façade, the bar, and the 1902 train car dining room, and it will use vintage photos to guide the restoration of the original red vinyl booths and Chinese lanterns that longtime patrons remember. ‘I want it to have the feel of the 1930s to 1960s,’ said Green. ‘They kept adding and adding to it. I probably don’t need a photo of Johnny Depp on the wall.’ A rooftop deck and other additions made in 2001 will be Benjamin Buttoned to look like they’ve always been there.”

Bill Pursel 1925-2017

Bill Pursel, who befriended Marilyn during the early years of her career, has died aged 91, reports the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

“William Albert Lloyd Pursel was born July 24, 1925, in Marshalltown, Iowa. His family moved to Las Vegas in 1939. After graduating from Las Vegas High School, class of 1943, he was drafted into the U.S. Army and served in The European Theatre during World War II. He became a sales manager for KLAS Radio and covered several atomic bomb explosions at the Nevada Test Site. He was a Chartered Life Underwriter and a Chartered Financial Consultant with The Paul Revere Life Insurance Company. He was president of The Life Underwriters Association of Nevada. He was active in The Las Vegas Jr. Chamber of Commerce, a founding member of The Sports Car Club of America in So Nevada, a charter member of Trinity United Methodist Church, and belonged to both the Masonic Lodge and the Elks Lodge. He served two-four year terms as a trustee at Southern Nevada Memorial Hospital (UMC).”

Snapshots given to Bill Pursel by Marilyn in 1947

Bill’s memories of Marilyn – they dated on and off for several years – were unknown to to the public until he spoke with Michelle Morgan, author of Marilyn Monroe: Private and Undisclosed. They met in 1946, when 19 year-old Norma Jeane was staying with a family friend in Las Vegas while waiting her divorce from Jim Dougherty. Bill later visited her in Los Angeles, and was waiting at the house she shared with Ana Lower when she returned from a meeting at Twentieth Century Fox with a contract and a new name.

She was dropped by the studio a year later, but pursued her craft at the Actors Lab, even once asking college student Bill to enroll. They remained close after she began a romance with Fred Karger in 1948, and she later asked Bill to protect her from a ‘beach wolf’ – none other than actor Peter Lawford, who would play a significant role in her final days. Bill saw her as both dedicated and vulnerable in Hollywood, recalling a distressing phonecall during the Love Happy promotional tour of 1949. And then, just as their relationship seemed likely to turn serious, Marilyn called it off – leaving Bill with nothing but a couple of signed photos (now owned by collector Scott Fortner.)

Marilyn’s parting gift to Bill

Bill heard from Marilyn just once more, shortly after she began dating Joe DiMaggio. By then, Bill was happily married. He later recalled seeing her singing Happy Birthday to President Kennedy on television, just months before her death in 1962. He felt no bitterness, and knowing her sensitive nature, he was saddened but not surprised by her tragic demise.

Mr Pursel died last Thursday, June 1st – on what would have been Marilyn’s 91st birthday. He is survived by his wife of more than sixty years, Mabel ‘Mac’ Salisbury Pursel; and his children, William ‘Bill’, Kristie, and Kim (‘Bill’) Toffelmire, her stepchildren and their children, and several nieces and nephews.

Michelle Morgan has written an emotional tribute to Bill Pursel:

“He has been a constant presence in my life since 2005, when I first contacted him during the writing of my Marilyn book. What started out as an interview, turned into a friendship between Bill, his beautiful wife Mac, his family and my own … My work has been deeply enriched because of Bill’s stories, and my life has been changed because of his friendship. He was a huge supporter of my career, and gave me lots of advice in recent years … Good night, Bill. Thank you for your wonderful friendship. You were one of the best friends I ever had.”

You can pay your respects to Bill here.

Joe Hyams 1926-2017

Legendary Hollywood publicist Joe Hyams (not to be confused with the reporter of the same name) has died aged 90, according to the L.A. Times. Born in New York, he served in the Marines during World War II. After a stint in journalism, he was hired as a unit publicist for From Here to Eternity and On the Waterfront. In 1956 he worked on Bus Stop, Marilyn’s acclaimed comeback following a year-long absence from the screen. Four years later, he was appointed national advertising and publicity director at Warner Brothers. He would remain at the studio for over forty years, overseeing major films like My Fair Lady, Bonnie and Clyde, Woodstock, The Exorcist, Blazing Saddles, A Star Is BornChariots of Fire, JFK and Eyes Wide Shut. Hyams also collaborated with actor-director Clint Eastwood on numerous films, including Every Which Way But Loose, Unforgiven and Hyams’ final project, the Oscar-winning Mystic River (2004.)

Remembering Marilyn’s Movie Triumphs

Marilyn in ‘Some Like It Hot ‘ (1959)

Over at The Wrap, Rosemary Rossi picks ten movie clips showcasing  Marilyn in her prime, with praise from leading critics.

“It has been observed that no matter how a scene was lighted, Monroe had the quality of drawing all the light to herself. In her brief scenes here, surrounded by actors much more experienced, she is all we can look at.” – Roger Ebert on ‘All About Eve’

“The reality was that she was a great, natural comedienne. She took superficial, cut-out roles and elevated them to whole new levels.” – Peter Bogdanovich on ‘Monkey Business’

“Monroe’s inflections and expressions have a deliciously clever and sharply experienced irony” – Richard Brody on ‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’

“So arresting is Monroe’s presence that when she’s not on-screen, we wait impatiently, wondering, Where have you gone, Mrs. DiMaggio?” – Melissa Anderson on ‘The Seven Year Itch’

“Monroe steals it, as she walked away with every movie she was in. It is an act of the will to watch anyone else while she is on the screen.” – Roger Ebert on ‘Some Like It Hot’

Marilyn’s Brentwood Hacienda Sold

Marilyn’s final home at 12305 Fifth Helena Drive in Brentwood, Los Angeles has been sold for $7.25 million after being listed in April, reports the L.A. Times. (And in auction news, Marilyn and Joe DiMaggio’s wedding certificate has sold for $122, 500 at Goldin Auctions.)