Crazy for ‘All About Eve’

Seventy years ago, in May 1950, Marilyn began filming her scenes as aspiring actress Claudia Caswell in the classic backstage drama, All About Eve – and while Miss Caswell may have failed her audition, for Marilyn the role was a major breakthrough on the road to stardom. This anniversary has prompted a pictorial issue from e-zine Crazy For You (the back cover image is new to me.)

‘Bombshell’ to Stream Online

Katharine McPhee and Megan Hilty in Smash

Back in 2015, the cast of TV’s backstage drama Smash gave a live performance of the show’s Marilyn-inspired musical (see here.) On May 20, they will reunite to present an online broadcast of Bombshell, the New York Times reports.

“Actors including Katharine McPhee, Debra Messing and Megan Hilty will reunite May 20 to present a stream of the one-night-only 2015 Broadway concert of the musical within the TV show Smash, The Associated Press has learned. It will be seen on People.com, PeopleTV and the magazine’s Facebook page and Twitter.

The evening will be introduced by two-time Academy Award winner Renée Zellweger and will involve memories, stories and comments from the original cast.

Smash ended its TV run in 2013 and the cast reunited for a one-night only Bombshell In Concert at the Minskoff Theater in front of 1,600 people two years later, which became one of the most successful fundraisers ever for The Actors Fund. The stream of that concert also will encourage viewers to donate to the organization.

In the past seven weeks, the Fund has distributed more than $10.1 million in emergency financial assistance — more than five times it normally provides in a year.”

‘Blonde’ Delayed Until 2021

After a decade in development, the Netflix adaptation of Joyce Carol Oates’ controversial novel, Blonde – now in post-production – has hit another roadblock following the coronavirus crisis, The Playlist reports.

“Another film that was expected to be released this year is Andrew Dominik’s Netflix film Blonde. Dominik gave us one of the best films of the 2000s with The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, but then followed that up with the disappointing Killing Them Softly, so a lot was riding on Blonde which follows a fictionalized version of the inner life of Marilyn Monroe (played by Ana de Armas.) The film also stars Adrien Brody and Bobby Cannavale as Arthur Miller and Joe DiMaggio, respectively. According to IndieWire, Blonde is now intended for 2021, though it is unclear whether they’d still try to have the film play in festivals before a theatrical release.”

Justice (At Last) for ‘Don’t Bother to Knock’

As Jake Dee reports for Screen Rant, the top-ranking Marilyn movie on user-led review site Rotten Tomatoes is not one of the more famous comedies, but her early dramatic role in Don’t Bother to Knock, reviewed here by film blogger Wess Haubrich.

“One huge reason Marilyn rocked my world as a lover of film, is that I myself have struggled with depression … I identify with her struggle with mental illness (read a heart-breaking letter she wrote about her time in a psychiatric ward here) — the seed of which was likely planted long before her stardom: her mother was not in her life as she was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and spent much time in and out of hospitals, and virtually none with her daughter — because I too have been there, in that deep, dark, blacker-than-the-deepest-black hole.

1952’s Don’t Bother to Knock (based upon the 1951 novel Mischief by Charlotte Armstrong) hits on those fronts and is also, in my view, Marilyn at her most visibly delicate, at least early on in the film. The film is 66 years old this August.

We see Marilyn Monroe in the role of the fragile Nell Forbes, new to Manhattan and recruited by her uncle Eddie, who is an elevator operator in a ritzy hotel in the city, to babysit for an affluent couple … [the] tension in Nell Forbes’ unfolding psychosis is made all the more palpable because Marilyn Monroe’s performance feels like it reaches into the pit of her soul and her struggle with mental illness.

In the screen test for her role, Monroe stayed up for 48 hours straight training hard with her acting coach Natasha Lytess (much in the way of rumor circles the two women), even disobeying direct orders not to sneak Lytess on to the soundstage during her screen test, despite Monroe’s notoriously insecure nature at this point in her career. This gamble she took to get her first starring role in feature film paid off with a successful test, and Zanuck himself sent her a note of congratulations

Don’t Bother to Knock was unjustly lampooned by the critics when it was released. Marilyn Monroe’s performance is truly something to behold, despite the low budget B-Picture trappings surrounding the film itself. It is a fine contribution to the canon of both film noir and B-Movie history.”

Thanks to A Passion for Marilyn

Marilyn’s ‘Legendary’ Black Thunderbird

Marilyn’s Ford Thunderbird, sold for $490,000 at Julien’s in 2018 (see here), is listed among the top 5 cars owned by Hollywood legends on the Driving website today. Marilyn had a 1956 version of the car in Raven Black, loaded with a V8 engine that put out a cool 222bhp, propelling the car to 113mph. It was a gift from her business partner Milton Greene. They are pictured here en route to Marilyn’s civil wedding ceremony in June 1956, with husband-to-be Arthur Miller at the wheel.

When Marilyn Won Her Golden Plate

Marilyn receives Italy’s Golden Plate from Dr. Filippo Donini (left), director of the Italian cultural institute

Italy’s equivalent of the Oscars, the David di Donatello Awards, was first held in 1956. Variety notes some of its milestones.

1958: Anna Magnani wins best actress for George Cukor’s Wild Is the Wind. Marilyn Monroe is feted for her role in The Prince and the Showgirl, directed by Laurence Olivier.

Marilyn was given the Golden Plate for her role as Elsie Marina. Escorted by husband Arthur Miller, she accepted her award at the Italian Cultural Institute in New York on May 16, 1959.

Style Buddies Spark Joy in ‘Blondes’

Writing for Vogue, Radhika Seth names the 1953 ‘protofeminist buddy comedy’, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, among ’10 of the Most Stylish Musicals to Watch Now.’

“Though best remembered for Marilyn Monroe’s sultry rendition of ‘Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend,’ Howard Hawks’ satirical romp has much more to offer. It follows two showgirls played by Monroe and Jane Russell who take a transatlantic cruise to France. While the latter is a hopeless romantic, the former is on the hunt for a wealthy husband. The dialogue is razor-sharp, the sets outlandish and the costumes — from glittering gowns to structured jumpsuits — impossibly stylish.”

Marilyn Fronts ‘Raise a Child’ Campaign

As many fans will know, Norma Jeane Baker was born in Los Angeles to an absent father and her mother suffered from mental illness. For much of her childhood she stayed with friends and family, and also spent time in an orphanage and in foster care.

As children’s services protect vulnerable families during the coronavirus crisis, Marilyn has been chosen to front a campaign for the Raise a Child non-profit organisation based in her hometown, alongside some of today’s celebrities who have also benefited from fostering.

Although Marilyn’s childhood memories were not all happy, she would later lend her name to numerous children’s charities and was reportedly considering adopting a child in the final months of her life, so this campaign is a wonderful way to honour her legacy.

“The faces of some notable former foster children — screen legend Marilyn Monroe, actress/comedian Tiffany Haddish and Olympic gold-medalist Greg Louganis — are featured prominently in a new street-banner campaign that began this week in an effort to recruit foster and adoptive parents.

The campaign by the nonprofit RaiseAChild — which will run through mid-July — is an effort to increase the number of foster and adoptive homes, particularly in Los Angeles County, which manages the nation’s largest child welfare system with 35,000 children in care, officials said.

‘We’re honored to support RaiseAChild’s mission and bring awareness to this important cause,’ said Katie Jones, vice president of entertainment at Authentic Brands Group, which owns the Marilyn Monroe estate.

Jones said many people are unaware that Monroe grew up in the foster care system and often craved the stability of loving parents and a permanent home.”

Los Angeles Daily News

Homegirl Glamour With Marilyn

With many of us still in lockdown, Vogue looks to Marilyn today for inspiration on staying glam at home. This photo was taken during a press conference at the Beverly Glen house rented by Marilyn during filming of Bus Stop (1956.) She lived at more than forty addresses in her thirty-six years, including numerous apartments and hotel suites (see here.)

Not all of these pictures were actually shot at home, though. The photos of Marilyn applying makeup were taken at Columbia Studios, where she filmed Ladies of the Chorus in 1948; and the image of her standing by a window – incorrectly dated as 1955 – was actually in the office of Jerry Wald, producer of Clash By Night (1952.)