Photos of Marilyn Help Paralysed Patients

“People with a rare disorder that paralyzes all muscles except their eyes may one day communicate through computer images because of research using photos of Marilyn Monroe and Josh Brolin.

In an experiment, 12 neurosurgery patients had electrodes implanted to measure how often neurons fired in their brains. When shown fuzzy computer images of both actors, they were able to bring the ones of Monroe into sharper focus by concentrating on them, according to research published in the journal Nature.”

San Francisco Chronicle

Inside Marilyn’s Beautiful Mind

Marilyn by Philippe Halsman (1952)

The publication of Fragments has revived the age-old (and to me, baffling) debate on Marilyn Monroe’s intellect. In Canada’s Globe and Mail, Lynn Crosbie ponders…

“But why are we so determined to make her an intellectual as well? Most riveting in film because of her unparalleled charisma, Monroe was not a brilliant actress, but a perfect spectacle.

While attracted to dour, cruel artistic men, she was not an artist herself, or an intellectual — all of these attributions derive from the bad company — Svengalis like Strasberg, Arthur Miller and photographer Milton Greene who groomed her to play classical roles — she was keeping, late in life.

Is it easier to howl at Monroe’s beauty when one dignifies such lust, even love, by affecting an admiration — again, like a coroner — of what lay beneath?

I asked the living legend, Monroe’s colleague, Mamie Van Doren — who is alive and well and gorgeous — what she thought of Marilyn-the-Genius.

‘I’m not sure you would call her an intellectual,’ she said. ‘What I do know about Marilyn is that she was a hard worker in a difficult profession, one where your peers often take greater delight in tearing you down than building you up, especially if your stock in trade was glamour.'”

In the New York Times, Maureen Dowd comments:

“The false choice between intellectualism and sexuality in women has persisted through the ages. There was no more poignant victim of it than Marilyn Monroe.

She was smart enough to become the most famous Dumb Blonde in history. Photographers loved to get her to pose in tight shorts, a silk robe or a swimsuit with a come-hither look and a weighty book — a history of Goya or James Joyce’s Ulysses or Heinrich Heine’s poems. A high-brow bunny picture, a variation on the sexy librarian trope. Men who were nervous about her erotic intensity could feel superior by making fun of her intellectually.

At least, unlike Paris Hilton and her ilk, the Dumb Blonde of ’50s cinema had a firm grasp on one thing: It was cool to be smart. She aspired to read good books and be friends with intellectuals, even going so far as to marry one. But now another famous beauty with glowing skin and a powerful current, Sarah Palin, has made ignorance fashionable.”

Amanda Lepore’s ‘Marilyn’


The full-length video for ‘Marilyn’, a song by transsexual performance artist Amanda Lepore, and featuring rapper Cazwell, has just been released. Here are some of the lyrics:

“Madonna, she’s too rich,
Everybody wants to be rich,
Everybody wants to be a bitch,
And Marilyn, she’s dead.

Britney, she’s too young,
Everybody wants to be young,
Everybody wants a refund,
and Marilyn, she’s in my head.

Einstein, he’s too bright,
Everybody wants to be bright,
Everybody wants to have a fight,
And Marilyn is in my head.

Elvis is a star,
Everybody wants to be a star,
Everybody wants to shoot a star,
And Marilyn, she’s dead.”

Sugar Takes the Prize

Some Like it Hot comes third in The Guardian‘s Top 25 Comedies, beaten by (ahem) Borat, and Annie Hall.

Meanwhile in Pittsburgh, film critic Barry Paris, who co-authored Tony Curtis’s first autobiography, celebrates Marilyn’s sizzling screen career ahead of the Life as a Legend exhibit and movie season at the Andy Warhol Museum.

“It took a smart cookie to play the ultimate dumb blonde — and become the pop culture’s most fragile, enduring icon in the process. Marilyn Monroe’s spectacular beauty and sexuality stoked America’s collective imagination, captivating and defining her era.

Chief among the MM pix, of course, is Some Like It Hot, Billy Wilder’s 1959 classic, pretty unanimously considered the all-time best movie comedy. Tony Curtis, in and out of drag, falls hopelessly in love with her, and so do we. In Sugar Kane (nee Sugar Kowalczyk), we get her euphoric screen presence at its best, secretly battling her offscreen demons at their worst.

Hollywood’s most alluring sex goddess was also its most dysfunctional actress. All the good, bad and ugly aspects of working with Marilyn — more precisely, of Marilyn working — would converge during the making of Some Like It Hot

…On the other hand, Mr. Wilder shrugged, ‘My Aunt Minnie would always be punctual on the set, never hold up production, and know her lines forwards and backwards — but who would pay to see my Aunt Minnie?'”

‘Monkey Business’ in Huntsville, Texas

“The Political Science Junior Fellows will host its second annual Legends of Hollywood Film Festival at the Wynne Home Arts Center in Huntsville, Texas, on the evening of Saturday, Nov. 6. This year’s festival will feature two Marilyn Monroe films: Monkey Business and Some Like it Hot. The festival will feature international cuisine and a presentation by Dr. Carl Rollyson, author of Marilyn Monroe: A Life of the Actress.  Tickets are $20, and includes one movie, dinner, and Dr. Rollyson’s presentation. Monkey Business begins at 5:30.   Dinner will be served – along with Dr. Rollyson’s presentation – between 7-8 p.m. Some Like it Hot begins at 8:15. For more information, contact Mike Yawn at (936) 294-1456. Seating is limited.”

The Huntsville Item

The Yin and Yang of Marilyn

Marilyn by Ed Feingersh, 1955

“The dark side of Marilyn is not exactly a revelation. What does come as more of a surprise is the joyous, functioning Monroe that also leaps out of these pages. She is an avid student with a keen intellectual appetite, taking diligent notes on Renaissance art. She is an excellent reader of scripts, with an intuitive feel for where the focus of a narrative should be. Regarding The Misfits, she writes: ‘I feel the camera has got/ to look though Gay’s/ eyes whenever he is in a/scene and even when is/ not there still has to be a sense of/ him.’ And, contrary to all the rumors of her ditzy sloppiness, she turns out to be quite the occasional Hausfrau, taking down recipes in great detail and organizing a dinner party down to the guest towels.”

Daphne Merkin reviews Fragments at the Daily Beast

Marilyn the Poet

Fragments is reviewed in today’s Independent. While critic Arifa Akbar finds the publication of Marilyn’s private notes ‘voyeuristic’, she speaks admiringly of the Monroe poems:

“Her poems are, by far, the heart of the book. She describes the human spirit as a ‘cobweb in the wind’; a sleeping lover’s vulnerability is tenderly captured; a suicide fantasy turns on itself to celebrate the beauty of a world that Monroe is not ready to leave. Her depression, her romantic spirit, her impenetrable loneliness is all there, and these poems could have been published on their own, albeit, in a slimmer volume.”

Writing on his blog today, pop star Moby raves about Marilyn’s poetic gifts. ‘Do 25 year old movie stars in 2010 read James Joyce or Leaves of Grass?’ he ponders.

Perhaps Moby could set Marilyn’s words to music. I loved his 1999 album Play, which combined electronica with vintage blues, gospel and folk.