Marilyn Steps Off the Casting Couch

Photo by Milton Greene, 1953

In the wake of last year’s scandal regarding sexual exploitation in Hollywood, several ill-informed commentators have claimed Marilyn as a historic symbol of the casting couch. In an interview with Stephanie Nolasco for Fox News, author Michelle Morgan explains how her new book – The Girl: Marilyn Monroe, The Seven Year Itch and the Birth of an Unlikely Feminist – sets the record straight. (You can read my review of The Girl here.)

“‘She had said that she never fell for it,’ Morgan told Fox News. ‘She had walked out of various interviews and situations that she deemed inappropriate … She was doing a series of interviews in 1954. At that time, she really wanted to write her autobiography but … In the end, she decided not to go through with it because it had been leaked out to the British press.’

In the mid-1950s, Monroe spoke out about being harassed by an executive whom she did not name. ‘She was very intelligent about that, to keep his name out of the article. But she certainly did speak about it.’

‘She was never going to let herself be victimized. She spoke about it and as a result, inspired other people to speak out … She was one of the only actresses in Hollywood at that time who was speaking out about that.’

Morgan added: ‘I think based on the things she said herself and the outspoken way she approached Hollywood, I personally don’t believe she was ever a victim of the casting couch. I think she was able to walk away.'”

UK Goes Cover Crazy for Marilyn

Marilyn is the cover girl of this month’s Yours Retro, with a four-page article inside by Michelle Morgan about The Girl, her new book. And Marilyn is also pictured in two other features, about Hollywood marriages and beauty secrets; while Richard Wattis (her co-star in The Prince and the Showgirl) is mentioned in a piece about great British character actors.

Interestingly, the same cover photo (by Sam Shaw) was used by sister magazine Yours back in 2006.

Marilyn also covers London-only magazine The Resident this month, with a two-page spread inside on Up Close With Marilyn, the Milton Greene exhibition at Proud Central until June 24. You can read the magazine online (here), and copies are also circulating on eBay.

‘Not-So-Dizzy’ Marilyn in the Weekly News

Marilyn is a favourite cover girl at Scotland’s Weekly News. Inside the latest edition, there’s a double-page spread with author Michelle Morgan talking about her new book, The Girl: Marilyn Monroe, The Seven Year Itch and the Birth of an Unlikely Feminist. The Weekly News is available from selected newsagents across the UK, and the second part of the interview will be published in next week’s issue.

British Press Goes Mad for Marilyn

British fans can expect lots of media coverage for Marilyn this month. In this week’s issue of free magazine Stylist, Rhiannon Lucy Coslett interviews gallery director Amy Thornett about Up Close With Marilyn, the exhibition of Milton Greene photos at London’s Proud Central  until June 24. You can read it here, or buy a copy (N415) for just £1 from Newsstand (shipping costs may vary outside the UK.)

And in the latest issue of The Lady (dated May 11), ‘Marilyn Monroe: An Unlikely Feminist’, a four-page article by Michelle Morgan, author of The Girl (just published in the US, and coming to our shores very soon), is accompanied by more Greene photos.

Finally, Alfred Eisenstadt’s 1953 portrait of Marilyn is featured in today’s Daily Mail, in a review of a new book by Ian Haydn Smith, The Short Story of Photography.

Thanks to Fraser, Valerie and Nicola at Marilyn Remembered

UPDATE: Here’s a few more…

From ‘Amateur Photographer’ magazine

‘The Girl’ Q&A at Immortal Marilyn

Author Michelle Morgan will be answering your questions about all things MM live on Immortal Marilyn’s Facebook page (here) this Sunday, May 6, at 1 pm central (7 pm in the UK.) And Immortal Marilyn president Leslie Kasperowicz has reviewed Michelle’s upcoming book, The Girl, here.

“Some may say that Marilyn Monroe wasn’t a feminist, and by much of today’s definition, she may not have been.  For her era, however, her stalwart refusal to bend to the pressure of men who could have destroyed her career is nothing short of remarkable.  Morgan sheds light on a side of Marilyn that is rarely discussed, the actress and the woman whose life and career were truly remarkable aside from all of the sensational tabloid trash that has dominated the narrative about Marilyn for so long.”

Getting Ready For ‘The Girl’ in May

Michelle Morgan’s new book, The Girl: Marilyn Monroe, The Seven Year Itch, and the Birth of an Unlikely Feminist, will be published on May 31. Ahead of a live chat with Michelle, Homegirl Talk has posted a wide-ranging interview, in which the prolific author and MM expert reveals her inspiration for The Girl...

“It was my editor’s idea, because she wanted to do a book about how The Seven Year Itch was an influential film that still inspires millions of people. I loved that idea, so we talked and decided to broaden it to include how the film inspired Marilyn and how that period of time became her most powerful and influential. Strangely, Marilyn’s time in New York and also her early modeling career have been two of my favorite periods of her life. Several years ago I was given the opportunity of writing about her modeling days, and now I’ve done the New York period, too. I’m really thrilled to have written about both.”

And don’t forget, Michelle will be a special guest at a panel discussion about Marilyn at London’s Birkbeck College on May 16 – more details here.

Marilyn Book News: The Girl, Hollywood and More

2018 is shaping up to be another great year for Marilyn’s book-loving fans. Marilyn: Lost and Forgotten, featuring 150 images from Colin Slater’s Hollywood Photo Archive, is set for publication in October. For those who can’t get enough of those classic Hollywood beauties, a companion volume – Venus in Hollywood: Portraits from the Golden Age of Glamour – is due in November.

Michelle Morgan’s latest book, The Girl: Marilyn Monroe, The Seven Year Itch, and the Birth of an Unlikely Feminist, will be published in May. For the latest updates, follow Michelle’s blog here.

Marilyn Monroe: The Private Life of a Public Icon, a full-scale biography by Charles Casillo, will follow in August.

Looking further ahead,  Amanda Konkle’s Some Kind of Mirror: Creating Marilyn Monroe, a scholarly look at her film performances, will be published in February 2019. (Only the Kindle version is available for pre-order as yet.)

In related interest, Marilyn graces the cover of Samantha Barbas’ Confidential Confidential: The Inside Story of Hollywood’s Notorious Scandal Magazine, due in September. (The notorious ‘Wrong Door Raid’ is also featured in Jim Heimann’s Dark City: The Real Los Angeles Noir, just published by Taschen.

Reno, a 2016 play by Roy Smiles about Marilyn’s conflicted relationships with husband Arthur Miller and director John Huston during the tumultuous filming of The Misfits, will be published shortly by Oberon Modern Playwrights (the Kindle version is currently available for pre-order.)

And finally, Elizabeth Winder’s Marilyn in Manhattan is now available in Turkish; and Marilyn Monroe: 1926-1962, a new study of her untimely death by Eva Enderström, has been published in Sweden.

Was Marilyn Really a Feminist?

Marilyn returns to Los Angeles after her triumphant studio battle in 1956 (photo from the Frieda Hull collection)

An extract from Michelle Morgan’s upcoming book, The Girl: Marilyn Monroe, The Seven Year Itch, and the Birth of an Unlikely Feminist, has been published in L.A. Weekly. Looking not only at Marilyn’s life but also the culture surrounding women in her time, Michelle brings some much-needed historic nuance to our perception of what it is to be a feminist.

“Since she was such a complex character, Marilyn Monroe found herself stuck in the middle of two different types of women: those who were disgusted or intimidated by her glamour and wanted her to tone everything down, and those who loved her look just as it was and wanted her to stop trying to be taken seriously.

It could easily be argued that Marilyn suffered frequent frustration because people wanted to pigeonhole her into being just one kind of personality. This undoubtedly came as a result of her unique and modern outlook on life—one more fitting to the twenty-first century rather than the 1950s. She was actually a modern-day feminist, though the very idea struck the nerves of many at the time.

Although vulnerable and complex, Marilyn was a strong woman who consistently fought for what she believed in. However, because of the confusion and stigma related to the word, it is highly unlikely that she would ever have considered herself a feminist in 1955. Friend Norman Rosten further doubted that she would have joined the women’s liberation movement in the 1960s and argued that in terms of economic equality, she had already proven herself.”

Bringing ‘The Girl’ to Birkbeck

A new book by one of Marilyn’s best biographers, Michelle Morgan’s The Girl: Marilyn Monroe, The Seven Year Itch, and the Birth of an Unlikely Feminist, is due to be published in May. I was lucky enough to read an advance copy, and will be reviewing it in due course. (And rest assured – you’re going to love it!)

But wait, there’s more – if you’re in London on the afternoon of May 16, Michelle will be discussing her book from 2-5 pm with Gabriella Apicella, Underwire Film Fest founder and ardent Monroe fan, and Catherine Grant, Professor of Screen Studies at the Birkbeck University cinema on Gordon Square, Bloomsbury. The conversation will be followed by a Q&A – more details here.