So many fans have discovered Marilyn through a TV documentary or magazine spread – so it’s a pity that the information isn’t always accurate. Not so, however, if that article is written by respected author Michelle Morgan. This biographical piece first appeared in Emirates Woman back in 2012, and has now been reprinted – and lavishly illustrated – in Social & Personal magazine. Unfortunately, this publication is only sold in Northern Ireland, although Michelle has posted a sneak preview here.
Marilyn gets a double-page spread in the latest issue of UK magazine My Weekly (dated August 13-20 – watch out for TV presenter Ruth Langsford on the cover), with fashion and beauty tips plus a hair makeover starring tribute artist Suzie Kennedy, all from Michelle Morgan’s newly-published The Little Book of Marilyn.
And talking of glamour girls, Marilyn’s Gentlemen Prefer Blondes co-star Jane Russell graces the latest cover of the Weekly News.
Thanks to Fraser Penney
Artist Alejandro Mogollo took inspiration from Marilyn’s last, unfinished movie, Something’s Got to Give.
In my hometown, the anniversary coincided with this year’s Brighton Pride.
Many fans, including biographer Michelle Morgan, paid eloquent tribute on social media.
And impersonator Jimmy James also had warm words for Marilyn.
Michelle Morgan’s latest, The Little Book of Marilyn, is now available and has been getting rave reviews from fans. It’s packed with well-chosen photos which aren’t often seen in print, plus chapters on why Marilyn continues to inspire, hair and make-up tutorials, fashion tips, and craft ideas.
Another tempting summer read is Ji-Min Lee’s Marilyn and Me, a novel set during Marilyn’s time in Korea. It’s next on my reading list, and hope to review both books at a later date.
Of related interest is Gravité Sur Billy Wilder, Emmanuel Burdeau’s French-language study of (arguably) Marilyn’s greatest director.
Coming in September, John William Law’s Goddess & the Girl Next Door compares Marilyn and that other fifties blonde, Doris Day. It’s a timely publication, arriving so soon after Ms Day’s passing (you can read my tribute to her here.)
And finally (for now), Biographic: Marilyn retells her story in infographics, coming in October from artist and author Katy Greenwood.
Monroe biographer Michelle Morgan spotted this burgundy striped Montana shirt-dress by Whistles at John Lewis today – not unlike the frock worn by Marilyn as cannery worker Peggy in Clash By Night (1952), although at £103.20, this may be out of most factory girls’ price range. (After last autumn’s checked trouser craze, could we be seeing the start of a new vintage glamour trend?)
Some Kind of Mirror: Creating Marilyn Monroe is a new academic study of Marilyn’s movie performances by Amanda Konkle. Although set for publication on February 28, it’s already in stock at The Book Depository. Having just read it, I can whole-heartedly recommend this book: it’s thoughtful without being stuffy, and puts the focus back on Marilyn’s work. Some Kind of Mirror is illustrated with screen-captures from Marilyn’s films, as well as the beautiful cover photo by Eve Arnold (showing Marilyn during filming of The Misfits, toasting her loyal friends and co-workers.)
Sarah Churchwell’s excellent 2005 ‘meta-biography’, The Many Lives of Marilyn Monroe, will be reissued in March, as well as being published digitally for the first time. (The only downside for me is no Marilyn on the cover!)
And looking further ahead, The Little Book of Marilyn: Inspiration From the Goddess of Glam – the latest from ace biographer Michelle Morgan – is coming in July.
“A lifestyle guide and tribute to the style, glamour, and showmanship of Hollywood’s most iconic star, with Marilyn-inspired lessons and inspiration for today’s woman.
While the 1950s was in many ways an era of repression for women, Marilyn Monroe broke barriers and rebelled against convention — and charmed the world with her beauty, talent, and irresistible personality. Filled with gorgeous photos, The Little Book of Marilyn will show you how to bring a touch of that glamour into your own life through:
- * Tutorials on recreating the star’s makeup looks
- * Style advice and tips on where to find Marilyn-like fashions
- * Décor ideas from Marilyn’s own homes
- * Everyday inspiration from her life that will let your inner Marilyn shine, and much more!”
Fleet Street photographer Horace Ward, who captured Marilyn and many other celebrities on film, has died. Ward photographed Marilyn at London Airport on November 20, 1956, during a final press conference before she and husband Arthur Miller departed for New York. Sir Laurence Olivier and his wife, Vivien Leigh, were also present. The atmosphere was far more muted that day than when Marilyn had arrived to film The Prince and the Showgirl four months previously, perhaps because of her fractured relationship with the British press (not to mention Olivier.) “What I do remember vividly, the coldness that night standing on the tarmac,” he wrote later. “I was frozen to the ground – just glad the flashbulbs went off.”
Horace was interviewed by author Michelle Morgan for the 2012 edition of her definitive biography, Marilyn Monroe: Private and Undisclosed. He recalled: “I remember a crowded press conference in the old tin-hut terminal with dreadful drab green curtains they had up as a backcloth, which everyone moaned about. There were hardly any fans about; it was mostly airport staff and a few police.”
In his bio for EPhotoZine, Horace noted that he began taking photographs in 1949. Self-taught, his first newspaper picture was published that year. After serving in the army, he worked in the photographic department of a national airline. By the early 1960s, he had moved to Fleet Street, with up to five pictures published each day. As well as Marilyn, he captured other blonde bombshells including singer Kathy Kirby, plus actresses Brigitte Bardot, Jayne Mansfield and Vera Day (who had earlier dyed her hair red to play Marilyn’s friend Betty in The Prince and the Showgirl.)
He was commissioned to photograph the legendary dance troupe, The Tiller Girls, for London’s Evening Standard in 1960. The British Music Hall Society has featured his photographs of Adam Faith, Alma Cogan, Anthony Newley, Kathy Kirby (a glamorous blonde singer whose looks were compared to Marilyn’s), Charlie Drake, Bernard Bresslaw, and Cliff Richard on their website. He also photographed Vera Day (who played on The Prince and the Showgirl) many visiting entertainers, including Pat Boone and Connie Francis.
Among his most famous subjects were Winston Churchill, Bob Hope, and Marilyn’s Gentlemen Prefer Blondes co-star, Jane Russell. Horace later became chief glamour photographer for a leading magazine. Further examples of his work can be found on the personal website of the Belgian actress Bettine Le Beau, who died in 2015. In later years he preferred to photograph steam trains (his father had worked for the Great Western Railway.)
“Horace was a brilliant photographer and a wonderful friend,” Michelle Morgan wrote today. “I knew Horace for fourteen years and he was always so kind, funny and supportive. I’ll always remember him with great warmth and affection.” You can read her tribute here.
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.'”
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.
You can read my review of Michelle Morgan’s new book, The Girl: Marilyn Monroe, The Seven Year Itch and the Birth of an Unlikely Feminist, here.