No Sale for Disputed MM ‘Sex Tape’

A 1940s porn film, said by current owner Mikel Barsa to feature an ‘underage’ Marilyn Monroe, failed to sell at auction in Buenos Aires yesterday, after MM’s estate denounced it as ‘fraudulent’.

‘Whoever the woman in the film may have been, even alleging that it shows Monroe violates her intellectual property rights and will cost Barsa dearly if he goes ahead with the sale,’ said Nancy Carlson, a spokeswoman for Authentic Brands Group (ABG.)

Collector Scott Fortner pointed out the many differences between the young Marilyn and the girl in the clip in a recent blog post. Michelle Morgan, author of Marilyn Monroe: Private and Undisclosed, told ABC News, ‘Marilyn at the time of this tape had a very slim figure, a widow’s peak and perfect teeth.’

To the San Jose Mercury, Morgan added, ‘Marilyn had no motivation at all to make a porn movie…Her friends all agree that she never, ever showed any signs of having earned money in any other way than modeling or working as a real actress.’

While conceding that Monroe ‘wasn’t a prude’, Dr Lois Banner (author of MM – Personal) advised, ‘There have been numerous tapes alleging to have caught Marilyn at a particular moment in a particular sexual indiscretion, but I would not accept any such tape without a documented provenance…No one would buy a Miro or a Picasso without such documentation, my understanding is that the person selling the tape has brought none of this forward.’

Mr Barsa – who was previously threatened with legal action when he first revealed his discovery in 1997 –  commented, ‘It always is the same story when it comes to Marilyn – to deny, deny, deny and to threaten.’

George Chakiris Remembers ‘Blondes’

George Chakiris, who danced alongside Marilyn in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, appeared at this week’s TCM Classic Film Festival in Los Angeles, and recalled his work with choreographer Jack Cole.

“Jack Cole and Robert Alton were the two everyone wanted to dance for. I remember during rehearsal Cole was sitting in his chair and he got up to demonstrate. It was an explosion of dance.

I’m so glad I got to work once for him in that incredible number. He made Jane Russell look so good too.

I loved that time in my life. I was part of the last generation. You would come to work, everyone’s in rehearsal clothes. For filming, you’re all in costume and make up. And there’s that lovely shiny floor…

You’ve been rehearsing to a piano. When they play the orchestra music on the set, it gives you energy you didn’t have. It gives you adrenaline.”

Chakiris is best known for his role as Bernardo, leader of The Sharks, in West Side Story (1963.) In the dance number, ‘America’, a peeling billboard for The Misfits, with a painting of Marilyn’s face, can be glimpsed. It was filmed in New York in 1962, where the Metropolitan Opera now stands.

He had also danced with Marilyn, and Cole, in There’s No Business Like Show Business (1954). In 2007, Chakiris spoke to Michelle Morgan, author of Marilyn Monroe: Private and Undisclosed:

“When Marilyn died, I was in Japan making a movie, and I remember being so sad because it seemed to be our loss…She was so gifted.”

Gus Zernial 1923-2011

Gus Zernial, the left-fielder and right-hand batter who played in baseball’s Major League during the 1950s, has died aged 87. Along with Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra, Zernial hit the most home runs during the decade.

Zernial is also known to MM fans because of the publicity photo he posed for with a young Marilyn in March 1951, while he was with the Chicago White Sox at spring training camp in Pasadena. (He is standing next to her in the picture above.)

‘I was really attracted to her beauty, but more than that,’ Zernial told author Michelle Morgan, as quoted in her 2007 book, Marilyn Monroe: Private and Undisclosed. ‘She was attractive both inside and out – a beautiful person to talk to, and I also believe she had a lot more to offer than the way she was shown by Hollywood.’

The stunt was organised by press agent David March. After the pictures were published, none other than Joe DiMaggio asked, ‘Who’s the blonde?’

The story goes that in early 1952, when DiMaggio was visiting Los Angeles, March arranged a date with Marilyn. And the rest, as they say, is history…

Norman Wisdom 1915-2010

Sir Norman Wisdom, who Charlie Chaplin once described as ‘my favourite comedian’, has died aged 95.

Marilyn met Wisdom in 1956 while filming The Prince and the Showgirl at Pinewood Studios in England, as he told biographer Michelle Morgan:

“I was making my film A Stitch in Time*, and on several occasions she came in to watch my work. In fact, she quite unintentionally ruined a couple of takes. Obviously, of course, once the director has said ‘Action’, everyone must remain silent, no matter how funny the situation might be, but Marilyn could not help laughing, and on two occasions she was politely escorted off the set. The nicest thing that happened was that we passed each other in the hallway one lunchtime. It was crowded, but she still caught hold of me, kissed and hugged me, and walked away laughing. Everybody in the hall could not believe it, and I remember my director, Bob Asher, shouting out, ‘You lucky little swine’ – I agreed with him.”

From Marilyn Monroe: Private and Undisclosed

*A Stitch in Time was released in 1964. Perhaps Sir Norman was thinking of Up in the World (1956) or Just My Luck (1957)?

Marilyn’s Literary Loves

Marilyn reads Whitman in her apartment, 1952 - photo by John Florea

Monroe, whose death at the age of 36 remains a mystery, was an avid reader and something of a culture vulture while she lived in New York, frequently visiting museums and attending plays. Not that she got any credit for her intellect. Michelle Morgan, who wrote Marilyn Monroe: Private and Undisclosed, said: “She played ditzy blondes and for some reason people believed that was the person she was, but that couldn’t have been further from the truth. It’s intriguing that she seems to be one of the only actresses who people confuse with her parts. People believed she was a joke but she was always trying to better herself.”

Previewing Fragments:Poems Intimate Notes, Letters, the upcoming collection of Marilyn Monroe’s writings, in today’s Independent

Marilyn’s Yoga Connection

“Marilyn’s latest kick is yoga,” wrote gossip columnist Walter Winchell in 1956…”To improve her legs, she says.”

Elephant Journal

The photo above was used for a fascinating cover article in February 2006 for the UK’s Yoga magazine, written by Michelle Morgan, author of Marilyn Monroe: Private and Undisclosed (and herself an experienced yoga instructor), regarding Marilyn’s own lifelong quest for self-improvement, whether through reading, art, lifting weights or jogging.

The photo is part of a series taken by Ed Cronenwerth as early as 1948, while Marilyn was under contract to Columbia (where she won her first starring role in a minor musical, Ladies of the Chorus.)

While there is little evidence to suggest that Marilyn practised yoga regularly, she was certainly one of the first Hollywood stars to champion the traditional eastern discipline. Monroe is also said to have pursued further instruction in the final year of her life.

George Barris, 1962

MM Trunk at TK Maxx

Retails at £40 (there is also a smaller size), photographed by proud owner and ES Blog reader Michelle Morgan of Northamptonshire.

As some of you will know already, Michelle is the author of Marilyn Monroe: Private and Undisclosed (2007), one of the best biographies around.

And before you ask, that’s not the ghost of Maf-Honey on the carpet, but Michelle’s very own Betty the Bichon!