Over at The Wrap, Rosemary Rossi picks ten movie clips showcasing Marilyn in her prime, with praise from leading critics.
“It has been observed that no matter how a scene was lighted, Monroe had the quality of drawing all the light to herself. In her brief scenes here, surrounded by actors much more experienced, she is all we can look at.” – Roger Ebert on ‘All About Eve’
“The reality was that she was a great, natural comedienne. She took superficial, cut-out roles and elevated them to whole new levels.” – Peter Bogdanovich on ‘Monkey Business’
“Monroe’s inflections and expressions have a deliciously clever and sharply experienced irony” – Richard Brody on ‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’
“So arresting is Monroe’s presence that when she’s not on-screen, we wait impatiently, wondering, Where have you gone, Mrs. DiMaggio?” – Melissa Anderson on ‘The Seven Year Itch’
“Monroe steals it, as she walked away with every movie she was in. It is an act of the will to watch anyone else while she is on the screen.” – Roger Ebert on ‘Some Like It Hot’
Marilyn brings the spring to Reagan Park in Palestine, Texas with a rare outdoor screening of Monkey Business this Saturday, March 11, as part of the Classic Movies in the Park series, reports the Palestine Herald-Press.
A photographic archive from the estate of legendary Hollywood cameraman Milton Krasner will be auctioned at Laidlaw’s in Carlisle, England on March 25, the Daily Mail reports. As the full catalogue has not yet been published, it is unclear how many photos feature Marilyn, other than the image shown above (with Krasner standing behind director Howard Hawks.) However, the star and her four-time lensman were photographed together during their earliest collaboration on All About Eve; and Sam Shaw captured them on the set of their penultimate project, The Seven Year Itch. (Krasner also filmed ‘The Ransom of the Red Chief’ for the portmanteau film, O. Henry’s Full House, though he was uncredited. Marilyn appeared in another segment.)
“An official photograph taken on the set of the 1950s classic, Monkey Business, featuring Marilyn Monroe and Cary Grant in roller skates is a noteworthy picture that offers a behind-the-scenes glimpse into Krasner’s work.
A program from the 23rd Annual Academy Awards – when Krasner’s movie All About Eve received a record-breaking 14 nominations – and a signed Christmas card from American costume designer Charles LeMaire are just one of the rare pictures from Krasner’s archive that will be on sale.
The two had worked together on All About Eve and would go on to work together on The Seven Year Itch.
Krasner’s work with Marilyn Monroe and their shared filmography includes All About Eve, Monkey Business, O. Henry’s Full House, The Seven Year Itch and Bus Stop.”
Hope College in Holland, Michigan will pay tribute to Marilyn with a season of four films at the Knickerbocker Theatre on Monday nights this August, including Monkey Business (August 1); There’s No Business Like Show Business (August 8); The Seven Year Itch (August 15) and Some Like it Hot (August 22.)
“In the final weeks of the exhibition, the gallery is presenting a number of programs to complement the exhibition:
Curator’s introduction, noon, Thursday, June 23. Join exhibition curator Tansy Curtin for a special overview, as she discusses the exhibition and the life of Marilyn Monroe. Free with valid exhibition ticket.
Film marathon, Monkey Business, 2.30pm, Saturday, July 9. Enjoy access to some of the highlights from Marilyn’s career with successive film screenings at the La Trobe University VAC. Limited numbers. First in best dressed.”
The release of The Misfits on February 1, 1961 – exactly fifty-five years ago this week – was overshadowed by the recent death of Clark Gable, and Marilyn’s divorce from Arthur Miller. Nonetheless, one of the most favourable reviews came from Kate Cameron, critic for the New York Daily News, and has been republished in full.
“Arthur Miller sang a sweet swan-song to his ex-wife, Marilyn Monroe, in The Misfits. His written tribute describes her as a beautiful, beloved and ‘loving, sweetly sentimental woman with an emanating lost lady’ aura. The story is prophetic when the song, gay through most of the action, goes into a minor key, as if the author were aware that his love was slipping away from him …
Gable has never done anything better on the screen, nor has Miss Monroe. Gable’s acting is vibrant and lusty, hers true to the character as written by Miller.
It is, I believe, of finer quality and of greater dramatic interest than any American product released last year … The screen vibrates with emotion during the latter part of the film, as Marilyn and Gable engage in one of those battles of the sexes that seem eternal in their constant eruption …”
While some highbrow critics were slow to warm to Marilyn’s talent, Kate Cameron was one of her early champions. Here is a selection of her comments:
“Marilyn Monroe, cast as Miss Stanwyck’s gay, excitement-craving future sister-in-law, is a real acting threat to the season’s screen blondes.” – Clash by Night (1952)
“Marilyn Monroe and David Wayne play their roles well, the former representing a successful contestant in the ‘Mrs America’ beauty pageant, the latter as her disgruntled husband.” – We’re Not Married (1952)
“Ginger and Cary are assisted in this amusing nonsense by Marilyn Monroe, who can look and act dumber than any of the screen’s current blondes.” – Monkey Business (1952)
“Betty Grable, Lauren Bacall and Marilyn Monroe give off the quips and cracks, generously supplied by Nunnally Johnson, with a naturalness that adds to their strikingly humorous effect, making the film the funniest comedy of the year.” – How to Marry a Millionaire (1953)
“Marilyn stars in three specialty numbers amusingly, as she does a comic burlesque as the sexy singer of naughty songs.” – There’s No Business Like Show Business (1954)
George Karl Wentzlaff, who appeared in two of Marilyn’s films under the stage name of George Winslow – and was nicknamed ‘Foghorn’ for his distinctive baritone – has died aged 69, reports the Santa Rosa Press Democrat.
Born in Los Angeles in 1946, George first found fame at the tender age of six on Art Linkletter’s radio show, People Are Funny. After hearing George on the radio, actor Cary Grant asked him to appear in his 1952 film, Room For One More.
This was followed by a role as a cub scout in Howard Hawks’ Monkey Business, which also starred Cary Grant alongside Marilyn, although she did not appear in any scenes with George. He then played the title role in another Fox comedy, My Pal Gus, opposite Richard Widmark. The press reported that a scene was being filmed outside the Beverly Carleton Hotel, where Marilyn was then living, and she was inadvertently filmed while watching the action from her balcony. However, she cannot be seen in the movie.
George finally got his chance to work with Marilyn in another Hawks movie, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953.) He plays Henry Spofford III, a billionaire that gold-digger Lorelei Lee (MM) hopes to make a play for while on a cruise. When he sits beside her at the captain’s table, however, she is shocked to discover his true age.
In another scene, Lorelei sneaks into the cabin of a private detective who is monitoring her antics, but becomes stuck while attempting to climb out through a porthole. Spofford, who is on deck, agrees to help her for two reasons: ‘The first reason is I’m too young to be sent to jail. The second reason is you got a lot of animal magnetism.’
They are interrupted when an elderly English aristocrat, Sir Francis ‘Piggy’ Beekman (Charles Coburn), also appears on deck. Hidden under a blanket, Spofford acts as Lorelei’s ventriloquist, explaining that she has a severe case of laryngitis. ‘A child with the voice of a man, Winslow contrasted with Marilyn, a woman with the voice of a child,’ author Gary Vitacco-Robles observed in his 2014 biography, Icon: The Life Times and Films of Marilyn Monroe, Volume 1 1926-1956.
Photos taken on the set show a warm affection between George and his leading lady. ‘The thing I remember most is working with this beautiful lady from early in the morning until late at night,’ George said later. ‘Then as my folks were getting me dressed to go home she came out of her dressing room without any makeup. If I hadn’t recognized her voice I’d never have believed she was the same person.’
George went on to star opposite Clifton Webb in Mister Scoutmaster (1953), and worked with Charles Coburn again in The Rocket Man (1954.) He appeared alongside Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis in their 1956 comedy, Artists and Models. He also acted in TV shows including Ozzie and Harriet and Blondie.
After his voice broke, the offers dried up, and twelve year-old George played his last film role in Wild Heritage (1958.) Putting stardom behind him, George served in the US Navy during the Vietnam War, and later joined the Postal Service.
After retiring a few years ago, George volunteered at a military antiques store and museum in Petaluma, California, where he enjoyed talking with other veterans. Known as Wally to friends in the west county, George was an easygoing man, quirky and caring and ‘about the nicest guy you could ever know,’ Braafladt said. ‘I think he was genuinely happy with where his life was.’
He survived heart surgery in 2013, but on June 13, he died of a heart attack. Kevin Braafladt, George’s friend and owner of the museum, called at his Camp Meeker home after he failed to show up for work the next day, and found his body.
George was sharing his home with about 25 cats. Braafladt is currently caring for them all, and hopes to find them new homes through an animal shelter. ‘His love was the cats,’ Braafladt said. ‘He’d always talk about them.’
George had said he had no heirs and the coroner’s office was unable to locate any relatives, Braafladt said. A memorial service will be held in Petaluma at a date to be determined. Wentzlaff will be buried with military honors at the Sacramento Valley National Cemetery near Dixon in July.
Although best-known for his role as Lee Majors’ boss in The Six Million Dollar Man, Richard Anderson’s career dates back to the golden age of Hollywood. Born in 1926, he made his movie debut in 1947 – just like Marilyn Monroe. Anderson would later appear in Bus Stop, a TV series based on Marilyn’s 1956 movie. But as he reveals in a new book, Richard Anderson – At Last…, their first encounter occurred long before she appeared before a camera.
“Part of my job as Commissioner of Safety at University High was to sit at the east gate to make sure that the students had a pass to come to school and leave.
One day, I was eating a 15-cent lunch of egg salad sandwich and my favourite dessert – sherbet.
Sitting there eating raspberry sherbet, the east gate door opens and in walks this lady. Blonde with everything else that counts. She gave me a big smile, and I stopped eating.
‘How are you?’ she murmured.
‘I’m fine now,’ I said…
From the east gate to the main building is a long, long walk. She smiled her beautiful smile and then slowly moved away – very slowly – I watched the way she moved until she was out of sight. What a walk. I was transfixed. I also wasn’t hungry anymore…
Moreover, I forgot to ask for her pass!
I would later learn that her name was Norma Jeane Mortenson. But she will be forever be known to all as…Marilyn Monroe.”
Anderson was also a student at University High School, volunteering for the Commissioner of Safety post in 1941. Norma Jeane’s first boyfriend, Chuck Moran – whom she dated that year – was a University High student, although at the time of their relationship, Norma Jeane attended Emerson Junior High.
In September 1941, while living with Grace Goddard and her family, Norma Jeane enrolled at Van Nuys High. But in February 1942, after Grace’s husband was promoted to a post in his native West Virginia, fifteen year-old Norma Jeane returned to live with Ana Lower, and transferred to University High. By June, she had left school to marry Jim Dougherty.
Norma Jeane was not yet a blonde at this time, although she could be described as ‘California blonde’ (because her hair lightened in the sun.) But Anderson’s story rings true. By the late 1940s, he was a member of the Actors Lab in Los Angeles, recalling that Marilyn and John Garfield were also regulars.
He also recalls seeing Marilyn, now a major star, in the Fox Commissary with her Monkey Business co-star Cary Grant and director Howard Hawks. Grant went to the trouble of introducing her to Anderson. However, she recognised him instantly.
This story is also believable, as Marilyn never took even the smallest kindness for granted. Anderson writes that he was on loan to Fox for A Life of Her Own (starring Lana Turner), but that film was made at MGM in 1950, two years before Monkey Business.
Writing for the BFI blog, Samuel Wigley names Monkey Business – the Howard Hawks farce in which Marilyn plays the hapless Miss Laurel – among co-star Cary Grant’s ten best movies. (Wigley gets one thing wrong, though – Lois is the only main character who doesn’t take the serum, and is thus the ‘straight woman’ of the story.)
“No apologies for listing all five of the Grant-Hawks collaborations in a Grant top 10. Their last together, 1952’s Monkey Business is the silliest of the lot and features Grant as Dr Barnaby Fulton, an absent-minded professor whose newly invented elixir of youth ends up being mixed inside the water cooler by a lab chimpanzee. One-by-one Fulton, his wife (Ginger Rogers) and his secretary (Marilyn Monroe) are reverted to the state of immature, prank-pulling children. Echoes of Bringing Up Baby abound in the showdown between fusty expertise and unfettered animal instinct, and if Rogers is little match for Hepburn, Monroe positively sparkles in this early role.”
Charles Coburn – Marilyn’s venerable co-star in Monkey Business and Gentleman Prefer Blondes – is profiled today at Immortal Ephemera. The article mentions an interview Coburn gave to columnist Bob Thomas -published in December 1952, while Blondes was in production.
“In the early fifties Coburn supported Cary Grant from the same office as Marilyn Monroe in Monkey Business (1952). A year later Coburn found himself supporting Marilyn in the classic Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), also starring Jane Russell. ‘I can’t think of any more pleasant work than watching Miss Monroe and Miss Russell,’ Coburn told Bob Thomas late in 1952. ‘Each possesses sex appeal to a remarkable degree. That is a kind of animal magnetism which is rare in human beings.’ Then, showing his age, Coburn added, ‘Some of the great figures of the theatre had it—women like Anna Held and Lillian Russell.’ Coburn also appreciated their sense of humor and how down to earth each of the younger actresses were. ‘Neither of them has let fame go to her head; they are regular and don’t put on airs.'”
In 1957, Marilyn would impersonate Lillian Russell – one of the most famous actresses of the late 19th and early 20th century, when Coburn’s long career was just beginning – for her ‘Fabled Enchantresses’ photo shoot with Richard Avedon, published in Life magazine.