“This 1960 photo of Marilyn and Eli Wallach was taken with a Kodak ‘Brownie’ box camera by Lisa Graeber at Quail Canyon near Pyramid Lake, while filming The Misfits in Nevada.
Lisa Graeber (then Lisa Stix) was home for the summer after her first year at college when the movie crew took over their house in Quail Canyon, near Pyramid Lake. Graeber and her mother moved into their guesthouse during the filming, and got to know several of the cast and crew members. Graeber took personal photos with her Kodak ‘Brownie’ box camera, which have not yet been seen publicly and will be displayed at a free screening of The Misfits, on February 13 at 2pm, Wells Fargo Auditorium, Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center, University of Nevada, Reno.
‘There is something special about Lisa’s unstaged photos,’ said Donnelyn Curtis, head of the University’s Special Collections Department.
Curtis explained that Graeber’s brother, Dave Stix, a University alumnus and rodeo team member, was hired to be a night watchman for the Quail Canyon movie set, helped with the rodeo sets in Dayton, and found extras to be rodeo performers in the movie.
Film critic Robin Holabird will provide commentary and share stories about the various set locations at the Feb. 13 screening.
The screening is in conjunction with the “Honoring the Horse” exhibit, on display at the Knowledge Center through March. Since other “stars” in the movie were four-legged creatures – wild horses, rodeo horses and trained movie horses, the exhibit pays homage to these horses, and horses in general, which have played an important role in Nevada’s history.”
“This photograph, shot in Reno, Nevada in 1960 has an incredible sense of place and of Monroe’s vulnerability. She and Arnold first worked together on a shoot for Esquire magazine in 1952 and, as Arnold says: ‘She trusted me, and the bond between us was photography … It’s rather a wonderful picture I think because of the desert sky, the desert itself … and Marilyn absolutely oblivious to the rest of us around her.’ Magnum had sent nine photographers to cover the making of The Misfits, surely the most ever, but it was Arnold’s work that really stood out. This was a looser, more intimate look than Hollywood had ever shown before in its publicity stills.”
“These races started in 1960 when the San Francisco Chronicle and the Phoenix Sun challenged each other to a race. The winner was Hollywood director John Huston, who was filming The Misfits nearby. Two stars of the film, Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable, were among the spectators as camels ran a 100-yard dash through the middle of this Comstock Lode town.” – Wall Street Journal
(I suspect that this event may not have been quite so enjoyable for Marilyn, who like her character, Roslyn, was acutely sensitive to the welfare of animals.)
“Toni Westbrook-Van Cleave was only 6 at the time, but she still remembers Marilyn Monroe strapping on a toy gun belt and playing cowboys and Indians with her young brother during a break in filming of The Misfits.
Like other residents of the small northern Nevada town of Dayton, she had no clue of the demons that drove Monroe to be consistently late on the set, causing frustrating delays for director John Huston and co-stars Clark Gable and Montgomery Clift.
‘She was gorgeous, very sweet, naive,’ recalled Van Cleave, who was a $10-a-day extra during a rodeo scene. ‘She wasn’t snobby. She seemed real down to earth and friendly.'”
“Celebrating her 90th birthday soon, Kay recalls watching Hollywood’s favorite movie stars acting on Pike Street: ‘We watched it being filmed,’ she said of Marilyn’s famous paddle board scene taken in the Odeon’s Saloon. ‘That silk dress she wore was really tight,’ she laughed at the memory.”
“Fall 2010 is the 50th anniversary of the filming of The Misfits in Reno, Dayton and the Pyramid Lake area. The star-studded film, written by Arthur Miller and directed by John Huston, was the last movie appearance for both Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable, and also featured Montgomery Clift, Thelma Ritter and Eli Wallach.
However, other ‘stars’ in the movie were four-legged creatures – wild horses, rodeo horses and trained movie horses played prominent roles in the film. To pay homage to these horses, along with horses in general, which have played such an important role in Nevada’s history, the ‘Honoring the Horse’ exhibit will be featured in the University of Nevada, Reno’s Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center beginning Sept. 15.
The ‘Honoring the Horse’ exhibit will run through March 2011, and in February, the Knowledge Center will host a discussion and showing of ‘The Misfits’, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the film’s release.
For more information, go to www.knowledgecenter.unr.edu/specoll, or call 775-682-5665.”
“The Misfit Flats are among the most beautiful spots in the world to me!! I was utterly mesmerized. I remember vividly the exact first moment I stood there and the exquisite calm that came over me. I felt it was my natural spot. I couldn’t love that stretch of desert more, but then I loved Dayton and that fabulous bar with the dollars on the ceiling. I’ve loved the memories of that film again and again…”
“The Historical Society of Dayton Valley and Dayton Valley Days committee are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the filming of The Misfits in Dayton and Stagecoach on Sept. 18 and 19 on Dayton’s 160-year-old streets. Here’s a chance to connect with this community’s roots.
To make this event special, we are asking locals who remember the shooting of The Misfits to share their favorite local story, photographs or unique memorabilia on Saturday, Sept. 18, at a ‘Reminiscing The Misfits’ rap session at the Dayton Valley Community Center at 170 Pike St., Old Town Dayton beginning at 2 p.m.
To add to the fun, the historical society is sponsoring a Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable ‘look alike’ contest with a $50 cash prize going to each winner. Contestants are being asked to participate in the parade that begins at 10 a.m. Judges will finalize their decisions after the parade about 11:30 at the community center.
On Saturday afternoon at 4:30 p.m. and at 6:30 p.m., the Misfits Theater Group is presenting a melodramatic skit telling a tale about your favorite stars in The Misfits movie. The live act is being held at the famous Odeon Hall’s ballroom where many of the movie’s action scenes occurred.
This so-called ‘last weekend’ (actually, Marilyn died on the following weekend) remains one of the most controversial aspects of Marilyn’s days, and Greco’s memories are bittersweet:
“Buddy Greco recalls of her demeanour later that weekend: ‘She was fragile, very fragile – well, she’d gone.’ Many blamed the Kennedys.
Of course, she could still shine when she wanted to. But by now her gloss was too often just a thin veneer.
Despite her depression, she initially appeared in good shape when she arrived at Cal-Neva, after flying there on Sinatra’s private plane.
‘When she arrived that Saturday, you’d never believe that she had a care in the world,’ recalls Buddy Greco. ‘I was sitting with Frank [Sinatra], Peter Lawford and a bunch of other people, outside Frank’s bungalow, when a limousine pulls up and this gorgeous woman in dark glasses steps out,’ he says.
‘She’s dressed all in green – everything green: coat, skirt and scarf. Before I realised who it was, I thought: “My God, what a beautiful woman. No taste in clothes, but what a beautiful woman!”
‘I knew that she’d been to my concerts and shows. She was a regular at the Crescendo club in Hollywood where I often played.
‘We’d said hello a few times, but were never properly introduced. When Frank introduced us, I said: “You won’t remember me, but I was the piano player when you auditioned for the Benny Goodman band in 1948.”
‘She got emotional at that and hugged me. She had such warmth – and I was moved. Somebody took some wonderful shots of that moment, of us hugging.’
But by the end of the first evening, a darker Monroe was beginning to emerge. Greco had finished his first performance in the hotel’s lounge and had joined Sinatra and the other guests at Sinatra’s regular table.
‘It was a wonderful time, a magical weekend. It is so hard to describe now but it was maybe the best time of my life.
‘Then suddenly the room went silent and very still. It was surreal. As if somebody had turned the sound off. I looked at Frank. I could immediately tell he was furious. His eyes were like blue ice cubes.
‘He was looking at the doorway where Marilyn was stood, swaying ever so slightly.’
‘She was still in the same green outfit she’d worn all day,’ says Greco. ‘But the woman I’d met that afternoon – smart , funny, intelligent, fragile – had gone.
‘Now she looked drunk and, well, defiant. She was clearly angry and I think I heard her say: “Who the f*** are they all staring at?”‘
Sinatra – who was obviously irritated by her erratic behaviour – acted fast.
‘It was clear Sinatra was worried. She was in a state where she could have said anything,’ says Greco.
This would have been a major concern for many of those around the table. Monroe, after all, knew an awful lot of secrets – and, in her condition, might have been prepared to share them.
‘Sinatra motioned to his bodyguard – Coochie – to get her out of there. Coochie, a big guy, escorted her out. Actually, he picked her up and carried her out. It wasn’t the star we were used to seeing.’
The incident upset Buddy Greco. He had felt such warmth and vulnerability in her only a few hours earlier and could not understand how she had changed so terribly and suddenly.
‘She was on my mind,’ he says. ‘I was worried about her. I went outside to find out whether she was okay. I knew that she had taken accidental overdoses in the past.
‘I found her by the pool. There was nobody around. It was late and the pool was deserted.
‘Maybe it was the moon but she had a ghostly pallor. It still didn’t occur to me that she might be a woman not long for this world.
‘She was distressed, out of it, but that was all. Maybe her friends were used to seeing her like that but it worried me. Anyway, we talked.
‘I walked her back to her bungalow in the complex reserved for the guests of Frank and Giancana where we all stayed.
‘I thought that the next morning I could put her with Pat Lawford [the Kennedys’ sister], who was her companion, and make sure she got back to L.A. safely.
‘But the next day when I called, she had already left. That was the last time I saw her.’ So does he think that Sinatra had finally lost patience with Monroe and by abandoning her had left her to her fate?
‘That’s a possible scenario,’ Greco answered thoughtfully. ‘After she had created that problem, he certainly wanted her out of there. He could be quite firm with her.'”
The article is very speculative, but nonetheless, Greco’s memories are fascinating, as veteran showbiz columnist Liz Smith has noted:
“IT WAS 48 years ago today that Marilyn Monroe died. On the evening of Saturday, August 4, 1962, or the wee hours of Sunday, the fifth. (Talking to her therapist earlier in the day, she exclaimed, “Here I am. I am supposed to be the most glamorous woman in the world, and I don’t have a date on Saturday night!”)
Sinatra, by every account, was totally undone, devastated when word came of Marilyn’s death. (Sinatra’s valet, George Jacobs, believes Sinatra would have married Monroe, if for no other reason than to ‘save her.’) In any case Frank certainly never spoke of what really happened at the Cal Neva Lodge.”
“Not far from Virginia City is the former mining town of Dayton. However, Dayton — immediately off Highway 50 — became famous not for gold and silver, but for its role as a backdrop for The Misfits, a 1961 movie starring Clark Cable, Marilyn Monroe and Montgomery Clift.
In the movie, Mia’s restaurant in Dayton was used, and if you take a little time to visit the restaurant’s contiguous bar, you’ll see life-size photographs of Marilyn Monroe.
Knowing about the movie’s impact on the area, we camped one night in Dayton and then watched the movie on DVD. With a little direction from the bartender, we found the setting for a major scene in which Marilyn Monroe had sat on a pile of trash, listening as Montgomery Clift poured out his tales of broken-hearted loves. Clift played a masterful role as a cowboy working rodeos, and Gable had the role of an aging cowboy determined at times to lose himself in the empty space of Nevada. Here, we soon discovered, you can easily do that better than most any place else in America, definitely making Highway 50 the road to ride.”
Footage from The Misfits
If you remember The Misfits filming in Dayton, please share your memories – more info here