Happy Birthday, Mister Lemmon

Marilyn with Jack Lemmon (centre) and Tony Curtis in ‘Some Like It Hot’

Jack Lemmon was born on this day in 1925. Today, Hannah Gatward has posted a selection of Lemmon’s best films on the BFI blog – and unsurprisingly, Some Like It Hot is right up there.

“The first of seven films with Billy Wilder, and Lemmon’s most iconic comedic performance. On the run after witnessing the St Valentine’s Day massacre, musicians Jerry (Lemmon) and his partner Joe (Tony Curtis) disguise themselves as women and escape in an all-girls band, befriending Marilyn Monroe’s magnificent Sugar Kane along the way. It’s timeless farcical fun, with every scene expertly executed. One of the film’s greatest joys is the way Lemmon immerses himself into his alter ego Daphne – his enthusiasm is infectious.”

Meanwhile, the ever-popular Some Like It Hot will be screened soon in two very different, yet fitting venues: firstly, at the Pickwick Theater in Chicago’s upscale Park Ridge district on February 13 (the movie’s storyline begins in Chicago); and secondly, at the Brighton Bar in Long Branch, New Jersey on February 14 (Some Like It Hot also features the notorious St Valentine’s Day Massacre as a plot device.)

‘Marilyn: Character Not Image’

Marilyn at the East of Eden premiere in 1955 – photo and manipulation for Arthur Fellig, aka ‘Weegee’

Marilyn: Character Not Image, a new exhibition curated by none other than the multi-talented actress, comedienne and host of TV’s The View, Whoopi Goldberg – a woman who has consistently defied stereotyping throughout her long career – will open at Jersey City’s Mana Contemporary on September 25, through to October 22.

“This show presents a different side to the legendary actress: behind the glamour was a vulnerable, sensitive, and ambitious young woman who spent time writing poems and diary entries to self-analyze, understand, and reassure herself. In these writings, she craves love and friendship, and battles with ongoing pain, heartbreak, and disappointment. She attempts to understand the world on her terms, tries to accept her insecurities and fears, and to become a better artist.

Milton Greene was a personal friend who constructed many famous images of Marilyn the star, but he also took many intimate photographs of Marilyn the person. The images here demonstrate her sweetness, humor, and impatience: with husband Arthur Miller, talking to animals, receiving directions for a photoshoot, taking a summer dip. The images by Weegee reveal a sly complicity between subject and photographer: his dark-room distorted imagery pokes fun at the unreal and absurd facets of the Hollywood industry, of which Marilyn was keenly aware.

Also on view is the dress she wore during the unforgettable 1962 performance singing ‘Happy Birthday’ for President John F. Kennedy at Madison Square Garden, perhaps the most significant moment of her career, the crystallization of the persona she was continually creating since she dreamed of becoming an actress as a little girl. The dress and the drawings are on loan from Julien’s Auctions’ forthcoming November events.

‘The image of Marilyn Monroe the icon endures and strengthens as time goes by, but her personal life remains a mystery,’ says Whoopi Goldberg. ‘With this exhibition I wanted to show a glimpse of the woman behind the icon using, before now, never-before-seen images, some of her personal writings, and some pieces of her artwork.'”

Thanks to Edgar Freire

‘Forever Marilyn’ Leaves Palm Springs

Photo by Mel Melcon

Seward Johnson’s giant Forever Marilyn sculpture has left Palm Springs for the East Coast. Carol Channing, star of the original Broadway production of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, made an appearance at a farewell party on Friday, which was attended by 2,000 people – with city officials promising to get her back, reports the Desert Sun.

‘Forever Marilyn’ is heading for Trenton, New Jersey, for a Johnson retrospective at the annual Grounds For Sculpture exhibition, opening on May 4 through to September 21.

Photo by Michael Snyder


‘Forever Marilyn’ Leaving Palm Springs

Seward Johnson’s giant sculpture, ‘Forever Marilyn’, will soon be heading for New Jersey – but Palm Springs residents hope her departure won’t be permanent, reports The Press Enterprise.

“‘It’s going to be a very sad day not only for Palm Springs residents but for the entire Coachella Valley,’ said Aftab Dada, general manager of the Hilton Palm Springs and chairman of P.S. Resorts, a group of hotels that brought the statue to town nearly two years ago.

‘She’s really become family,’ Dada said.

A going-away party, open to the public, is planned for March 27. Details are still being hashed out.

Dada said there is a possibility the city can bring Monroe back after redevelopment of Desert Fashion Plaza is completed. A new hotel and shops are planned on the corner where the statue now stands. He said there are no plans to install another statue in the interim.

The Forever Marilyn statue, on loan from The Sculpture Foundation, will be transported to Hamilton, N.J., where it will be part of an exhibit honoring its designer, Seward Johnson.

Dada said a big reason for the statue’s success was the location — in the heart of downtown, with the San Jacinto Mountains as a backdrop.

‘The setting we have will be impossible to duplicate,’ Dada said.”

‘Artie, Gadge and Marilyn’ in North Jersey

Artie, Gadge, Marilyn and HUAC is a new play by Thom Molnyneaux, based on the love triangle between Elia Kazan, Arthur Miller and MM, and set against the background of the infamous ‘red-baiting’ era.

The play’s first public reading (with actress Lee Ann Hoover playing Monroe) will take place on December 27 (tomorrow night), at 8 pm in The Becton Theatre on the campus of Fairleigh Dickinson in Teaneck, North Jersey.

What’s Next for ‘Forever Marilyn’?

Photo by Danielle Clasing

An editorial for the Chicago Tribune recalls the hullabaloo caused by Seward Johnson’s ‘Forever Marilyn’ in 2011, and speculates on the giant sculpture’s future (as it’s currently in Palm Springs.)

“The California-based foundation that oversees the work of Marilyn’s sculptor, Seward Johnson, won’t say what the immediate future holds for Marilyn. Her next destination is top secret. One day this summer, she’ll be snapped apart without warning, loaded onto a semitrailer and hauled to some other city to show off her gams. Brazil, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Paris and London have invited her. She’ll be in New Jersey next year for an exhibit honoring Johnson that will display more than 100 of his pieces.”

Audrey Flack’s Marilyn in Jersey City Exhibit

‘Marilyn: Golden Girl’ (1978)

One of my favourite artists depicting Marilyn, Audrey Flack, features in ‘Our Own Directions: Four Decades of Photo-Realism’, a new exhibition opening on September 18 at Mana Arts Center, Jersey City. Another of Flack’s paintings has graced the cover of Carl Rollyson’s Marilyn Monroe: A Life of the Actress (1986.)

“Author Louis K. Meisel points out that  Audrey Flack was the lone female artist among the original group of Photorealists.  Despite the challenges of forging a career in a male-dominated art world, Flack is the only Photorealist whose work is included in collections of New York’s four major art museums: the Met, the MoMA, the Whitney and the Guggenheim. The Yale-educated artist abandoned her involvement with an elite group of Abstract Expressionists and moved firmly into realism in the ’50s.  Flack began making paintings based on newspaper and magazine stills of political figures and events, including Hitler and Kennedy’s Motorcade.  Her political subjects were followed by film stars such as Marilyn Monroe, and she also made still life paintings of desserts, cosmetics, jewelry and assorted mementos.  Flack is recognized as an important influence on contemporary artists such as Jeff Koons who acknowledges her influence on the ironic kitsch themes in his work.”