The Sag Harbor Cinema on Long Island was due to reopen this month, after a four-year closure and extensive renovation following a 2016 fire. With New York now suffering some of the highest rates of casualties in the world from coronavirus, that reopening has been delayed. However, the venue is now operating a virtual cinema (along with 200 independent theatres across the U.S.)
While no Monroe movies are currently screening at Sag Harbor, fashion photographer Steven Klein posted the above snapshot to Instagram yesterday, with Marilyn blowing kisses to passers by. The poster was created for a promotional event on St. Valentine’s Day, using an iconic image shot by Arthur Fellig aka ‘Weegee’, as Marilyn arrived in New York in September 1954, ready to film location scenes for The Seven Year Itch.
The Makeup Museum will open in New York next May, revealing the beauty secrets of Marilyn and other movie legends and displaying their vintage cosmetics and skincare products, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Tickets will go on sale in March 2020 for the inaugural exhibition, Pink Jungle: Makeup in 1950s America, sponsored by Erno Laszlo, and which will run for six months.
“‘The 1950s is a perfect time period for the Makeup Museum to start with in the debut exhibition, because the 1950s is the birth of the modern cosmetics industry,’ says executive director and co-founder Doreen Bloch. ‘We’re going to be displaying one-of-a-kind items, something consumers have never seen before in public.’ These include personal items (creams, powders and skin pastes) from Monroe and Garbo’s vanities. ‘Marilyn, to me, is still, today — not to overuse this word — such an icon. Gen Z, Boomer, everyone in between knows her. She’s such a special reference point,’ says Bloch.
The museum is using knowledge of Monroe to create a ‘shelfie,’ a showcase of all the products that would have lined her beauty shelf that she might have shared online, if Instagram been around in her day (and if she would have embraced it). ‘What would Marilyn look like, what kinds of brands would she be using?’ wonders Bloch. ‘We have beauty receipts from Marilyn, and that gives a strong historical perspective on the brands she used,’ such as the Max Factor Creme Puff foundation that will be shown.
She adds that even though it’s the Makeup Museum, they are also looking at tangential categories, like skincare, haircare and fragrances. So another item on display is Active Phelityl Intensive Cream, said to have been Monroe’s favorite moisturizer. According to Bloch, a jar of Erno Laszlo cream was found next to Monroe’s death bed, as seen in images from the Los Angeles Police Department taken at the time. ‘Dr. Erno Laszlo created Phormula 3-8 balm specifically for Marilyn to heal an appendectomy scar on her stomach,’ adds Bloch.
‘The ’50s was a time of immense change,’ Bloch says. ‘You have the advent of the color TV, which is game-changing for the makeup industry, where all of a sudden you can actually see the color of Lucille Ball’s lips in I Love Lucy, and how that impacted the sale of cosmetics. You see also how many rules there were at the time for how you were meant to use makeup …’
‘The icons of the day, like Marilyn, Dorothy Dandridge, Greta Garbo, Anna May Wong, were critical in the dissemination of makeup as an acceptable tool,’ she adds. ‘Before the ‘50s, there was a lot of stigma related to wearing a red lip, but that became acceptable because of women onscreen.’ The museum will showcase iconic looks from the era, particularly the cat eye. ‘Different women applied that look in their own way. For example, Marilyn often did a double wing on her lid in terms of the winged eyeliner.'”
Dan’s Papers, a free weekly for residents of the Hamptons, is approaching its sixtieth birthday. A new coffee table book, 60 Summers: Celebrating Six Iconic Decades On the East End, has just been published. You can read the story behind its first glossy cover here.
“Andy Warhol had a home on the ocean in Montauk, east of town, out towards the lighthouse, for many years, about 20 altogether … This painting was one of the many he did in Montauk, it is believed, although his main studio was at Union Square in New York City. He passed away in 1987, and two years later there was a retrospective of his paintings at the Guild Hall in East Hampton, and they managed to arrange for us to have this painting of Marilyn Monroe, which he did back in 1967, featured for this week’s cover.”
Warhol Women, a new exhibition showcasing 42 portraits of Andy Warhol’s female subjects, is on display at the Lévy Gorvy Gallery on New York’s Upper East Side, through to June 15, as Lane Florsheim reports for the Wall Street Journal. (Marilyn is featured next to Warhol’s take on the Mona Lisa, and opposite Jackie Kennedy.)
“Gorvy and Lévy have arranged the show so that the first works viewers see are portraits of Jackie Onassis and Marilyn Monroe, facing one another. [Dominique] Lévy, who came up with the show’s concept, says that no other man has been able to look at women the way Warhol did. ‘Without sexualizing the subject, he was able to do these portraits where the woman is allowed to be who she is,’ she says. ‘He captures the openness, the self-consciousness, the self-assurance, the insecurity. Aren’t we all self-conscious? I think nobody [else] does that, and that’s where he becomes conceptual.’ In Warhol’s depiction of Monroe, Lévy says, he ‘sees the enormous sadness’ that she felt.”
Clash By Night will be screened at New York’s Museum of Modern Art next Wednesday, April 10 (at 7 pm), and Sunday, April 14 (at 2:30 pm); in conjunction with a movie poster exhibition in the theatre galleries, as David Alm reports for Forbes.
“The movie poster has to be one of the 20th Century’s most enduring pieces of cultural ephemera. Created to seduce audiences into paying a cool quarter to see the pictures at the start of the so-called ‘golden age’ of Hollywood, in the 1920s, many of those posters have acquired a second life as artifacts of a bygone era.
The exhibit pairs with a film series, running April 8th through the 20th, that includes 13 films dating from 1929 through 1974 that, like the posters on display, explored sexual identity in ways ranging from deeply coded, to subtly suggestive, to brazenly forthright. Where a film, and its poster, falls on that spectrum depends largely on when the film was made.
It’s arguable that the golden age of Hollywood was golden precisely for these careful subversions, these subtly embedded messages to those who wanted something from their cinema besides a fortification of socially acceptable ideas of what it meant to be a man or a woman, or of what human sexuality should look like.”
A retrospective for Alfred Eisenstaedt – known as the ‘father of photojournalism’ – will open at New York’s Robert Mann Gallery tomorrow through April 27.
“In 1935, Eisenstaedt decided to emigrate to the United States, as magazines in Germany began to shutdown with the rise of Hitler. He settled in New York where he became one of the first four photographers hired by LIFE Magazine. Eisenstaedt’s coverage of Hollywood in the 1930’s is some of his most quintessential work, photographing stars such as Bette Davis, Katherine Hepburn and Sophia Loren, who is known to be one of his favorite subjects. He photographed Marilyn Monroe on a small patio behind her home in Hollywood in 1953, capturing her in Rembrandt-inspired light that beautifully emphasized the unparalleled Marilyn mystique—femininity, naiveté and sexuality.
Charles Casillo will be discussing his latest book, Marilyn Monroe: The Private Life of a Public Icon, at the Manhasset Public Library, New York, on Thursday, March 14, at 7:30 pm. (You can read my review here.)
Carol Channing, the legendary Broadway star who originated the role of Lorelei Lee in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, has died aged 97.
Born in Seattle in 1921, Carol and her parents moved to San Francisco when she was two weeks old. Her mother Adelaide was of German Jewish descent and her father George was part African-American (on his mother’s side.) A newspaper editor by profession, George was also a Christian Science practitioner and teacher.
At sixteen, Carol left home to major in drama in Bennington College in Vermont. In 1941, she won her first Broadway part as Eve Arden’s understudy in a revue, Let’s Face It! That year she was married for the first time, to writer Theodore Naidish. They divorced after five years.
In 1948, Carol won a Theatre World Award for her featured role in another revue, Lend An Ear. Stacy Eubank noted in Holding A Good Thought For Marilyn: The Hollywood Years, that on June 16, a little-known starlet, 22 year-old Marilyn Monroe, attended the opening night at the Las Palmas Theatre in Hollywood, where she was photographed with director Bill Eythe and actor Bill Callahan.
Illustrator Al Hirschfeld published a caricature of Carol as a flapper in the show, the first of many portraits to come. She even credited his artwork with helping her win the part of Lorelei Lee in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.
Jule Styne’s musical adaptation of the 1926 novel by Anita Loos opened at the Ziegfeld Theatre in December 1949, running for almost two years. In her 2002 memoir, Just Lucky I Guess, Carol wrote that Loos had told Styne, ‘That’s my Lorelei!’ after seeing Lend An Ear in New York. Styne promptly wrote a new song for Carol, ‘Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend.’
In January 1950, Carol made the cover of Time magazine. She was married again that year, to footballer Axe Carson, and they had a son, Channing Carson. After her third marriage to manager and publicist Charles Lowe in 1956, he was renamed Chan Lowe and went on to become a successful cartoonist.
Darryl F. Zanuck swiftly acquired the film rights to Gentlemen Prefer Blondes for Twentieth Century Fox. Carol was duly invited to Los Angeles for a screen test, but it was generally assumed that Betty Grable, the studio’s reigning blonde star of musical comedy, would get the part. In any case, Carol had already decided to take the show to London after the Broadway run ended.
In mid-June of 1951, Marilyn Monroe flew to New York, where she spent several days. Columnist Dorothy Manners would report that she had been given tickets by Fox to see Gentlemen Prefer Blondes – perhaps as a warning to Grable, who was then on suspension. ‘Physically, Marilyn fits the bill,’ Manners noted, ‘but whether she is experienced enough to take on a top comedy performance remains to be seen.’
In her autobiography, Carol claimed that Marilyn was instructed to see the play every night for a month, which is doubtless an exaggeration given Marilyn’s busy schedule. Chronically shy, Marilyn never ventured backstage. “Our orchestra never saw anyone that beautiful before,” Carol recalled. “For the first time they were all looking at Marilyn instead of our conductor…”
That November, after Blondes finally closed, the New York Post‘s Earl Wilson reported that Marilyn hoped to play Lorelei on the screen. In his 1992 biography of Monroe, Donald Spoto wrote that Fox informed Marilyn the part was hers on June 1, 1952 (her 26th birthday.) Nonetheless, the studio kept up the intrigue for several weeks before announcing it to the press, still claiming that Grable would star, with Marilyn turning brunette to play Lorelei’s friend Dorothy.
When the news broke on June 23, Hedda Hopper wrote that Carol had responded with a 200-word telegram to Fox, while Grable denied asking Zanuck for the part. Marilyn was now the studio’s rising star, but as Stacy Eubank observes, she was still on a standard contract and would cost Fox far less than either Grable or Channing.
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes was a golden opportunity for Marilyn, and a huge success when it opened in 1953. “I was heartsick over the whole thing, of course,” Carol admitted, and she also felt that Jack Cole’s flamboyant choreography “completely upstaged” the lyrics.
“I do think it was one of her best movies,” Carol reflected on Marilyn’s performance. “Not funny, however. They didn’t use one word of Anita’s original book, which was hilarious and which was what constantly kept the stage musical on a higher level. Anita didn’t write the musical’s book. So where they didn’t insert the original book it was mundane. It was the stock formula for a dated Broadway musical. I followed Anita’s original Lorelei character ferociously…”
“You can cast Lorelei two ways,” Loos explained. “With the cutest, prettiest, littlest girl in town, or with a comedienne’s comment on the cutest, prettiest, littlest girl in town. I wrote her as a comedy, and Broadway is attuned to satire.” Carol’s broader interpretation was perfect for the stage, whereas Marilyn brought a softer, more innocent quality to Lorelei.
During the 1950s, Carol replaced Gracie Allen as a comedy foil to George Burns. “Finding roles that suit the strange and wonderful charms of Carol Channing has always been a problem to Broadway showmen,” a 1955 cover story for LIFE read. “She looks like an overgrown kewpie. She sings like a moon-mad hillbilly. Her dancing is crazily comic. And behind her saucer eyes is a kind of gentle sweetness that pleads for affection.”
Her next great role was in Hello, Dolly! (1964.) She befriended Broadway newcomer Barbara Streisand, only to lose out again when the younger actress was cast in the film adaptation. A registered Democrat, Carol campaigned for Lyndon B. Johnson and was a favourite of his wife, Lady Bird. In 1966, she won the Sarah Siddons Award, and finally achieved movie stardom alongside Julie Andrews in Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967), winning a Golden Globe as Best Supporting Actress, and an Oscar nomination.
In 1970, Carol became the first celebrity to perform at a Super Bowl halftime. Three years later, she was revealed to have been on disgraced president Richard Nixon’s Master List of Political Opponents – which she quipped was the highest accolade of her career.
The 53-year-old revisited her early success in Lorelei (1974), a reworking of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes featuring songs cut from the original play, and broke box-office records by selling out for six consecutive days in just 24 hours. She also frequently appeared on television, including a 1987 Jules Styne special in which she performed ‘Little Girl From Little Rock.’
In 1998, Carol separated from her husband of forty years, Charles Lowe. He passed away shortly afterwards. She would marry once more in 2003, after rekindling her romance with high-school sweetheart Harry Kullijian. He died in 2011. Carol maintained her faith in Christian Science, followed a strict organic diet and swore off alcohol.
A much-loved resident of Rancho Mirage, California, Carol had a star dedicated to her on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars in 2010. She returned two years later to honour Marilyn Monroe, praising her “brilliant and unique” performance in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Carol also attended a farewell party for Seward Johnson’s giant sculpture, ‘Forever Marilyn‘, when it left Palm Springs for the East Coast in 2014.
Marilyn is featured (of course) in the Silver Screens section of Andy Warhol: From A To B And Back Again, a retrospective opening at the Whitney Museum in New York on Monday, November 12. You can see more photos from what promises to be a spectacular exhibition here.
The polka dot dress worn by Marilyn for her grand entrance in The Seven Year Itch, plus a replica of the ‘subway scene’ dress (worn by Mira Sorvino in the 1996 TV mini-series, Norma Jeane and Marilyn), as well as Travilla’s other iconic designs for MM in Bus Stop and the ‘Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend’ number from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, will be on display as part of a free exhibition showcasing the Gene London Collection at the Eastview Mall in Victor, New York from September 24-October 8, the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle reports.