Say Goodbye to Norma Jean’s Bistro

After 36 years in business, a Marilyn-themed restaurant in Ontario, Canada is taking its final bow, as the Owen Sound Sun Times reports.

“Owner Julia Gendron said she had been considering an exit strategy from the restaurant industry for the past few years, but those plans were accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gendron’s late husband Rene and his business partner Gerry Gnaedig opened Norma Jean’s Bistro at 243 8th St. E. on a cold Jan. 6, 1984.

Gendron, who most people know as Julie, started working at the restaurant that same year and became a partner around 1990.

It was a last-minute decision to name the restaurant Norma Jean’s – the given name of Marilyn Monroe – and was chosen because Gnaedig’s wife was a fan of the iconic actress.
The restaurant was decorated with photographs of Monroe and its menu also featured images of the actress, with sections on the bill of fare like Opening Acts and Red Carpet Favourites.

Gendron, in a letter to patrons that announces the restaurant’s closing, said some of the best times at Norma Jean’s included the rowdy New Year’s Eve parties, intimate family get-togethers and music nights ‘that would shake the windows.'”


Marilyn at Julien’s: At the Movies

Another selection of items featured in Property From the Life and Career of Marilyn Monroe, going under the hammer at Julien’s Auctions on Thursday, November 1. (You can read all my posts on the sale here.)

“A single page removed from a trade publication such as Variety or The Hollywood Reporter with text reading in part ‘Thank you / Marilyn Monroe’ — an ad the star placed in the publication to thank the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for her 1962 Golden Globe win for ‘World Favorite Actress,’ mounted to cardboard; found in Monroe’s own files. ”

SOLD for $512

A framed still photo showing Marilyn with co-stars June Haver, William Lundigan and Jack Paar in Love Nest (1951); and a costume test shot for Don’t Bother to Knock (1952.)

Photo sets SOLD for $640 and $896, respectively

Marilyn and Jane Russell performing ‘Two Little Girls From Little Rock’ in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, as seen on the cover of LIFE magazine in 1953. Marilyn’s costume is expected to fetch a maximum $80,000 – see here.)

Magazine SOLD for $896; costume SOLD for $250,000

A still photo of Marilyn during filming of River of No Return in 1953. The gown she wore while performing the theme song is expected to fetch a maximum $80,000 – see here.

Photo set SOLD for $1,152; costume SOLD for $175,000

Travilla’s costume sketch for the ‘Heat Wave’ number in There’s No Business Like Show Business (1954), and a colour transparency of Marilyn in costume for a wardrobe test shot. (The costume itself is estimated to fetch up to $80,000 – see here.)

Sketch SOLD for $11,520; photo SOLD for $750; costume SOLD for $280,000

A framed still photo of Marilyn performing ‘Heat Wave‘, and a custom-made, one-of-a-kind poster made for the Century Theatre in the Hamilton, Ontario area to advertise a raffle to win tickets to see There’s No Show Business Like Show Business.

Photo SOLD for $750; poster SOLD for $1,280

“A group of three, all original prints with a glossy finish, depicting the star behind-the-scenes on the set of her 1956 20th Century Fox film, Bus Stop; all have typed text on the bottom margin noting to credit Al Brack who was a ‘Sun Valley, Idaho photographer.'”

SOLD for $576

A pair of memos regarding Milton Greene’s photos from the set of The Prince and the Showgirl; and, sold separately, a contact sheet. The second memo reads in part, ‘Dear Mike, The print you sent me, that Marilyn Monroe said she had killed, is incorrectly numbered. Marilyn is right – she did kill it.’ Both memos are dated April 11, 1957, and are addressed to ‘Meyer Hunter.’ Lois Weber, one of Monroe’s publicists at the time, authored both memos.”

Memos SOLD for $312.50; contact sheet SOLD for $500

Still photo of Marilyn with co-stars Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon in a scene from Some Like It Hot (1959.)

Photo set SOLD for $576

“A pair of colour slides of Marilyn Monroe in a scene from How To Marry a Millionaire (1953), and during a press conference for Let’s Make Love with co-star Frankie Vaughan on January 16, 1960.”

SOLD for $512

Still photos of Marilyn performing ‘My Heart Belongs to Daddy‘, and with director George Cukor, both taken on the set of Let’s Make Love.

SOLD for $512 and $640, respectively

Candid photos taken during filming of The Misfits in 1960.

Photo sets sold for $1,562.50 and $1, 920, respectively

Producer Henry Weinstein’s screenplay for the unfinished Something’s Got to Give (1962.)

SOLD for $768

Still photos taken by Lawrence Schiller during filming of the ‘pool scene’ in Something’s Got to Give.

Photo sets sold for $1,280 each

“A collection of approximately 65 pieces comprising only photocopied scripts and documents, all related to Marilyn Monroe’s films. Some film titles have more than one copy of the script, and some feature the working title and not the final one. All are bound into 20th Century Fox covers of various colors and appear to be the studio’s ‘loan out’ or ‘library’ copies. Pieces include (in alphabetical order): All About Eve (a treatment only), As Young As You Feel (2 scripts ), Bus Stop (3 scripts), Dangerous Years (1 script), Don’t Bother to Knock (2 scripts), The Full House (1 script), Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (2 scripts plus 4 related documents), How to Marry a Millionaire (3 scripts plus 1 related document), Let’s Make Love (2 scripts), Love Nest (2 scripts), Monkey Business (2 scripts plus 2 related documents), Move Over, Darling (1 script), Niagara (2 scripts plus 4 related documents), O. Henry’s Full House (2 scripts plus 1 related document), River of No Return (1 script plus 5 related documents), The Seven Year Itch (3 scripts), Something’s Got to Give (1 script), There’s No Business Like Show Business (3 scripts plus 7 related documents), Ticket to Tomahawk (2 related documents), and We’re Not Married (1 script plus 1 related document). Also included are a few miscellaneous pieces related to Monroe. “

SOLD for $896

Marilyn Takes ‘Niagara’ to Port Hope

Ontarians, set your diaries now: Niagara will be screened at the Capitol Theatre in Port Hope on October 14, as part of this year’s Vintage Film Festival, sponsored by the Marie Dressler Foundation (the Canadian-born character actress was an idol to Marilyn.) Mark Baker reviews Niagara here.

“The story starts relatively quickly and the tension keeps increasing.  I was surprised at just how quickly the story unfolded.  There are some nice plot twists along the way as well that kept me engaged.

Likewise, the acting was wonderful. I’m not that familiar with Marilyn Monroe as an actress (this is only the second film I’ve seen her in), but her performance here was strong.  You could see her character’s mind working.  The rest of the main cast is just as good, which is one reason why I got so lost in the story so easily.

While the movie was filmed partially on sound stages in California, it was also partially filmed on location.  That gives the sinister story a gorgeous backdrop.  The Technicolor picture adds to the beauty.

The bigger issue are a couple of plot holes.  Yes, you can guess how the characters got to where they are, but it is truly never explained …”

Susan Sarandon Cast as Gladys in ‘Secret Life’

Oscar-winning actress Susan Sarandon will play Gladys Baker, Marilyn’s ill-fated mother, in Lifetime’s upcoming adaptation of J. Randy Taraborrelli’s The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe, according to the Hollywood Reporter. It is set to be filmed in Ontario and Los Angeles, reported GlobalNews.ca earlier this week.

Taraborrelli focused heavily on Marilyn’s relationship with Gladys, although some of his claims have been disputed (more details here.) Gladys was previously played by Sheree North (in the 1980 TV movie, Marilyn: An Untold Story) and Patricia Richardson (in Blonde, the 2001 mini-series based on an eponymous novel by Joyce Carol Oates.) As Gladys was only 24 when Marilyn was born, I would hope that Sarandon – now 68 – will be playing her in later life.

Finally, there are two major errors in Secret Life‘s synopsis: firstly, Gladys’s mother did not commit suicide; and secondly, Marilyn’s first marriage did not end because she was frigid. She divorced her husband because he disapproved of her career.

“Sarandon will portray the blonde bombshell’s mentally ill mother, Gladys Mortenson. The character is described as a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic, who is the product of a mother who committed suicide as a result of her own mental illness, and a father who died of syphilitic insanity. Frequently delusional, sometimes violent, Gladys sexually adventurous in her youth but taught her daughter that sex should be avoided at all costs. Deeply devoted to Christian Science, she urges Marilyn to reject her reliance on drugs and that her salvation will be achieved by returning to the tenets of the faith. (The role of Monroe has not yet been cast.)

24 and The Kennedys‘ Stephen Kronish is on board to pen the mini, with Sherrybaby‘s Laurie Collyer attached to direct the Marilyn Monroe entry.

Here’s Lifetime’s official description of the mini: ‘Marilyn is both the personification of sex, whose first marriage ironically collapses because of her frigidity, and a fragile artist who seeks the approval and protection of men.  But after tumultuous marriages with Joe DiMaggio and Arthur Miller, she realizes she has the strength to stand on her own. She becomes the face and voice of an era, yet wants most of all to be someone’s mother and someone’s little girl. She’s the Marilyn you haven’t seen before, the artist who, by masking the truth with an image, gives her greatest performance.'”

Meeting George Zimbel

Melinda Mason’s account of meeting George Zimbel – one of the photographers who covered the famous ‘subway scene’ shoot from The Seven Year Itch – last week at the ongoing Marilyn exhibit at the McMichael, Ontario, is posted at The MMM Blog.

‘Marilyn in Canada’ Exhibit

Marilyn visited Canada at least three times: as 18 year-old Norma Jeane Dougherty, in 1944; and while filming two of her movies, Niagara (1952) and River of No Return (made in 1953, released ’54.)

In February 2011, the touring Marilyn Monroe: Life as a Legend exhibit arrives in Ontario. The McMichael Canadian Art Collection are also curating ‘Marilyn in Canada’, featuring photos by John Vachon and George S. Zimbel (taken in New York City during filming of The Seven Year Itch), as well as contemporary Canadian art inspired by Marilyn.

During the long ‘Family Weekend’ of February 19-21, the exhibition opens with guided tours, films and music along with special programming every day based on these shows.

I hope that photographer Jock Carroll, whose book, Falling for Marilyn, chronicled her time in Niagara, will also be featured.