Bonham’s will auction Marilyn’s Gentlemen Prefer Blondes suit – in which she sang ‘When Love Goes Wrong, Nothing Goes Right’, back in 1953 – at their TCM Presents … Treasures From the Dream Factory sale on November 23. Other MM-related items include her red saloon gown, also designed by Travilla, and worn while singing ‘One Silver Dollar’ in River of No Return (1954); Marilyn’s signed contract for The Asphalt Jungle (1950); Paddy Chayevsky’s annotated early screenplay for The Goddess (1958), a thinly veiled portrait of Marilyn, starring Kim Stanley; and Natalie Wood’s bound screenplay for Scudda Hoo! Scudda Hay! (1947), in which Marilyn made her screen debut.
The upcoming Hollywood Auction 74 at Profiles in History contains some interesting Marilyn-related items, mainly on Day 2 (September 30.)
- An early pin-up photo, signed by Marilyn.
- Artwork inspired by Marilyn’s nude calendar.
- Marilyn’s ‘topless cowgirl‘ calendar.
- Marilyn’s 1952 contract for The Charlie McCarthy Show.
- Marilyn’s hand-annotated script for Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.
- Travilla’s costume sketch for ‘Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend.’
- Original transparencies of photos taken on location for River of No Return.
- Photos taken by Darlene Hammond at various public events in 1953.
- Original prints stamped by Milton Greene.
- Candid photos taken in Japan and Korea.
- Marilyn’s 1953 recording contract with RCA.
- Photos taken by Sam Shaw during filming of The Seven Year Itch.
- Candid negatives of Marilyn in public, circa 1955.
- Books on psychology and mythology, owned by Marilyn.
- A painting of Marilyn and Sir Laurence Olivier in The Prince and the Showgirl, by Francis R. Flint.
- Posters from Marilyn’s ‘Fabled Enchantresses‘ session, signed by Richard Avedon.
- Letters to Marilyn from Pat Newcomb and Arthur Miller.
- 48 minutes of 8mm film shot on location for The Misfits by Stanley Killar, an uncredited extra.
- A Misfits autograph book, signed by Marilyn and others.
- Contact sheets for photos taken by Sylvia Norris at the Golden Globes in 1962.
- The final draft of Something’s Got to Give.
- A camera used for many of Marilyn’s films at Fox.
- An archive of vintage press clippings.
Details of the British Film Institute’s June retrospective (at London Southbank) have been posted on their blog, naming 12 of the 15 Marilyn movies to be screened – and giving us a sneak preview of the season’s poster. (Interestingly, the BFI have partnered with Stylist, the free women’s magazine who have picked Marilyn as their cover girl on more than one occasion.)
Writing for the Daily Beast, Marlow Stern reports on a new exhibition containing lesser-known photos of Marilyn by Whitey Snyder, Lani Carlson, Mischa Pelz, Milton Greene and Thomas ‘Doc’ Kaminski, touring the US this summer. Prints are also available to buy from Limited Runs, who also stock many vintage movie posters.
“Limited Runs will be hosting an upcoming traveling exhibition of extremely rare, never-before-published photographs of screen icon Marilyn Monroe. The tour will begin on June 6 at the BOULEVARD3 gallery [in Los Angeles], before hitting San Francisco on June 19 at the Sarah Stocking Gallery, and then New York on July 22 at Whitespace.”
At first glance, it’s hard to imagine two stars more different than Marilyn and Bette Davis, although they briefly appeared together in All About Eve. Many on the set found Davis intimidating, and few escaped her catty remarks.
However, as Bette later told a biographer, “I felt a certain envy for what I assumed was Marilyn’s more-than-obvious popularity. Here was a girl who did not know what it was like to be lonely. Then I noticed how shy she was, and I think now that she was as lonely as I was. Lonelier. It was something I felt, a deep well of loneliness she was trying to fill.”
In her latest column for the Chicago Tribune, Liz Smith finds another similarity between MM and Davis – both actresses were, at different points in their careers, known for their ‘mannered’ speech.
“Last weekend I watched two films, one a classic, the other not so much — though it has a cult following. I do mean William Wyler’s The Letter, starring Bette Davis as a woman who murders her lover and River of No Return starring Marilyn Monroe as a tough saloon singer fighting turbulent rapids, Indians and Robert Mitchum. Quality wise there’s no comparison, although River, directed by Otto Preminger, is a great looking movie, with excellent use of early Cinemascope. It’s an entertaining potboiler. The Letter, based on Somerset Maugham’s novel, is one for the ages.
And while you might imagine Bette Davis and Marilyn Monroe were as unalike as two actors could be, they shared one quality — an odd manner of speaking. Davis’ clipped tones became famous instantly, and as she grew older, the static quality of her delivery increased, rendering many of her performances artificial. It took a strong director and an inspiring script to wrench Davis out of her habits.
AS for Miss Monroe, shortly after she began working in films, she met a dramatic coach named Natasha Lytess who convinced the insecure Monroe that her diction was ‘sloppy’ and she needed to enunciate more clearly. Well, Monroe, whose diction was just fine actually, did enunciate. Boy, did she en-nu-ci-ate. She came down so hard on her Ds and Ts she all but bit them off. Even she was not entirely comfortable with this, and when given a good script, her speech would relax, no matter what Miss Lytess said. River of No Return was not a script Monroe liked. The result was a performance that varies wildly. It’s fun to see her as a smart-talking, back-talking woman. And when she unbends her diction, she’s earthy and effective — refreshingly strong. But in other scenes, she comes off like a gorgeous Martian, who is just learning our language. It’s a pity, because despite Monroe’s objections, River was a change of pace, and all contract actors did westerns. They just did. (The chief pleasure of ‘RONR’ is the sight of Monroe in her physical prime, athletically running around in skin-tight blue jeans!)
But unlike Bette, Marilyn’s vocal impairment didn’t last. (Even in The Seven Year Itch, she is merrily relaxed.) After Monroe abandoned Hollywood and her 20th Century Fox contract, she went into the Actors Studio. Lee Strasberg convinced her, first of all, that she was nothing, had accomplished nothing. Only he (and wife Paula) could help her. That she was the biggest female star in the world at that point didn’t impress the Strasbergs. At least that’s what they said. Presto! Out with Natasha — who didn’t go quietly — and in with Paula, who became even more hated on Monroe sets than Lytess. (Natasha at least lectured Marilyn on discipline. The Strasbergs told her only the ‘art’ mattered, and she should take as long as she liked.)
There was little change in the essentials of Marilyn’s acting, except the disappearance of her excruciating diction, although every so often it would pop up on a word or two. Lytess must have used hypnosis on her!”
Stanley Rubin – the producer of River of No Return, who along with his actress wife, Kathleen Hughes, was a regular guest at Marilyn’s annual memorial services – died on Sunday, March 2, aged 96, reports the L.A. Times.
Born in the Bronx in 1917, Stanley took a Greyhound bus to Los Angeles in 1933. Though he would not complete his degree at UCLA, he quickly made his mark on Hollywood.
By 1940, Rubin was a screenwriter at Universal, and became one of the first to win an Emmy in 1949. He wrote scripts for 19 films, and produced over two dozen feature and TV films. His personal favourite, The Narrow Margin (1952) was shot in 13 days and became a classic film noir. Rubin had refused to obey RKO head Howard Hughes’ demand that he re-shoot it with an all-star cast.
Stanley first met Marilyn Monroe in 1948, when she auditioned for a TV series. Although impressed by her, the producer decided that she was too inexperienced for the role.
By 1953, Marilyn was one of Hollywood’s biggest stars. Rubin met her again when Twentieth Century-Fox asked him to produce a new Western, River of No Return.
Director Otto Preminger was not Rubin’s first choice, and Marilyn soon became unhappy with his tyrannical ways. However, Rubin told Michelle Morgan (author of MM: Private and Undisclosed) that Marilyn’s leg injury, incurred while filming on location, was genuine and not staged.
A year later, Rubin married Kathleen Hughes, best-known for her role in the sci-fi classic, It Came From Outer Space (1953.) They had four children together.
Rubin’s final screen credit was in 1990, as co-producer for Clint Eastwood’s White Hunter, Black Heart. In recent years, he resumed his studies at UCLA, and was the subject of a 2008 documentary, Stanley Rubin: A Work in Progress.
This rare candid photo has a ‘meet-cute’ story behind it, as explained by blogger Posh Todd…
“Never-before-seen photo of Marilyn Monroe, taken in Banff, Alberta, in 1953 when she was filming Otto Preminger’s River of No Return. The gentlemen in the photo is Norm Charach, the beloved late father of my jeweler, Marty Charach, of Broadway Jewelers, 943 West Broadway. Norm was waiting to use a pay phone to phone his wife Evelyn, who was then pregnant with Marty. Marilyn was waiting her turn to use the pay phone to call Joe DiMaggio, and Norm and Marilyn struck up a conversation, and voila, history was made.”
This colour candid may have been taken on the same day, with another fan…
US readers, take note: nine of Marilyn’s movies can be purchased on Blu-Ray via Amazon.com this week at a bargain price of $39.99 (reduced from $199.99 by a massive 80%.) The offer ends on Sunday, January 19, at 12 am PST/3 AM EST.
Writing for the Times-Ledger, the The Greater Astoria Historical Society takes a fresh look at the career of child actor and native of Queens, New York, Tommy Rettig.
“Thomas Noel Rettig was born Dec. 10, 1941, and grew up in Jackson Heights. His father, Elias, was an aircraft parts inspector for Lockheed and his mother, Rosemary, a housewife. He began his acting career at 5 when he was discovered by an acting coach who lived in the same apartment building. Before beating out nearly 500 other boys for the leading role in Lassie in 1954, Rettig already had a lengthy acting résumé.
After touring with Rogers and Hammerstein in Annie Get Your Gun, Rettig also appeared in the films The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T, a fantasy film written by Dr. Seuss, and the Western River of No Return, where he acted alongside Monroe and Mitchum.
Rettig endured stiff competition in the casting of wholesome Midwestern farm boy Jeff Miller in Lassie. Appearing in the leading role for the first four seasons of the program, the child actor bonded so closely off screen with his canine co-star that the dog began to disobey his trainer so the two could then only interact on screen.
He soon discovered, however, that dreams of stardom were replaced by grueling, long hours on the set and a rapidly disappearing childhood. The star complained bitterly of his treatment in the industry, and it is reported that he did not receive any residual payments for his performance in the series. After four seasons as everyone’s boy next door, the boy from Queens wanted to come home and was released from his contract.
Acting work, however, soon began to dry up as Rettig struggled to transition from Lassie to the increasingly in demand Rebel without a Cause roles for young men in the late 1950s.”
Tommy was 12 years old when he appeared in River of No Return (1953) opposite Marilyn and Robert Mitchum. He initially avoided MM because his priest had told him she was a ‘scarlet woman’. But she soon won him over, even taking him along on a fishing trip with Joe DiMaggio.
Unfortunately, Monroe’s dramatic coach, Natasha Lytess, frightened Tommy by telling him that if he didn’t take acting lessons, his talent would dry up by the time he was 14. Director Otto Preminger had Lytess removed from the set, though she later returned after Marilyn intervened.
Tommy also became Marilyn’s ‘youngest ever date’ when she escorted him to a screening of The 5,000 Fingers of Dr T, a fantasy based on a story by Dr Seuss in which Tommy also starred.
Rettig’s later life did not always run smoothly, as the Times-Ledger explains:
“Finding it difficult to support his wife and two young sons, he left Hollywood for a farm in rural California. Here his litany of scrapes with the law began, chalking up arrests for growing marijuana and cocaine possession.
Only after hitting rock bottom did the former child celebrity begin to turn his life around. Going on the road as a motivational speaker, Rettig built a new career based upon newly discovered computer skills he developed building databases for his mailing lists.
Starting in the early 1980s, the star of Lassie shone once again as a computer programmer and author. He was one of the earliest employees of software company Ashton-Tate, and later founded software consulting firm Tom Rettig Associates.
In 1991, Rettig revisited his roots with a guest appearance in the series The New Lassie along with former co-star Jon Provost. Rettig’s new beginning was sadly cut short when he died of a heart attack in 1996 at age 54.
His ashes were scattered in the Pacific Ocean near his home in Marina Del Rey, with Lassie, a descendant of his TV sidekick, there to say goodbye.
In his later years, looking back on the elusive, fleeting nature of his childhood dreams, Rettig confided, ‘I wanted to be a real kid and see what the real world was like. I wanted to be one of those people I portrayed.'”
‘What Dreams Are Made Of: A Century of Movie Magic‘, is an auction curated by TCM at Bonham’s on November 25. Several MM-related items are featured, including this rare photo of the newylwed DiMaggios in Japan, and the Millers on the set of Let’s Make Love, both signed; and original storyboard titles from River of No Return, and Fox’s 1963 documentary, Marilyn.
While perusing Bonham’s website, I also found these two stunning screenprints made from vintage movie posters by Mimmo Rotella (circa 1990), to be sold at the Period Art & Design auction on November 17.