Marilyn and Avedon: Something Personal

This photo of Marilyn chatting with photographer Richard Avedon at a 1961 Actors Studio benefit at New York’s Roseland Ballroom is published in Avedon: Something Personal, a new biography by Norma Stevens and Steven M.L. Aronson. Marilyn is mentioned in the introduction, where Norma Stevens describes her first meeting with Avedon. A photo of Marilyn and Avedon, taken by Sam Shaw in 1954, is also featured. It’s unclear whether the book includes any further material on their iconic collaborations, but this preview looks very promising.

And as a bonus, here’s the Roseland photo in colour…

Sam Shaw’s Marilyn in Denmark

The touring retrospective, Remembering Sam Shaw: 60 Years of Photography, including some of the legendary shutterbug’s most famous shots of Marilyn among many other iconic images, is now on display at the Brandts Museum in Odense, Denmark until January 21, 2018.

On the Waterfront: Marilyn and John Garfield

Three years after their encounter on the set of We Were Strangers (see here), Marilyn and John Garfield were early contenders for the lead roles in On the Waterfront, according to Marilyn’s photographer friend, Sam Shaw, who was then developing it as a screenplay. (Director Elia Kazan denied all of this, but Al Ryelander, then a press agent for Columbia Studios, insisted the story was accurate.)

By 1952, Marilyn’s star was rising –  but Garfield’s career was destroyed, after he refused to ‘name names’ to the House Un-American Activities Committee, and became the most famous victim of the ‘red-baiting’ era. He died of a heart attack months later, aged 37. Author Robert Knott retold the story, which also touches on Marilyn’s relationships with Kazan and future husband Arthur Miller, in He Ran All the Way: The Life of John Garfield (2003.)

On the Waterfront was released to acclaim in 1954, starring Marlon Brando and Eva Marie Saint. Ironically, the film can be seen as director Elia Kazan’s self-justification for his own decision to name names. One can only imagine how different Marilyn’s subsequent career might have been had she played the role of demure Edie Doyle…

‘On the Waterfront’ (1954)

“Shaw gave Monroe the script while she was in New York to take in the Broadway production of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Monroe read the script and passed it on to her lover, Elia Kazan. Shaw, who called himself a ‘half-assed observer at the Actors Studio,’ had met Kazan on the set of the 1950 film Panic in the Streets. ‘Kazan had heard about my script (before Monroe gave it to him) and wanted to see it,’ Shaw said. ‘I wouldn’t give it to him, because he was involved with Arthur Miller on a similar project, The Hook.’ But after Monroe gave Kazan the script, the director called Shaw. ‘You’ve got an interesting script, but it needs a lot of work,’ he told Shaw. ‘Let Budd Schulberg work on it.’ Shaw, seeing the merit in Kazan’s suggestion, raised $40,000 to pay Schulberg to work on the script. According to Shaw, at this point Jack Cohn turned the script over to Sam Spiegel … Within a year Kazan, Spiegel and Schulberg were preparing the film for Columbia Pictures with Marlon Brando … By that point, neither Shaw nor Garfield were involved in any way.”

Will Marilyn Be the End of May?

On the eve of the UK general election, a stencil painting of Prime Minister Theresa May wearing her favourite leopard-skin stilettos, in a recreation of Marilyn’s ‘subway scene’ from The Seven Year Itch (originally photographed by Sam Shaw) signed by street artist ‘Loretto’, has appeared in London’s West End, reports Fitzrovia News.

The merging of Marilyn, an icon of youth and beauty,  with a right-wing politician is either comical or grotesque, depending on your perspective. However, comparisons of this kind are nothing new, especially in the art world. Photographer Philippe Halsman started the trend with ‘Marilyn Mao‘, blending his own 1952 portrait of MM – her first Life magazine cover – with the head and shoulders  of the Chinese premier, Mao Tse-tung.

Perhaps it’s the rumoured affair with President Kennedy that triggered this strange phenomenon, or just that Marilyn’s own cultural reach rivals that of our world leaders. For me, these images evoke the contrast between her radiant humanity, and the dangerous aura of those who wield power.

Marilyn at 90: Fans Pay Tribute

Photo by Jackie Craig
Westwood photos by Jackie Craig

Floral tributes were left by Marilyn’s crypt at Westwood Memorial Park in Los Angeles on what would be her 90th birthday, while devoted fans like Monica Shahri visited in person.

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Canadian fan Billy made a heart-shaped card for Marilyn…

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And there was cake too, courtesy of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (the team behind the Golden Globes.)

13347020_10153652033312688_3184974542303152467_nThe L.A.-based fanclub, Marilyn Remembered, organised a donation to Hollygrove, the former children’s home where Marilyn once lived.  Now known as EMQ Families First, the charity  has launched a new fundraising drive, ‘Modern Marilyn‘.

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Immortal Marilyn listed 90 Marvellous Marilyn Moments on their blog, and compiled a fan-focused tribute video. In Bendigo Park, Australia, staff member Marisa left a memento at the feet of Seward Johnson’s giant sculpture,  ‘Forever Marilyn‘.

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Many other fansites, like All About Marilyn and Marilyn Mexico, were also in celebratory mood.

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Mexico loves Marilyn…

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Snapchat users (including reality TV star Kim Kardashian) got busy with a special Marilyn Monroe filter…

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The Milton Greene Archive shared this previously unpublished photo of Marilyn with a canine friend, originally taken for a Life magazine spread on Asian gowns in 1955.

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The estate of Sam Shaw remembered a ‘dear friend.’

sam shawTwo of Marilyn’s most respected biographers, Michelle Morgan and Gary Vitacco-Robles, paid their respects via social media.

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Novelist Megan Abbott chose her favourite photo of Marilyn.

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The estate of Humphrey Bogart also remembered her fondly…

13339528_1353642397983387_775224521514747818_nArtists Alejandro Mogollo and Ileana Hunter shared Marilyn-inspired pieces.

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Everlasting Star admin Sirkuu Aaltonen went on a book hunt

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And UK superfan Megan posted a touching tribute on her personal blog.

“Another year has gone by and Marilyn’s star keeps growing brighter and brighter, people are still fascinated and enthralled by this beautiful soul. Did Marilyn have her faults? Of course she did, it’s hard to believe, I know, but she was a human being just like us. I love Marilyn for Marilyn and that will never change. I’d like to think that there are more genuine fans who love and respect Marilyn than conspiracy lovers who just follow their ignorance.”

Marilyn and Arthur’s Windmill Summer

Marilyn at her Amagansett summer home in 1957. Pjoto by Sam Shaw
Marilyn at her Amagansett summer home in 1957. Pjoto by Sam Shaw

Following reports that the ‘windmill house‘ on Deep Lane, Amagansett where Marilyn and Arthur Miller spent the summer in 1957 is up for sale, Tom Clavin (author of The DiMaggios) traces the history of their stay for 27east.com.

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“‘The place belonged to a former stage manager named Jeffrey Potter and his wife, Penny, both friends of Miller,’ according to Martin Gottfried in his biography of the playwright. ‘It was set on a one hundred-acre site that, like so much of the Hamptons, was once used for potato farming. To one side was a riding stable and on the other was the home of the artist Willem de Kooning. The farmhouse itself faced on winding, arboreal Town Lane, minutes from the painterly bay beaches at Louse Point and Barnes Landing, a few miles from the ocean dunes. Arthur and Marilyn would drive down to that Atlantic shore, rolling onto the beach at Napeague Lane in their new Jeep.’

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Several accounts contend that the summers in Amagansett that included the ‘windmill house’ were a happy period for the troubled actress. Photographs taken during that time by Sam Shaw, reportedly her favorite photographer, support the contentions. It had to help that some of her artistic ambitions had been realized by co-starring with Laurence Olivier in The Prince and the Showgirl, released in June 1957. A sad event for the Millers was that while in Amagansett that July, Monroe announced she was pregnant; however, following complications the ectopic pregnancy was ended. Also that summer, an EMS team from East Hampton had to rush to their rental to revive Monroe, who had overdosed on sleeping pills.

Despite career and personal concerns, Miller apparently enjoyed the time spent in Amagansett. In his autobiography, Timebends, he has idyllic recollections: ‘Our rented house in eastern Long Island faced broad green fields that made it hard to believe we were so near the ocean. Next door lived a painter and her husband who cherished their own privacy and thus defended ours. Now we could take easy breaths in a more normal rhythm of life.’

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Several years ago, this reporter interviewed Joan Copeland, Arthur Miller’s sister, for the Press. She first came to Amagansett in 1957 when she made summertime visits to her brother and Marilyn. ‘That was my introduction to the East Hampton area,’ Ms. Copeland recalled. ‘The house I bought there 30 years ago is very close to where Arthur and Marilyn lived.’

Special visits with her brother’s wife were on June 1, the birthday Ms. Copeland and Marilyn share. ‘My father had the same birthday too, so we would celebrate it together,’ said Ms. Copeland. ‘My mother did the cooking and my father, Marilyn and me did the eating. She was very alluring. She had a delicacy to her, a vulnerability unlike anyone I’d ever met. If you knew her well, it would not be too hard to get to her. The problem was if you didn’t like her, it was easy to hurt and damage her.'”