Finding Marilyn at the Bus Stop

Marilyn never visited Glasgow, although her ancestors are rumoured to have hailed from Scotland. However, as Ken Smith records in his diary for the Herald, several would-be Monroes have passed through the bus stops of Castlemilk…

“OUR bus stories brought back memories for entertainer Andy Cameron who was a bus conductor in the early 60s. Says Andy: ‘When passengers had no money for their fare they could ask for a Pink Slip on which they wrote their names and addresses so that they could go to the Bath Street office and pay it later.’

‘What always surprised me was the number of famous people who lived in Castlemilk and were skint – Rock Hudson, Perry Como, Willie Henderson, Paddy Crerand, Harold Wilson, Marilyn Monroe – they were all on my bus and signed a Pink Slip.'”

Searching for Marilyn’s Scottish Roots

Marilyn by Sam Shaw, 1957

The search for Marilyn’s Scottish ancestors, first reported here, is still in progress, as Steven McKenzie writes for BBC News.

“The actress’s mother, Gladys Pearl Monroe, had ancestral links to Scotland, according to Clan Munro USA. It believes that an ancestor of Monroe, an alternative spelling of the Scottish surname Munro, was a Highlander banished to America in the 1650s.

Free DNA tests are available, but there has been a lower uptake than expected. The association’s genealogy committee said it was ‘surprised’ more Scots had not taken up the offer of the free test kits, but remains hopeful they will be forthcoming.

The society has already successfully tracked down and tested a living descendant of Monroe’s great grandfather. The results were compared to the others in its Munro DNA Project, a database of hundreds of samples provided by Munros living all over the world whose family trees have been studied.

The project includes the descendants of Munros from Easter Ross in the Highlands, also the fifth US president James Monroe and Scots soldiers who were imprisoned and then banished to the American colonies after the Battle of Worcester in 1651. Worcester was the last battle of the English Civil Wars and involved thousands of Scots combatants.

The association said the YDNA test already done had shown that the Hollywood actress was a descendant of one of those soldiers, said to be a Highlander whose family came from Aldie, near Tain, in the Munro clan’s Easter Ross stronghold.”

Marilyn Double Bill In Glasgow

Marilyn will be honoured with an unusual double bill on Friday May 5 at the Britannia  Panoptica Hall in Glasgow. Starting at 7:30 pm, one of her most obscure films, 1951’s Hometown Story (in which she appears only  briefly, but makes a strong impression) will be followed by The Legend of Marilyn Monroe (1966), one of the first (and best) documentaries made about her  – and all for just £5, so don’t miss out!

Publishing News: Marilyn’s Lost Photos, and More

Limited Runs have produced a book based on their touring exhibit, Marilyn Monroe: Lost Photo Collection, featuring 21 images by Milton Greene, Gene Lester and Allan ‘Whitey’ Snyder. Only 125 copies have been made, priced at $95. Hopefully it will be a high-quality product, but it still seems rather expensive for such a slim volume.

One of Marilyn’s best biographers and a friend of this blog, Michelle Morgan has recently published two new books via Lulu. The Marilyn Journal is the first in an anthology series, compiling newsletters of the UK Marilyn Lives Society, founded by Michelle in 1991. A Girl Called Pearl is a charming children’s novel – not about Marilyn as such, but it is set in the Los Angeles of her childhood, so it does have some interesting parallels, and would be a great Christmas gift for readers young and old (also available via Kindle.)

Marilyn: I Wanna Be Loved By You, an 82-page catalogue (in French) accompanying the current exhibition at Aix-en-Provence, is available from Amazon UK for £8.44.

Thanks to Fraser Penney

In the November 19 issue of Scotland’s Weekly News (with Donny Osmond on the cover), Craig Campbell picks his Top 10 MM movies. Click the photo above to read the article in full.

Finally, Marilyn’s love of Chanel No. 5 is featured in an article about favourite perfumes in Issue 3 of UK nostalgia mag Yours Retro.

Marilyn’s Scottish Roots

Marilyn by John Vachon, 1953

Marilyn never visited Scotland, but it’s thought that her ancestors may have travelled to America from the Highland village of Tain, the Scottish Herald reports. (This follows another story about her family links to Indiana and Mexico.)

“The search is now on for distant relatives of the star in the Highlands after it was found her ancestors may have come from the small town of Tain.

Monroe, born Norma Jeane Mortensen, was born in Los Angeles and grew up in the home of the movie business – a far cry from the remote town on the coast of the Dornoch Firth.

Tain is perhaps best known for being the oldest Royal Burgh in Scotland but connections to one of Hollywood’s biggest stars could be a big draw for the town.

DNA research by the Clan Munro USA has found that Monroe was descended from a soldier from the area who was exiled to America after the English Civil War.

The research made use of a sample provided by a male relative of Monroe’s grandfather Otis Elmer Monroe.

It found a link to John Munro, a soldier from the area around Tain, who travelled to America in the mid-17th century.

He was one of many Scotsmen who fought for the Royalist cause during the English Civil War to be exiled after its defeat by Oliver Cromwell.

He is thought to have settled in what is now the US state of Rhode Island.”

Greenock Man Remembers Marilyn

Korea is sometimes described as a ‘forgotten war’, and the involvement of British troops has been overlooked. Joseph Scott, who was just eighteen when he joined the Cameron Highlanders in Korea, has shared his memories of the conflict – and the unforgettable day in 1954 when Marilyn Monroe visited his base – in an interview with Scotland’s Greenock Telegraph.

 “Grandfather Joseph, 80, of Kilblain Court said: ‘I have been a huge fan ever since.’

‘She came on stage and she didn’t even have to sing. She just stood there and everyone was cheering. There were thousands of soldiers and nobody had seen a woman for years!’

‘I was friends with a couple of Americans and they got me in to see it. It was incredible. She was a beautiful woman but I don’t even think I knew who she was back then.’

Joseph’s wife Catherine, who he met after he left the army, has been happy to share her life with Marilyn. Over the years Joseph has collected a number of photographs of the icon.

Catherine, 77, said: ‘Joseph is her biggest fan. Our grandchildren have bought him lots of canvas prints of Marilyn and I let him put them up!’

Joseph was posted in Korea along with his regiment the Cameron Highlanders after signing up at 18.

He said: ‘There was nothing in Greenock for young people my age. It was a desperate place, so I decided to join the Army.’

During his spell in the forces he was also diverted from Korea to the Suez Canal crisis.”

Actress Jenny McCrindle Dies

Scottish actress Jenny McCrindle, who played a Marilyn wannabe in the TV drama, Looking After JoJo, has died aged 45, reports the Daily Record. Co-star Robert Carlyle paid tribute on Twitter, describing Jenny as ‘my own little Marilyn’, while BBC drama director Jacqueline McAlpine tweeted, ‘She shone like a diamond.’

Jenny joined the Scottish Youth Theatre at an early age, and landed a small part in Heavenly Creatures (1986), starring Helen Mirren and Tom Conti. In 1989 she played the lead in Dream Baby, alongside future Dr Who star Peter Capaldi. She had a supporting role in Your Cheatin’ Heart, a 1990 series about a Scottish Country and Western singer.

Her big break came in Looking After JoJo (1998), starring Robert Carlyle as Jojo McCann, a petty criminal who becomes embroiled in the drug underworld. The girl he loves, Lorraine, escapes grim reality through her fascination with Marilyn Monroe. Although she doesn’t look a lot like Marilyn, Jenny manages to convey a similar vulnerability.

Marilyn’s 1954 track, ‘She Acts Like a Woman Should,’ is played during one episode, highlighting the misogynistic gangster culture. The finale of this four-part mini-series is titled ‘When Love Goes Wrong’ (from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.)

In 1998, Jenny was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. She went on to star in a big-screen adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s The Acid House, and appeared in TV’s Psychos. Sadly, Jenny’s promising career was cut short by her illness, and her last screen credit was in 2000.

Jenny’s dad George said: ‘The last few years have been very hard but Jenny was fiercely independent and she battled through them. She was a one-off and had a very original sense of humour. Everybody liked her and we are really proud of what she achieved.’

Actor Forbes Masson, with whom she appeared in the 1990s sitcom, The High Life, wrote: ‘Jenny was an immensely talented, uniquely funny, warm, wild and outrageous spirit. I cannot believe she’s gone.’

‘So sad to hear about the tragic, untimely death of the wonderful Jenny McCrindle,’ Irvine Welsh tweeted.

UPDATE: Looking After JoJo is now available on DVD. You can read a review here.


Marilyn’s Estate Targets Clydebank Salon

A Scottish hair salon, named after MM, has been forced to change its name after pressure from the licensing arm of Marilyn’s estate, reports the Clydebank Post.

As a fan, I’m always delighted to see tributes to Marilyn in shops, bars and cafes. I dislike this latest attempt to commodify her. In my opinion, Marilyn’s estate should leave fans alone.

“The salon named after the iconic American actress in Clyde Shopping Centre is being forced to change its name and kill off all connections with Marilyn.

This comes after owner Norah Yilmaz received a letter from the deceased film star’s estate, thousands of miles away in New York, threatening legal action.

The letter, from Authentic Brands Group warned Norah she faces a lawsuit if she failed to remove all traces of Marilyn from her salon.

Stunned Norah, 39, said: ‘They told me to take all social media, photos and the wallpaper of her down.’

‘I love the vintage era and Marilyn Monroe was a big part. So I’ve now decided to call the salon Vintage.’

The salon owner has been forced to shut down the Facebook business page she worked hard building up by giving away free spray-tans.

She said: ‘I had over 1400 people on my Marilyn Monroe page and I couldn’t get Facebook to let me change the name of it. I had to just start a whole new one.’

‘The really big issue was what were we going to call it. I wanted to call it ‘Glitz and Glam’ but the girls who work here all hated it. I knew I had to get the sign down as soon as possible but I couldn’t until I had a new name.’

Norah and the 11 beauticians are planning to give Marilyn her final send off on Hallowe’en.

She said: ‘The only thing I need to change is my card receipt machine because it still comes up Marilyn Monroe. On Hallowe’en we’re doing a theme that Marilyn Monroe has died in the salon. So all of our make-up will be half the face of Marilyn and the other half skeleton.’

‘She died in 1962 — and now she’s dying again in 2014 in Clydebank.’

Despite the legal threats, stress and the costly rebranding of the salon, Norah still has a soft spot for the 1950s icon.

‘I feel touched that the actual estate of Marilyn got in touch with me,’ said Norah. ‘Even though she’s died again here I still love her, I think she’s brilliant.’

Vintage salon in Clydebank Shopping Centre is now taking bookings for their Hallowe’en party this Friday, October 31.

For £20 you can have your scary special FX makeup done and enjoy a glass of wine. Contact Vintage on 0141 952 3777 to book.”

As Marilyn herself said, the people made her a star and it’s fans who keep her memory alive. Instead of persecuting them, her estate should pursue rogue journalists who propogate lies about her.

But as the estate’s official Facebook page routinely features fake quotes, I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

Sugar, Sax and Spats in Scotland

This summer’s re-release of Some Like it Hot continues to delight audiences across the UK, and especially in Scotland, Antonia Quirke reports for the New Statesman.

“A review of the week’s films on The Culture Studio (weekdays, 2.05pm) included, joyously, Billy Wilder’s 1959 Some Like It Hot – not, as is so often the case with re-releases, shoved at the end of the chat, but given substantial time (they even played a clip). There’s such pleasure for the listener in hearing something you know being chewed over properly. But try telling most radio producers that.

The presenter Ricky Ross and critics Siobhan Synnot and Eddie Harrison chatted delightedly about the train scenes, in which the girl band of candy-floss blondes, led by a 32-year-old Marilyn Monroe, travels from Chicago to Miami to play at a hotel along with Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon, done up as music conservatoire escapees. Speeding from the freezing city to the magical land of palm trees and yachts, it feels like the masquerade ball in The Comedy of Errors.

‘It all feels like a Shakespeare comedy,’ said Ross, banging the table as his guests hooted in assent. This is a Shakespearean utopia, a world where you’re forever bumping into funny people, and maximal things happen. Cold and heat, musicians and killers: a witty way to divide up the world. All the ‘good’ people are natural musicians. The rest are arid, uptight gangsters who use toothpicks and worry unsexily about getting booze stains on their spats.”