Lorraine Abdul, mother of the singer, choreographer and TV presenter Paula Abdul, has died aged 85, reports ET-Online. Born Lorraine Rykiss in Manitoba, Canada, she was a concert pianist and an assistant to Billy Wilder on several films, including Some Like It Hot.
British actress Gemma Arterton has revealed that she is playing Marilyn in It’s Me, Sugar, a new TV film about the making of Some Like It Hot, in a recent interview for the French movie website, Allocine (I have used Google Translate, so please forgive any typos!) Very little is known about It’s Me, Sugar as yet, except that the director is Sean Foley (Mindhorn.) Personally, I like Gemma as an actress, but I would have thought the ‘behind the scenes’ angle on Marilyn’s life had already been covered in MyWeek With Marilyn.
The title is supposedly based on a line that Marilyn blew multiple times on the set, but the line was actually ‘Where’s that bourbon.’ The situation was also more complicated than is generally perceived, as biographer Donald Wolfe (who watched the scene being filmed) believed that Marilyn was not merely flubbing the line, but was trying to persuade director Billy Wilder to let her play the scene differently.
“It’s a strong role in which you have to cry, to be in a state of almost permanent sadness. It must not be obvious …
Yes, in fact, everything depends on the role. For example, last week I played Marilyn Monroe in a TV movie, a comedy. There was a scene in which I had to cry and I could not, because it was a comedy. I was in this madness all the time.
Can you tell us more about this project you were talking about in which you play Marilyn Monroe?
It’s called It’s Me, Sugar. It’s about the movie Some Like It Hot. Marilyn Monroe was in a period of her life really troubled. She took a lot of drugs, drank a lot. She was the biggest star in the world, she had a lot of attention on her, a lot of pressure. She is great in the movie. But there is a scene, when she comes to the door, she says, ‘It’s me, Sugar.’ It took 47 shots to make this scene. The film is about that moment, the crisis she had. It’s funny because it’s stupid not to be able to say ‘It’s me, Sugar’. She made all the variations. It’s tragic too.
It’s a film period that I love. Billy Wilder is one of my favorite directors. I have always had a fascination for Marilyn Monroe. The director is Sean Foley. He does rather theater, comedy usually. But he made a film last year called Mindhorn, which was a bizarre English comedy. He was a comedian before. I find that directors who have done comedy before do better. It’s hard to do a good comedy, because it takes rhythm. It’s really difficult.”
Pencil skirts are back in style, according to The Guardian‘s Hannah Marriott (although I was unaware that they ever weren’t), proclaiming Marilyn – along with Marlene Dietrich, Meghan Markle and others – a ‘pencil skirt icon.’
“Marilyn Monroe’s walk down a steamy train platform in Some Like it Hot is the archetypal pencil skirt fashion reference, harking back to a time when form-fitting skirts were pretty shocking. (So tightly did they cling to curves that they are said to have inspired ‘the twist’, the only dance move women could do while wearing them.) The modern equivalent of the va-va-voom look is the stretchy pencil skirt favoured by Kim Kardashian and the Instagram set, usually paired with a crop top.”
The artist and photographer Laurie Simmons has recreated two scenes from Marilyn’s films in her first movie, My Art, as Wes Greene reports for Slant magazine.
“At one point in Laurie Simmons’s My Art, New York City art teacher Ellie (Simmons) and Frank (Robert Clohessy), a landscaper and sometime actor who Ellie has recruited for her latest project, are seen dressed as Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable, respectively, and preparing to recreate scenes from John Huston’s The Misfits. After Frank asks what his motivation is for one scene, Ellie responds that, while it’s impossible for them to ever be Monroe or Gable, they should nonetheless impersonate the two screen legends simply to see what happens. Despite the sheer vagueness of this explanation, which essentially encapsulates the approach Ellie takes to the multimedia project she works on throughout My Art, it unintentionally explicates the feeling that, like Ellie, Simmons isn’t so much creating art as a means to explore cinema’s effect on identity as she is conducting an act of indulgence.”
Marilyn has three entries on the 100 Best Classic Movies of All Time at Rotten Tomatoes, the movie website that aggregates user ratings. Some Like It Hot is surprisingly low-ranked (at 92), while the growing reputation of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes places it at 79. But All About Eve heads the pack, coming in fourth.
Mundell Lowe, the jazz guitarist and session musician who graduated to producing film scores, has died aged 95. He was born in Mississippi, the son of a Baptist minister. After serving in World War II, he joined Benny Goodman’s band in New York, and was later hired as a staff musician by NBC. In the 1960s he moved to Los Angeles, writing themes for TV shows like Starsky and Hutch and Hawaii Five-O. He is survived by his wife of 42 years, singer Betsy Bennett.
In a 1990 interview with the L.A. Times, Lowe revealed that he had also contributed to the recorded soundtrack of Some Like It Hot. “All those movie stars think they can sing, but I don’t think they really can. I don’t think she was a singer,” he said of Marilyn. Unlike some of the great jazz vocalists he worked with – including Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Peggy Lee – she was an actress first, and singer second. And as with many who knew Marilyn only briefly, if the encounter was difficult or negative in any way, it would inevitably have shaped his opinion.
Marilyn studied with Fred Karger, Phil Moore and Hal Schaefer, and auditioned for Benny Goodman in the late 1940s. While many of her contemporaries, including Rita Hayworth, Ava Gardner and Natalie Wood were dubbed in their musical performances, Marilyn’s vocal talents were deemed impressive enough to stand alone. Her voice was at its best in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and River of No Return, and her work in There’s No Business Like Show Business was praised by Irving Berlin.
By the end of the decade Marilyn was more focused on acting, and the quality of her voice had seemingly coarsened. However, the four songs she recorded for Some Like It Hot convey the many moods of her character perfectly. Her performance of ‘I Wanna Be Loved By You’ has eclipsed Helen Kane’s original, while ‘I’m Through With Love’ is extremely poignant. She went on to star in one more musical, Let’s Make Love, delivering a wonderful cover of ‘My Heart Belongs to Daddy,’ and her recorded output (just under thirty songs) remains hugely popular today.
As Midway Airport turns 90, the ChicagoSun-Times has published this library photo of a windswept Marilyn landing there in March 1959 for a promotional jaunt including a press conference at the Ambassador East Hotel, and the roadshow premiere of Some Like It Hot.
Some Like It Hot will be screened at 1:15 pm on Tuesday, November 21, at St Clare’s church hall in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, as part of a ‘Feelgood Films’ series. Entry is £2 per adult, £1 per child.
Ripley’s Museum in Orlando, Florida is organising several events alongside the current display of Marilyn’s ‘Happy Birthday’ dress, including a lookalike contest and screenings of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Some Like It Hot and The Seven Year Itch in December – more details here.