Marilyn’s ‘Love ‘n’ Desire’ for Heritage Auctions

This original photo of Marilyn facing the paparazzi with Milton Greene at Madison Square Garden in March 1955 (on the night she rode a pink elephant for charity at the Ringling Brothers circus) is going up for sale on November 3rd, as part of Heritage Auctions‘ Entertainment & Music Memorabilia Signatures event. The verso is marked ‘MM-56’, and dated September ’55; stamped twice, with the magazine title TV and Movie Screen, and a credit for the Neal Peters Collection, plus a caption: ‘Love ‘n’ Desire?’

Also on offer is a set of documents related to Some Like It Hot, including legal permission for real machine guns to be used in the movie; and the December 2005 issue of Playboy, featuring Marilyn on the cover, and signed by founder Hugh Hefner.

UPDATE: The Hefner-signed Playboy reached a final bid of $3,500; the photo of Marilyn at the circus sold for $209; and the Some Like It Hot papers raised  $79.

Laurie Mitchell 1928-2018

Actress Laurie Mitchell, who played ‘Mary Lou’, the trumpeter from Sweet Sue’s band in Some Like It Hot, has died aged 90.

Born Mickey Koren in Manhattan in 1928,  she was a child model and was crowned ‘Miss Bronx’ while still in high school. Her family moved to Los Angeles where she took acting classes at the Ben Bard Drama Academy. In 1949 she married magician Larry White, and began performing onstage as Barbara White.

She made her big-screen debut with an uncredited role in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954.) More bit parts followed in movies and television, until she hit her stride under her new name of Laurie Mitchell, as Queen Yllana (the masked nemesis of leading lady Zsa Zsa Gabor) in the cult sci-fi flick, Queen of Outer Space (1958.)

Laurie Mitchell at left (in headscarf)

Her role in Some Like It Hot was also uncredited, but she considered it a highlight of her career. Her husband also played the trumpet, which may explain her casting. As Mary Lou, she brings a box of crackers to the impromptu party at Jack Lemmon’s bunk on the overnight train.

She later recalled that all the girls in the band were required to ‘go blonde’ by director Billy Wilder. Marilyn was unhappy with this, and insisted they should sport a darker shade than her signature platinum do.

Laurie later played a showgirl in That Touch of Mink (1962), starring Cary Grant and Doris Day, and a ‘saloon girl’ in Gunfight at Comanche Creek (1963), with Audie Murphy. She also made guest appearances in many TV shows, including 77 Sunset Strip, Perry Mason, Rawhide, Bonanza, Wagon Train, The Addams Family, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, Ironside, and Hogan’s Heroes. Her final screen appearance was in 1971.

Her marriage to Larry White, with whom she had two children, ended in 1976.  She later remarried, and became a much-loved fixture on the celebrity expo circuit.

How Marilyn Captured a Critic’s Heart

In an article for Cardinal & Cream – the student magazine for Union University in Jackson, Tennessee – Randall Kendrick reveals how watching Some Like It Hot for the first time changed his opinion of Marilyn.

“Growing up, I never understood the appeal of Marilyn Monroe. Monroe just seemed like a dated icon, a symbol of Hollywood sex appeal in the much idolized decade of the ’50s. Never having any experience with any of her film roles, I figured her personality was as shallow as those of the girls in early James Bond movies (i.e. a one-dimensional accessory that’s just there to look pretty).

For a long time, I’ve had the classic 1950s comedy, Some Like It Hot, on my watch list, and for much of that time, I wasn’t even aware that Monroe was in it. Even after I learned that Monroe starred in it, her appearance had no weight on my decision to watch the movie, and frankly, I didn’t think my opinion of her would be changed afterward.

As talented as the male leads are, though, they are absolutely out-shined by Monroe. The first time Monroe’s smile filled the screen, she completely stole the movie. Her charm and magnetic personality completely sold me on her appeal. Totally unlike my original perception of her, Monroe had her own personality that shined through the screen and made her more than a pretty accessory to the plot. She was a very talented actress that created some of the funniest and most memorable moments in the film.

Monroe was so likable and had me so enraptured, that before the movie was even over, I considered going online to buy (or at least browse) Marilyn Monroe memorabilia. I didn’t end up following through with that thought, but that it even crossed my mind is a testament to why she had an incredible impact on people during the ’50s. She was the quintessential Hollywood actress with a brilliant smile, an irresistible personality and glamorous looks.

While Some Like It Hot is a good comedy on its own, it wouldn’t have achieved the status it has without the energy that Monroe brought to the table. After seeing her in action, I now honestly feel sorry I doubted the charm of Monroe and the people who propped her up as a Hollywood legend.”

Avedon’s Marilyn: Rare Nudes Emerge

An extremely rare (and very charming) series of semi-nude photos shot by Richard Avedon, featuring Marilyn with hairdresser Kenneth Battelle,  has surfaced on the website of the Edward Cella Gallery in Los Angeles.

This was probably shot during the same session that made the cover of Life magazine to promote Some Like It Hot in April 1959, although Marilyn had worked with Avedon the previous summer on the ‘Fabled Enchantresses’ sessions (published in Life in December 1958.) Avedon had been unhappy with some of the shots, so these nudes could have been among the rejects. However, Marilyn’s slightly bouffant hairstyle more closely resembles her look in March 1959, when Battelle accompanied Marilyn to the Some Like It Hot premiere in Chicago (see here.)

Interestingly, this was not the first time Marilyn stripped off for Avedon – she also posed topless for his ‘Photomatic’ series in 1957 (see here.) The playful nature of these images reflects Marilyn’s trust in Avedon – which was seemingly well-placed, considering how long it has taken for the shots to appear.

Thanks to Paul and Johann

‘Some Like It Hot’ Comes to Criterion

Following the big-screen premiere of a new 4K restoration at the Venice Film Festival, a special edition of Some Like It Hot will be added to the ranks of the prestigious Criterion Collection on DVD and Blu-Ray in November, as Charles Barfield reports for The Playlist.

“SPECIAL FEATURES

  • New 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • Audio commentary from 1989 featuring film scholar Howard Suber
  • New program on Orry-Kelly’s costumes for the film, featuring costume designer and historian Deborah Nadoolman Landis and costume historian and archivist Larry McQueen
  • Three making-of documentaries
  • Appearance from 1982 by director Billy Wilder on The Dick Cavett Show
  • Conversation from 2001 between actor Tony Curtis and film critic Leonard Maltin
  • French television interview from 1988 with actor Jack Lemmon
  • Trailer
  • PLUS: An essay by author Sam Wasson

New cover by F. Ron Miller”