David Thomson is another film critic who doesn’t rate Marilyn’s screen performances all that highly, but often feels compelled to write about her. He provided an introduction for Anne Verlhac’s MM: A Life in Pictures (2007), and also mentions Marilyn in his 2012 book, The Big Screen: The Story of the Movies and What They Did to Us. In it, he credits most of her best work to her directors, and even suggests Michelle Williams did a better job of being Marilyn than she did (in My Week With Marilyn.) Nonetheless, he can’t deny her enduring appeal…
“She was always in her glory in stills, like a kid raised on fan magazines and their suspended moments of desire and splendour. When she moved on film, in real time, she often became more awkward and exaggerated. But she was enough of a pin-up girl – and there was a luxuriant but tasteful spread for a nude calendar – that she was signed up by Twentieth Century Fox. They decided to call her Marilyn Monroe. She was one of the last studio fabrications and she would die still attached to Fox in anger, grief and litigation.
She would marry Joe DiMaggio, the model of baseball, and then Arthur Miller, the intellectual, leftist playwright. It was a search for happiness, but a kind of nationwide casting, too. There were also affairs … Norman Mailer never quite got over the frustration that he was not included and he wrote a rhapsody to her that was driven by his never knowing her.
What was she like on-screen? More or less, fifty years after her death, everyone has seen some of Marilyn’s films. A lot of them were thankless studio assignments. In many she is being mocked by her own pictures … Studios no longer had reason or the skills to look after their wayward stars, and no one ever knew how to plot a career line for Monroe, or have her remember it …
Marilyn Monroe was never in charge, and that is why the public felt a helpless publicity at the news of her suicide …. Her actual achievement, in stills and movie moments, was slight compared with the work of Katharine Hepburn, Barbara Stanwyck, Bette Davis, or Meryl Streep. But if anyone today is asked to do a painting of the history of the movies (or a book jacket), chances are they do Chaplin tipping his hat to Marilyn, with her standing over that subway grating in New York, where the rush of a passing train turned her white skirt into a parachute. She taught us to see that great images were lost children, and we walk on in dismay …”
Thomson also writes at length about Some Like It Hot, and the hair and wardrobe tests filmed with Marilyn for the unfinished Something’s Got to Give, which are in some ways more haunting than the scenes she completed (perhaps because she was unhampered by the dated script.)
“The test is in colour but silent. She wears a white dress with a black floral pattern and she is talking to the director George Cukor. She is herself, not the character for the film, and as beautiful and confident as she ever managed on film, as if aware it was her best shot. Some said that, in the last couple of years, Monroe was so drugged that she had difficulty focusing her eyes. That doesn’t show in this test. She is presence itself and suggests she might have been a smart woman and not just ‘Marilyn’.”
In our final post ahead of the November 14 event at Julien’s Auctions, A Southern Gentleman’s Collection, we focus on Marilyn’s marriage to Arthur Miller and the last years of her life. (You can read all posts about this sale here.)
“A group of six audio recordings including: 1) a late 1950s-era 3-inch reel tape (Type 151) featuring interviews Monroe conducted with Look magazine and Chicago disc jockey Dave Garroway, housed in its original box with handwritten annotations reading in part ‘May Reis’ [Monroe’s longtime New York-based secretary]; 2) a 33 1/3 RPM record labeled “M. Monroe – Belmont / Side 1 / Side 2[her 1960 interview with Georges Belmont for Marie Claire]; 3) another 33 1/3 RPM record identical to #2 but sides 3-4; 4) another 33 1/2 RPM record identical to #2 but sides 5-6, content unknown on all; 5) a 78 RPM record on the RCA Victor label of the star singing ‘The River of No Return’ and ‘I’m Gonna File My Claim;’ and 6) a 45 RPM record same as the 78; further included with a CD of the reel tape; all originally from the Estate of May Reis. And sold separately, a publicity still from River of No Return, autographed by Marilyn.”
Recordings SOLD for $3,840; photo SOLD for $10,240
“A legal-sized financial document from Woodbury Savings Bank in Connecticut, two hole punch marks on left side, dated ‘Sept. 9, 1957,’ filled out in blue fountain pen ink by Arthur Miller, briefly outlining the couple’s finances, noting their annual income as ‘$50,000,’ interestingly, Miller adds that there is a ‘suit pending against M.M. Productions,’ both signed twice on the lower margin, with MM’s reading ‘Marilyn Monroe Miller;’ also included is a related photocopied document from the same bank.” And sold separately, a window card for The Prince and The Showgirl (1957.)
Document SOLD for $4,480; poster SOLD for $384
“Nine original snapshots depicting Marilyn at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn on May 12, 1957 as she makes a guest appearance at a soccer match between the U.S. and Israel. And sold separately, a medical insurance form from Associated Hospital Service of New York, entirely filled out in blue ballpoint ink by Miller when the couple was applying for insurance, noting their address on ‘Tophet Road, Roxbury, Conn.’ and noting Monroe’s health issues as ‘Appendix Removed / 5% (hearing) impairment, Ectopic Pregnancy,’ oddly, Miller checked off ‘no’ under ‘female trouble’ for his wife, signed by Miller on page 3 and further signed by Monroe right below but in different blue ballpoint ink.”
Photos SOLD for $1,024; document SOLD for $3,750
“Miscellaneous paperwork from 1958 including: an invoice from Carl Perutz Photography sent to Marilyn at her NYC address on ’18 June 1958;’ and four receipts from the Yellow Cab Company of Los Angeles ranging in date from July 14 to July 16, 1958, showing that MM was at the Hotel Bel Air, Saks Fifth Avenue, and a mysterious address at 8719 Bonner Drive; though her name does not appear anywhere on the receipts, they come from the same files as the Perutz invoice.”
SOLD for $512
“Telegram dated October 28, 1958, sent to Jack Lemmon by the producer of Some Like It Hot, reading in part ‘By reason of the illness of Marilyn Monroe, please be advised / that we hereby exercise the right to suspension…;’ and sold separately, a standard check from the ‘Marilyn Monroe Productions, Inc.’ account … matted under a 1970s-era re-issue soundtrack album from Some Like It Hot.”
Telegram SOLD for $768; check + album SOLD for $2,560
“A standard address book with navy blue leather covers and A to Z tabs, kept by May Reis [Monroe’s longtime New York secretary] on the star’s behalf for a number of years, inside pages contain Reis’ handwritten entries in pencil or various colors of ballpoint ink for Monroe’s personal and business contacts including (in alphabetical order): Rupert Allan, Elizabeth Arden, Richard Avedon, Kenneth Battale, Saul Bellow, Chateau Marmont, Michael Chekhov, Jack Cole, George Cukor, Lilly Daché, Agnes Flanagan, Bob Fosse, Ben Gazzara, Lotte Goslar, Sydney Guilaroff, Lillian Hellman, Hedda Hopper, Hotel Bel Air, John Huston, William Inge, Jax, Anne Karger, Marianne Kris, Leon Krohn, Ann Landers, Erno Laszlo, Jean Louis, Carson McCullers, Inez Melson, Isidore Miller, Berniece Miracle, Monroe Six, Eunice Murray, Jean Negulesco, Norman Norell, Clifford Odets, Louella Parsons, Lena Pepitone, The Plaza Hotel, Henry Rosenfeld, Hedda and Norman Rosten, Eva Marie Saint, Norma Shearer, Frank Sinatra, Sidney Skolsky, Allan Snyder, John Steinbeck, Paula Strasberg, Western Costume Co., Billy Wilder, and Shelley Winters, among a few others; also included are a few notes relating to the stars personal identification numbers as well as bank accounts; Reis’ ownership signature is penned on the second page next to a date of ‘1958;’ Monroe penciled in a note on the last page reading ‘Roxbury Conn. / Tophet Rd.'”
UNSOLD – reserve not met
“A single page of personalized stationery, dated ‘April 15, 1960,’ to ‘Mr. Ehrlich,’ reading in part ‘Will you please convey my sincere appreciation to the public and critics of Chile for awarding the Laurel de Oro as Best Actress of 1959,’ signed in black fountain pen ink in the lower right corner ‘Marilyn Monroe;’ with its original transmittal envelope. And sold separately, a contact sheet showing Marilyn in a scene from Some Like It Hot (1959.)”
Letter SOLD for $3,750; contact sheet SOLD for $768
“A small receipt from Gray Reid’s in Reno, Nevada noting a date of ’16 Aug 60′ and that ‘$6.07’ was spent, verso has a blue ballpoint ink handwritten annotation (not in MM’s hand) reading ‘Black / Umbrella’ — probably the umbrella that Marilyn bought for her acting coach, Paula Strasberg, during shooting of The Misfits.”
SOLD for $256
“A black silk and ostrich feather wrap with two black velvet arm straps, label reads ‘Made to Order / Rex / Inc. / Beverly Hills / California;’ displayed in a shadow box with a black and white image of the star wearing it during a 1960 photo shoot with Eve Arnold. Interestingly, this piece may have been used as a prop in MM’s last and unfinished 1962 film, Something’s Got To Give as a similar wrap can be seen in her tote bag in the sequence where she watches her children in the swimming pool.”
SOLD for $10,240
“A deep brownish-black mink fur stole, rectangular shaped with slightly flared ends, lined in a black and gold brocade textured raw silk, no labels present.” [Worn by Marilyn to the premiere of The Misfits in 1961.]
SOLD for $5,760
“A group of seven accessories including: 1) a pair of cat eye sunglasses with rhinestone detailing; 2) their case made of beige vinyl and brown plastic, stamped ‘Cosmetan / Sun Glasses;’ 3) a cordovan alligator eyeglass case stamped in part ‘Schilling;’ 4) a red cotton eyeglass case with a label reading in part ‘Devonaire of California;’ 5) a sterling silver shoe horn, stamped ‘Sterling’ on both sides; and 6-7) a pair of orange plastic shoe trees.”
SOLD for $7,500
“A two page hand-written note on light blue pieces of notepaper from the Los Angeles Institute for Psychoanalysis, penciled by the star in full “‘CR 12151 Western Union / Dear Marlon / I need your / opinion about a / plan for getting / Lee out here on more / than a temporary / basis please / phone me as soon / as possible / Time / is of the essence / Marilyn;’ evidently written for a telegram that she was sending to Brando about Actors’ Studio head Lee Strasberg. And sold separately, a telegram from Brando dated ‘1962 Jan 13,’ sent to Marilyn at her ‘882 North Doheny Apt 3’ address, reading in full ‘Tried to reach you by fone must leave city this weekend / sorry / Marlon,’ with a number of stamps and other handwritten delivery annotations evident; seeming to be Brando’s response to Monroe’s note.”
Marilyn’s note SOLD for $6,400; Marlon’s telegram SOLD for $2,560
“A standard postcard from the Fontainebleu Hotel in Miami, signed in blue ballpoint ink on the verso ‘To Gisele / Thank you / so much! / Marilyn Monroe.'” [Marilyn stayed overnight at the Fontainebleu in 1962 with her former father-in-law, Isidore Miller.]
SOLD for $2,500
“A large collection of approximately 130 loose-leaf ‘colored’ script change pages given to the star throughout the production of Something’s Got to Give, as the script was being revised on a regular basis, noting numerous and various dates in April and May of 1962, many pages are paper-clipped or stapled together by their revision date, a number of them have the star’s name penned in the upper right hand corner (though not in her hand) or small notes addressed to her, Monroe’s own handwritten annotations appear on a few pages, mainly as directions to herself such as ‘drop voice – / lean against post’ or additional dialogue she added such as ‘if you’d take it out’ and the like, she also circled her character’s name [“Ellen”] on many pages; two pink pages are torn with one having Monroe’s penciled annotation reading ‘No good one.’ And sold separately, an oversize colour photo taken during Marilyn’s 1962 session with Bert Stern for Vogue magazine, entitled ‘I Beg Of You‘.”
Script pages SOLD for $12,800; photo SOLD for $5,120
Sold separately, these contact sheets are among several lots featuring photos by Bert Stern.
Contact sheets SOLD for $1,152 and $896, respectively
“A telegram dated ‘1962 Jun 1 AM 9 55,’ sent to Marilyn at her Fifth Helena Drive address in Brentwood, CA, reading in full ‘Happy Birthday Hope Today And Future Years Bring You / Sunny Skies And All Your Heart Desires As Ever / Joe’ — most likely DiMaggio as it was sent from ‘Madrid Via RCA.'”
SOLD for $6,250
“A ticket reading in part ‘May 19, 1962 / Madison Square Garden / Gala All Star Show’ — the now-historic event celebrating President John F. Kennedy‘s 45th birthday, plus a photo of Marilyn during her performance of ‘Happy Birthday, Mr President’. And sold separately, a group of four telephone bills, sent to “M. Monroe” from General Telephone Company, ranging in date from April 30 to July 30, 1962, listing all the long distance calls she made to cities noted on the bills as ‘NYC, Bkln, Queen, Wbury, Engla, Telav’ and, most interestingly, to ‘Wash’ a number of times in July — so maybe she was calling the Kennedys?”
Ticket + photo SOLD for $896; telephone bills SOLD for $4,375
“A 1960s-era Steno spiral-bound notebook filled with about 45 pages of notes and reminiscences penned in blue ballpoint ink that George Barris wrote down while he was working with the star in the summer of 1962; appearing to be taken verbatim from conversations the two had, the subjects mentioned are quite varied and range from Monroe’s favorite films to her health to people on her mind at that particular time such as President Kennedy, Arthur Miller, Joe DiMaggio, Cyd Charisse, Marlon Brando, Paula Strasberg, and Greta Garbo; other topics include living in California, nude scenes in films, her termination from her last film, sex, on being a sex symbol, marriage, children, and life philosophy in general; some of the notes appear to have been jotted down later or even after the star’s death but in any case, it’s a fascinating look into the star’s psyche as recounted by someone who closely worked with her at the very end of her life. And sold separately, a signed photo by Barris.
“A single page removed from a trade publication such as Variety or The Hollywood Reporter with text reading in part ‘Thank you / Marilyn Monroe’ — an ad the star placed in the publication to thank the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for her 1962 Golden Globe win for ‘World Favorite Actress,’ mounted to cardboard; found in Monroe’s own files. ”
SOLD for $512
A framed still photo showing Marilyn with co-stars June Haver, William Lundigan and Jack Paar in Love Nest (1951); and a costume test shot for Don’t Bother to Knock (1952.)
Photo sets SOLD for $640 and $896, respectively
Marilyn and Jane Russell performing ‘Two Little Girls From Little Rock’ in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, as seen on the cover of LIFE magazine in 1953. Marilyn’s costume is expected to fetch a maximum $80,000 – see here.)
Magazine SOLD for $896; costume SOLD for $250,000
A still photo of Marilyn during filming of River of No Return in 1953. The gown she wore while performing the theme song is expected to fetch a maximum $80,000 – see here.
Photo set SOLD for $1,152; costume SOLD for $175,000
Travilla’s costume sketch for the ‘Heat Wave’ number in There’s No Business Like Show Business (1954), and a colour transparency of Marilyn in costume for a wardrobe test shot. (The costume itself is estimated to fetch up to $80,000 – see here.)
Sketch SOLD for $11,520; photo SOLD for $750; costume SOLD for $280,000
A framed still photo of Marilyn performing ‘Heat Wave‘, and a custom-made, one-of-a-kind poster made for the Century Theatre in the Hamilton, Ontario area to advertise a raffle to win tickets to see There’s No Show Business Like Show Business.
Photo SOLD for $750; poster SOLD for $1,280
“A group of three, all original prints with a glossy finish, depicting the star behind-the-scenes on the set of her 1956 20th Century Fox film, Bus Stop; all have typed text on the bottom margin noting to credit Al Brack who was a ‘Sun Valley, Idaho photographer.'”
SOLD for $576
A pair of memos regarding Milton Greene’s photos from the set of The Prince and the Showgirl; and, sold separately, a contact sheet. The second memo reads in part, ‘Dear Mike, The print you sent me, that Marilyn Monroe said she had killed, is incorrectly numbered. Marilyn is right – she did kill it.’ Both memos are dated April 11, 1957, and are addressed to ‘Meyer Hunter.’ Lois Weber, one of Monroe’s publicists at the time, authored both memos.”
Memos SOLD for $312.50; contact sheet SOLD for $500
Still photo of Marilyn with co-stars Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon in a scene from Some Like It Hot (1959.)
Photo set SOLD for $576
“A pair of colour slides of Marilyn Monroe in a scene from How To Marry a Millionaire (1953), and during a press conference for Let’s Make Love with co-star Frankie Vaughan on January 16, 1960.”
Still photos taken by Lawrence Schiller during filming of the ‘pool scene’ in Something’s Got to Give.
Photo sets sold for $1,280 each
“A collection of approximately 65 pieces comprising only photocopied scripts and documents, all related to Marilyn Monroe’s films. Some film titles have more than one copy of the script, and some feature the working title and not the final one. All are bound into 20th Century Fox covers of various colors and appear to be the studio’s ‘loan out’ or ‘library’ copies. Pieces include (in alphabetical order): All About Eve (a treatment only), As Young As You Feel (2 scripts ), Bus Stop (3 scripts), Dangerous Years (1 script), Don’t Bother to Knock (2 scripts), The Full House (1 script), Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (2 scripts plus 4 related documents), How to Marry a Millionaire (3 scripts plus 1 related document), Let’s Make Love (2 scripts), Love Nest (2 scripts), Monkey Business (2 scripts plus 2 related documents), Move Over, Darling (1 script), Niagara (2 scripts plus 4 related documents), O. Henry’s Full House (2 scripts plus 1 related document), River of No Return (1 script plus 5 related documents), The Seven Year Itch (3 scripts), Something’s Got to Give (1 script), There’s No Business Like Show Business (3 scripts plus 7 related documents), Ticket to Tomahawk (2 related documents), and We’re Not Married (1 script plus 1 related document). Also included are a few miscellaneous pieces related to Monroe. “
The Brothers Mankiewicz, a dual biography of screenwriters Joseph and Herman Mankiewicz, has just been published. Herman, the elder brother, boasted credits for Dinner at Eight, The Wizard of Oz, and Citizen Kane; while Joe, eleven years his junior, also worked as a producer and director, and gave a little-known actress a big break.
In 1950, Marilyn won a minor role in All About Eve. As an ambitious starlet, notes author Sydney Ladensohn Stern, she had “unusually good lines,” and given her subsequent rise, the performance has “unintended retrospective importance.” Stern then claims that she was hired “mostly as a favour to her mentor/lover, William Morris agent Johnny Hyde.” While Hyde’s influence may have helped, Joe Mankiewicz would later say he had chosen Marilyn after seeing her in The Asphalt Jungle, noting that she had “a sort of glued-on innocence” which made her ideal for the part.
Stern also claims that the story about Marilyn and Joe Mankiewicz discussing Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet, which she had picked up in a bookstore, is unreliable because she had actually been given the book by her acting coach, Natasha Lytess. But however Marilyn may have acquired the book (and she already had a charge account at a Los Angeles bookstore), both her telling of the story, and Joe’s, emphasise her understanding of its themes. Her personal copy was auctioned by Christie’s in 1999.
In 1954, Marilyn contacted Mankiewicz expressing her wish to play nightclub singer Miss Adelaide, the long-suffering fiancee of Nathan Detroit (Frank Sinatra), in his upcoming musical, Guys and Dolls. Producer Sam Goldwyn also wanted Marilyn to star, but the role went to stage actress Vivian Blaine. According to Stern, Mankiewicz joked that “he couldn’t imagine [Marilyn] waiting fourteen years for a guy.” (You can read more about Guys and Dollshere.)
However, Monroe biographer Barbara Leaming believed the rejection was rather more personal, while Mankiewicz would later make disparaging remarks about her to another author, Sandra Shevey. He dismissed outright the notion that Marilyn was a victim of Hollywood, although he was no stranger to industry disputes and volatile stars.
In 1961 Mankiewicz became mired in Fox’s notoriously fraught production of Cleopatra, which took him two more years to complete, and almost bankrupted the studio. In fact, the Cleopatra debacle is thought to have indirectly caused Marilyn to be fired from her final movie, Something’s Got to Give. (During his brief, inglorious tenure as studio boss, Peter Levathes also sacked Elizabeth Taylor from Cleopatra. She was swiftly re-hired, but Marilyn would pass away before negotiations for her own reinstatement were realised.)
While The Brothers Mankiewicz contains little new information about Marilyn, it’s a valuable resource about two men who shaped Hollywood’s golden age. In her 1954 memoir, My Story, Marilyn praised Joe as “a sensitive and intelligent director”, and in 2010 she was featured on the cover of a French tome, Joseph L. Mankiewicz and His Double.
The results are in for this year’s Legends sale at Julien’s Auctions. A number of photos from the Manfred ‘Linus’ Kreiner archive (see above) were sold, with the Marilyn-related lots fetching up to $3,800. These photos were recently featured in Parade magazine (see here.)
Within the fan community, biographer Gary Vitacco-Robles won a telegram from Lauren Bacall congratulating Marilyn after her wedding to Joe DiMaggio, for $1,582.50. The biggest Marilyn-related sales, however, were her costume from A Ticket to Tomahawk (sold for $22,400), and her bathrobe from How to Marry a Millionaire (which fetched $28,800.) Here are some more highlights:
A rare ‘Page 3’ copy of Playboy‘s first issue, signed by Hugh Hefner ($16,00)
A cast of Marilyn’s hands and feet from Grauman’s Chinese Theatre ($25,600)
A black chiffon overblouse ($19, 200)
A six-strand, iridiscent crystal necklace in purple and green ($11,250)
A pair of rhinestone clip earrings ($28,125)
Marilyn’s script for Something’s Got to Give, dated August 30, 1961 ($12,800)
And finally, I’ve added the maximum bids for each item featured in my previous posts – learn more about this fascinating auction here.
A final post (for now) on the Julien’s Legends series, in advance of the auction on June 13-14. As well as Marilyn’s bathrobe from How to Marry a Millionaire (see here) her costume from A Ticket to Tomahawk (1950) is also on offer. She wore it to perform ‘Oh, What A Forward Young Man You Are’ with Dan Dailey and her fellow chorines.
As well as an archive of material by Manfred ‘Linus’ Kreiner (see here), several other photographers are also represented.
UPDATE: I have now added the final bids for each item.
“A group of seven color slides, all showing Marilyn performing for U.S. troops in Korea in 1954. Four slides show Monroe wearing a purple spaghetti-strapped dress on stage, three show her wearing a bomber jacket and pants in the camp, and one has a further handwritten annotation in black fountain pen ink reading in part ‘6 Feb 54 – A little/ closer this time.'” (SOLD for $448)
“An original clipping from a Mexican newspaper detailing Marilyn’s visit to the National Institute for the Protection of Children on March 1, 1962, and her donation of $1,000.00 to the institute. Also included is a document translating the article, reading in part, ‘The American actress Marilyn Monroe yesterday visited the National Institute for the Protection of Children where she greeted the president of that organization, Mrs. Eva Samano de Lopez Mateos, to whom she gave 12,500 pesos – one thousand dollars – for the needy children.'” (SOLD for $768)
“An unsigned carbon-copy of a letter, likely from May Reis, Marilyn Monroe’s secretary, to hairdresser Kenneth, dated July 16, 1958. The letter reads in part, ‘Thank you for sending on Miss Monroe’s chignon but I am sorry it has not turned out as she had ordered it so it is being returned to you under separate cover.'” (SOLD for $192)
“A one-page handwritten letter from press agent Patricia Newcomb to Marilyn, dated June 2, 1956. The letter reads in part, ‘Enclosed is a copy of your eye perscription (sic) which I got this morning from Lee Seigel. I am also sending you another bottle, in case you might be running short.’ Also, ‘I mailed your records and hair dryer today, so they should arrive by the end of the week.'” (SOLD for $1,125)
“A one-page typed letter to Marilyn from Nunnally Johnson, dated February 1, no year specified (but probably sent after their 1962 meeting at the Beverly Hills Hotel, to discuss Something’s Got to Give.) The letter reads in part, ‘This is to put it on paper that I’ve rarely had a merrier evening. There’s no question about it, the only way to discuss business is over a bottle or two of champagne, with occasional reflections on sex to keep everything in balance. And if ever the occasion rises you may cite me as a bloke who also likes to sit and talk with you.’ The letter is hand-signed. A well-known screenwriter, Johnson worked on a number of projects related to Monroe, including We’re Not Married, and How to Marry a Millionaire.” (SOLD for $2,240)
“Two letters from the Actors’ Studio, dated January 10 and 12, 1961, regarding the Actors’ Studio Benefit scheduled for March 13, 1961. The January 10 letter announces, ‘Marilyn Monroe will be one of the stars who will draw the lucky tickets for our door prizes and for the Dance Contests.’ The letter is signed by Lee Strasberg, Cheryl Crawford and Elia Kazan (facsimile signatures). The second letter, sent by the benefit’s coordinator, asks Marilyn if it would be possible to take a photo of her wearing a fur coat that will be raffled as a door prize. The letter further requests that Marilyn write to executives at United Artists asking them to reserve tables at the event.” (SOLD for $768)
“Three letters, all dated in January of 1961, referencing possible film projects for Marilyn’s consideration. The January 3 letter from George Chasin is on MCA letterhead and references Touch of Mink, written by Stanley Shapiro (later filmed with Doris Day.) The January 26 letter, also on MCA letterhead, references a screenplay entitled The Notorious Lady, and is signed by Marvin Birdt with a copy to Chasin (later filmed with Kim Novak as The Notorious Landlady.) The January 31 letter is on Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation letterhead and references A Lost Lady, and is signed by Frank McCarthy, Director of Public Relations at the studio. (Based on one of Marilyn’s favourite novels (according to her friend and masseur, Ralph Roberts), and previously filmed as Courageous with Barbara Stanwyck in 1934, but dissatisfied with the result, author Willa Cather had banned all movies based on her work.) In this same letter McCarthy writes, ‘Congratulations again on The Misfits and I hope it will achieve the great success it deserves.'” (SOLD for $512)
“A small notecard to Marilyn from producer Buddy Adler. The notecard reads, ‘Darling, It’s wonderful having you home again. Best wishes, Buddy Adler.’ Adler was the producer of Bus Stop, released in 1956. This card is likely in reference to Marilyn’s return to Hollywood in 1956 after having spent the entirety of 1955 in New York City.” (SOLD for $640)
“A two-page typed letter on Algonquin Hotel letterhead to Marilyn from photographer John Bryson, dated August 6, 1960, in reference to the August 15, 1960 issue of LIFE magazine, in which his photos of Marilyn on the set of Let’s Make Love were published. The letter reads in part, ‘I am very happy, however, to report that we close with a larger than full page of the picture of Arthur swabbing off your back after a hard day’s rehearsal. I think the little girl look in this is the best picture I ever took of you.’ The letter goes on to read, ‘Anyway, it is done and I hope you like it. If you do or do not I would like for you to remember that I think you are one of the best women I have ever known and if you ever need a friend for anything just call day or night. I do not say such things casually.'” (SOLD for $1,280)
“A Western Union telegram from Mary Leatherbee of LIFE magazine dated June 26, 1958, regarding photos of Marilyn taken by Richard Avedon in which she recreated images of famous actresses for a spread entitled ‘Fabled Enchantresses.'” (SOLD for $640)
“A one-page typed letter to Marilyn from Emmeline Snively, dated July 31, 1958. Snively was the owner and manager of the Bluebook Modeling Agency. Marilyn, still Norma Jean at the time, signed with the agency in 1945, and Snively is believed to have assisted her in transforming into Marilyn Monroe. The letter reads in part, ‘We have been following your steady progress over the years, and our students at Blue Book Models regard your success and constant development as an inspiration.’ Included with this letter is a torn portion of the original mailing envelope with Snively’s typed mailing address. Pencil scribbles are visible on the envelope fragment, possibly written in Marilyn’s own hand. It is interesting to note that Snively attempted to stay in contact with Marilyn throughout the star’s career. In fact, she was one of a very few guests from Marilyn’s inner circle who was invited to her funeral.” (SOLD for $640)
“Six documents referencing an agreement, and the dissolution thereof, between Marilyn Monroe and Ben Hecht regarding his authoring her life story. Included is a facsimile copy of the originally signed agreement between Monroe and Hecht, dated March 16, 1954, in which the terms of the agreement are exceedingly clear. Three unsigned carbon copies of this same agreement are included. Also included is a facsimile copy of a two-page letter sent to Hecht by Marilyn’s attorney Lloyd Wright, Jr., in which he demands that Hecht ‘surrender to us on behalf of our client, Miss Marilyn Monroe, all, and I repeat all, copies of any material concerning Miss Marilyn Monroe written by Mr. Ben Hecht, pursuant to his contract of March 16, 1954 with Marilyn Monroe, or otherwise.’ Marilyn partnered with Hecht to write her life story, stating specifically that the article could be published only in the Ladies’ Home Journal magazine.” (SOLD for $640)
“A two-page typed memo from Robert H. Montgomery, Jr. to John F. Wharton regarding ‘Proposed settlement of dispute between Milton H. Greene and Marilyn Monroe. The document clarifies that Monroe will pay Greene $50,000.00 for his stock in Marilyn Monroe Productions, Inc. in five equal annual installments, and also that she will sell to Greene her stock in Milton Greene Studios.’ The document further states, ‘all agreements existing between them are cancelled and of no further force and effect.’ A second two-page original document outlines the distribution of furniture and equipment, including paintings, rugs, a vacuum cleaner, a lamp, a chair and a sofa, typewriters, and other items.” (SOLD for $1,000)
Alexandra Pollard takes a fresh look at Marilyn’s ill-fated last movie, Something’s Got to Give, in an insightful piece for The Independent.
“She hadn’t been on a film set for over a year when she was cast in Something’s Got to Give, a remake of the 1940 screwball comedy My Favorite Wife. Her time off had been plagued by illness and drug addiction … The accumulative physical toll had caused her to lose so much weight that she was thinner than she had been in all her adult life. The studio, Twentieth Century Fox, was delighted. ‘She didn’t have to perform, she just had to look great,’ said the film’s producer Henry Weinstein, ‘and she did.’
But in hindsight, Monroe wasn’t ready – either physically or mentally – to return to acting … ‘She was just fearful of the camera,’ said Weinstein, who recalled Monroe throwing up before scenes. Early on, he found her unconscious, in what he described as a barbiturate coma … The studio and production team had little sympathy for their star. ‘Yes this is a sick woman,’ said screenwriter Walter Bernstein, ‘but this is a movie star who’s getting her way, and who doesn’t give a damn about anybody else, and is being destructive and self-destructive.’
But watching Something’s Got to Give’s raw footage – most of which remained unseen for years after the film was scrapped – gives a very different impression. On camera, Monroe is earnest, demure, desperate to get her part right. If she messes up, she apologises profusely … She is gentle with her young co-stars, too. Alexandria Heilweil, who played her five-year-old daughter, is told to sit up straight. ‘If I do the right thing…’ says the little girl, but [George] Cukor cuts her off: ‘Be quiet.’ Monroe smiles at her. ‘You will,’ she says gently. It certainly doesn’t seem like the behaviour of someone ‘wilfully disruptive’.
And there were a few good days. During the now (in)famous swimming pool scene, Ellen takes a late-night skinny dip, attempting to lure her husband out of his bedroom. The set was closed, but a few select photographers were allowed to stay. When Monroe ended up removing the flesh-coloured swimming costume she had been given, they were caught completely off guard. ‘I had been wearing the suit, but it concealed too much,’ she later told the press, ‘and it would have looked wrong on the screen… The set was closed, all except members of the crew, who were very sweet. I told them to close their eyes or turn their backs, and I think they all did. There was a lifeguard on the set to help me out if I needed him, but I’m not sure it would have worked. He had his eyes closed too.’ Photos of Monroe emerging from the pool, sans suit, appeared on magazine covers in over 30 countries. By all accounts, spirits seemed high.
But things went rapidly downhill. On 19 May 1962, having been too sick to work for most of the week, Monroe flew to New York for President John F Kennedy’s birthday celebrations … Monroe had gained permission to attend the event long before filming began, but [Cukor] deemed it unacceptable. In June, just a few days after Monroe’s 36th birthday, she was fired for ‘spectacular absenteeism’, and sued by Fox for $750,000 for ‘wilful violation of contract’. ‘Dear George,’ wrote Monroe in a telegram to Cukor, ‘please forgive me, it was not my doing. I had so looked forward to working with you.’
In fact, it may not have been entirely Monroe’s doing. At the same time as Something’s Got to Give was being made, Fox was haemorrhaging money on its three-hour epic Cleopatra … The studio was panicking. ‘Tensions were high, nerves were frayed, funds were low,’ wrote Michelle Vogel in Marilyn Monroe: Her Films, Her Life, ‘and it’s clear that Something’s Got to Give and Marilyn Monroe were the scapegoats for some very anxious studio executives who felt they were spinning out of control with both productions. The lesser of the films had to go.’
A few days before she died, Monroe had given an interview to a journalist from Life Magazine, and the subsequent profile was published a few weeks later. It ended with the following: ‘I had asked if many friends had called up to rally round when she was fired by Fox. There was silence, and sitting very straight, eyes wide and hurt, she had answered with a tiny, “No”.'”