Director Jack Garfein – perhaps best-known for his 1961 movie, Something Wild – is now one of the world’s most respected teachers of Method acting. He shared his memories with Marilyn in a video interview with Sunset Gun blogger Kim Morgan (a dedicated Monroe fan, who also celebrated her birthday yesterday.)
“Jack met Marilyn when she was in New York City during the time she was studying with Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio. He saw her walk into a party. Everyone saw her walk into that party. Elia Kazan introduced them. (Jack would later work with Marilyn’s ex husband, Arthur Miller, producing two of his plays, The Price and The American Clock.) Deeply attracted, he also deeply respected her — her acting talent and potential, her power in front of the camera and just her beguiling way. A friendship developed.
Nothing happened between them (Jack was married to actress Carroll Baker at the time) but he was clearly smitten and still is. To him, Marilyn was a good person, a woman who took her craft seriously and a woman who thought her sexuality was often funny, and certainly nothing to be ashamed of. After Telluride, Jack spent some time in Los Angeles and we discussed many things — his career, his life, his art (and art and life), people… And then he told me this story about Marilyn. I love this story. Happy Birthday, Marilyn.”
You can listen to Jack’s memories of Marilyn here.
Among the tributes that appeared on the 51st anniversary of Marilyn’s death, three stood out for me.
Over at Backlots, one of my favourite classic film blogs, some of Marilyn’s own poems and drawings were featured, with this commentary:
“August 5, 2013 marks 51 years since the death of Marilyn Monroe. Though I try to keep Marilyn to a minimum on this blog because of her overwhelming overexposure in the media, the fact remains that Marilyn may well be the most fascinating personality to come out of classic film. The appeal that she holds for the public is evident–it is difficult to walk into any gift shop without seeing her face plastered on posters, shirts, lunchboxes, wallets, purses, and mugs. She has become a sex icon for the ages, and more than any other star, she sells. But amid all the financial gain she brings to businesses Marilyn Monroe continues to be exploited, just as she was in life, robbed of her essence and dignity as a human being for the sake of profits. That is precisely what she was trying to get away from, and thus whenever I see Marilyn memorabilia in a gift store, I feel a twinge of sadness.
Whenever I do mention Marilyn on this blog (which is usually on her birthday and the anniversary of her death), I try to make it count. She was a fascinating human being, the complete antithesis to how the public perceived her. An introspective, observant, intelligent woman who read voraciously and was unusually articulate about herself and her craft, the blonde bombshell image crafted for her only served to exacerbate her inner conflicts and demons.”
Tumblr blogger Penny Dreadful selected ‘for marilyn m.‘, by the great Los Angeles writer, Charles Bukowski:
“One of the most personally arresting images I’ve ever seen of Marilyn Monroe came not from a movie or newsreel footage or one of her many photographs. It came from a blanket.
Driving through Death Valley on a long road trip, I stopped in a tiny town for gas and a cold drink. Few seemed to live in this town: it served as a pit stop, a place to either check your radiator or check your mind (or, in my case, both) — one of those locales that offers such a bare minimum of services that a candy bar has never tasted so good. Delirious from hours of 70 mph signposts, I stumbled back into my car, feeling as if modern civilization had melted around me. For months, I’d been working on a piece about Marilyn (a cover story for Playboy, to honor their first, and most famous, cover girl and centerfold), and she had been on my mind nearly every day.
And then … there she was. Driving away, I spied Marilyn on the side of the road, 20 feet from the gas station. With a mixture of excitement and a strange sadness, I jumped out of the car and stared. Her face was hanging from clothespins, blowing in the breeze, next to an open garage. A warm blanket in the hot sun, set against the blue sky, flapping and undulating in the merciful wind, her face changing shape and expression. This desolate desert Marilyn, so frank and alone, just hanging there, cleared away all the clutter of so many T-shirts, stickers, shower curtains, pillows, purses, wall clocks, and coffee mugs — all those Marilyns you walk right past in any given gift shop on Hollywood Boulevard. A little hypnotized and maybe a little crazy, I thought of how Marilyn described herself, as the woman who ‘belonged to the ocean and the sky and the whole world.'”
While I’ve said here before that I’m not Hugh Hefner’s greatest fan, we do share a liking for a certain iconic blonde. In recent years, it has become something of a tradition for Marilyn to feature in Playboy‘s Christmas issue.
‘The Nude Marilyn’ graces the December issue, due out on November 20th in the US and elsewhere thereafter. A selection of (mostly familiar) nudes and semi-nudes from Earl Moran, Tom Kelley, Lawrence Schiller and Bert Stern are included, as well as tributes by the late novelist John Updike, film critic Roger Ebert and blogger Kim Morgan (aka Sunset Gun.)
You can check out the photos on Playboy‘s website, while the article can now be viewed in its entirety at Everlasting Star (thanks to Megan.)
“Her walk down the corridor is a death march. She leans against the wall for support. Her beautiful eyes wide and full of numbed confusion. Her perfect face cracked with the deep stain of lost, desperate tears. This is not Nell Forbes. This is not Marilyn Monroe. This is Norma Jeane Mortenson. For the final 10 minutes of the film, she is exposed: for all her cosmetic perfection, she is raw and imperfect, alone and afraid, desperate to feel the warmth of love and kindness and respect but all-too aware that she never will.”
“And yet there’s a wonderful strength to Monroe (the woman endured so much in her own life that she was, as Elton knows, more than a candle in the wind) — she was such a strong, singular performer (there will never, ever be another Marilyn) that her vulnerability gives her a special power, even as we want to hide her from every skulking Uncle Elisha Cook, ready to pounce. So bless her for revealing such powerful sadness. And bless her for holding on as long as she did. And bless her for never, ever being normal.”
Kim Morgan has posted an eloquent birthday tribute to Marilyn on her Sunset Gun blog.
“No, there’s something more to Marilyn that makes her continually interesting. It’s all her now legendary tragic contradictions …juxtaposed with her peaches and cream gorgeousness, her absolute command of the big screen (in spite of her problems with lines) and her ultimate, natural talent. It’s her ability, after all these decades, to still pop off the screen with such undeniable ‘It’ that we almost take her for granted. Of course Marilyn Monroe is one of the most famous women in the world, who doesn’t know how wonderful she is?
That as manufactured as her screen persona was — we can imagine how her skin might have felt. Or how her perfume might have smelled. Or even her sweat. Of course we’d all like to be in her presence, at least once, just to experience her realness. Or her real fakeness. Her tragedy is so merged with her fantasy that her humanness becomes one of the sexiest things about her, which is why her photographs are so endlessly intriguing, so haunting, like Milton Greene’s ‘Black Sitting.'”