Images of Marilyn have been used to promote a controversial gala held last night at London’s Dorchester Hotel for the Presidents Club, a men-only organisation, as Martin Belam reports for The Guardian. Female staff at the most recent ball have complained of groping and sexual harassment, leading to calls for better protection of workers in the hospitality trade. It’s unclear whether the use of Marilyn’s image has been approved by her estate, but regardless, this is yet another example of corporate branding at its most crass.
However, Monroe impersonator Suzie Kennedy, who has performed at a past gala, takes a different view, as she told LBC Radio‘s Shelagh Fogarty today…
“It was three years ago. It’s rich men having a night out. They are usually very powerful in business and are very generous to the charities. The charities need these balls to happen.
Everybody at that job was told what the job is. It’s a businessman’s night out. Everyone’s going to drink, they are going to have cigars, they are going to have fun.
I didn’t see any of the girls thinking ‘Oh no, I have to wear this’. They were fine with wearing it. In nightclubs in London, girls are wearing a lot less.”
Marilyn Monroe: The Legacy of a Legend, an exhibition of the David Gainsborough Roberts collection, opened at London’s Design Centre last week. Fellow collector Scott Fortner attended the launch, alongside impersonator Suzie Kennedy and actress Linda Gray (aka Sue-Ellen Ewing from TV’s Dallas.)
In an article for the Telegraph, Bethan Holt discussed the ‘lipstick, diamonds and cigarettes’ among Marilyn’s personal effects, while Ben Miller looks at the ‘vulnerability and humanity’ revealed by her drawings and notes in his review for Culture24.
After closing on June 20, the collection will move to the Museum of Style Icons at Newbridge in County Kildare, Ireland, where it will be on display from June 25-July 25.
David Gainsborough Roberts’ collection of Marilyn’s costumes and personal items is well-known to fans. I was lucky enough to see it at Renishaw Hall, Derbyshire in 2005 (the ancestral home of Marilyn’s poet friend, Dame Edith Sitwell.) He has also exhibited his Monroe collection at the American Museum in Bath, and London’s Getty Images Gallery.
However, Mr Roberts has also purchased items belonging to many other stars, historical figures, and even a few notorious criminals. A selection of his acquisitions – including Marilyn’s red beaded dress from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes – is on display until September 2nd at Christie’s, South Kensington. In an interview with the celebrated auction house, he revealed how the red Travilla dress spurred a lifelong pursuit:
“It was 1991, I’d bought several things at Christie’s, and this Marilyn dress came up. The model was a good friend of mine, Pauline Bailey. I bid £16,000, something like that, and the press went bananas, she jumped up and down – I must have looked terrified! It took off from there, the next day I arrived back here in Jersey and my mother said to me ‘what have you been doing? The phone hasn’t stopped.’ And I said ‘believe me, seven days from now, Marilyn Monroe, Pauline Bailey and me – nobody will give a damn’ and the phone hasn’t stopped since 1991.”
Another MM lookalike, Suzie Kennedy, appeared at the opening of ‘Famous and Infamous’ yesterday, reports the Daily Mail.
Over at Mental Floss this week, artist Alison Jackson‘s photograph of two lookalikes impersonating Marilyn Monroe with President John F. Kennedy topped a list of ‘10 Internet Lies That Just Won’t Die.’ Of course, Jackson’s work is not intended to deceive – it’s an artistic interpretation of the fantasies so many of us harbour about the rich and famous. However, many people do believe her photos of Marilyn to be real and cite them as proof of an MM-JFK affair. And many others have since ‘Photoshopped’ Kennedy into photos of Monroe and vice versa, giving no indication that the images are fake. In fact, only two verified photos of the alleged lovers have ever been published, and both show them among the company of others.
UPDATE: Jackson’s first, and most intriguing image of Marilyn was taken in 1999, with lookalike Suzie Kennedy crossing a Paris street alongside a Princess Diana impersonator, both carrying shopping bags. The image was created just two years after Diana’s death. Part of its charm is that unlike the Kennedy shots, it cannot logically be mistaken for a ‘real’ photo (Diana was born in 1961, just a year before Marilyn died), and is therefore pure fantasy. The picture is included in a new French exhibition focusing on paparazzi photography, reports The Observer.
MM lookalike Suzie Kennedy opened the Celebrity Exhibition, a new memorabilia collection at the Bournemouth International Centre on England’s South Coast yesterday. The display continues until August 29 at Tregonwell Hall.
‘I was looking in my wardrobe one day and I couldn’t find my little black dress,’ Suzie told the Bournemouth Echo. ‘But I found it here and now you can see it too.’
Of her career as a Marilyn impersonator, she added, ‘It’s the best job in the world.’
Produced by the French champagne house JM Gobillard & Fils for Norwegian company Rosmersholm, the Marilyn Monroe champagne is 50 percent Chardonnay, 25 percent Pinot Noir and 25 percent Pinot Meunier and is produced in the Hautvillers, Cumières and Dizy areas of Champagne.
Described as fruity, silky and delicate, the champagne has an elegant nose and has been cellar-aged for three years.
It’s expected to retail for about €65. The champagne also comes with a set of six curvaceous flutes that retail for €159 alone.”