Marilyn at Amsterdam EYE

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Photo by Ralf at Immortal Marilyn

If you’re in Amsterdam this Christmas, don’t miss the Happy Birthday Marilyn: 90 Years Ms Monroe  exhibit (featuring the Ted Stampfer collection), on display at De Nieuwe Kerk until next February. And from next Thursday (December 22), the city’s EYE Film Institute will be screening seven of Marilyn’s best movies: Niagara, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, How to Marry a Millionaire, The Seven Year Itch, Bus Stop, Some Like It Hot and The Misfits.

Marilyn at Julien’s: Lights, Camera, Action

Marilyn on the set of 'Gentlemen Prefer Blondes'.
Marilyn hugs a co-worker on the set of ‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’

The upcoming Julien’s Auctions sale includes many items related to the making of Marilyn’s movies. An annotated script for Gentlemen Prefer Blondes reveals that Marilyn worked hard on her comedic performance. “Sense the feeling with the body,” she wrote next to one line.

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Darryl F. Zanuck may have blamed Marilyn for delays in the River of No Return shoot, but co-star Robert Mitchum did not, writing on this letter, “Dig!!! Marilyn – my girl is your girl, and my girl is you. Ever – Bob.

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Candid photos from Frieda Hull’s estate show Marilyn filming the iconic ‘subway scene‘ for The Seven Year Itch, while Marilyn’s evening gloves from the ‘Rachmaninov scene‘ are also on offer.

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After a bitter legal battle with Twentieth Century Fox, Marilyn returned triumphantly to Hollywood in 1956, armed with a list of approved directors.

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Her first project under the new, improved contract was Bus Stop. Several lots of annotated script sides are up for bids this week.

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“This  is the first film Monroe made after beginning to study at the Actors Studio in New York City with Lee Strasberg, and the notations in these script sides demonstrate her method. Some of the notes are sense memories, like the following notation written after the line ‘I can’t look’: ‘Effective memory (use Lester – hurt on lawn),’ most likely referencing Monroe’s childhood playmate Lester Bolender, who was in the same foster home with Monroe. Another note adds ‘(almost to myself)’ before a line to inform her delivery or ‘Scarfe [sic] around my arms) Embarrassed.'”

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Arthur O’Connell, who played Virgil in the movie, sent Marilyn his best wishes after she was hospitalised with pneumonia.

“A collection of Marilyn Monroe envelopes, messages and notes, including a florist’s enclosure card with envelope addressed to Monroe and a message that reads ‘To make up for the ones you didn’t recall receiving at the hospital. Please stay well so we won’t go through this again’, signed by ‘Arthur O’Connell – Virgil Blessing.’ Also included are five handwritten notes in an unknown hand that reference Clifton Webb, Lew Wasserman and Paula Strasberg.”

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Marilyn clashed with Sir Laurence Olivier while filming The Prince and the Showgirl, although as this handwritten letter from Olivier indicates, their collaboration began cordially enough.

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“The letter is dated simply June 9, and it accompanied the latest version of the script for The Prince and the Showgirl. Olivier discusses Monroe’s dialogue and that he has ‘written some extra dialogue and a direction or two.’ He reports on where they are in the script writing process and that they have cut the script down from ‘well over 3 hours’ to 2 1/2, to 2 hours 10 minutes. He continues about the scenes that were and were not cut, including ‘The Duke of Strelitz is, I think essential, as otherwise they will be saying what’s the matter with them – why the heck can’t they get married, particularly in view of Grace Kelly and all that, and our only answer to that question must be Yes but look at the poor Windsors do you see?’

On an amusing note, Olivier mentions, ‘By the way Lady Maidenhead has degenerated to Lady Swingdale because I am assured the Hayes Office will not believe there is also a place in England of that name.’ He closes ‘I just called up Vivien at the theatre … and she said to be sure to give you her love. So here it is and mine too. Longing to welcome you here. Ever, Larry.'”

Marilyn had many advisors on this film, including husband Arthur Miller who made suggestions to improve the script.

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“Some of your dialogue is stiff. Also some expressions are too British. If you want me to, I can go through the script and make the changes – – in New York. I think the part – on one reading, is really the Best one … especially with you playing it. You are the one who makes everything change, you are the driving force … The basic problem is to define for yourself the degree of the girl’s naivete. (It could become too cute, or simply too designing.) It seems to me, at least, that they have not balanced things in Olivier’s favor. … It ought to be fun to do after Bus Stop. From your – (and my) – viewpoint, it will help in a small but important way to establish your ability to play characters of intelligence and cultivation. … Your loving Papa – (who has to rush now to make the plane – see you soon! – free!) – Art.”

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Marilyn had strong opinions about the casting of Some Like It Hot. In the minutes from a business meeting at her New York apartment, it is noted that “MCA on the Coast has told [Billy] Wilder that there are ‘legal technicalities holding up her decision’ so as not to offend Wilder. Actually, she is waiting for [Frank] Sinatra to enter the picture. She still doesn’t like [Tony] Curtis but [Lew] Wasserman doesn’t know anybody else.”

This short note penned by Marilyn is thought to be a response to Tony Curtis’ notorious remark that kissing her was “like kissing Hitler.”

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Although she never won an Oscar, Marilyn joined the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 1959.

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Novelist Truman Capote wanted Marilyn to star as Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. However, her own advisors deemed George Axelrod’s watered-down adaptation unworthy of her talents. The film was a huge hit for Audrey Hepburn, but Capote hated it.

“A clean copy of the screenplay for Breakfast at Tiffany’s written by George Axelrod and dated July 9, 1959. Monroe was considering the part, and she sought the opinions of her professional team including the Strasbergs, her husband, and management team. The script is accompanied by a single-page, typed ‘report’ dated September 23, 1959, which also has the name ‘Parone’ typed to the left of the date. Literary luminary Edward Parone was at the time running Monroe’s production company and most likely is the one who wrote this single-page, scathing review of the script, leading with the simple sentence, ‘I think not.’ It goes on to criticize the screenplay, determining, ‘I can see Marilyn playing a part like Holly and even giving this present one all the elan it badly needs, but I don’t feel she should play it: it lacks insight and warmth and reality and importance.’ It has been long reported that Monroe declined the part upon the advice of Lee Strasberg, but this document provides further evidence that other people in her inner circle advised her not to take the role. Together with a four-page shooting schedule for November 4, 1960, for the film.”

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Marilyn was generous to her co-stars in Let’s Make Love, giving a framed cartoon to Wilfrid Hyde-White on his birthday, and an engraved silver cigarette box to Frankie Vaughan. She also asked her friend, New York Times editor Lester Markel, to write a profile of her leading man, Yves Montand. “He’s not only a fine actor, a wonderful singer and dancer with charm,” she wrote, “but next to you one of the most attractive men.”

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With ‘Let’s Make Love’ director George Cukor, and co-star Yves Montand
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Test shots for ‘The Misfits’

A handwritten note by Paula Strasberg reveals how she and Marilyn worked together on her role in The Misfits. “searching and yearning/ standing alone/ mood – I’m free – but freedom leaves emptiness./ Rosylin [sic] – flower opens bees buzz around/ R is quiet – the others buzz around.”

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In 1962, Marilyn began work on what would be her final (and incomplete) movie, Something’s Got to Give. This telegram from screenwriter Nunnally Johnson, who was later replaced, hints at the trouble that lay ahead.

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“The telegram from Johnson reads ‘In Revised script you are child of nature so you can misbehave as much as you please love – Nunnally.’ Monroe has quickly written a note in pencil for reply reading ‘Where is that script – is the child of nature due on the set – Hurry Love & Kisses M.M.’ ‘Love and Kisses’ is repeated, and additional illegible notations have been crossed out.”

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Costume sketch for ‘Something’s Got to Give’ by Bob Mackie

“Raw footage of Monroe performing with the children in Something’s Got to Give exists, and Monroe’s notations are evident in the footage. The top of the page reads ‘Real Thought/ Mental Relaxation/ substitute children – B & J if necessary/ feeling – place the pain where it is not in the brow.’ B & J likely refers to Arthur Miller’s children Bobby and Jane. Another notation next to one of Monroe’s lines of dialogue reads simply ‘Mona Lisa’, which does in fact mirror the expression she uses when delivering this line. Even the exaggerated ‘Ahhhhh—‘ that Monroe does at the beginning of each take in the raw footage is written on the page in her hand, reading in full, ‘Ahhh–Look for the light.'”

Inge Morath on Miller, Huston and Marilyn

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Inge Morath: On Style is a new book focusing on the late photographer’s work in fashion and film. Her images of Marilyn on the set of The Misfits are elegant and tender, and the knowledge that Morath would become Arthur Miller’s third wife adds a note of poignancy. Author Justine Picardie writes about Inge’s work with director John Huston, and her later encounter with Arthur which led to a long and happy marriage, in a blog post for the Magnum website.

“This was also the period when Morath first started working with the director John Huston; one of her earliest assignments was to photograph the stills for his film Moulin Rouge in London in 1952, which was to be the start of a lifelong friendship … Huston would later describe Morath as ‘a high priestess of photography,’ a woman with ‘the rare ability to penetrate beyond surfaces and reveal what makes her subject tick.’

Morath’s friendship with Huston was to play an important part in her personal life, as well as her career. In 1959, she travelled to Mexico to photograph the making of his film The Unforgiven … The following year, Morath visited the set of another of Huston’s films, The Misfits, accompanied by her Magnum colleague, Henri Cartier-Bresson.

When Morath was subsequently asked by the New York Times about the experience of photo- graphing Monroe, she described the actress as ‘kind of shimmery. But there was also this sadness underneath. A poetry of unhappiness. That was what was so mesmerizing, the twofold thing you got, the unhappiness always underneath the joy and the glamour…that was the poetry.’ In the same interview, Morath added one more intriguing fragment to the story. ‘I once dreamt we both danced together, Marilyn and I. It was beautiful.'”

Marilyn: Still Loved For Her Yellow Hair

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‘Love me for my yellow hair alone’, Marilyn once wrote to her friend, Norman Rosten – it was an ironical misquote (perhaps intentionally so) of a line from W.B. Yeats’ poem ‘For Anne Gregory‘, which actually read  ‘Love me for myself alone/And not my yellow hair.’

This weekend, two locks of Marilyn’s hair – previously owned by Frieda Hull, a former member of the teenage group known as the Monroe Six, who befriended the star when she moved to New York – were sold by Julien’s Auctions for $70,000, as part of their latest Icons and Idols sale. Other items from the late Ms Hull’s collection, including many rare, candid photos, will be sold by in November’s Marilyn-only auction, also at Julien’s.

In a macabre footnote, the ashes of novelist Truman Capote – another friend of Marilyn’s – were also sold at Julien’s this weekend for $43, 750.  And in other hair-related news, a wig worn by Marilyn in The Misfits will be on sale at Heritage Auctions on November 12.

UPDATE: You can now read a CNBC interview with Remi Gangarossa, who placed the winning bid for a lock of Marilyn’s hair, over here.

Bruce Davidson: Magnum’s ‘Misfit’

Director John Huston with Marilyn during filming of 'The Misfits', 1960
Director John Huston with Marilyn during filming of ‘The Misfits’, 1960

Magnum alumni Bruce Davidson, who photographed Marilyn behind the scenes during filming of Let’s Make Love and The Misfits in 1960, is the subject of a new book by Vicki Goldberg in the Magnum Legacy series, reports CNN. (It follows the first Magnum Legacy book about Eve Arnold, another photographer of Marilyn’s, which was published last year.)

“What makes Davidson’s photographs so compelling is that they stem from patience and an ability to empathize with his subjects.

‘I stay a long time,’ he said. ‘My eyes open to their lives. In my silence, they feel secure. My philosophy is to stay until it becomes a subject. I am an outsider on the inside.'”

Marilyn Goes ‘Behind the Scenes’ at Cannes

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Marilyn never went to Cannes, but as the 2016 film festival gets underway, she’ll be there in spirit, W Magazine reports. Magnum photographer Bruce Davidson’s shot of Marilyn with co-star Clark Gable and director John Huston during filming of The Misfits in 1960 is featured in ‘The Art of Behind the Scenes’, an exhibition of images captured on the sets of movies old and new, on display at the Hotel du Cap in Antibes.

Marilyn Mania Comes to Bendigo

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Reviews are coming in for Twentieth Century Fox Presents Marilyn Monroe, the new exhibition at the Bendigo Art Gallery. In an article for the 3Sixty website, Irvin Hanna reveals how Marilyn mania has come to Australia.

“The girl that every woman wants to be best friends with has landed in the quaint city of Bendigo, two hours by train from Melbourne. Banners and stickers promoting the Marilyn Monroe Exhibition can be spotted the moment I arrived at the Bendigo Train Station. Turns out it was only a glimpse of full-blown Marilyn mania all over the city. At the main crossing near Alexandra Fountain is Forever Marilyn, an 8-metre-high sculpture by Seward Johnson. This impressive work of art has been seen in Chicago and Palm Springs in the United States, and is now in Australia for its first international visit.

Strolling along the Bendigo CBD (central business district), it was fun to see how everyone participates in honour of the Hollywood superstar. A picture frame store has images of Marilyn all over the window display, and there was a boutique with knock-off versions of her iconic dresses. Restaurants have altered their menu to include special edition dishes and cocktails, and visitors can select accommodation package offers from several hotels and B&Bs that include tickets and other goodies in conjunction with the exhibition.

This wonderful collaboration by Bendigo Art Gallery and Twentieth Century Fox took about two years to materialise. There are more than 100 items, prints, old photographs, personal clothing, as well as iconic costumes from her movies, showcasing the stages of metamorphosis from girl next door to blonde bombshell. All are on loan from the studio and from private collectors all over the world.

In between the items on exhibit are screens with clippings of Marilyn’s movies and live performances, including a 6-by-9 metre motion picture display, and little television sets from the bygone era. But my favourite section of the whole exhibition has to be the 1960s-style sitting area that was furnished with two beige retro armchairs, an old school wooden cupboard, as well as a projector and screen that show clippings of her old movies. Drawn by such a magnetic presence, I could’ve spent the whole afternoon there watching Marilyn strut her magic on the screen.

For the duration of the exhibition (which runs until 10 July), there are a myriad of events and activities in celebration of Marilyn. The Eaglehawk Town Hall will be hosting movie nights from April till June with some of her classic titles including River of No Return and The Misfits. Those wishing to relive the glam era can check out the grand gala night at Ulumbarra Theatre on 14 May, where there will be a screening of Some Like It Hot. Come in your best 1950s costume, as the ticket includes a post-screening party with entertainment and light food. And if you need more reason to party, the Bendigo Art Gallery Foundation will also be hosting a red carpet fundraiser cocktail event on 4 June, with live music and a silent auction of some of the items in the exhibition.”

Why Oscar Snubbed Sugar

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As another Oscar night looms, the Huffington Post notes that comedies have traditionally been overlooked. Some Like it Hot won just one in 1960 –  Best Costume Design ( for Orry-Kelly.)

The classic comedy lost out in five other categories (including Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Adapted Screenplay.) While Marilyn would win a Golden Globe for her role as Sugar, she was not nominated for an Oscar that year, and never would be.

Marilyn had previously been snubbed by the Academy in 1957, when her acclaimed performance in Bus Stop failed to gain a nomination, but her co-star, newcomer Don Murray, did.  She believed this was a deliberate punishment for her victorious battle with Twentieth Century Fox, and perhaps also for marrying Arthur Miller during his stand-off with the House Un-American Activities Committee.

Simone Signoret, who won the coveted Best Actress award for Room at the Top, was then Marilyn’s neighbour at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Her husband, Yves Montand, was filming Let’s Make Love with Marilyn, and they would later have an affair.

As Hollywood’s leading sex symbol, whose niche was in comedy, Marilyn did not fit the profile of an Oscar winner. Her breakthrough dramatic role, in The Misfits (1961), would also be ignored.

Although she had top billing for Some Like it Hot, her screen-time was relatively short. If only she had been eligible for the Best Supporting Actress category, she might have pipped her pal Shelley Winters (who won for The Diary of Anne Frank) to the post.

Edward Parone 1925-2016

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The stage and television director Edward Parone died aged 90 on January 24 after a short battle with cancer, the Santa Fe New Mexican reports.

Born to an Italian immigrant family in Hartford, Connecticut on August 30, 1925, he attended Trinity College after serving in the US Navy.

During the 1950s, Parone worked as a production supervisor at the off-Broadway Phoenix Theatre, read plays for famed literary agent Audrey Wood, and wrote occasional pieces for the New Yorker.

Parone is credited with ‘discovering’ the great American playwright, Edward Albee. While working for the William Morris Agency in 1959, Parone read Albee’s one-act play, The Zoo Story, and signed him up.

After leaving the William Morris Agency, Parone helped to run the New York office of Marilyn Monroe Productions (following the departure of Milton H. Greene.)

In 1961, Parone was hired as assistant to Frank E. Taylor, Arthur Miller’s editor, who was producing his screen play, The Misfits. The Nevada shoot was infamously gruelling, not least because Miller’s marriage to Marilyn – also his leading lady – was on the rocks.

As journalist W.J. Weatherby observed, the Misfits crew was split into two camps. As Taylor’s aide, Parone was part of Miller’s group. In an interview for the 2002 documentary, Making the Misfits, Parone would recall Marilyn’s legendary unpunctuality – although his niece, Lynn Ladue, said he admired her professionalism.

Marilyn at work on 'The Misfits', 1961. (Photo by Eve Arnold)
Marilyn at work on ‘The Misfits’, 1961. (Photo by Eve Arnold)

Weatherby remembered an encounter with Monroe and Parone in his 1976 book, Conversations With Marilyn:

“One morning on the dry lake I watched her repeat an emotional outburst ten times before [John] Huston was satisfied with her nuances … The wear and tear on her nerves must have been savage…

I was surprised then in the early afternoon to see her looking composed and dazzling in a simple dress – looking, in fact, every inch her image … She was out shopping with Eddie Parone … I heard her say to him, ‘Who’s that?’ He told her and she asked to be introduced. She gave me a friendly smile …”

In 1963, Parone returned to the theatre as managing director of the new Albee-Barr-Wilder Playwrights Unit. After directing LeRoi Jones’ The Dutchman in 1964, Parone’s name became synonymous with cutting-edge drama, and his later discoveries included playwright Sam Shephard.

In 1967, Parone moved to the newly opened Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles, directing ground-breaking plays such as Tom Stoppard’s Travesties, as well as some classic revivals. He edited two books of new writing, and also worked in television. ‘He wasn’t in it for fame,’ Lynne Ladue said. ‘He was in it for the love of what he did. It was never about winning awards or who he knew, it was always about the work.’

In 1985, Parone retired and moved to a farm in Nambé,  New Mexico.  He enjoyed gardening and walking his dogs, as well as helping his friend, Harvey Perr, to stage a reminiscence piece in New York last year. ‘He always seemed to be very, very young,’ Perr recalled.