Vanity Fair has released footage shot by Milton Greene at Marilyn’s 1956 wedding to Arthur Miller, as well as on the set of Bus Stop and The Prince and the Showgirl, to promote the current Greene exhibit at the Morrison Hotel Gallery in Los Angeles. While most of the footage has been seen before, it is still a rare glimpse behind the scenes of Marilyn’s fabled life.
Today, items from Marilyn’s wardrobe sell for thousands – millions, even. But as Hap Roberts – nephew of Marilyn’s masseur and close friend, Ralph – tells the Salisbury Post‘s Mark Wineka, the Burberry trench-coat which she gave him is now lost.
It’s not clear exactly which coat this was – but Marilyn wore a trench-coat during her time in England, while filming The Prince and the Showgirl – and again for a scene in Let’s Make Love(1960.)
In one interview, Ralph claimed that Marilyn picked it up from Arthur Miller’s home in Roxbury, Connecticut after their divorce, but she decided to give it to Ralph when she found it smelled of another woman’s perfume. (This is odd, because in her own account of the same visit, Marilyn’s half-sister Bernice Baker Miracle said it was a fur coat, and that MM gave it to her dog, Maf, to sleep on.)
“Roberts became Monroe’s official masseur in 1959, and for the last three-plus years of her life, during her various romantic entanglements, Ralph would give her massages daily, becoming a close confidante and friend to Monroe.
Together, they ran errands, ate meals, attended parties and took plane trips across the country between New York and California.
Toward the end of his life, Ralph Roberts returned to Salisbury and lived in a little house off Parkview Circle, not far from Hap’s offices with Statewide Title. They would meet every afternoon around 4 p.m. to talk, and every Sunday at 5 p.m. Ralph would show up at Hap and his wife Annette’s house for martinis.
Ralph Roberts always brought his Sunday New York Times with him and would leave the newspaper with the couple so they could read it later. Once, Roberts carried with him an art deco martini set Monroe had given him.
Roberts also possessed a box of chandelier crystals Monroe had collected. The actress thought the crystals carried healing properties, and in the years after her death, Ralph sometimes would hand them out as gifts to friends.
Ralph Roberts died April 30, 1999, at age 82. About a month later, Hap and his cousin Claudette began the somber task of cleaning up and going through their uncle’s house. They noticed a woman’s Burberry trench coat in the closet and figured it was a friend’s coat, left at Ralph’s house in the past.
They placed it in the things going to Goodwill.
About a month later, Hap found a list of Marilyn Monroe items Ralph had inventoried. On the list was ‘Burberry trench coat.’
Hap could only ease the heartache of having given away the coat by thinking to himself that ‘at least it’s keeping somebody dry and warm and Ralph would like that.'”
Time has published an article about photographer Henri Dauman, whose work graced the pages of Life, Newsweek and the New York Times. Dauman photographed Marilyn at several public events during the late 1950s, mostly in New York. Self-taught, and inspired by cinema, Dauman escaped the holocaust and was orphaned at 13, fleeing France for America. A documentary, Henri Dauman: Looking Up, is currently in the fundraising stage.
Rounding off a day which saw The Misfits reopen across the UK, The Guardian‘s Benjamin Lee picks his top five highlights of Marilyn’s dazzling career.
“Given her status, it’s easy to forget that Marilyn Monroe’s career lasted for just 15 years, a brief moment in film history. While her legacy persists, the focus on her looks and much-copied style often overshadows her fine work as an actor.
This week’s rerelease of The Misfits, Monroe’s last finished film, is a tragic reminder of her talent, as she plays a divorcee who strikes up a relationship with an ageing cowboy, played by Clark Gable. It serves as a necessary reminder that she wasn’t always playing a dizzy blonde, something that’s often forgotten.”
With the opening of the BFI retrospective, there has been much talk of Marilyn in the UK media this week. There was a discussion of Marilyn’s business acumen on Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour on Thursday; you can listen again here.
On BBC2 tonight at 9 pm, Jonathan Ross presents an hour-long documentary, Pinewood: 80 Years of Movie Magic. As Marilyn filmed The Prince and the Showgirl at the legendary English studio in 1956, it is followed at 10:30 pm by a screening of My Week With Marilyn, the 2011 movie about the offscreen battles between Marilyn and her co-star, Sir Laurence Olivier, starring Michelle Williams and Sir Kenneth Branagh.
Olga Franklin (1911-85) was a columnist for the Daily Mail when she encountered Marilyn in England, during filming of The Prince and the Showgirl in 1956. Her private observations have now been revealed in A Letter From Oggi, a new collection of private letters to her sister Beryl, edited by nephew Richard Jaffa. While many others would echo her statement that the private Marilyn was very different to her public image, Franklin’s snarky tone shows that celebrity-bashing (for which the Mail is still renowned) is nothing new.
“July 1956: c/o The Daily Mail
Northcliffe House, Tudor Street, London EC4
Marilyn Monroe, who arrived here this week with husband Arthur Miller, is extraordinary. A woman with two faces. Perhaps we’re all like that? Only her two faces seem to contradict each other somehow.
Her first appearance was with someone’s overcoat over her head, you know the way they smuggle criminals into the Old Bailey, to avoid the cameras. Inside the door when they pulled the coat off, she was safe because no one could recognise that this was the star. Easy to see why she is renownedly unpunctual because the make-up and hair-do must take a long time. She looked like one of those girls who used to work in the old ABC cafes before the war, with white exhausted face and sweaty messy hair dyed too often.
Then our cameraman sent me climbing on the stair banisters high up to hold his flashlight and I got a shock looking down, seeing the famous blonde head was clearly bald on top, with the pink scalp showing through the sparse hairs.
A few days after we were all in attendance again, but this time at the studio, fenced off so that when the two ‘royals’ Miss Monroe and Mr Miller strolled in front of us, we were held in check behind a barrier.
Her looks were even more astonishing. The crumpled ABC waitress with no looks to speak of was gone, not a trace remaining.
The hair was freshly washed and set exquisitely with two soft loops forward over her cheeks leaving still enough hair for a chignon behind. The face, too, was transformed and was not just beautiful but with a luminous prettiness and charm.
She looked tall, slender and fragile in an attractive cloak which hid any hint of voluptuousness. A great groan of delight went up from the cameramen who’d waited a long time for this.
She was a work of art, a living tribute to the cosmeticians and couturiers. Under the subdued lighting, there was never a wrong note nor a hair out of place. Except for Mr Miller, who seemed to have no place there and was ill at ease.
I suppose it is all this collective effort which marks the difference between European performers and American ones. The latter are almost the result of a team effort, whereas our own or Continental ones are self-made, individual products. I think this must be why the European product is superior.
Details of the British Film Institute’s June retrospective (at London Southbank) have been posted on their blog, naming 12 of the 15 Marilyn movies to be screened – and giving us a sneak preview of the season’s poster. (Interestingly, the BFI have partnered with Stylist, the free women’s magazine who have picked Marilyn as their cover girl on more than one occasion.)
On the 88th anniversary of the birth of Marilyn, The Playlist selected five of her greatest movie performances yesterday (in Niagara, The Seven Year Itch, The Prince and the Showgirl, Some Like it Hot and The Misfits.) While I don’t agree with all of their comments, it’s great to see Monroe’s cinematic legacy getting proper attention.
Some of MM’s other roles were also given honourable mention, although Clash by Night and Don’t Bother to Knock have been omitted.
“But it’s easy to overlook her screen achievements with the legend, and the woman born Norma Jeane Baker in Los Angeles in 1926 was a star for a reason. Despite being slighted as a weak actress by some, she was an accomplished comic talent, and capable of far more when she was allowed.
Of those early supporting turns, it’s The Asphalt Jungle and All About Eve that make the most impact, the former as Louis Calhern’s beguiling mistress in John Huston’s excellent noir, the latter as an aspiring actress, a graduate of ‘The Copacabana School of Dramatic Art.’ Her supporting performance in Howard Hawks’ Monkey Business, with Cary Grant and Ginger Rogers, released just before she became a star, is also worth checking out.
She reteamed with Hawks, joined by Jane Russell, to far greater effect on Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, arguably the film that cemented her stardom, even if the film doesn’t hold a candle to Some Like It Hot, something doubly true of the same year’s How To Marry A Millionaire, although the central trio of Monroe, Betty Grable and Lauren Bacall is undeniable. Finally, she was nominated for a Golden Globe for Bus Stop, as a small-town singer who’s borderline-stalked by a rodeo rider. The film is a somewhat uncomfortable watch, but it’s a good showcase of Monroe’s range.”
The British-born actor, George Sanders – most famous for his role as Addison DeWitt in All About Eve – owned an Art Deco mansion, Rothbury, in Storrington, West Sussex. The property is now on the market for just under £1 million.
An article recently published in the West Sussex County Times claims that Marilyn once spent a night at Rothbury:
“In 1959 he was at the centre of tabloid gossip when Marilyn Monroe spent a night at the Storrington mansion during her shoot on The Prince and the Showgirl (her time spent in England that year is depicted in 2011’s My Week With Marilyn).
Honoured with a blue plaque, the property is steeped in history across 4,000 square feet.”
This story was also reported in the Daily Mail last week:
“During the stay the pair left other diners aghast when they enjoyed a meal at nearby Manleys restaurant, before returning to the star’s house.”
Sanders hosted many lavish parties at Rothbury, with guests including Sir Laurence Olivier – Marilyn’s co-star in The Prince and the Showgirl.
However, there are several problems with this story. Firstly, The Prince and the Showgirl was filmed in 1956, not 1959. On days off, Marilyn visited the East Sussex towns of Brighton and Lewes with her new husband, Arthur Miller (as noted by Michelle Morgan in Marilyn Monroe: Private and Undisclosed.)
However, there is no record of Marilyn visiting Rothbury, and if there was tabloid gossip about her and Sanders at the time, it’s news to me. I’d be interested to know if there is a traceable source for this rumour. Furthermore, Marilyn never returned to England after 1956.
Back in 1950, Marilyn had played Sanders’ companion, aspiring actress Claudia Caswell, in All About Eve. Sanders’ wife, Zsa Zsa Gabor, was allegedly so jealous that she refused to allow him to spend any time with Marilyn off-set – although whether her suspicions were justified remains unclear. (In her unfinished memoir, My Story, MM claimed that Sanders had asked her to marry him the first time they met, at a Hollywood party. Sanders and Gabor divorced in 1954.)
After Marilyn’s death in 1962, Sanders recalled fondly, “Marilyn was very inquiring and very unsure -humble, punctual and untemperamental. She wanted people to like her, [and] her conversation had unexpected depths. She showed an interest in intellectual subjects which was, to say the least, disconcerting. In her presence it was hard to concentrate.”
Perhaps this earlier encounter is where the Sussex rumour originated. Nonetheless, there is no solid evidence to suggest Marilyn visited Sanders in England. (Cynically, one might conclude that it’s a case of local tittle-tattle transformed into an estate agent’s perfect marketing ploy…)