Henri Dauman: Photographing Marilyn

March of Dimes fundraiser, 1958
March of Dimes fashion show, January 1957

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.

The Millers at a preview of 'Some Like it Hot', 1959
The Millers at a preview of ‘Some Like it Hot’, February 1959
'Some Like it Hot' premiere, Chicago (March 1959)
‘Some Like it Hot’ premiere, Chicago (March 1959)
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Named as Best Actress for ‘The Prince and the Showgirl’ at the David di Donatello Awards, May 1959.

Misfits Footage (and More) at Profiles in History

H3257-L78855457The upcoming Hollywood Auction 74 at Profiles in History contains some interesting Marilyn-related items, mainly on Day 2 (September 30.)

  1. An early pin-up photo, signed by Marilyn.
  2. Artwork inspired by Marilyn’s nude calendar.
  3. Marilyn’s ‘topless cowgirl‘ calendar.
  4. Marilyn’s 1952 contract for The Charlie McCarthy Show.
  5. Marilyn’s hand-annotated script for Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.
  6. Travilla’s costume sketch for ‘Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend.’     H3257-L78859923
  7. Original transparencies of photos taken on location for River of No Return.
  8. Photos taken by Darlene Hammond at various public events in 1953.
  9. Original prints stamped by Milton Greene.
  10. Candid photos taken in Japan and Korea.
  11. Marilyn’s 1953 recording contract with RCA.
  12. Photos taken by Sam Shaw during filming of The Seven Year Itch.   123a
  13. Candid negatives of Marilyn in public, circa 1955.
  14. Books on psychology and mythology, owned by Marilyn.
  15. A painting of Marilyn and Sir Laurence Olivier in The Prince and the Showgirl, by Francis R. Flint.                                                              H3257-L78859604
  16. Posters from Marilyn’s ‘Fabled Enchantresses‘ session, signed by Richard Avedon.
  17. Letters to Marilyn from Pat Newcomb and Arthur Miller.
  18. 48 minutes of 8mm film shot on location for The Misfits by Stanley Killar, an uncredited extra.
  19. A Misfits autograph book, signed by Marilyn and others.
  20. Contact sheets for photos taken by Sylvia Norris at the Golden Globes in 1962.
  21. The final draft of Something’s Got to Give.
  22. A camera used for many of Marilyn’s films at Fox.
  23. An archive of vintage press clippings.

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Every Inch an Actress, and Always a Star

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.”

Movie Magic: Marilyn at Pinewood

Marilyn with Sir Laurence Olivier in 'The Prince and the Showgirl.' Photo by Milton H. Greene
Marilyn with Sir Laurence Olivier in ‘The Prince and the Showgirl.’ Photo by Milton H. Greene

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: ‘Two-Faced’ Memories of Marilyn

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The newlywed Millers arrive in London, 1956

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

Dear Beryl,

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.

Love, Og”

Marilyn in June at the BFI

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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.)

The Playlist: Marilyn’s Top 5 Movies

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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.”

George Sanders’ Sussex Home For Sale

Rothbury2

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.

Sanders Sussex

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.”

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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.

Sanders with Marilyn in 'All About Eve', 1950
Sanders with Marilyn in ‘All About Eve’, 1950

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…)

Jean Kent 1921-2013

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The British actress Jean Kent has died aged 92, after a fall at her home in Westhorpe, Suffolk, reports the BBC.

She was born in Brixton, South London, the only daughter of variety performers Norman Field and Nina Norre. She made her screen debut in 1935, aged 14.

During the 1940s, she played supporting roles in popular melodramas produced at Gainsborough Studios, including Fanny by Gaslight (1943); Madonna of the Seven Moons, The Wicked Lady and The Rake’s Progress (1945.)

Her first starring role was as the gypsy Rosal, opposite Stewart Granger in Caravan (1946.) During filming, Jean met her future husband, actor Josef Ramart.

She worked with Granger again in The Magic Bow (1946), and with Michael Redgrave in The Man Within (1947.) Her female co-stars included Googie Withers in The Loves of Joanna Godden (1947), and a young Diana Dors in Good-Time Girl (1948.)

After achieving star billing in Bond Street(1948), Jean played her own favourite role, as a music hall girl in Trottie True (1949.) She was directed by Anthony Asquith in The Woman in Question (1950), and again in an adaptation of Terence Rattigan’s play, The Browning Version (1951.)

'The Prince and the Showgirl': Jean Kent as Maisie Springfield, at right
‘The Prince and the Showgirl’: Jean Kent as Maisie Springfield, at right

By the mid-1950s, Jean was increasingly seen on television. However, she secured a role in another big-screen Rattigan adaptation, The Prince and the Showgirl (1956.)

The story is set in London’s musical theatre in 1911. Jean plays Maisie Springfield, star of ‘The Coconut Girl’, who finds a rival for the affections of a visiting Archduke (Sir Laurence Olivier) in American showgirl Elsie Marina (Marilyn.)

Unfortunately, Maisie’s frosty relationship with Elsie was mirrored in reality. ‘She wasn’t very well and not an easy person and Olivier, who was directing, had a quite a lot of difficulty,’ Jean told the BBC in 2011.

‘I can understand the enduring fascination with Marilyn, but, to be frank, I really couldn’t bear to discuss my own experience of working with her,’ she told the Daily Mail in 2012. ‘She was, by that point, an extremely troubled girl…I had only two brief scenes with her, but I think poor Larry must have aged at least 15 years during the making of that film.’

Jean played a supporting role in Bonjour Tristesse (1958), Otto Preminger’s adaptation of the classic Francoise Sagan novel, opposite David Niven and Jean Seberg.

She later played Queen Elizabeth I on television, in Sir Francis Drake, and appeared in a 1967 adaptation of William Thackeray’s Vanity Fair.

She took occasional parts in many popular shows during the 1960s and ’70s, including Emergency Ward 10, Steptoe and Son, Angels, and Crossroads. One of her final roles was in a 1991 episode of Lovejoy, alongside Ian McShane.

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On June 29, 2011 – Jean’s 90th birthday – she attended a screening of Caravan at the British Film Institute.

In his introduction, the film critic Michael Thornton remembered that as an eight-year-old boy in Brighton in 1949, he was in a crowd of 4,000 to 5,000 people who turned up for a personal appearance by Kent, which led to police officers linking arms to get her into the cinema.

‘The war had only just come to an end, the country was broke, ration books and austerity reigned supreme and there appeared to be more bomb sites than actual houses,’ said Mr Thornton. ‘I think the glory of those rather extraordinary, fantastical, testosterone-drenched, overblown and highly romantic “bodice-rippers” is that they took people’s minds off a really very tough situation.’

‘Since then film historians have critically re-evaluated this era and, instead of saying “this is a load of tosh and tripe”, they’ve realised these were expertly crafted, highly successful films.’

Ever the professional, Jean told the BBC she was still available for work. ‘Oh yes, I’d work like a shot, as long as I didn’t have to walk,’ she said. ‘A nice sitting-down part would be fine.’

 

When Vivien Met Marilyn

The Oliviers in 'The Sleeping Prince', 1953
The Oliviers in ‘The Sleeping Prince’, 1953

This year marks the centenary of the birth of one of cinema’s greatest stars, Vivien Leigh. An excellent new book by Kendra BeanVivien Leigh: An Intimate Portrait, takes another look at The Prince and the Showgirl, and reveals how Vivien really felt about Marilyn Monroe playing opposite her husband, Sir Laurence Olivier, in a role originated by Leigh in 1953, when The Sleeping Prince made its debut on the London stage.

The Oliviers
The Oliviers

“The casting had been her idea to begin with. While performing in The Sleeping Prince in 1953, Vivien saw How to Marry a Millionaire at the cinema and became fascinated by Marilyn. ‘I thought, heaven help me, that she was very funny. I said to Larry: This girl is wonderful in comedy’*, and suggested Marilyn star in the film version. She added that she thought herself too old for the role. To her dismay, Olivier relished the idea and hoped that making a film with the Hollywood bombshell would be a new stimulus for his career. When Vivien changed her mind and suggested she might like to revive Mary Morgan** on screen after all, Olivier and Terence Rattigan said, ‘Oh, but you’re too old.'”

Olivier directs Marilyn
Olivier directs Marilyn

From the outset, Olivier’s classical training and Marilyn’s more intuitive approach were at odds, and the two stars soon became involved in a bitter power struggle.

To make matters worse, Vivien suffered a miscarriage in August 1956, a month into the shoot. “The feeling that she was responsible for the stress Olivier endured…compounded Vivien’s grief,” Bean comments.

Welcoming Marilyn to England
Welcoming Marilyn to England

Nonetheless, the Oliviers put on a brave face and even attended the London opening of Arthur Miller’s play, View From The Bridge, with Marilyn. So what did Vivien think of MM?

“It’s not impossible to think that Vivien and Marilyn might have formed a kinship had they gotten to know one another better,” Bean concedes. Vivien suffered from Manic Depression, while Marilyn had a history of emotional problems.

Theatre royalty: the Millers and the Oliviers
Theatre royalty: the Millers and the Oliviers

“But despite their troubles, they both had a vulnerability that endeared them to many people,” Bean reflects. “Both strived to avoid typecasting and to prove themselves as something more than just a pretty face or a sex symbol.”

Unfortunately, the tensions between Marilyn and Olivier did not permit the two women to bond in any meaningful way. “As it was though,” Bean concludes, “Vivien sided with Olivier and she and Marilyn remained rivals at best.”

To learn more about Vivien Leigh: A Portrait, please visit vivandlarry.com

* Quote from ‘Vivien Tells’, an interview with David Lewin in the UK’s Daily Express, August 17, 1960

** Mary Morgan was the name of the showgirl played by Leigh in Terence Rattigan’s original play, The Sleeping Prince. When the play was adapted for the screen, the character was renamed Elsie Marina.

Marilyn leaves London
Marilyn leaves London