A real estate brochure for Marilyn’s last home at Fifth Helena Drive – which sold for $7.25 million in 2017 – fetched $5,120 yesterday during an online sale marking Marilyn’s 94th birthday at Julien’s Auctions.
The highest final bid, however, went to this signed portrait by Richard Avedon ($8,960.)
This photo from an iconic 1952 shoot is signed by Gene Kornman, one of two photographers present at the session (alongside Frank Powolny), and sold for $6,400.
This signed lithograph, made from a photo taken during Marilyn’s so-called ‘Last Sitting’ with Bert Stern in June 1962, sold for $2,880; and an image from her final photo session at Santa Monica Beach in July, signed by photographer George Barris, sold for $2,560.
And finally, more instantly recognisable images sold for $1,024 each: Marilyn’s 1949 nude calendar pose, photographed by Tom Kelley and later signed by Playboy founder Hugh Hefner…
… and a shot credited to Bruno Bernard (aka Bernard of Hollywood) from Marilyn’s unforgettable subway scene in The Seven Year Itch, signed by Bernard’s daughter and archivist Susan.
Marilyn tops French Vogue‘s list of Iconic White Dresses in Cinema (with Elizabeth Taylor’s lacy slip from Cat On a Hot Tin Roof and Sharon Stone’s turtle-neck dress from Basic Instinct also making the grade.)
“Among the iconic dresses of the cinema, the white dress remains one of our favorites. When it is not the traditional and classic uniform of the bride, the white dress has a sexy look, immortalized on screen by some of the greatest actresses of all time … When we say ‘white dress at the movies’, we immediately think of the one worn by Marilyn Monroe in The Seven Year Itch, which is a myth in itself. All it took was one scene to shape the Marilyn legend. At the end of a film session, Richard Sherman and his beautiful neighbor stop above an air vent between Lexington Avenue and 52nd Street in New York City when the hot air from the subway lifts the young woman’s dress. At the age of 29, Marilyn gained legend status with this pleated white cocktail dress designed by costume designer William Travilla, nicknamed the ‘subway dress.'”
“‘Rarely, rarely, comest thou, Spirit of Delight,’ wrote Shelley, who would have made an excellent film critic. But when it comes you know it. One of the most purely delightful moments in the history of the cinema, is Marilyn Monroe singing ‘Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend‘ in Howard Hawks’s Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. It’s a scene that never loses its edge. It’s tempting to say that any film in which Monroe stars, notably Some Like it Hot and The Seven Year Itch, are good bets for a night in front of the box.”
We’ve already heard about Marilyn’s Scottish ancestry (see here), but as Craig Williams reports for Glasgow Live, local art pioneer John McHale was inspired by Marilyn – while his London-based colleague Richard Hamilton featured her iconic pose from The Seven Year Itch in an early installation, as shown above – long before Andy Warhol made her his muse.
“The Maryhill area of Glasgow can lay claim to a few things of note … But few would ever imagine that it could hold claim to a title many might believe is held by New York – that of being the birthplace of Pop Art. It wasn’t Warhol who could be considered as the true ‘forefather’ of Pop Art, nor indeed did he coin the ubiquitous term we all know today thanks (in the most part) to his work. That belongs to the almost forgotten Scottish artist, art theorist, sociologist and future studies searcher John McHale – a man born and bred in Maryhill.
McHale coined the term ‘Pop Art’ back in 1954 to describe the aesthetic expressed in art in response to the commercialization of Western culture … Yet it was to be the groundbreaking and hugely popular This Is Tomorrow exhibition at Whitechapel Gallery in London in 1956 that would light the Pop Art touchpaper. The exhibition – which McHale played a central part in – was described by esteemed art critic Reyner Banham as being the ‘first Pop Art manifestation to be seen in any art gallery in the world’. McHale, alongside Richard Hamilton and John Voelcker, presented images from popular culture from magazines, film publicity posters and comics as part of the exhibition.
And as part of the exhibition, McHale was able to provide plenty of the material, having returned from a scholarship at Yale University with a black metal trunk full to the brim with magazine clippings … Yet it wasn’t until 1962 when Pop Art was effectively ‘rubber-stamped’ in the America psyche via the “Symposium on Pop Art” at the Museum of Modern Art in New York – the same year that a certain Andy Warhol held his first ever solo exhibition in the city … Warhol’s exhibit featured some of his most well-known works, including ‘Marilyn Diptych’ … which repeated Marilyn Monroe’s image to evoke her ubiquitous presence in the media – it’s very possible that Warhol was inspired to produce the work by none other than Maryhill’s own McHale.
That’s because, in a collection of writings concerning popular imagery and fine art called ‘The Expendable Icon’ published in Architectural Design magazine in 1959, McHale referenced Marilyn Monroe in a section entitled ‘The Girl With The Most’. Monroe, who McHale regarded as ‘doubly interesting’ featured among many popular ‘ikons’ he identified alongside Elvis Presley – another of Warhol’s subjects. McHale wrote that the film star was ‘held up as an example of someone not only defined by personal iconography, but whose image is saturated in the media to such an extent that she serves as a model for universal imitation’.
1962 would see McHale emigrate to live in the US for definite … John McHale (Jr.) notes the difference between his father’s work and that of Warhol. Where Warhol was focused on being a celebrity artist, McHale’s agenda was to extend the boundaries of art to the masses according to his son … Incredibly, his father was also asked to explain his Pop Art ideas by Time magazine and be featured on the cover, but ‘regrettably refused for personal family reasons … From my discussions with my father it was apparent that he originally conceived of Pop Art as being more than just some glib advertising and reflection of popular culture … This may not seem radical in the present century, but half a century ago these were fighting words and cutting edge concepts. Pop Art was about opening up aesthetic possibilities and making art freely available to all …'”
Theresa Crumpton has compiled her ranking of the best Monroe movies, alongside user ratings from the IMDB website, for the Screen Rant blog. Some Like It Hot, The Asphalt Jungle and The Seven Year Itch top the list, while fan favourite Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is relegated to eighth place; The Prince and the Showgirl, which matches the aggregate score of Bus Stop (ranked sixth), is omitted entirely; and All About Eve, which ties with Some Like It Hot on IMDB, is also conspicuously absent.
Gene Kelly – the legendary dancer, choreographer and actor/director – will be honoured with a statue in London’s Leicester Square. Patricia Ward Kelly, who became his third wife in 1990 until his death six years later, has shared some of Kelly’s memories with Metro.
Kelly was a friend of Marilyn from her early years in Hollywood. His first wife Betsy Blair recalled seeing Marilyn with director Nick Ray during a 1951 party in their home, and Marilyn would meet Milton Greene for the first time in the same house, two years later. Kelly also had a cameo role in Marilyn’s penultimate movie, Let’s Make Love, and was considering a role in her upcoming film project, What a Way to Go!, when Marilyn passed away. (He took the part, and Shirley MacLaine replaced Marilyn.)
Ironically, Patricia’s story of Marilyn making hot dogs for Gene Kelly recalls a scene in The Seven Year Itch (1955), when Sonny Tufts asks Tom Ewell who the blonde in the kitchen might be, and Ewell retorts, ‘Maybe it’s Marilyn Monroe!’
“These were in the years before I met him, but his house, the front door was never locked and people would just come in at any hour of the day or night. There was one experience where the writer James Agee, and a famous director came in with a young woman in the middle of the night. Gene realised the men had quite a bit to drink, so he thought that he should rustle up some food for them. He went into the kitchen with this young woman to see what was in the fridge and found some hot dogs. He had her boiling hot dogs – which coincidentally was the first meal I had with him. He turned to this young woman and said, ‘What’s your name?’ She said, ‘Marilyn’. And it was Marilyn Monroe.”
After launching a limited edition Marilyn figurine in their Hollywood store last year (see here), Funko Pop have announced a new model inspired by The Seven Year Itch to be launched this Spring as Sean Fallon reports for the Comic Book website. The black-and-white version, due in May, is also limited edition (pre-order here), but the colour doll will be mass-produced, and is available in April (pre-order here.)
As Shelby Rowe Moyer notes in her ‘History of the Polka Dot’ for South Sound magazine, Marilyn wore a number of polka-dot dresses (and a bikini) to great effect. Originally known as Dotted Swiss, the print took off during the Industrial Revolution and later renamed after the Polka, a Czech peasant dance popularised in the 1830s.
In 1926, the year Marilyn was born, Norma Smallwood seized victory in the Miss America contest wearing a polka-dot bathing suit, and launched a fashion craze. In 1952, Marilyn wore an ivory rayon Ceil Chapman dress with oversized red polka dots while visiting Atlantic City, where she greeted contestants in that year’s Miss America pageant. A year prior, she had caused sensation on the Love Nest set by sporting a bikini with hot pink polka-dots designed by Renié, and considered daring for the era.
The white cotton halter-neck sheath dress that Marilyn wore to Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in 1953, designed by Dorothy Jeakins, wasn’t quite ‘polka-dot’ but spotted with eyelets. Marilyn makes her first entrance in The Seven Year Itch (1955) wearing a polka-dot dress, one of Travilla’s spectacular designs for the film. And finally, she wore a blue polka-dot sundress for a photo shoot with Sam Shaw in 1957.