‘Forever Marilyn’ Heads to Connecticut

‘Forever Marilyn’ assembled for a previous stay in Bendigo Park, Australia (2016)

Seward Johnson’s giant sculpture, Forever Marilyn, is coming to Latham Park in Stamford, Connecticut this summer, as part of an outdoor art exhibition, Seward Johnson: Timeless, as Annette Einhorn reports for Hamlet Hub. You can read more about the exhibit and other events (including a screening of The Seven Year Itch at the Avon Film Centre on June 7) here.

“The installation will begin on Monday, June 4 when a crane will lift the 26-foot, 30,000 pound Marilyn, in various parts, high into the air before she is assembled in place in Latham Park in Stamford Downtown. The opportunity to capture photos of the flying sculpture parts; legs, torso, skirt, will be from 10:30am to 2pm.

The monumental Forever Marilyn, sponsored by Avon Theatre Film Center, from the Icons Revisited Collection, is just one of 36 sculptures that will be on display in Stamford Downtown. 35 life-size, realistic sculptures from Seward Johnson’s Celebrating the Familiar series will also be on display as part of UC Funds presents Timeless – The Works of Seward Johnson for the Summer of 2018. Installation of the life-size works begins May 30.

The exhibition will kick off with an opening night celebration on Wednesday, June 6, hosted by Stamford Downtown. The event will be held at the Palace Theatre at 61 Atlantic Street from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m. Trolley tours are set to run throughout the evening, offering guests a chance to view many of the sculptures.”

Marilyn’s Weird and Wonderful World

Folk art turned its eye to the silver screen this weekend, with Marilyn gracing this year’s Scarecrow Festival in Wray, Lancashire – alongside Charlie Chaplin, the Pink Panther and more, the Guardian reports.

Meanwhile in India, this early contender for National Geographic‘s Photographer of the Year has captured another unlikely parallel to Marilyn’s ‘subway scene’ in The Seven Year Itch.

“‘Tribute to Marilyn’ by Tihomir Trichkov: ‘My imagination ran wild, I was smelling the gunpowder, hearing the gunshots, the neighing of the horses and the screams of the wounded, picturing what is it like to be under siege, protecting your freedom and ideals against foreign invasion. But the human mind is incredible, a sudden breeze of wind took me straight to a different time, a completely different movie set, a hundred or so years later, well famed for a single white dress…'”

Marilyn, Billy and the Fabulous Fifties

As part of an ongoing series for The Guardian, Wendy Ide names the 1950s as her favourite decade in film.

“Marilyn Monroe was the blond bombshell of choice – although for a while it looked as though Judy Holliday (Born Yesterday) might be a contender – and became a global icon. Hers was a career that played out almost entirely during the 50s. A supporting role in All About Eve led to a studio contract and a star-making double whammy of Niagara and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Highlights of her decade, The Seven Year Itch and Some Like It Hot, saw her teamed with director Billy Wilder …”

And over at Film School Rejects, Will DiGravio argues that the comedy classic, alongside other greats like Hitchcock’s North by Northwest and Hawks’ Rio Bravo, makes 1959 the best year in movies.

“Today, it seems as though many know Monroe only for her beauty, not as the greatest comedic actress of all time. Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon are hilarious in the film as two musicians pretending to be women in order to play with a female band in Florida and escape the Chicago mob after they witness a murder. Yet, their performances pale in comparison to Monroe’s, whose comedic timing and delivery is so effortless it is easy to under-appreciate her brilliance.”

‘Seven Year Itch’ Soundtrack on Vinyl

After a CD release in 2016, the Soundtrack Factory label has now reissued Alfred Newman’s instrumental score for The Seven Year Itch on vinyl. (This doesn’t include the other Fox soundtracks added to the CD.) MM superfan Johan says this deluxe gatefold LP is ‘great’, apart from a factual error in the sleevenotes (Natasha Lytess was Marilyn’s coach for the movie, not Paula Strasberg.)

Spanish Novelist Retraces Marilyn’s ‘Nevada Days’

Bernardo Axtaga is a Spanish author whose 2014 novel, Nevada Days – a fictionalised account of his nine-month stay as writer-in-residence at the Centre for Basque Studies – is now available in English, and the early chapters include several references to Marilyn and The Misfits.

She is first mentioned when Axtaga flips through a copy of The Misfits: Story of a Shoot, Sergio Toubania’s monograph of the Magnum photographers who documented the production. “Individually, the photographs were really good,” Axtaga comments, “… but perhaps because the photographs were the work of different photographers, seeing them all together jarred somehow.”

He later visits Pyramid Lake, and is surprised to find no postcards from The Misfits in the gift shop.”There was one, I seemed to remember, that would have been perfect: Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable lying next to each other on the shores of Pyramid Lake. I asked the waitress, but she had never heard of the film. Nor was she interested in Marilyn Monroe.”

The final, extended passage about Marilyn occurs during a long drive, while Axtaga is talking to his wife Angela about Arthur Miller’s stay at Pyramid Lake in 1956, where he wrote the short story that would become The Misfits while waiting out his first divorce, and conducted a long-distance relationship with Marilyn, who was filming Bus Stop. Axtaga imagines Marilyn’s anguished telephone call to Miller from the set, as described in Miller’s autobiography, Timebends.

Axtaga then recalls the famous scene from The Seven Year Itch (1955), where Marilyn’s character, ‘The Girl’, sympathises with the monster in yet another movie, Creature From the Black Lagoon. (This was foreshadowed in an earlier episode, when Axtaga’s young daughter cries at the end of King Kong.)

As the author forms his own impressions of Nevada, Marilyn disappears from the novel. But her ghostly presence reflects how an outsider’s preconceptions about American life  can be shaped by literary and cinematic mythology.

Marilyn’s Lost Song in ‘The Shape of Water’

Diehard Monroe fans have noticed a little-known recording by Marilyn in Guillermo Del Toro’s new film, The Shape of Water. Set in the early 1960s, the film stars Sally Hawkins as Elisa, a laboratory assistant who develops a close bond with ‘Amphibian Man,’ the mysterious creature being held captive in a tank. This plotline is reminiscent of Creature From the Black Lagoon, the monster movie that Marilyn and Tom Ewell go to see in The Seven Year Itch. Afterward, Marilyn (as ‘The Girl’) famously declares: “He wasn’t really all bad. I think he just craved a little affection, you know? A sense of being loved and needed and wanted.”

According to fans at Marilyn Remembered, her voice can be heard in a song accompanying a scene in The Shape of Water, when Elisa’s friend Giles makes a pass at the waiter in a cafe and is asked to leave.. But while Marilyn’s singing voice may be familiar, the song is not.

‘How Wrong Can I Be’ was a song recorded by Marilyn, probably in the late 1940s (around the time Fred Karger coached her for Ladies of the Chorus), but its existence was not widely known until 1995, when it was listed for sale at Sotheby’s of London. Until now, only a 20-second snippet has been released, which you can listen to here.

Marilyn with Fred Karger (top) circa 1948

Unfortunately, it’s not featured on the soundtrack to The Shape of Water, but we finally have an opportunity to listen. Fraser Penney noticed it in the final credits:

And here’s some background information from a 1995 report in the New York Times.

“‘How Wrong Can I Be,’ recorded on a 12-inch acetate disk, was never released. The anonymous seller, whose father was in the music business, was sorting through a stack of his father’s recordings three years ago and noticed one with a hand-written label that read ‘Fred Karger at the piano, Manny Klein on the trumpet, vocal by Marilyn Monroe.’

The ballad, written by Mr. Karger and Alex Gottlieb, tells a story of sorrow and regret, from the point of view of a woman who has ended a love affair out of misguided jealousy.

The song begins:

‘How wrong can I be,

If my heart says to me

Love like ours never dies.

How wrong can I be,

When it’s sure plain to see

That a heart never lies…'”

Marilyn’s ‘Most Expensive’ Dresses

Over at Beam Fashion, Nadja Beschetnikova looks at the stories behind Marilyn’s three ‘most expensive dresses’ (which sold for the highest prices at auction.)

Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend

‘Apart from the two side seams, the dress was folded into shape rather like cardboard. Any other girl would have looked like she was wearing cardboard, but on-screen I swear you would have thought Marilyn had on a pale, thin piece of silk. Her body was so fabulous it still came through’ – Travilla

The Seven Year Itch

Travilla called it ‘that silly little dress’. The dress indeed has a simple sewing pattern with a typical silhouette for a cocktail dress, which was in vogue in the 1950s and 1960s. Although the designer never paid much heed to his creation, it’s now one of the most famous dresses of all time.

Happy Birthday Mr President

Jean Louis had originally designed a version of the dress for Marlene Dietrich. Her live performances always had almost a magical effect to the audience thanks in no small part to her fascinating outfits. This backless flesh-colored gown remains an example to emulate for modern celebrities and pioneered the trend for ‘naked’ dresses.”

Marilyn in New York, and an Historic Injustice

Canadian-American musician Meghan Remy aka U.S. Girls is about to release her sixth studio album. In an interview for The Ringer, Meghan takes Lindsay Zoladz on a sightseeing tour of New York, including the subway grate on Lexington and 52nd Street where Marilyn shot an iconic movie scene, while her marriage fell apart.

“The night that iconic photo of Marilyn Monroe was taken—you know the one: stilettos on a subway grate, billowing white dress—Monroe and her husband Joe DiMaggio got into a screaming match. The fight was partially about the photo itself: While shooting The Seven Year Itch, the studio had savvily leaked Monroe’s whereabouts to the press, and by the time Billy Wilder was ready to roll camera on what would become the most notorious scene in the movie, several thousand onlookers had shown up to watch. (They were almost all men, but I hardly need to tell you that.) DiMaggio was there, and he wasn’t too keen on what he took to be his wife’s public exhibitionism. When she showed up to set the next morning, Monroe’s hairdresser applied foundation to hide fresh bruises. She filed for divorce from DiMaggio before The Seven Year Itch wrapped.

‘We’re constantly presented with this smiling Marilyn,’ says Meg Remy, the singer and eccentric creative mastermind behind the band U.S. Girls. ‘But for some reason, when you have all the information, it just feels so heavy.’

I should mention that Remy is speaking into a headset, as she drives a rented, 15-seat van deftly through the streets of Manhattan. In anticipation of the release of U.S. Girls’ new album In a Poem Unlimited—the most ambitious and, as it happens, best album of Remy’s decade-long career—her label suggested a listening party for fans and members of the press. Remy asked around enough to learn what a listening party was, and, ever the DIY-minded eccentric, then decided it just wasn’t her style. What she came up with instead was this: a van tour of ‘sites of injustices in New York City,’ written and narrated by Remy herself, while we listen to the new album in the background.”

When Avedon Met Marilyn…

Richard Avedon’s first collaboration with Marilyn was in September 1954, when she visited New York to film The Seven Year Itch with director Billy Wilder. It may also have been their first meeting, and their warm camaraderie is evident in the resulting photos, taken by Sam Shaw. Earl Steinbicker, who was Avedon’s studio assistant at the time, remembers the shoot in Avedon: Something Personal.

“I met a helluva lot of famous people with Dick … I was there for the first sitting Dick ever did with Marilyn Monroe. The Daily News had sent a photographer to photograph him photographing her. I worked the fan blowing her hair, and at the end of the sitting she came over and said, ‘Wouldn’t you like a picture of me?'”