Tag Archives: Twentieth Century Fox

April VeVea on Marilyn, Jayne and Typecast Blondes

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‘Bus Stop’ (1956)

April VeVea (author of Marilyn Monroe: A Day in the Life) has created a new blog, Classic Blondes – dedicated to Marilyn and her contemporaries. In her latest post, April examines the longstanding assumption that Marilyn’s talents were wasted due to her being typecast in ‘dumb blonde’ roles at Twentieth Century Fox.

“With the exception of Bus Stop, Marilyn’s dramatic roles were NOT making nearly as much as her comedic roles. Fox wasn’t going to throw money into pictures so Marilyn could play in serious roles when they could have hits if she stuck to her comedic skill set. The public was the ultimate typecaster of Marilyn, not Fox … Marilyn actually had a pretty diverse career. Her pictures were evenly spread out between serious and comedic and she shone brightly in most. Her ability to keep herself at a 50/50 split once achieving stardom is amazing. That deserves praise and recognition.”

In another article, April compares Marilyn’s career to that of another fifties bombshell, Jayne Mansfield.

“While Jayne’s movies never grossed as highly as Marilyn’s, it’s safe to say that she was a solid earner for Fox when she was in her element. People wanted to see Jayne in glitz and glamour but her movies also needed to have a solid story line, like Marilyn’s … Jayne wasn’t a bad actress nor was she ‘over’ before she hit 30. She was just promoted incorrectly by Fox and dumped when Marilyn went back to her niche.”

Fox to Launch ‘Millionaire’ Marilyn Fragrance

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Marilyn’s old studio, Twentieth Century Fox, is launching a line of fragrances named after her most famous movies, and a promotional video has been created for the first perfume, How to Marry a Millionaire, reports Wales Online.

“Twentieth Century Fox Consumer Products developed a new collection based on the portfolio of 12 Hollywood film titles featuring Marilyn Monroe.

Bristol-based fragrance specialist Designer Fragrances then launched the How to Marry a Millionaire inspired women’s fragrance and gift sets in stores across Europe.

Luminous Media director Martin Downes, from Pontypool, said: ‘It is a massive honour for a local Welsh company to be able to produce a video for a product like this.’

‘As you can imagine, there are very strict guidelines for using images of a Hollywood legend like Marilyn Monroe. We came up with a storyboard for the motion graphic video that drew on elements from the movie as well as showcasing the fabulously designed fragrance bottle.'”

John Gilmore 1935-2016

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John Gilmore, author of Inside Marilyn Monroe, has died aged 81. Like Marilyn, he was born in the charity ward of Los Angeles County General Hospital, and spent time in Hollygrove, the orphan’s home where she had stayed a few years earlier.  After serving an apprenticeship as a child actor, Gilmore became a contract player at Twentieth Century Fox. In 1953, he was introduced to Marilyn by actor John Hodiak, who lived nearby her apartment complex.

Eight years later, Gilmore was up for a part in Marilyn’s next movie, an adaptation of William Inge’s play, A Loss of Roses (renamed as Celebration.) The project was shelved, and would finally be made after Marilyn’s death, starring Joanne Woodward as The Stripper.

After penning a series of pulp novels, Gilmore turned his hand to true crime, publishing books about Elizabeth Short (aka The Black Dahlia) and the Manson Family. He also wrote memoirs, detailing his encounters with James Dean and many others.

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Inside Marilyn Monroe (2007) grew from the story of his acquaintanceship with Marilyn to a full-scale biography. Gilmore interviewed many Hollywood insiders who had not spoken about Marilyn before, and created a nuanced psychological portrait, while debunking some of the fantasists who have profited from her legacy.

Gilmore was a member of Marilyn Remembered, and spoke fondly of her at the annual memorial services at Westwood. His final book was On the Run With Bonnie and Clyde (2013.)

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Marilyn’s Contemporaries: Gene Tierney

Gene TierneyIn a new series about Marilyn’s contemporaries for Immortal Marilyn, Leslie Kasperowicz profiles Gene Tierney, the beautiful star of Laura.  Gene found fame during the 1940s at Marilyn’s home studio, Twentieth Century-Fox. Her first husband was Oleg Cassini, one of Marilyn’s favourite designers (you may recognise Gene’s red Cassini dress in this photo, as it was also worn by Marilyn.)

Marilyn and Henry Hathaway

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Director Henry Hathaway, who guided Marilyn through her star-making performance in Niagara, was a movie veteran, perhaps best-known for his action pictures. Although seen as gruff and domineering by some, he proved to be one of Marilyn’s most supportive directors.

Henry Hathaway: The Lives of a Hollywood Director, published later this month, is a new biography by Harold N. Pomainville, and promises to be of interest to MM fans (although rather expensive, in my opinion.) He describes how Hathaway dealt with Marilyn’s interfering coach, Natasha Lytess; and how he persuaded Marilyn to sing along to the record in the ‘Kiss’ scene.

Pomeraine also reveals that Zanuck thwarted Hathaway’s plan to cast Marilyn in Of Human Bondage, and that Hathaway advised her to hire Charles Feldman as her new agent as a defence against the hostile studio head. And it was Hathaway who offered Marilyn the chance to star in a Jean Harlow biopic. She rejected it, partly because she was then in dispute with screenwriter Ben Hecht over a shelved autobiography (published after her death as My Story); but perhaps also because the pressures of Harlow’s life mirrored her own.

“Though Hathaway worked with Marilyn only once,” Pomeraine writes, “he became one of her prime defenders. At a time when the Fox hierarchy, including [Darryl] Zanuck, screenwriter Nunnally Johnson, and director Howard Hawks, regarded Monroe as little more than a passing novelty, Hathaway saw her as a rare and sensitive talent: ‘Marilyn was witty and bright, but timid. She was afraid of people.'”

Alan Young 1919-2016

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Alan Young, who played Wilbur Post on Mister Ed – the classic 1960s TV sitcom about a talking horse – has died aged 96 at the Motion Picture and Television Home in Woodland Hills, California, reports The Guardian.

Born in Northumberland to Scottish parents in 1919, Young emigrated to Canada as a child. During his high school years he hosted a CBC radio show. He married in 1940 and had two children, before moving to New York in 1944, where he began hosting The Alan Young Show on NBC Radio.

In December 1946, the now-divorced Young met a young Marilyn Monroe when she promoted his show in highland dress on a Rose Bowl float in Los Angeles. They later went on two dates, as he recalled in a 2012 interview with Scotland’s Daily Record.

Alan Young (left) with Marilyn in 1946
Alan Young (left) with Marilyn in 1946

He was also interviewed by Michelle Morgan, author of Marilyn Monroe: Private and Undisclosed. He remembered taking her to the Brown Derby club after the parade; but as neither of them liked alcohol, they decided to go elsewhere and sip cocoa instead. “She seemed like a frightened rabbit at first,” he said, “and I didn’t realise she had been raised without parents. I really liked her.”

On their first date, Young picked her up from the house where she was living with family friend Ana Lower. He remembered that Ana seemed ‘suspicious’ of his intentions. Norma Jeane (as she still called herself then) explained that Ana was a devout Christian Scientist – a faith she and Alan also shared.

Their second date ended in disaster, as Alan tried to kiss Norma Jeane as she was turning her head away, and ended up kissing her ear instead. “I was so embarrassed about it that I never phoned her again,” he admitted.

He made his screen debut in Margie (1946), at Marilyn’s home studio of Twentieth Century Fox, and later appeared alongside Clifton Webb in Mr Belvedere Goes to College (1949.) He married Virginia McCurdy in 1948, and they had two children. In 1950, The Alan Young Show moved to television.

By the early 1950s, Marilyn was also a major star. “I was working at the studio when a blonde girl rushed up and yelled ‘Alan!'” he told Michelle Morgan. “She kissed me and asked about my parents and asked me to give her a call. After she had gone the make-up man asked how long I’d known Marilyn Monroe and I answered, ‘About two minutes!’ That was the last time I ever saw her.”

In 1955, Young would star opposite Jane Russell in Gentlemen Marry Brunettes, a sequel to  Monroe’s 1953 smash hit, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. After Marilyn declined to reprise her role, Jeanne Crain took her place as Lorelei Lee. He later starred in the classic sci-fi movie, The Time Machine (1960.)

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Young’s most famous role, in TV’s Mister Ed, began in 1961 and ran for five years. Afterwards, he continued making guest appearances in numerous television shows, movies and as a voice actor for cartoons and video games.

After nearly fifty years together, Young and McCurdy were divorced in 1995. He married Mary Chipman shortly afterwards, but they divorced two years later. He returned to the stage in a 2001 revival of Show Boat, and his final credit was in 2015, as the voice of Scrooge McDuck in a series of Mickey Mouse shorts.

‘Forever Marilyn’ Lands in Australia

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Marilyn’s Australian year kicks off next week as the touring exhibit, Marilyn: Celebrating an American Icon opens at the Murray Art Museum (MAMA) in Albury, New South Wales. The exhibition will feature 150 artworks and supporting programs, reports the Border Mail.

Meanwhile the arrival of Seward Johnson’s giant sculpture, ‘Forever Marilyn’, in Bendigo Park, Victoria (around 90 miles from Melbourne) heralds another upcoming exhibition, Twentieth Century Fox Presents Marilyn, opening at Bendigo Art Gallery on March 5. You can watch a video of the installation here.

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Glynis Traill-Nash reports on both exhibits in an article for The Australian.

“The two exhibitions deal with Monroe in different ways: for Bendigo, it is about getting closer to the woman herself, and includes screen costumes, photographs, her own wardrobe items and personal effects, such as make-up and notebooks; MAMA instead opens Monroe to the gaze and interpretation of others, including images of the star created both during her lifetime and after her death, from the likes of photographers Cecil Beaton and Henri Cartier-Bresson, and artists including Andy Warhol and Richard Lindner.

The Bendigo exhibition also includes two particularly notable personal looks. ‘We have the little green Pucci blouse, which was quite understated, and was the last thing that Marilyn was photographed publicly in, so it’s quite poignant,’ says Curtin. There is also a photo of the star in a red cotton housecoat, with a pattern of chickens and roosters. ‘It’s quite ordinary, housewifey,’ says Curtin. ‘It was worn when she was about two months’ pregnant (to third husband Arthur Miller). You can see in the photo she looks quite proud, but sadly she lost the baby. But that human side of Marilyn gives us some insight that we don’t usually get to see.'”

Marilyn and Khrushchev in Hollywood

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This second extract from Alistair Cooke at the Movies focuses on ‘The Script That Got Away: Mr Khruschev’s Propaganda Tour at US Expense’, an article about the Soviet premier’s historic visit, published in The Guardian after Marilyn attended a Twentieth Century-Fox luncheon in Khrushchev’s honour on September 20, 1959.

“He was whizzed so fast over the boulevards between the airport and the Twentieth Century-Fox studio that not one Angelino in a thousand could have guessed, without prior knowledge, that here was the chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and not, say, Marilyn Monroe on her way to a dress fitting.

He was shown what any other distinguished tourist would have been allowed to see. He saw the dancing girls of Can Can. He was actually seated at the same table as Gary Cooper, Eddie Fisher, Marilyn Monroe and James Mason. The supreme accolade was reserved for his wife: she was seated next to Frank Sinatra. American hospitality can go no farther.

‘And yet, and yet …’ as the old silent movie captions used to say, the production blew up in the faces of hundreds of skilled politicos, directors and protocol experts who had written it. Nikita Khrushchev, the humble shepherd boy who grew up to play the starring role in the lurid melodrama known to the papers here as ‘The Hangman of Hungary’, retraced his spiritual ancestry and suddenly turned from the home-town boy made good into a frightening ‘baddie’.

He began, with amazing magnanimity, by greeting Spyros Skouras, the president of Twentieth Century-Fox, as ‘a friend and brother before Christ’. He ended by recalling again the futile invasion of his country by soldiers of America, France, Germany, Poland and Britain, by briefly catching himself in an apology for such a tasteless memoir, and then by swelling the veins in his neck in protest at the State Department’s denial of his wish to go down to Anaheim and make a tour of Disneyland…

The movie stars could not have been more uncomfortable if they had been sitting there in nothing but their mascara. Miss Monroe ventured that Mr Khrushchev’s speech ‘was interesting’. Winston Churchill could not have done it better.”

Maureen O’Hara 1920-2015

tumblr_nwqhud3lQi1r42hleo1_1280Actress Maureen O’Hara has died in her sleep at her home in Boise, Idaho aged 95, reports the Washington Post.

Maureen FitzSimons was born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1920. From early childhood she dreamed of going on the stage. While training at the Abbey Theatre, she went to London for a screen test. The footage was seen by actor Charles Laughton, who was so impressed by Maureen’s red-haired beauty and large, expressive eyes that he signed her to his movie production company, Mayflower Pictures.

Her first major role was as Mary Yellen in Jamaica Inn (1939), Alfred Hitchcock’s adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s classic novel. She was then cast as Esmerelda, opposite Laughton in The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Now under contract to RKO in Hollywood, Maureen starred in John Ford’s Oscar-winning How Green Was My Valley (1941.) By 1947, she had moved to Twentieth Century-Fox, playing the mother of a young Natalie Wood in the classic Christmas movie, Miracle on 34th Street. In the same year, Natalie appeared in another Fox production, Scudda Hoo! Scudda Hay! – which is chiefly remembered as Marilyn Monroe’s screen debut.

In Sitting Pretty (1948), O’Hara starred opposite Clifton Webb. Marilyn was photographed with Webb in a promotional shot for the comedic movie, though she had no part in it. By the time Sitting Pretty was released, Marilyn was working at Columbia.

In 1950, Maureen appeared with actor John Wayne in a Western, John Ford’s Rio Grande. O’Hara and Wayne became one of cinema’s great couples, making five films together, and were good friends. They were reunited in Ford’s The Quiet Man (1952), perhaps Maureen’s most celebrated film.

By then, Marilyn had returned to Fox and would appear alongside Charles Laughton in O’Henry’s Full House (1952.) She never worked with Maureen, but the stars were on good terms. In her autobiography, ‘Tis Herself, O’Hara shared a personal memory of Marilyn.

“Marilyn had called and asked me to play a joke on her husband, Joe DiMaggio. Apparently, Joe was a fan of mine and always teased Marilyn about how attracted to me he was. She was sick and tired of hearing her husband talk about me and I don’t blame her. She asked me if I would mind being wrapped in a big box with a ribbon tied in a bow around it, to be her gift to Joe on his birthday. The huge box would be on a large table, and right before he opened it, she was going to say, ‘Now, Joe, after I give you this, I don’t ever want to hear about Maureen O’Hara again.’ Then as he pulled the bow and ribbon off, I was supposed to pop out of the box while the crowd shouted, ‘Surprise!’ I thought it would be great fun, sadly, they separated just before it could be done.”

A gifted soprano, Maureen sang on numerous television shows, and recorded two albums. Her later films include Our Man in Havana (1959) and The Parent Trap (1961.) After her third marriage in 1968, she went into semi-retirement, returning to the big screen in 1991 for Only the Lonely, opposite John Candy.

After suffering a stroke in 2005, Maureen moved permanently to County Cork, Ireland. In 2011, she hosted a classic film festival, with Susan Bernard (daughter of photographer Bruno Bernard) introducing a screening of Marilyn’s timeless comedy, Some Like it Hot.

Following reports of elder abuse in 2012, Maureen left Ireland to live with her grandson in Idaho. In 2014, she received an honorary Oscar from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, attending the Los Angeles ceremony.