‘Styling the Stars’: Treasures From Fox

Styling the Stars

Styling the Stars: Treasures From the Twentieth Century Fox Archive, a new coffee table book by Angela Cartwright and Tom McLaren, will be published in October. It is 320pp long, and measures 8.3 x 5.9 x 0.9 inches. Marilyn graces the cover in an unusual, elegant profile shot, taken during costume tests for There’s No Business Like Show Business.

“Revered for their indisputable sense of style, classic Hollywood films continue to inspire today’s fashions. But the carefully crafted appearances of the timeless characters personified by the likes of Clark Gable, Julie Andrews, and Audrey Hepburn came as the result of meticulous hairstyling, makeup, and costume design. In Hollywood’s trendsetting world of glamour and glitz, continuity photographs ensured that these wardrobe elements remained consistent throughout the filming process. Now, decades later, these shots provide a striking record of the evolution of Hollywood fashion from the 1930s to the early 1970s. Written by Angela Cartwright and Tom McLaren, with a foreword by Maureen O’Hara, this collection of candid rarities offers a glimpse into the details of prepping Hollywood’s most iconic personalities, plus revelatory stories about Twentieth Century Fox classics. Here readers find images of Shirley Temple as she runs a brush through her trademark curls, Marilyn Monroe as she’s fitted for an elegant evening gown, Cary Grant as he suits up for a swim, and Paul Newman donning a six-shooter. The result is a stunning collector’s volume of film and fashion photography, as well as an invaluable compendium of movie history.”

James Garner and ‘Something’s Got to Give’

james garner

Actor James Garner, who first found fame as a comedic cowboy in the 1950s TV series, Maverick, has died aged 86. His most popular role was that of private detective Jim Rockford in the long-running series, The Rockford Files. He also made over fifty films, including The Great Escape, Victor/Victoria, Murphy’s Romance, Sunset (as Wyatt Earp) and Maverick (a big-screen remake, starring Mel Gibson.) One of Garner’s final roles was in The Notebook (2004.) He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Lois Clarke, and two daughters.

Garner is best-known to MM fans as Doris Day’s leading man in Move Over Darling, the 1963 remake of Marilyn’s unfinished last film, Something’s Got To Give. What readers may not recall, however, is that Garner was originally chosen to star alongside Monroe, as Ted Schwarz explained in his 2010 biography, Marilyn Revealed.

“James Garner demanded $200,000 to do the picture, but Fox thought he was a $150,000-a-picture actor and would pay him no more. He quit. Then, in the convoluted thinking of Hollywood, the new producer, a man named Henry Weinstein, turned to Dean Martin that March, paying Martin double what Fox had wanted to pay Garner.”

Marilyn with Dean Martin, 'Something's Got to Give'
Marilyn with Dean Martin, ‘Something’s Got to Give’
Doris Day and James Garner in 'Move Over Darling'
Doris Day and James Garner in ‘Move Over Darling’

Garner commented on both projects in his autobiography, The Garner Files (2012.)

“The best part of this remake of the 1940 screwball comedy My Favourite Wife was Doris Day. I’d been slated to make it as Something’s Got to Give with Marilyn Monroe, but I did The Great Escape instead, so Dean Martin took my part. Twentieth fired Marilyn for chronic tardiness and stopped production, retitled it Move Over Darling, and made it with me and Doris.

Doris didn’t play sexy, she didn’t act sexy, she was sexy. Which is better in the bedroom than a lot of things. And Doris was a joy to work with.”

After Marilyn was fired, executives at Fox spread the rumour that her work on the film was ‘unwatchable.’ However, footage from Something’s Got to Give, uncovered in 1990, shows Marilyn looking better than she had done in years. Her screen chemistry with Dean Martin was evident, and the opening scene, in which she greets her long-lost children after being rescued from a shipwreck, ranks among her finest work.

63moveover

However, there is something undeniably stilted and weary about Something’s Got to Give – perhaps a combination of the hackneyed script, and George Cukor’s indifferent direction. Move Over Darling is a briskly efficient 1960s rom-com, though lacking some of the star-power Marilyn could have brought. Patrick Samuel compared the two versions in a 2011 review for Static Mass Emporium:

“Despite its shortcomings it has its charm and moments of fun but misses what Monroe and Martin brought to the unfinished Something’s Got To Give; sensuality and a high doses of sex appeal. Although, from watching what remains of Something’s Got To Give, it misses the charm and fun of Move Over Darling! Cukor’s version is sombre and swings more toward melodrama than screwball comedy. If only there was a way to move something over.”

Remembering Shirley Temple

shirley temple

Perhaps the most celebrated child star of all time, Shirley Temple, died on Monday, February 10th. Writing for Bust, Alanna Bennett notes that in her teenage years, Shirley looked a lot like the then-unknown Norma Jeane Baker.

“I mean, look at them. It could be chocked up to 1940s/1950s styles — the hair style is certainly that, and makeup trends also probably played a part — but there’s also a definite shared heart-shaped face, lip and eye shape, nose curvature, etc.

What’s interesting to me here is that these women did not spend the majority of their lifetimes resembling each other. It appears that they did, however, sort of meet in the middle: Temple spent her young childhood as one of the most famous people in the world, then went on to live a relatively ‘normal’ life thereafter; Monroe had that relatively ‘normal’ life roughly until her breakthrough in 1948, when she was twenty-two. Temple was also born only two years after Monroe, in 1928.

Both women made a big impact on the culture of their time — generations of women spent their childhoods wanting to be Shirley Temple, and their adolescence or adulthood yearning to be Marilyn Monroe. They obviously had very complicated lives in large part because of that, but there’s something calming in seeing their similarities.”

Temple delighted Depression era filmgoers, and some have said she helped to save Twentieth Century Fox from bankruptcy during the 1930s. Marilyn would later become the same studio’s most bankable star of the 50s.

Shirley Temple Black retired from acting in 1950, aged 22, and later became a US diplomat, travelling the globe under successive Republican administrations.

Marilyn’s biographer, Carl Rollyson, speculates that ‘it was the portrayal of Shirley as waif and orphan that appealed to Marilyn and formed the basis of some of Marilyn’s stories about her childhood.’

In later life, however, Marilyn did not always welcome the comparison, as this extract from journalist W.J. Weatherby’s Conversations With Marilyn reveals:

“‘I read your article about me,’ she said. ‘Who’s Mrs Patrick Campbell?’

I had described her in the article as a cross between a theatrical grand-dame like Mrs Campbell and a child star like Shirley Temple.

She beamed when I told her, but added that she took a dim view of being even remotely compared to ‘Lolita Temple.’

‘Sorry. Now that I know you better, I wouldn’t compare you to anyone.'”

Fox Publicist Julian Myers Dies

Legendary Hollywood Publicist Julian Myers showing his Amingo Day cufflinks

Writing for Deadline, Pete Hammond recalls his friend, Julian Myers – ‘the ultimate Hollywood press agent’ – who died on Saturday, December 21st.

“He started off as nearly  a charter member of USC’s Film School in 1937 and then worked in Columbia’s story department , but it was landing his job  in the Fox publicity department in 1949 that really got things cooking for him. That was about the same time as Fox’s most famous star, Marilyn Monroe also started. Julian would often tell me about those days when he would have to go try to get the famously difficult actress out of bed and on to the set. He wasn’t her publicist as some outlets wrongly said in their headlines today, he was a loyal studio publicist – or more accurately press agent – who had 20th’s back in those days. One of his earliest encounters with her was in 1950 when she had a small role in the iconic Fox Oscar winner, All About Eve. In pure ‘press agent’ fashion he even got  the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel to block  out all the letters in its neon sign except ‘EVE’ when the film had its premiere across the street at Grauman’s Chinese.”

Marilyn at the Oscars, 1951
Marilyn at the Oscars, 1951

Marilyn does not seem to have attended the premiere, captured on newsreel from November 13, 1950. However, she did later present an Oscar to Thomas H. Moulton for Best Sound Recording on the film.

Julian Myers worked at Fox until 1961. In 2013, Myers shared his memories of Marilyn in a TV interview. He recalled accompanying her to visit troops at San Pedro. (He may be referring to her visiting the USS Benham in 1951, or Camp Pendleton in 1952.)

En route, they stopped at a gas station where Marilyn spent 45 minutes in the powder room. Despite her tardiness, the troops loved her.

Myers remembered Marilyn as an insecure young woman who never thought of herself as a sex symbol. “I was the only guy trying to get her out of bed,” he joked, noting that he “was a happily married man.”

Surfer Girl: Marilyn in Malibu

Marilyn at a surfer party, circa 1947
Marilyn at a surfer party,1947

Writing for the Malibu Times, Colin Newton explores the history of Cypress Sea Cove, a hangout for surfers since the 1940s:

“The story of Cypress Sea Cove begins in the 1940s with its original owner George “Cap” Watkins, a Bunyon-esque character who would eventually turn the place into his own private Shangri-La.

Between the palm trees, hammocks were strung up, and five-gallon plastic jugs were filled with rum drinks. Guests as varied as then-California Governor—and later Supreme Court Justice— Earl Warren and blond bombshell Marilyn Monroe showed up, as well as pioneer surfers and many of Watkins’ lifeguard friends.”

George 'Cap' Watkins presents Tommy Zahn with a paddle-boarding trophy.
George ‘Cap’ Watkins presents Tommy Zahn with a paddle-boarding trophy.

The article states that Marilyn was then the girlfriend of lifeguard Tommy Zahn. This would place her visits around 1946-7, during her first year as a Hollywood actress.

Zahn was signed to Fox at around the same time – mainly because studio chief Darryl F Zanuck‘s daughter, Darrylin, had taken a shine to him. It was while working as a contract player that Tommy met the 20 year-old Marilyn.

Anthony Summers interviewed Tommy Zahn for his 1985 biography, Goddess: The Secret Lives of Marilyn Monroe.

“‘[MM] was in prime condition,’ says Tommy Zahn, ‘tremendously fit. I used to take her surfing up at Malibu…She was really good in the water, very robust, so healthy, a really fine attitude towards life.'”

This echoes other recollections of a young, sporty Marilyn. In later years, however, she was less confident in water.

Zahn recalled that Marilyn was the most hard-working of all the young actors. They often worked together on dance, which they both found challenging.

After talking to Zahn, Summers formed an interesting theory as to why Marilyn was dropped by the studio in 1947, which may also partly explain why – even after she became a star – Zanuck was never a strong supporter of MM.

“Tommy Zahn, Marilyn’s lifeguard boyfriend, thinks he knows what happened, not least because he was fired at the same time. Zahn believes that he was only hired in the first place because Zanuck wished to groom him for marriage to one of his daughters. Zahn’s dalliance with Marilyn was noted and disapproved from on high, and both were fired. Zahn shipped out to Honolulu. Marilyn was adrift, professionally and emotionally.”

By the time Tommy Zahn died in 1991, he was a sporting hero, with a distinguished career behind him. You can read a recollection of his life by Craig Lockwood at EatonSurf.com. A biography of Zahn – including a chapter entitled ‘Hollywood & Marilyn’ – is downloadable from the Legendary Surfers website.

 

Fox Takes to the Stage

Deleted scene from ‘How to Marry a Millionaire’, 1953

Twentieth Century-Fox have announced plans to develop a slate of nine to 12 musicals based on Fox films, reports the New York Times. Their vast back catalogue includes many of Marilyn’s star vehicles. Which one, if any, would you like to see onstage?

Behind the Camera With Marilyn

Two intriguing new books caught my eye recently: firstly, Hollywood Sketchbook: A Century of Costume Illustration, by Deborah Nadoolman Landis (who curated the V&A Hollywood Costume exhibit.)

The cover features a sketch by Travilla of Marilyn in one of his designs for There’s No Business Like Show Business. (For the film, the dress was made up in blue.) Inside are chapters on Charles LeMaire, Dorothy Jeakins and Orry-Kelly.

Marilyn’s friend and co-star, Betty Grable, features on the cover of Twentieth Century-Fox: The Zanuck-Skouras Years, 1935-65, to be published by the University of Texas Press on March 25th.

‘The studio’s biggest new star of the 1950s was clearly Marilyn Monroe,’ writes author Peter Lev. It should be a useful reference tool for anyone interested in the history of Marilyn’s home studio.

Focus on Spyros Skouras

Spyros Skouras, the Greek-born president of Twentieth Century-Fox, was an important ally of Marilyn during her early career. In September, the Greek America Foundation will research his life, including extensive study of the Skouras Papers at Stanford University, with the aim of producing a documentary. You can read more about the project here.

Celeste Holm 1917-2012

Celeste Holm at top right, with Marilyn in 'All About Eve'

Actress Celeste Holm – who played Karen Richards in All About Eve – has died aged 95, reports The Guardian.

Born in New York, Holm made her name as Ado Annie in the 1943 Broadway production of Oklahoma! She won an Oscar for Gentlemen’s Agreement (1947), and narrated A Letter to Three Wives (1949.)

After the success of Gentlemen’s Agreement, Holm asked Darryl F. Zanuck, head of Twentieth Century-Fox, for a pay increase. He responded by suspending her contract, and then ‘called the head of every other studio and said he had fired me because I was too difficult to work with.’

Celeste Holm, 'All About Eve'

Nonetheless, director Joe Mankiewicz cast Holm in All About Eve (1950) as Karen, best friend to temperamental stage star Margo Channing (Bette Davis.) According to Sandra Shevey, author of The Marilyn Scandal, Mankiewicz insisted that Holm be paid three times her contract salary. However, Zanuck got even ‘by having my dressing room put in the alley outside the soundstage. The others were inside.’

‘That girl will be a big star,’ said actor Gregory Ratoff, who played agent Max Fabian, during filming of All About Eve (1950). Holm rolled her eyes and retorted, ‘Why, because she keeps everyone waiting?’ To which Ratoff replied, ‘She has a quality.’

‘I confess I saw nothing special about her,’ Holm admitted. ‘My natural reaction was: “Whose girl is that?” She was scared to death, because she was playing in a pretty big league…I never thought of Marilyn as being an actress, even in the films she did later on.’

Holm was a friend of Dr Ralph Greenson, who became Marilyn’s psychoanalyst in 1960, and she would met Monroe at one of his house parties. This surprised Holm, perhaps because she considered herself to be part of Hollywood’s intellectual elite and had hitherto dismissed Marilyn as a dumb blonde.

Holm also noted that the young Marilyn idolised Betty Grable, with whom she would later co-star in How to Marry a Millionaire (1953.) This was confirmed by Grable herself, according to Michelle Morgan, author of Marilyn Monroe: Private and Undisclosed.

Holm returned to Broadway, but later sang ‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?’ with Frank Sinatra in High Society (1956.) In 1968, the won the Sarah Siddons award for Distinguished Achievement in Chicago Theatre. (Ironically, the Siddons award had featured in the storyline of All About Eve.)

Holm continued working in television and film until the early 1990s, and her former ambivalence towards Marilyn did not hinder her from appearing in various documentaries about her.

In recent years, Celeste Holm been treated for memory loss, and was in poor health for some time. She is survived by her sons and a fifth husband, opera singer Frank Basile.

Celeste Holm at 80

 

 

When Marilyn Sings

MM fan Tiina Lindholm found an older vinyl compilation in a Finnish thrift store. Remember Marilyn includes a 12pp photo book with a lovely tribute from Lionel Newman, Marilyn’s musical arranger on all her major films for Twentieth Century-Fox, including Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, River of No ReturnThere’s No Business Like Show Business, and Let’s Make Love.

“Marilyn Monroe was my friend – a very dear and special friend. She was an exceptionally warm, compassionate, surprisingly self-conscious girl. I found her to be fiercely loyal – sometimes to a fault.

An example of her self-consciousness happened while we were making the picture River Of No Return. In it Marilyn was to sing a very simple lullaby to a little boy with just a guitar accompaniment. Somehow or other she couldn’t believe she would be accepted doing something as gentle as this, due to her so-called ‘sexy’ image. It took many hours of reassurance to finally get her to believe in herself with regard to this sequence in the picture. The final result was most rewarding, especially to her.

Contrary to her glamorous ‘sexy image’, Marilyn would come to the recording stage wearing a plain pair of old slacks and a sweater, no makeup, and her hair looking like a tossed salad. But even in such casual dress she retrained that very warm, unaffected, detached appearance, yet still exuded sex.

Very often after a full and tiring day of recording, Marilyn, my wife Beverly, and I would take a long drive, grab a hamburger, eat in the car, and then just talk about anything except the motion picture business. She loved to laugh, and I had the fortunate ability to make her laugh.

The rumors about Marilyn being late for work never applied to her recording dates. She was always punctual if not ahead of time, and worked just as conscientiously and diligently as anyone else. A very odd thing happened when Marilyn would record her playbacks for whatever picture we were doing. I was happy to have the musicians show up – but with Marilyn the recording stage was always loaded with outside people. It literally appeared as though the studio had shut down. Secretaries, Sound Department employees, kids from the mail room, the Publicity Department, Construction, Art Department – you name it, they’d all be there. She was electrifying in that excitement always followed her. The men in the orchestra adored her. She was always congenial, courteous, not temperamental, and never forgot to thank everyone who worked with her on the stage. This included the orchestra, sound recording crew, etc. I must say, however, that she was damned sure of what she wanted without the sometimes big scene that other ‘super stars’ made. She would be up-tight at times when visitors got out of hand and made it necessary to have them clear the stage. Ten minutes later she would feel awful for having had to do such thing.

Many people didn’t believe – and still don’t believe she did her own singing. Well, that’s all a lot of nonsense. Marilyn did all her own singing – every single word. There was never any question about ‘dubbing’ her voice. She wouldn’t have allowed it since it was unnecessary, and to her, it would have been a cop out.

Another example of how hard she worked was when we were making Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. One of the big numbers was ‘Diamond’s Are A Girl’s Best Friend’. We made eleven takes on a very long and difficult number. (We recorded voice and orchestra simultaneously – Marilyn wouldn’t have it any other way. She felt that the performance would suffer if we recorded orchestra and voice separately on different days – ‘over dubbing’). I okayed the first take, but Marilyn felt she wanted to go on. In the end she went back to the first take, but she jumped up on the podium, apologized to the orchestra for having worked them so hard, and said ‘Lionel was right’. My association with her was just that straight and direct.

Marilyn used to call me her ‘personal music director’ and consequently I was assigned to do all her pictures at 20th Century-Fox. She was everything to all men, but to me she was really something very special. I miss her – I shall always miss her. She was literally one of a kind. I was fortunate to know her, to love her, let alone have the privilege of working with her.”

October 26, 1972

Lionel Newman