When Marilyn Came to Forest Hills

In an article for Forest Hills Connection, Ann Kessler looks back at Marilyn’s week-long stay in the Washington suburb while husband Arthur Miller was on trial for contempt of Congress in May 1957.

“Monroe wanted to support her husband by coming to DC, but didn’t want to stay at a hotel where she would be constantly mobbed by the press and fans. For that same reason she couldn’t actually attend any of the court sessions.

Miller contacted his lawyer, Joseph L. Rauh, Jr., a widely respected civil rights attorney and co-founder of the Americans for Democratic Action, to ask his suggestions for housing in DC. Joe Rauh invited Miller and Marilyn to stay on the sofa bed in the den of his house at 3625 Appleton Street NW. The next day Rauh’s son Carl, a junior at Wilson High School, drove to Union Station to pick up a woman ‘wearing a dark wig, a head scarf, and sunglasses.’ That was Marilyn Monroe.

Monroe spent the next week at Rauh’s house with Olie Rauh, Joe’s wife. She bicycled around the neighborhood (wearing sunglasses and pedal pushers), sat at the Rauhs’ backyard pool, read books and followed the trial as closely as she could from afar. The neighbors had no idea that Monroe was still present, having assumed she had only briefly visited the Rauhs. In reality, Monroe and Miller had left the Rauh home and then returned for their extended stay.

On the last day of her week’s visit someone tipped an Evening Star reporter to Monroe’s presence and the lawn was soon full of representatives of the press. Monroe held a brief news conference. When asked what she thought of Washington, she said, ‘I love your city. I think it’s the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. I’ve never been here before.’ Soon after, Monroe and her husband, as scheduled, left for Union Station to catch a train to New York.”

John Bailey: Washington’s Marilyn Muralist

John Bailey, the artist behind the famous Marilyn mural in Washington D.C., has died, as John Kelly reports for the Washington Post. (The mural is based on a 1955 photo by Milton Greene, and was created in 1981.)

“John Bailey died last week in Richmond. He was responsible for one of Washington’s most famous paintings, even if you never knew it was he who painted it: the Marilyn Monroe mural in Woodley Park.

I mentioned the mural last week in my column about one of the men who commissioned it, hair stylist Roi Barnard. It was an odd but fitting coincidence that Bailey passed away at age 78 just as I was preparing the article for publication.

‘It was just so beautiful,’ Barnard said of his reaction the first time he saw Bailey’s mural, painted in 1981 on the side of the Connecticut Avenue NW salon Roi ran with his then-partner, Charles Stinson.

For Barnard, it was a literal dream come true: He had seen the mural in his sleep.

Bailey spent a year living in Barnard and Stinson’s house at 16th and Colorado NW. The artist used it as a base of operations while he painted the bottom of their swimming pool (another Marilyn) and worked on portraits.

Bailey was also a dancer and was married to the grande dame of dance in Virginia, Frances Wessells, who survives him.

‘He meshed photorealism with a painterly touch,’ [Robbie] Kinter said. ‘Even though he was a photorealist, he had a beautiful sense of design. I think he really saw beauty in things.’

Bailey’s Marilyn was one of the first murals in a city that has since become famous for them. Her lips are parted, her eyelids heavy. She fills the frame, an inscrutable memorial in this monumental town.

‘He made a beautiful, physical mark on this city that has nothing to do with politics. And not everyone can say that,’ said Nancy Tartt, who met Bailey when she studied dance at George Washington University.”

Roi Barnard Reveals Story Behind Marilyn Mural

This Marilyn mural, in the Woodley Park district of Washington D.C., was commissioned almost 40 years ago by a local hairdresser. Roi Barnard, former owner of Salon Roi (and author of a new memoir) has shared the story behind this much-loved local landmark with the Washington Post.

“What do you see when you look at Marilyn Monroe gazing down at the corner of Connecticut and Calvert streets NW? A beautiful woman? A movie star? An icon?

Roi Barnard sees himself.

‘When I saw Marilyn for the first time on screen, I just went, Whoa, you’re not happy either,’ said Roi, the District hairdresser who helped commission the famed mural in 1981. ‘And I saw it in her eyes.’

‘My love affair with Marilyn started when I was 12,’ said Roi as he gently, but firmly, tilted my head to the left. ‘Her star was just beginning to rise. I forget which movie I saw first, but I saw her, and I saw in her eyes, my eyes. We had sad eyes. No matter how happy she was, I knew she was sad. And I related to that.’

Roi doesn’t seem sad now, at age 81. It wasn’t always that way.

‘I was a sissy little boy,’ Roi said. That was not an easy thing to be where he grew up: in tiny Poplar Branch, N.C., a place of dirt roads and outhouses … Roi came out of the closet in the 1960s, determined to be honest about his sexuality. He became a model, changing his name from ‘Roy’ to the more memorable ‘Roi.’ He learned to cut hair and worked as a hairdresser at the Washington Hilton. In 1969, he and Charles Stinson — his business partner and onetime romantic partner — opened a salon together.

In 1981, Charles commissioned artist John Bailey to paint the Marilyn mural. It’s become a landmark, even if most passersby don’t know how personal the image is to Roi.

‘She carried me through a very troubling part of my life,’ Roi said. ‘I would just go see her movies or read about her. I connected with her.’ Putting Marilyn on the wall wasn’t advertising, Roi said. It was homage.”

Marilyn’s Washington Mural Reigns Supreme

One of the best-known, and long-lived Marilyn murals – now 37 years old – is profiled on DC Curbed.

“On the upper outside wall of Salon Roi, passersby can find a massive mural of pop culture icon Marilyn Monroe. The work was completed in 1981 by John Bailey. It was later restored in 2001 after the artwork faded over the years. New lights were also installed. In 2014Washington City Paper’s Reader’s Poll named this piece one of the the best murals in the city.”

‘Unremarkable Death’ in Port Townsend

British author Elton Townend-Jones’ play, The Unremarkable Death of Marilyn Monroe, has been touring the UK since 2013, and the script was recently published by Samuel French. It makes its US debut this weekend, as a one-woman show starring Rosaletta Curry at the Chameleon Theatre in Port Townsend, Washington, reports PT Leader.

Tickets are $15 or $10 for students, available at the door or through brownpapertickets.com. But hurry – the final performance is tonight!

“Curry found the script quite by chance in a London bookshop. She sat down and read it all the way through, drawn to Monroe’s utter vulnerability and openness and humor and just blunt honesty in the play.

‘What’s really interesting is it’s a very surprising play. It surprised me when I first read it and I think it will surprise the audience,’ said Curry. ‘There are not that many solo plays written, and it’s hard to find one you can relate to.’

Luckily for Curry, 23, a recent graduate of Drama Centre London’s year-long program, the rights for the play were available for the U.S., and a visit home to Jefferson County provided the opportunity to produce the play.

The play takes place in Monroe’s bedroom, created in the intimate space of Chameleon Theater, which has just 32 seats.

‘It takes place the hour before her death,’ said Curry. ‘She basically revisits her whole life … The audience is very much a part of this show,’ explained Curry. ‘It’s very, very immersive. They don’t do anything, but they are very much a character. They’re present and she speaks to them directly throughout the play, and she’s aware of them throughout the play.’

‘Something I found incredibly useful was going directly to the source if I could, and there’s this incredible book called Fragments that just has her notes, her poems, her notes and photographs, and that’s all it has. So it’s her written journal and it doesn’t have anyone else’s ideas about what she was like. It’s just her talking about herself or her experiences on paper.

‘As an actor, that helped me connect with not only how she perceived herself but also just how she sees the world, her thought patterns. Just even the way she scrawled things upside down – and this connects with how a character sees the world.'”

Halsman’s Marilyn at the Smithsonian

Philippe Halsman’s most iconic photo of Marilyn – chosen for her first Life magazine cover in 1952 – has won a Smithsonian Magazine readers’ poll, and will be displayed in the National Portrait Gallery, Washington, from January-March 2016.

“A portrait of Marilyn Monroe will be installed in the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery’s ‘Recognize’ space, Jan. 22, 2016. The museum’s historians and curators selected three actresses’ portraits for voters to choose from—Rita Hayworth, Marilyn Monroe and Mae West—three fan favorites who, despite long acting careers, never received Oscar nominations.

Thousands of votes were cast on Smithsonianmag.com, and Monroe’s portrait received the most votes. Philippe Halsman’s photograph of her will be on view on the ‘Recognize’ wall, near the north entrance of the museum, through March 6, 2016.

Last year, the Portrait Gallery created ‘Recognize’ as an opportunity for people to select what they would like to see on display. Twice a year, the museum presents three portraits, and the public votes for their favorite. In the last round of ‘Recognize,’ voters elected to display a portrait of the baseball Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente by Charles ‘Teenie’ Harris.”

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