Hugh Hefner 1926-2017

Hugh Hefner, founder of Playboy magazine, has died aged 91.

In 1953, he acquired Tom Kelley’s nude calendar shot of Marilyn for the magazine’s first issue, also putting her on the cover. (You can read the full story here.) ‘She was actually in my brother’s acting class in New York,’ he told CNN. ‘But the reality is that I never met her. I talked to her once on the phone, but I never met her. She was gone, sadly, before I came out here.’

In 1960, Playboy published another laudatory feature headlined ‘The Magnificent Marilyn.’ If Marilyn sometimes resented others profiteering from her nude calendar – for which she had earned a flat $50 back in 1949 – by 1962 she was considering posing for Playboy‘s Christmas issue (although some sources indicate she changed her mind.)

Lawrence Schiller’s poolside nudes, taken during filming of the unfinished Something’s Got to Give, were published by Playboy in 1964, two years after Marilyn’s death.

The women’s rights campaigner Gloria Steinem, who would later write a biography of Marilyn, went ‘undercover’ as a Bunny Girl in a Playboy club for a magazine assignment durging the 1960s, and found the experience degrading – an opinion echoed by feminists today, as the BBC reports. Cultural historian Camille Paglia takes a different view, citing Hefner as ‘one of the principal architects of the social revolution.’

Marilyn has made many posthumous appearances on Playboy covers through the years. The magazine has also revealed rare and unseen images, such as Jon Whitcomb’s 1958 painting of Marilyn (based on a photo by Carl Perutz), and illustrator Earl Moran’s photos of a young Marilyn.

Many distinguished authors have written about Marilyn for Playboy, including John Updike, Roger Ebert, and Joyce Carol Oates. More dubiously, the magazine also published detective John Miner’s contested transcripts of tapes allegedly made by Marilyn for her psychiatrist, Dr Ralph Greenson.

Since his death was announced earlier today, Twitter users and even some news websites have mistakenly posted a photo of Marilyn with Sir Laurence Olivier, confusing him with Hefner, as Mashable reports (a final absurdity that all three would probably have found hilarious.)

In 1992, Hefner reportedly purchased the crypt next to Marilyn’s in Westwood Memorial Park for $75,000. If he is buried there, it will either pave the way for extra security measures, or make Marilyn’s final resting place even more of a spectacle.

Revisiting Marilyn at Westwood

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In an article for Atlas Obscura, Oleg Alexandrov investigates the story behind Marilyn’s final resting place at Westwood Memorial Park in Los Angeles.

“After dying of a drug overdose in what was an apparent suicide on August 5, 1962, Marilyn Monroe was interred three days later at Westwood Village Memorial Cemetery. The funeral arrangements were handled by Joe DiMaggio …

Feeling some resentment toward the entertainment industry for Monroe’s demise, DiMaggio had no interest in making the funeral a Hollywood affair. Westwood was, at a the time, a quiet, out-of-the-way cemetery chosen because it was also the final resting place of Monroe’s childhood guardian, Grace Goddard, and her surrogate mother Ana Lower. The private service was restricted to a small group of the star’s closest friends and associates.

Ironically, thanks to the presence of Marilyn Monroe’s grave, Westwood has been a popular place for celebrity burials ever since …

For 20 years after her death, DiMaggio had red roses delivered to her simple grave three times a week. Today, it is regularly adorned with flowers, cards, letters, and other mementos left by the regular visitors it attracts.”

Galician Author’s ‘Niche For Marilyn’

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A Niche For Marilyn, a 2004 novel by Galician film historian Miguel Anxo Fernandez, has been published in English for the first time by Small Stations Press. Here’s a synopsis:

“Frank Soutelo is a down-at-heel private detective, the son of Galician immigrants, based in Los Angeles, California. He doesn’t get much choice in his assignments and has to take pretty much what’s on offer, so when he gets hired and paid an advance of twenty-five thousand dollars, he’s understandably pleased, and his secretary even more so. The unusual thing, however, is what he’s been asked to do: to recover the body of the actress Marilyn Monroe, which has reputedly gone missing from her grave in Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery. Big Frank, as he is known, is about to get drawn into a world that is unfamiliar to him: a world of necrophiliacs, zealous watchmen, uniformed chauffeurs and high-class mansions. The question is will he be able to extricate himself from this situation with his dignity and heart in one piece?”

Fernandez Nicho

It’s a short novel (142 pp), and not really about Marilyn herself so will only be of marginal interest to fans. Some may find the themes of body-snatching and necrophilia too morbid, so be warned. It is narrated by detective Frank Soutelo, who views Monroe compassionately albeit as something of a victim – both in life, and death.

Schreiner Collection Heads to Bendigo

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On the eve of the Bendigo Art Gallery’s ‘Twentieth Century Fox Presents Marilyn Monroe’ grand opening (March 5), Greg Schreiner talks to ABC Australia about his enduring love for Marilyn.

“Greg Schreiner first began collecting Marilyn Monroe memorabilia as a child when he fell in love with the actress.

‘I’ve never gotten over that, and in my opinion she was the world’s greatest Hollywood movie star,’ he said.

But it was not until he moved to Los Angeles in 1979 that he started getting serious about his collection, when items were available at reasonable prices.

‘I bought up whatever I could,’ he said.

He now has one of the largest collections of Marilyn Monroe memorabilia in the world.

His collection includes furniture, autographs, bank cheques, costume sketches and gowns, of which 12 are on display in the exhibition.

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The item that started it all was Mr Schreiner’s first purchase he bought at auction — a red dress Monroe wore to the premiere of the film, Monkey Business.

‘It just totally changed my life,’ Mr Schreiner said.

‘After I owned that item I couldn’t stop buying, so I continued and continued and continued until the point I couldn’t afford Marilyn.’

Mr Schreiner’s adoration of the actress doesn’t just end in his collection; he is also the president and founding member of the long-running fan club — Marilyn Remembered.

Since 1982 he has arranged and facilitated an annual Marilyn Monroe memorial service held at Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery, the site of the actress’s crypt.

As president of the fan club he has been lucky to meet many people who knew the actress.

‘I feel like even though I never actually knew her in person I know her anyway, through all these people and their stories,’ Mr Schreiner said.”

Call for Respect at Marilyn’s Crypt

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In recent years, some fans have begun leaving lipstick marks on Marilyn’s crypt at Westwood Memorial Park, Los Angeles. This practice has caused unsightly staining to her final resting place. Over the Christmas period, one visitor actually signed her name on the crypt in pen, and floral tributes have also disappeared. After discussing the issue with Greg Schreiner and Scott Fortner of Marilyn Remembered (the LA-based fanclub who organise the annual memorial service for MM), the staff at Westwood have decided to install a sign near Marilyn’s crypt, as a reminder that the area is under constant video surveillance. So if you’re lucky enough to have the chance to visit Westwood and pay your respects to Marilyn, please remember that she was a very private person – and do show her all the consideration you would wish for yourselves.

2015: A Year in Marilyn Headlines

10888615_10152588248917584_8987576087019859357_nIn January, Marilyn was named as the ‘new face’ of Max Factor cosmetics. Also this month, Joe Franklin (Marilyn’s first biographer) and Anita Ekberg, a fellow blonde bombshell of the fifties, both passed away.

In February, New York Fashion Week included a Fall 2015 collection from Max Mara, inspired by Marilyn’s 1960s style. A hologram of multiple Marilyns appeared in the Oscars opening ceremony. Also this month, Richard Meryman – the last person to interview Marilyn – passed away.

adf8341a9d7c6e436611f9b166316971In March, Marilyn was featured in a vintage-inspired ad campaign for Coca Cola. In book news, the long-awaited first volume of Holding A Good Thought For Marilyn, a two-part biography by Stacy Eubank, was published.

eubankMarilyn Forever, an opera by Gavin Bryars, had its US premiere. And Marilyn: The Strength Behind the Legendary Monroe, showcasing the collection of Ted Stampfer, opened in Liechtenstein.

In April, a viral hoax news story, claiming that a CIA agent had made a deathbed confession to Marilyn’s murder, was debunked. Plans for a monument to Marilyn in South Korea were announced. And in book news, Fan Phenomena: Marilyn Monroe, edited by Marcelline Block, was published.

fan phenomIn May, Dr Cyril Wecht – one of the world’s most renowned forensic pathologists – gave an interview to Immortal Marilyn’s Marijane Gray, laying to rest some of the many myths about Marilyn’s death. Marilyn was the subject of two controversial TV shows: Autopsy – The Last Hours of Marilyn Monroe, a documentary; and The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe, a mini-series based on J. Randy Taraborrelli’s biography, starring Kelli Garner.

bfi monroe_season_posterOn June 1 – Marilyn’s 89th birthday – the British Film Institute launched a month-long retrospective of Marilyn’s movies, and a nationwide reissue of The Misfits. Menswear designer Dries Van Noten used iconic images of Marilyn in his Spring 2016 collection. A benefit performance of Bombshell (the Marilyn-inspired musical subject of TV’s Smash) spurred plans for a full Broadway run. And Marilyn Monroe: Missing Moments, a summer-long exhibit, opened at the Hollywood Museum.

jpegOn June 29, Julien’s Auctions held a Hollywood Legends sale dedicated to Marilyn, and her floral dress from Something’s Got to Give sold for over $300,000. Sadly, it was also reported that the ‘Dougherty House’ in North Hollywood, where Marilyn lived from 1944-45, has been demolished – despite protests from local residents. And George Winslow, the former child actor who appeared in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, passed away.

hollywood-legends-catalogIn July, Before Marilyn: The Blue Book Modelling Years, a new book by Michelle Morgan, was published. Limited Runs launched the Red Velvet Collection, a US touring exhibition featuring Tom Kelley’s famous nude calendar shots of Marilyn, as well as rare photos by Gene Lester. In Los Angeles, the Andrew Weiss Gallery launched their own exhibition, Marilyn: The Making of a Legend, and published a catalogue, 17 Years.

morgan before marilyn

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In August, the Marilyn Remembered fan club’s annual memorial service was held at Westwood Memorial Park, marking the 53rd anniversary of Marilyn’s death. It was reported that hip hop producer Timbaland would sample ‘Down Boy’, a ‘lost’ song recorded by Marilyn for Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. And the Daily Express published rare photos of a young Marilyn in Salinas.

In September, a large number of rare candid shots of Marilyn were auctioned by Profiles in History. A new exhibition, Becoming Jewish: Warhol’s Liz and Marilyn, opened in New York. And Norman Farberow, the psychologist who contributed to the first official report on Marilyn’s death in 1962 , passed away.

wills marilyn in the flashIn October, Marilyn – in the Flash, David Wills’ stunning sequel to MM: Metamorphosis, was published. Members of Everlasting Star discovered rare photos of an early public appearance by Marilyn at the Hollywood Legion Stadium in 1947. October also marked Arthur Miller’s centenary, and the death of movie legend Maureen O’Hara.

In November, Marilyn’s blue gabardine suit from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes was sold at Bonham’s for $425,000. Congressman Tony Cardenas introduced a bill to rename a Van Nuys post office after Marilyn. Cartier unveiled a new ad, featuring a diamond-themed homage to Marilyn. And the Writers’ Guild of America voted Some Like it Hot as the second funniest screenplay of all time.

And finally … in December, Marilyn-related items from the collection of Dame Joan Collins were sold at Julien’s Auctions, and Ferragamo launched a capsule collection featuring a Marilyn-inspired shoe. Over in Toronto, the TIFF Cinematheque launched a season of movies starring Marilyn and her greatest Hollywood rival, Elizabeth Taylor.

Marilyn Remembered in 2014

Photo by George Barris, 1962; graphic by Ashlee Davis for Immortal Marilyn
Photo by George Barris, 1962; graphic by Ashlee Davis for Immortal Marilyn

Fans gathered in Los Angeles yesterday to mark the 52nd anniversary of her death, NBC reports. This year’s memorial service – hosted by Marilyn Remembered and featuring guest speakers such Kathleen Hughes (actress and widow of producer Stanley Rubin); singer and impersonator Jimmy James; dancer and choreographer George Chakiris; and Jimmie Morrissey (introduced as a former hairdresser to MM) – was streamed live and can be watched again here.

Photo by Jackie Craig
Photo by Jackie Craig