2016: A Year In Marilyn Headlines

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In January, exhibitions featuring Milton Greene and Douglas Kirkland’s photographs of Marilyn opened in London and Amsterdam. In New York, the Museum of Modern Art paid tribute to Marilyn’s choreographer, Jack Cole. Also this month, James Turiello’s book, Marilyn: The Quest for an Oscar, was published. And Edward Parone, assistant producer of The Misfits, died.

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In February, Marilyn ‘starred’ with Willem Dafoe in a Snickers commercial for the US Superbowl. Monroe Sixer Jimmy Collins’ candid photographs were sold at Heritage Auctions, and the touring exhibition, Marilyn: Celebrating an American Icon, came to Albury, Australia.

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Another major Australian exhibition, Twentieth Century Fox Presents Marilyn Monroe, featuring the collections of Debbie ReynoldsScott Fortner, Greg Schreiner and Maite Minguez Ricart – opened at the Bendigo Art Gallery in March. And Barbara Sichtermann’s book, Marilyn Monroe: Myth and Muse, was published in Germany.

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In April, a special edition of Vanity Fair magazine – dedicated to MM – was published. A campaign to save Rockhaven, the former women’s sanitarium where Marilyn’s mother Gladys once lived – was launched. And actress Anne Jackson – wife of Eli Wallach, and friend to Marilyn – passed away.

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In May, Marilyn graced the cover of a Life magazine special about ‘hidden Hollywood’, and Sebastien Cauchon’s novel, Marilyn 1962, was published in France. Cabaret singer Marissa Mulder’s one-woman show, Marilyn in Fragments, opened in New York, while Chinese artist Chen Ke unveiled Dream-Dew, a series of paintings inspired by Marilyn’s life story. The remarkable collection of David Gainsborough Roberts was displayed in London. Finally, Alan Young – the comedian and Mister Ed star, who befriended a young Marilyn – died.

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June 1st marked what would be Marilyn’s 90th birthday. Also in June, New Yorkers were treated to an Andre de Dienes retrospective, Marilyn and the California Girls. An exhibition of the Ted Stampfer collection, Marilyn Monroe: The Woman Behind the Myth, opened in Turin, Italy. A new documentary, Artists in Love: Arthur Miller and Marilyn Monroe, was broadcast in the UK, while Australia honoured Marilyn with a commemorative stamp folder, and genealogists investigated Marilyn’s Scottish ancestry.

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In July, the birthday celebrations continued in Marilyn’s Los Angeles hometown with tributes from painter David Bromley, and another Greene exhibition. A new musical, Marilyn!, opened in Glendale. Rapper Frank Ocean appeared alongside a Monroe impersonator in a Calvin Klein commercial. And Marni Nixon, the Hollywood soprano who sang the opening bars of ‘Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend’, passed away.

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August 5th marked the 54th anniversary of Marilyn’s death. Also this month, it was announced that Seward Johnson’s ‘Forever Marilyn’ sculpture may return permanently to Palm Springs. April VeVea’s Marilyn Monroe: A Day in the Life was published, and Marilyn’s role in Niagara was featured in another Life magazine special, celebrating 75 years of film noir.

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In September, Marilyn: Character Not Image – an exhibition curated by Whoopi Goldberg – opened in New Jersey. Terry Johnson’s fantasy play, Insignificance, was revived in Wales. Two locks of Marilyn’s hair were sold by Julien’s Auctions for $70,000. And author Michelle Morgan published The Marilyn Journal, first in a series of books chronicling the Marilyn Lives Society; and A Girl Called Pearl, a novel for children with a Monroe connection.

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In October, Happy Birthday Marilyn – a touring showcase for the collection of Ted Stampfer – came to Amsterdam, while Marilyn: I Wanna Be Loved By You, a retrospective for some of her best photographers, opened in France. Marilyn Forever, Boze Hadleigh’s book of quotes, was published. Marilyn’s friendship with Ella Fitzgerald was depicted on the cult TV show, Drunk History. And on a sadder note, photographer George Barris, biographer John Gilmore, and William Morris agent Norman Brokaw all passed away this month.

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In November, Marilyn’s ‘Happy Birthday Mr President‘ dress was sold for a record-breaking $4.8 million during a three-day sale at Julien’s Auctions, featuring items from the David Gainsborough Roberts collection, the Lee Strasberg estate, and many others including the candid photos of Monroe Sixer Frieda Hull. Also this month, comedienne Rachel Bloom spoofed ‘Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend’ in a musical sequence for her TV sitcom, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. And Marilyn Monroe: Lost Photo Collection, a limited edition book featuring images by Milton Greene, Gene Lester and Allan ‘Whitey’ Snyder, was published.

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Advertisers Take Marilyn to the Superbowl

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Following the Snickers ad featuring Marilyn and Willem Dafoe, last night’s Superbowl included two further references to MM. The first was a coda to the Snickers ad, with Eugene Levy playing the ‘fan guy’, reports Adweek. (And if you’re wondering how Marilyn made it into the original clip, Bustle has some suggestions.)

“‘You wouldn’t have Hollywood history without the fan guy,’ Levy said in a statement. ‘It was an honor to portray one of Tinsel Town’s forgotten heroes. Marilyn Monroe might’ve been looking down at him, but every guy in America was looking up to that stage hand.'”

Meanwhile, Alfred Eisenstadt’s 1953 portrait of Marilyn – representing beauty – appeared in another Superbowl commercial for Fiat Chrysler’s Jeep brand, AdAge reports. This is not a first – footage of Marilyn was used in Bob Dylan’s Chrysler ad for the Superbowl back in 2014.

“‘Portraits,” which aired during the halftime show, looks backwards, weaving in references to Jeep’s 1941 roots as a military vehicle created for Allied soldiers in World War II. The spot uses 60 images from around the world, including photos of famous people who have links to Jeep … Ms. Monroe — who also starred posthumously in a Snickers Super Bowl ad this year — is connected to Jeep via a honeymoon trip she took to Korea with Joe DiMaggio in the wake of the Korean War.”

Marilyn Returns in Snickers Superbowl Ad

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After last week’s ‘Happy Birthday Mr President’ teaser, comes the real thing: Marilyn recreates the ‘subway scene’ from The Seven Year Itch, with a little help from Snickers (and Willem Dafoe.) The commercial was made for this weekend’s Superbowl, reports Adweek, and you can watch it now on Youtube.

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“‘I have to admit playing a Hollywood bombshell is a new challenge for me,’ Dafoe said in a statement. ‘But as a huge fan of Marilyn Monroe, I just couldn’t resist the opportunity to take a walk in her shoes and famous white dress.’

Snickers brand director Allison Miazga-Bedrick added: ‘It doesn’t get much bigger—or better—than combining one of the most legendary moments in movie history from the iconic Marilyn Monroe with some modern day icons of our own.'”

Marilyn’s ‘Happy Birthday’ Spoof at Superbowl

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Marilyn’s iconic performance of ‘Happy Birthday Mr President’ – at the 1962 Madison Square Garden gala honouring John F. Kennedy – has been parodied in a new Snickers ad marking the Superbowl’s upcoming 50th anniversary, reports Adweek. A grouchy ‘Marilyn’ is played here by actor Willem Dafoe. Incidentally, it’s not the first time MM has been referenced at the Superbowl. Back in 2014, footage of Marilyn was used in a Chrysler ad featuring Bob Dylan.

“She’s America’s original sweetheart. But when she’s hungry, Marilyn Monroe takes a turn for the worse. That’s according to Snickers’ new Super Bowl ad teaser, in which she reprises her iconic ‘Happy Birthday’ serenade—to celebrate the Super Bowl’s 50th birthday—but with quite the husky vocal.

‘Since we’re kicking-off the 50th celebration of one of the world’s most iconic events, it seemed only fitting to cast Marilyn Monroe, a Hollywood icon with global appeal, to help us celebrate’, says Snickers brand director Allison Miazga-Bedrick. ‘But this is just a small glimpse of what America should expect from Snickers on Super Bowl Sunday. As always, the ad will feature a funny surprise that we’re confident will satisfy fans hungry for a laugh.’

Snickers confirmed the Super Bowl spot continues the brand’s ‘You’re Not You When You’re Hungry’ positioning, which launched with the Betty White spot on the 2010 Super Bowl. The 30-second spot, from BBDO New York, will air in the first quarter of the Feb. 7 telecast.”