Pepitone Estate Criticises Marilyn Play


Following the recent premiere of Marilee and Baby Lamb Mark Medoff’s play about Marilyn’s relationship with her maid, Lena Pepitone – the Las Cruces Sun-News reports that Pepitone’s estate (who are planning a separate movie) have claimed that the play was staged without their approval.

“The play, which ran at the Rio Grande Theatre Oct. 13 through 18, was produced by Mark Medoff and Dennis D’Amico. It is based on videotaped interviews that D’Amico conducted with Pepitone.

Denis Bieber, president of Bieber Entertainment Enterprises in Los Angeles, is currently producing a film, titled Marilyn and Lena, which tells the story of the last six years of Monroe’s life through Pepitone’s eyes.

‘It’s really the story of a diva who wanted to be loved, and a friend who wanted to be a diva,’ Bieber told the Sun-News last week. ‘It was written by Frank Yandolino. In order to get the rights properly cleared, I contacted Joey and John Pepitone, Lena’s sons and heirs, and acquired the exclusive rights to Lena’s story. We entered into a legally binding agreement, and I felt very comfortable.’

‘Everything was set, and all of a sudden I received a copy of the script of Marilee and Baby Lamb, which had been shopped around in New York for investors. I nearly fell off my chair,’ Bieber said.

Bieber said he contacted his attorney, and requested a cease and desist letter be sent to Medoff and D’Amico.

According to Bieber, an investor for the film project began to get cold feet after learning about the production of Marilee and Baby Lamb.

Bieber said he will meet with the screenwriters guild in November to determine his next steps and will continue to explore his options.

‘In 2007, Dennis D’Amico approached my mom and interviewed her on video, pertaining to her life with Marilyn,’ Joe Pepitone told the Sun-News last week. ‘With her permission at the time, he interviewed her several times. Upon her death, whatever agreement they had at the time ceased to exist.’

Pepitone said D’Amico announced at his mother’s wake that he was going to make a movie to tell Lena Pepitone’s story.

‘My brother and I told him then that he didn’t have an agreement in place, and asked him not to,’ Pepitone said. ‘To our surprise, he later announced publicly on the internet his intentions to go forward with the project. My brother and I have an agreement in place with Denis Bieber.’

‘We are denying all accusations, allegations and implications,’ D’Amico said. ‘Our play honors Lena Pepitone, who I knew and interviewed. Marilee and Baby Lamb is based on my interviews with Lena, which I retain the rights to. We’ve conferred with counsel, and future statements and actions are forthcoming.'”

This is not the first time a Pepitone project has faced controversy. Her 1980 memoir, Marilyn Monroe Confidential – ghost-written by William Stadiem – has been criticised by fans. ‘The biggest reason to doubt Pepitone’s account is the fact that her English is very poor,’ the well-known collector Melinda Mason wrote on her website. ‘I doubt very much that communication between herself and Marilyn is the way is appears in the book. I met Lena in 2005 and I could barely understand anything she said.’

After Pepitone died in 2011, her nephew, Stephen Cateneo, told the New York Daily News that he believed his aunt’s recollections of Monroe were distorted to sell books.

Marilyn, Pharrell and ‘Mr S’ Movie Plans

jacobs mr s

In her latest column for the Chicago TribuneLiz Smith suggests that Mr S: My Life With Frank Sinatra – George Jacobs’ 2003 memoir – may be adapted for the big screen. Jacobs, who was Sinatra’s valet for 15 years, died late last year. Rumour has it that Pharrell Williams – whose latest hit is called ‘Marilyn Monroe’ – hopes to star.

Personally, I found Mr S rather overblown and trashy, so I don’t hold out much hope for this project – although it might be interesting to see a different view of Sinatra’s world. However, Liz – who has been documenting the show-business scene for over half a century – thinks otherwise…

“Well, there’s going to be plenty of Sinatra-style ring-a-ding-ding if plans to film Mr. S: My Life with Frank Sinatra come to fruition. You remember Mr. S. It was the memoir of Frank Sinatra’s longtime valet George Jacobs. The book, published in 2003 is wildly entertaining. Perhaps too wild.

It was co-written by William Stadiem, the man who gave us Marilyn Monroe Confidential, which purports to be the memoirs of Lena Pepitone, Monroe’s Manhattan maid. It, too, is pretty wild. Several years after the book had become accepted as fact, Ms. Pepitone, whose relationship with the English language was not expert, admitted that the whole thing was ‘made up.’

But I have to say, Mr. S has always had the ring-a-ding-ding of truth, to me. The tantrums, jealousies, hookers, spontaneous generosity, obsessive love for Ava Gardner, his protective attitude toward Marilyn Monroe — all fell within what I knew about Frank, at least in his younger days. (By the time I met Mr. S, he had mellowed considerably.) After 15 years with Sinatra, the savvy, observant Jacobs was canned after he took Frank’s then-wife, Mia Farrow, out dancing at the legendary Candy Store discotheque.

Several years ago, Chris Rock was attached to the project, but that fell through. Now — so grinds the rumor mill — it is the hot singer Pharrell Williams who wants to portray George Jacobs! Pharrell is said to be a major Sinatra fan, and his signature over-size hats are a nod, some say, to Frank’s famous fedoras.

And Pharrell’s latest single is titled ‘Marilyn Monroe,’ a song that pays homage to Miss M. and other alluring ladies. If the movie happens, how about Scarlett Johansson as Monroe? — well, after Scarlett gives birth, naturally. (One of Jacobs’ most colorful memories of Monroe was when she would model high heels for him. She was always looking for the shoe that would make her legs look longer. What made these modeling sessions memorable, according to Jacobs, is that she modeled the heels in the nude.)

Speaking of Ava, good luck on casting that incredible beauty.

BUT, who would play the pivotal role of Mr. S? Chris Pine, perhaps best known for Star Trek, is said to be wanted. (I know, I know — why not George Clooney? But Jacobs’ book centers on the 1950s and ’60s. Clooney is just a shade too mature.)

Right now, this is simply chatter from the innards of Warner Bros. who own the rights to Mr. S. Of course, the still-protective Sinatra family will likely chime in.

That ring-a-ding-ding might not be terribly melodious.”

George Jacobs, Sinatra’s Valet, Has Died

George Jacobs, who served as valet to Frank Sinatra for 15 years, died of natural causes on December 28th, 2013, at his home in Coachella Valley, reports the Los Angeles Times. He was 87.

His 2003 book, Mr S: The Last Word on Frank Sinatra (aka My Life With Frank Sinatra), featured memories from his years with the superstar and his circle, including Marilyn Monroe. Jacobs mentioned that he was Marilyn’s neighbour for a few months in 1961, when she was living at North Doheny Drive in Los Angeles.

Mr S was ghostwritten by William Stadiem, who also wrote Marilyn Monroe Confidential, the 1980 memoir of Marilyn’s former New York maid, Lena Pepitone. The depiction of Marilyn in Mr S – as promiscuous, and unkempt – is very similar to Stadiem’s earlier book, which some fans felt was a distortion of the truth.

What comes across in Mr S is how boorish Sinatra and his ‘Rat Pack’ could be. Jacobs claimed that Marilyn was nicknamed ‘The Girl Who Couldn’t Say No,’ although I’ve never heard this mentioned elsewhere. Nonetheless, it’s difficult not to conclude that this fast-living, womanising scene wasn’t ideal for the more sensitive Marilyn.

Jacobs’ association with Sinatra reportedly ended in 1968, after the singer found his valet dancing with Sinatra’s ex-wife, Mia Farrow, in a nightclub, and flew into a jealous rage.  As with other former friends who had displeased him, Sinatra cut Jacobs off completely. ‘I had lost my best friend, my idol, my boss,’ Jacobs said.

After the book was published, Frank Sinatra Jr denounced it as a ‘character assassination.’ However, Jacobs insisted that he was devoted to his ex-boss, visiting Sinatra’s grave every year.

Lena Pepitone Has Died

Lena Pepitone, former maid to Marilyn Monroe, has died. Born in Italy, Lena emigrated to the US and married Joseph Pepitone in 1950. They had two sons and were together until Joe died in 1993.

In 1957, Lena was hired by May Reis, Marilyn’s secretary, to work in Marilyn’s Manhattan apartment. She stayed until Marilyn’s death in 1962.

In 1979, Pepitone published Marilyn Monroe Confidential, ghostwritten by author William Stadiem. The book has proved controversial, and some fans doubt its accuracy – but it does offer a rare glimpse into Monroe’s rather lonely daily life during her marriage to Arthur Miller.

The news of Mrs Pepitone’s recent death has been reported in the New York Post, Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and on (where, curiously, it is stated that she died in December 2010.)

Lena’s nephew, Stephen Cataneo, spoke to the New York Daily News:

‘She collaborated on the 1979 book Marilyn Monroe Confidential, which detailed how a self-absorbed Monroe loved to wear her mink coats without underwear.

When depressed, Monroe would sit alone in her bed while gnawing on lamb chops, the book said – and her poor hygiene often included days without bathing.

But Cataneo said his aunt’s recollections of Monroe were distorted to sell books.

‘Nobody wants to read that Marilyn was a great person,’ Cataneo said. ‘My aunt knew that, because she spent every day and night with her. My aunt truly loved Marilyn.'”