Exploring the Monroe Songbook


Ahead of her performance at Feinstein’s in New York, jazz vocalist Rebecca Kilgore talks to Simply Showbiz about the challenges of singing standards made famous by Marilyn Monroe:

“I love [MM’s] languid, understated approach. Because, myself, I don’t have a big, belting kind of voice—so that softness has an appeal to me.”

Over at the New York Times is a re-evaluation of Marilyn’s singing career, including an interview with her pianist and arranger, Hal Schaefer:

“If you hear the record now, there’s no baloney about it. She’s a real singer with a big band in a studio, not some movie star they’re trying to pass off as a singer.”

Marilyn Biopic at New York Film Festival

My Week With Marilyn, the new movie starring Michelle Williams (focussing on the filming of The Prince and the Showgirl in England, 1956) will be screened as the ‘centrepiece gala’ of the New York Film Festival on October 9.

Director Simon Curtis says: “Michelle and I watched and read everything… For someone whom the world lost in 1962, it’s incredible how much of (MM) is still around. They gave Michelle the dressing room that Monroe had used. We were in Marilyn’s footsteps… Michelle Williams is the greatest actress of her generation.”

Ms. Magazine Cover Essay Contest

Ms. Magazine, co-founded by the American feminist author, Gloria Steinem, celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. Marilyn graced their cover in August 1972, ten years after her death. Steinem’s essay, ‘The Woman Who Died Too Soon’, would later form the basis of a full-length book, Marilyn: Norma Jeane. (Her introduction was entitled ‘The Woman Who Will Not Die’.)

In conjunction with Ms., Stanford University invite you to write a 150-word essay on how one of their covers inspired you. More details here

Secrets of the FBI

Marilyn photographed by Allan Grant in July 1962

Secrets of the FBI is a new book by the conservative author Ronald Kessler, and it includes material on Marilyn’s alleged meetings with Robert F. Kennedy.

I’m not clear whether this is based on known or unseen files, but FBI material on MM tends to be highly speculative.

Here’s an extract from an article by Kessler, writing for The Daily Beast:

“Many of the confidential files were destroyed after Hoover’s death. One such item that never came out previously was a teletype sent to headquarters from William Simon, who headed the Los Angeles field office, just after the August 5, 1962, death of Marilyn Monroe at her Brentwood, California home. According to Cartha ‘Deke’  DeLoach, who saw the teletype, it said that then Attorney General Robert Kennedy had borrowed Simon’s personal car to see Monroe just before her death.

Confirming this, Simon’s son Greg says, “My father said Robert Kennedy would borrow his white Lincoln convertible. That’s why we didn’t have it on many weekends.” Simon’s daughter Stephanie Branon also confirmed that her father lent his car to Kennedy and remembered that the attorney general once left his Ray-Ban sunglasses in the glove compartment.

As attorney general, Kennedy was entitled to be driven by an FBI security detail. The fact that he chose to use Simon’s personal car is consistent with William Simon’s report to headquarters that he lent his car to Kennedy for the purpose of clandestine meetings with Monroe. Whether his last meeting with her, possibly to break up with her, may have contributed to her suicide is legitimate speculation.”

‘Joan’s Show’ on 42nd Street

Actress Joan Copeland, 83, is the sister of Arthur Miller. Marilyn is photographed with Joan, above, at the 1957 opening of Noel Coward’s Conversation Piece.

Joan’s Show, a solo performance featuring reminiscences about her famous family and highlights from her long career, will be staged at the Acorn Theatre, 42nd St, New York, on August 15 (at 7 pm) and August 18 (at 2 pm.)

Copeland began her career on Broadway, and has appeared on television and in films including The Private Lives of Pippa Lee (2009), written and directed by her niece, Rebecca Miller.

In 1958, Joan appeared in The Goddess, a bleak melodrama believed to have been based on Marilyn’s life. Monroe had previously rejected another movie project by its author, Paddy Chayevsky.

Trans Film Night in Toronto

Some Like it Hot gets a free screening at the Centre for Women and Trans People, Toronto, on August 22 at 6.30 pm. All welcome.

“Let’s revisit this film to see what it has to say about gender. Or, just come have fun. Let’s explore how the film speaks to poverty, kink, notions of play, disguise versus transformation, problems of sexual difference, subversion, parody, censorship, stereotypes, white appropriation of jazz music and the entire history of cross-dressing on screen. Or, just come have fun. Come dressed in your best “Marilyn”. Or, just come have fun. In the heat of August we offer a social, low-pressure and casual evening.”