Marilyn in Vancouver

On July 27th, 1953 – exactly sixty years ago – Marilyn Monroe came to Vancouver. This anniversary is marked by John Mackie in today’s Vancouver Sun.

“Marilyn Monroe stopped off in Vancouver 60 years ago en route to Jasper, where she was to film River of No Return. She spent five hours in the city before departing on a Canadian National train, and caused quite a stir.

Vancouver Sun columnist Jack Wasserman met her in Seattle and spent eight hours ‘interviewing, protecting and just looking’ at the screen goddess he dubbed ’20th Century Fox’s contribution to culture.’

‘She is a sweet, unaffected, smooth-talking, sloe-eyed American girl with a 37-inch bust and a sense of humour,’ Wasserman wrote. ‘During the time (in Vancouver) she signed hundreds of autographs, posed for 373 amateur and professional photographers, was interviewed by 32 newspapermen (11 of whom had actually been assigned to the story), strutted her stuff on the tarmac at Vancouver International Airport and went on a sightseeing tour of Stanley Park and the Capilano Indian reserve.’ Wasserman found her witty and forthright.

‘I’m a 37-inch bust, 23 waist and 34 hips,’ she said. ‘My upper hips are 34. Where they measure 37 really isn’t the hips at all. I’m really my own self, from tip to toe. No, I take that back; I tint my hair.’ Wasserman wasn’t the only media type to spend time with Marilyn.

There is a photo of the dashing local photographer Ray Munro escorting Monroe into the Hotel Vancouver, and the Province’s Norm Sedawie wrote a story about chauffeuring her around Stanley Park and the Capilano reserve in a convertible. Chief Joe Matthias jogged up to the car to greet her. ‘You’re that Hollywood woman, ain’t you?’ he asked Monroe.

‘She said yes in that low, breathless voice she almost always uses,’ wrote Sedawie. ‘He shook her hand all the way up the elbow, then scampered off to find some feathered garments with which to accommodate our photographer.’ That would be Harry Cantlon, whose photo of Marilyn and Matthias is still in The Sun and Province archives. Alas, the rest of the photos that ran in the papers that day have vanished, including a fabulous front-page shot by The Sun’s Dave Buchan of Marilyn posing in front of a United Airlines plane at the airport.

A similar photo by the Province’s Bill Cunningham is in the Vancouver Public Library collection, however. Oddly, the Cunningham shot doesn’t seem to have run in the Province – the editors chose to run four other photos.”


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