Sight & Sound: Marilyn’s Method

Accompanying the ‘Birth of the Method‘ season at London’s BFI – including a screening of Bus Stop in November – the current issue of UK magazine Sight and Sound features an in-depth article about Hollywood’s Method pioneers. If you want to buy a copy, hurry – the next issue will be out in a few days. (A shorter version of the article is available here.)

“But the example of the Method, and the lure of the Actors Studio as a place where actors could go for help, could also have a positive effect on outside actors, as in the example of Marilyn Monroe. Groomed for stardom and inevitably typecast by her studio, Monroe was drawn by the promise of the ‘new’ style of actor training offered at the Actors Studio. Perhaps too eagerly, Strasberg became both surrogate therapist and parent to the troubled actress, but he did help her to hone the talent amply displayed in her early work – her psychotic babysitter in Don’t Bother to Knock (1952), her smouldering wife in Niagara (1953.) When she had a good part, as in Bus Stop (1956), playing a no-talent chanteuse longing for love and self-respect, she was deeper and more self-revealing than she had been before.”

Actress Jenny McCrindle Dies

Scottish actress Jenny McCrindle, who played a Marilyn wannabe in the TV drama, Looking After JoJo, has died aged 45, reports the Daily Record. Co-star Robert Carlyle paid tribute on Twitter, describing Jenny as ‘my own little Marilyn’, while BBC drama director Jacqueline McAlpine tweeted, ‘She shone like a diamond.’

Jenny joined the Scottish Youth Theatre at an early age, and landed a small part in Heavenly Creatures (1986), starring Helen Mirren and Tom Conti. In 1989 she played the lead in Dream Baby, alongside future Dr Who star Peter Capaldi. She had a supporting role in Your Cheatin’ Heart, a 1990 series about a Scottish Country and Western singer.

Her big break came in Looking After JoJo (1998), starring Robert Carlyle as Jojo McCann, a petty criminal who becomes embroiled in the drug underworld. The girl he loves, Lorraine, escapes grim reality through her fascination with Marilyn Monroe. Although she doesn’t look a lot like Marilyn, Jenny manages to convey a similar vulnerability.

Marilyn’s 1954 track, ‘She Acts Like a Woman Should,’ is played during one episode, highlighting the misogynistic gangster culture. The finale of this four-part mini-series is titled ‘When Love Goes Wrong’ (from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.)

In 1998, Jenny was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. She went on to star in a big-screen adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s The Acid House, and appeared in TV’s Psychos. Sadly, Jenny’s promising career was cut short by her illness, and her last screen credit was in 2000.

Jenny’s dad George said: ‘The last few years have been very hard but Jenny was fiercely independent and she battled through them. She was a one-off and had a very original sense of humour. Everybody liked her and we are really proud of what she achieved.’

Actor Forbes Masson, with whom she appeared in the 1990s sitcom, The High Life, wrote: ‘Jenny was an immensely talented, uniquely funny, warm, wild and outrageous spirit. I cannot believe she’s gone.’

‘So sad to hear about the tragic, untimely death of the wonderful Jenny McCrindle,’ Irvine Welsh tweeted.

UPDATE: Looking After JoJo is now available on DVD. You can read a review here.


Marilyn’s Estate Targets Clydebank Salon

A Scottish hair salon, named after MM, has been forced to change its name after pressure from the licensing arm of Marilyn’s estate, reports the Clydebank Post.

As a fan, I’m always delighted to see tributes to Marilyn in shops, bars and cafes. I dislike this latest attempt to commodify her. In my opinion, Marilyn’s estate should leave fans alone.

“The salon named after the iconic American actress in Clyde Shopping Centre is being forced to change its name and kill off all connections with Marilyn.

This comes after owner Norah Yilmaz received a letter from the deceased film star’s estate, thousands of miles away in New York, threatening legal action.

The letter, from Authentic Brands Group warned Norah she faces a lawsuit if she failed to remove all traces of Marilyn from her salon.

Stunned Norah, 39, said: ‘They told me to take all social media, photos and the wallpaper of her down.’

‘I love the vintage era and Marilyn Monroe was a big part. So I’ve now decided to call the salon Vintage.’

The salon owner has been forced to shut down the Facebook business page she worked hard building up by giving away free spray-tans.

She said: ‘I had over 1400 people on my Marilyn Monroe page and I couldn’t get Facebook to let me change the name of it. I had to just start a whole new one.’

‘The really big issue was what were we going to call it. I wanted to call it ‘Glitz and Glam’ but the girls who work here all hated it. I knew I had to get the sign down as soon as possible but I couldn’t until I had a new name.’

Norah and the 11 beauticians are planning to give Marilyn her final send off on Hallowe’en.

She said: ‘The only thing I need to change is my card receipt machine because it still comes up Marilyn Monroe. On Hallowe’en we’re doing a theme that Marilyn Monroe has died in the salon. So all of our make-up will be half the face of Marilyn and the other half skeleton.’

‘She died in 1962 — and now she’s dying again in 2014 in Clydebank.’

Despite the legal threats, stress and the costly rebranding of the salon, Norah still has a soft spot for the 1950s icon.

‘I feel touched that the actual estate of Marilyn got in touch with me,’ said Norah. ‘Even though she’s died again here I still love her, I think she’s brilliant.’

Vintage salon in Clydebank Shopping Centre is now taking bookings for their Hallowe’en party this Friday, October 31.

For £20 you can have your scary special FX makeup done and enjoy a glass of wine. Contact Vintage on 0141 952 3777 to book.”

As Marilyn herself said, the people made her a star and it’s fans who keep her memory alive. Instead of persecuting them, her estate should pursue rogue journalists who propogate lies about her.

But as the estate’s official Facebook page routinely features fake quotes, I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

Celebrating Marilyn in Colorado

The touring exhibition, Marilyn: Celebrating an American Icon, comes to Fort Collins Museum of Art in Colorado from November 1-December 27, reports The Coloradoan. 

“The museum will feature the exhibition depicting various stages of the screen goddess’s career beginning Saturday. It showcases 115 works by more than 50 artists, including Andy Warhol, Milton H. Greene, Cecil Beaton, Eve Arnold, Antonio de Felipe and Henri Cartier-Bresson.

‘It takes you on a little journey through Marilyn’s life, presented from the perspective of our perception of her,’ Lorenz said.

The show, a smaller part of an earlier international tour, is divided into several stages — showcasing her changes from her early years as a wholesome, girl-next-door model to a sex symbol and her marriages to Joe DiMaggio and Arthur Miller; a section on her movie career including film stills from The Misfits and Some Like it Hot; and a look at the cult of celebrity that was created around her.

‘You really see in each of these, a lot of her and her vulnerability,’ Lorenz said.

Paintings by artists like Andy Warhol also examine Monroe via a different viewpoint.

‘The way they are presented really does show how we, as a public, have responded to her,’ Lorenz said. ‘They show her via her appreciation as this icon of American culture… It’s not so much about her, but the societal and cultural response to her.’

Lorenz said the show is a strong reflection of the cult of celebrity that began at the time and has continued on to today, as well as a reflection of one of the world’s most beautiful women.

‘She was gorgeous and never took a bad picture.'”

When Nikita Met Marilyn…

Time magazine profiles Cold War Roadshow, an upcoming documentary about Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev’s historic visit to the US in 1959, on its website today – including footage of an evasive Marilyn being interviewed by reporters after a luncheon in Khrushchev’s honour at Twentieth Century-Fox.

Marilyn’s reluctance to comment may have been as a result of her husband Arthur Miller’s persecution by the rabidly anti-Communist House Un-American Activities Committee. Miller had been acquitted just a year before.

In 2010, it was announced that a dramatisation of Khrushchev’s trip would be produced for HBO, but this has yet to materialise. Cold War Roadshow will be broadcast on PBS in the US on November 18: a DVD is also available.

Marilyn – A Wonderful Role Model

Marilyn greets the Hollywood press, 1956

So much of the mainstream media coverage focuses on wildly exaggerated rumours about Marilyn’s private life and her death. All the more refreshing, then, to find an article highlighting her strengths and achievements. ‘10 Reasons Marilyn Monroe Is a Wonderful Role Model‘ was posted by Ekaterina at Amerikanki.

While there are a couple of points I might dispute – Marilyn was not known to have ever taken an IQ test, and Ella Fitzgerald may not have been barred from the Mocambo Club because of her race – all in all, this is an excellent piece.

“It would be hard to find anyone who didn’t think Marilyn Monroe was a vision. A half-century after she’s passed away, she remains a symbol of beauty not only in the English-speaking world, but everywhere else as well. For someone who didn’t live past her 30s, her achievements personifying beauty and elegance for generations are considerable. With the troubled life that she lived, Marilyn Monroe isn’t often thought of as a role model. Anyone who achieves her level of success in life, though, cannot but have done a lot in life that was right.”


Kelli Garner Cast in Marilyn Mini-Series

Actress Kelli Garner, best-known for her role as Kate Cameron in TV’s Pan-Am, will play Marilyn in Lifetime’s upcoming mini-series, The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe, reports TVLine. As previously reported, Susan Sarandon will play Marilyn’s mother, Gladys.

Garner, who is 30, won critical acclaim at an early age for her performances in Bully (2001) and The Aviator (2004.) In recent years, she has starred in several well-received independent films, including Thumbsucker, Dreamland, Lars and the Real Girl and Taking Woodstock, as well as more mainstream movies like Man of the House and Going the Distance.

Kelli has just completed When I Live My Life Over Again with Christopher Walken, and is currently filming Americana, described as ‘Hollywood Noir’. While she may not look like exactly like Marilyn, she has a quirky, innocent quality that may be quite effective. A native Californian, Kelli is also a talented musician.

‘Marilyn: Missing Evidence’ on Channel 5

UK television’s Channel 5 will broadcast a new, hour-long documentary – Marilyn Monroe: Missing Evidence – tonight at 8 pm. It is produced by Dan Chambers, the channel’s former Director of Programmes, and David McNab, who has an extensive track record in innovative, CGI-led factual TV. Director Renny Bartlett is best known for his work on the Animal Planet series, I Shouldn’t Be Alive.

The synopsis seems to indicate a theory akin to Donald Wolfe’s in his controversial book, The Last Days of Marilyn Monroe, while the claim of recordings made inside Marilyn’s home suggests either detective John Miner’s widely-disputed ‘transcripts’ of tapes made by Marilyn for psychoanalyst Dr Greenson (still not found), or Private Investigator Fred Otash’s unconfirmed allegations of wire-tapping.

At this stage, it’s very unlikely that any new or conclusive evidence will emerge. I remain sceptical, but will give you my verdict after I’ve seen the documentary.

“Investigating the evidence that supports some of the world’s most notorious conspiracy theories. Though she officially committed suicide, some people have long claimed that the FBI, the Mafia and even the Kennedy family may have been involved in Marilyn Monroe’s death. This programme looks at some of these claims, and also reveals the contents of tape recordings made inside Monroe’s house on the fateful day of August 5, 1962, which suggest her psychiatrist may have been responsible for her death, working under pressure from eminent individuals in high places.” Radio Times

UPDATE: You can read Andrea Pryke’s review over at her blog, The Monroe Report.

Marilyn’s Jamaican Honeymoon

On January 3, 1957, Marilyn flew to the Caribbean with her husband Arthur Miller for a belated honeymoon. They spent several days at Moon Point, Jamaica, in the luxurious villa of Lady Pamela Bird, an English aristocrat, before returning to New York on January 19. It was one of Marilyn’s rare trips abroad. This photograph of the Millers dining at the Jamaica Inn is featured in a new book by Hermes Mallea, Escape: The Heyday of Caribbean Glamour,  published by Rizzoli and reviewed in Architectural Digest.

“A nostalgic celebration of the glamour of warm-weather destinations in the Caribbean and Florida, from the great estates of ambitious patrons to the most exclusive resorts of the mid-twentieth century. Through iconic photography capturing the cultural mood at the moment when social codes relaxed from the formality of the Gilded Age to the spontaneity of the jet-set era, Escape: The Heyday of Caribbean Glamour takes the reader inside a world of beach parties and costume balls set in lush tropical landscapes, of rarefied resorts and fairy-tale private estates. Escape presents the visual history of the region’s outstanding getaways, chronicling their transformations from pristine idyllic settings to personalized retreats where responsibilities could be left behind. Joseph Urban, Oliver Messel, Paul Rudolph, and other talented designers made these dreams reality, relying on regional design traditions to express the spirit of places like Antigua, Barbados, Cuba, and Jamaica, and sometimes inventing a new vernacular using fantasy imagery to emphasize the notion of escape from the pressures of urban living. Among these idealized settings blossomed the resort lifestyle of international celebrities, from Marjorie Merriweather Post to Babe Paley, Princess Margaret to David Bowie, whose escapades are spectacularly captured in these pages to make the region’s bygone glamour come alive.”