Marilyn, the ‘Golden State Girl’

Duke Haney’s Death Valley Superstars: Occasionally Fatal Adventures in Filmland (available in paperback and via Kindle) is a collection of essays about Hollywood, including ‘Golden State Girl’, which muses on Marilyn’s myth. The dichotomy of her movie presence, Haney argues, lay between her training as a model – where each pose was carefully directed to create the perfect look – and her very real desire to be an actress.

While theatrical denizens Tennessee Williams and Sir Laurence Olivier may have doubted that she was really an actress at all, Haney believes she was a great artist – the cinematic equivalent of singers like Mick Jagger and Bob Dylan, whose voices may be limited in range, but unlike more technically proficient performers, are “memorable from the gate.”

Haney shared further thoughts on Marilyn in a recent interview for the Cease Cows blog.

“Sex appeal is finally a product of charisma, not beauty, contrary to the rhetoric of literalists and ideologues; and to the extent that charisma is developed, not innate, it can’t be developed in a world where people have surrendered so much of themselves to tech devices. If Marilyn Monroe had lived in the age of Instagram, I’m sure she would have wasted her gifts on selfies, and no selfie will ever endure as Monroe’s collaborations with top photographers have endured. Then, too, the Internet is intrinsically opposed to mystery, and mystery is a key component of charisma, which people are no longer capable of recognizing, it’s so scarce.”

Marilyn, Kim Kardashian and the Curse of Fake Art

Reality TV star Kim Kardashian made a social media faux pas when she posted a fake topless photo of Marilyn on Instagram today, reports The Blast (I’ve posted the original above, taken during a 1953 photo session with Bert Reisfeld.) While it’s very annoying, I don’t blame the gullible fans who post these fakes as much as the self-proclaimed ‘artists’ who inflict these fakes on the world in the first place. This is actually one of the tamer creations – websites like Ebay are ridden with badly Photoshopped, semi-pornographic renderings of Marilyn.

“The Blast tracked down Jeffrey Yarber, the artist behind the piece, who tells us the ‘photograph’ is one of thousands of celebrity fantasy artworks he has digitally created and sold over the years. In other words, he created the photo, it isn’t an actual topless Monroe photoshoot.

Kim’s hardly the first to share the Marilyn portrait, and Kardashian is so art savvy that she probably knew it wasn’t genuine, but tons of people thought it was legit.

As for the faux photo,  Yarber says, ‘Fakes is a genre, I, and about four other fellows, originated.  My artworks are marketed around the world, and are offered in just about every medium there is.’

Yarber tells us people — including respected galleries — often mistake his prints for originals, but he doesn’t like to correct them, adamant that his pieces are ‘virtually real, depicting the actual subjects in actual settings, without flaw.'”

Rebel Hearts: Marilyn and Madonna

Pop star Madonna has posted a tribute to Marilyn on her Instagram account. As part of a meme promoting her forthcoming album, Rebel Heart, the image depicts Marilyn within its cover art, with the caption, ‘the most beautiful #rebelheart.’

Herself one of the most enduringly successful entertainers in recent history, Madonna has long been inspired by Marilyn, most notably in her ‘Material Girl’ video and a Vanity Fair photo session in which she recreated some of MM’s iconic poses.

‘I’d love to be a memorable figure in the history of entertainment in some sexual comic-tragic way,’ Madonna confessed at the start of her career, back in 1984. ‘I’d like to leave the impression that Marilyn Monroe did, to be able to arouse so many different feelings in people.’

Ariana Grande’s Tribute to Marilyn

The 21 year-old actress and singer, Ariana Grande – who had a worldwide hit recently with ‘Problem’, featuring rapper Iggy Azalea – paid tribute to Marilyn (and defended her idol) yesterday, reports Contact Music.


“The singer/actress took to to remember the Some Like It Hot siren on what would have been her 88th birthday.

In a caption posted alongside a snap of the late star, she wrote, “Happy birthday Marilyn #misunderstood #beautiful #innocentrebel.”

The post prompted a barrage of negative comments from Grande’s followers about Monroe’s reported fragile mental state prior to her death in 1962.

Grande was quick to call out her detractors, taking to to pen a scathing retort.

She wrote, ‘So much hate for celebrating Marilyn’s spirit on her birthday. I adore her work and have compassion for her inner sadness that she covered up on a daily basis that a**holes like you made her feel in the first place!! Judging her for her wildly rumoured personal life (which is truly no one else’s business) is only a distraction from her talent, beauty, comedic genius and effervescent spirit…

‘We should only and always focus on the beautiful things… because what we focus on expands….. which is why I feel for the people who focus on hate… because that’s all you have to give. And I truly do feel sorry for you because when you’ve been dead for 50 some odd years… nobody will be wishing you a happy birthday.'”

Rihanna Goes Back to Blonde

Pop star Rihanna has posted a series of Marilyn-inspired photos to Instagram this weekend, including this Ed Feingersh-style montage (courtesy of Photoshop.) In another, she dons a blonde wig.

It’s not the first time the singer has referenced MM. ‘Red lipstick, rose petals, heartbreak / I was his Marilyn Monroe,’ is a line from ‘Love Without Tragedy/Mother Mary‘ on her latest album Unapologetic, possibly referring to her troubled relationship with Chris Brown.