The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe

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“Oh, I’d like to ask you – how do you go about writing a life story? Because the true things rarely get into circulation. It’s usually the false things. If you ever get any of those things you want to ask, I’ll tell you. All those things come from the truth, you know? Because otherwise, it’s hard to know where to start if you don’t start with the truth.” – Marilyn Monroe Continue reading

A Singular Loveliness: Marilyn’s Painterly Gesture

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In 2018, the feminist art historian Griselda Pollock gave a lecture on Marilyn Monroe at the Caixi Forum in Madrid. Despite the acres of coverage on Monroe’s life, Pollock stated, “there is very little analysis of her work. How did a white woman, uneducated and abused, become a star like one she was? Why was Andy Warhol crying at her death? Why did Elton John identify with her? Why did Madonna forge her image in Monroe’s likeness?” Continue reading

The Many Faces of Nehemiah Persoff

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The great character actor Nehemiah Persoff, whose many roles included the mobster ‘Little Bonaparte’ in Some Like It Hot, has died at the grand old age of 102.

Nehemiah was born in Jerusalem in 1919. His parents had met as amateur actors fleeing the Jewish pogroms in Odessa, Ukraine for Israel. His father became a teacher and moved to New York, with the family joining him later. “This was 1929, close to the market crash that led to the Great Depression,” he wrote. “I hated this dirty place, Brooklyn … I cried myself to sleep for two years before I began to accept the fact that America was my new home.”

On the streets of Brooklyn, poverty and violence were commonplace, and the young Nehemiah – known to his friends as ‘Nicky’ – soon learned to fight back. “Actually, many of the so-called ‘lowlifes’ I knew were not bad guys at all,” he recalled. “They did what they did because that was the only way they could live. In playing gangsters later on, I always tried to find some good in them.” Continue reading

‘Dear Bobbybones’: Marilyn and Robert A. Miller

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Robert A. Miller, the film producer son of Arthur Miller, has died aged 74, as Billy Fried reports for the Laguna Beach Independent.

One of the privileges of hosting a radio talk show is getting to meet so many interesting personalities here in Laguna. But sometimes, serendipity reigns, and a fascinating person is plopped down right next door to you. Such was the case with Robert (Bob) Miller, who passed away on March 6, 2022, after a brief illness. It’s not easy being the son of anyone famous, let alone Arthur Miller, arguably America’s greatest playwright and third husband of Marilyn Monroe … You’d think these would be insurmountable odds for a normal life, but Bob was as humble, friendly and happy a guy as they come.

Robert Arthur Miller was born on May 31, 1947 in New York, to Arthur and his first wife, Mary Slattery, and their two-year-old daughter Jane. As Arthur Miller’s biographer, Martin Gottfried, wrote of this time, “Mary and Arthur had their bed in the living room while the master bedroom was used for ‘Junior,’ as Miller sometimes called him (at other times it was ‘Mister Robert’ after the current hit play) and the nurse … He certainly took to fatherhood, doting on little Jane while demonstrating a shamelessly conventional paternal pride in his infant son, regularly holding Robert in his arms and even feeding him.”

At the time, Arthur was enjoying his first Broadway success with All My Sons, which had opened in January. Two years later, his next play, Death of a Salesman, won the Pulitzer Prize. Mary, who had met Arthur in college, edited all of his early work and found Arthur his first publisher. Interviewed for the 2017 documentary, Arthur Miller – Writer, Robert recalled that his mother was “tough” and “spoke her mind.” He grew up in Brooklyn Heights, “back when the Dodgers were still there,” Billy Fried writes. “He would reminisce about walking the neighbourhood in summer and hearing the games broadcast out of every window, and always considered himself a Brooklyn boy at heart.” Continue reading

When Marilyn Met the Queen

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“Marilyn’s trip to England may have lasted just four months, but my journey with this book has endured for three decades,” Michelle Morgan writes in introduction to When Marilyn Met the Queen. She first began research in 1992, but was unable to find a publisher. Since then, she has written several books about Monroe, including the biography, Marilyn Monroe: Private and Undisclosed, and two other books focusing on specific periods of Monroe’s life (Before Marilyn, exploring her early days as a model; and The Girl, covering the years before Marilyn came to England, and her rebellion against the Hollywood studio system.) 

“I now know why I had to wait thirty years for this book to happen,” Michelle reflects. “I would not have had the skill, resources or experience to handle such a massive project … the time has finally come to tell the England story.” The Prince and the Showgirl is one of Marilyn’s most neglected films, remembered chiefly as the backdrop to her turbulent relationship with director and co-star Sir Laurence Olivier, and with little consideration of her achievements as a star producer, or her cultural impact on England at the time. “This book is not just about Marilyn’s experience of Britain,” the Northamptonshire-based author explains. “It is also about Britain’s experience of Marilyn.” Continue reading