Sweet Sue's Band

'Some Like It Hot', 1959

Penny McGuiggan, a trumpeter and actress who appeared in Billy Wilder’s classic 1959 gangster spoof, Some Like It Hot, has died. Her (then uncredited) role was as a member of Sweet Sue’s Society Syncopators, an all-girl jazz band headed by conductor Sweet Sue (Joan Shawlee), singer Sugar Kane (Marilyn Monroe), and their hapless, bespectacled male manager, Bienstock (Dave Barry.)

On the run from the mob, two unemployed musicians, Jerry (Jack Lemmon) and Joe (Tony Curtis) don drag and infiltrate the band. Scored by Alfred Deutsch and arranged by Matty Malneck, the film’s soundtrack also features songs including Running Wild, I Wanna Be Loved By You and I’m Through With Love. One of the film’s funniest scenes has the ‘Sweet Sues’ throw a chaotic drinks party during an overnight train ride.

In later years, McGuiggan joined the Marilyn Remembered fan club and often spoke at the yearly memorial services about her memories of Monroe. Fellow member Scott Fortner has described Penny as ‘a warm and caring person with endearing charm and sparkling blue eyes…a joy to be around.’ Penny would also sometimes play the same trumpet used in Some Like It Hot.

McGuiggan was interviewed by Michelle Morgan for her 2007 book, Marilyn Monroe: Private And Undisclosed. Unlike other colleagues who found Marilyn difficult to work with, Penny’s recollections were very positive…

‘Adorable, very, very charismatic. The first time I saw her, she was walking down the street, just coming from the hairdressers. She had rollers in her hair and was wearing slacks, but still all the attention was riveted on her; she looked spectacular. Marilyn was always late on the set, but that was an advantage because I was originally contracted for two weeks, but that went up to four months.’

In 2000, members of the American Film Institute voted Some Like It Hot best comedy of all time (it also ranks 14th in their list of the greatest American films.) With the passing of Penny McGuiggan, one of our last remaining links to this comic masterpiece, and its star, Marilyn Monroe, is now broken.

A short featurette, Memories Of The Sweet Sues, is included on the special and limited edition DVDs of Some Like It Hot. The ‘Sweet Sues’ reminisced about Marilyn Monroe with the utmost respect and admiration. And Penny herself discussed the legendary star more recently in an upcoming documentary, My Marilyn.