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Jerry Juroe with Marilyn at the Savoy Hotel, July 1956

Legendary movie publicist Charles ‘Jerry’ Juroe has died aged 98, Variety reports.

He was born in San Francisco, and as a child, attended an unforgettable North Beach baseball game with his father. “At that time its star player was probably better known because of his elder brother, Vince, who played in the minor league,” Juroe wrote in his 2018 memoir. “When a little boy meets a baseball player (even a sandlot level one), he is impressed only by his size and the aura of his uniform; but all my adult life I recalled with pride and awe meeting Joe DiMaggio at the very start of his storied career. To think that one day I would work in London, England, for a woman he married is a ‘bridge too far’ in anyone’s life of amazing coincidences.”

After graduating from a military boarding school, Juroe began his career as a publicist for Paramount before joining the military after the US entered World War II. He was initially stationed on the home front, escorting stars to army bases, and then transferred to Europe, taking part in the D-Day landings at Normandy. While volunteering in the Office of Special Services, booking entertainment for Allied forces, he met comedian Bob Hope, and later worked with him back at Paramount.

In 1953, Juroe arranged for Laurence Olivier to discreetly fly his wife Vivien Leigh home to England after she suffered a mental breakdown on the set of Elephant Walk (she was replaced by Elizabeth Taylor.) He would also greet rising star Audrey Hepburn when she first arrived in Hollywood. “Of all the countless actresses I encountered over my career,” he wrote, “Audrey was undoubtedly my favourite.”

In early 1956, Juroe was recruited by Arthur P. Jacobs, head of one of Hollywood’s largest publicity firms, to represent Marilyn and Milton Greene (co-founder of her independent production company) on their next project, The Sleeping Prince. Jacobs introduced him to Marilyn in her dressing-room on the Fox lot. The two men then headed to New York for meetings at Warner Brothers, their distributor for the upcoming film (later retitled The Prince and the Showgirl.)

After handling press for Grace Kelly’s wedding to Prince Rainier of Monaco, Juroe decamped to England in July. “It soon became abundantly clear to us that Monroe’s arrival was akin to a hurricane approaching,” he recalled. “Her very recent marriage to the famous American playwright Arthur Miller only added to the mounting hysteria …”

The day after her arrival, a press conference was held at London’s Savoy Hotel. “It was the last time I found myself to be in complete favour with Monroe,” Juroe admitted. “The next night I was accompanying Marilyn (as Miller was somewhere or other doing his thing) to a screening at the 20th Century-Fox office in Soho Square. As the limo pulled to a stop, she turned to me and said, ‘Jerry, you did a good job at the press conference,’ and leaned over and kissed me on the cheek.” That evening, Juroe was introduced to film producer Albert R. ‘Cubby’ Broccoli. “All that I remember of that first meeting was that he had known Monroe from her early days in Hollywood and had been a good friend of then fellow agent Johnny Hyde,” Juroe wrote. “I am sure Hyde’s sudden death was certainly one of many contributory factors to her fragility.”

“When one was on the set and watched Marilyn do a scene, you saw movement and heard dialogue, but nothing that caused goosebumps,” he remembered. “But! – in the screening room, when seeing the rushes, it was something else … This charisma was what audiences all over the world paid for and saw from their cinema seats.”

A scene from The Prince and the Showgirl

“Before long, life on the film became unbearable,” he claimed. “I found I could not recommend or offer any suggestion or give any opinion because her mindset became such that whatever I suggested was inevitably in her best interest. She was certain that there had to be an ulterior motive …” Juroe was offered $5,000 by Paris Match magazine to take her to Paris for a weekend. “I never considered this because even though in fact it would have been great publicity, it would also have been a fiasco,” he explained. “To get her there in the first place, plus the demands on her time, it would never have worked!”

“Between Miller, one of the most difficult people I’ve ever encountered, and Paula Strasberg … who I called ‘The Wicked Witch of the East,’ I very quickly found myself the one American in the Monroe camp who was on the side of Olivier,” he added. “Believe it or not, some of the Monroe inner circle put the seed in her mind that Olivier was out to destroy her career … Marilyn’s paranoia and persecution complex knew no bounds. She and her close entourage (led by Strasberg) made his life hell on and off the set … However, via Greene and Jacobs, I always covered myself with the Monroe camp so that my best efforts were always with the picture. In my decades of work in the film industry this was the only time I had to walk such a tightrope.”

One night during the production, Juroe was woken at around 3 am by a phone-call from Milton Greene, who had learned from Arthur Miller that Marilyn had overdosed on sleeping pills. Milton arranged for an ambulance, and they arrived “to find that ‘Miss Baker’ had already been pumped and was recovering in a private room. Our star was on call for filming at Pinewood in just a few hours’ time, and it was obvious she wouldn’t just be late, she wouldn’t be there at all.”

“Not one single word of it ever appeared in the media,” Juroe noted. “No typical London tabloid banners screamed ‘Marilyn in Death Dash’ etc., ad nauseam. Those British medical practitioners of the fifties respected the privacy of those they were attending. However, if Milton passed around a few well-placed ‘tips’, they never knew and didn’t want to!”

“I managed to keep the degree of bitterness that developed between Monroe and Olivier out of the British press, even though our British unit publicist was fired after writing a behind-the-scenes story for one of the Sunday papers,” he wrote. “Despite that, Milton Greene, who was ‘Piggy in the Middle,’ did appreciate what the publicity department was accomplishing. That he kept his sanity and laid-back charm was a miracle …”

The Millers and the Oliviers’ long goodbye

One day toward the end of filming, Juroe was called to Marilyn’s dressing room where he found her in a half-open terrycloth robe. “Subconsciously or not,” he believed, “this was her way of saying loud and clear – ‘You are my employee and a very lowly one at that; plus, you do not represent a man to me …’” After filming wrapped in late November, Juroe persuaded the Oliviers to accompany the Millers to Heathrow Airport, where Sir Laurence was photographed giving the notoriously unpunctual Marilyn a watch as a parting gift – which was then charged to the film’s overhead.

Juroe returned to the United States with Jacobs and, over the next few months, helped to promote The Prince and the Showgirl in advance of its release in mid-1957. “The most traumatic happening during that time was when Warners decided they needed a specially posed photo of Monroe and Olivier for the advertising campaign,” he remembered. “I had to fly to London and accompany a very reluctant Larry to New York. We left the hotel to go to Greene’s studio where Olivier put on his costume, a polka-dotted silk robe. Madame arrived and after the briefest of greetings the session started. Two rolls of film later – only some twenty shots – our diva said, ‘That’s it!’ and left … One of those few frames fortunately was used for the campaign, but it was all somewhat in vain because the reviews and lack of box office success brought my work on the film to an end.”

“I do remember, however, the premiere in New York when my presence was hardly acknowledged by her,” he added, “a long way from the night of the Royal Command Performance in London the previous year when I was practically glued to her side – Miller on the other – to get her through the ‘scrum,’ both in the cinema and the outer lobby, as we left to try and get to the limo waiting in Leicester Square. The London bobbies that night would have got an early taste of the fan madness that was to become commonplace in the soon to come rock ‘n’ roll star hysteria years of the sixties.”

“Everyone knew that protocol demanded that at any and all functions the Queen was the last to arrive, and as Monroe was pathologically challenged to arrive anywhere on time, it all became my sole concern and took over my life,” Juroe recalled. “For example, as she was too busy filming, I had to represent her at the rehearsal of the star line-up and then report back what was expected. The presence of a publicist in her place became something of a cause célèbre. My fifteen minutes of fame was standing in for Marilyn Monroe.”

Marilyn with Arthur Miller at the Royal Command Performance

“It would be most hypocritical of me if I didn’t acknowledge that, in spite of everything, my time spent with Marilyn is right at the top of my curriculum vitae,” Juroe wrote. “To close these thoughts on the diva Monroe, I will just say that she was a unique but enigmatic star, and that I would do it all again in a flash if possible. In spite of all the trauma and angst, I was certainly alive for those months at ground zero of the film world working for its most beautiful and famous film producer ever.”

While eating his lunch in the Pinewood Studios dining room one day, Juroe had noticed a lovely young starlet walking past his table. He would soon see her again, selling programmes at the Royal Command Performance, and learned that her name was Lynn Tracy. She soon gave up acting to pursue a lucrative modelling career. She and Juroe were happily married for 42 years.

Paris Blues (1961)

After joining United Artists’ European office, Juroe worked on Paris Blues (1961), with Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward playing roles originally considered for Marlon Brando and Marilyn Monroe. The jazz-themed drama also boasted several talented black performers, including Sidney Poitier and Diahann Carroll. “Paris Blues was a film made a couple of decades too soon,” Juroe reflected. “The original idea was compelling because each romance was with a member of the opposite race. In the early sixties this would have been box office disaster … Though not a flop, Paris Blues was a costly failure all the same.”

Director Jean Negulesco, who had worked well with Marilyn in 1953’s How to Marry a Millionaire, had offered to adapt a novel for her in 1958, before offering it to Ava Gardner, Sophia Loren and Vivien Leigh. In 1961, the story was filmed as Jessica, with Angie Dickinson playing a beautiful American widow who unwittingly stirs up jealousy among the women of a Sicilian village. Negulesco’s first independent feature opened in 1962 to harsh reviews and dismal box office. Although not without charm, Jessica now appears rather dated in its treatment of women.

During filming, Juroe was informed by the press attaché of the U.S. Embassy that Dickinson was coming to Paris. “The order had come down from the White House that her every need was to be met,” Juroe remembered, “and that publicity was to be kept to a minimum except for one controlled interview with the Herald-Tribune, which I was to oversee. The embassy presence was to be kept to a minimum. No problem, but to my surprise, when Angie’s plane arrived, there was an embassy limousine, the chargé-d’affaires with a large bouquet of flowers and much ‘hoo-hawing’ with a deference unusual even for a movie star.”

Jessica (1962)

As a newlywed in 1959, Juroe had been contacted again by Arthur P. Jacobs, who hoped to branch out into movie production with his star roster. “The film was entitled Something’s Got to Give,” Juroe revealed. He declined, not wanting to leave France and sceptical of Jacobs’ prospects. “The film went through several iterations and ended up being Marilyn Monroe’s last bit of work – the picture was unfinished.” In 1963 it was remade as Move Over Darling, with Doris Day leading a new cast. Jacobs, meanwhile, would establish himself as a producer with his 1968 blockbuster, Planet of the Apes, and Juroe earned a percentage of the profits.

One morning in August 1962, Juroe was having breakfast in his Paris apartment when his maid’s husband called him aside. He left the living room and was shown the newspaper headline that Marilyn Monroe had been found dead in Los Angeles. When he returned and told his guests the news, one of them – the English comedian, Peter Sellers – became hysterical and ran out of the apartment without a word of explanation. A bemused Juroe spent two days searching for his wayward client. After tracking him down at his hotel, Juroe learned that Sellers had hoped to star in Billy Wilder’s next movie, Kiss Me, Stupid, with Monroe and Frank Sinatra.

“It could have been the second coming of Some Like It Hot and Sellers saw it all go out the window,” Juroe wrote. “Monroe’s death was beyond his obsessive control of life and career. All of us, including many various UA execs, went through a crazy couple of days as a result of Sellers’ disappearance. Not one word of the affair was ever picked up by the press … As for the film, it did get made, but with Kim Novak, Dean Martin, and Broadway’s Ray Walston in for a no longer interested Sellers. The original cast might have made the brash ‘near-the-knuckle’ sexual content work, but it never reached the original promise.”

Kiss Me, Stupid (1964)

Juroe later discussed Marilyn’s sad demise with his former colleague at Jacobs’ PR company, Pat Newcomb, “who was there in LA still handling her when it all came to a world’s headline-making end. I am convinced, for what it is still worth, that she died by her own actions, intentional or not. Whatever demons congregated to cause it we will never really know, though there will always be conjecture as long as there remain those who remember.”

Beginning with Dr. No (1962), Juroe worked on the first five movies in the wildly popular James Bond series, produced by Albert ‘Cubby’ Broccoli and starring Sean Connery. He also worked on another beloved franchise, the Pink Panther comedies starring Peter Sellers, and two Beatles films (A Hard Day’s Night and Help!) Juroe left United Artists for Paramount, though much had changed since his earlier tenure. He then worked at Fox before returning to his Bond family for The Man With the Golden Gun (1974), starring Roger Moore. He worked on every subsequent Bond film until Licence to Kill (1989), with Timothy Dalton.

My Week With Marilyn (2011)

In 1990, Juroe’s remarkable career came to an end as he retired to West Sussex with Lynn. After her 2001 death he moved to Southern Spain, and in 2011, he watched the award-winning biopic, My Week With Marilyn, with special interest. The film went behind the scenes of Marilyn’s time in England, and was based on a memoir by Colin Clark, who had worked as a ‘gopher’ to Olivier on the set. Of Michelle Williams’ performance, Juroe wrote, “She became Marilyn, although the screenplay had her being too ‘misunderstood.’ None of the underlying real-life hardness shone through the outward fragility. Kenneth Branagh was very good as Olivier, but I never once saw Larry blow up in frustration on the set. In private, yes …”

Juroe also thought co-star Dame Sybil Thorndyke (played by Judi Dench) was portrayed as “too favourable” to Marilyn, “but I do accept the dramatic necessity as a balance to Olivier.” He found actor Toby Jones “over the top” as Arthur Jacobs. “I shudder to think how I might have been portrayed if I had been considered important enough,” Juroe added wryly. “Having said all that – a very personal and jaundiced insider viewpoint, I admit – I thought it was a good film, well told and surprisingly authentic in the recreation of time and place.”

As for Colin Clark, Juroe commented, “That I have no memory of him on the production proves nothing, as there are countless people on a film company who are interrelated only by the nature of the work … I am equally sure he has no memory of me. I certainly never came across him in my office in the main building at Pinewood or down the hall in the production office …”

In 2018, Juroe published his memoir, Bond, the Beatles and My Year With Marilyn: 50 Years as a Movie Marketing Man. “I have had a great life, and most of my memories are good ones,” he concluded. “I loved what I did, and with rare exception wouldn’t want to change a thing. The highs far outweigh the lows and my comments (even the negative) are only meant to shine a faint light on what I consider to be of possible interest. My commentary is but one person’s observations, not earth-shattering revelations.”

Charles ‘Jerry’ Juroe died of natural causes at his home near Valencia on September 30, 2021, and is survived by daughter Kimberley. “He made a huge contribution to the success of the series,” Bond producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli told the Hollywood Reporter. “I was fortunate enough to know Jerry for 40 years,” his friend Mark Cerulli wrote for Cinema Retro. “My last conversation with Jerry was just days ago. I asked how he was feeling and he answered with a weary, ‘I’m still here.’ Indeed he was and he always will be.”