Ella Fitzgerald was born a century ago today, on April 25, 1917. Her voice was like sunshine, or a glass of champagne. As a woman, she had great dignity. She was also a friend to Marilyn Monroe, who had been introduced to her work by jazz pianist and arranger Hal Schaefer in 1953. Continue reading
Channel 4, David Gainsborough Roberts, Documentaries, Elizabeth Winder, Frieda Hull, Immortal Marilyn, Julien's Auctions, Lee Strasberg, Lois Banner, Marilyn Monroe, Marilyn Monroe: Auction of a Lifetime, Sarah Churchwell
These rare stills are taken from amateur footage filmed in July 1960 by Frieda Hull, one of the fabled ‘Monroe Six’, as Marilyn arrived in New York to make test shots for The Misfits. Miss Hull’s vast archive of candid images went under the hammer at Julien’s Auctions last November, alongside never-seen items from the Lee Strasberg estate and movie costumes collected by David Gainsborough Roberts, in the largest dedicated sale since the Christie’s auction of 1999. This one-off event – raising $11 million in total bids – was the subject of a recent Channel 4 documentary, Marilyn Monroe: Auction of a Lifetime, which I’ve reviewed at Immortal Marilyn.
At the time of writing, the programme is still available to watch online. And if you’re looking for a more detailed view of the sale, I also wrote a series of reports on my Marilyn-only blog, ES Updates.
April VeVea is a 26 year-old ‘Marilynista.’ “My knowledge of her started in 1993, when I was three, and saw a life size cut-out in an antique store,” she recalls. “Marilyn had her dress blowing over her head in the iconic Seven Year Itch dress. As her smile radiated through me all I could think about were two things: her beauty and that she would look better with longer hair.” Continue reading
As 2015 draws to a close – and this blog approaches her eighth birthday – I’ve been reflecting on a milestone year: from the reissue of The Mmm Girl and my inclusion in Fan Phenomena: Marilyn Monroe, to the publication of Jeanne Eagels: A Life Revealed, and my continuing association with Art Decades magazine.
But before I head back to the salt mines, I’d like to thank all my readers for supporting me. Wishing you all a wonderful 2016: and don’t forget to check out my annual picks in music, books, movies and TV.
A Manual for Cleaning Women, Alberto Moravia, Backlands, Before Marilyn, Bobbie Gentry, C. Joseph Greaves, Caryl Phillips, Cathi Unsworth, Clarice Lispector, David L. Jones, David Wills, Eileen, Elena Ferrante, Encyclopedia Madonnica 20, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Fires in the Dark, Go Set a Watchman, Harper Lee, Louise Doughty, Lucia Berlin, Madonna, Marilyn in the Flash, Marilyn Monroe, Matthew Rettenmund, Michelle Morgan, Ode to Billie Jo, Otessa Moshfegh, Rebecca Wait, Stewart O'Nan, Tara Murtha, The Followers, The Ipswich Witch, The Lost Child, The Story of the Lost Child, The Time of Indifference, Tom & Lucky (and George & Cokey Flo), Victoria Shorr, West of Sunset, Without the Moon, Wuthering Heights
Reading Clarice Lispector for the first time is like falling in love. Each of her stories is a rare jewel. Shocking, funny and wildly imaginative, this collection is a landmark, reclaiming her as one of the underrated voices of the twentieth century.
The final volume in Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan series rages like a cyclone. No happy endings here, only the transcendence of real art.
Lucia Berlin was a wonderful American writer, whose stories are warm, yet unflinching. She led an eventful life, and while there are strong autobiographical elements in her work, she was also richly imaginative. Continue reading
The Misfits (1961) was reissued in the UK and Ireland in June, and also headlined a major retrospective, ‘Marilyn’, at the British Film Institute on London’s Southbank. The month-long season featured all but one of the sixteen films Marilyn Monroe made from 1952-62, of which The Misfits would be her last. Continue reading
All About Eve, Chloral Hydrate, Christian Science, Clifton Webb, Dr Edward Spencer Cowles, Dr Hyman Engelberg, Dr Ralph Greenson, Fredric March, George Arliss, George Cukor, Immortal Marilyn, Jeanne Eagels, Jeanne Eagels: A Life Revealed, Jenny Lind, Joe DiMaggio, Joe Schenck, Joseph M. Schenck, Lee Strasberg, Marilyn Monroe, Missouri, Rain, Sadie Thompson, Ted Coy, W. Somerset Maugham
Earlier this month, I posted two extracts from The Mmm Girl, my Marilyn-inspired novel, which describe Marilyn’s attempt to remake Rain. It was not to be, but many thought she was the only actress who could match Jeanne’s performance as Sadie Thompson.
Marilyn also features as one of several ‘other Sadies’ in Jeanne Eagels: A Life Revealed (co-authored with Eric Woodard.) Here is a short excerpt from the introduction to our new biography.
There are surprising parallels between the life of Jeanne Eagels and Marilyn Monroe, another tragic star. Like Jeanne, Marilyn had known poverty and pursued her career with fierce determination. The hauntingly lovely Jeanne was initially typecast as an ingénue, while Marilyn fought to escape the image of a sexy, dumb blonde. Their lives were chronicled in microscopic detail by the press, and each came to rely on an evergrowing entourage of doctors and acting coaches. Eagels’ failed marriage to a famed football player mirrored Monroe’s to a retired baseball icon, and both frequently clashed with their bosses and co-stars. Marilyn once was even considering a remake of Rain.
But while thousands of books and scores of documentaries, films, and videos have been dedicated to Marilyn Monroe, Jeanne Eagels has been unjustly neglected. She was robbed of the chance to bring Sadie Thompson to the big screen, though those who saw her onstage said her greatest performance was never surpassed. In her lifetime, Eagels briefly enjoyed the critical acclaim Monroe craved, and would finally achieve posthumously. But in the years after Jeanne’s death, a steady trickle of malicious gossip clouded her glow, reducing her to that most spectral of beings—a legend without a face. In Jeanne Eagels: A Life Revealed, we explore the woman behind the enigma, a feisty yet fragile diva who became a genuine phenomenon. A phenomenon worth revealing … and rediscovering.