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.
Out now, the third issue of Art Decades magazine is the best yet. Highlights include interviews with two of music’s outliers. Viv Albertine, former guitarist of all-girl punk band The Slits, is now a solo artist. She published a widely-praised memoir in 2014. Maria McKee is a Californian singer-songwriter, who fronted country rock band Lone Justice, and topped the UK charts with ‘Show Me Heaven’ in 1990. She now makes music for film with her partner, director Jim Akin.
On the subject of women in music, my review of Lana Del Rey’s latest album, Ultraviolence, is also featured. There is something of a David Bowie theme to this issue, which can never be a bad thing. Edward Bell, who designed several of Bowie’s album covers – from Scary Monsters to the ill-fated Tin Machine – is interviewed, and there is also a stunning pictorial inspired by Bowie’s 1999 song, ‘The Pretty Things Are Going to Hell.’
A short interview with myself is included in an article about Marcelline Block’s new book, Fan Phenomena: Marilyn Monroe. Superfans Megan Owen and Marco van der Munnik share their stories, and a long, fascinating interview with Los Angeles-based impersonator Holly Beavon is also included. Marilyn is also mentioned elsewhere, as an influence on Serena Czarnecki, an adult film star of the 1970s who has re-emerged as an artist and author.
While £15.48 (the current price on Amazon UK) may seem like a lot, Art Decades is filled with beautiful imagery and unique insights about music, film and artists who are mostly ignored, or (as in Marilyn and Lana’s case) misunderstood, and yet have inspired so many of us. Published quarterly, it is both a niche publication, and truly egalitarian. Unlike other, mass-market magazines, it is purely content-driven and doesn’t rely on copious advertising. It also has more to offer than a lot of similarly-priced books.
You can buy single issues on Amazon worldwide, or buy direct from the Art Decades website, with options to subscribe. A portion of the proceeds from sales of this issue will be donated to Belongto.org, a charity supporting young LGBTs – so you know it’s all in a good cause.
‘Fan Phenomena’ is an ongoing series from Intellect Books, a Bristol-based publisher with an international outlook. Since 2013, they have covered a variety of subjects with huge fan followings – including sci-fi movie franchises and TV shows, as well as more cultish offerings like Twin Peaks and The Big Lebowski. Fictional characters, such as Sherlock Holmes, and celebrities including Audrey Hepburn, have also been re-examined – with figures as diverse as Jane Austen and James Dean projected as future titles.
Marcelline Block, who has edited numerous books related to film, approached me in 2012 – a year which marked the fiftieth anniversary of Marilyn Monroe’s death, reviving public interest in her life and personality. From the outset, Marcelline showed the utmost respect for both Marilyn and her admirers. In contrast to many in the mainstream media, she understands that fans are not just ‘geeks’, and their knowledge and creativity helps to keep art alive. The result is a quirkier, more intimate look at the icon than is generally depicted.
Fan Phenomena: Marilyn Monroe combines academic essays about how Marilyn is being represented today – including her Youtube presence, influence on contemporary fashion, and recent portrayals in the biopic My Week With Marilyn, and the TV series Smash – and interviews with fans, including collectors Scott Fortner and Melinda Mason, impersonator Suzie Kennedy, memorabilia expert Marijane Gray, and fan-club owner Mary Sims. These personal testimonies were a highlight for me, partly because over the years, we have all supported each other in different ways.
My own contribution is an extract from The Mmm Girl, focusing on Marilyn’s love affair with the camera. I have also been interviewed for an article about Fan Phenomena, published in the latest issue of Art Decades (of which more later.) While Fan Phenomena: Marilyn Monroe is not a biography, it brings new insight to Marilyn’s undying appeal, and provides an up-to-date companion piece for earlier cultural studies like American Monroe and The Immortal Marilyn.
In August 1941 – less than four months before the bombing of Pearl Harbour plunged America into World War II – Rita Hayworth graced the cover of Life magazine. She was pictured in a white bikini, grinning as photographer Bob Landry caught her eating lunch on a Los Angeles beach. But this delightfully natural image made less impact than another picture inside the magazine.
Here, Landry depicted a far more seductive Rita, either relaxing in her own bedroom as the caption claimed, or on a studio prop bed. And the white silk negligee that she wore may have been borrowed from Columbia’s wardrobe department. Gazing boldly at the camera, Hayworth seemed to promise more than the artful illusion of glamour. Continue reading
I’m delighted to announce that The Mmm Girl, my novel about the life of Marilyn Monroe, is finally back in print. This edition includes a new prologue and ten additional passages: including Marilyn’s diverse encounters with teenage fans and world leaders; intimate photo shoots, a rare stage appearance, and a trip to Mexico; and a closer look behind the scenes of her many movies, from early bit parts to timeless classics.
The Mmm Girl is now available from Amazon worldwide, in paperback (UK, £8.24; US, $12.50); and via Kindle (UK, £3.29; US, $4.93.) It is also available from The Book Depository, with free international shipping.
You can preview the first four chapters on Amazon, or read further extracts and reviews, and view the book trailer, right here. And of course, after you’ve read the book (and hopefully enjoyed it), please consider writing a short customer review on Amazon or Goodreads.
Art Decades is a new print magazine featuring a variety of perspectives on everything from film to music to fashion, and beyond, from a large number of writers from all over the world. I’m delighted that my article, ‘Pauline Boty: Pop Artist and Woman’, is featured in the second issue.
Created by Kelley and Jeremy Richey (who runs the Moon in the Gutter blog), Art Decades also includes a cover story on The Raveonettes; an interview with Mary Woronov, and a profile of Cannon Films’ Menahem Golan; tributes to Lou Reed and Joy Division; art by Jeanie Laub, and photography by Whitley Brandenburg and Dylan Staley.
It’s a beautiful magazine, and I’m proud to be a part of it. Buy now from Amazon UK for £9.33; on Amazon US; or direct via Paypal, from the Art Decades website. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, in memory of actress Marie Dubois.