My review of Dr Andrew Norman’s Making Sense of Marilyn, a concise biography and psychological portrait, is published at Immortal Marilyn.
I have written two new reviews for the Immortal Marilyn website. The first, Dead Blondes: You Must Remember Marilyn, covers film historian Karina Longworth’s podcast series from earlier this year, while Artists in Love: Marilyn and Arthur Miller looks back at a 2016 TV documentary for the Sky Arts channel.
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
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.
This is a revised version of my 2008 article, and can also be read at Immortal Marilyn.
Marilyn and Pat Newcomb
“At the core of her, [Marilyn] was really strong… and that was something we tended to forget, because she seemed so vulnerable, and one always felt it necessary to watch out for her.” – Pat Newcomb Continue reading
Betty Grable, Charles Feldman, Clark Gable, Darryl F. Zanuck, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, How to Marry a Millionaire, Immortal Marilyn, Jean Howard, Johnny Hyde, Marilyn Monroe, Romanoff's, The Seven Year Itch
This article is also published at Immortal Marilyn
Marilyn’s Photographers: Jean Howard 1910-2000
The Hollywood actress and socialite turned photographer, Jean Howard, was born Ernestine Hill in Dallas, Texas, on October 13, 1910. As a teenager, she visited the studio of photographer Paul Mahoney. He encouraged her to take modelling work and she even used his surname.
In the late 1920s, Ernestine visited Hollywood with her father. Continue reading
This article is also published at Immortal Marilyn
Films Marilyn Wanted: Guys and Dolls
Born in Manhattan, Kansas in 1880 to a family of newspapermen, Damon Runyon found fame as a baseball columnist, and later for his humorous short stories chronicling the vibrant street life of New York. His eccentric characters – gamblers, hustlers and crooks – and unique style, mixing formal speech with slang – inspired a new literary idiom, the ‘Runyonesque’.
In 1950, four years after Runyon’s death, Guys and Dolls opened on Broadway. Based on two of Runyon’s short stories – ‘The Idyll of Miss Sarah Brown’ and ‘Blood Pressure’ – the play was scripted by Abe Burrows and Jo Swerling, with music by Frank Loesser.
A box office hit, Guys and Dolls was selected as the winner of 1951’s Pulitzer Prize for Drama. However, due to Abe Burrows’ troubles with the House Un-American Activities Committee, the award was withdrawn.
Despite the controversy, producer Samuel Goldwyn acquired the film rights to Guys and Dolls. The screenplay was written by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, who would also direct. Uncredited assistance came from another Hollywood scribe, Ben Hecht.
Gene Kelly was an early front-runner for the lead role as charming gambler Sky Masterson, but MGM would not release him. Goldwyn sought out the screen’s hottest young actor, Marlon Brando, instead. Jean Simmons was cast as Brando’s unlikely love interest, prudish missionary Sarah Brown.
After securing America’s favourite crooner, Frank Sinatra, as hustler Nathan Detroit, Goldwyn set his sights on the world’s reigning sex symbol, Marilyn Monroe, for the part of Sinatra’s showgirl fiancée, Miss Adelaide. With so much talent involved, Guys and Dolls could hardly fail – or could it? Continue reading