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Review: Dead Blondes: You Must Remember Marilyn

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“Marilyn, that icon of über-femininity, is most often compared to other dead women. Or rather, other dead women are compared to her … Whenever a glamorous young woman dies, she is compared to Marilyn Monroe, whether she was a blonde – or dumb – or not.” – Sarah Churchwell

“Like many women, I’ve been studying Marilyn Monroe my entire life,” Karina Longworth writes in the notes for her podcast, You Must Remember This. After making her name in the blogosphere, Longworth has published studies of contemporary movie icons including Meryl Streep.

No less than three classic Monroe films (Bus Stop, Some Like It Hot, and The Misfits) are featured in Hollywood Frame by Frame, a book of contact sheets for which Longworth supplied the text. Since 2014, she has been exploring Hollywood history in her popular and influential podcast. A trilogy of episodes about Marilyn’s life and death is the centrepiece of a dedicated series, ‘Dead Blondes’, and her marriage to Arthur Miller was profiled in an earlier season, ‘The Blacklist.’

In this pantheon of dead blondes, Marilyn is preceded by Peg Entwhistle, Thelma Todd, Jean Harlow, Veronica Lake and Carole Landis; and her successors include Jayne Mansfield, Barbara Payton, Grace Kelly, Barbara Loden and Dorothy Stratten. “The title is a little bit tongue-in-cheek, but it’s also incredibly literal,” Longworth told Entertainment Weekly. “There does seem to be this fascination in the wider culture with these quote-unquote ‘perfect victims,’ the beautiful woman who is taken too soon.”

The first episode, ‘Marilyn Monroe: The Beginning’, is also a repeat, from the ‘Star Wars’ season. Longworth retells the story of Norma Jeane’s unhappy childhood and rise to fame. While she certainly grew up in the shadows of Hollywood, Longworth’s deterministic view is probably overstated. Reframing old gossip from a postmodern perspective, she takes Marilyn’s rumoured promiscuity at face value, as a symptom of endemic sexual harassment. Her early films are barely mentioned, as Longworth believes that cheesecake photos (which suggested to men that Marilyn was “easily pleased,” although she actually found the whole process rather amusing), plus her deft handling of the nude calendar scandal, and a headline-grabbing romance with Joe DiMaggio played a greater part in her ascent to stardom. Mastering her own publicity, she became a “sex goddess for the people,” and by openly discussing her experiences of abuse, she projected a type of “female damage” that women understood all too well. But the guileless vulnerability which solidified her image soon became a prison.

In a decade characterised by material pleasures and sexual repression, curvaceous Marilyn represented ‘a feminine icon of plenty’, but in private, she was plagued by miscarriages and endometriosis. Ezra Goodman, in his The Fifty Year Decline and Fall of Hollywood, described her, and the blonde bombshells who followed in her wake, as ‘lost souls’ whose malleable personae mirrored post-war America’s identity crisis. In ‘Marilyn Monroe: The Persona’, Longworth focuses on her initial starring roles. She gave an affecting performance in Don’t Bother to Knock, an overlooked drama which Longworth judges “both terrifying and sympathetic in its sexualised portrait of female hysteria.”

This was followed by “a trilogy of parodies of consumerism”, starting with Niagara (1953), in which she plays the libidinous Rose, her only character to die onscreen. Although Rose is herself an accessory to murder, Longworth finds her death “legitimately sad – but sadness doesn’t sell.” After Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Marilyn would be more often  identified with comedic parts. Lorelei Lee, Longworth argues, was “the smartest of [Monroe’s] dumb blondes”, justifying her lust for diamonds and manipulation of men as essential self-protection. Blondes was also her first major musical, in which, alongside co-star Jane Russell, she mastered “acting in song.” How to Marry a Millionaire took a more critical view of the selfish society, but is also less cynical as the gold-diggers finally choose love.

Media coverage of her career was often blatantly sexist, such as the 1953 Confidential article, ‘Why Joe DiMaggio Is Striking Out With Marilyn Monroe’, which alleged that movie mogul Joe Schenck was her ‘sugar daddy’. Some of her movies were also regressive in their gender politics, such as River of No Return (1954), in which her character falls for Robert Mitchum after an attempted rape. Even Bus Stop (1956), her first film under a new contract – in which, influenced by the Method, she gave one of her best performances – veers between “garish comedy” and a more sensitive exploration “a woman trying to direct her own life.”

Longworth believes that incidents like the broken strap at Marilyn’s 1956 press conference with Sir Laurence Olivier were “highly calculated”, and by the time she was filming The Prince and the Showgirl in England, Olivier apparently shared that view. Newly married to Arthur Miller, and under the spell of the Strasbergs and psychoanalysis, Marilyn was also dependent on sleeping pills, and the doctors who prescribed them.

After their relationship went public, Arthur Miller was targeted by the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC.) He had attended a few Communist Party meetings in the 1930s, but by 1956, he was no longer interested in party politics. He later claimed that the chairman of HUAC had offered to drop the charges if Marilyn would pose for a photograph with him. She was also being monitored by the FBI at this time, and during filming of Bus Stop, they believed she was living at the Chateau Marmont. This was incorrect – her drama coach, Paula Strasberg, was staying at the hotel, although Marilyn may have used the suite for ‘trysts’ with Miller. As Longworth notes in ‘The Blacklist: After the Fall’, Paula had previously been named by Miller’s former associate, Elia Kazan, in his testimony before HUAC.

Miller famously did not ‘name names’, and was estranged from Kazan. By the time of his acquittal in 1958, Marilyn was filming Some Like It Hot. Her problems on the set are well-documented, but it would become her most enduringly popular movie. Playing the “dumbest of blondes”, Longworth remarks that she “had nothing ‘mental’ to work with.” Her next film, Let’s Make Love, was notable mainly for her affair with co-star Yves Montand. After hearing the gossip, Kazan approached Miller and they began working on After the Fall, a play which draw heavily on his troubled marriage, and would open at the Lincoln Center, which the two men co-founded, in 1964.

The Misfits, which Miller wrote for Marilyn, is one of Longworth’s favourite movies – although she criticises him for “lazily and cruelly” incorporating scenes from their marriage into the script. Nonetheless, Marilyn’s training in the Method suited the introspective material. From Some Like It Hot onwards, Longworth argues, Marilyn’s screen persona was becoming more natural and poignant. After divorcing Miller, she depended increasingly on her psychiatrist, Dr Ralph Greenson. Longworth sees this as a controlling relationship, and observes in ‘Marilyn Monroe: The End’ that he failed in weaning her off prescribed drugs. Concluding that there is little agreement between scholars and investigators on Marilyn’s rumoured affairs with the Kennedy Brothers, Longworth believes that her “sad, but not dramatic” demise was probably accidental, and to those who knew the scale of her addiction, even inevitable.

Karina Longworth is an accomplished storyteller and perceptive critic, but her research is not impeccable. Her main sources are biographies by Donald Spoto, Gloria Steinem and Lois Banner.  Although she takes a mostly sympathetic, even feminist view, she is not immune to sensationalism and once posted – but later deleted – Marilyn’s autopsy photo on Twitter to promote the show (it was first published, amid much disquiet, in Anthony Summers’ Goddess.) She occasionally misattributes quotations, or conflates different events, which can give a misleading impression. For example, while the young Norma Jeane may have fantasised that her father was Clark Gable, there is no evidence that she actually believed this, or told it to others. And the 113-ft ‘longest walk in history’ in Niagara was not Marilyn’s death scene. If Longworth’s aim is to demythologise the Monroe legend, she doesn’t fully succeed. Although You Must Remember This offers a lively analysis of the star system, it shouldn’t be taken too literally but rather as a starting point for further exploration.

 

Tara Hanks for Immortal Marilyn

Book Review: Music For Chameleons

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Music for Chameleons

By Truman Capote

1980 Random House

 

Is it a “Marilyn book”? Not really, but there is a short piece on her. Is that any good? Depends whether you like Truman Capote or not. A lot of folks do. But an equal number can’t stand the guy.

If there were a list created that named one hundred of the most memorable characters of the 20th century, Truman Capote would likely be in the top ten. If you are not old enough to remember his appearances on the Tonight Show or his famous/infamous masked ball, then you missed out on quite a lot. Without Capote the character, the man who either grated on people’s nerves, (and made them plenty nervous), or could boast of fans as devoted as Marilyn’s, all that is left are his words. And that perhaps is not a bad thing. I have a friend who to this day refuses to read Capote simply because he can’t stand the guy who used to show up on Johnny Carson fully equipped with all of the stereotypical mincing moves and that high pitched voice that sounded like a homophobic comic trying to imitate a gay man.

But the thing with Capote was he was SO outlandish, that voice so falsetto and his attitude one big “I don’t give a sh**”, that you couldn’t help but love him. He wasn’t PC, but he thrived on being a celebrity and when his words dried up and all that was left was the celebrity, he played it for all it was worth and more power to him. Maybe now that he is dead and the memory of that voice, (seriously– you think Evelyn Moriarty has a funny way of talking?), has faded away, more people will turn to the work he left behind and realize what an incredible artist the guy was. The funny thing about Capote is that he is remembered primarily for “In Cold Blood”, the one book of his that was a huge bestseller. I say funny because that book, which I admit is phenomenal, is so different than anything else the man wrote. “Other Voices, Other Rooms”, “The Gras Harp”, even “A Christmas Memory” are works that are closer to poetry than standard fiction.

But what does this have to do with Marilyn? Simple. A collection of his essays issued in 1980 includes a piece called “A Beautiful Child”, a small memory work that focuses on the afternoon he and Marilyn spent together following Constance Collier’s funeral in April 1955. April 28, 1955 to be exact, as he informs the reader in the very first line.

Capote might be a great writer but you really wouldn’t know it from this short piece. That’s not to say it isn’t enjoyable but after the first few pages, the rest is written up as if it were dialog from a play–

TC: You want to go home?

MARILYN: Everything’s ruined.

TC: I’ll take you home.

 

And for the diehard MM fan, Capote proves he hasn’t done his research when in the third paragraph he states that Asphalt Jungle was Marilyn’s “first speaking part”. But who cares, right? What I want in a MM memory, (and I assume you too), is that it provide me with a glimpse into Marilyn’s life and I’d like to learn something new. On those counts, “A Beautiful Child” does not disappoint. I had never heard of Marilyn having studied with Constance Collier, let alone that she had attended her funeral.

So then there’s the question– as Capote presents everything as dialog– does this “sound” like Marilyn? Up to you. As much as I like to think I know Marilyn, reading her words here, (or at least her words as Capote recalls them), it doesn’t sound like the Marilyn I thought I knew. Capote, when asked by Marilyn what Elizabeth Taylor is like, answers “Well, a little like you, she wears her heart on her sleeve and talks salty.” So maybe Marilyn did have a mouth on her. I never met the woman and have only heard her speak words written for her or talking with Richard Meryman. But be forewarned– if you don’t like your Marilyn “salty”, don’t read “Music for Chameleons“.

What is worth the price of the book is the one page where Capote has Constance Collier speaking about Marilyn. That’s where the description “a beautiful child” comes in. She likens Marilyn to Greta Garbo and makes a very convincing case. The admiration of the aging Shakespearean actress for Monroe is evident, especially when you read that she had been working with Marilyn on doing Ophelia. The things we missed being born when we were and not traveling in the right circles, eh?.

As for the book and as for “A Beautiful Child”, I think this is one that is going to be up to you if you want to seek it out or not. Me, I love Capote, so the question was a no-brainer. But if you want to read only about Marilyn, I don’t know if you’d like it or not. Capote was a character. But the character he presents here as Marilyn, I’m not sure it is one we would recognize.

If you would prefer another Capote work to get a true feel for Marilyn as well as Capote’s thoughts about her, find a copy of the short novel, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”, written with Marilyn in mind. It’s odd but Holy Golightly feels much more like the Marilyn I think I know than the Marilyn Monroe of “A Beautiful Child”.

One last thought–  If ever there was ever a doubt Marilyn’s popularity, (and ability to sell), “Music for Chameleons” provided proof a few years back when I was in Italy. The book had been reissued and the new paperback caught my eye immediately when I saw it in a bookshop window– not because it was Capote but because the entire cover of the book was a black and white photo of Marilyn. “A Beautiful Child” is only 19 pages long, yet the publisher was relying on MM to sell the whole book.

 

David Marshall for Immortal Marilyn

New Milton Greene Book Hits Shelves in Open and Limited Editions

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Fans have long awaited a new book featuring the photography of Milton Greene, and now we have it.

The Essential Marilyn Monroe – 50 Sessions features hundreds of Greene’s photographs of Marilyn across their prolific photographic and personal relationship.  The book, already released in Europe, has an official U.S. release date of October 6th, but you can enter to win one of five copies online at essentialmarilyn.com.

In the market for something more rare and valuable?  The deluxe edition of the book, limited to 500 copies, is also available online.  This version comes with a letter of authenticity as well as your choice of one of two special run prints of Green’s photos of Marilyn.  Check it out here.

While this is a very pricey book, it’s also likely to join the ranks of other rare and limited edition books that are highly sought after by collectors.

Milton’s son, Joshua Greene, was involved in every aspect of the creation of this book, and it’s without a doubt the must-have for Marilyn fans this year.

Book Review Times 2: Hometown Girl and Marilyn’s Addresses

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Hometown Girl

By Eric Woodard

2004 HG Press

 

                               Marilyn’s Addresses

 

                               By Michelle Finn (Morgan)

                               1995 Smith Gryphon Limited

 

For those of you who weren’t able to go to this year’s annual MM Community gathering in Los Angeles, I’ve two books to tell you about that will allow you to see Marilyn’s hometown from wherever you are. Or maybe you are planning to head to LA at some point in the future and want to create your own tour of those spots where Marilyn Monroe once worked, played, lived and laughed. Used to be you either went ahead and booked a trip and once there just kind of winged it but with the aid of Michelle Finn and Eric Woodard you can sit down and map out every single place you want to see in person.

 

Eric Woodard took his time in researching everything from addresses, vintage phone numbers, gathering visuals be they matchbook covers or old postcards, and it paid off big time with Hometown Girl. The resulting book is a class act from the first page to the very last. The colors are vibrant. The paper is of the highest glossy quality. And again the research that went into this project is astounding. As Eric mentions in his introduction, “most people don’t understand when I try to explain what Hometown Girl is all about. But then again, this book isn’t for them. It is for those fans like myself who have an obsessive need to know the minutest tidbit of information about, to us at least, one of the few iconic symbols of the twentieth century and beyond.”

 

The text on the cover pretty much explains the concept of the book: “A chronological guide of Marilyn Monroe related Los Angeles area addresses from 1923 to 1962 with 250 listings illustrated with over 700 images.” What the cover doesn’t tell you is that the visual images leap off the page to grab the reader and pull them deep into a world that for the most part is no longer: the actual world Marilyn Monroe inhabited. Yet this is not a presentation of photo after photo but a nearly 200 page collage created by an incredible graphic artist. In the hands of any other author the information would be welcomed but in no way could it have been presented in such a dazzling manner.

 

Many authors can write about Marilyn’s life and I’m pretty sure you’ve read a good deal of them. But it is one thing to read a four hundred page biography, (even those with a sizable photo section), and quite another to enter Marilyn’s environment with Eric Woodard as your visual guide. You can see a picture of the young MM dining with her first husband and her mother, everyone at the table grinning for the likely souvenir photograph, but to see the restaurant in color, see a menu or a matchbook cover and know what now stands there—this is a totally different experience. Or how about trying to find where the famed Macambo nightclub once stood, the place where Marilyn Monroe used her growing stardom as leverage to break the color barrier and land Ella Fitzgerald a booking? Or maybe you’re halfway through Donald Spoto’s biography and would love to figure out the distance between Peter Lawford’s Santa Monica home and 12305 5th Helena? Curious to see what the exterior AND interior of the home Marilyn and Milton Greene rented during the filming of Bus Stop? You’ve read that Marilyn was looking for a place like Dr. Greenson’s house but have no idea what his home looked like? It’s all right here in this book.

 

From the very first page Hometown Girl guides you through Marilyn’s day to day life, seeing her world through her eyes, from the quiet of Grace Goddard’s backyard, to the skating rink Norma Jeanne and Bebe escaped to, from the Beverly Hilton where she accepted her last Golden Globe to poolside at the Lawford’s Santa Monica beach house.

And that’s’ the joy of this book: to see Los Angeles as it she saw it. Any book that can tell me on which corner to stand and then describe the famous Schwab’s Pharmacy to the point where I can actually see Sidney Skolsky rather than the Crunch Gym that stands there today, is more than okay with me. It is a treasure to hold onto and retreat into whenever the spirit moves me.

 

While Hometown Girl concentrates on the many places Marilyn lived, played and worked in and about Los Angeles and is presented in a chronological-biographical format, Marilyn’s Addresses also encompasses many of the locations Marilyn traveled to—from Los Angeles to New York, from Canada to Japan, from England to Mexico.

 

After she compiled Marilyn’s Addresses, Michelle Finn got married, became Michelle Morgan and went on to write Marilyn Monroe: Private and Undisclosed and The Ice Cream Blonde: The Whirlwind Life and Mysterious Death of Screwball Comedienne Thelma Todd , among others. What you’ve got to remember though is Michelle is not a California native—she was simply a talented fan living in England when she put her self-published “The Marilyn Monroe Address Book” together in 1993. That bit of fan research turned into her first published book Marilyn’s Address in 1995. And although this may have started out as more of a fan’s hobby, thanks to her impeccable research it has led to Michelle’s standing as one of the foremost Hollywood historians.

 

What I found surprising, (although having now read her other books I realize I should never be surprised by Michelle Morgan), was the amount of information that I had been unaware of. Take Las Vegas for example. I knew that Marilyn had traveled to Vegas for the Dougherty divorce, knew that she had met up with Roy Rogers while there and even got to ride his horse Trigger, but I had no idea where she had stayed. Well, here in Marilyn’s Addresses you will discover that it was at The Last Frontier, (still in existence as The Frontier), one of the very first hotel casinos in what was then a sleepy little town out in the Nevada desert. Or take her entry on Paramount Studios. I knew that the last scenes for The Misfits were filmed there but had no idea which scenes or that it was during the two weeks of final filming that Marilyn posed for the Arnold sitting. And although you might already know where Marilyn and Joe went on their first date, not many MM fans know the exact location in New York where Marilyn scrawled “Marilyn Monroe Was Here” in a patch of wet cement. Michelle Finn, all the way over in England made it a point to find out and includes this information in her book.

 

If I haven’t made it clear yet, comparing Hometown Girl  and Marilyn’s Addresses is like apples and oranges- both are wonderful additions to any Marilyn collection. Look at it this way: even though two books might be similar, you really should own both. As is the case with The Marilyn Encyclopedia and Marilyn A to Z, both editions of Eve Arnold’s Appreciation, or The Complete Films of Marilyn Monroe and Blonde Heat, what you might find in one you won’t find in the other. And if you are as entranced with Marilyn as I am, you’ll want ALL the information you can get. You read both Donald Spoto and Barbara Leaming, why not both Hometown Girl and Marilyn’s Addresses?

 

David.

I Do Not Know This Marilyn Monroe

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On August 5th, 2017, IM’s Leslie Kasperowicz gave this speech at the 55th Memorial Service for Marilyn Monroe. 

 

I last stood at this podium fifteen years ago. A few years before that, I sat here, in this chapel, and I heard the words of Lee Strasberg’s eulogy for Marilyn Monroe for the first time. I don’t doubt that those words were as powerful for all of you the first time you heard them as they were for me – and if today is your first time in this chapel, I know you, too, will feel the power of that eulogy shortly.

What stood out to me from Lee’s words about Marilyn was his recognition that the real person behind the glamour girl image was very different. Marilyn Monroe was a movie star, an icon, a legend in her own time. But Lee did not know that Marilyn Monroe – he knew a woman, a human being, warm, funny, fragile, sweet. In recent years, those words have haunted me more powerfully than ever before.

When last I stood here, the internet was still young; the Marilyn community only a part of the online world for a few short years.

Much has changed since then, and when I look at the Marilyn Monroe known by the internet world today, I can only repeat Lee Strasberg’s words: I do not know this Marilyn Monroe.

Once upon a time, a false story about Marilyn could only be spread as fast as paper publications could disseminate; and tabloid stories were easily recognizable as fake news. Today, a fake news story about Marilyn spreads in seconds across the globe, and just as quickly becomes “fact” as the tabloid source is obfuscated in the anonymity of the internet share, reblog, ReTweet. The reputation of the source hardly matters anymore. Her true story is lost in the clickbait sensationalism, and I do not know this Marilyn Monroe.

When last I stood here, Photoshopped photos of Marilyn were rare and easy to spot. Today, a new fan’s first image of Marilyn is as likely to be a fake photo as a real one; the fakes so widespread that even Google images has a photoshop in the number one spot for results. Marilyn’s head is seen on the bodies of others, she is shown with people and in situations that never happened in her lifetime; she is seen brandishing guns, throwing gang signs, covered in tattoos. And I do not know this Marilyn Monroe.

Fake quotes spread around the world so fast and so thoroughly that when searched, she is the only source to be found. Inane, vague, and utterly ridiculous statements are attributed to her, she is turned into a talking head for what a new generation thinks of as inspirational words she would never, in reality, have spoken. And I do not know this Marilyn Monroe.

In spite of having more communication than ever before, the people who love and respect the real, warm, loving, flawed, vulnerable human being behind the blonde hair, red lips, and beauty mark have never found their voices more lost in the storm. They are here in this room, they are all of you, and you, like me, do not know the Marilyn Monroe of internet infamy.

As we gather here today to remember a woman who lit up not only the silver screen but also the hearts and minds of those who have discovered who she really was, we are the love she sought. We are the remaining faithful, the torchbearers for a woman who wanted only to be seen for who she really was, and not only for the image that brought her fame.

We are the ones who will quote her right, protect her image, uphold the truth about her life, and not allow her to be forgotten. We, who know in our hearts our Marilyn Monroe, the Marilyn Monroe who captured us and brought us here today.

Our Marilyn Monroe is more than an icon, more than a brand, more than a name, more than a character. Our Marilyn Monroe wanted only to find love, to be respected for her work, to be treated with dignity, to be an honest and realized human being – to be treated as such, and to work at being an actress. She was not a joke, no matter how hard some tried to make her one. And she was worth more as a human being to those who love her than her glamorous image ever earned after her death.

Thank you all for joining me in honouring Marilyn today in the manner she deserves, and remembering her for the person she really was. May the entire world someday come to discover our Marilyn Monroe, the Marilyn Monroe we know.   May she know we are here, and know she is loved.

 

Listen to Lee Strasberg’s eulogy for Marilyn Monroe on YouTube.

Immortal Marilyn 55th Memorial Flowers

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Westwood Flower Gardens once again outdid themselves on our astonishingly gorgeous floral arrangement for the 55th anniversary of Marilyn’s passing.  Our beautiful flowers adorned the chapel during the memorial service before being brought out to Marilyn’s crypt.  We donated $400 to Animal Haven with the excess funds raised.

Thank you to all of our flower donors:

Andrée Felisatti

Christine McRae

Carolien Krijnen

Alberto Fernandez

Marisa Vanderpest

Shaney Evans

Mary Farver

Debra Stahl

Megan Owen

Dorina Barile

Nathalie Terhorst-Lensink

Treena Leonard

Sirkku Aaltonen

Heather and Sean Williams

Cora Morana

Marcelline Block

Melissa Murphy

Nancy Jones Cook

Barrie and Jackie Edlin

Lorraine Nicol

Eric Patry

Dionne Abraham

Barbara e Max Re

Leslie Kasperowicz

Johan Grimmius

Bruce Maki

Lisa Bates-Slone and Fallon Slone

Peter Lo

Sarah Draper

Donna Shields

Virginia Munro

Tina Garland

Deb Hoyle

Pavle Ivanov

Brandi Wakeley

Mary Sims

Paul Glazebrook

Gianandrea Colombo

Will Morann (William Green)

Deb Bakker

Edwin Bakker

Suzie Kennedy

Phillip Bradbury

 

55th Marilyn Memorial – August, 2017

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Fans gathered once again for a week of exciting events honouring the life of Marilyn Monroe.  Immortal Marilyn hosted two events, a pool party at the Avalon Hotel and a sunset dinner at Mariasol Restaurant on the world-famous Santa Monica Pier.  Other events included a tour of Marilyn homes and haunts  hosted by Elisa Jordan of LA Woman Tours, a VIP showing of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes at the Chinese Theater, the Memorial Service at Westwood Memorial Park, and An Evening with Marilyn at Hollygrove, hosted by Marilyn Remembered, and a trip to the Del Coronado arranged by Jim Parson.

We want to thank everyone who made Memorial Week a success, and share a few photos from the events!

Avalon Hotel Pool Party.  August 2, 2017

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes at the Chinese Theater, hosting by Marilyn Remembered.  August 3, 2017

Santa Monica Sunset Dinner & Toast, August 4th

Memorial Service, August 5th 2017, hosted by Marilyn Remembered

An Evening With Marilyn at Hollygrove, august 5th, 2017, hosted by Marilyn Remembered

Tours, Hollywood, Friends Hanging Out Together!

The 55th Memorial For Marilyn Monroe – Thanks to Our Sponsors and Donors!!!

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The 55th Memorial for Marilyn Monroe is in the books, and we here at IM have a lot of thanks to give.  IM hosted two fun events that we could not have managed on our own.  Many people gave of their time, money, and Marilyn collections to make our raffles, door prizes, and general atmosphere a success.

 

We’d like to specifically thank:

Melody Lockard for her astonishingly beautiful logos created just for our events.  Buy our logo merchandise here.

Tracie Finite for her graphic design help creating the Pool Party Beverly Carlton key tags, check out her website here.

Holly Beavon for her help with arranging prizes, providing an audio system to the Pool Party, singing our Happy Birthday tribute, and generally being awesome!  Visit Holly’s website here.

Jill Adams for allowing us to store mountains of items at her home and delivering them to us at the Avalon for our events!

Gary and Oscar Vitacco-Robles (buy Gary’s books here) for their invaluable assistance in setting up for the pool party, and everyone else who pitched in to get us ready!

 

Cash Donations were offered by:

David Marshall

Shaney Evans

American Icon/American Rehab Campuses

 

Raffle and Door Prizes were gratefully received from:

Gary and Oscar Vitacco-Robles

Carolien Krijnen

Michelle Morgan

The Shaw Family

Tom Kelley, Jr.

Douglas Kirkland

Boze Hadleigh

Flatiron Books

David Wills

Eric Woodard

Richard Hanna

Tina Garland

Susan Bernard

Nathalie Terhorst-Lensink

Joshua Greene

Heather and Sean Williams

Melinda Mason

Debra Holden

Colin Glassborow

Emily Finch

Jill Adams

Marcelline Block

Eiji Aoki

Suzanne Sumner-Ferry

Mary Sims

Leslie Kasperowicz

 

More special thanks to our awesome venues and their staff:

The Avalon Hotel Beverly Hills

Mariasol Restaurant

The Orchid Suites Hotel

 

THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF OUR HEARTS!

Marilyn’s Contemporaries: Judy Garland

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Frances Ethel Gumm, born in Minnesota on June 10, 1922, was the youngest of three girls by married couple Frank and Ethel Gumm. The family of five was settled in the city of Grand Rapids, where the former vaudeville parents had purchased a movie house. Little Frances was known only as “Baby,” and at just three years old began singing with her sisters in between shows at their theater.

 

Judy as a child

Searching for better business opportunities, the Gumms bid farewell to Grand Rapids and migrated across the country to California, where Frank purchased a new theater in Lancaster. There, Judy lived an average childhood for a little girl with a mother pushing her children to make it in show business. The Gumm sisters sang and danced their hearts out for performances both in California and across the country. But as time went on, it became clear that Baby Gumm was destined to become the star. She stood out among her siblings, and the audiences melted at the child’s impressive, mature vocals and poignant performances.

 

It would be close to ten years before Judy finally got her chance at becoming a star. After a successful booking in Chicago in 1934, Judy returned to Los Angeles with a newfound confidence. In fact, it was during this trip that George Jessel gave the sisters the stage name Garland. Judy had chosen the name Judy after the song of the same name by Hoagy Carmichael. She continued perform at significant venues such as Grauman’s Chinese Theater and the Cal-Neva Lodge. It was at the Lodge that Judy privately put on a chance performance for four important men from Hollywood. One of these men was agent Al Rosen, who finally convinced Ida Koverman of MGM to give Judy an audition. After vocal auditions, she was signed to the studio without a screen test. However, just as this beacon of light from MGM was shining her direction, she suffered a traumatic loss. Frank Gumm passed away just one month later as a result of fluid from an ear infection reaching his brain and spinal chord. This was a devastating loss, as Judy adored her father and was closer with him than her mother.

 

With the untimely passing of her father weighing heavily on her heart, Judy continued to pursue her work as an actress. She eventually landed her first role in a full-length film titled Pigskin Parade. She was disappointed in the final product, and in how she looked on screen. It was around this time that MGM began the deadly routine put upon many of its stars: taking prescription medication to control weight. At just fifteen years old, Judy was regularly consuming Benzedrine, Phenobarbital, and Seconal tablets.

 

At the premiere of Broadway Melody of 1938

By February of 1937, Judy’s vocal coach, Roger Edens, saw an opportunity to utilize a studio event to showcase her vocal talent to her superiors: Clark Gable’s birthday party. Using an original story and music by Carmel Myers, Edens rewrote material specifically for Judy to perform at Gable’s party. That song was called “Dear Mr. Gable.” She received an incredible reception from the crowd, especially from Gable himself. As a result of this event, Judy received just the boost she needed to become cast in a big feature film to be titled Broadway Melody of 1938, in which she performed the song she made famous at Gable’s party that day.

 

Not long after, songwriter Arthur Freed was determined to find a vehicle specifically for Judy. That project became the timeless musical The Wizard of Oz. Several years prior, Mayer had bought the property where it remained in his studio’s possession for years before it was decided that this would be the perfect film to center on a young, doe-eyed Judy Garland, who the public was vastly coming to adore.

 

Not long after Oz, Mayer awarded Judy a seven year contract at MGM. She was having a difficult time at home; her mother had recently eloped with a neighbor of the family who Ethel had been seeing even during her marriage to Frank Gumm. This was traumatizing for Judy, and distanced her even further from Ethel, who was already trying to control Judy’s finances.  Her next film would be her first real adult role: For Me And My Gal. Judy campaigned for newcomer Gene Kelly to play opposite her in what would become his first picture.

 

It wasn’t long before Judy met musical arranger David Rose. There was a large age difference; Judy was only nineteen years of age while David was thirty-one. Ethel made it known that she was against their union, but the two eventually married in the summer of 1941, a marriage that would last only a year and a half. They grew farther apart as time went on, each becoming too busy in both of their careers.

 

Judy with daughter Liza

Judy then began a romance with director Vincente Minnelli beginning on the set of Meet Me In St. Louis. The two married in 1945. The first of Judy’s children, daughter Liza Minnelli, was born the following March. It wasn’t long before Judy was back to work at MGM, reunited with her former co-star, Gene Kelly, for The Pirate. By this time, she and Minnelli were already having difficulties in their marriage. They would remain together for only six years.

 

Her heavy reliance on pills made it difficult for her to appear at the sets on time. There were frequent changes in her behavior, and MGM was already putting her under enough pressure. In 1949, she was replaced by Ginger Rogers for the film The Barkleys of Broadway, and after that, Betty Hutton for the musical Annie Get Your Gun. These events would lead to her suspension from the studio, a suspension she was relieved of after just a few months of rest, to return to film Summer Stock. By 1950, she was officially fired from MGM.

 

Penniless with no job, Judy soon ran into manager and producer Sid Luft, who she had previously met several years before in Hollywood. They began to see each other while Judy’s divorce from Minnelli was being finalized. She soon signed with the William Morris Agency, where she was thrust into the world of radio shows with big names such as Bing Crosby and Bob Hope.

 

In April of 1951, Judy received a tremendous reception for her stage comeback at London’s Palladium, a performance that inspired a European tour. Judy became Mrs. Sid Luft in 1952, and she gave birth to second daughter Lorna that same year in November. After Lorna’s birth, Judy dove straight into filming the musical remake of A Star Is Born (1954), after which her third and last child, son Joey Luft, was born.

 

******* With another marriage on the rocks, she struggled to pay off her debts with theater engagements after settling in London during another comeback at the Palladium. Her divorce from Luft, who had become her manager, wouldn’t become final until 1965, after which she immediately began a romance with little-known actor Mark Herron, who she married that same year.

 

In the 1960s

One of the highlights of her stage career came in April of 1961, when she put on a historic performance at Carnegie Hall. Still relentlessly adored by the public, she was able to reach audiences at home when CBS picked up “The Judy Garland Show,” which ran for four years before it was dropped in 1964.

 

She divorced Herron in 1967, and in 1969, just months before her death, married night club businessman Mickey Deans. Tragically, at just forty-seven years old, Judy passed away suddenly as the result of an overdose of Seconal tablets.

 

“What it amounts to, really, is that I’ve been a little girl who hasn’t quite known where she is going. But now, at least, I know. Finished? Why, I’m right at the beginning of something.” –Judy Garland, 1967

Personal Connections

Judy was introduced to dangerous prescription drugs as a teenager at MGM to help her sleep, keep her awake, and control her weight. Marilyn also battled prescription drug addiction, frequently consuming large amounts of sleeping pills for her insomnia. Both women relied heavily on their therapists, and would both die from an accidental barbiturate overdose.

 

Both women were distant from their mother; Marilyn never saw her mother after the 1940’s due to her mental illness and in Judy’s case, the two only grew more apart as time went on. Ethel was overly controlling of her daughter’s finances and personal life, and allowed her to be mistreated by MGM.

 

Judy was introduced to psychoanalysis early on in her career.. Marilyn began psychotherapy in 1952, but delved into it deeper beginning in 1955 at the suggestion of Lee Strasberg, and continued to see a therapist often throughout the rest of her life.

 

Judy and Marilyn at the 1962 Golden Globes

Judy and Marilyn even met on a few occasions. Two of which were the 1959 dinner to welcome Nikita Khrushchev to Hollywood, and the 1962 Golden Globes ceremony. In 1967, Judy spoke about Marilyn in an article for Ladies Home Journal:

 

“That beautiful girl was frightened of aloneness – the same thing I’ve been afraid of. Like me, she was just trying to do her job. To garnish some delightful whipped cream onto some people’s lives. But Marilyn and I never got a chance to talk [about our struggles]. I had to leave for England, and I never saw that sweet, dear girl again. I wish I had been able to talk to her the night she died.”

 

Marilyn and Judy had a lot in common in their personal lives, both negatively and positively. But, one thing can be said for sure about them both: neither will be forgotten. Their contributions to movies, television, and the tremendous light they gave to the world during their brief but beautiful time on this earth will live on forever.

 

-Ky Monroe for Immortal Marilyn