Book Review: Cursum Perficio: Marilyn Monroe’s Brentwood Hacienda

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Cursum Perficio: Marilyn Monroe’s Brentwood Hacienda

By Gary Vitacco-Robles

1999 iUniverse

ISBN 0595010822


For anyone who might be planning on going down to Los Angeles this August, one of the major highlights will be the annual trek to 5th Helena, the small cul-de-sac that ends with the gates leading to Marilyn Monroe’s final home. To be able to actually walk up to these gates is an experience no member of the Marilyn Community will ever be able to forget. The one drawback however is the frustration that you can’t go any further. You can stand in front of the gates, you can jump up as high as you can for a micro-second glimpse, but you can’t do what literally every MM fan dreams of—stepping onto the property and going inside.


Of course, even if by some miracle the folks who live there decided to invite you in, it wouldn’t be the same. The house has changed since 1962; the images you hold in your mind of her furnishings, her wall hangings, her presence, are long gone. But, thank God for Gary Vitacco-Robles because due to this one man’s dream and persistent research, you can go inside. Better yet, you can go inside in 1962. His book Cursum Perficio pushes those gates wide open and says Come on in, let me show you around.


For those of you new to Marilyn lore, the first thing you are probably asking is just what the heck is Cursum Perficio? The Latin phrase appears on a group of four tiles forming a coat of arms at Marilyn’s front door. The loose translation comes to “End of My Journey.” Although the original owners of the home obviously meant the phrase to mean that they have found their small haven at the end of a long journey, a cozy place of respite, after Marilyn’s death the tiles took on a more prophetic feel, one several biographers have focused on with a kind of doomsday music playing in the background. I seriously doubt Marilyn herself ever thought of those little tiles in that way. I’d rather believe that she found them charming and hoped that she really had found a tiny haven at the end of a strenuous journey. But there is so much more to those words once they graced the door of one of the most fascinating women of the 20th century. Gary’s book will fill you in on nearly everything having to do with the modest hacienda style house at the end of 5th Helena Drive.


Like any Marilyn Monroe fan, you’ve seen dozens and dozens of pictures of Marilyn’s house—the forecourt, the pool, her bedroom, her kitchen, her bathroom. You’ve pored through the auction catalogs to see much that was once in this house, everything from her glassware to ashtrays, from wall hangings to her stereo. But where did everything go? Which room led into which? You can study the pictures but it’s still difficult to get a good idea of how the house was laid out, what one would see when the front door was opened. Here again, Gary provides his readers with everything you need and want.


The book is lushly illustrated with drawings and photos, (among the illustrators is one Eric Monroe Woodard of Hometown Girl), floor plans, layouts of the home and property as well as the furnishings. Items that had appeared in the Christie’s auction return to their natural setting, arranged as Marilyn had placed them while decorating and planning her small nest in Brentwood.


But there’s a lot more here than just “and this is where she had her coffee table.” Following Marilyn’s last year from her return to Los Angeles, her initial sessions with Dr. Greenson and her introduction to Eunice Murray, the reader is allowed to follow Marilyn through her final months from house searching to the purchase of 12305 5th Helena, from her trip to Mexico and her furniture buying spree to the careful placing of each object. Much has been written about the house’s “barren” aspect without any mention that the house was a project “in progress”, that Marilyn was a busy woman who was taking her time and doing it right. Cursum Perficio allows the reader to visualize Marilyn’s overall decorating plans as well as showing just how far she had come in realizing her dream of the perfect home.


It doesn’t end there — the book also covers such items as Marilyn’s daily schedule before and after the Something’s Got To Give filming, where she shopped, what her daily routine was while renegotiating her contract. We see Joe DiMaggio reenter her life, her friendships with Frank and the boys, her plans for upcoming projects such as “I Love Louisa,” (later made as What A Way To Go! with Shirley MacLaine). Add the coming together of her final photo sessions with Stern and Barris as well as her last interview with LIFE magazine writer Richard Meryman, and you’ve a wonderful book capturing her final summer.


Although the book does cover Marilyn’s passing, there is no investigation or speculation here. And that’s as it should be. The book is about Marilyn’s last months of life, the planning and decorating of her home, her plans for the future. And that is what should appeal most to those interested in Marilyn’s final abode. This is not a book about where Marilyn Monroe died. Cursum Perficio is a book about where she lived.


David Marshall




The Weekly Marilyn Round-Up: March 24, 2017

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It’s Friday once again, and it’s time to see how our girl popped up in the headlines this week!


Who would Stephen Hawking choose to life with him on a desert island for the rest of his life?  In a recent interview for Good Morning Britain! Hawking named Albert Einstein, Galileo, and….Marilyn Monroe.  Famous physicist Hawking is known to be a big Marilyn fan; he decorates his office with her posters and has a Marilyn mug on his desk.  Without a doubt Marilyn would be touched to be included among such an illustrious group, particularly Einstein, a man she greatly admired.


Remember that Marilyn-themed house we reported on last week?  Well it turns out the place is drawing a lot of interest.  The owner is likely to get her asking price for the place, given the fact that her realtor reports there have been calls from all over to view it.  The home has gone viral on the internet, drawing the curious to see just how much Marilyn one can fit in less than 1200 square feet (A LOT).


No word on how the auction this past week went for the fan footage of Marilyn on the set of Some Like it Hot – in colour no less – that recently surfaced.  The estimate, according to the report, was around $4000, but give what Marilyn items go for these days, it would be no surprise if it went higher.


Model Karlie Kloss, the face of Swarovski, gave tribute to Marilyn in a performance celebrating the company’s history.  Wearing a pink one-shouldered gown, Kloss gave a Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend-esque performance – perhaps arguing in favour of Swarovski crystals over real diamonds?  Lorelei Lee would most certainly beg to differ.


That’s it for this week – enjoy the weekend!

The Weekly Marilyn Round-Up: March 17, 2017

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Hi there Marilyn fans!  It’s time to round up all the headlines our girl has been making lately!  As usual she’s in the news…


Inside Dublin’s wild Marilyn-themed home

Think your home has a Marilyn theme?  It may not be on the same level as this Dublin house, which made headlines for its Marilyn-intensive and very colourful interior when it went up for sale recently.  The home features Marilyn – and a lot of bright decor – in nearly every room, leading headlines to call it “garish”.  What do you think Marilyn fans?  A fabulous Marilyn shrine or a little too much?

In other real estate news, a condo in the building where Marilyn once lived has hit the market for a whopping $5 million.  It’s not Marilyn’s apartment, but the building certainly comes with a lot of history.

The Marilyn Monroe Spa brand is expanding out of the United States and into…India?  Reports say the company has struck a deal to build 250 of their themed spa franchises in cities like Mumbai.  Although India isn’t the first international location most people will think of when they think of Marilyn’s fandom, multiple Bollywood stars from the nation have been named in the “channeling Marilyn” department, or compared to her.  The company clearly thinks there is a market there, and plans to expand to further international locations in the future.

The battle over the rights to Marilyn’s name and image continues in court.  This week a U.S. District Court heard further arguments as to whether or not the name Marilyn Monroe is in the public domain or can be held as a trademark by the estate.  The ultimate question: is “Marilyn Monroe” too generic to be owned by the estate?  The ongoing case will eventually determine whether the estate can continue to have sole ownership of her name, contrary to what the company involved in the suit claims.  Stay tuned…

On the heels of the huge November 2016 auction of Marilyn items come two further auctions from Julien’s.  On now and online only is the Marilyn Through the Lens auction, featuring images of Marilyn taken by multiple photographers throughout her career.  Some of Marilyn’s famous jewelry will be featured in an upcoming Treasures From the Hollywood Vault auction.  Included are the earrings worn with the gold lame dress in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, among other items.

Shockingly, we don’t have any new installments to the “Who Channelled Marilyn?” list this week, but Cosmopolitan does have an interview with former Universal Studios Marilyn impersonator Danica Kennedy, who talks about what it’s like to play Marilyn and how it impacted her career.


That’s the news for this week – Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Marilyn’s Contemporaries: Vivian Vance

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Life and Career


Vivian with her older sister, Venus

Euphemia Mae (Ragan) Jones and Bob Jones welcomed their second baby girl, Vivian Roberta Jones, on July 26th, 1909, in Cherryvale, Kansas. The Jones family would have a total of six children. Vivian’s mother Euphemia “Famie” was heavily religious, and growing up, she always hoped that Vivian, an outgoing and independent child, would pursue a career in teaching, rather than the stage, where Vivian knew in her heart she was destined to be from a young age.

Searching for better financial opportunities, the family soon moved to the town of Independence, Kansas, where Bob and brother Ralph opened the Jones Brothers Grocery Store. There, Vivian’s childhood consisted of staying out late with friends, getting out of the house as much as possible, and being adventurous. Despite heated arguments between Vivian’s parents, especially regarding Bob’s extra relationships with a few other women, he and Famie remained together and in 1928, the Jones family packed their bags once again and moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico for a fresh start.


However, Vivian did not go with them. By this time, she was in her late teens, and longed to be freed from the strict and limiting confines of her home. She needed an environment to express her unique talents and passions; she was not being given the encouragement she needed at home. A couple years before her family made the move to New Mexico, Vivian had made the decision to move to Tulsa, Oklahoma, to pursue her passion for singing and stage acting. She spent her Tulsa days in a small hotel room while performing at the Crystal City Amusement Park. It wasn’t long before she fell for a man named Joe Danneck, a booking manager for the musical Broadway, which was making its way across the Midwest at the time. With Joe’s help, Vivian eventually landed a chorus role in the show and began touring with the company. The couple’s relationship quickly became serious, and they were married on October 6, 1928.


Vivian soon reunited with her family in Albuquerque, moving into a small apartment there with her new husband. However, she and Joe were leading separate lives, and didn’t see each other often. By 1930, they were divorced. From there, Vivian became an overnight sensation in Albuquerque with her role in the vaudeville show Cushman’s Revue. This helped secure her a spot in the new Albuquerque Little Theater, where she landed lead roles in the seasons’ productions and shined among the cast, receiving great audience and critical appreciation. She was so loved by the community that the proceeds from a 1932 performance of The Trial of Mary Dugan were transferred to a special bank account for Vivian to be sent to New York.


Forever feeling that she owed Albuquerque for her opportunity, Vivian was determined to do well and become a successful stage actress. For years she worked to build her acting and singing experience, appearing in both lead and minor roles in several theatrical productions, and even made appearances on Broadway. At one point she was the understudy to Ethel Merman, and the rival of Gertrude Lawrence.  By 1933, Vivian married again, this time to musician George Koch. They had little in common, and marriage didn’t stop Vivian from seeking other opportunities from other men. She soon suffered a blow to her reputation in the press when she was caught seeing stage actor Phil Ober by his wife who had hired a private investigator.


“Men and marriage didn’t seem important to [Vivian], only as a means to an end. Her whole focus was on becoming successful.” – Vivian’s roommate Anne Farleigh


Vivian in the 1940s

In 1941, not long after Vivian’s divorce from George, she was married to Philip Ober. It was around this time that Vivian’s mental condition began to take form. Vivian had previously suffered bouts of depression, with symptoms such as fatigue or other physical ailments that would manifest as a result of stress. However, by now her condition was becoming more severe. She would sleep for twelve hours a day and suffered major depressive episodes, paranoia, violent nausea, swollen tongue, and panic attacks. By this point, Vivian was in the middle of a successful stage run of Voice of the Turtle. She immersed herself in books on psychology and various analysts that were recommended to her.


By the late 1940’s, shortly after the breakdown which caused her to seek help, Vivian reluctantly reprised her role in Voice of the Turtle to perform in La Jolla, California. This would change the course of her life and career forever. Three important people were in the audience that night: director Marc Daniels, writer/producer Jess Oppenheimer, and actor/bandleader Desi Arnaz. Arnaz and his wife Lucille Ball were at the beginning of creating what would become the most successful program in television history: I Love Lucy. The group was impressed with Vivian, and she was hired on the spot for the role of Ethel Mertz.


With husband Philip Ober

After her big break as Mrs. Mertz, Vivian filmed two more Lucy programs: The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour and The Lucy Show. She would later make several cameo appearances in later shows. By 1959, she was divorced from Philip Ober, and by 1961, she was married to successful publisher John Dodds. While Vivian had cemented her fame with the success of the Lucy shows she filmed, she longed to return to her home in Connecticut to lead a quieter life and take care of her husband and become a proper housewife.


“My ambition was never to be a big star. I’ve seen very few happy stars, and I was determined that that wasn’t going to happen to me.”


In I Love Lucy

Once her memorable stint with Lucy was over, Vivian turned her focus back to stage productions and using her experience with depression to help those going through the same struggles. However, her next battle was just beginning. In 1973, Vivian was diagnosed with breast cancer, and underwent a six hour surgery in order to eliminate the disease. Under the impression she was cancer-free, Vivian reunited with Lucille Ball for their last television show appearance together in 1977 for Lucy Calls The President. Not long after, Vivian received more devastating news: she now had bone cancer. By now, she and husband John Dodds were living in Belvedere, California, where she would spend her last days. Vivian was in incredible pain, and finally came to accept that she wouldn’t have much longer to live. Her husband and siblings always by her side, she was finally ready to go. “We all sat around praying, ‘Let her go. Please let her have her wish.’ A lot of people might think that was weird but it was her wish and we wanted her to have her wish. When she did, it was a mixture of jubilation and great sadness.” – Lou Ann, Vivian’s youngest sister


Vivian succumbed to her cancer on August 17, 1979. She was seventy years old.

Personal Connections


Marilyn suffered the loss of two unborn children in 1957 and 1958. Vivian also knew the pain of a miscarriage.


Both women were distant from their mothers, who were heavily religious and did not approve of their career choices.  Marilyn’s mother was schizophrenic, which left Marilyn traumatized and abandoned as a child. Vivian had almost no good memories with her mother. When Vivian’s fame escalated, Mae would send her letters criticizing her for her for participating in the sinful industry that was show business. Mae, like Marilyn’s mother, offered no support for her daughter’s passion, and, if anything, advised against it. However, it was only   a couple years before Mae died that she finally came to appreciate the success of her daughter.


Both women suffered major bouts of depression. While they both sought professional help, it was Vivian who gained support and a better mindset through psychotherapy. Marilyn is an example of how psychoanalysts fail by overstepping their patients’ boundaries and enable them rather than help them. Vivian, however, received a great deal of help through her journey. She not only developed a healthier mind, but she used this newfound knowledge and confidence to help others in need. Vivian was one of the first celebrities to speak openly about mental illness and depression at a time when these types of conditions weren’t focused on or deemed as very severe. Vivian visited countless hospitals to speak one on one with patients suffering from depression, and changed a lot of lives for the better just from her heart to heart talks with them.

“The most important thing she felt she ever did in her life was bust open depression.  She healed more people in this country than anybody has any idea of.” –Paige Peterson, close friend


With Lucille Ball and their husbands

Both women despised being stereotyped in their work. Marilyn worked relentlessly to rid the “dumb blonde” image her studio had always given her, and Vivian couldn’t stand to be called “Ethel” in public. Vivian, in real life, was the polar opposite of Ethel Mertz, and hated being stereotyped with the frumpy housewife she portrayed on-screen, let alone that the public could actually picture her with the elderly William Frawley.


Vivian Vance and Marilyn Monroe may have led very different careers, but they share quite a bit in common personally. Vivian may always be remembered for her role as the loyal Ethel Mertz and Marilyn as the blonde bombshell, but both women should and will continue to be celebrated for the unforgettable mark they made as actresses in television and film. They will always be treasured for their talent, compassion, and timeless brilliance.


-Ky Monroe for Immortal Marilyn

Marilyn’s Contemporaries: Susan Hayward

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Life and Career

Edythe Marrenner was born on June 30, 1917 in Brooklyn, NY.  Her childhood was spent in a working class family which some refer to as poverty-stricken, although others suggest the family was comfortable. Susan herself said they were poor:

“I learned at a very early age that life is a battle. My family was poor, my neighborhood was poor. The only way that I could get away from the awfulness of life, at that time, was at the movies. There I decided that my big aim was to make money. And it was there that I became a very determined woman.”

Either way, she was not born into privilege, and difficulty did mar her childhood, as a car accident at 7 years old left her in a body cast for several months and gave her a lifelong limp.  She attended public schools and graduated in 1935; the daughter of an Irish actress, she had already begun to show an aptitude for the stage in her teen years.  It was, as with so many young women, the modeling world that came calling first.  After gaining some attention as a model on the New York scene, she joined the many beauties seeking fame in Hollywood.

Susan in With a Song In My Heart, wearing a blouse Marilyn would later wear in Bus Stop

Susan came west in 1937 to screen test for what may well have been the most sought-after acting role in history, that of Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind.  She didn’t get it of course, but did get a new name, Susan Hayward, and earned some bit parts before finally being cast in Beau Geste with Gary Cooper in 1939.  The young beauty continued to get roles, but it wasn’t until the mid-1940s when her career took off.  Meanwhile, in 1944, she began a tumultuous ten-year marriage with actor Jess Barker, and in February of 1945 gave birth to premature twin sons.

In 1947, as young Norma Jeane was at the beginning of her career, Susan Hayward received her first of five Oscar nominations for Smash Up, the Story of a Woman.  As her marriage struggled, Hayward’s career did not.  Throughout the 1950s she continued to earn acclaim for roles in films such as With a Song In My Heart (1952) and The President’s Lady (1953).  In 1954 her marriage to Jess Barker ended, and Susan reportedly attempted suicide.

Susan with her Oscar

Her recovery brought her back to a career still on an upward trajectory.  She continued to receive acclaim and Academy Award nominations for her screen work, finally winning the long-awaited statue in 1959 for her role in the 1958 film I Want To Live!

In 1957, Haywrd remarried, this time to Georgia rancher Floyd Eaton Chalkey.  Although she lived a happy life with him in Georgia, she continued to make films.  It was his death in 1966 that spelled the beginning of the end of her career.  Her deep mourning took her away from stardom and to a quiet life in Florida, although she later returned to California.  She starred with Sharon Tate in Valley of the Dolls, her last major appearance on film.  Her final role was in the TV movie Say Goodbye, Maggie Cole.  The title was someone prophetic.  Susan said goodbye to acting and was diagnosed with brain cancer the following year.  In 1975, she passed away, and was returned to the place of her happy years of marriage in Georgia for burial.

Marilyn Connections

Valley of the Dolls, one of her last roles.

Like Marilyn, Susan started out as a model, and worked her way through bit parts before getting starring roles.  The two shared many co-stars as well as directors.  Susan appeared with Joe E. Brown in $1000 a Touchdown – he later appeared in Marilyn’s hit Some Like it Hot.  She appeared in I’d Climb The Highest Mountain and With a Song In My Heart with Marilyn’s River of No Return co-star Rory Calhoun, with her other RONR co-star Robert Mitchum in The Lusty Men, and in I Can Get It For You Wholesale with All About Eve‘s George Sanders.  With a Song in My Heart also starred two other Marilyn co-stars, David Wayne (As Young as You Feel) and Thelma Ritter (All About Eve, As Young As You Feel, The Misfits).

In White Witch Doctor she again starred with Robert Mitchum, and was directed by Marilyn’s O. Henry’s Full House and Niagara director, Henry Hathaway.  Susan starred with Marilyn’s Don’t Bother To Knock co-stars Ann Bancroft in Demetrius and the Gladiators, and Richard Widmark in Garden of Evil.  In Soldier of Fortune Susan starred opposite Marilyn’s The Misfits co-star Clark Gable.  In 1961 she appeared in Ada with Dean Martin, Marilyn’s co-star in the ill-fated Something’s Got to Give and with All About Eve star Bette Davis in Where Love Has Gone.

When Marilyn selected her wardrobe for Bus Stop she chose a green blouse that was previously worn by Susan Hayward in With a Song In My Heart.  Susan’s film The Snows of Kilamanjaro also starred Hildegard Knef, who sported two dresses also seen on Marilyn in publicity photos.

Both women looked to the movies as a way to make their own way in the world, although Susan seemed more interested in financial stability and Marilyn more in being adored.  Both faced depression and suicide attempts as well as failed marriages, although Susan did eventually find happiness in marriage, although it ended again in sadness.  A look at Susan’s life leads one to wonder, had Marilyn been given some of the same roles, how her career might have been different.


The Weekly Marilyn Round-Up: February 17, 2017

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Hello Marilyn fans!  After an unexpected absence I am back on the beat for your weekly roundups of the Marilyn news!  Our girl is making headlines as usual – some of them ringing the “fake news” alarm bells!  Here’s what happened this week – and a few news items missed when I was absent!


She wasn’t pregnant during these Misfits costume tests.

Pregnant Marilyn in 1960?  Not a chance, but the Daily Mail set off an avalanche of speculation this week with an article proclaiming it to be so.    The story had Marilyn fans quick to step up and argue its validity, fighting back once again against the tide of scandal and sensationalism that’s more interesting than the truth to so many.  Check out IM’s response to the story to get caught up on the latest in nonsense news.


Do you live in or near Philadelphia?  Then check out this one-night-only Some Like It Hot inspired dinner!  February 21st, at local venue Martha, you can enjoy a dinner inspired by the film and also a screening of what many considered Marilyn’s best film and biggest hit.


Jimmy James in an LA Eyeworks ad often mistaken for Marilyn.

Marilyn will be featured in a series on blondes who passed away too soon.  The podcast You Must Remember This will look at Marilyn’s life and death along with Carole Lombard, Judy Holliday, and Jean Harlow in a series called Dead Blondes.  Check out the Rolling Stone interview with the podcast’s host.


It wouldn’t be the first time Jimmy James has been mistaken for Marilyn.  His images are regularly shared bearing her name, and we’ve even seen him as a Marilyn tattoo.  But this time an African nation has gone a little far and put his face on a stamp meant to feature Marilyn, and Jimmy has been forced to threaten legal action.  The image in question was part of a 1999 LA Eyeworks campaign, and one frequently mistaken for Marilyn.


Are you ready for a round of Who Channelled Marilyn???  

Yes, there’s always someone out there being said to exude a little Marilyn…and this we have Bollywood actress Kangana Ranaut who did a Marilyn-esque performance for troops recently.  Once again, Courtney Stodden makes the list with a Grammy party look that had headlines mentioning Marilyn once again.


Have a great week, Marilyn fans!  We’ll have more headlines for you next Friday!

Marilyn’s Contemporaries: Lana Turner

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Life and Career

Lana was born Julia Jean Turner of Wallace, Idaho in 1921. Her father was murdered in 1930, and a year later, she moved to Los Angeles with her mother. Turner’s ‘discovery’ – while sipping a Coke at the soda fountain outside the Top Hat Café on Sunset Boulevard and after skipping a typing class – is the stuff of legend. She was just sixteen years old. Billy Wilkerson, publisher of the Hollywood Reporter, was struck by her youthful good looks, and in 1937 she was signed by MGM under a new name, ‘Lana’.

Lana in The Postman Always Rigs Twice

While initially more celebrated for her looks than her acting, Lana proved her critics wrong with a dramatic turn as an alcoholic starlet in Ziegfeld Girl (1941.) Perhaps her best-known performance is as the adulterous Cora Smith in the classic thriller, The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946.)

Turner married seven times, and once said of her many failed relationships, “I’m so gullible. I’m so damn gullible. And I am so sick of me being gullible.” In 1957, her teenage daughter was charged with stabbing Lana’s boyfriend, gangster Johnny Stompanato, to death after she found him beating her. It was later ruled as justifiable homicide.

She earned acclaim for her performances in The Bad and the Beautiful (1952), Peyton Place (1957), Imitation of Life (1959), and Madame X (1966.) Turner’s career continued until the early 1980s, when she acted in TV soap opera Falcon Crest. She died in 1994.

Marilyn Connections

“Sweater girl” Lana Turner

Sweater Girls: In her movie debut, They Won’t Forget (1937), Lana played a character loosely based on Mary Phagan, whose murder in 1913 led to the lynching of an innocent man. Lana’s first scene, in which she walked down a street wearing a form-fitting top, led to her being labelled ‘The Sweater Girl’, a name she detested. This trend was later adopted by Marilyn. She joked about it during a performance for US troops in 1952: “You fellows are always talking about sweater girls. I don’t know what the fuss is about. Take away their sweaters and what have they got?”

Mickey Rooney: Another of Lana’s early films was Love Finds Andy Hardy (1938), with Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney, America’s most popular young star at the time. In his 1991 autobiography, Life is Too Short, Rooney claimed that he and Lana had an affair and that she aborted his baby. “Mother was livid and adamantly denied it,” Cheryl Crane noted. “I know that it was very important to her to fight this accusation because she even phoned her attorney … If Rooney’s story had been true and she wanted to keep it a secret, it would have been more like her to act as though he didn’t exist.”

Rooney also claimed an affair with Marilyn, and even that he invented her name. In the latter case, it is well-known that her name was created in 1946 by Marilyn herself and the Fox talent chief, Ben Lyon. (‘Marilyn’ was inspired by a Broadway star of the 1920s, Marilyn Miller, while ‘Monroe’ was the maiden name of Marilyn’s own mother.

MGM: As her career rocketed during the early 1940s, Lana was managed by Johnny Hyde, “a dear friend for years” according to Cheryl Crane. In 1949, Hyde met Marilyn in Palm Springs, and was instantly smitten. “He said that he had discovered Lana Turner and other stars,” she recalled, “and that I had more than Lana and it was a cinch I would go far.”

Marilyn had sought an MGM contract as early as 1947, while under the management of Lucille Ryman Carroll, a talent scout for the studio. Ryman had earlier served as a mentor to Lana Turner. But with Lana on their payroll, the studio didn’t need another sexy blonde. Then in 1950, Johnny Hyde secured a breakthrough role for Marilyn in MGM’s The Asphalt Jungle. All that year, Hyde tried to negotiate with Dore Schary to take on Marilyn permanently. But though Monroe would make two more films for MGM – Right Cross and Hometown Story – Schary wasn’t interested.

When Lana’s career began, MGM was Hollywood’s most lavish studio. Marilyn, on the other hand, made her name at Fox during the 1950s, when the studio system was in decline. She never enjoyed the protection that stars of Turner’s generation had.
In 1951, Dore Schary replaced Louis B. Mayer as head of MGM. Lana felt unsupported by Schary, and left the studio for good in 1956.

Drama Queens: Turner was generally cast in romantic dramas, but Monroe also shone in comedies and musicals. Of all the roles she played, the most similar to Lana’s characters was that of amoral Rose Loomis in the film noir, Niagara (1953.) Like Cora in The Postman Always Rings Twice, Rose persuades her lover to murder her husband. While Niagara was not as compelling as Postman, it looked spectacular and in one famous scene, Marilyn was filmed taking the longest walk in cinematic history.

Lana was also famed for her style of walking. “She would try to teach it to me, but I never quite got the hang of it,” Cheryl Crane admitted. “It was a manner of twisting the ball of the foot with each step. One unusual feature of hers that had an effect on it was that her left leg was a bit shorter than the right … She also wore high heels, usually four inches, sometimes with platforms. Hers was a rolling, subtle kind of glide, not a hip-swinging Marilyn Monroe walk.”

Lana Turner in The Merry Widow

Dancing Girls: Though Lana, unlike Marilyn, was not an outstanding singer, she danced superbly and was once nicknamed Hollywood’s ‘Nightclub Queen’. In The Merry Widow (1952), she worked with choreographer Jack Cole. “The Waltz musical sequence featured a chorus of beautiful dancers dashing about all in pink,” author Cindy De La Hoz observed. “It appears Cole looked back to his work in these moments the following year in his choreography of Marilyn Monroe’s ‘Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend’ number” (in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.)

Betty Grable: From the 1940s onward, Lana was friendly with another glamorous blonde, Betty Grable. ‘At the height of their fame, fans who ran into them would mistake them each other occasionally,’ Cheryl Crane revealed. ‘Mother happily obliged them with a “Betty Grable” autograph.’ Monroe, who was often shy around others, nonetheless bonded with Grable when they starred together in How to Marry a Millionaire (1953.)

Otto Preminger: Marilyn’s 1954 western, River of No Return, was by her own estimation, “a grade-Z cowboy movie.” Director Otto Preminger bullied Monroe, and she reputedly considered him ‘a pompous ass’. In 1958, Lana was offered a role in one of Preminger’s best films, Anatomy of a Murder. After clashing with Preminger over her wardrobe demands, however, Turner rejected the part, and later reflected, “God forbid my family should ever be so hungry that I have to work for him.”

Lana Turner and Clark Gable

Clark Gable: In 1941, Lana starred alongside the ‘King of Hollywood’, Clark Gable, in Honky Tonk, a western which became MGM’s highest grossing movie that year. She and Gable were featured on the cover of Life magazine, and went on to make three more films together. Gable and Turner were branded ‘The Team that Generates Steam’. In 1942, while they were filming Somewhere I’ll Find You, Gable’s wife, actress Carole Lombard, was killed in a plane crash. Gossip spread that Lombard had taken an early flight because she was nervous about leaving Gable ‘alone with Lana Turner,’ which she denied.

Gable was one of Marilyn’s childhood idols, and she realised her dream of working with him with The Misfits in 1960.  Sadly, it was to be the last film either star would complete. Gable died of a heart attack shortly after filming ended, and Marilyn was devastated by reports that Gable’s widow, Kay Spreckles, blamed his collapse on Marilyn’s erratic behaviour during filming. But Kay later reassured Marilyn by inviting her to the christening of Gable’s son.

Children: Lana’s chronic endometriosis made her unable to have more children, but she remained close to daughter Cheryl throughout her life. Marilyn, who also suffered from endometriosis, endured at least two painful miscarriages and would never have children of her own.

Legends: In Lana: The Memories, the Myths, the Movies, co-written with Cindy De La Hoz (author of two books on Monroe), Cheryl Crane states that her mother “thought Marilyn Monroe was a fine actress besides being a fascinating personality.”

Marilyn’s death is considered one of Hollywood’s greatest tragedies. While Lana never found lasting love, ultimately she survived. Both women came from humble backgrounds, and achieved immense fame through their beauty and talent. Like so many sex symbols, they were rarely given the respect they deserved, and their difficult private lives contrasted poignantly with the upfront glamour they projected.

The Weekly Marilyn Round-Up: December 9, 2016

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Hi there Marilyn fans!  Another Friday is upon us, and once again our girl continues to pop up in the headlines.


Marilyn’s name shows up in a recent article focusing on Hermione Brown, a female lawyer in a male-dominated field during Marilyn’s era, who represented a number of celebrity clients.  The article lists Marilyn among those who “lined up for her advice”.  She seems a fascinating woman!


An exhibit of rare Marilyn photos is underway in Berlin.  Although the exhibit started up on November 4th, the news has only just crossed our desk here at IM.  Gallerie Hiltawsky hosts the exhibit through January 14th.


Well, it’s the same shade of pink anyway.

The New York Post shouted “You can own Marilyn’s sexy luggage” in a story on luggage maker T. Anthony of NYC.  The story states that they created a signature red and black luggage look for Marilyn while she was divorcing her husband – according to the story, she didn’t want her initials on it as he didn’t know yet.  Sounds a bit stretched to us, but I’m sure the luggage is lovely.


But, you are surely asking, which celebs have been accused of “channeling” Marilyn this week, probably in some obscure way???  Not to let you down, we have Mariah Carey in a pink dress, and Jennifer Hudson in a white one, neither of which really looks like Marilyn’s dresses.  All more proof that Marilyn’s name draws more clicks, even when another celeb is in the headline!



That’s it for this week!  The Roundup will be on hiatus for the holidays…see you in January!





The Weekly Marilyn Round-Up: December 2, 2016

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After a week off for the Thanksgiving holiday last week, we’re back to recap the latest Marilyn news!


The key to Marilyn's New Milford hotel room.

The key to Marilyn’s New Milford hotel room.

Of course, last week’s big news was the Julien’s auction in Los Angeles.  As of our last news roundup, only Thursdays’s big round had been completed, including the sale of the iconic “Happy Birthday” dress.  The remaining days proved interesting as well, with many of the smaller ticket items landing in fan hands, including several of our own IM members.  Congrats to all the winners, we hope to put together a list soon!


A less notable sale was reported last weekend.  An antique dealer sold off some old keys to a hotel called the Homestead Inn, located in New Milford, Connecticut.  One of those keys was to room 22, the room where Marilyn is said to have frequently stayed.  The key sold for $131.  Not quite Julien’s prices, and a great deal for whichever collector had enough cash left after the big auction to nab it!

Marilyn's latest magazine cover.

Marilyn’s latest magazine cover.


Marilyn graced the cover of Los Angeles magazine as part of a story about the iconic images that define the city.  The cover was a George Barris photo and the mag featured a tribute to the late photographer.  The magazine is on newsstands in Los Angeles, so if you want a copy you may have to lean on an LA pal to grab one – or if you know of another way to grab a copy, do let us all know!


That’s the news for this week – see you next Friday!