Thursday, June 1, 2017

Remembering Marilyn Monroe

“Sometimes I think it would be easier to avoid old age, to die, young, but then you'd never complete your life, would you? You'd never wholly know yourself...”

A Delicious Breeze

Picture Legend

1. Marilyn
2. “China Seas”
3. Patricia (Kennedy) & Peter Lawford
4. Singing “Happy Birthday” to JFK
5. Cute Little Stoat
6. That dress!
7. Norma Jean’s birthplace
8. Norma Jeane Mortenson
9. Maternal grandmother Della Hogan holding her new granddaughter Norma Jeane
10. Gladys age 16
11. A Flapper, actress Louise Brooks (1927)
12. Consolidated Film Industries
13. Charles Stanley Gifford
14. Ida and Albert Bolender
15. Norma Jeane and the Bolender’s adopted child, Lester Carl
16. Grace McKee
17. Los Angeles Orphan’s Home with unknown lady standing in front
18 Married with Jim Dougherty
19. Norma Jeane and Bernice finally meet
20. Norma Jeane at the airplane factory
21. Where she made airplanes
22. Early poses
23.         ^
24.         ^
25.         ^
26.         ^
27. Marilyn as artichoke queen in Castroville, CA 1947
28. Pageant Magazine
29. Early pin up
30. U S Camera Magazine May 1946
31. And August of 1955
32. June 1946 Laff Magazine
33. More magazine covers
34.                 ^
35.                 ^
36.  You get the idea              
37. Emmeline Snively
38. Marilyn Miller
39. Marilyn in “Scudda-Hoo! Scudda-Hay!” 1948
40. Acting coach Natasha Lytess with Marilyn
41. Marilyn with Johnny Hyde
42. Marilyn’s May 1949 Red Velvet photo shoot
43. Marilyn in “A Ticket to Tomahawk”
44. With Dick Powell in “Right Cross”
45. With Micky Rooney and somebody else in “The Fireball”
46. Marilyn in “The Asphalt Jungle” 1950
47. Marilyn with Bette Davis and George Sanders in “All About Eve”
48. Dressed to present at the 23rd Annual Academy Awards (her movie was the big winner)
49. Advertising in Collier's 1950
50. Featured in Collier's 1951
51. Marilyn with the Skipper, Alan Hale Jr in “Home Town Story”
52. With Albert Dekker in “As Young as You Feel”
53. With Macdonald Carey in “Let’s Make it Legal”
54. Marilyn makes the cover of Life Magazine in 1952
55. As the Grand Marshall of the 1952 Miss America Pageant parade
56. Marilyn’s 1952 chest x-ray which  sold for $45,000 at auction, probably bought by the U.S. Army
57. Marilyn wearing underwear. These bloomers, which she wore in “The River of No Return,” were also sold for $45,000 at auction... again, the Army
58. Publicity photo for “Clash by Night”
59. With Richard Widmark in “Don’t Bother to Knock”
60. In “We’re Not Married”
61. With Cary Grant in “Monkey Business”
62. With Charles Laughton in the “The Cop and the Anthem” segment of “O. Henry's Full House”
63. In “Niagara”
64. With Jean Peters and Max Showalter in “Niagara”
65. Jean Peters in “Niagara”
66. Jean again
67. Marilyn about to be murdered
68. S.E. Cupp
69. What she wore at the 1953 Photoplay awards
70. Joan Crawford
71. In her next movie... something about blondes

    She fantasized that Clark Gable was her father because she never knew who her real father had been.
   Norma’s mom,  Gladys, possessed a picture of a man she had once dated on her wall.
   "He had a thin mustache like Clark Gable," she remembered. "I asked my mother what his name was. She wouldn't answer."
   When Norma was 9 years old she went to see a movie called “China Seas,” starring Gable and Jean Harlow (who would become a role model for her), and from that point onward Clark became "the man I thought was my father."

   “Reds. I took reds for about six weeks when I was a teenager and stopped without having to be prompted. Reds were alcohol in pill form, and I could get all of the effects that alcohol gave to me without having to drink. But it was too easy and sometimes I drank and dropped... took reds at the same time, and I knew that if I continued that crap I’d wind up going to sleep one day and never wake up. Man, reds. I haven’t thought about them for years. Reds... barbiturates... downers.” -Richard Joyce at a Drifters AA meeting, May 20th, 2017

Happy Birthday Mr. President

   May 19th, 1962.
   It was a Saturday night in New York City’s Madison Square Garden (the third building to bear that name, and the only one that was not near Madison Square, being 3.2 miles uptown. It was demolished in 1968). The temperature that day had soared to 99 degrees, the hottest yet recorded for the fifth month of the year. Some relief occurred between 7:00 and 8:00pm when a thundershower moved through the city, dropping the temperature from 87° to 70°.
   The occasion was a fund raising gala for the Democratic Party. The night’s program included a  celebration of John F. Kennedy's forty-fifth birthday, ten days before his actual birth-date on  May 29th. 15,000 guests attended.
   It was the actor and in-law to the president, Peter Lawford, who had arranged for Marilyn Monroe to attend the festivities and to sing to Kennedy. Lawford had once dated her and Marilyn had became close to Lawford’s wife, Patricia Kennedy Lawford, through continued contacts. Peter, most probably, was the last person Marilyn would talk to in life.
   It was rumored that the president and Marilyn were in the midst of an affair, quite possibly involving sex of some nature. Some have stated that a full blown liaison had never occurred but that the two probably got together less than two months earlier at Bing Crosby’s house in Palm Springs on March 24th.
   What Bing was doing during this is anybody’s guess, although he reportedly spent a lot of time abusing his children.
   Marilyn and Kennedy had met at a dinner party in New York earlier that year, in February. Actress Arlen Dahl, who was at the event, recalled that "The President turned around and you could see that he was immediately attracted to her. 'Finally! You're here,' he said, with a big smile."
   What a smoothie.
   According to National Geographic correspondent Patrick Kiger, JFK was a “compulsive womanizer, whose insatiable urge for sexual conquest was fueled by a complex array of personal traumas – his own father’s conspicuous adultery, a difficult relationship with his mother, anxiety about his own health problems, his brush with death during World War II, and the deaths at a young age of his siblings Joe Jr. and Kathleen.”
   As a matter of fact it may have been Kennedy’s propensity for dalliance that contributed to his successful assassination at the hands of Lee Harvey Oswald.
   According to Journalist Seymour Hersh, “President Kennedy once told a friend, ‘You know, I get a migraine headache if I don't get a strange piece of ass every day.’ Apparently he didn't have many headaches. His affairs were legion. He even slept with one of his long time lovers in the Georgetown home he shared with his wife and two children the night before his inauguration.
   In September 1963, while frolicking poolside with one of his sexual partners, JFK tore a groin muscle. He had to wear a stiff shoulder-to-groin brace that locked his body in a rigid upright position. It was far more constraining than his usual back brace, which he continued to wear. The two braces made it impossible for JFK to bend in reflex when he was struck in the neck by a bullet fired by Lee Harvey Oswald. The president remained erect for the fatal shot from Oswald.”
   So it’s been pretty much confirmed that JFK was a huge asshole as far as women were concerned, especially to his own wife, who knew about the affairs, if you can call them that, but tolerated them, adopting the first “Dont’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.
   Kennedy was great at getting the ball rolling on going to the moon, and facing down the Soviets, but women, treating them with the dignity and respect that they deserved, not so much.
   Accordingly, for JFK Marilyn was just another conquest, or relief valve to be used and discarded. Marilyn, on the other hand, may have regarded her relationship with Kennedy as much more serious that it actually was.
   She was used to having her way with men, no doubt due to her pervasive personality. Kennedy was a man. Arguably the most powerful man on the planet, but still a man. And she wanted him.
   However, Kennedy’s friend Senator George Smathers believed that Marilyn, well "It wasn't a big thing as far as he was concerned." He told Ms Monroe’s biographer Barbara Leaming. To JFK, Monroe was "like a lot of the pretty girls who had fallen very much in love with the Kennedys, just by being around with him a little bit."
   Which precipitated a public rendition of “Happy Birthday.”
    Lawford was there to introduce Marilyn. True to form she didn’t show up on the stage until the third introduction.
   “I am invariably late for appointments - sometimes as much as two hours. I've tried to change my ways but the things that make me late are too strong, and too pleasing.”  
   Peter introduced her when she finally appeared in a spotlight on the stage.
   "Mr. President," Lawford says, leaning into the microphone, "the LATE Marilyn Monroe."
   She took off her white ermine (stoat (Mustela erminea), also known as the short-tailed weasel. Back in the sixties it was politically correct to kill defenseless little animals who just wanted to get on in the world they found themselves in and be left alone) fur coat revealing the dress she had to be sewn into it was so form fitting, and the audience gasped.
   About that dress. It was designed in 1961 by Jean-Louis Berthaulto who is an American fashion designer. It was especially created for Marilyn to attend the president’s birthday party. The dress is decorated with sequins that sparkle like diamonds. The original price was $12,000, but it was sold at an auction for $1.3 million.
   The president’s wife, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, had spent the day at the Loudoun Hunt Horse Show riding her horse Ninbrano in Leesburg, Virginia, with her children John-John and Caroline, so Marilyn sang as naughtily and suggestively as she wanted.
   Marilyn sang the traditional "Happy Birthday to You" lyrics in a sultry, intimate voice, with "Mr. President" inserted as Kennedy's name. She continued the song with a snippet from the classic "Thanks for the Memory", for which she had written new lyrics specifically aimed at Kennedy. "Thanks, Mr. President, For all the things you've done, The battles that you've won, The way you deal with U.S. Steel, And our problems by the ton, We thank you so much."
   Then she was spirited off stage.
   It’s hard to hear on the above clip but this is what Kennedy said after Marilyn’s performance:
"I can now retire from politics after having had 'Happy Birthday' sung to me in such a sweet, wholesome manner."
   John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy had 552 more days to live, 1 year, 6 months and 3 days, before he was assassinated at age 46, at 12:30pm Central Time, on a Friday afternoon, in a motorcade parade, on November 22nd, 1963, in Dealy Plaza in Dallas, Texas.
   Marilyn only had 77.

   She was an L.A. girl, born Norma Jeane Mortenson at a very early age at 9:30am on this day 91 years ago. She was born about ten minutes away (4.6 miles via the mighty I-5 S and I-10) from where I’m typing this feverously on my little computer, at the USC Medical Center, or what is commonly known as the General Hospital, or the Death Palace as I like to call it.
   The year was 1926.
   She was the third child of Gladys Pearl Baker (maiden name Monroe).
   Gladys would outlive her daughter, living until 1984.
   Gladys was the daughter of two pre-Dust Bowl migrants from the Midwest who had migrated to California, the land of plenty.
   When she was fifteen she married John Newton Baker who was twenty four. She had two children by him, Robert, who died when he was sixteen (August 16th, 1933, probably due to tuberculosis of the kidneys), and Berniece, who as far as I know is still alive at 98 years old.
   When she was 19 Gladys filed for divorce. John took the children with him to Kentucky. For a while, Gladys visited them on an irregular basis, then completely lost sight of them.
    Three years later, in 1924, Gladys married her second husband, Martin Edward Mortensen, but they separated before she became pregnant with Norma Jeane by a different man and they divorced in 1928.
    Gladys was a flapper (Flappers were a generation of young Western women in the 1920s who wore short skirts, bobbed their hair, listened to jazz, and flaunted their disdain for what was then considered acceptable behavior. Flappers were seen as brash for wearing excessive makeup, drinking, treating sex in a casual manner, smoking, driving automobiles, and otherwise flouting social and sexual norm. In other words, my kind of women) and worked as a film negative cutter at Consolidated Film Industries, which was acquired by Technicolor Inc. in 2000.
   In October of 1929 the Hollywood laboratories of  Consolidated Film Industries exploded due to the flammable nature of the nitrocellulose film used at the time. One man was killed.
   It is not known if Gladys was present for this tragic event.
   It is often said that the identity of Marilyn’s father is unknown and that she used Baker as her last name.
   However, some speculate that Charles Stanley Gifford, an employee at Consolidated was Norma Jeane’s biological father.
   Displaying symptoms of mental illness Gladys was ill prepared to raise another young child. She was able to place her with foster parents, Albert and Ida Bolender, who lived in Hawthorne, about 15.4 miles from where Gladys worked in Hollywood.
   The Bolender’s raised their foster children according to the principles of evangelical Christianity (a worldwide, transdenominational movement within Protestant Christianity which maintains the belief that the essence of the gospel consists of the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ's atonement (in western Christian theology, atonement describes how human beings can be reconciled to God through Christ's sacrificial suffering and death)).
   “When I was five, I think, that's when I started wanting to be an actress. I loved to play. I didn't like the world around me because it was kind of grim, but I loved to play house. It was like you could make your own boundaries.”
   Gladys lived with the Bolenders for a while, driving to work in L.A. In 1927 she had to move back to the city as longer work shifts made it difficult for her to commute, and she saw Norma Jeane only on the weekends, taking her to the movies and places like the La Brea Tar Pits where the ice age mammals came to die, and Grauman's Chinese Theater where Norma would place her hands inside of the cement imprints of famous movie stars.
   By the summer of 1933 Gladys felt stable enough, was self aware enough, to have 7 year old Norma Jeane move in with her buying a small house in Hollywood. They had lodgers, an English family, actors George and Maude Atkinson, and their 20 year old daughter Nellie.
   “No one ever told me I was pretty when I was a little girl. All little girls should be told they're pretty, even if they aren't.”
   Shortly after moving in Gladys was rocked by the news that her grandfather, Tilford M Hogan, had hung himself on May 29th while his wife was out shopping.
   Shortly after that she learned that her son Robert had succumbed to his illness and passed away on August 16th.  
   It has been reported that Gladys first reacted to this news by lashing out at her young daughter who wasn’t fairing so well emotionally herself. Gladys was soon overcome with depression and anxiety, and was continuously unable to care for herself and Marilyn.
   Throughout 1934 Gladys’ mental health deteriorated. She was constantly evaluated at the same General Hospital that Norma Jeane had been born in. Her friend, Grace McKee tried to take care of both Gladys and Norma Jeane but it soo became too much for her. She eventually persuaded Gladys to put the house up for sale for $4,500.
   Meanwhile 8 year old Norma Jeane spent her time playing with empty whiskey bottles.
   “I guess I must have had the finest collection of bottles a girl ever had. I’d line them up on a plank beside the road and when people drove along I’d say ‘Wouldn’t you like some whiskey?’”
   Gladys had a complete breakdown in January of 1935. Norma Jeane was in the kitchen having breakfast when she heard her mother yelling and screaming in the hallway while the Atkinson’s tried to calm her down.
   When Norma Jeane returned from school that day Gladys was gone. She was told that her mother was very sick, and that she wouldn’t be able to see her for a “long, long time.”
   “I figured my mother was really dead and they wouldn’t to tell me because they didn’t want me to cry. I didn’t know my mother was alive for many years.”
   Gladys wasn’t dead but might as well have been. She was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia  on January 15th, 1935, and committed to the Metropolitan State Hospital in Norwalk, about 22.8 miles southeast of Hollywood.
   Gladys spent the rest of her life in and out of hospitals, and was rarely in contact with her youngest child.
   Norma Jeane stayed in the care of the Atkinson’s until Grace removed her from that home feeling the child was being mistreated and possibly sexually abused.
   Always a shy girl, Norma Jeane now developed a stutter and became withdrawn. 
   Soon after Grace met a man, Ervin Silliman Goddard, and they got married. Ervin (what kind of inhuman being would name their child Ervin?) wanted to bring one of his three daughters from a previous marriage back to live with them. Apparently there wasn’t enough room in the house for both girls and Grace sent Norma who was now 9, to the Los Angeles Orphans Home at 815 N. El Centro Avenue, Los Angeles on September 13th, 1935, where she became occupant number 3463.
    Norma Jeane stayed at the orphanage  (which would change it’s name to Hollygrove and is now defunct) on and off for a period of almost two years.
   It is rumored that the window of Norma Jean’s dormitory, which she shared with 26 other girls, looked out upon the RKO Studio’s water tower and led to her dreams of someday becoming a world famous movie star. 
   “I used to think as I looked at the Hollywood night, ‘There must be thousands of girls sitting alone like me, dreaming of becoming a movie star.  But I’m not going to worry about them.  I’m dreaming the hardest.’
   During her time at the orphanage she was shuttled between 9 to 11 different foster homes. 
   “Some of my foster families used to send me to the movies to get me out of the house and there I'd sit all day and way into the night. Up in front, there with the screen so big, a little kid all alone, and I loved it. I loved anything that moved up there and I didn't miss anything that happened and there was no popcorn either.”
   She left the orphanage for good on June 12th, 1937, at which time she moved back in with Grace where she remained for about a year before being shuttled off to yet another family member. 
   Two years later Grace brought Norma Jeane back home but Ervin attempted to molest her, and so she went to live with her uncle’s mother, Olive Brunings. Just after Norma Jeane’s 12th birthday she was assaulted by one of Olive’s sons and went to live with Grace McKee’s aunt, Ana Lower.
   “At twelve I looked like a girl of seventeen. My body was developed and shapely. I still wore the blue dress and the blouse the orphanage provided. They made me look like an overgrown lummox [a clumsy, stupid person].”
   Norma Jeane was enrolled in Emerson Junior High School and was taken to weekly Christian Science services with Lower. While otherwise a mediocre student, she excelled in writing and contributed to the school's newspaper. After graduating from Emerson, she began attending Van Nuys High School... in Van Nuys, smack dab in the middle of the San Fernando Valley, which made her a bona fide Valley Girl.
   Natalie Wood, Norma’s future co-star Jane Russell, Robert Redford, Stacy Keach, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Erika Eleniak, Kim Darby, Tony Dow, Julie Brown, Ed Begley Jr., Diane Baker, Paula Abdul, famous football player Don Drysdale, and many other outstanding individuals also attended Van Nuys High.
   Several years later Ana developed health problems and Norma Jeane went back to the Goddards despite Ervin’s past efforts to seduce (if you can call it that) her. There she met a neighbor’s son, Jim Dougherty.
   In early 1942, the company that Goddard worked for required him to relocate to West Virginia. California laws prevented the them from taking Norma Jeane out of state, and she was faced with  the possibility of having to return to the orphanage. Grace gave her a choice, either return to the orphanage or get married. Norma Jeane didn’t want to go back to the orphanage.
   Right after her 16th birthday, on June 19th, 1942, Norma Jeane married Dougherty.
   She subsequently dropped out of high school and became a housewife. She later stated that the "marriage didn't make me sad, but it didn't make me happy, either. My husband and I hardly spoke to each other. This wasn't because we were angry. We had nothing to say. I was dying of boredom."
   It was at about this time that Norma Jeane visited her her half-sister for the first time in Detroit. Berniece Baker was then Berniece Baker Miracle, having married Paris Miracle in 1938.
   In 1944 Jim enlisted in the merchant marines, which in hindsight was a fairly foolish thing to do while the country was at war (a little kerfuffle called World War II), if you wanted to stay alive that is. Take the example of many of our current and past presidents who managed to get out of military service that involved actual combat! It’s the prudent thing to do.
   Anyway Jim was called into active service and was initially stationed on Catalina Island, where they used to have a glass bottomed boat. Norma Jeane lived with him until he was shipped out to the Pacific in April of 1944. He would remain there for most of the next two years. After Jim took off Norma Jeane moved in with his parents and began working at the Radioplane Munitions Factory to participate in the war effort and to earn her own income.
   The Radioplane Company was an American aviation company which produced drone aircraft primarily for use as gunnery targets. While Norma Jeane worked there the Army sent a photographer, David Conover, to take pictures of women helping with the war effort (the Army was really perverted back then and took every opportunity to take pictures of unsuspecting women). 
   “The first thing I knew, the lead lady and lead man had me out there having the Army taking pictures of me.They all asked where in the h... I had been hiding... They took a lot of moving pictures of me and some of them asked me for dates etc (naturally I refused!).”
   Indeed Norma Jeane was a very attractive girl, and as Marilyn Monroe, would become a world famous symbol of sex of some nature.
   Personally, I don’t see it myself.
   Norma Jeane wrote to Grace on June 4th, 1945:
   “After they finished with some of the pictures, an Army corporal with the name of David Conover told me he would be very interested in getting some color still shots on me. He used to have a studio on "the strip" on Sunset. He said he would make arrangements with the Plant superintendent if I would agree. So I said okay. He told me what to wear and what shade lipstick etc. So the next couple of weeks I posed for him at different times (...) He said that all the pictures came out perfect also he said that I should by all means go into the modeling prof. He also said that I photographed very well and that he wants to take a lot more. Also he said he had a lot of contacts in which he wanted me to look into.
   I told him I would rather not work when Jimmie was here so he said he would wait so I'm expecting to hear from him most any time again.
   He is awfully nice and is married and is strictly business which is the way I take it. Jimmie seems to like the idea of me modeling so I'm glad about that...”
   Conover suggested Norma Jeane apply for a modeling position at the Blue Book Model Agency.
   She signed a contract with that agency in August of 1945, and moved out of her in-laws home, against the advice her her in-laws and her husband.
   She began to occasionally use the name Jean Norman (or Jean Adair. One of the two) when working, and dyed her hair blonde as apparently gentlemen prefer blondes, and this would get her more work... which it did.
   Because she was so... curvy, she was deemed more suitable for pin-up photographs than fashion modeling, and was featured mostly in advertisements and men's magazines. No, not Hustler and Jugs, but wholesome men’s magazines such as Pageant, U.S. Camera, Laff, and Peek (I don’t know about that last one).
   According to the agency's owner, Emmeline Snively, Norma Jeane was one of its most ambitious and hard-working models she had encountered and by early 1946, she had appeared on 33 magazine covers.  
   Norma Jeane was an avid reader, something she and I had in common. She owned 200 books (including Tolstoy, Whitman, and Milton), listened to Beethoven records, studied acting at the Actors' lab in Hollywood, and took literature courses at UCLA in Westwood.
   Emmeline arranged a contract for Norma Jeane with an acting agency in June of 1946. After an unsuccessful interview with producers at Paramount Pictures, she was given a screen test by Ben Lyon, from 20th Century-Fox. The head of Fox at the time was Darryl F. Zanuck who was also unimpressed but gave her a six month contract in August anyway so his rival, RKO Pictures wouldn’t get her.
   Norma Jean and Lyon selected the stage name "Marilyn Monroe." The first name was picked by Lyon, who Norma Jeane reminded him of Marilyn Miller, one of the most popular Broadway musical stars of the 1920s and early 1930s. The last name was picked by Marilyn after her mother's maiden name.
   In September of 1946, Grace arranged a divorce from Dougherty who had been against Norma Jean having a career.
   In December of 1947 Marilyn’s first movie was released, “Dangerous Years.” The movie delt with something like Jeff Carter putting an end to his town's delinquency with a boys' club. And then young hoodlum Danny shows up and screws everybody over, like teenagers Doris, Willy and Leo. They hang out at the Gopher Hole, a juke joint where Evie (played by Marilyn) works. Then Jeff tries to stop a robbery planned by Danny, he is killed and Danny goes on trial... on and on.
   Poor Jeff. He was only doing what he thought was right.
   Here’s a clip.
   Marilyn also got an  uncredited role in “Scudda-Hoo! Scudda-Hay!” a classic love triangle film.
   She had one line which was “Hi Rad!"
   Here’s James Haspiel, a friend of Marilyn’s, making sure you saw her in the movie.
   Yes, the little girl in the clip was a pre-Van Nuys High Natalie Wood, and that was not Marilyn’s film debut, as “Dangerous Years,” came out before “Scudda-Hoo! Scudda Hay!” and Marilyn had a much more substantial role in Years.
   Of course you probably recognize the pretty blonde in the film standing next to Natalie as the lovely and talented June Haver. I certainly did.  
   The lovely and talented Academy Award winning actor Walter Brennan was also in the movie.
   I know what you’re thinking but it’s true. The terms "scudda hoo" and "scudda hay," refer to commands used to drive mules, and roughly correspond to “left” and “right.”
   I’ll leave it to you to decide why someone would want to title their motion picture after mule commands.
   They very well could have been cat commands but the end result would no doubt have been disastrous.
   Marilyn’s contract was not renewed in August 1947, and she returned to modeling while also doing occasional odd jobs at the studio.
   But she was determined to be a working actress. She continued studying at the Actor’s Lab, and  she appeared briefly in a play at the  Bliss-Hayden Theater in Beverly Hills.
   She visited producers offices and became friends with the gossip columnist Sidney Skolsky, and entertained (if you can call it that) influential males who were connected to the studios. 
   She became a friend and occasional sex partner of Fox executive Joseph M. Schenck, who in return we’ll say, persuaded his friend Harry Cohn, the head of Columbia Pictures, to sign her in six month contract in March of 1948.
   Marilyn took acting lessons with the German  actress, writer and drama coach Natasha Lytess, who would continue to work with Marilyn until 1955 (some say, certainly not me, that the two had an ongoing affair for those 7 years. I say “Good for them!”).
   Her hairline was raised by electrolysis and what was above that line was bleached even lighter, to platinum blond.
   Marilyn was featured as Peggy Martin in 1948‘s “Ladies of the Chorus.” This was her first major part, and besides from getting to sing 3 numbers, her stage persona began to crystallize, the persona of a very attractive, wise woman, with a touch of innocence, vulnerability, and a penchant towards the comedic. The film was considered a “B” picture at the time (until Marilyn became famous, and it was reissued), and disappeared from theaters very quickly. Here’s a clip, and here she sings in a movie for the first time.
   Marilyn’s contract with Columbia was not renewed. 
   She left Columbia in September of 1948. In 1949, Johnny Hyde, the Russian American talent agent who was then vice president of the William Morris Agency, met Marilyn when she was being photographed by Hollywood pin-up photographer Bruno Bernard at the Racquet Club of Palm Springs.
   Johnny took her on as a client and had her undergo minor plastic surgery (a silicone prosthesis implanted in her jaw and a rhinoplasty (nose job). Their relationship became sexual and Hyde proposed to her several times but she refused.
   Johnny got her a bit part in a Marx Brothers film, 1950‘s “Love Happy.” Here’s a clip. Although her part was really small, Groucho (or maybe Harpo, or all four of the buggers) liked her enough to have her  participate in the film's promotional tour in New York.
   But the realities of a young actress struggling in Hollywood weighed heavily on Marilyn. She didn’t have any money. She didn’t have food and needed to make a payment on her car.
   The photographer Tom Kelly approached her about a nude photo shoot, and she turned him down at first, concerned about the potential negative effects that such publicity could bring her burgeoning  career. At that time nude photographs didn’t seem appropriate  for young actresses. These days the ladies in the film and TV industry can’t seem to get their clothes off fast enough, and no one cares about seeing them nude really except me and Fox Molder. 
   Marilyn still needed some cash and a few days later she gave in and decided to take the photos signing them, Mona Monroe.
   She joked that she was glad she wasn’t eating much at the time because it gave her “a real washboard stomach” in the photos.
   “All of her constraints seemed to vanish with her clothes,” Kelly said, and that she seemed to be more “herself” in the nude (actually throughout her life Marilyn was notorious for walking around without clothes on and in front of others... just like me!)
   I’ll give you a moment to get the image of me naked out of your head.

   Okay, let’s move on.
   Kelly even went as far as to say that she was “graceful as an otter,” otters being known for their wet gracefulness.
   Marilyn got $50 for the shoot (about $500 in today's dollars), and despite the pictures gaining massive popularity (Hugh Hefner used some of the pictures to launch Playboy Magazine), she never received any more money or royalties for that job.
   1950 also saw Marilyn in an uncredited role in “A Ticket to Tomahawk,” a western musical comedy with Anne Baxter and her old buddy Walter Brennan. Here’s a song from the film about a forward young man.
   She also appeared that year in “Right Cross,” another love triangle movie with June Allyson, Dick Powell,  and the future Mr. Roarke on “Fantasy Island," and Kirk’s nemesis Khan, Ricardo Montalban. Here’s a clip with Powell, Marilyn and Ricardo.
   She also appeared as Polly in “The Fireball.” Here’s Ed Stephan’s synopsis: “Johnny runs away from Father O'Hara's orphanage and becomes a roller skating star with the help of Mary Reeves. He becomes involved with women, including Polly, who only love him because he is a champion, not, as with Mary, out of love for him. Then he gets polio."
   What a bummer! Ah man, that sucks. I’ve had polio more times than I’d like to remember and it’s no joke! Poor, poor Johnny (my apologies to the 37 reported cases of Poliomyelitis reported in 2016, and all of those who suffer from this horrendous disease).
   The film stars Mickey Rooney, Pat O'Brien, and Beverly Tyler.
   Here’s a non-polio clip.  
   1950 also saw Hyde using his considerable influence to help Marilyn win the role of the  gangster’s moll Angela in John Houston‘s “The Asphalt Jungle,” which has since been considered one of the most influential crime films of the 1950s. It starred Sterling Hayden, before he got involved with precious bodily fluids, and was shot in throat by Al Pacino in “The “Godfather.” Here's a clip.
    The film also starred a pre “Them,” Miracle-Gro and  “The Shawshank Redemption,” James Whitmore, and a post “Gunga Din,” and a pre “The Day the Earth Stood Still," and “Ben Casey,” Sam Jaffee, who was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his work.
   A review in Photoplay stated: “This brutally frank story of crime and punishment in a Midwestern city was directed by two-time Academy Award winner, John Huston—son of the late Walter Huston. John's pictures are usually grim (The Treasure of the Sierra Madre), but always dramatic and exciting. This time he exposes the behind-the-scenes details of the robbery of a jewelry store... This picture is packed with stand-out performances... There's a beautiful blonde, too, name of Marilyn Monroe, who plays Calhern's girl friend, and makes the most of her footage.”
   The director Joseph L. Mankiewicz saw her in “The Asphalt Jungle,” and fell under her spell. He put her in his “All About Eve,” (1950), which starred Bette Davis and Anne Baxter as Eve, along with the future Mr. Freeze, George Sanders, Celeste Holm, Hugh Marlowe, Barbara Bates, Gary Merrill, and Thelma Ritter (who Marilyn would work with again in her final finished film, “The Misfits,” in 1961). The story concerned an ingénue  (the ingénue is a stock character in literature, film, and a role type in the theater; generally a girl or a young woman who is endearingly innocent and wholesome. Marilyn did not play the ingénue) who insinuates herself into the company of an established but aging stage actress and her circle of theater friends. Here's a clip.
   This was Marilyn’s first really important role and the movie was a huge success, being nominated for 14 Academy Awards (a feat only matched by the 1997 film “Titanic” and the 2016 film “La La Land”). It won Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor (Sanders), Best Screenplay, Best Sound Recording, and Best Costume Design, Black and White.
   It made some money as well costing $1.4 million to produce and made $8.4 million, which was  a lot of money back then. In todays dollars that would be like $14,322,237.29 to make, and returning $85,933,423.73.
   That’s a pretty good profit for a movie without sinking ships and a tracking shot of people singing and dancing on the Judge Harry Pregerson Interchange (Judge Harry Pregerson is  an acting Senior judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. No one knows why this interchange was named after him... not even the judge).
   After Marilyn’s relative success and exposure in Asphalt and Eve, Johnny Hyde was able to negotiate a seven-year contract with 20th Century-Fox that December. Just a few days after securing the contract, he died of a heart attack at the age of 55.
   Marilyn was devastated as her friend and benefactor was now gone, but she shouldered on.
   In March of 1951 she was a presenter at the 23rd Academy Awards (here’s the clip), and in September, Collier's became the first national magazine to publish a full-length profile of her.
   Then 20th Century placed her in 4 supporting roles in 4 low budget films. They loaned her to MGM for “Home Town Story,” about “After failing to be re-elected, politician Blake Washburn returns home and becomes editor of the local newspaper. When he notices the influence the paper has on the public, he uses it to appeal to potential voters in the next election,” and starring Jeffrey Lynn, Donald Crisp, and Marjorie Reynolds . Here’s a clip with the Skipper.
   And three moderately successful comedies for Fox, “As Young as You Feel (the time honored story of a 65-year-old printer who hatches an elaborate scheme to avoid forced retirement. Here’s a clip),” “Love Nest (“Two married New Yorkers purchase an old, run-down building full of colorful tenants,” starring  Monty Woolley, Thelma Ritter again, and David Wayne. Here’s a clip),” and “Let's Make It Legal (with Claudette Colbert, Macdonald Carey, Zachary Scott, Barbara Bates, which concerned the nearly-final divorce of the Halsworths which suddenly gets complicated when Miriam's old flame comes to town. Clip).”
   Marilyn’s publicity and popularity were growing. She was now getting thousands of fan letters in the mail a week, some of them with inappropriate suggestions. She was declared "Miss Cheesecake [a display of the female form, probably wearing little clothing, often in photographs] of 1951," a dubious honor bestowed by the Army newspaper Stars and Stripes, reflecting the preferences of soldiers in the Korean War (freaking Army pervs).
   She was dating famous men, such as the director Elia Kazan (who never bothered to put her in one of his movies), Nicholas Ray, baldy Yul Brenner, and Lawford.
   Gossip columnist Florabel Muir named her the "It Girl" of 1952 and Hedda Hopper described her as the "cheesecake queen" turned "box office smash."   
   She began a highly publicized romance with retired New York Yankee Joe DiMaggio (nicknamed "Joltin' Joe" by Paul Simon, and "The Yankee Clipper," who was an American Major League Baseball center fielder who played his entire 13-year career for the New York Yankees. He is perhaps best known for his 56-game hitting streak (May 15 – July 16, 1941), a record that still stands. DiMaggio was a three-time MVP winner and an All-Star in each of his 13 seasons. During his tenure with the Yankees, the club won ten American League pennants and nine World Series championships).
   It is said that on their first date Marilyn told him, “I don’t know a thing about football.”
   In April of 52 a scandal broke out when she revealed in an interview that during 1949 she had posed for nude pictures which were featured in calendars.
   Fox executives had learned of the photographs some weeks earlier, and to contain the potentially disastrous effects on her career, Marilyn and the studio decided to talk about them openly while stressing that she had only posed for the photos while she was in a dire financial need.
   The strategy succeeded in getting her public sympathy and caused a huge backlash toward President Harry S. Truman’s  economic polices which were blamed for causing Marilyn to take such drastic measures, and no doubt led directly to his downfall in the General election of 1952... that, and the newly ratified 22nd Amendment.
   This so-called scandal had the effect of increasing interest in her films, and in May Marilyn was featured on the cover of Life as "The Talk of Hollywood".
   Marilyn was complicit in building her reputation as a sex symbol with certain publicity stunts,  such as wearing a revealing dress when acting as Grand Marshal at the Miss America Pageant Parade (clip), and by stating to gossip columnist Earl Wilson that she usually wore no underwear (again, like me!) even though it was none of his business.
   I find the statement she made to Wilson rather odd as I find pictures of Marilyn in her underwear all the time!
   I can understand her self promotion as a symbol. It gave her a degree of power within the industry, and helped to ensure her continued success, or at least her ability to work.
   But she wanted more.
   In the summer of 1952 she appeared in two commercially successful dramas. The first was Fritz Lang's “Clash by Night,” for which she was loaned to RKO and played a fish cannery worker; to prepare, she spent time in a real fish cannery in Monterey (as did I!).
   The film starred Barbara Stanwyck, Robert Ryan, and Paul Douglas, and concerned “Mae Doyle comes back to her hometown a cynical woman. Her brother Joe fears that his love, fish cannery worker Peggy, may wind up like Mae. Mae marries Jerry and has a baby; she is happy but restless, drawn to Jerry's friend Earl.”  
   Oh my! Here's a clip.
   Marilyn played Peggy. She received positive reviews for her performance. The Hollywood Reporter stated that "she deserves starring status with her excellent interpretation", and Variety wrote that she "has an ease of delivery which makes her a cinch for popularity."
   Both statements were true.
   That rascal Darryl Zanuck wanted to test Marilyn’s abilities in an even heavier dramatic role as a crazed babysitter in “Don’t Bother to Knock,” which also featured Richard Widmark, and Anne Bancroft. 
   Here’s a clip.
   This film was the precursor to the “Insane Babysitter” genre. 
   Monroe's three other films in 1952 continued with the type casting of her in comic roles that focused on her physical appearance.
   In “We're Not Married!,” she starred as a beauty pageant contestant, and according to screenwriter Nunnally (Nunnally?) Johnson the part was created solely to "present Marilyn in two bathing suits."
   And a lot of other girls as well (this film was produced by the United States Army). Here’s a clip.
   The movie also starred Victor Moore, Ginger Rogers, Fred Allen, David Wayne and Paul Douglas again, Eve Arden, Eddie Bracken, and Mitzi Gaynor.
   Marilyn would work with Ginger Roberts once more in “Monkey Business,” along with Cary Grant. The film concerned out of control drug use among America’s elite.
   Here’s a clip. 
   “O. Henry's Full House” was a 1952 American anthology film made by 20th Century Fox, consisting of five separate stories by the American short story writer O. Henry (William Sydney Porter. God, I hate pseudonyms).
   Recalling Marilyn’s days as a cannery worker wanna be in “Clash by Night," she got John Steinbeck, my favorite writer (“Cannery Row" being my favorite book) to make a rare film appearance in which he introduced the five different stories.
   Marilyn appeared in the first segment, "The Cop and the Anthem," along with Charles Laughton and David Wayne... again. 
   Here’s the segment. 
   Laughton would succumb to renal failure 133 days after Marilyn died.
   It has to be said that Marilyn was beginning to gain a reputation for being difficult to work with, which increased over time. She was quite often late, or didn’t show up, or couldn’t remember her lines. She relied on her acting coaches so much that it distanced her from the directors she was working with.
   Some say, certainly not me, that wanting to be perfect in her work, low self esteem (like me!), stage fright, and lack of control attributed to her behavior. 
   Being late, not showing up, not remembering lines, and other aspects of this type of conduct would be more than enough to get most actresses or actors fired from existing projects, let alone trying to find work in the industry in the future.
   But Marilyn was becoming a phenomena, and everybody wanted to be associated with her, and she was making the studios tons of 1950's dollars.
   So she got away with it.
   She began to use drugs to lessen her anxiety and chronic insomnia. She used barbiturates, amphetamines and alcohol, which most addicts will happily tell you does practically nothing to help solve one’s problems. You’ll escape those problems for a little while, but they’ll still be there when you sober up.
   And you’ll have an awful headache.
   Anyway, Marilyn’s next film was the noir murder drama, “Niagara (in Technicolor!).” It also starred Joseph Cotten, Howard Hughes 2nd wife Jean Peters, and Max Showalter.   
   Marilyn was given first billing in “Niagara” which elevated her to star status. However, Jean Peters part was longer, meaning she had more screen time than Marilyn, and frankly her part was more interesting than Marilyn’s, so in my humble opinion Ms Peters was the star of the movie.
   Full disclosure... I’ve become smitten with Ms Peters and was sad to hear the she passed away in Carlsbad, California (no relation to the caverns) in 2000 from complications with leukemia ( I would have given her my blood if I had known).
   FYI, our friend, Journalist, killer of fish, and rampant sex symbol in her own right, S.E. Cupp, was born in Carlsbad, CA.
   I especially admired Jean after learning that she was known for her resistance to being turned into a sex symbol, and preferred to play unglamorous, down-to-earth women.
   I mean I love Marilyn and all but she was quite a handful.
   In any case, according to Sarah Churchwell, author of “The Many Lives of Marilyn Monroe (2004),” “Niagara” was one of the most overtly sexual films of Marilyn’s career, as it included scenes in which her body was covered only by a sheet or a towel, which was considered shocking by audiences in 1953. Its most famous scene is a 30-second long shot of Monroe shown walking from behind with her hips swaying, which was heavily used in the film's marketing.
   Here’s that walk.
   I’m not only shocked but am appalled as well!
   When Niagara was released in January, women's clubs protested that the film was immoral, as it clearly was, but the movie proved popular with audiences and grossed $6 million at the box office ($54,663,849.06 now). While Variety deemed it "clichéd" and "morbid", The New York Times commented that "the falls and Miss Monroe are something to see," as although Monroe may not be "the perfect actress at this point ... she can be seductive – even when she walks".
   Here’s a non-walking scene.
   Marilyn continued to attract attention with her revealing outfits in publicity events, most famously at the Photoplay awards in January 1953, where she won the "Fastest Rising Star" award.
   The actress Joan Crawford described Marilyn’s behavior as "unbecoming an actress and a lady" to the press.
   She was just jealous. Crawford would look horrible in that dress.
   And at that point any publicity was good publicity for Marilyn.
   Her next film involved dancing and singing and blondes.
   Something about gentlemen preferring them to other forms of females.
   That’s just ridiculous.

To be continued 

No comments:

Post a Comment