Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010


I was going to title this "Remembering Marilyn" but really she has never been away, despite the fact that it will be 50 years since her death in 2 years time in 2012. I dare say Fox will be marketing her once again with "50th Anniversary editions"! She will still be making money for them despite they not paying her that much in her lifetime...

The 4th of August 1962 [it was a Saturday night] saw 16 year old me seeing a revival of BUS STOP (for the first time) at our local cinema in Ireland ... the next day, Sunday afternoon, we were sitting in deckchairs in the garden talking about it, when a newsflash came over the radio .... the rest of the '60s saw us doing the whole Marilyn thing with the revival houses doing double features and all those early books .... by the '70s the likes of Norman Mailer and then Gloria Steinem (with the Barris pictures) were getting in on the act and those great photographs by the likes of Eve Arnold, Milton Green and that Last Sitting by Bert Stern were in wide circulation - any photobook (and there were plenty) on Marilyn sold! The pictures I liked most were the George Barris sets taken at her house (its now on the market again for over $3m.) and at Santa Monica beach where she looks amazingly fresh and re-invented for the '60s. SOMETHING'S GOTTA GIVE was going to be re-activated [she looks wonderful in the fragments that remain, and she certainly got Liz Taylor's CLEOPATRA off the world's magazine covers with her nude swim shots] but it may have turned out to be another damp squib like the very tedious (apart from her musical numbers like "My Heart Belongs To Daddy") LETS MAKE LOVE where her looks varied from scene to scene. I think Cukor was not really the right choice for her last two Fox films - it seems he did not have any empathy with her and considered her mad in subsequent interviews [tough dames like Crawford and Hepburn were the kind of women he liked associating with]. Her best later movies were of course all made away from Fox - she never looked better as photographed by Jack Cardiff for THE PRINCE AND THE SHOWGIRL and she steals the film from Olivier, and then of course the reams that have been written about the making of it and Wilder's SOME LIKE IT HOT and Huston's THE MISFITS but her Sugar Kane Kowalski and Roslyn Taber are still spellbinding creations. The rumours of conspiracies about her death will continue, but I think the Spoto book gets closest to it, being an accidental overdose. That Sinatra crowd were all well used to various uppers and downers (as is casually referred to in THE TENDER TRAP). Jack Cardiff captures her perfectly in his chapter about her in his memoir MAGIC HOUR, which makes most of the other MM books redundant.

My first introduction to Marilyn [apart from all those '50s magazine covers she was on] was seeing her in that red swimsuit in HOW TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRE which is still great fun, NIAGARA and GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES of course, her early bits like Miss Caswell in ALL ABOUT EVE. I also like the 1954 Marilyn: it seems she only did THERE'S NO BUSINESS LIKE SHOW BUSINESS in order to get THE SEVEN YEAR ITCH but she holds her own marvellously here with the other show biz veterans and her 3 numbers are riveting: "After you get what you want you don't want it", "Lazy" and of course "Tropical Heatwave" - another of Jack Cole's great musical sequences. She also has some nice wistful songs and teams well with Mitchum (particularly when he gives her that rub down in the blanket) in Otto's sort of western RIVER OF NO RETURN. Marilyn was also a great vocal artist, her Fox recordings bear up well and fit those movies perfectly.

But back to those timeless pictures taken at the beach by George Barris a few weeks before her death - they look like they were taken yesterday! I had a big poster of the one with her sipping champagne on my wall for years... she looks as fresh here as the sweet young girl photographed sitting on the highway back in 1940s California....she changed (and achieved) so much in 12 brief years, from 1950 to 1962; she may have become too unstable to last much longer - who can say now?, but at least she, the essence of the '50s, was there for the start of the '60s. Perhaps only Garbo was loved more by the camera... Like Dean its impossible to imagine her in her 80s or going the blowsy route like her onetime room-mate Shelley Winters.


  1. My first was Some like it hot.

  2. What a nice affectionate tribute to a true great. Terrific photos too .... we grew up with those images.

  3. Is it really 48 years !

  4. It was a tragic end to a legendary life. Marilyn brought so much joy to so many people and continues to do so today. What endears me to her still is the fact that she constantly strived to make herself a better person. She was basically uneducated,lived a hellish childhood and sought validation in an essentially misogynistic culture. Marilyn took what she had and made an indelible name that will forever be associated with glamour and beauty With all her demons, the family history of mental illness, the drugs, the paralyzing insecurities, it is not so much as her death at 36 that is surprising. The surprising and remarkable thing is that Marilyn lived to be 36. A testimony to her drive and strength. There will never be another one like her. She is a true Goddess, and like James Dean she will never age. Those photographs are still stunning.

  5. I am 26 years of age but I have seen almost all the movies of Monroe. Simply awesome, no other words to describe. Nice post and your question, is she the most photographed actress? Well, I have an encyclopedia on Monroe pictures hard copy
    .Even I think she is the one who faced the camera more in that short period. Thanks for the post. Really loved it.