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.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

The 50th anniversary tribute to Marilyn Monroe

I did a lengthy tribute to Marilyn two years ago exactly (click MM label below) pondering what the 50th anniversary would be like, and now here it is - with the expected tributes in all the quality (and not so..) press.

As I mentioned before I was 16 then in Ireland and remember the coverage - we heard the announcement on the radio while sitting in deckchairs that Sunday afternoon, after having seen BUS STOP that Saturday night, the 4th of August, while events were unfolding in California ...
These though are the images that stayed with me, as that Monroe cult took off in the 60s with all those books and features: those last photos by George Barris that day at the beach, and the subject of several books and posters. 
I had that TOWN magazine when I was 16.  As a child I saw her on all those American movie magazine covers, LIFE magazine and the rest - and that first time I became aware of her, in that red swimsuit in HOW TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRE...    As I say too in that earlier tribute she accomplished so much in that brief time - 1950 to 1962, aftrer being a Fox starlet and party girl for the likes of Elia Kazan, then those roles that got her noticed in ALL ABOUT EVE and THE ASPHALT JUNGLE, her breakthrough in 1953, consolidated in 1954 and 1955, (her vocal talents and how she looked in those years, as per my other posts on her, Marilyn Monroe label); then the move to New York and forming her own company with Milton Greene (who also took some marvellous pictures of her), then those last films where it seemed to be harder and harder for her to be Marilyn. Then that new Marilyn for the '60s ... while Taylor was marrying huckster producers, crooners and that Welsh actor squandering his talent MM had linked up with America's sporting hero, one of its greatest writers and THE political family ...

I was obsessed about THE MISFITS for a long time in that pre-video age and had to attend revival screenings and never miss a television showing ... just like I had been with James Dean and EAST OF EDEN.  
Apart from the films those great photographs by Barris, Eve Arnold, Bert Stern, Milton Greene, Bob Willoughby and the others will always be in circulation.  

Looking at the '50s objectively now it was Marilyn and Elizabeth Taylor who were at the top of the tree of female stars, along with Audrey and Grace; and then the likes of Kim, Janet, Doris, Debbie etc as well as new girls Lee Remick, Shirley McLaine, Eva Marie Saint, Joanne Woodward and that grown-up Natalie Wood; Brigitte and Sophia were discovered in Europe joining Gina and Silvana;  those '40s new girls like Deborah Kerr, Jean Simmons, Susan Hayward, Ava Gardner and Lauren Bacall came to maturity ... while the older Lana, Rita, Vivien, Olivia and sister Joan, June Allyson, and that great 30s quartet of Bette, Joan, Katharine and Barbara kept working [Loretta, Norma, Margaret, Irene had retired or gone to tv], Ingrid Bergman was "forgiven", Anna Magnani was imported for a few roles; new girls like Sandra Dee, Carol Lynley, Dolores Hart, Jean Seberg and England's Kay Kendall arrived, and that 'second tier' comprising Anne Baxter, Cyd Charisse, Vera Miles, Jane Russell, Martha Hyer, Joan Collins, Dorothy Malone, Yvonne De Carlo, Rhonda Fleming, Arlene Dahl, Ruth Roman, Debra Paget, Hope Lange et al were also busy, and then there was Jayne Mansfield and Anita Ekberg. Thats a list! Here's some more: Dana Wynter, Angie Dickinson, Jane Wyman, Carroll Baker, Diane Baker, Barbara Rush, Patricia Owens, Virginia Mayo, Donna Reed, Jan Sterling, Dorothy McGuire and another 30s gal Rosalind Russell, and Eleanor Parker and Maureen O'Hara were still working - have I missed anyone? Well yes, those stylish intelligent actresses equally at home on the stage as in movies, like Glynis Johns, Claire Bloom, Julie Harris, Angela Lansbury, and of course Marilyn's one-time room-mate Shelley Winters, one of the busiest gals of the '50s ! British viewers also had their own sirens in Belinda Lee and Diana Dors, as well as leading ladies like Sylvia Syms and Yvonne Mitchell.
 (The early '60s saw the first stirrings of Jane Fonda, Ann-Margret, Pamela Tiffin; and Julie Christie, Susannah York and those British girls... and Deneuve and Dorleac, Moreau, 1959's Best Actress winner Signoret and 1961's Loren plus Schneider, Cardinale and Vitti heading the European contingent, while Faye Dunway and Jacqueline Bissett burst on the mid-'60s scene along with those Redgrave girls...).

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