The eternal blonde bombshell, and Marilyn Monroe immediately springs to mind. A woman whose face we often find planted all over cheap tack, who had trouble learning the simplest lines and whose white dress in 'The Seven year itch' sold for £2.8 million in the infamous Debbie Reynolds sale. But why has this image survived over the image of other blonde bombshells of the time? Why Marilyn? Why an icon? I will not say that she did not have talent, she was a great comedy actress. For example, 'Bus Stop' proved she had skill as an actress, and I think she had a lovely singing voice, but I do not think that it is for this that we remember her. I can think of many actresses of the era who had more talent and received awards. Was it because she was beautiful? Maybe, though sexy and alluring would be more accurate description. I certainly do not think she would have reached the same status if she had not died so young. Now, fifty years after her death, she is still remembered and iconised by the young and old alike, while other people of the era are all but forgotten in the general psyche.
One thing that people often overlook with Monroe is the more intelligent side to her, which was not much fostered by her 'dumb blonde' image. She loved Goya, ahead of her time in terms of promoting civil rights, her hero was Abraham Lincoln, when she met Nikita Khrushchev, they discussed 'The Brothers Karamazov'... and she was reading 'To kill a mockingbird' at the time of her death. Although we often like to see the young, innocent side, we forget that many described her as manipulative and shrewd, she had problems with co-stars, lines and turning up to set.
I'm not going to do a simple biography, because I'm languid today, that would take too long and you can find it elsewhere, but I will point out a few interesting items. Monroe was passionate about equal rights, indeed she helped Ella Fitzgerald, who was her friend, with her career.
"I owe Marilyn Monroe a real debt ...it was because of her that I played the Mocambo, a very popular nightclub in the '50s. She personally called the owner of the club, and told him she wanted me booked immediately, and if he would do it, she would take a front table every night. She told him -and it was true, due to Marilyn's superstar status - that the press would go wild. The owner said yes, and Marilyn was there, front table, every night. The press went overboard. After that, I never had to play a small jazz club again. She was an unusual woman - a little ahead of her times. And she didn’t know it." Ella Fitzgerald
+++ 'Every Baby Needs A Da Da Daddy' taken from the B Movie 'Ladies Of The Chorus' (1948). This was only Marilyn's thrid film appearence and her first starring role. At 22 years old she is a far cry from the icon we know as Monroe. Nevertheless, this early performance shows how she was later groomed and trained. Her voice is deeper throughout this film - she was not doing the "breathy" thing yet... and I think this shows her in a slightly different light. +++
+++ The infamous 'Diamonds are a girl's best friend' from Gentlemen prefer Blondes where she starred alongside Jane Russell - a sex symbol at the time of a different nature - as Lorelei Lee opposite Jane Russell's Dorothy Shaw and, if it were not for this delightful number, I would have to state that Jane Russell completely stole the show though I am sure Marilyn was the main attraction for the cinemagoers. +++
She signed a one-year contract with 20th Century-Fox in 1946 and played minor roles in several minor movies for the studio.
Scudda Hoo! Scudda Hay! (1948) Uncredited
Ladies of the Chorus (1948)
Love Happy (1949) Uncredited
A Ticket to Tomahawk (1950) Uncredited
Right Cross (1950) Uncredited
The Fireball (1950)
The Asphalt Jungle (1950)
All About Eve (1950)
Home Town Story (1951)
As young as you feel (1951)
Love Nest (1951)
Let's make it Legal (1951)
O. Henry's Full House (1952)
Clash by Night (1952)
We're not married (1952)
Don't Bother to Knock (1952)
Monkey Business (1952)
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)
How to Marry a Millionaire (1953)
River of No Return (1954)
There's No Business Like Show Business (1954)
The Seven Year Itch (1955)
Bus Stop (1956)
The Prince and the Showgirl (1957)
Some Like It Hot (1959)
Let's Make Love (1960)
The Misfits (1961)
The filming of Something's Got to Give in 1962 was suspended and Monroe fired. The film went unfinished until it was rebooted in 1963 as Move Over, Darling with Doris Day and James Garner.
+++ As much as I love Marilyn, again I think that she was outshone in 'Some like it Hot' by her co-stars, though I could never imagine anybody else doing as well in this part. +++
<<< A young Marilyn.
>>> With Jane Russell, outside Grauman's Chinese Theatre on June 26th 1953.
Thanks for Reading, do comment and please follow! Very soon, I am going to do a series of five posts chronicling, in my opinion, the 50 greatest film dresses of all time - I've already started working on it and I can honestly say that it is the most difficult series of posts I've ever done!