Vive le Cherbourg! Deneuve dazzles! Go, Goldblum, go!

Umbrellas posterThe Umbrellas of Cherbourg/1964/91 min.

A visual confection. A musical with a vibe both joyful and pensive. Catherine Deneuve’s break-through role. Superb music by Michel Legrand. One of France’s most famous and highly regarded films, “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” this year celebrates the 50th anniversary of its U.S. release.

Jacques Demy, a New Wave director, brings his distinctive vision to the movie musical resulting in a film that’s wistful and tender, exuberant and operatic. It’s a simple tale of harsh reality intruding on two gorgeous young lovers (Deneuve and Nino Castelnuovo). Demy lends depth and resonance by conjuring a poetic mood and letting the story unfold at a meandering pace.

I imagine that watching Deneuve back in 1964 meant immediately recognizing her star power, perhaps like watching Marilyn Monroe (Deneuve’s favorite actress) in “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.” For Deneuve’s longtime admirers or those still discovering her, this lovely digital restoration is a must-see treat.

“The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” opens Friday, March 14, at Landmark’s Nuart Theatre, showing through Thursday, March 20, for an exclusive one-week engagement. On March 14, at the 7:30 p.m. show, dance critic Debra Levine will talk with actor/dancer George Chakiris, who worked in collaboration with Demy, Deneuve and Legrand in 1967’s “The Young Girls of Rochefort.”


On My Way posterOn My Way/2014/Cohen Media Group/113 min.

Catherine Deneuve at 70 is just as captivating to watch, maybe more so, as when she was a teenager. Her natural elegance infuses “On My Way,” a road movie in which she plays Bettie, a provincial French restaurateur and long-ago beauty-pageant queen trying to recover after she is jilted by her lover.

Or as director/co-writer Emmanuelle Bercot says: “It is the story of a woman who goes out for a drive and repeatedly finds reasons not to go back home.” One thing that sidetracks her is the fact that her grandson (Nemo Schiffman) happens to needs a ride to the home of his paternal grandfather (Gérard Garouste). Bettie agrees to drive him, though she is not on particularly good terms with the boy or his mother (the singer Camille).

The film feels realistic (an oafish fellow traveler calls Bettie a dog) and sometimes implausible (there are a few plot holes to be overlooked). It’s also very charming (the cast includes many non-actors such as Garouste as well as a porcine farmer, who rolls a cigarette for Bettie as he tells her why he never married) and very French (a leisurely family gathering includes cooking, singing, squabbling, smoking and drinking a nice glass of wine).

With Deneueve in the driver’s seat, “On My Way” is a trip you’ll want to take.

“On My Way” opens Friday, March 14, in New York and Friday, March 21, in LA.


Le Week-End posterLe Week-End/2013/Music Box Films/93 min.

Jeff Goldblum provides a welcome burst of obnoxious energy in the dark(ish) “Le Week-End,” a British comedy/drama set in Paris. Directed by Roger Michell and written by Hanif Kureishi, the film stars Lindsay Duncan and Jim Broadbent as an English couple who spend a few nights in the City of Lights to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary.

Celebrate, however, is not be quite the right word. The accumulated disappointments and frustrations of their three decades together have yielded a fair amount of friction between domineering Meg and Milquetoast Nick. As Meg points out, love can turn to hate like the flip of a switch. That said, a grudging but abiding affection seeps through Meg and Jim’s disillusioned, resentful exteriors – thanks to graceful acting from Duncan and Broadbent, and seamless direction from Michell.

Goldblum shines as Morgan, a smarmy New Yorker (now living in Paris with a much younger second wife), who knew Nick when they were students at Cambridge. In the years since, Morgan has seemingly achieved the success that has eluded Nick. A chance meeting on the street leads to a rekindling of the friendship.

Though I felt Duncan’s part was somewhat underwritten, “Le Week-End” is a sharp, unvarnished portrayal of a frayed relationship at a turning point in the world’s prettiest city.

“Le Week-End” opens Friday, March 14, at Landmark Theatres in West Los Angeles and at Angelika Film Center and Lincoln Plaza Cinemas in New York.


Golden Globes draws largest audience in 10 years

The Golden Globe Awards telecast is required viewing for us film and fashion junkies. The show drew its largest audience in 10 years and its largest young-adult audience in seven years, according to Variety. You can read the list of winners here.

Looks we loved: Cate Blanchett (the Best Actress in a Drama winner wore a lace Armani Prive gown), Mila Kunis, Lupita Nyong’o, Margot Robbie, Uma Thurman and Reese Witherspoon.

Trends we spotted: Bold lips, lots of eyeliner, stylishly messy waves, piecey buns and slicked-back up-do’s.

Surprises we savored: Matthew McConaughey’s win for Best Actor in a Drama; “12 Years A Slave” snaring Best Picture/Drama and Jacqueline Bisset’s bumbling acceptance speech when she won Best Supporting Actress in a Series, Miniseries or TV Movie.

Marilyn Monroe with the Golden Globe she won for 1959’s "Some Like It Hot."

Marilyn Monroe with the Golden Globe she won for 1959’s “Some Like It Hot.”



Prescription for retro glamour: A look back at Schwab’s

Sunset b & wHeading to the West Hollywood Rite-Aid to do a little schmoozing? Not bloody likely. But, in Tinseltown’s golden age, Schwab’s Pharmacy, at 8024 Sunset Blvd., ranked as one of the city’s top spots to meet, greet, mix and mingle.

A program Saturday at the Egyptian Theatre highlighted the pivotal role Schwab’s played in Hollywood networking from the 1930s to the 1960s. Teacher/history buff Marc Chevalier delivered a photo-driven presentation, followed by a short that was filmed at Schwab’s to promote a 1946 bio-pic, “The Jolson Story,” and the exquisite movie “Sunset Blvd.” (1950, Billy Wilder), which features the drugstore in a key scene.

Chevalier started his talk with a cherchez la femme angle. The property – on the south side of Sunset Boulevard, between Laurel Avenue and Crescent Heights – first belonged to Dr. George E. Paddleford and his wife, Genevieve McKinney Toomey Teal Paddleford, a “international adventuress and love pirate,” with a string of duped husbands.

The Sunset Medical Building complex opened its doors in 1931.

The Sunset Medical Building in the 1930s. Schwab’s was to the right of the window awning (far right).

The Paddlefords owned lots 1, 2 and 29 of the Crescent Heights tract and built a mansion on lot 2. Fond of giving Dr. Paddleford’s expensive cuff links and other valuable belongings to her lovers, Genevieve drew her husband’s ire and the couple divorced around 1920. She left for Europe where she continued to live the high life, charm men, court scandal, oh and steal stuff from Ritz-Carlton hotels.

Dr. Paddleford (an associate of oil magnate Edward L. Doheny) sold the property and in 1931 architects Alvan Norstrom and Milton Anderson designed the Sunset Medical Building for developers C.H. Thomsen and W.L. Easley. The year before, for the same developers, Norstrom and Anderson designed a building directly across the street. It’s in use today as the Laugh Factory and Greenblatt’s Deli.

Schwab’s was a place to see and be seen.

Schwab’s was a place to see and be seen.

Despite the prosaic name (it became known as the Crescent Heights Shopping Center and later simply “The Corner”), the new building turned out to be a modern-day palace. Its front and side facades were clad in dark tan marble from Southern France and trimmed in rosso levanto Italian marble. (At the time, the only other commercial structure in Los Angeles that boasted so much marble was downtown’s Merritt Building from 1915.) Inside The Corner, rooms were paneled and floored in mahogany; some had terrazzo marble floors. Doctors’ and dentists’ offices were on the second level. A covered-bridge walkway allowed patients to cross from one wing to another. The back court had a 30-space parking lot.

Nearby was the Spanish-Moorish style Garden of Allah apartment complex, originally owned by actress Alla Nazimova in 1919; the Garden was torn down in 1959. Many residents from this chic residence supported businesses at The Corner.

F. Scott Fitzgerald was among the notable residents at the Garden of Allah.

F. Scott Fitzgerald was among the notable residents at the Garden of Allah.

Norstrom and Anderson’s marble stunner housed several merchants on the ground floor, including Richard Talmadge, former actor and stuntman for Douglas Fairbanks, who ran a flower shop, and the owner of the Crescent Heights Market, Ben Ruben, known for insulting his customers at no extra charge. Howard Hughes treated his girlfriends to makeovers at the beauty salon.

In 1932, the Schwab brothers (Bernard, Leon, Jack and Martin) took over a failing drugstore in the complex; they would eventually own six pharmacies. But Schwab’s on Sunset wasn’t just a place to drop off a prescription or buy toiletries. Open from 7 a.m. to midnight, the gathering spot served meals as well as soda-fountain drinks. The store had five phone booths and frequently offered automatic credit. Customers could also buy high-end liquor, tobacco, chocolate, perfume and cosmetics. There was no charge for deliveries.

Billy Wilder filmed the Schwab’s  scene at Paramount.

Billy Wilder filmed the Schwab’s scene at Paramount.

In the movie “Sunset Blvd.,” William Holden’s character, a struggling screenwriter named Joe Gillis, tells us the pharmacy is his headquarters, explaining: “That’s the way a lot of us think about Schwab’s. Kind of a combination office, coffee klatch and waiting room. Waiting, waiting for the gravy train.” (Though it would seem the ideal location shoot, Wilder had the interior recreated and filmed on a Paramount lot.)

Arguably, what made Schwab’s the place to network and nosh was the fact that journalist/actor/producer Sidney Skolsky wrote his Photoplay column “From a Stool at Schwab’s” in a second-floor office, by arrangement with the Schwab family.

Sidney Skolsky and Marilyn Monroe attend an industry function.

Sidney Skolsky and Marilyn Monroe attend an industry function.

Among Skolsky’s many talents was a knack for nicknames and he dubbed the drugstore Schwabadero’s, an allusion to the Trocadero nightclub down the street. (Even more famously, in 1934, he was the first journalist to write a story using Oscar to refer to the Academy Award.) As a producer on the 1946 movie “The Jolson Story,” it was Skolsky’s idea to shoot the after-party at Schwab’s and use the footage as a publicity short.

Robert Mitchum, Clark Gable, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Mickey Cohen, Gloria Swanson, Judy Garland, the Marx Brothers, Cesar Romero and Shelley Winters were regular Schwabadero’s customers. Marilyn Monroe, another loyal patron, reportedly left messages for Skolsky, under the name Miss Caswell. Charlie Chaplin and Ava Gardner stopped in and made their own milkshakes.

Though it’s widely thought that Lana Turner was discovered sipping a soda at Schwab’s, in fact it was at the Top Hat malt shop, several blocks east on Sunset, that in 1937, at age 16, she attracted the attention of Hollywood Reporter publisher William Wilkerson.

Debunking the myth: Lana Turner was discovered at a malt shop down the street from Schwab’s.

Lana Turner was discovered at a malt shop down the street from Schwab’s.

By the time Schwab’s had its closeup in “Sunset Blvd.,” Russian immigrant/Beverly Hills businessman Martin Belousoff owned the property. In 1949, Googie’s coffee shop, designed by architect John Lautner in Space Age/midcentury modern style, was built nearby and served customers such as James Dean, Marlon Brando and beat-generation poets. (Googie’s lasted until 1989.)

Compared with Googie’s, Schwab’s looked passé and in 1955 Belousoff decided to remodel inside and out, commissioning architects Louis Armet and Eldon Davis for the job. But not long after Schwab’s updated, new Sunset Strip venues were opening up and gaining popularity with aspiring stars and ’60s hipsters.

Schwab’s, which had been in business for 50 years and earned worldwide fame as a Hollywood hive of activity, closed its doors in 1983 and was torn down in 1988. But it remains Hollyood’s most famous drugstore – a legendary place to sip sodas, schmooze, spot stars and, like many a prospective Lana Turner, strut your stuff.

Schwab's was open from 7 a.m. to midnight.

Schwab’s was open from 7 a.m. to midnight.


Hollywood Dogs highlighted in well heeled new book

There’s a photospread in Vanity Fair on a new book from ACC Editions called Hollywood Dogs: Photographs from the John Kobal Foundation. Looks like a fun book.

Snuffy, Frank Sinatra’s four-legged co-star in the 1957 musical “Pal Joey,” reportedly aced his audition. Asked to eat a bagel off a plate, the Cairn terrier took it in his mouth, dipped it in some soup, and ate the soggy part.

Also shown here: Marilyn Monroe and her Maltese, whom she named Mafia (the dog was a gift from Sinatra), and Grace Kelly with her Weimaraner.

VF Dogs Sinatra

VF Dogs Monroe

VF Dogs Kelly


Film Noir Blonde’s beauty picks for fall 2013

Guerlain's 2013 collection clearly channels film noir. Love the berry-colored lips and nails.

Guerlain’s 2013 collection clearly channels film noir. Love the berry-colored lips and nails.

Try pairing a half-moon manicure in this sumptuous shade with nude polish on the toenails.

Try pairing a half-moon manicure in this sumptuous shade with nude polish on the toenails.

Bond No. 9's latest New York City swoon: Perfumista Avenue.

Bond No. 9′s latest New York City swoon: Perfumista Avenue.

Designer Tory Burch said her mother's vanity table inspired her new fragrance and beauty collection.

Designer Tory Burch said her mother’s vanity table inspired her new fragrance and beauty collection.

Phylia de M, a hair restorer/thickener, is receiving rave reviews.

Phylia de M, a hair restorer/thickener, is receiving rave reviews.

Kate Winslet for Lancome is inspiration for any femme fatale.

Kate Winslet for Lancome is inspiration for any femme fatale.

Add a pop of bright color to emphasize your eyes with Lancome's Art Liner 24H.

Add a pop of bright color to emphasize your eyes with Lancome’s Art Liner 24H.

After a five-year hiatus, Jo Malone is back with Jo Loves. Gift-buying dilemma now over.

After a five-year hiatus, fragrance guru and former florist’s apprentice Jo Malone is back with Jo Loves. Gift-buying dilemma now over.

Dior first introduced Dior #9 in 1953. This classic red was recently relaunched as #999.

Christian Dior first introduced Dior #9 lipstick in 1953. This classic red was recently relaunched as #999.

Dior's New Look photographed for Vogue.

Dior’s New Look photographed by Serge Balkin for Vogue.

Chanel's gorgeous Cast a Spell collection is new this fall.

Chanel’s gorgeous Cast a Spell collection is new this fall.

When Marilyn Monroe was asked what she wore to bed, her answer was Chanel No. 5.

When reporters asked Marilyn Monroe what she wore to bed, her answer was Chanel No. 5.

Looking forward to a spritz of Estée Lauder's Modern Muse and, I hope, a surge of creativity. ;)

Looking forward to a spritz of Estée Lauder’s Modern Muse.

Since the '90s, Lorraine Massey has been helping those with hard-to-tame tresses embrace their inner curl. But her products are new to Space NK in Brentwood. Cheers, Lorraine!

Since the ’90s, Lorraine Massey has been helping those with hard-to-tame tresses embrace their inner curl. But her products are new to Space NK in Brentwood. Cheers, Lorraine!

The nice girls at Space NK in Brentwood recommended Life Daily Fix Foot Cream to heal my dry cracked heels. Perfect for a post-yoga slather. Take that, Warrior 3 and Reverse Half Moon!

The nice girls at Space NK in Brentwood recommended Life Daily Fix Foot Cream to heal my dry and cracked heels. Perfect for a post-yoga slather. Take that, Warrior 3 and Reverse Half Moon!

Lipstick Queen founder Poppy King says she had vintage Hollywood in mind when she created her Velvet Rope lipstick collection. Shown here is Star System, a nude with A-list oomph.

Lipstick Queen founder Poppy King says she had vintage Hollywood in mind when she created her Velvet Rope lipstick collection. Shown here is Star System, a nude with A-list oomph.

Laura Mercier's Dark Spell Collection looks truly divine.

Laura Mercier’s Dark Spell Collection looks truly divine.


Jeanne Carmen’s life-of-the-party legacy lives on

Jeanne Carmen was a sultry pin-up model and seasoned B-movie actress.

So, at the memorial service for Marilyn Monroe last month, I met Brandon James. Brandon is the son of Jeanne Carmen, a pin-up model, ace golfer, B-movie actress and friend of Marilyn’s.

Jeanne was born Aug. 4, 1930 in Paragould, Ark., to a family of cotton pickers. After winning a beauty contest at 13, she left home to pursue her dream of Hollywood stardom. Though she never became a top-tier actress, she most definitely left her mark and had a good time – clinking glasses and climbing under the covers with the likes of Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra and Johnny Roselli.

After Marilyn died on Aug. 5, 1962, mobsters told Jeanne to keep quiet about Marilyn’s connection to the Kennedy clan, according to her son. Jeanne heeded the warning and, leaving her party-girl life behind, became a wife and mother in Scottsdale, Ariz. She died Dec. 20, 2007.

Her name appears in Christopher Andersen’s new book, “These Few Precious Days,” which details JFK’s last year with Jackie, including his presumed affair with Marilyn and use of amphetamines provided by “Dr. Feelgood.” Andersen writes that Marilyn frequently confided in Jeanne during this time, reportedly asking her, “Can’t you just see me as first lady?”

Additionally, a clip of Jeanne in “The Monster of Piedras Blancas” (1959) is used in American Standard’s new at-home movie marathon commercial, which, btw, also features an adorable cat. ;) The ad will run for four months.

For more info about Jeanne, you can visit Brandon’s site and watch this edition of E! True Hollywood Story. Perhaps more off-screen than on, she was a femme fatale and blonde bombshell who was the scribe and star of her own fascinating drama.


Memories of Marilyn: ‘She gave everything she had’

Flowers, photos and letters at Marilyn Monroe’s crypt in Westwood.

About 50 people attended the memorial service for Marilyn Monroe at Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery on Aug. 5, the 51st anniversary of her death.

Marilyn Remembered fan club president Greg Schreiner gave opening remarks before introducing the speakers: actresses Marian Collier Neuman and Joan Nicholas, biographer James Spada, Hollywood Museum founder and president Donelle Dadigan, and photographers George Barris and Douglas Kirkland.

All of the speakers said Marilyn had touched their lives and some shared memories of their encounters with the iconic actress. Neuman and Nicholas, both of whom had small parts in “Some Like It Hot,” recalled Marilyn’s stunning physical beauty and natural charm. It was also clear, they said, that Marilyn was struggling with personal problems during the shoot.

Fans from around the world sent flowers.

“She was stunning, lovely, nice and a very warm person,” said Neuman. “She was great fun. She didn’t hang out with us much but we knew she liked us.”

As a 10-year-old growing up on Staten Island, Spada saw his first image of Marilyn in the New York Daily News. “It was love at first sight,” he said. That pivotal moment inspired him to become a writer.

Dadigan touched on Marilyn’s timeless appeal, her “power beyond the blondeness” and her continuing popularity with young people. “Despite feeling lonely and unloved, Marilyn could project the feeling of love and give everyone the feeling of joy,” Dadigan said.

Marilyn shot by George Barris

Barris recalled attending a press event in New York in 1954. Marilyn had her back to him, he said, and he decided to start shooting. Suddenly turning around, she told him, “I’ll take a dozen of those.” He also remembered celebrating her 36th birthday (June 1, 1962) on the set of “Something’s Got to Give.” She was in good spirits, he said, but was unwell the following week.

Barris said 20th Century Fox “became hysterical” over Marilyn’s illnesses and inability to work on the movie, claiming that she’d “destroyed the studio,” which was running overbudget on “Cleopatra.” The studio fired her on June 8, 1962.

On July 13, 1962, Barris shot his famous series on Santa Monica beach. “She was magnificent, she worked so hard, she was trying so hard,” he said. At the end of the afternoon, when it got cold, he coaxed her into one more shot. “She sat down, puckered her lips and blew a kiss, telling me, ‘It’s just for you.’ She was the sweetest, most wonderful person to work with. She gave everything she had.”

Marilyn shot by Douglas Kirkland

Kirkland photographed Marilyn in 1961 for Look magazine. He described her as kind, caring, playful and fun. She also took charge, said Kirkland, who was 27 at the time. “She said we need a bed and white sheets, Dom Pérignon champagne and Frank Sinatra records. Marilyn made the pictures I took. I did the technology but I give her the credit. She managed the shoot.”

The service concluded with a video tribute and audio of Lee Strasberg’s eulogy from Marilyn’s funeral in 1962 as well as a performance from vocalist Sue Ann Pinner. Greg Schreiner hosted lunch at his house after the service.


From crushing emptiness to eternal star: Remembering Marilyn Monroe on the anniversary of her death

Marilyn Monroe (June 1, 1926-Aug. 5, 1962) will be honored at a memorial service on Monday, Aug. 5, in Westwood.

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Marilyn modeled to support herself.

Bugs. Dogs. God. Since childhood, she was quick to ask questions about the everyday and the esoteric. This little girl named Norma Jean, as curious and proud as she was lonely and neglected, grew up to be Marilyn Monroe, the world’s most iconic and enduring sex symbol. Her love affair with the public still burns bright more than 50 years after her death on Aug. 5, 1962. She was 36.

Perhaps she sought answers and collected facts as a distraction from the grinding poverty and desperate uncertainty she faced as a kid. Her mother, Gladys, who fought bouts of mental illness, was unable to take care of her and her father had long been absent from their lives.

Norma Jean bounced between friends’ places and foster homes in Los Angeles. She was treated poorly for the most part, made to bathe in dirty water, molested by a man named Mr. Kimmel, pushed into marriage at 16 to Jim Dougherty, whom she barely knew, to avoid returning to the orphanage.

She was physically as well as intellectually precocious, fully developed by 12, and she knew her looks would open doors for her. There was a way, she believed, she could parlay her games of make believe into something refined, meaningful and artistic. If she got training and made the right connections, she could escape from her harrowing childhood.

“The truth was that with all my lipstick and mascara and precocious curves, I was as unsensual as a fossil. But I seemed to affect people quite otherwise.” — MM on her school days

Groucho Marx described Marilyn as Mae West, Theda Bara and Little Bo Peep all rolled into one.

“In Hollywood a girl’s virtue is much less important than her hair-do.” — MM

“After a few months, I learned how to reduce the boredom [at a Hollywood party] considerably. This was to arrive around two hours late.” — MM

As a struggling model and actress, Marilyn would spend Sundays at Union Station in downtown Los Angeles, watching people walk from the trains to be greeted, hugged and kissed, wondering what it would feel like to be cared about, to be missed and wanted.

“I could never be attracted to a man who had perfect teeth. I don’t know why, but I have always been attracted to men who wore glasses.” — MM

She got a few small parts in the pictures, studied acting and attended Hollywood parties, carefully crossing her legs to hide the holes in her nylons, quietly watching other guests play cards and win money.

“When the men laughed and pocketed the thousands of dollars of winnings as if they were made of tissue paper, I remembered my Aunt Grace and me waiting in line at the Holmes Bakery to buy a sackful of stale bread for a quarter to live on a whole week,” she recalled in her memoir (co-written with Ben Hecht), “My Story.”

The studio suits weren’t encouraging. Darryl Zanuck and Dore Schary told her that she was unphotogenic, that she didn’t have the right look. She persevered. Eventually, it was her enraptured fans (she garnered 7,000 letters a week) who fueled her fame and propelled her rise to the top. “I knew I belonged to the public and to the world, not because I was talented or even beautiful but because I had never belonged to anything or anyone else.”

“We were the prettiest tribe of panhandlers that ever overran a town.”         — MM on her early years as a Hollywood actress.

One of her most important movies, early on, was a film noir: “The Asphalt Jungle” (1950, John Huston). “Don’t Bother to Knock” (1952, Roy Ward Baker) and “Niagara” (1953, Henry Hathaway) also showcased her talent for playing dark, dangerous women.

The studio pushed her toward lighter fare – musicals and comedies – where she played frothy flirts and bubble-headed gold diggers: “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953, Howard Hawks), “How to Marry a Millionaire,” (1953, Jean Negulesco and “There’s No Business Like Show Business” (1954, Walter Lang).

Marilyn pushed back, wanting more complex parts and sometimes she got them. She teamed up with some of Hollywood’s greatest directors: Huston, Hawks, Otto Preminger in “River of No Return” (1954), Joshua Logan in “Bus Stop” (1956), twice with Billy Wilder, in 1955’s “The Seven Year Itch” and four years later in the black-comedy classic “Some Like It Hot.”

In 1960, she worked with George Cukor in “Let’s Make Love.” Cukor also directed her in the unfinished “Something’s Got to Give” (1962). She co-starred with Sir Laurence Olivier (he also directed) in “The Prince and the Showgirl” (1957) and earned acclaim for her work, especially from European critics.

“In a daydream you jump over facts as easily as a cat jumps over a fence.” — MM

It was choreographer Jack Cole’s idea to pair pink and red in the color scheme of 1953′s “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.”

Marilyn was the favorite movie actress of the French philosopher/novelist/playwright Jean-Paul Sartre, and he wrote the lead female part in his original script “Freud” (1962) for her. (Susannah York played it.)

“I’ve often stood silent at a party for hours listening to my movie idols turn into dull and little people.” — MM

Her boyfriends reportedly included Marlon Brando, Frank Sinatra, Elia Kazan, Orson Welles, Yves Montand, John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy; her best girlfriend (and one-time roommate) was Shelley Winters. During the height of her fame, Marilyn married two more times – to Yankee baseball great Joe DiMaggio (January-October 1954) and to playwright Arthur Miller (1956-1961).

Miller wrote “The Misfits” (1961) for her. In that ill-fated film, Marilyn co-starred with Clark Gable, the movie star she’d so often pretended was her father, and was directed by Huston, whom she considered a genius. During the arduous shoot in the Nevada desert, the Monroe-Miller marriage came apart. Gable died from a heart attack days after the filming ended. Said Huston of Marilyn: “She went right down into her own personal experience for everything, reached down and pulled something out of herself that was unique and extraordinary. She had no techniques. It was all the truth, it was only Marilyn.”

Marilyn once implored a LIFE reporter: “Please don’t make me a joke.”

Her vulnerability and little-girl-lost quality, coupled with her stunning looks and glamour, are often cited as the reasons for her widespread, lasting appeal.

There’s no doubt she faced a litany of lingering problems: a family history of mental illness; emotional instability and physical maladies; a dependency on drugs and alcohol; endometriosis, abortions and miscarriages; difficulty remembering lines and showing up on time; broken marriages and failed affairs as well as frustration and fights with 20th Century-Fox (the studio refused to let her see scripts in advance of a shoot, then relented).

Some of her early work is slightly cloying – the breathy voice a little too mannered, her demeanor a little forced. And despite critical recognition for “Bus Stop,” “Prince” and “Some Like It Hot,” she remained pigeonholed as a blonde bombshell, a sexy joke.

“When you’re a failure in Hollywood – that’s like starving to death outside a banquet hall with the smells of filet mignon driving you crazy.” — MM

Jack Orry-Kelly designed Marilyn’s clothes in “Some Like it Hot.”

“When you’re broke and a nobody and a man tells you that you have the makings of a star, he becomes a genius in your eyes.” — MM

Marilyn’s marriage to playwright Arthur Miller came apart while making ”The Misfits.” Co-star Clark Gable died days after shooting ended.

Yet it was her precise and subtle comic timing that set her apart from other actresses. As Wilder put it: “She was an absolute genius as a comic actress, with an extraordinary sense for comic dialogue. … Nobody else is in that orbit; everyone else is earthbound by comparison.”

“To love without hope is a sad thing for the heart.” — MM

Humor was likely a coping mechanism she’d honed in an effort to ward off the crushing emptiness she’d known since childhood. Norma Jean saw movies again and again at Hollywood theaters; play-acting with other kids, she thought up the good stuff, the drama.

Marilyn liked her body and, some days, she enjoyed the attention she got from her looks. But she also gave the impression that her beauty could be swiftly forgotten, that she got bored too fast to dwell on her appearance. Underneath the surface, right alongside the troubled soul, was a well of pure bliss that wasn’t hard to reach, if she had a receptive audience, whether it was a likeminded bookworm friend or a movie palace packed with people.

When the fantasy was in full, giddy swing, she laughed sweetly and cynically, sometimes at herself. She could be funny with a look, a gesture or a makeshift prop – sparking joy from nothing at all.

Sir Laurence Olivier said of Marilyn: ”Look at that face – she could be five years old.”

Photographers include: George Barris, Richard Avedon, Philippe Halsman, Milton Greene, Sam Shaw and Bert Stern.


Los Angeles honors Marilyn Monroe with memorial tributes

Marilyn Monroe in 1957; shot by Sam Shaw. Copyright Sam Shaw

Several special events in Los Angeles are slated to mark the 51st anniversary of Marilyn Monroe’s death on Aug. 5, 1962. Monroe overcame tremendous adversity to become one of the most iconic movie stars of all time. She died alone at her Brentwood home from a drug overdose; she was 36.

In conjunction with Marilyn Monroe: The Exhibit, which runs through Sept. 8, the Hollywood Museum will host two onsite events. At a meet-and-greet from 1- 3 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 3, Marilyn collectors Greg Schreiner and Scott Fortner will share the history behind items on display in the exhibit.

From 1-3 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 4, there will be a book signing with authors Lois Banner, Douglas Kirkland and James Spada. Banner, a professor at the University of Southern California, wrote Marilyn: The Passion and the Paradox, which explores Marilyn’s life from a feminist perspective. Photographer/writer Kirkland’s book An Evening with Marilyn includes a series of Marilyn photos he took as well as details of the shoot. Spada produced the coffee-table book Marilyn Monroe: Her Life in Pictures.

The Hollywood Museum is located in the historic Max Factor Building at 1660 N. Highland Ave.

On Saturday night, dance critic Debra Levine and Oscar-winning actor, singer and dancer George Chakiris will introduce the 60th anniversary screening of “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,” part of the Academy’s Oscars Outdoors series in Hollywood. The event is sold out but there will be a standby line.

Additionally, the annual “Marilyn Remembered” memorial service, co-sponsored by the Hollywood Museum, takes place at 11 a.m. Monday, Aug. 5, at the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery, 1218 Glendon Ave. in Westwood.


Marilyn in her modeling days

Marilyn Monroe on her childhood: “As I grew older I knew I was different from other children because there were no kisses or promises in my life. … I would try to cheer myself up with daydreams. I never dreamed of anyone loving me as I saw other children loved. That was too big a stretch for my imagination. I compromised by dreaming of attracting someone’s attention (besides God), of having people look at me and say my name.”