“I don’t want to make money, I just want to be wonderful.”
Many extraordinary talents came and went in the 20th Century, only a handful of which are considered true icons. The ones whose image alone inspires a deeply-felt response from people. To me, there is no greater icon than Marilyn Monroe. She was not the best entertainer nor was she the best actress, but whatever it is that makes an icon, she had it in spades. The camera loved her. Her legion of fans adore her and honor her like no other is honored. I never knew that to be an absolute truth until I joined twitter where her many fans are on a constant quest to share her stories, her work, her image. They are true keepers of her flame.
Marilyn Monroe died on August 5, 1962. That makes this the 50th Anniversary of that sad day. Hers was a tragic ending to a beloved life, a woman whose “magic” has only grown over time. There is nothing new I could possibly say about her, even if I felt so inclined. There is no image I can post here that hasn’t been ogled over, admired and discussed to the last detail. Yet, I do want to pay tribute to a memorable figure in film. One whose work I enjoy. To me her greatest talent was that of comedienne, a talent for which I don’t think she is given due credit. You’ll see from the clips I include below which films I enjoy most. All are funny and endlessly entertaining.
Following is a career retrospective in images – stills and video – many familiar to most but if one thing is certain is we never tire of looking at Marilyn. Most of her feature films are represented as well as a few other highlights. A look back at Marilyn, the talent and star, as they rose.
“A career is wonderful, but you can’t curl up with it on a cold night.”
1947 – in Arthur Pierson’s, The Dangerous Years – as Evie the waitress – her first, credited role.
1948 – in Phil Karlson’s, Ladies of the Chorus – as Peggy Martin
1949 - in David Miller’s, Love Happy – as Grunion’s client with the one, the only, Groucho
1950 – in John Huston’s, The Asphalt Jungle – as Angela Phinlay (her breakthrough role)
1950 – in Tay Garnett’s, The Fireball – as Polly
1950 – in Joseph L. Mankiewicz’, All About Eve – as Miss Casswell (with Bette Davis and George Sanders)
1949 – in David Miller’s, Love Happy – as Grunion’s client (with the one and only, Groucho)
1951 – in Arthur Pierson’s, Home Town Story – as Iris Martin
1951 – in Harmon Jones’, As Young As You Feel – as Harriet
1951 – in Joseph M. Newman’s, Love Nest – as Roberta “Bobbie” Stevens
Selling products as the star of Love Nest…
1951 – in Richard Sale’s, Let’s Make it Legal – as Joyce Mannering
1952 – in Roy Ward Baker’s, Don’t Bother to Knock – as Nell Forbes (with Richard Widmark)
She uses Lustre-Creme shampoo…
1952 – in Howard Hawks’, Monkey Business – as Miss Lois Laurel (with a certain Mr. Grant)
“I have something I wanna show you”
1953 – in Henry Hathaway’s, Niagara – as Rose Loomis
Marilyn discovers the world’s most glamorous make-up…
1953 – in Howard Hawks’, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes – as Lorelei Lee (with Jane Russell)
Marilyn and Jane make Grauman’s immortality:
1953 – in Jean Negulesco’s, How to Marry a Millionaire – as Pola Debevoise (with Betty Grable and Lauren Bacall)
At the premier…and Variety clips
1953 – as the guest star on “The Jack Benny Show” – her first, official television appearance (partial clip)
1954 – in Walter Lang’s, There’s No Business Like Show Business – as Vicky Parker (with Donald O’Connor)
1955 – in Billy Wilder’s, The Seven Year Itch – as The Girl (with Tom Ewell and in one of the most iconic images in film history)
Marilyn stopped to speak with the press when she returned to Hollywood after a break to film Bus Stop. Also included is brief footage about her new deal with Warner Brothers on The Sleeping Prince, which went on to become The Prince and the Showgirl.
1956 – in Joshua Logan’s, Bus Stop – as Cheri
1957 – in Laurence Olivier’s, The Prince and the Showgirl – as Elsie (with Laurence Olivier)
1959 – in Billy Wilder’s, Some Like it Hot – as Sugar Kane Kowalczyk (with Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis)
Here she is trying to get Tony Curtis’ glasses to fog up while he does his best Cary Grant. So great! (the unforgettable Tango scene between Jack Lemmon and Joe E. Brown is included here too.)
1960 – in George Cukor’s, Let’s Make Love - as Amanda Dell
1961 – in John Huston’s, The Misfits – as Roslyn Taber (with Clark Gable)
Marilyn made her last public appearance on this historical birthday celebration on May 19, 1962 in honor of then-President John F. Kennedy, which took place in New York City’s historic, Madison Square Garden. When worlds and elements collide history is made. The dress, the occasion, the place, the woman, the honored guest and both their eventual tragic ending have ensured this remains in the public consciousness. Terribly sad and yet fascinating.
Introduced by the President’s brother-in-law, Peter Lawford as “The late Marilyn Monroe”…
“Hollywood is a place where they’ll pay you a thousand dollars for a kiss and fifty cents for your soul.”
For fifty years – The spell. The star. The legend. The icon. Marilyn.
Commemorating the 50th anniversary of her death, today is Marilyn Monroe day on Turner Classic Movies‘ (TCM) Summer Under the Stars (SUTS). I am submitting this entry, honoring Marilyn, as part of the SUTS blogathon hosted by Michael of Scribehard on Film and Jill of Sittin’ On a Backyard Fence. This event will last all month to coincide with the TCM schedule. Classic film bloggers the world over will be posting numerous entries on films, stars, pertinent Hollywood topics and what have you. It promises to be a glorious blogathon marathon. For details on the schedule, participants and submissions, go to either of the host sites and prepare to be enchanted for 31 straight days.