Marilyn in the news

Monday, February 28, 2011

Dearly Departed Jane Russell

I'm really sad to see this news today.  Jane was a good friend to Marilyn.  You can listen to one of my favourite podcasts that was dedicated to Jane  HERE.

The actress, whose career was launched by Howard Hughes and his film "The Outlaw," was 89.

Jane Russell, whose voluptuous good looks won the attention of Howard Hughes and launched her on a movie career, has died. She was 89.
Generally cast in fluff films like 1943’sThe Outlaw that showed off her well-endowed beauty, Russell reached the pinnacle of her career with Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), starring in the comedy with Marilyn Monroe.
During the 1970s, Russell was widely recognized as the spokesperson for Playtex bras, appearing in national TV commercials for the “Cross Your Heart” bra campaign.
Although best known for her figure, Russell showed a comic sensibility inGentlemen Prefer Blondes and again with Gentlemen Marry Brunettes (1955) and The Revolt of Mamie Stover (1956). Nevertheless, most of her movie roles were designed around her towering physicality and frontal amplitude. Soft-spoken and well-regarded, Russell received the Women’s International Center Living Legacy Award in 1989.
Ernestine Jane Geraldine Russell was born on June 21, 1921, in Bemidji, Minn. Her father was a U.S. army lieutenant and her mother was an actress who performed with a traveling troupe. When she was a child, the family moved to California, where she studied piano and acting. After high school, Russell worked as a chiropodist’s receptionist and modeled and studied acting at Reinhardt’s Theatrical Workshop.
Rather than her thespic talents, it was her 38-inch bust line that came to the attention of Hughes, who was a major stockholder in RKO and was conducting a nationwide hunt for the leading-lady role in his film The Outlaw. On a visit to the doctor’s office where she held down her day job, Hughes noticed her figure and insisted that she enter his contest. Russell won the contest and the starring role in the film.
As part of the “opportunity,” she was subjected to what many regarded as vulgar publicity. Nevertheless, she handled it with aplomb, proving there was more to her than met the eye. The movie itself was a bizarre twist on the saga of Billy the Kid, where Russell played a Latin charmer who entices Billy.
Hughes and his publicity team spared no expense in her buildup, and she was featured as a cheesecake pinup that was distributed to G.I.’s. Her figure also made it to other fronts, to the cover of numerous fan and movie magazines. The whole promotional enterprise, highlighting her bust size, was notorious for the day and decidedly risqué. In fact, upon its completion, the movie itself was considered too “hot” and controversial. Further, it did not meet the censorial standards of the Production Code. Such censure, of course, only increased public awareness and wetted the public’s appetite for the film.
Although shot in 1941, The Outlaw was not released until two years later, and then only in a few theaters. Finally, in 1946, it was released nationally and was a box-office smash, with many viewers flocking to see Russell’s “performances.” Airplane designer Hughes even designed a special “cantilever bra” for Russell to ensure proper handling of her “assets” during the filming, but she claimed not to have worn it for the movie.
In the wake of the widespread clamor and success of The Outlaw, Russell’s next film, a soap-opera type entertainment titled Young Widow, was released soon on the heels of The Outlaw. It piggybacked on her hot reputation and was also a financial success for Hughes.
Since Russell had signed a seven-year contract with Hughes, she was at his mercy as far as casting, and he only placed her in RKO pictures that capitalized on her looks. Usually, she played the role of a worldly “dame,” playing in cheesecake-type films and musicals like His Kind of Woman (1951) and The Las Vegas Story (1952). Most sensational perhaps among these was her performance in The French Line (1954), where she performed a sexy dance number in a tiny costume. The film also was in 3D.
Fortunately, she was eventually loaned out from RKO to Paramount, which allowed her to display more of her talents. She won respect for her performance opposite Bob Hope in The Pale Face. After appearing in The Fuzzy Pink Night Gown (1957), which tanked at the box office, Russell took a hiatus from films and did not act again until 1964, when she performed inFate Is the Hunter. She only acted in three more films during the ’60s: Her final film of the decade was Born Losers (1967), a biker movie starring Tom Laughlin. She last appeared inDarker Than Amber (1970).
Moving away from the shackles of the kind of movie role that was offered her, Russell widened her repertoire. In 1971, she replaced Elaine Stritch on Broadway in the musical Company.
She married Los Angeles Rams football star Bob Wakefield in 1943, a union that lasted until 1968. Her second husband, Roger Barrett, died less than three months after their marriage. In recent years, Russell lived in the Santa Barbara area, where she was active in numerous charities.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Forever Blonde in Palm Springs March 18-22

I drove to Michigan in order to see Sunny's show and it was totally worth it.  My review here.  So if you are anywhere in the Palm Springs area or can drive there - you should really see this show.
March 18 - 22, 2011
The Annenberg Theater • Palm Springs Art Museum
101 Museum Dr • Palm Springs, CA
For Tickets at the Box Office Call (760) 325-4490
or Visit

Monday, February 21, 2011

Marilyn Book Section Updated

It has been awhile since I added any new books to my website.  So I spent today catching up.  You can see my book collection here.  Each book entry has a scan of the cover, details about the book, usually a review and information on where to buy it.

I have also added a couple of lists I thought might be useful.  The first is New Releases so this is where you can go to see the newest books.  I also added one for New Fans - what would you recommend to someone as a first book?  Any other suggestions?

Hope you guys find this kind of information useful.  When I was starting out my book collection there was a fan website that listed Marilyn books I found really helpful.  It was a great resource but has since gone off the grid.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

My Visit to the McMichael

I attended the opening day of the Marilyn Monroe exhibit at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection.  I would recommend it to everyone.  It isn't very often that something like this comes to Ontario.  It is the last stop on the international tour of the "Life as a Legend" exhibit.  I had seen this exhibit in Michigan and I found the McMichael version was on a much smaller scale.  They had a secondary exhibit called "Marilyn in Canada" which featured photos from her time in Canada and other ties (ex. Canadian photographers who have taken her photos).  The most interesting piece to me was a candid colour photo taken of Marilyn with her crutches by a lifeguard at the Banff pool.  There was also some vintage Canadian magazines talking about Marilyn's time filming in Canada.

They have a room dedicated to the Tom Kelly red velvet sitting.  It features several original prints and also my Golden Dream and New Wrinkle calendars.  I also lent my Playboy #1 and it was displayed in a case in this room opened to the Tom Kelly centerfold.  I've never had my items on display like this before so I was pretty excited to see them.

They also have a gift shop that I would recommend you stop by if your looking for some great Marilyn items.  They had lots of Marilyn books (fragments, lost look photos, private and undisclosed), posters and other items.  I got a pink hoodie, T-shirt, purse, sticky notes, eyeglass cloth and a poster advertising the exhibit featuring a photo of Marilyn with a Mountie.

So if you are within driving distance of the McMichael in Kleinburg, Ontario you really should make an effort to visit the exhibit.  It runs until May 15, 2011.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Ontario Marilyn Monroe Exhibit Opens Feb 19

If you’re a Marilyn Monroe fan you’ll want to set aside some time to visit the McMichael Gallery on the Family Day long weekend.  

The kickoff for two new exhibitions — Life as a Legend: Marilyn Monroe and Marilyn in Canada — exploring the legend behind one of Hollywood’s most influential stars takes place Saturday, Feb. 19 with special programs running all weekend long.

“Although it has been fifty years since the death of Marilyn Monroe, worldwide interest in her life and career has sustained,” McMichael chief curator Katerina Atanassova said in a news release. “Our two exhibitions examine how the art world has been motivated by the myth and legend of this iconic actress.”
Life as a Legend, an international touring exhibition making its final stop in Vaughan, features paintings, photographs and prints by renowned artists such as Andy Warhol, Robert Indiana, Eduardo Paolozzi, Richard Avedon and Henri Cartier-Bresson.  

Marilyn in Canada provides a glimpse into Ms Monroe’s experiences while filming in Canada as well as her popularity among Canadian artists including Shelley Niro, John Vachon and George S. Zimbel.   

During opening weekend, the gallery will feature movie theatre lobby décor, screenings of Ms Monroe’s films plus a special Marilyn prix-fixe menu at the Seven Restaurant. 

You can also join McMichael educators for a series of 20-minute tours of Marilyn’s Fragments and Fabulous 1950s, check out documentary films chronicling Ms Monroe’s life and listen to music by DJ Goin’ Steady.  
On Sunday, Feb. 20 those who dress up like Ms. Monroe will get in for free and have a chance to strut their stuff on the “red carpet” in the Grand Hall at 1 p.m. 

Silkscreen workshops for the whole family will take place Monday, Feb. 21 at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. 

The McMichael Canadian Art Collection is at 10365 Islington Ave. just north of Major Mackenzie Drive.
For more information visit