Today is the 90th birthday of Marilyn Monroe.
For many film fans, she is an icon of the 1950’s and 1960’s.
Her likeness is everywhere.
Her style has been imitated by everyone from Madonna in her music video, Material Girl to actresses walking the red carpet during award season.
Born Norma Jean Baker on June 1st, 1926, young Norman Jean’s life was not easy. A ward of the state, she was shuttled around to different foster homes and orphanages. She married three times, husbands #2 and 3 were baseball player Joe DiMaggio and playwright Arthur Miller.
But life in Hollywood did not ease the emotional burden of her demons. Even decades after her death, rumors still persist of an affair with President John F. Kennedy. The official cause of death was an overdose, but conspiracy theorists believe otherwise. Forced into the “dumb, hot blonde” niche, the majority of Marilyn’s roles reflected the double standard that existed in the 1950’s and still exists today.
What I would like to remember Marilyn Monroe for are her movies, not the rumors that surround her or the emotional problems that might have led to her death. My favorite Marilyn Monroe movies are Some Like It Hot and Gentleman Prefer Blondes. In both films, she plays yet another version of the “dumb, hot blonde” character, but she is smart enough to let the other characters think she is dumb. She has some of the best comedic timing I’ve ever seen. Unlike her screen persona and the image forced upon her by the movie studios, this lady was one smart cookie.
She also continues to prove that a woman does not have to be a size two, looking like a prepubescent boy with surgically enhanced physical charms to be considered attractive. For those of us (which actually a majority of women), we look more like Marilyn Monroe than the newest model walking down the catwalk who looks like she has not eaten for days.
Happy Birthday Marilyn.
It is said that until you walk a mile in another’s shoes, you can never truly understand them. To slightly alter that statement, one might be able to say that until a man walks a mile in a woman’s high heels, he can never truly understand her. This brings me to the topic of this Throwback Thursday post.
Some Like It Hot (1959)
Joe (Tony Curtis) and Jerry (Jack Lemmon) are musicians who unexpectedly become witnesses to the St. Valentines Day Massacre. The only way to hide is to join an all girl band heading to Florida. Reinventing themselves as Josephine and Daphne, they meet Sugar (Marilyn Monroe), the ukulele player in the band. Things become even more complicated when Joe reinvents himself again as a millionaire to woo Sugar and Jerry finds himself being wooed by an older man who doesn’t know that she is really a he. At the same time, the gangster who is pursuing Joe and Jerry is vacationing at the same hotel with his cronies.
In it’s own time, this movie was considered racy and controversial. Now we know that it is a comedy classic.
Michael Dorsey (Dustin Hoffman) is trying to make it as a working actor in New York. But his difficult reputation precedes him. Resorting to creative measures, Michael transforms himself into Dorothy Michaels, a soap opera actress. His goal is to earn a living and be able to fund his friend’s play. What he doesn’t know that his dual identities will become problematic when he falls for his co-star Julie (Jessica Lange) and has to find ways to hide his new identity from his friends. More than twenty years after Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon put on makeup and high heels, Dustin Hoffman takes the men in drag to a new level. What is surprising to the audience and Michael, is that he becomes an accidental feminist. Michael, as Dorothy, refuses to cowtow to her male bosses and her character’s male colleagues.
This movie is almost 32 years old. It is as fresh and funny as it was when it premiered in December of 1982.
I recommend both.