Archive for the ‘Marilyn Monroe’ Tag
It’s been a long time – months – since our last edition of Diamonds in the Rough, the Special Feature that points folks to some of our favorite posts from the past.
Of course, there’s a reason that we haven’t done one of these for a while, and it’s something I’ve mentioned before. The simple fact is that we’ve gradually worked our way through all the older posts and had almost caught up to the more recent ones. But now some time has passed, so once again I have a larger pool and more fish to go after.
Hopefully you’ll like some of the catches below.
John Barry Orchestra – “Diamonds Are Forever”
Ken Curtis – Crooner Turned Cowboy
One of my all-time favorites, and definitely holds the record for videos.
The Fallacy Of The Famous Dueling Banjos
I’ve always been fascinated by things like this.
Did Gene Pitney Sing For Los Bravos?
Either way, the legend persists.
Elvis Has Achieved A Type Of Immortality
Remember, I said ‘a type’ of immortality.
The Singing Side Of Clint Walker
One of the most popular recent posts. Lots of fans.
The Persistence Of Wesley Tuttle
An amazing story in many ways.
The Shocking Of America
The title could mean a lot of things, but it is all about music.
The Lost Voice Of Ann Richards
Another one of those head-scratchers.
The Crooning Side Of Dick Powell
Not only did he croon, he was famous for it.
In Appreciation Of The Amazing Viola Smith
Couldn’t resist adding this one, even though it’s very recent.
Because of the fifty-year anniversary of her death, you’ve probably noticed a lot of articles lately about a certain film legend, but we featured Marilyn Monroe this time last year. Instead, I thought I’d offer the story of Marilyn Maxwell, one of several actresses who were sometimes compared to her and one whose name was just as alliterative as Monroe’s. In fact, her full birth name — Marvel Marilyn Maxwell — was even more so.
Mostly remembered now as an actress, Marilyn Maxwell originally broke into show business as a singer, appearing on radio in the late 1930s. Still in her teens but tall and attractive, the Iowa native soon managed to land a Hollywood deal and began appearing in a number of movies during the war years, gradually building her fame and becoming a well-liked part of the Hollywood ‘in’ crowd.
But she was still a singer too, and a good one. She was able to demonstrate her singing voice in many of her films, and also kept busy with regular appearances on Bing Crosby’s Kraft Music Hall on radio. In addition, she often entertained in night clubs and was a popular part of many of Bob Hope’s USO tours. (And was reportedly the married star’s not-so-secret girlfriend for years.)
In the 1950s and later she continued to make the occasional movie and also began showing up regularly on TV, not only in musical appearances but also acting in a number of supporting roles. She even starred in her own ABC drama, Bus Stop, in the early 1960s, but roles eventually began drying up for her, and as the years passed her health worsened. She died from a heart attack in 1972, just 50 years old. Her good friend Rock Hudson (for whom she’d earlier provided romantic ‘cover’) helped with arrangements, and pallbearers included not only Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, but also Frank Sinatra and Jack Benny.
Marilyn Maxwell – “Bewitched, Bothered, And Bewildered”
If your memories of Marilyn Monroe as a singer mostly consist of her breathy rendition of “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” offered up to Jack Kennedy or brassy numbers like “Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend,” then you might be surprised to hear that there is a movement afoot to reexamine her vocalizing. According to a recent article in the New York Times, many experts are taking another listen to some of the material she left behind, and it appears that her singing — like her acting — was much better than she was given credit for during her lifetime.
One thing is certain. She took music seriously, spending a lot of time with voice coaches and also studying the greats, like Ella Fitzgerald. In fact, she helped pave the way for Ella to appear in previously restricted clubs, and the two became very good friends. In later years Ella always gave her credit for helping further her career.
Even in Marilyn’s early movies she often found opportunities to sing, and although pros like Marni Nixon occasionally dubbed a few notes here and there, most of what we heard was the star’s real voice. She continued to sing in a surprising number of movies through the years, and those performances demonstrated a voice that varied widely but had real talent behind it.
Like most singers (and non-singers too) her voice became a little huskier as she grew older, but she could carry a tune and deliver the goods. Her most noticeable characteristic to my ear is that she was often tentative, especially in the early passages of standards like “A Fine Romance” and “When I Fall In Love.” She was at her best when she set the tone early and stayed with it, as with “River Of No Return,” which was released as a single and did very well.
But she was still Marilyn Monroe, and in a quote from Collier’s Magazine in 1954, she spelled it out like this: “I won’t be satisfied until people want to hear me sing without looking at me. Of course, that doesn’t mean I want them to stop looking.”
Marilyn Monroe – “River Of No Return”
With triple-digit temperatures everywhere you look, my thoughts have turned to ways to stay cool. I think that might be at least one reason for my attention being caught by pictures of a huge new statue in Chicago. (That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.) It’s a delightfully realistic Marilyn Monroe in her iconic pose, holding down her skirt as air fans it from below.
Most of us will remember the famous scene that was the inspiration. It occurred in the 1950s film, Seven Year Itch, and the setting was Marilyn and co-star Tom Ewell strolling along the street on a hot evening. She stopped over a subway air grating and the result fascinated teenage boys (and older guys too) all over America.
Later, a couple of stories came to light concerning the occasion. I’m not sure if either is true, but it was said that she had to wear two pair of undies (because a single thickness was too revealing) and also that her then-husband Joe Dimaggio was furious about the scene during the making of the movie.
In any case, it was certainly an eye-catching way for someone to cool off, and the new statue seems to be a real hit with Chicago viewers. (It also looks like most are curious about what’s under the skirt.)
Willie Nelson & Asleep At The Wheel – “Fan It”