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Why the World Still Holds a Candle for Marilyn Monroe | Celebrity News | Showbiz and television

Marilyn Monroe in the mid 1950s (Image: Getty)

And yet, all these years after Marilyn’s death, her brilliance has not diminished. She remains the ultimate celebrity icon, the most renowned and desirable “blonde bombshell” the world has ever seen.

But why is Marilyn still the most beloved and recognizable screen legend in the world?

Nick Kent, executive producer of a documentary to mark the 60th anniversary of her death, says that over the past six decades “no one has really challenged Marilyn’s status”.

He adds, “There’s still no one around to touch her. The beauty and sexiness she had back then is just as powerful now. Her attraction is universal. She’s been embraced by the gay community too. .There’s something about Marilyn that’s incredibly resilient.”

Another factor, according to Nick, is that we lost her too soon.

“She really died at the top of her game, with her beauty and sex appeal intact,” he says. “Many stars – James Dean, Elvis – died young, but some held up better than others. Marilyn held up exceptionally well.”

Finally, it represents a truly glamorous period when the modern concept of celebrity was just beginning.

“It was a very seductive time,” says Nick, whose documentary covers the famous 2016 auction at Julien’s in Los Angeles that raised $11 million from the sale of more than 1,000 items from the life of Marilyn, from the “Happy Birthday, Mr President” dress. and the dress she wore on the 1959 blockbuster Some Like It Hot to the menus on which she scribbled down her career ambitions.

“Marilyn, JFK, Frank Sinatra, the Rat Pack – this era is Western capitalism in all its unbridled, sexy, full power.”

Her fragile beauty inspired pop artist Andy Warhol, who created iconic images of her in the 1960s. And her vulnerability was captured by Elton John and Bernie Taupin in their moving ballad Candle In The Wind.

Although she was often viewed misogynistically as a “dumb blonde” and a victim of manipulative men, in many ways Marilyn was in control of her own destiny, taking charge of her career in a way that was unusual for the time. .

And what is rarely appreciated is that behind her flirtatious manners and her sex bomb image, she was extremely intelligent. It is widely reported that she had a genius IQ of 168, and men underestimated her at their peril.

Time magazine called her a shrewd businesswoman. She struck a groundbreaking deal with Twentieth Century Fox in which she was granted the right to choose her own images and directors.

She was also one of the first women in Hollywood to start her own production company.

“There’s a cheeky kind of independence about Marilyn,” Nick says.

“What’s interesting is that she’s a sex symbol, but she’s also a feminist icon. Look at how she controlled her career and started her own production company with her own checkbook.

Marilyn Manroe

Sixty years have passed since her tragic death, but the lure of the ‘sexy angel’ remains strong (Image: Getty)

“She passed away days after securing a million dollar contract with a Hollywood studio.

She was at the height of her powers. She was a woman who absolutely took control of her own life. Would you describe Marilyn as a victim, or as a freedom fighter, fighting for power, independence and status for women in a company that, let’s face it, is remarkably misogynistic and sexist?”

Marilyn certainly scored a momentous victory for independence in 1952 when, as a rising star, she rode through a press storm when nude photos she had posed for in 1949 to pay the bills were revealed.

She explained it at a press conference.

When a reporter asked him, “What were you wearing?” she replied cheerfully: “The radio”.

Far from ruining her budding film career, her shrewd handling of potential disaster made her an even bigger star.

Professor Sarah Churchwell, author of The Many Lives of Marilyn Monroe, observes: “She rose to fame as the first major Hollywood star to survive a nudity scandal.

Marilyn was the first to say, ‘Yeah, that’s me. I took nude pictures, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I won’t apologize for it and I won’t be ashamed of it. And guess what? I’m still a movie star.'”

Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn Monroe at the piano during a film in 1950 (Image: Getty)

Initially, her acting skills were as underrated as her intellect, although she eventually landed a Golden Globe for her performance in Some Like It Hot.

“She was actually a really good actress,” Nick says. “In Gentlemen Prefer Blondes in 1953, she was up against Jane Russell, who was a huge Hollywood superstar at the time.

Marilyn came out of nowhere and just blew it off the screen.

“His movies are actually very well dated. When you watch Some Like It Hot, it’s still one of the best comedies ever made. It’s incredibly entertaining.

It’s one of those movies, like It’s A Wonderful Life, that you can show your kids now. The thing with Marilyn is that it wasn’t just about her looks. She also had phenomenal talent.”

Marilyn was also extremely cunning in deliberately shaping her image.

After seeing her in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, actress Ellen Burstyn said: “I remember being amazed that a girl could be so sexy on purpose. She revolutionized the female image. No one had ever done that before.”

Monroe reached the pinnacle of her worldwide fame on May 19, 1962 when she gave a haunting and breathless rendition of Happy Birthday, Mr. President, in perhaps the most famous dress of all time.

She had to be sewn into the “nude effect” dress, crafted from sheer silk and adorned with more than six thousand crystals to sing for John F Kennedy’s 45th birthday at Madison Square Garden.

Edward Meyer of Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum says, “It’s the most iconic dress of the 20th century. She combines pop art and politics. She puts it all together wonderfully.

Darren Julien, of the auctioneers who sold the dress six years ago, agrees. “People are mesmerized seeing it,” he says. “It makes people cry. Very few artifacts in our lifetime have that effect on audiences.”

When the star took off her fur stole on stage and appeared almost naked, the audience gasped.

Marilyn Manroe

Marilyn Monroe (1926 – 1962) (Image: Getty)

Bob Mackie, who helped legendary Hollywood designer Jean Louis design the dress, admits, “It was based on the idea that Marilyn would be absolutely naked with just diamonds on her when she walked out.”

Professor Churchwell points to the seismic impact the dress had on the night – and continues to have.

“It caused a stir,” she says. “Many people by now who haven’t seen any Marilyn Monroe movies have seen this footage of her singing in the dress one historian described as ‘skin and pearls’.”

Nick points out how compelling this moment remains. “She looked absolutely amazing in that dress. But that’s not just how she looked. Singing Happy Birthday, Mr. President like that always gets a reaction. It always makes the hair on the back of your neck stand on end.”

Marilyn’s delivery of the song was so seductive that it immediately sparked rumors that she and JFK were having an affair. They persist to this day.

This was the height of his stardom. And yet, tragically, just three months later, she was dead. The totemic nature of the dress is surely why Kim Kardashian became the only person besides Marilyn to wear it when she used it for a three-minute appearance on the Met Gala red carpet in New York in May. .

Kim, 41, was accused of damaging the dress, which was bought by Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum at auction in 2016 for a record $4.8 million. The reality TV star, who had to lose 16 pounds to get on it, denied tearing it.

The fact that she was so keen on channeling the sexiest woman ever is easy to understand.

“Kardashian is obviously a very shrewd media manipulator,” Nick says. “She was probably hoping that some of Marilyn’s stardust would be sprinkled on her.”

Of course, Marilyn’s life was not a story of unmitigated happiness. She never knew her father. When she was eight, her mother was diagnosed with schizophrenia and the girl spent the rest of her childhood in various orphanages and foster homes.

Marilyn’s luck didn’t improve with age. She married at 16 and soon divorced. Her second husband, baseball great Joe DiMaggio, beat her in a fit of jealousy after her famous “puffy dress” commercial for The Seven Year Itch. She then had several miscarriages with her third husband, the equally possessive playwright Arthur Miller.

Kim Kardashian

Kim Kardashian in the famous Marilyn Monroe dress (Image: Getty)

Marilyn seemed to have it all, but she was still fighting against her inner demons.

“She had no sense of stability since childhood,” says Professor Churchwell. “Then she went to Hollywood, an environment that would exacerbate all her anxieties. She was often isolated and lonely.”

Although she died so young, Marilyn managed to bequeath a magnificent legacy. She left us a marvelous filmography and a unique, timeless and dazzling character, which inspired other artists.

As her friend Ellen Burstyn concludes: “I’ve never really met anyone quite like her. There was a sweetness to her. She never played dark characters. She was like a sexy angel…a luminous character, a radiant being.”

And, six decades after her death, Marilyn continues to shine her light on all of us.

Marilyn Monroe: Auction Of A Lifetime is on PBS America at 9:55 p.m. tonight and streaming on Freeview