Saturday, October 30, 2010

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Stripping Away the Mystery

At the time of Marilyn Monroe's death, she was not, contrary to popular belief, unemployed and unemployable. Although she had been terminated from the unfinished Something's Got to Give (1962) due to excessive absenteeism, she had been quietly reinstated at 20th Century Fox, and scheduled to finish the picture. Of course, Monroe's death at age 36 on August 5, 1962 rendered that impossible; the film was completely recast and revamped as Move Over Darling (1963), starring Doris Day and James Garner.

Monroe was also slated for two other Fox productions: What a Way to Go!, a fantastical black comedy eventually filmed in 1964 with Shirley MacLaine; and an adaptation of a William Inge play, A Loss of Roses. The latter seemed tailor-made for Monroe: Inge had, after all, written Bus Stop, the 1956 film version of which contained Monroe's most critically-acclaimed dramatic performance. The character of Lila had "Marilyn" stamped all over it: seemingly worldly, yet childlike; used and abused by those around her, yet struggling to maintain her sense of self; and fighting for her dignity while being looked at as a sexual plaything. Designer William Travilla, who had famously costumed Monroe in such classics as Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) and The Seven Year Itch (1955) signed on to do the costumes, and came up with some typically glitzy ideas:

With Monroe's death, the film went forward with a new, misleading title, The Stripper (1963) -- with the odd choice of Joanne Woodward in the lead. Perhaps in deference to the Oscar-winning Woodward's reputation as a heavy-hitting dramatic actress, Travilla ditched the more glamorous concepts he had envisioned for Monroe, and did tawdrier, cheaper-looking costumes for Woodward, admittedly more in keeping with the character's background as a small town Kansas girl with shattered Hollywood ambitions.

The film wasn't a success, although many did praise Woodward's fine acting; of all the proposed projects that Monroe didn't live to see come to fruition, this may be the most tantalizing. She certainly would have known how to get inside this particular character, perhaps even more so than the talented Miss Woodward. Of course, Fox being Fox, the publicity campaign verged on the exploitative, promising a leering, lecherous look at a burlesque queen, when in fact the film was more of a character study. Playing up the "stripper" angle, Gypsy Rose Lee was cast in a small, perfectly superfluous role. Adding to the tackiness, the beginning of the film includes a scene (which presumably would not have made it into the Monroe version) in which Lila is mistaken by Hollywood tourists for Jayne Mansfield and Kim Novak -- Mansfield being Fox's second-string blonde, used as a bargaining chip to keep Monroe in line, and Novak being the first actress asked to replace Monroe in Something's Got to Give.

When we originally posted the Travilla sketches, jiva was the first, and only, to correctly guess the film and the actress -- but later recanted! Darling Angela, never doubt your instincts; after all, it takes a beautiful, leggy blonde to know one!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Guess Who?

These are Travilla sketches for Marilyn Monroe, created for a film she never made. Name the film and the actress who eventually played the part intended for Marilyn.

Yin and Yang

Arguably, the two most famous women of the 1950's, and each one's only real rival as superstars and sex symbols. Only one made crazy work for her, rather than against her.

Two on a Couch

Monroe on Crawford: "I've always admired Miss Crawford for being such a wonderful mother -- for taking four children and giving them a fine home. Who better than I knows what that means to homeless little ones?"

Crawford on Monroe: "She was cheap, an exhibitionist. She was never a professional, and that irritated the hell out of people. But, for God's sake, she needed help. She had all these people on her payroll. Where the hell were they when she needed them? Why in hell did she have to die alone?"

You Know You're Gay If...

...your eyes are not on Marilyn.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Ciao from Italy

Snapshots from our October vacation.

Cheer Up, Possums!

The weekend is almost here.

We Forgot, Okay?

Don't make a mountain out of a mole hill, possums!
And this also gives a chance to reiterate: a bird in the hair is worth two in the bush.

High Flying, Adored


Oh, Rob!

When Ritchie is shuttled off to stay at Jerry and Millie's, and Rob and Laura can Twizzle all night long...

Hello, Gorgeous

The good old days, before the mirror had two faces.

The Fundamental Things Apply

Anita Ekberg and Clarence Muse in the television series version of Casablanca (1955-56)

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Wasp Woman

We should have known that one of SSUWAT's most cherished friends, MC of the fabulous MattAdore, would be the first to recognize our latest Mystery Guest. Yes, cherubs, that prettily plump girl would grow up and slim down to become the astonishingly wasp-waisted Vera-Ellen! Sadly, it's widely believed that Vera-Ellen's early chunkiness and subsequent success as "the smallest waist in Hollywood" were the cause and effect of a silent battle with anorexia. She also had to deal with the crushing blow of losing her only child to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome in 1963, after which she completely withdrew from public life. Vera-Ellen has given us endless hours of pleasure thanks to her brief, but fabulous, film career; we only hope that she's moved on to a better, more peaceful place. MC, our darling, when do we recreate the "Sisters" number from White Christmas?

Decisions, Decisions...

Got Milk?

Hugh could be the cream in our, er, coffee. Anytime.

Fessin' Up

We admit it: we think Fess Parker was pretty humpy.

And would you look at the size of those feet?

It would seem Fess also occasionally felt like chicken tonight.

We'd brave the wild frontier for the chance to mess with Fess.