“Goodbye Norma Jean
Though I never knew you at all
You had the grace to hold yourself
While those around you crawled”
The opening lines of Elton John’s hit song Candle in the Wind fueled my curiosity towards learning more about the woman he sang about, as I was unsure of the significance behind this song. I remember my parents explaining to me that he wrote this ballad in remembrance of Marilyn Monroe after her death and that her birth name was actually Norma Jean. At this time I didn’t know much about movie stars and stage names, but found it peculiar that anyone would could just change their name to something else. Just as easy as it was for Norma Jeane Baker to change her name to Marilyn Monroe; her acting career nearly blossomed over night, pegging her as one of the most well-known movie stars ever to live.
I haven’t seen many of Marilyn’s movies, as I would not necessarily call myself an “avid fan.” (I am more of an Audrey Hepburn follower.) However, I have seen Some Like It Hot and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and can see why Marilyn became the sensation she was. Even though Marilyn only filmed 30 movies in her lifetime, she will always be remembered for her roles in these films and even won a Golden Globe for her performance in Some Like It Hot . Her bodacious curves, bleach blonde hair, sultry voice all wrapped up together with an air of innocence were all qualities that make her the sex symbol of her era and still today. I give credit for Marilyn for being an icon of her time, but ever since I learned about her affair with President Kennedy, she always left a sour taste in my mouth. How could she do that to such a classy lady like Jackie?! Scandalous. All that said, I am still intrigued and entertained about the stories surrounding her life and career as a movie star.
This year will commemorate the 50 year anniversary of Marilyn Monroe’s death on August 5th 1962, and her legacy still lives on. In the past year alone, both a television show and movie have been created in honor of this buxom blonde. I recently started watching NBC’s “Smash” which is produced by Steven Spielberg and includes a great cast such as Debra Messing, Christian Boyle and Katharine McPhee. I instantly got hooked about 20 minutes into watching the first episode.
The show’s plot features a team of writers creating a Broadway show called “Marilyn,” based on her life with songs referencing pivotal points in her career. All odds are against Katherine McPhee’s character, Karen, an aspiring actress, as she auditions for the part of Marilyn against Ivy, who is the spitting image of a modern day Marilyn. Cast members put a spin on songs about Marilyn’s life such as “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” which is about Marilyn and Joe Dimaggio and a song called “Let Me Be Your Star,” which embodies Marilyn’s transformation from a no-name brunette to a starlet. Of course this show is not all song and dance–it shows the trials and tribulations all of the characters face as they try to make it big in Broadway. Smash is definitely worth checking out!
Watch a clip from “Smash” by clicking the link below.
Not only was a television show loosely crafted around Marilyn’s life, but in 2011 a movie was created to showcase this starlet in “My Week With Marilyn.” Michelle Williams portrayal of Marilyn Monroe earned herself an Academy Award for Best Female Actress at this year’s Oscars. I haven’t had the chance to see the film yet, but ever since I saw the trailer I have wanted to. It’s obvious that Michelle Williams poured her heart and soul into “becoming Marilyn” for this role and that alone shows it is sure to be a good film. Just from watching a short clip and the theatrical trailer, viewers can see that Williams captured the essence of Marilyn nearly perfectly. I am anxious to watch this movie once it hits shelves on March 13th.