Visual Xanax: The Best of Both

Having trouble getting back from vacation? Whether the difficulty is airline related or more of a mental state, consider Marilyn Monroe’s best bet for bridging the gap.

Photo: Marilyn Monroe photographed by George Barris on Santa Monica Beach in 1962.

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Breaking (Sort of): Marilyn Monroe Had a Nose Job

So much for natural beauty. Now that her medical records are up for auction (how ethical is that, really?) reports are in that the curvacious, vivacious, but troubled Marilyn Monroe may have gone under the knife in the name of vanity a time or two.

The records state that Joan Newman, the alias used by Monroe, received a chin implant (which later dissolved… yikes…) and a slight rhinioplasty to minimize the tip of her nose, which shows up on x-rays taken after she took a late-night tumble just a few months before her apparent suicide. It’s interesting to rethink how someone so valued for her natural beauty may have taken some more extreme measures to get to her ideal.

If you, for some perverse reason, want in, be prepared to cough up between $15,000 and $30,000 when the x-rays and files go up at the Beverly Hills-located Julien’s Auctions on November 9 and 10.

files

‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ on Broadway: Not Your Mother’s Holly Golightly

With all due respect to Ford Madox Ford, Breakfast at Tiffany’s is the saddest story I’ve ever read. Black hats and mid-century New York aside, the story of “living by your own rules…loving on your own terms…and wearing your heart on your sleeve” (as the official Broadway site enthusiastically describes the plot) was never meant to be happy. Expecting it to be, as the heroine Holly Golightly herself might have said, would be tres fou.

The popular Audrey Hepburn / George Peppard movie abandoned gloom in favor of a happy ending but now, thank goodness, with the Sean Mathias directed production that premiered last night, there is finally a play that encompasses the intended pathos of the novella.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s is, at least in my mind, always a story about Truman Capote’s fantasy of having a relationship with his mother.

On the book’s release, there was great controversy over who Holly Golightly was modeled after. Capote basically told every woman he knew that she was the inspiration for Holly, but he also contended that anyone who really knew him would recognize the character easily.

Since Truman, like Holly, had few real friends, not many people considered the fact that Holly clearly seems to have been based on the author’s mother. While Holly’s original name was Lula Mae Barnes, his mother’s was Lillie Mae Bart. She was a Southern orphan who, after a brief teenage marriage, left young Truman behind with relatives and fled to New York. Truman claimed his earliest memories were of her having affairs with strange men in hotel rooms. In New York she did have a successful run as a social climber. She changed her name to Nina and married a dashing Cuban businessman who, unfortunately, later ended up in Sing Sing. After she ran out of money, she committed suicide.

His lover later recounted Truman waiting to take a bus home—he could only afford a bus—to attend her funeral, plaintively saying, “She didn’t have to do it. She didn’t have to die. I’ve got money.”

If that’s true, it’s an autobiographical tale—and a terribly sad one.

Truman always said he wanted Marilyn Monroe to play Holly. I don’t think that’s because she would have made a good Holly—she wouldn’t, even in the much cheerier movie version there is a certain toughness to Holly that the actress could never have summoned—but because Marilyn Monroe also understood what it was to be motherless. She might not have embraced the character, but would have understood the themes of the story perfectly.

The novella works very well because it plays so closely upon the themes of loneliness and the desire to belong that Capote experienced throughout his life. The movie works very well because Audrey Hepburn looks dishy in a black dress, and because Henry Mancini composes lovely music.

The play works well—very well—because it is true to the original theme.

Emilia Clarke is playing a very different character than the one Audrey Hepburn made her own. Hepburn’s Holly charmed the viewer, Clarke—and Capote’s—Holly is faceted; she charms one minute and then repulses the next. She is astonishing in her ability to seem utterly warm and convivial with Fred (Cory Michael Smith), and then convincingly turn on him, telling him that he’s an intellectual snob, or she finds his stories boring, or has no desire to support him.  

Much of the play, and the novella, hinges upon Fred’s unsuccessful attempts to convince Holly that she should feel some manner of connection or loyalty to him, a goal in which he never quite succeeds. She is not, as Hepburn’s Golightly, simply playing at being a wild thing. She is truly feral, and giving everyone around her sound practical advice when she tells them, “If you try to love a wild thing, you’ll just end up looking at the sky.”

She also has an utterly insane voice, which is fitting if you assume that this is a character desperately trying not to be from any one particular place. And she is naked in a tub at one point. You’ll see much more skin on any episode of Game of Thrones, but if you are the kind of person who looks for nudity at the theater, well, it is there.

Cory Michael Smith, similarly, is not playing a dashing George Peppard character although, mercifully, neither is he channeling Truman Capote directly. (There are moments in the play, such as sending out a deliberately provocative picture of himself to go along with his stories, that are pulled straight from Capote’s life). He plays Fred as a fresh-faced young lad excited to be in the city. You are left wondering why Fred remains so desperate for Holly’s approval. If the character is heterosexual it’s enough simply to say that he desires Holly. However, having him, accurately, played as a homosexual demands a greater explanation as to why he remains so devoted to a woman who so frequently turns on him. There is something about Smith’s entirely likeable performance that seems, perhaps, not quite damaged enough to answer this question.

“Abandonment was the theme of the evening,” Fred says at one point in the play, when Holly has, only recently, abandoned him. “Oh, were you abandoned? By who?” she replies.

So: abandonment and its lasting impact are the theme of the evening and that of the play. You should expect to hear many women, all from Dubuque, leaving the theater and murmuring forlornly that it was not a happy play.

It may be best to combat that reaction by not expecting it to be a happy play. It is not a love story. It is a story about longing for love. And it plays that out perfectly.

Jennifer Ashley Wright is Editor in Chief of The Gloss. Follow her on Twitter.

The Institute Reopens With Exclusive Marilyn Monroe Exhibit

After a 40-year hiatus, celebrity-favorite skincare brand Erno Laszio is reopening The Institute, which is now located in the space formerly occupied by Te Casan at 382 West Broadway (between Spring and Broome). The snazzy new location boast three stories, complete with a crystal chandelier and a members-only den. To toast the reboot of the famed primping platform once graced by icons like Grace Kelly and Jackie Kennedy, the brand is also hosting a free exhibit that features never-before-seen items from one of Laszio’s famed muses: Marilyn Monroe.  

From now through December 31st, swing by The Institute to view exclusive makeup, clothing and items donned by Monroe in her heydey. Featured items include: black and white checkered pants and capris by Jax, a black cashmere turtleneck sweater, a pink Pucci blouse, a fuschia satin evening stole, a black leather belt, and a mink fur hat because she was fancy like that. The brand also reveals that Monroe’s actual Elizabeth Arden and Revlon products are also on display. 
 
Pop by The Institute to catch the free exhibit, or, if you really have some extra cash to blow, score a $3,000/year membership to Erno Laszio’s VIP den by emailing theinstitute@ernolaszlo.com.

Fashion + Celebrity: The Lady in the Size-Six Pumps

Before email Blasts went out proclaiming “Celebrity X spotted in Brand Y at Red Carpet Event Z,” the relationships between actors and designers were less transactional. One of the most intriguing of these relationships is the subject of an exhibition at the Museo Salvatore Ferragamo in Florence. The exhibit, entitled simply Marilyn, explores the disparate worlds of the Florentine cobbler and the Hollywood starlet and how they overlapped from the late 1950s to her death in 1962.

Though the two never met, Monroe was Ferragamo’s most devoted client. She wore, almost exclusively, his five-inch size 6 pumps, which she ordered at his Park Avenue boutique in an endless variety of colors and textures. As curator Stefania Ricci writes, “The shoes forced her to wiggle her hips as she walked, so seductively and in a manner that was all her own.” The shoes, therefore, were integral to turning Norma Jean Baker into the icon and eventually into the myth of Marilyn.

But the exhibit also seeks to draw parallels between Monroe and the broader Florentine cultural history from which Ferragamo also emerged. Juxtaposed with Tom Kelley’s infamous pinup photographs is Francesco Furini’s Penitent Magdalene from the 17th century. Monroe’s pouty beauty is prefigured in sketches by Michelangelo of Cleopatra which were, fittingly, completed a few blocks from the Ferragamo museum. Exhibit continues through January 2013.

A Roundup Of Marilyn Monroe Remembrances, 50 Years After Her Death

Fifty years ago today, on August 5, 1962, Marilyn Monroe was found dead in her home at age 36, supposedly of an accidental drug overdose. Today her acting, writing, and of course, image are being remembered and celebrated all over the Internet. Here are a few of the best rembrances.

  • The Hollywood Reporter looks back on the 15 biggest Marilyn Monroe pop culture moments.
  • NPR asks, who is profitting off Marilyn Monroe’s legacy?
  • Maureen Dowd devoted yesterday’s New York Times column to the sex symbol. And she isn’t too snotty about it!
  • Marilyn Monroe’s poetry: her poems are collected in the 2010 book Fragments: Poems, Intimate Notes, Letters. Brain Pickings shares several of them here.
  • Stylelist takes a peek inside the Brentwood home where Monroe died, a Spanish hacienda with a kidney-shaped swimming pool. The one-story house cost Marilyn $90,000 at the time of purchase six months before her death and was last worth $3.5 million when it was sold in 2010.
  • Marilyns from around the world hold Marilyn Monroe tributes.
  • Friends remember her: Last but not least, the Los Angeles Times speaks to Hollywood types who knew Marilyn Monroe way back when. Their remembrances are quite bittersweet.

Please, Everyone: Stop Comparing Lindsay Lohan To Legendary Hollywood Actresses

I am a Lindsay Lohan fan. Embarrassing, I know. I will get into fisticuffs over her talent displayed in Mean Girls and even her comedy chops in that Appalachain emergency room skit on Saturday Night Live. But girlfriend needs to cool it with the comparisons to legendary Hollywood actresses like Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe. Just because you repeat the same statement over and over again doesn’t make it true.

The most recent eye rolling comment comes courtesy of director Paul Schrader of The Canyons, which LiLo is currently filming with porn star James Deen. And Schrader — who is directing the Bret Easton Ellis penned flick — wants you to know this movie is going to be the freaking Citizen Kane. Lindsay is that brilliant.

On the Facebook page for The Canyons, Schrader wrote:

Seven days in, first full week completed. Lindsay Lohan is a huge fan of Hollywood glamour and performances from the Golden Era. Working with her every day on varied scenes I’ve been making a mental checklist of classic movie performances she’s touched upon. There’s has been a lot of Ann Margaret, some Gena Rowlands and Faye Dunaway and of course some bits of Liz Taylor and (Marilyn) Monroe as well as a little Rita Hayworth and even Gene Tierney (although the last may be more my creation than hers). Oh yeah, and Angie Dickinson. And Lee Remick. And Shelley Winters… Paul S."

Cue the eye roll.

Of course, the person who most often compares Lindsay Lohan to such legends is Lindsay Lohan, who, I should remind you, is the same person who starred in I Know Who Killed Me. LiLo was reportedly so taken with Marilyn Monroe that she bought the actress’ former home. Lohan compared herself to Monroe repeatedly in a forward she wrote for a book called Marilyn: Intimate Exposures, by Susan Bernard. She posed as Marilyn in Playboy. And who could forget the recreation of the famous "Last Sitting" photo shoot in New York magazine with Bert Stern?  

I don’t think Marilyn Monroe is so precious that no one can claim to be the next "her." But I do think that there is a whole lot of hot air being blown around. LiLo is no more the next Marilyn Monroe than Charlie Sheen is the next Bob Hope. The comparisons are as diversionary as they are self-serving. 

When Anna Nicole Smith used to compare herself to Marilyn Monroe, we preceived it as tongue-in-cheek (although Smith herself may have been dead serious). Lindsay Lohan, on the other hand, genuinely seems to believe in it. She genuinely seems to believe she epitomizes Hollywood "glamour" and not, oh, a bratty Long Island girl whose talent is buried under poor impulse control and a drug problem and as a result her work has been sub-par for, oh, the past decade. And now she’s got others believing it, too.

Lana Del Rey Channels Marilyn and Jackie O in “National Anthem” Video

Just in time for next week’s Fourth of July celebrations, Lana Del Rey, the strangest of indie pop ducks currently making dreamy and slightly insufferable music right now, has unveiled the video for her newest single, "National Anthem." I try my best to refrain from using "epic" to describe things that just end up on YouTube, but this might be Del Rey’s biggest accomplishment in the sense that it looks like she actually tried

It begins, oddly, with Del Rey in old-timey black and white footage, mimicing Marilyn Monroe’s classic rendition of "Happy Birthday" (question: how much did her record label shell out to get the rights to that for some seven-minute music video?). Do you think she modeled her Marilyn on My Week With Marilyn‘s Michelle Williams or Smash‘s Katharine McPhee? (Trick question: the answer Smash‘s Uma Thurman’s Marilyn). Then, the real music video begins, with an Instagrammy depiction of Del Rey traipsing around a Hamptons lawn with A$AP Rocky and some adorable kids. 

(Here’s a random and slightly unrelated question: has Instagram put those old-timey photoshoot storefronts out of business yet? It’s been a long time since I’ve gone to a mall so that I could dress up in cowboy gear and have my picture taken by a college student who regrets not taking summer courses instead of returning to his parents’ suburban home for break.)

And, of course, there’s a recreation of the JFK assassination, because every generation gets the silly pop-music homage to an American tragedy it deserves. 

In all seriousness, though, I’m actually shocked how much I didn’t not like this video. The song is actually one of the few from Del Rey’s Born to Die that I thought was actually pretty good. But, you know, the bar’s set pretty low here. But it does work well in conjuction with my Lana Del Rey drinking game, in which I take shots every time there’s a shot of either her closed eyes or her creepy nails. (It’s a good thing this is less than eight minutes long.)

Afternoon Links: Could Katy Perry Play Marilyn Monroe?; Drake Sold a Ton of Records

● Harvey Weinstein says that, assuming My Week With Marilyn does well in theaters, he would like to adapt the movie to Broadway where he thinks Katy Perry would just kill it as the screen icon. For some reason. [E!]

● Justin Bieber wore a very merry $1,650 Christmas sweater to the Today show this morning. [Huff Post]

● George Clooney has been named as a witness in the trial of Silvia Berlusconi, despite his insistence that he was never actually invited to any of the former Italian Premier’s famed "bunga-bunga" parties. [NYDN]

● Drake’s album Take Care debuted at number one on the Billboard, selling 631,000 copies and making the third best showing in 2011, following only Lady Gaga (1.1 million) and Lil Wayne (940,000). "Monster #," says Jay-Z, who is "proud." [Billboard]

● Britney Spears thinks that Ryan Gosling, a fellow former Mouseketeer, is "a wonderful little actor. He definitely has that ‘something’ on film, on camera, which is really cool," she said, wisely. [Celebuzz]

● Courtney Love is looking for a personal assistant, and word has it she’s got between $80,000 and $100,000 to spare for whoever gets the gig. Or, you know, survives the gig. [NYDN]