Marilyn in (and Out of) the Sunshine State

Some Like It Hot gets honourable mention on the Zimbio website today, in Joe Robertson’s light-hearted article, ‘Proof Florida Movies Are All Bonkers.’ Among the 29 other movies set or filmed in the Sunshine State are Body Heat, Cocoon, There’s Something About Mary, and Spring Breakers.

“Perhaps the first truly bonkers Florida movie, Some Like It Hot was ahead of its time. The Billy Wilder comedy featured the biggest star in the world, Marilyn Monroe, who plays a chanteuse named Sugar whom all the boys want. Meanwhile, two men (Lemmon and Curtis) witness a mafia murder and decide to masquerade as members of an all-female band to evade capture. Their disguises lead to some sticky situations, and the idea, of course, has been duplicated in movies a million times.

Set in 1929, Some Like It Hot takes place at the fictional Seminole Ritz Hotel in Miami, but none of it was shot in Florida. The Hotel del Coronado in San Diego stood in for the Ritz. Still counts!”

Although most Hollywood films were filmed in California at the time, the decision to film the Miami scenes on Coronado Island raised a few eyebrows, as Jackie Burrell noted here in 2015.

“Much to the consternation of Miami’s then-mayor, the role of Florida beach was played by this stretch of strand, which is crowned by the 19th-century Hotel Del Coronado. Legend has it that Coronado’s mayor told his much-aggrieved Floridian counterpart, ‘Some like it hot, but not as hot as Miami in September.’”

Marilyn would subsequently visit Florida on two occasions. The first was sixty years ago this month, in March 1961, when shortly after leaving hospital, she joined ex-husband Joe DiMaggio for a recuperative week in St. Petersburg. Monroe biographer Gary Vitacco Robles – a Tampa Bay resident – has written about their Tides Motel stay here, while Bill DeYoung has also contributed a piece here.

Marilyn returned to the Sunshine State in February 1962, staying at the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami for three days en route to Mexico. She spent most of her time with Isadore Miller, father of her ex-husband Arthur, to whom she remained close.