Joe E. Brown: Marilyn’s ‘Perfect’ Co-Star

Joe E. Brown with Marilyn and Tony Curtis

One of the many pleasures to be found in Some Like It Hot is Joe E. Brown’s performance as Osgood Fielding III, the eccentric billionaire who falls for Daphne/Jerry (Jack Lemmon.) He even delivers the film’s unforgettable last line, as Lemmon admits he’s a man: “Well, nobody’s perfect.” Marilyn also appears in the final scene, but her part was filmed separately. And yet, while they don’t share any screen-time, she and Brown were photographed together more than once on the set – and he features prominently in the newly-released footage shot at the Hotel Del Coronado (see here.)

It’s quite likely that Marilyn had seen one or more of Brown’s movies as a child. His remarkable career is the subject of The Joe E. Brown Films, a new book by James L. Neibaur. (The author of numerous film-related titles – his previous subjects include Jean Harlow and Clark Gable – Neibaur’s next project will focus on another Some Like It Hot star, George Raft.)

“Joe E. Brown was the most popular movie comedian in the 1930s, his films being bigger moneymakers than those featuring Laurel and Hardy, W.C. Fields, or The Marx Brothers. A regrettable business decision in the middle of the decade resulted in indie productions that relegated Joe to second-feature status. After losing a son in World War Two, Joe became a tireless entertainer for servicemen all over the world, resulting in his becoming one of two civilians during that time to be awarded the Bronze Star. His movie career effectively over by the 1950s, Joe took a supporting part in Billy Wilder’s Some Like it Hot, which ended up becoming the movie by which he remains best known. This book is a film-by-film look at his movies, from his early 1930s heyday through his B movies in the late 30s and early 40s, and finally his film career’s conclusion, only to be reborn with a handful of small parts in the 50s and 60s. Along with his work, this book will deal with Brown’s baseball enthusiasm, his kindness to others, and his lasting legacy.”

Marilyn and make-up artist Allan ‘Whitey’ Snyder, chatting with Joe E. Brown