2021: A Year in Marilyn Headlines

In January, Marilyn was mentioned in two new books, Film Noir Style and Gangster Noir; and two biographies of Cary Grant. The ‘subway scene’ from The Seven Year Itch was featured in UK nostalgia mag Yours Retro; and she was also glimpsed in a ReMind cover story looking back to 1961. The former home of movie mogul Joe Schenck, where the young Marilyn was a frequent guest, sold for $88 million. Also this month, screenwriter Walter Bernstein – who worked on the ill-fated Something’s Got to Give; broadcaster Larry King, who hosted two CNN specials on MM; and actress Cloris Leachman, who met Marilyn shortly before her death, all passed away.

In February, Spanish artist Maria Hesse’s graphic novel about Marilyn was published. More than 300 lookalikes joined the annual Marilyn Jetty Swim at Brighton Beach in Adelaide, Australia. Rapper Cardi B paid homage to Marilyn in her chart-topping ‘Up’ video. A new Monroe biography was released in Italy; and Benjamin Castaldi, grandson of Simone Signoret, wrote a memoir of her marriage to Yves Montand, and his affair with Marilyn.

In March, a new documentary – Marilyn, Misunderstood – aired on the US cable channel Reelz. Marilyn graced the cover of Turkish literary journal, Kafaokur; and her battles with the studio system were featured in Helen O’Hara’s book, Women Vs. Hollywood. The estate of photographer Eve Arnold launched a selection of Marilyn posters. Actress Léa Seydoux recreated Douglas Kirkland’s images of MM in an ad campaign for Louis Vuitton; and tribute artist Memory Monroe starred in Do We Show, a short film for shoe designer Roger Vivier. Rapper Megan Thee Stallion wore a Marilyn-inspired gown to the Grammys; and St. Vincent mentioned Marilyn in her single, ‘The Melting of the Sun.’ 

In April, Bésame Cosmetics launched a vintage-style makeup line endorsed by Marilyn’s estate; and a ‘virtual marathon’ was held in Niagara Falls, inspired by her stay in the city. A signed print of Richard Avedon’s ‘Sad Marilyn’ was sold for $163K at Sotheby’s; and 80 Marilyn-related lots went under the hammer at Julien’s Auctions. Film historian Chris Wade’s new book, Marilyn Monroe: The Classic Performances, was published. Also this month, she made the covers of German magazine Arte, and the Australian Women’s Weekly spinoff, Icons; and was featured in the Fortean Times. And singer Glüme released a Monroe-themed ballad, ‘Arthur Miller.’

In May, rare footage shot on Coronado Island during filming of Some Like It Hot emerged. The Dame and the Showgirl – a play about Marilyn’s friendship with poet Edith Sitwell – premiered on Audible. Marilyn was also mentioned in sports writer David Krell’s cultural history of baseball and America in the year of 1962. 

June 1st marked what would be Marilyn’s 95th birthday. Celebrations included a digital art auction, hosted by Marilyn’s estate; a memorabilia sale at Julien’s; and a poolside screening of Some Like It Hot at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. Also in June, sculptor Seward Johnson’s controversial statue, Forever Marilyn, returned to Palm Springs; and Lawrence Schiller’s photographic opus, Marilyn & Me, was reissued by Taschen. Biographies of Marilyn’s co-stars, Jane Russell and Joe E. Brown, were published, and The Seven Year Itch was featured in a new TCM book, Summer Movies. The latest book from Joyce Carol Oates included a Monroe-inspired short story; and poet Heidi Seaborn launched an MM-themed collection. A new compilation of Marilyn’s music, Incurably Romantic, was released on red vinyl. And two acquaintances from her early career, model Joann Barbier and actress Joyce Mackenzie, both passed away. 

In July, Marilyn’s Bus Stop costume was sold for $399,000 at Heritage Auctions. In California, state funding was granted to reopen Rockhaven – the former women’s sanitarium where Marilyn’s mother Gladys lived – as a museum; while in the UK, a cover story for Yours Retro explored their complex relationship. The Monroe estate won a court order against online storefronts selling counterfeit merchandise; and parent company Authentic Brands Group (ABG) floated shares on the New York stock exchange. Marilyn’s role as short-sighted Pola in How to Marry a Millionaire was discussed in Through the Looking Glasses, a book about the history of spectacles. And Louise Fishman, the abstract expressionist painter who included Marilyn in her 1973 series, ‘Angry Women,’ died.

August marked the 59th anniversary of Marilyn’s passing, and Bus Stop‘s 65th birthday. Reframing Monroe, an online exhibit curated by biographer Amanda Konkle, debuted on the Georgia Southern University website. In London, artist Mr. Controversial unveiled a new Monroe-inspired painting; and she was mentioned in a new biography of English actor Charles Laughton, her co-star in O. Henry’s Full House. Global fashion chain Benetton launched a T-shirt range featuring images of Marilyn from the LIFE archive. Also this month, Louise King – who played Marilyn’s Seven Year Itch role on Broadway – and folk singer Nanci Griffith, who recorded a tribute to MM in 1982, passed away. 

In September, images from Bert Stern’s ‘last sitting’ with Marilyn went on display at the Hotel Bel Air, where the shoot took place; and her red sequined gown from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes was unveiled at the new Academy Museum in Los Angeles. As Douglas Kirkland‘s photos of Marilyn  were showcased in Paris, she returned as poster girl for the Champs Élysées Film Festival. She graced the cover of Inside History magazine, and was the subject of a children’s book; plus, she got a mention in a new study of Twentieth Century Fox. Also this month, Marian Collier (one of Sweet Sue’s band members in Some Like It Hot); the veteran British showbiz writer, Donald Zec; and Charles ‘Jerry’ Juroe, publicist for The Prince and the Showgirl, all died.

In October, Marilyn was mentioned in a new book about director Billy Wilder; the Italian fashion house, Bottega Veneta, designed dresses inspired by Marilyn’s ‘subway scene’ from The Seven Year Itch; and Alisha Soper played Marilyn in TV’s American Horror Story

In November, Andy Warhol’s ‘Nine Marilyns’ silkscreen was sold for $48.5 million at Sotheby’s. Mimosa – the long-awaited memoir of Marilyn’s friend, Ralph Roberts – was published, and Bob Mackie’s costume sketches of the ‘Happy Birthday Mr. President’ dress were featured in a new art book. Let’s Make Love was released on Blu-Ray in the UK, while Broken Dreams – a limited edition pink vinyl LP and art book – combined images of Marilyn with her music. Marilyn’s favourite perfume, Chanel No. 5, turned 100. As a multimedia exhibition, MM2022, opened in Seoul, a Marilyn-themed lager was launched in South Korea. Marilyn also graced the cover of France’s Le Figaro magazine, and pop icon Madonna posed as MM for photographer Steven Klein. And actress turned writer and businesswoman Arlene Dahl – who met and interviewed Marilyn during her Hollywood heyday – died aged 96.

And finally in December, a variety of Marilyn-related lots were sold at Julien’s, Heritage and Bonhams‘ auctioneers. When Hollywood Meets Paris, a collection of songs by Marilyn and Yves Montand, was released on CD and vinyl. Niagara was featured in a film noir retrospective curated by Guillermo del Toro. And Suzette Winter, who co-produced TV documentaries about Marilyn and other stars with husband Gene Feldman, passed away.