A service commemorating the 60th anniversary of Marilyn’s death was held at Westwood Memorial Park on August 5, 2022. Hosted by Greg Schreiner, president of the Los Angeles fan club Marilyn Remembered, the service commenced at 5:30 pm PST with a video montage from Silver Technicolor. (The service can be viewed in full here.)
The first speaker, Claudia Moriarty, is the niece of Marilyn’s stand-in, Evelyn Moriarty. She recalled that the two women “shared so much.” Next up was Jane Guy, who founded an Australian fan club in 1989, and has many tales to tell: including becoming Jane Russell’s penpal, and participating in fundraising activities for WAIF, Jane’s charity promoting international adoptions. She also met Travilla while in Los Angeles in 1992, and sat between Donald Spoto and Susan Strasberg (wearing Marilyn’s pearls) at that year’s memorial.
Harrison Held and Dimitri Merritt read messages from others unable to attend this year. In her email, Barbara Eden recalled when stand-in Evelyn Moriarty introduced her to Marilyn (“my other star”) on the set of Something’s Got to Give. Renee Taylor, Mamie Van Doren, Judy Tenuta, Stefanie Powers, Scott Morrow, Kathleen Hughes, and Mitzi Gaynor’s managers also sent their best wishes.
The next speaker was Chris Jacobs, who edited Ralph Roberts’ Mimosa ahead of its publication last year, spoke of the “brotherly love” Ralph felt for Marilyn. Paraphrasing her own words about Johnny Hyde, Ralph told his nephew Hap Roberts that he wasn’t “in love” with Marilyn, but he loved her. Then Juliet Hyde-White, daughter of Marilyn’s Let’s Make Love co-star Wilfrid Hyde-White, shared photographs of his birthday party on the set.
Elaine DuPont, who began her career with a bit part in How to Marry a Millionaire, wrote that Marilyn was “warm and sweet,” and that she had entrusted Elaine to look after her gold charm bracelet while she filmed a scene. Then Amy Greene, widow of photographer Milton Greene, appeared via video, blasting Kim Kardashian’s recent “publicity stunt” at the Met Gala.
Phil Savenick, who produced the ‘Marvellous Marilyn‘ episode of That’s Hollywood! in 1978, and The Making of Some Like It Hot (2006) was next to appear. For That’s Hollywood he visited Marilyn’s Brentwood home and delved into the archives at 20th Century Fox, determined to bring Marilyn’s magic to a new audience, including unseen footage from Something’s Got to Give. He was given a 1952 index card – signed by Marilyn with a lipstick kiss – by two “true believers” from the photo department. (Copies of Marilyn’s imprint were given to all attendees the memorial.)
In a video interview, Lawrence Schiller recalled visiting Marilyn’s home and asking permission to photograph her during the ‘pool scene’ for Something’s Got to Give. She then had the bright idea of paddling in a flesh-toned swimsuit, but emerging from the pool nude.
Luke Yankee, son of Marilyn’s Bus Stop co-star Eileen Heckart, recalled that she was often brusque when asked about Marilyn, because it made her so emotional. “So I heard her stories piecemeal,” he explained, adding that Eileen, like Marilyn, was raised outside her immediate family, and both were left feeling that they had “no place at the table.” Luke’s long-gestating play, Marilyn, Mom and Me, will have its world premiere at the International City Theatre, Long Beach, in 2024.
Actress Terry Moore followed, recalling how she met Marilyn first at Columbia, then Fox, where they “studied scenes” together, and that Marilyn often joined Terry’s “loving family” for dinner.
George Chakiris, who danced with Marilyn in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and There’s No Business Like Show Business, recalls spending four weeks preparing the ‘Heat Wave’ number with choreographer Robert Alton and his assistant John Bailey, before performing it for Marilyn. While grateful for their efforts, she insisted on using her favourite choreographer, Jack Cole, instead. As George recalls, he learned an important lesson – “she listened to her instinct.”
The final speaker, actress Ruta Lee, was introduced to a dazzling Marilyn on Frank Sinatra’s arm at the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas – an encounter she would never forget. Greg Schreiner shared an email from Marilyn’s niece, Mona Rae Miracle. Greg was joined by fellow founding member Teresa Seeger and Scott Fortner, and the service ended with a recording of Lee Strasberg’s eulogy for Marilyn at her funeral in 1962.
UPDATE: More 60th anniversary tributes to Marilyn from around the world here.