Marilyn may be the most celebrated Hollywood blonde, but she wasn’t the only bombshell making headlines. Today, many dismiss the likes of Mamie Van Doren (still active at 92), Diana Dors (more of a British icon, though she did have a brief sojourn in Tinseltown), and – of course – the legendary Jayne Mansfield, as mere Monroe clones.
However, they were all talented and successful in their own right, as French author Adrien Gombeaud reveals in his latest book, Hollywood Blondes: Marilyn and Her Doubles. Other featured stars include Corinne Calvet, Liz Renay, Barbara Payton, Barbara Nichols, Joi Lansing, Sheree North, and – bringing us up to date – Anna Nicole Smith.
“It’s August 5, 1962, and Marilyn Monroe has just died. The studios have been looking for ‘another blonde’ for ten years. All the producers dreamed of a new Marilyn, a competitor as desirable and profitable as the original, but more punctual and disciplined. Jayne Mansfield, Diana Dors, Mamie Van Doren and so many others are learning to walk, talk and sing like Marilyn.
Most of these ‘doubles’ were crushed by a ruthless system and demiurges who believed they could create actresses like manufactured products. This book pays homage to these forgotten women through ten portraits, like so many chapters of a Californian noir novel.”
If Adrien’s name sounds familiar, it’s because he wrote the text for Une Blonde à Manhattan, a 2012 book with photos by Ed Feingersh. And for fans outside France, Hollywood Blondes can be ordered via Amazon.