Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Reel People: Michelle Williams is Marilyn Monroe

The film is My Week with Marilyn directed by Simon Curtis and a screenplay written by Adrian Hodges, based on the book The Prince, the Showgirl, and Me: Six Months on the Set With Marilyn and Olivier by Colin Clark.

Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn Monroe (born Norma Jean Mortenson) was born in Los Angeles County Hospital on June 1, 1926, but was baptized as Norma Jean Baker, the surname of her mother's first husband, not the name of her birth father, Martin Mortenson. Mortenson was her mother's most recent husband's name but it is believed, and he was listed on the birth certificate. It is suggested by Marilyn Monroe, as well as the timeline of events, that this man was not her father. Monroe suggests it was another man, Charles Stanley Gifford.

Marilyn's mother, Gladys Pearl Baker placed Norma Jean in foster care due to her own mental instability. Marilyn would go to live with Albert and Ida Bolender. Gladys would try to get Norma Jean from the Bolender's many times, and finally succeeded when Normal Jean was seven. But a mental breakdown soon occurred with Gladys and Gladys was admited to a mental institution. Norma Jean became a ward of the state and was put in the care of Grace McKee, one of Gladys' friends.

Grace was captivated with Jean Harlow and would tell Marilyn how someday she would be a movie star. When Grace McKee was married to Ervin Goddard in 1935, Norma Jean was 9 years old, and was passed along to the Los Angeles Orphans Home, and then a series of foster homes. Adoption efforts were hindered because Gladys wouldn't sign adoption papers.

Grace and Ervin Goddard would even bring Norma Jean back into their home for a time, but after a series of attempted sexual assults by Ervin Goddard. Norma Jean was then sent to live with her great-Aunt Olive Brunings where it is believed she was sexually assaulted by one of Oliver's sons at the age of 12.

From the Brunings she was then sent to live with another aunt, Ana Lower. She lived her for a few years and it was one of her most stable times in her life. Yet, do to health problems she was sent back to the home of Grace and Ervin Goddard. When the Goddard's began talk of moving to Virginia it became a problematic situation of what to do with Norma Jean.

Norma Jean's idea was that she get married so she didn't have to be moved around, and this was agreed upon by her family and James Dougherty and his family. James Doughery was a boy in the neighborhood when he graduated from high school. They were married June 19, 1942. When Dougherty joined the Merchant Marine in 1943, Norma Jean moved into her inlaws home. Dougherty would ship off to the Pacific front of World War II in 1944.

Norma Jean got a job working for Radioplane Munition Factory during the war, and was discovered by an army photographer who shot a picture of her for Yank magazine. This led to a new career in modeling, especially after she bleached her hair platinum blonde. She would work for Blue Book Modeling Agency. Her husband would see her in a shipmates magazine, and wrote to her telling her that her modeling career would need to end when he returned home. Norma Jean ignored his letters and would file for divorce when he returned from overseas. They were divorced in 1946.

Ben Lyon with 20th Century Fox discovered Norma Jean, not liking her name changed it to Carole Lind (combining Carole Lombardi with Jenny Lind). This quickly changed when Ben and his wife spent time with Norma Jean and they decided on using the name Monroe (her mother's maiden name, as Jeanne Harlow used her mother's maiden name). The plan was Jeane Monroe, but do the high number of Jean's in film Ben suggest an alliteration and they settled on Marilyn Monroe.

Marilyn's first film roles were small roles in 1947, her first as uncredited film operator in The Shocking Miss Pilgrim. Most the films were not released until 1948 after her contract expired with 20th Century, so she signed up to take some nude photographs, signing her contract as Mona Monroe.

She received a film contract in 1948 with limited work, most notably she was in a low budget musical Ladies of the Chorus.

She did get a role of some substance in the successful films The Asphalt Jungle and All About Eve and following the film's release, her agent Johnny Hyde helped negotiate a seven year contract with 20th Century Fox in 1950.

Her career began to bloom, she enrolled in school at UCLA, and Monroe was even a presenter at 23rd Annual Academy Awards.

When nude photos taken before her career began taking off surfaced, she decided to be forthcoming about the photographs and explain her economic hardship and why she allowed the photos to be taken, and Hollywood and the press accepted Monroe's story with sympathy and began asking more questions about her past which drew out increasing Hollywood style sympathy.

In 1952, Joe DiMaggio began dating Marilyn Monroe. And after a few film successes (based in part on Monroe's rising star status and the opportunity for better roles), and by January 1954 they would get married.

It was during 1954 that Monroe took on reluctantly the role in the film There's No Business Like Show Business for the staring role in The Seven Year Itch. This film, famous for the subway grate the blows up Monroe's skirt was a filming spectacle that greatly bother Joe DiMagio and seems to be at least some part for their divorce that occurred in November 1954.

In 1955 Marilyn Monroe began dating the playwright Arthur Miller. Also during this time she received acting lessons from Constance Collier (who she met via Truman Capote). On New Year's Eve, Marilyn Monroe signed a four film contract with 20th Century Fox where she could do 4 films as the star over 7 years with the ability to reject script, director or cinematographer.

Her first film in this deal was Bus Stop (1956, directed by Joshua Logan).

She would shortly later marry Arthur Miller in 1956 in a hasty ceremony and Monroe would convert to Judaism shortly before. Then they would fly to England to met up with Laurence Olivier and Vivian Leigh to begin her next film.

Not part of the film deal, she made the British film The Prince and the Showgirl (1957, directed by Laurence Olivier). The film was known for some tension especially with some critique of Monroe's acting as she was highly coached by her drama coach Paula Strasberg. The film was highly acclaimed in Europe.

After filming she became pregnant, but suffered a miscarriage. She would never have a child.

She also during this time stared in Billy Wilder's film (not part of the four film deal) Some Like it Hot. Her role in this film would win her the Golden Globe.

Monroe would develop a dependency on persecution medicine and alcohol, and also began seeing a psychiatrist. She would also during this time do her second film in the film deal, The Misfits, directed by John Huston, and written by her husband Arthur Miller, but by the time this film was being made Miller and Monroe were divorced.

The third film in the 4 film 20th century film deal was Something's Got to Give directed by George Cukor, this began filming in 1962. She was pushing the envelop by filming nude swimming scenes and allow Life magazine to publish some semi-nude photos. She was fired when she didn't show up multiple days for filming.

It was during this time that Marilyn Monroe had the famous performance of singing "Happy Birthday" on May 19, 1962 at an early birthday celebration for John F. Kennedy at Madison Square Garden.

After a publicity tour, Marilyn Monroe died on August 5, 1962 Monroe would be found dead of poisoning/overdose with a probable cause being suicide, despite other rumors that circulated.

My Week with Marilyn

The film is based on the filming of the 1957 The Prince and the Showgirl. The film focuses on a week that Laurence Oliver spent escorting Marilyn around England after Arthur Miller left England.

In addition to Marilyn Monroe being played by Michelle Wiliams, the part of Sir Laurence Oliver will be played by Kenneth Branaugh.

Also portrayed in the film, Dominic Cooper plays fashion photographer Milton Greene, Julia Ormond plays Vivian Leigh, Dame Judi Dench plays actress Dame Sybil Thordike, Dougray Scott plays Arthur Miller, Eddie Redmayne plays Colin Clark, and Emma Watson plays wardrobe assistant Lucy.

Double Oscar nomination Michelle Williams will be playing the famous never Oscar nominated star Marilyn Monroe. Will Williams score an Oscar nomination or even a win for portraying this Reel (Real) Person?

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