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Hooray for Hollywood Movie Stars

Marilyn and Jane: real movie stars.

Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell were immortalized at Grauman’s Chinese Theater on Hollywood Boulevard on June 26, 1953 before the release of their movie, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

Looking their best in their low cut summer halter dresses showing lots of cleavage, the blonde bombshell and the statuesque brunette were all smiles as they stepped up to the plate.  Then they stretched out and settled in on a cushion put out for their comfort.

Officials of Grauman’s soundly ignored Monroe’s suggestion that they imprint their best assets for posterity – hers being her bottom and Russell’s being her breasts – so, they signed their names, left their shoe and handprints, and wrote the name of their movie across their adjoining squares in the cement.

Marilyn, concerned that she would mess up, had the opportunity to practice beforehand.  Rather than placing her high heel pumps into the wet material, she went barefoot.  The test slab, measuring 17 X 22” and weighing 23 pounds, was sold in 2010 for $30,000.

More Monroe memorabilia has been on the auction block the past couple of years. The tight red sequin dress with slits down the front and up her leg she had on when she and Russell sang “Two Little Girls from Little Rock” sold for $1.2 million about the same time.  While that’s not as much as her iconic white halter dress from The Seven Year Itch that went for $4.6 million, it’s not too shabby.

The strapless pink satin gown with the oversized bow that showed off Marilyn’s curves when she performed “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend” went for $320,000.  While not quite in the same league as her other attire, Madonna commemorated the outfit when fittingly she wore a copy in her video “Material Girl.”

As Russell in character as Dorothy Shaw said of her best friend Lorelei Lei, “You know I think you’re the only girl in the world who can stand on a stage with a spotlight in her eye and still see a diamond inside a man’s pocket.”

This being Oscar season it’s worth noting that the famed classic, a commercial and critical success, didn’t receive any nominations, let alone any awards – not for best movie, best actress, best screenplay, best songs, or best costumes.  This begs the questions: what does the Academy know and when do they know it?

© 2012 Susan Marg – All Rights Reserved

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To see more of Marilyn and Jane at Grauman’s Chinese Theater, visit:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AWNiTUmwf0Y

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60 Years Ago in Pop Culture: Let it Snow.

Are we having fun yet? Photo by: Proctor Archives

In the forties, fifties and into the sixties, Grossinger’s hosted 100,000 people a year.  Attracting a predominately, but not exclusively, Jewish crowd, the resort in the Catskills, or Borscht Belt, in southeastern New York state, was one among hundreds of hotels and bungalow communities.  Referred to as the Queen, it was known for its welcoming hospitality and family-style accommodations.

There was food, oh, my, was there food!  If one waited around the dining room long enough, breakfast became lunch.  The dinner menu consisted of a choice of seven juices, four soups, four appetizers, seven main courses, and eight desserts.  If you couldn’t make up your mind, you could always have a second or third entrée on the side “for a taste.”  Or why not try them all?  Concerned about being hungry, you could put something in your purse for later.

To work off the calories, if calories mattered, activities were available from dawn to dusk. There was swimming in the Olympic size swimming pool, golf on a championship golf course, canoeing, horseshoes and horseback riding, and ping pong, you name it.  The social director led a game of Simon Sez in the morning for those who wouldn’t clap their hands, raise their arms, bend over, and simply stretch, unless someone told them to.

And there were dance lessons and dance exhibitions.  Tony and Lucille, Grossinger’s dance team, introduced the mambo to the American public there.  Dirty dancing, anyone?

Nighttime was show time, and comedians, among other entertainers, were center stage.  Jerry Lewis was working as a waiter, only fourteen years old, when he was discovered at Grossinger’s.  Sid Caesar started as a clarinet player in its nightclub.  Buddy Hackett, Milton Berle, Danny Kaye, Alan King, Jackie Mason, Joey Bishop, Freddie Roman, and Phil Silvers all did their spiel to appreciative audiences.

In cold weather Grossinger’s became a winter playground.  It had an ice skating rink, toboggan ride, and ski slopes.  If there wasn’t enough snow to satisfy its guests, it did something about it.  It was the first resort to manufacture the white stuff beginning in 1952.

Grossinger’s true to its slogan “had everything.”

© 2012 Susan Marg – All Rights Reserved

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For memories of the Catskills, visit:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7I1izk2NWFY&feature=related.

Grossinger’s closed in 1986.  For photos of now and then, visit: http://wiseminds.com/thedigitalmirage/?p=22.

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A Love Triangle: She Said. She Said. She Said.

Photo by: marcberryreid

When Eddie Fisher left Debbie Reynolds, it was the biggest scandal since… well, it was one of the biggest scandals since the movie industry had moved to the West Coast.  It involved larger than life personalities of the fifties, a time when marriage was forever and children came first.

When the couple met in 1954, Fisher was a teen idol, rivaling Frank Sinatra in popularity.  Even his army stint in Korea didn’t dim his visibility.

Reynolds had made eleven movies, including Singin’ in the Rain with Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor.  She danced, too.  Modern Screen put her at the top of their list of appealing young female stars, besting such lovelies as Grace Kelly, Elizabeth Taylor, Doris Day, and Marilyn Monroe.

As a couple, gossip columnist Louella Parsons called them “America’s Sweethearts.”  Their engagement sold papers.  Their wedding made headlines. The movie they made together, Bundle of Joy, bombed, but the births of Carrie and then Todd were a symbol of their everlasting love.  Their separation was met with astonishment, all the more so because Eddie had taken up with Elizabeth Taylor, the widow of his best friend, movie producer Mike Todd.

The women couldn’t have been more different from each.  Elizabeth was the bad girl, exotic and sultry, like a wine glass of warmed cognac.  Debbie was the girl-next-door, familiar and friendly, like cold lemonade on a summer’s day.  When the press learned of the triangle, they both played their parts perfectly.

Meeting the media camped on her doorstep sometime after midnight once the news broke, Debbie said, “I’m still in love with my husband.  I’m deeply shocked over what has happened.”

Liz, said, “ I don’t feel that I’ve taken Eddie away from Debbie – because they weren’t getting along anyway.”

Debbie said, “Liz must have been misinformed about relations between Eddie and me.  We have never been happier than we have been in the last year.  I would even say ecstatically happy.”

To which Liz said, “I don’t go around breaking up marriages.  Besides, you couldn’t break up a happy marriage.”

After instructing her attorney to go ahead with a divorce, Debbie commented, “It seems unbelievable to say that you can live happily with a man and not know he doesn’t love you.  But that – as God is my witness – is the truth.”

The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth: that’s hardly the way we think of Hollywood.  Nor is it the end of the story.

When both women had remarried, Debbie to Harry Karl, a shoe tycoon, and Elizabeth to Richard Burton, no description needed, they made up and became friends.  Upon Taylor’s death, Reynolds said, “No one else could equal Elizabeth’s beauty and sexuality… She was a symbol of stardom.  Her legacy will last.”

As far as Eddie, let’s just say he’s a better actor than we remember him, if we remember him at all.

© 2012 Susan Marg – All Rights Reserved

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Not quite sure what Eddie Fisher sounds like?  Here he sings “I’m Always Hearing Wedding Bells”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gQ2ubf-2BXg