W.J. Weatherby’s book is beloved by fans and considered one of the main resources for Marilyn quotes. Indeed, it is a minefield of quips and stories but is it true? Weatherby states that he didn’t actually record his conversations with Marilyn while she was speaking, just that he would write in a series of shorthand after speaking. He goes on to say that being he had a reporter’s memory, it was easy for him to remember long blocks of conversation. This I don’t doubt at all. What comes to mind though is that she would have known she was speaking to a reporter. It doesn’t seem likely that she would bear her soul to someone with the press after her 1954-1955 debacle with Ben Hecht on My Story. It should also be noted that Weatherby gives no dates which is odd because A) it lets you know what was going on in her life during that time and B) most reporters date their work for their own memories. What can’t be disputed is that Weatherby was working on the set of “The Misfits.” What I question are the conversations after.
Weatherby released his book during an interesting time. The Marilyn community had Slatzer, Mailer, Guiles, Marilyn’s My Story, and countless other books written about her. It also was the mecca for celebrity gossip columnist to release their books as well.
So, not only was Weatherby’s book released at the coming of Marilyn books, it was also released during the prime of gossip columnist tell-alls.
But what about content? There are some great quotes in this book. That cannot be denied. Yet Weatherby falls right into the Slatzer circle, discrediting Ralph Roberts as someone who wasn’t an “old close friend” while claiming that Slatzer was just that. He also supports the Kennedy rumors:
MM – “Maybe I’ll get married again myself.”
W – “Have you someone in mind? Is there a leading candidate?”
MM – “Sort of. Only problem is, he’s married right now. And he’s famous; so we have to meet in secret.”
W – “And he’s getting a divorce?”
MM – “Arthur had to get a divorce, you know. He’s in politics.”
W – “In Hollywood?”
MM – “Oh no. In Washington.”
Weatherby then goes on to talk about the Kennedy rumors and seems to support them although it should be noted that he says an overdose by her own hand is possible while he continues to exalt Slatzer (Please note I use the 1992 edition which he wrote the forward to and insists is still true). So, are the memories real? Or was Weatherby just capitalizing? There are no witness statements to support his meetings in a dive bar (which, why would she risk being seen and recognized when she had a home?). In fact, an extremely close confidant of Marilyn revealed that she had never heard of Weatherby when asked by Anthony Summers. His book came out at a peak time. He didn’t mention knowing her in his obituary for the paper in 1962. His notes have never been revealed. It is unknown whether or not Marilyn put him in her personal address book AND, if she had, whether or not the number was a Reno number or a New York number.
My question for you is this: Why should we believe that Marilyn was having secret conversations in a bar with W. J. Weatherby?
Recently some pictures were purchased by Tony Michaels, a long lost friend of one of the Monroe Six, Frieda Hull. Here’s where things get tricky. Michaels claims that Frieda told him that Marilyn was PREGNANT in these photos with a child fathered by Yves Montand. I could spend a lot of time breaking this down but long story short, Michaels is full of crap or Frieda was (which I HIGHLY doubt Frieda even told him this story). For a great debunking, check out the article written by Marilyn Remembered’s Scott Fortner here.
From Frances Farmer getting a lobotomy, to Jean Harlow sleeping with truck drivers and killing Paul Bern, to Jayne Mansfield being a practicing Satanist, to Marilyn being pregnant with numerous love children, libeling and slandering the dead is a hot market. Books and articles can print nearly anything they want while any random person can say the same garbage. There is absolutely no consequence for defaming the dead (something I personally think should be overwritten being it can affect estate earnings but that’s another post).
Darwin Porter has cornered the market on these “hot” stories. Here is an excerpt from one of his sources, Liz Renay.
He was very proud of his noble tool, perhaps prouder than he should have been. I heard that when he wasn’t screwing Tallulah Bankhead or Marilyn Monroe – my rival – he liked to plug the boys, especially James Dean.
Who is the above about? Marlon Brando. Renay’s accounts have since spread like wildfire.
On Rory Calhoun:
He was Guy Madison’s longtime lover and those two gorgeous boys enjoyed banging each other more than they enjoyed banging me.
Porter then goes on to make gigantic claims about sexuality including Monroe, Astaire, Wayne, and countless others. Who are his sources? I’m not able to tell you being a lot aren’t listed. Note that all of the celebrities mentioned were dead by the time Porter’s “Hollywood Babylon Strikes Again” was published.
So, we’ve covered the legalities and some of what you see but the main question is why? That’s where personal opinion comes in. What seems likely is being the studios shrouded their celebrities in mystery and kept actual scandals out of the papers, anyone who so much as whispers something scandalous is taken as repeating a fact. These whispers then get back to reporters and writers like Porter. I won’t say that Porter makes up his claims, it’s likely that he has heard that a friend of a friend of a friend’s third cousin seven times removed knows a guy who knows a guy whose best friend’s sister slept with Jeanne Carmen. So what now? All I’m calling for is writer and researcher responsibility.
Over at Immortal Marilyn, I have been lucky enough to have another contemporaries article posted. This week I focused on Anita Ekberg. You can read the article here or click the picture above.
It’s interesting to note that as I write these articles an interesting pattern emerges. Most of the blonde women who reached a certain pinnacle of stardom during the 1950’s were created after Marilyn’s performance in Niagara. Marilyn’s contemporaries in age, (within two years of her birth) like Barbara Payton, usually experienced their stardom earlier, or, like Cleo Moore, had bit roles until being thrust into the Marilyn mold. It’s interesting to project Marilyn’s career if she hadn’t been 24 when she was first cast in the national spotlight in All About Eve and The Asphalt Jungle and 26 for full-fledged stardom in Niagara. Had she “made it” at only 21 or 22, it is likely that she we would have a different version of Marilyn.
Over at Immortal Marilyn, which I contribute as a writer to, I have had my first article released on Jayne Mansfield. Here it is in full:
Jayne’s Life and Career
Vera Jayne Palmer was born on April 19, 1933, nearly seven years after Marilyn, in Pennsylvania. Jayne’s father died when she was only three while he was driving, an event witnessed by the little girl who was in the front seat, sitting in her mother’s lap. Jayne never got over seeing his death. Jayne recalled her father introducing her to Shirley Temple and wanted to be just like her childhood idol. When Jayne was six, her mother remarried and relocated to Texas with Jayne in tow. Jayne quickly proved herself to be an intellectual and would eventually become a concert violinist and could also play the viola and piano. She also wound up being able to speak four additional languages to English: Spanish, German, Italian, and French and could speak a little Hungarian.
By 1950, Jayne was married to Paul Mansfield with her first child, Jayne Marie, being born in November of that year. Jayne soon enrolled in college and would frequently take her daughter with her to class but her Hollywood dreams never died. In 1953 Jayne finally moved to Hollywood to pursue her dream of stardom. Jayne wanted to play ethnic roles but was told to dye her dark brown hair blonde in order to get signed. In early 1955, short a husband, she was signed to Warner Brothers but was dropped by June and went to film the independent production The Burglar in Pennsylvania. Jayne’s agent advised her to try out for George Axelrod’s new Broadway bound play Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter. Reluctant but willing, Jayne went in a bikini covered by a mink coat. She was instantly given the role.
ayne skyrocketed to fame in October. Critics praised her acting ability and Hollywood soon came knocking. After the dust settled, Twentieth Century Fox won out for signing Jayne in 1956, buying out Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter for $150,000 and signing Jayne for $2,500/week. Fox and newspaper columnists billed her, at this point, as the “Rich man’s Marilyn Monroe.” Jayne soon began making The Girl Can’t Help It, a technicolor “Rock and Roll” musical with Tom Ewell, Julie London, Little Richard, and Abby Lincoln. Right after filming commenced, Jayne started John Steinbeck’sThe Wayward Bus before filming Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter in 1957. All were successful with the public and Jayne looked to be the next Marilyn.
Jayne’s mistake was marrying Mickey Hargitay in 1958. Fox wanted a single blonde bombshell, not another married one. Jayne was cast in The Sheriff of Fractured Jaw, her last “A” list starring production. While filming, Jayne discovered she was pregnant, the second of her five children. Jayne was given the career death sentence of being in European and independent productions in between nightclub acts in Las Vegas and pregnancies throughout the late 1950’s and 1960’s. By the time Jayne passed away on June 29, 1967, she was reduced to b-list movies and subpar nightclub performances.
“Marilyn and I are entirely different. We’ve really never been in competition. I admire Marilyn and she’s told me she admires me.”
Besides being blonde and having exceptional figures, Marilyn and Jayne were very, very different. Jayne came from an upper-middle class background and had a stable home life. Jayne admired Marilyn but never aspired to be the next Marilyn, she wanted to be known for her own persona. Sadly, she was told the exact same thing as Marilyn had been told seven years before and she embraced the dumb blonde image with much more gusto that Marilyn. Jayne was confident in her 163 IQ and that the “dumb blonde” was a persona, although she did want to do more dramas as well, versus Marilyn thinking that people actually thought that was her.
Jayne and Marilyn took some of the same pre-fame steps. Both were signed to Emmeline Snively’s Blue Book Modeling Agency and both posed for Earl Moran. In fact, when recounting all the women he had drawn through the years, Moran remembered Jayne and Marilyn having two of the most exceptional figures and both being standouts. Photographers were also commonly shared amongst the two women. Jayne posed for Marilyn’s friend and frequent collaborator, Milton Greene in 1955 at his studio. Jayne and Marilyn both also posed for Bruno Bernard, Phillipe Halsman, Frank Powolny, and a host of other 1950’s and 1960’s photographers.
Jayne and Marilyn were spotted with four of the same men at different times in their lives. Marilyn dated Nick Ray, on and off, from 1950-1952, before meeting Joe DiMaggio. Jayne dated Nick Ray, on and off, from 1956-1957, before settling down with Mickey Hargitay. Ray even gifted Jayne a black baby bunny that she had to feed with a baby bottle. While in New York, Jayne was spotted dancing with Joe DiMaggio at El Morocco. Jayne and Marilyn were both spotted with George Jessell, Jayne in 1956 and Marilyn in 1948. The final male they had in common, albeit not romantically for either, was James Haspiel who followed Jayne almost as much as he followed Marilyn.
Jayne and Marilyn had other male connections as well, in the form of co-stars. Tom Ewell was the romantic lead for both, starring with Marilyn in The Seven Year Itch and Jayne in The Girl Can’t Help It. Dan Dailey was Jayne’s love interest in The Wayward Bus yet played the father of Marilyn’s love interest in There’s No Business Like Show Business three years before. Tony Randall starred with Jayne in Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter before starring in Let’s Make Love. Groucho Marks starred in Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter as well and had been with Marilyn in Love Happy nearly nine years before. Probably the most well known collaboration is Jayne with Tommy Noonan in Promises, Promises. Noonan had starred with Marilyn exactly ten years before in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.
One of the lesser known connections is Something’s Got To Give. Originally slated to begin filming in 1961, Jayne was at first promised the role. When Marilyn came in and agreed to do it, Jayne was dropped. While Marilyn was supposed to be the first A-list American star to appear nude in a mainstream production after the installment of the Hayes Code in Something’s Got To Give, the title wound up going to Jayne in Promises, Promises.
ayne and Marilyn were photographed together once, at The Rose Tattoo premiere. Jayne was openly snubbed by Marilyn. The women didn’t really run in the same social circles but did meet one another a few times, including when Marilyn attended Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter in October of 1955. It’s likely that is when Marilyn told Jayne she admired her. Any other meetings were reported to be cold although Jayne would claim a somewhat civil but distant friendship before and after Marilyn’s death.
One of the more interesting similarities is that Jayne was in high demand like Marilyn was, but on the nightclub and appearance circuit. While Marilyn was in “A-list” productions her whole life, Jayne was commanding a much higher salary for nightclub performances. In 1961 Jayne was making $35,000/week in Vegas while Marilyn was only offered $5,500/week in 1962.
Jayne and Marilyn both suffered with prescription medication addiction issues. Jayne was put on diet pills by Fox to lose baby weight and soon was addicted while Marilyn was put on barbiturates and other medication to help her obtain sleep. Both women also have JFK rumors swirling around them although, like Marilyn, Jayne’s rumors are unfounded and have a dubious beginning.
In closing, Jayne is much more than a Marilyn wannabe or impersonator. To refer to her as such is the same as saying that Marilyn wanted to be Betty Grable or Betty Grable wanted to be Alice Faye. Both women were beautiful, blonde, and intelligent and deserve to be given the same respect that they weren’t offered in their lifetimes.
Finally, the clothes. Jayne was spotted in more than one Marilyn outfit through the years being both women frequently borrowed from the Fox Costume Department.
Has been released early! You can find it on CreateSpace.com as well as Amazon.com! This has been a long and sometimes drawn out process but I am finally done. A huge thanks to everyone who has helped me on my journey especially Chuck Murphy for allowing me to use his beautiful Andre photo. So what’s next? I’m currently working on a book about Jayne Mansfield with a working title of “Puffblicity.” I hope to have it out in the summer of 2018. Wait and see!
Click for the Paperback
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I was lucky enough to be given a chance to interview respected Dixie State University professor, Dr. Timothy Bywater who has his PH.D. in English and Film History, just in time for Marilyn’s 90th! Dr. Bywater was kind enough to delve into Marilyn’s chances of an Oscar and her impact on the film industry. Click HERE to read my full interview!
My book cover is finally complete! Thank you everyone for your love and support! Will be sending out free bookplates. Save the date, August 5, 2016!
Today in 1962, Marilyn’s dress that she would wear to perform “Happy Birthday” for JFK was airmailed to her by Western Costume Company.