|Hal Schaefer 1925-2012
Harold Herman Schaefer was born in Queens, New York City, on July 22, 1925. His father, Louie, was a house-painter and lover of jazz. He had taught
himself to play ragtime by slowing down the mechanism on the family’s piano, and memorising where to place his fingers.
Inspired by the great jazz pianist, Art Tatum, Hal studied at the High School of Art and Music in Manhattan, and then worked as a piano player at hotels in
the Catskills. At 18, Hal joined Benny Carter’s group, working alongside top musicians like Max Roach and J.J. Johnson.
Before his twenty-first birthday, Hal had joined a trio that performed during the intermission of Duke Ellington’s concerts, and the jazz legend became his
lifelong mentor (often introducing him with the epithet, “Now you’re going to hear a real piano player!”)
Hal also performed with Harry James’ band, and accompanied Peggy Lee, Vic Damone and other singers.
Much of his early work in Hollywood was uncredited. He appeared in ‘With a Song in My Heart’, the 1952 biopic of singer Jane Froman, starring Susan
Hayward, who won a Golden Globe for her performance.
He also coached Betty Grable, wife of Harry James and star of a string of hit musicals at Twentieth Century Fox; and Judy Garland, in her much-praised
‘comeback’ movie, ‘A Star is Born’ (1954).
The Blonde Hal Preferred
On June 1st, 1952 – Marilyn Monroe’s twenty-sixth birthday – she won the coveted role of Lorelei Lee in ‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’, the upcoming, big-
screen adaptation of the Broadway musical based on the 1925 comic novel by Anita Loos.
At the time, Marilyn was being touted as ‘the new Betty Grable’. But she had sung at length in just one film, the low-budget ‘Ladies of the Chorus’ (1948.)
Even then, her vocal coach and boyfriend, Fred Karger, had enough confidence in her talents to suggest she try out for Benny Goodman’s band.
The audition – and her affair with Karger – fizzled out. But Marilyn continued to study singing with the jazz pianist and arranger, Phil Moore.
Her performance of George Gershwin’s racy standard ‘Do it Again’, for soldiers at Camp Pendleton, Los Angeles, in April 1952, nearly started a riot – and
made industry figures take notice.
“Jack Cole [choreographer] was working with her and I had worked with him on other productions, and he introduced us during the movie,” Hal recalled,
adding, “I don’t know if it was Ken Darby, who was head of the vocal department at Fox at the time, or Cole who actually got me the [vocal coach] job, or if
Marilyn herself did.”
Hal coached Marilyn for her solo number, ‘Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend’, which would become one of the defining moments of her career. He also
coached Marilyn and co-star Jane Russell for three duets: ‘Two Little Girls from Little Rock’, ‘Bye Bye Baby’, and ‘When Love Goes Wrong (Nothing Goes
In January 1953, Marilyn recorded ‘Do it Again’ under Hal’s guidance. Biographer Donald Spoto describes it as “one of the most amusingly erotic songs ever
recorded’, noting that ‘Marilyn left no doubt to what the title pronoun referred.”
‘Do it Again’ was not released commercially for years to come, although pirated versions were reputedly sold for high prices.
While Marilyn’s habitual lateness was already posing problems for her directors and co-stars, it was not an issue for Schaefer. “The first thing I told her was
that she better not be late or I wouldn’t teach her, so she showed up on time after that,” Hal told biographer Michelle Morgan.
He advised Marilyn to study the music of Ella Fitzgerald. “The most important influence on Marilyn’s vocal art was in fact a recording I gave her called ‘Ella
Sings Gershwin’, for which there was only Ellis Larkin’s piano accompaniment,” Hal told Spoto.
“Marilyn had a problem with singing in tune, but everything else she did was wonderful,” he explained to Morgan. “I told her to listen to this album because
never had there been a singer more in tune than Ella.”
Hal worked with Marilyn again later in 1953, on ‘River of No Return’. Filming on location in Canada’s Rocky Mountains was physically demanding. Marilyn
disliked both the script, and director Otto Preminger. Recording music under Hal’s wing afforded her a brief respite.
In contrast to the sumptuous ‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’, Marilyn’s four songs for ‘River of No Return’ had a folksy, homespun flavour. Her vocals on ‘One
Silver Dollar’, ‘Down in the Meadow’ and ‘River of No Return’ were strikingly soulful, while the bold, brassy ‘I’m Gonna File My Claim’ sold more than
75,000 copies in three weeks during the summer of 1954.
A Fine Romance
In late 1953, Marilyn was suspended by Fox after refusing her next assignment, ‘The Girl in Pink Tights’. She went into seclusion, but made headlines in
January 1954 by marrying her longtime beau, Joe DiMaggio. While on honeymoon in Japan, Marilyn accepted an offer to entertain US troops in Korea.
She finally came to terms with the studio, agreeing to appear in another musical, ‘There’s No Business Like Show Business’. As before, the storyline was
weak, and Marilyn felt intimidated by her co-stars, including Broadway veteran Ethel Merman. However, she relished the chance to sing again, and when
filming began in June 1954, she rehearsed with Hal long into the night.
One observer commented to author Lawrence Crown that Hal “stylised her – her phrasing, her whole approach to a song…how to phrase it, the right way to
“They were all Irving Berlin tunes,” Lionel Newman, who produced Marilyn’s four numbers (‘After You Get What You Want’, ‘Heat Wave’, ‘Lazy’, and the
duet, ‘A Man Chases a Girl’), told Crown. “And when Irving Berlin came to L.A., he was on our recording stage and he wanted to hear the numbers. He was
ecstatic about them…He couldn’t believe that Marilyn did her own singing, which she did; there wasn’t one note ever that was looped or dubbed for her.”
“Well, we had a boy…who was our pianist…and he was wonderful,” Newman said of Hal. “And Marilyn was very devoted to him, because he was her vocal
coach. So she was incensed that I didn’t call (him) over. So she chewed my tail out and said unless Irving went over to his bungalow and apologised and told
him personally how good it was, she wouldn’t come back to record with us. And I stormed out of my own office, and she was left there. Anyway, Irving did
go the next day to tell him how much he thought of his vocal coaching and vocal arrangements for Marilyn. And the next day she came in very sheepishly
and apologised to me.”
After less than six months, the DiMaggio marriage was in trouble. Joe spent much of his time working in New York, or socialising with his macho buddies.
He distrusted most of Marilyn’s Hollywood friends, including Hal Schaefer.
Rather foolishly, Hal made a statement to the press about his friendship with Marilyn. “It’s ridiculous that Mr DiMaggio could be any more jealous of me
than he is of other people working with Marilyn,” he said. “She’s a wonderful girl and kind to us all. I’m embarrassed about the whole thing.”
In addition to the songs she performed onscreen, Marilyn recorded several other tracks, including ‘You’d Be Surprised’, also by Berlin; ‘She Acts Like a
Woman Should’; and Jerome Kern’s ‘A Fine Romance’. These songs were acquired by RCA, though the latter was not released for some years after Marilyn’s
“I won’t be satisfied until people want to hear me sing without looking at me,” Marilyn told Collier’s magazine in 1954, adding wryly, “Of course, that doesn’t
mean I want them to stop looking.”
“She had very little self-esteem,” Hal admitted to Donald Spoto. “But at the same time she was quite a complicated woman with a sure grasp of what she
wanted to accomplish. I was with her in the recording studio, and there was very little intercutting, editing or overdubbing. She trusted me, and we became
After You Get What You Want (You Don’t Want It)
It was at this time that – perhaps inevitably, given the strain they were both under - Marilyn’s relationship with Hal became more intimate. “Marilyn seemed
to feel that I was the kindest, most gentle man she’d been involved with,” he told biographer Anthony Summers. “And she loved the way I played the piano,
thought I ought to be world-famous. I wasn’t the world’s greatest lover, I wasn’t Tyrone Power, but I did give what she needed most - help.”
She confided to Hal that Joe was fiercely possessive, and claimed that he had physically abused her. Before long, the lovers were certain that they were
being followed, or bugged. “The whole thing became a nightmare,” Hal told Summers. “She was terrified, and furious, because she felt that she couldn’t live
He decided to confront Joe and set up a meeting, but Marilyn, fearing violence, persuaded him not go. On July 17th, a desperate Hal took a massive
overdose of alcohol, pills and cleaning fluid. Fortunately, he was found in his apartment by friends and rushed to hospital.
“I just didn’t want to go on anymore,” Hal told Summers. “A great deal of the focus was on Marilyn, but it wasn’t totally that. It was the way I was in my life. I
was despondent, depressed, drinking too much.”
Hal narrowly survived his suicide attempt. His liver and kidneys were seriously damaged, and he suffered several relapses. Marilyn was at his bedside
constantly, and insisted that recording be halted until he had recovered.
Once released from hospital he hired two male nurses and took a house on the coast north of Los Angeles. When Marilyn joined him there, the harassment
“I can’t remember it well because I was so sick,” Hal said. “I can only remember them screaming through the window, and the threatening.”
The Wrong Door Raid
In October, Marilyn filed for divorce. Columnist Louella Parsons believed that jealousy was behind the split, and she wrote in her syndicated column that
Joe “was very unhappy when Marilyn went many times to the hospital to see Hal Schaefer when he was critically ill.”
“I was not the cause of the breakup with DiMaggio,” Hal told Anthony Summers, years later. “It was already broken up, and not because of me. She would
have left him no matter what. It had nothing to do with me. It was not to do with anyone else. But DiMaggio couldn’t believe that. His ego was such that he
couldn’t believe that.”
On the night of November 5th, Marilyn and Hal drove to a friend’s apartment, unaware that they were being followed by DiMaggio, his buddy Frank Sinatra,
and two private detectives. The men broke into the building, and raided a neighbouring apartment. Their victim sued and the ‘Wrong Door Raid’ was later
exposed in Confidential magazine.
“I don’t believe I’d be here today if they’d found me,” Hal told Michelle Morgan. “Shortly after the Wrong Door Raid (Marilyn) went to New York to begin
her new life, and that was the last time I ever saw her. She phoned me and said she didn’t know how long she’d be there, but I never saw her again.”
Hal was not bitter about how their affair ended. “Marilyn was an unsettled soul,” he reflected. “She could never come to rest anyplace. So her falling in love
with somebody I don’t think would ever have any long-range stability to it.”
Blues for Marilyn
“I always felt she never really achieved her potential as a singer,” Schaefer concluded. “She had great potential but never realised it.” Marilyn would never
find another musical collaborator of such finesse as Hal, but her ability to inflect emotion into her vocals was evident.
She went on to sing in ‘Some Like it Hot’ (1959) and ‘Let’s Make Love’ (1960), and her swansong performance of ‘Happy Birthday, Mister President’ has
become part of her legend.
After his success in Hollywood, Hal began a recording career. His albums included ‘Just Too Much’ (1955); ‘The RCA Victor Jazz Workshop’ and ‘Showcase’
(1956); ‘8 to the Bar’ (1958); ‘Ten Shades of Blue’ (1959); ‘How Do You Like This Piano Playing?’, and ‘Can-Can & Anything Goes’, with Benny Carter; and
‘Music That Reminds Me of You’ (1961.)
In 1955, Hal composed music for a prestigious gala celebrating the tenth anniversary of the United Nations. He returned to New York in 1960, and wrote
scores for plays and movies, including ‘The Money Trap’ (1965) and ‘The Amsterdam Kill’ (1977). His first marriage, to Leah Cahan, ended in divorce. They
had a daughter, Katie.
In 1973, Hal met his second wife, Brenda Goodman, when she came to him for voice lessons. She died in 2000. A year later, Hal recorded a tribute album,
‘June 1st: A Date to Remember’. His beloved Brenda shared a birthday with Monroe, and one of the tracks was called ‘Blues for Marilyn’.
Among Schaefer’s later albums are ‘The Extraordinary Jazz Pianist’ (1976) and ‘Solo, Duo, Trio’ (1991). In the last decade of his life, he recorded four live
albums with the Hal Schaefer Trio, and another solo performance. His own favourite pieces are collected in ‘Brilliant!’ (2011.)
Romantic with a Rhythmic Soul
Hal died in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on December 8th, 2012, after a short illness. He was 87.
“A romantic with a rhythmic soul,” is how John S. Wilson, jazz critic for the New York Times, described Hal in 1982. “Mr. Schaefer is very much a
mainstream pianist, but he has his own way of looking at the mainstream, enlivening the relatively standard repertory that he played with fresh and
He “never compromised his artistic vision,” singer-pianist Michael Feinstein told the Los Angeles Times, speculating as to why Schaefer’s name was not
better-known. “He had a piano style and a musical palette that was possibly a little advanced for the average listener.”
“He had a brilliant way of incorporating … very modern musical language into his playing that was masterful, yet he also could instantly switch to creating a
dance arrangement for Judy Garland or Marilyn Monroe,” Feinstein commented.
“Hal was a lovely man; a true gentleman,” author Michelle Morgan wrote on her blog. “When we spoke, I could really tell immediately just why Marilyn was
so fond of him. He was softly spoken, very intelligent, calm and just a really beautiful soul…I am very, very sad to hear he passed, but his life was very much
one of value.”
‘Goddess: The Secret Lives of Marilyn Monroe’ by Anthony Summers, 1985
‘The Unabridged Marilyn’ by Randall Riese & Neal Hitchens, 1987
‘Marilyn at Twentieth Century Fox’ by Lawrence Crown, 1987
‘Marilyn Monroe: The Biography’ by Donald Spoto, 1992
‘Marilyn Monroe: Private and Undisclosed’ by Michelle Morgan, 2012
|Previous Reports: Marilyn's Hero
Sister Aimee & Norma Jeane
|What Might Have Been…
In her short lifetime Marilyn Monroe made nearly thirty films, and was one of the biggest stars of her era. But like other actresses,
Marilyn had to fight for good roles and inevitably she lost out occasionally. This series uncovers the movies that might have been.
The Brothers Karamazov
|Previous Reports: Marilyn's Hero
Dear Mr. Gable
|Guys and Dolls
Born in Manhattan, Kansas in 1880 to a family of newspapermen, Damon Runyon found fame as a baseball columnist, and later for his humorous short
stories chronicling the vibrant street life of New York. His eccentric characters – gamblers, hustlers and crooks – and unique style, mixing formal speech
with slang – inspired a new literary idiom, the “Runyonesque”.
In 1950, four years after Runyon’s death, ‘Guys and Dolls’ opened on Broadway. Based on two of Runyon’s short stories – ‘The Idyll of Miss Sarah Brown’
and ‘Blood Pressure’ – the play was scripted by Abe Burrows and Jo Swerling, with music by Frank Loesser.
A box office hit, ‘Guys and Dolls’ was selected as the winner of 1951’s Pulitzer Prize for Drama. However, due to Abe Burrows’ troubles with the House Un-
American Activities Committee, the award was withdrawn.
Despite the controversy, producer Samuel Goldwyn acquired the film rights to Guys and Dolls. The screenplay was written by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, who
would also direct. Uncredited assistance came from another Hollywood scribe, Ben Hecht.
Gene Kelly was an early front-runner for the lead role as charming gambler Sky Masterson, but MGM would not release him. Goldwyn sought out the
screen’s hottest young actor, Marlon Brando, instead. Jean Simmons was cast as Brando’s unlikely love interest, prudish missionary Sarah Brown.
After securing America’s favourite crooner, Frank Sinatra, as hustler Nathan Detroit, Goldwyn set his sights on the world’s reigning sex symbol, Marilyn
Monroe, for the part of Sinatra’s showgirl fiancée, Miss Adelaide. With so much talent assembled, ‘Guys and Dolls’ could hardly fail – or could it?
All About Mankiewicz
Marilyn had previously worked with Mankiewicz in 1950, when as a relative unknown, she played the small role but pivotal of Claudia Caswell, a sexy but
shallow starlet, in his Oscar-winning theatrical satire, ‘All About Eve’.
“There was a breathlessness and sort of glued-on innocence about her that I found appealing – and she had done a good job for John Huston in ‘The Asphalt
Jungle’,” Mankiewicz said later. Comparing the two directors, Marilyn noted, “Mr Mankiewicz was a different sort of director than Mr Huston. He wasn’t as
exciting, and he was more talkative. But he was intelligent and sensitive.”
Monroe’s “difficult” reputation dates back to ‘All About Eve’. Actor Gregory Ratoff predicted that she would soon be a great star, to which actress Celeste
Holm retorted, “Why? Because she has kept us all waiting for an hour?” In her 1987 biography, ‘The Marilyn Scandal’, Sandra Shevey wrote, ‘Their
antipathy made Marilyn nervous, and when she became nervous she blew her lines.’
Shevey also hinted that Marilyn’s habitual lateness was exacerbated by the studio’s habit of diverting her from the set to photo shoots for their publicity
department. “Whilst she should have been allowed to spend the time conceptualising the role and running through her lines, the PR people had booked her
into a gallery shoot allowing her but the briefest warm-up time on the set.”
Mankiewicz told one of Monroe’s earliest biographers, Fred Lawrence Guiles, that he had once found her reading Rainer Maria Rilke’s ‘Letters to a Young
Poet’. “I’d have been less taken aback to come upon Herr Rilke studying a Marilyn Monroe calendar,” Mankiewicz quipped.
Though Mankiewicz invited her to join the rest of the crew, Marilyn rarely socialised. “I thought of her, then, as the loneliest person I had ever known,” he
In her 1954 memoir, ‘My Story’, co-written with Ben Hecht, Marilyn recalled an incident when Mankiewicz had found her reading a book by the left-wing
journalist, Lincoln Steffens. To her surprise, he warned her against being seen reading “radical” literature. “I thought this was a very personal attitude on
Mr Mankiewicz’s part,” she wrote, “and, that genius though he was, of a sort, he was badly frightened by the Front Office or something.”
A Runyonesque Tale
By late 1953, Marilyn was the toast of Hollywood, with a slew of hit movies to her credit, such as the musical comedy, ‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’.
Nonetheless, Monroe was temporarily suspended from Twentieth Century-Fox after turning down her latest assignment, ‘The Girl in Pink Tights’. She
disliked the script, and was unhappy that her co-star, Frank Sinatra, was to be paid considerably more than her contract salary.
In January 1954, Marilyn married her longtime beau, the retired baseball star Joe DiMaggio. During his sporting heyday, Joe had often featured in Damon
Runyon’s column. He later described Runyon as “the only (writer) who didn’t rip me.”
Joe spent much of his free time at Toots Shors’ Bar in New York, a hangout that could have been the setting for one of Runyon’s stories.
Having made her peace with the studio, Marilyn started work on a new musical, ‘There’s No Business Like Show Business’, in the spring. Another of Marilyn’
s recordings, ‘I’m Gonna File My Claim’ (from her newly-released Western, ‘River of No Return’) became a chart-topper that summer.
Before flying to New York to film ‘The Seven Year Itch’, Marilyn had discussed the possibility of starring in Guys and Dolls over dinner with Sam Goldwyn.
(‘It’s like making an appointment with God,’ she said later.) Charles Feldman, who had acquired ‘The Seven Year Itch’ for Monroe, hoped that, after years of
chasing the star, winning the role of Miss Adelaide on Marilyn’s behalf might persuade her to hire him as her official agent.
After checking into New York’s St Regis Hotel during filming of ‘The Seven Year Itch’ in September, Marilyn had ordered Feldman’s colleague, Hugh
French, to set up a meeting with Joe Mankiewicz. When she discovered that Mankiewicz was in Los Angeles, she called him there.
According to another Monroe biographer, Barbara Leaming, the “meeting” did not go well:
“‘You see, I’ve become a star,’ Marilyn proudly told Mankiewicz.
The director was unimpressed. He talked to her, she thought, as if she were a piece of trash. ‘Put on some more clothes, Marilyn, and stop moving your ass
so much,’ he replied. Despite the insult, Marilyn struggled to win him over. Finally, Mankiewicz cut off the conversation with the news that the part of Miss
Adelaide had already been cast. Refusing to give up, Marilyn instructed Feldman to keep after Goldwyn and get her the role.
Mankiewicz’s words were a brutal reminder of why Marilyn hated Hollywood.”
Under the twin pressures of Monroe’s soaring career and Joe’s extreme jealousy, the DiMaggio marriage was troubled from the start. Joe finally lost control
after seeing Marilyn film her famous “skirt-blowing scene” in ‘The Seven Year Itch’ on location in New York, with hundreds of men looking on.
Among the witnesses to Joe’s humiliation was the influential columnist, Walter Winchell, who knew Marilyn from the Hollywood scene. Winchell had also
been a friend of Damon Runyon.
What Might Have Been
In October, a desperate Joe – encouraged by his pal, Frank Sinatra – followed Marilyn to a Los Angeles apartment block where, he believed, she was
meeting her lover. However, the two men – along with two private detectives – burst into the wrong apartment. The occupant, one Florence Kotz, went on
to sue both Sinatra and DiMaggio in 1957.
The so-called ‘Wrong Door Raid’, another Runyonesque episode, was no laughing matter for its real-life players.
After separating from Joe and completing ‘The Seven Year Itch’, Marilyn walked out on her studio and moved permanently to New York. She also
dispensed with Feldman’s services in favour of a new partnership with photographer Milton Greene. But though she was technically in breach of her
contract with Fox, Marilyn’s popularity was undimmed.
The stage actress, Vivian Blaine – who had played Miss Adelaide on Broadway – reprised her role in the big-screen version of ‘Guys and Dolls’, released in
November 1955. The casting of Brando, a non-singer, had been controversial, while lyricist Frank Loesser thought Sinatra was the wrong choice for Nathan
Nonetheless, ‘Guys and Dolls’ – which had cost $5 million to make – became America’s highest-grossing film of 1956. Nonetheless, ‘Guys and Dolls’ – which
had cost $5 million to make – became America’s highest-grossing film of 1956. Like so many movies of the fifties (including ‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’ and
‘How to Marry a Millionaire’), ‘Guys and Dolls’ concludes with a double wedding. Even bombshells like Monroe could be tamed by marriage – or so
Hollywood liked to tell us.
Seen today, ‘Guys and Dolls’ is still impressive but rather static – perhaps because it was a stage adaptation rather than an original screenplay. Ironically,
Brando’s big number – ‘Luck be a Lady Tonight’ – has since been overshadowed by Sinatra’s cover. The film’s true highlight comes when supporting actor
Stubby Kaye sings ‘Sit Down, You’re Rocking the Boat’.
Throughout 1955, Marilyn studied with Lee Strasberg at the prestigious Actor’s Studio. She also had a brief affair with the most famous “Method actor” of
all, Marlon Brando. They remained close friends until her death.
In 1956, Marilyn would marry the Pulitzer-winning playwright, Arthur Miller. At the time, Miller was being investigated by the House Un-American
Activities Committee. Defying her Hollywood bosses, Monroe stood by her husband, and the charges were finally dropped in 1958.
Sandra Warner, a chorus girl in ‘Guys and Dolls’, went on to play one of Monroe’s all-girl band in ‘Some Like it Hot’ (1959.) Marilyn was pregnant during
filming, and Sandra took her place in some publicity shots.
Following the breakdown of her third marriage in 1960, Marilyn had a year-long, on-off relationship with Frank Sinatra. This led to a permanent rift
between Sinatra and his old friend, Joe DiMaggio, who hoped to reconcile with Monroe.
While Marilyn was working on her last film for Fox in 1962, Joe Mankiewicz was directing Elizabeth Taylor in ‘Cleopatra’. It is now believed that the heavy
costs incurred on Mankiewicz’s production influenced Fox executives’ decision to fire Marilyn in June.
A week before her death in August 1962, Marilyn was a guest at Sinatra’s Cal-Neva Lodge. They had considered making another film together, based on the
Broadway musical adaptation of Betty Smith’s best-selling novel, ‘A Tree Grows in Brooklyn’.
But in conversation with the lyricist Jule Styne, Marilyn discussed making the film with Gene Kelly in Sinatra’s intended role. She and Sinatra had clashed at
Lake Tahoe, and Joe later blamed Frank and his circle for Monroe’s demise. But veteran columnist Liz Smith believes that Sinatra had loved Marilyn
deeply, and was devastated by her death.
Mankiewicz viewed Monroe’s death more cynically. “She died at the right time,” he told Sandra Shevey. “She was old, fat and unloved.” None of these
accusations were true, but his words echo the bitter contempt that Marilyn faced throughout her career.
He also rejected the notion that Monroe was destroyed by Hollywood, characterising her as “a suicide in her head since she was five years old.” When
Sandra Shevey suggested that Marilyn deserved better than she got, Mankiewicz responded angrily: “She got everything her illiterate little heart could
desire. Where did she get her ideas from – her mother?”
In 1955, Vivian Blaine was 33 – almost five years older than Marilyn – while Miss Adelaide, her character in Guys and Dolls, had been engaged to Nathan
Detroit for fourteen years.
In some ways, it’s hard to imagine the fresh-faced ingenue of ‘The Seven Year Itch’ as world-weary Miss Adelaide. And though in reality, Marilyn’s love life
was in turmoil, her public image was not that of a scorned lover, but everyman’s fantasy.
And she didn’t possess the jaded, streetwise attitude that Vivian Blaine had in spades.
However, Marilyn’s departure from Hollywood transformed her career. When she returned to the big screen in ‘Bus Stop’ (1956), her trademark glamour
was shaded with a more mature, fragile beauty. ‘Adelaide’s Lament’ might have been especially poignant if Marilyn had sung it.
Certainly, Monroe could easily have pulled off Adelaide’s purring rendition of ‘Pet Me Poppa’ or the burlesque choreography of ‘Take Back Your Mink’.
The all-pink aesthetic of this latter number is reminiscent of ‘Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend’. While Vivian Blaine was an accomplished singer, dancer
and comedienne, she lacked Marilyn’s red-hot sensuality.
Had ‘Guys and Dolls’ been made a few years later (after her triumph as downtrodden Sugar Kane in ‘Some Like it Hot’), Monroe might have made a perfect
Adelaide. But in 1955, the timing was off. Ultimately, Marilyn’s loss was Vivian’s gain.
‘My Story’ by Marilyn Monroe, 1954.
‘Guys and Dolls and Other Stories’ by Damon Runyon, 1956.
‘Legend: The Life and Death of Marilyn Monroe’ by Fred Lawrence Guiles , 1984.
‘The Marilyn Scandal: Her True Life Revealed by Those Who Knew Her’ by Sandra Shevey, 1987.
‘Marilyn Monroe’ by Barbara Leaming, 1999.
|Previous Reports: Marilyn's Hero
|Head photo taken by Sir Cecil Beaton, 1956.
All photos are copyrighted by their respective owners & should not be used for commercial purposes.
Page created by Mary Sims
|Previous Reports: Marilyn's Hero
Aunt Ana Lower