Sunday, August 05, 2007
AN ANNIVERSARY OF TRAGEDY AND ONE OF TRIUMPH
On this date forty-five years ago Norma Jean Mortenson aka Marilyn Monroe was found dead at home. Suicide? Murder? Who knows? But such a fascinating lady! She was style and a true Hollywood star. But it was not until 1948 after a six-month stint at Columbia Pictures saw her star in Ladies of the Chorus, but the low-budget musical was not a success and Monroe's contract was dropped. She then met one of Hollywood's top agents, Johnny Hyde who had Fox re-sign her after MGM turned her down. Fox Vice-President Darryl F. Zanuck was not convinced of Monroe's potential, but due to Hyde's persistence, she gained supporting parts in Fox's All About Eve and MGM's The Asphalt Jungle. Even though the roles were small, movie-goers as well as critics took notice. Hyde also arranged for her to have minor plastic surgery on her nose and chin, adding that to earlier dental surgery. The next two years were filled with inconsequential roles in standard fare such as We're Not Married! and Love Nest. However, RKO executives used her to boost box office potential of the Fritz Lang production Clash by Night. After the film performed well, Fox employed a similar tactic and she was cast as the ditzy receptionist with Cary Grant and Ginger Rogers in Howard Hawks slapstick comedy Monkey Business. Critics no longer ignored her, and both films' success at the box office was partly attributed to Monroe's growing popularity. Fox finally gave her a starring role in 1952 with Don't Bother to Knock, in which she portrayed a deranged babysitter who attacks the little girl in her care. It was a cheaply made B-movie, and although the reviews were mixed, they claimed that it demonstrated Monroe's ability and confirmed that she was ready for more leading roles. Her performance in the film has since been noted as one of the finest of her career. Today is also an anniversary of triumph. For on this day the world premiere of American Bandstand made its debut on ABC television starring the eternal teenager himself, Dick Clark. Dick goes on despite the effects of a terrible stroke that befell him in 2004. My hat is off to you, sir! After all, it was you who introduced Ed Mchannon to Johnny Carson!