Marilyn Monroe’s Personal Script
How To Marry A Millionaire
Marilyn Monroe’s personal working script for How To Marry A Millionaire dated 5 November 1952, annotated in Marilyn Monroe’s hand. 119 pages of mimeographed typescript with blue paper covers printed with the film’s original title The Greeks Had a Word For It, including several pages of script revisions.
Many pages have the part for Marilyn’s character “Pola” circled in pencil, the reverse of the last page annotated in Monroe’s hand in pencil:
“Anna, know my yaps, How does she look, a loose-ness, shoulders hang, let the thought say it, drawing from partner.”
From “Marilyn Monroe” A Biography by Maurize Zolotow, Page 176:
“The studio had paid Doris Lilly, a society authoress, $50,000 for the movie rights to a work of non-fiction, How To Marry A Millionaire. Assigned to do something about this expensive property, (Nunnally) Johnson set to work employing bits and pieces of characters and plot from two Broadway Plays, The Greeks Had A Word for It (by Zoe Atkins) and Loco (by Katherine and Dale Eunson). Johnson spliced it all with his own sardonic wit. The result was a flashing comedy of modern manners that retained only the title of Miss Lylly’s vade maecum (pocket reference).”
How To Marry A Millionaire
Twentieth Century-Fox brought out big guns Betty Grable and Lauren Bacall to star with Marilyn in this story of gold diggers prospecting to catch a rich husband. The studio was keen to show off its top three stars in the first wide-screen Cinemascope movie ever made (though it came out after the second, The Robe, a religious-themed movie starring Richard Burton and Jean Simmons). Writer Nunnally Johnson claimed that he adapted the characters to match the personalities of the three stars.
Although the studio tried to arouse press interest with stories about intense rivalry between chief blondes Grable and Monroe, the actresses got on well behind the scenes. By all accounts Grable graciously handed over her mantle after ten years as the nation’s sweetheart.
Marilyn was originally drawn to Loco, the character Grable played, because she didn’t like the idea of her character Pola wearing glasses. Director Jean Negulesco persuaded her that this was the best part. He was right. The comic possibilities of severe myopia earned Marilyn a number of favorable notices about her comedic touch. Marilyn, though, did not regard this movie performance as one of her best. When she asked the director what the motivation for her character was, he replied, “You’re as blind as a bat without glasses. That is your motivation.” This was not enough to satisfy Marilyn’s ambition to throw her all into her work.
Marilyn knew she had made it to the very top of the trade with the movie’s premiere. It took over six hours of hard work by William Travilla, Alan “Whitey” Snyder, and Gladys Rasmussen to prepare her for her entrance. She was sewn into a dress borrowed from the studio wardrobe: a flesh-colored crepe de chine and shimmering sequins. Marilyn wore long white evening gloves, and a white fox stole and muff.
Within a few months of opening, the film had grossed five times its extravagant budget of $2.5 million.
New York Daily News: “Betty Grable, Lauren Bacall and Marilyn Monroe give off the quips and cracks, generously supplied by Nunnally Johnson, with a naturalness that adds to their strikingly humorous effect, making the film the funniest comedy of the year”
New York Herald Tribune: “The big question, ‘How does Marilyn Monroe look stretched across a broad screen?’ is easily answered. If you insisted on sitting in the front row, you would probably feel as though you were being smothered in baked Alaska. Her stint as a deadpan comedienne is as nifty as her looks. Playing a near-sighted charmer who won’t wear her glasses when men are around, she bumps into furniture and reads books upside down with a limpid guile that nearly melts the screen….How To Marry A Millionaire is measured, not in squire feet, but in the size of the Johnson-Negulesco comic invention and the shape of Marilyn Monroe – and that is about as sizable and shapely as you can get.”
New York Post: “It is particularly noteworthy that Miss Monroe has developed more than a small amount of comedy polish of the foot-in-mouth type.”