I’m excited to have added a new collection item from the recent Julien’s Marilyn Monroe auction: A vibrant orange wool wrap skirt worn by Marilyn Monroe in Let’s Make Love (20Th Century, 1960). The tailored skirt is lined with pink cotton and has hand finishing work. A Twentieth Century Fox label inscribed “F-13 M. Monroe” is present.
This costume piece was designed by Dorothy Jeakins, who also designed costumes for Marilyn in “Niagara.”
Jeakins was a three-time Oscar winner. She won for Joan of Arc in 1948 (shared with Barbara Karinska), Samson and Delilah in 1949 (shared with Edith Head and others), and The Night of the Iguana in 1964 and she was nominated for twelve other Oscars. She’s perhaps best known for her period costumes in such films as The Ten Commandments (1956), The Music Man (1962), The Sound of Music (1965), Little Big Man (1970), The Way We Were (1973), Young Frankenstein (1974) and The Dead (1987).
“Let’s Make Love”
This Cinemascope musical comedy scripted by Norman Krasna as The Billionaire was brought to Marilyn by producer Jerry Wald as Fox stepped up the pressure for her to honor her studio commitments. In 1955 she had agreed to do four films for Fox, but before Let’s Make Love went into production she had only done Bus Stop (1956). Initially Billy wilder was a front runner for the director’s chair. Apparently he was willing to try again after the harrowing experience of working together on Some Like It Hot, but he already was contracted to do The Apartment. George Cukor was summoned as his replacement. He too had difficulties with Marilyn, and reputedly did a great deal of his communication through choreographer Jack Cole.
Marilyn’s reputation made it next to impossible to find a male lead for this movie, a character rumored to be closely modeled after Howard Hughes. Before Yves Montand was offered the role, it was turned down by a “who’s who” of Hollywood’s headliners: Yul Brenner, Cary Grant, Rock Hudson, Charlton Heston, William Holden, Gregory Peck, and James Stewart. It was Marilyn who suggested Montand; the studio was not happy, but she insisted, and Marilyn got her man, in more ways than one. Their very public love affair spelled the beginning of the end of Marilyn’s marriage to Arthur Miller, and came close to unraveling Montand’s union with Simone Signoret.
There were script troubles too. Miller returned from Ireland, where he had been working with John Huston on the script for The Misfits, to do some emergency work on Let’s Make Love. “Before production, I did some rewriting of a couple of scenes. I tried to give some point between these two featureless figures. When they talked, there was no character, no motivation, and so I stepped in and did what I could for the script. But we were beating a dead horse.”
The biggest delays during filming were not due to Marilyn’s lateness or illness, they were because of a strike by actors to preserve residual payments. The Writers Guild came out in support too, though this was precisely at the time when Arthur was doing the rewrites.
Marilyn sang four songs for the film: “My Heart Belongs to Daddy” by Cole Porter, and “Let’s Make Love,” “Incurably Romantic,” and “Specialization” by Sammy Cahn and James Van Heusen. Marilyn’s rendition of “My Heart Belongs to Daddy” is remarkable for the effortlessness of her performance, the result of at least two weeks of rehearsal.
The movie bombed. Critical write-ups were almost all scathing, and the public stayed away. Inside Hollywood, gossip circulated that Marilyn’s star was on the wane. Outside America, the film was renamed The Millionaire.
Important activities in Marilyn’s life around this time include:
– Marilyn officially begins work on Let’s Make Love – November 9
– The first part of one of Marilyn’s musical numbers in the film is finally completed – January 25
– Marilyn receives a Golden Globe award for Best Actress in a Comedy, for Some Like It Hot – March 8
Related Collection Pieces: