Why is it that Marilyn Monroe is still so beloved? Yes, she was portrayed as a funny sexy blond, but she wasn't the first. Hollywood already had Betty Grable and Carol Lombard. Yes, she was beautiful and curvaceous, but so were Lana Turner, Jean Harlow and Mae West. Yes, she died a tragic death, but not as suspicious as Natalie Wood or horrendous as Sharon Tate. Meeting Marilyn Monroe imitator Holly Beavon last Sunday caused me to reflect on the enduring love projected upon this platinum icon.
Marilyn Monroe was born Norma Jeane Mortenson (quickly changed to Baker)to a mentally ill mother, and spent her childhood in foster homes where she suffered sexual abuse. She stepped into modeling when her husband, whom she married to escape being a ward of the state, joined the marines and left to fight in World War II. When she died her hair blond and chose a stage name, she was quickly moved into motion pictures. Small roles in All About Eve and The Asphalt Jungle turned into leading roles in Gentlemen Prefer Blonds, Bus Stop, The Seven Year Itch, and my personal favorite Some Like It Hot. She was the rags to riches story that girls coming to Hollywood everyday want for themselves.
Walking down Hollywood Blvd., there are no other stars flooding the many souvenir shops like Marilyn. There are shirts, mugs, shot glasses, license plate holders, souvenir spoons, posters, jewelry, frames, key chains, candles, lamp shades, toilet seat covers, night lights, pillows, blankets, soaps, etc. that all don the image of Ms. Monroe. Many of these souvenirs decorate the home of Holly Beavon. She obviously adores the deceased icon and does her best to mimic Marilyn's oozing sex appeal just like all the other thousands upon thousands of Marilyn impersonators around the world, but what Marilyn Monroe had was uniquely special and cannot be emulated. Marilyn's heartache is never masked by the blondness, the curves, the loads of make-up, the body hugging gowns, the cleavage, or even her smiles. She is vulnerable, and I suppose it's that quality that doesn't make her threatening to us normal looking women but actually relatable. No matter how beautiful or how sexy, she remains a little girl innocently asking for acceptance. Her past didn't harden her...it gave her reason to chase happiness. For me, that is what makes her lovable and why she is the blond that lasted. The one that has immortality.
Holly Beavon posing for me in her Gentlemen Prefer Blondes gown.
Posing for professional photographer Benjamin Hisoler.
The sparkly vanilla number Marilyn wore for her JFK birthday song.
Powder room Hollywood style.
Her collection of blond wigs.
Marilyn Monroe ornaments decorated her hallway.
Newspaper articles dedicated to her experience as a Marilyn impersonator lined an office wall.
Added proof that Monroe is still a source of fascination: This fall, Katherine McPhee stars in the NBC Spielberg produced fictional show "Smash." It will center around the makings of a Broadway show about the life of Marilyn Monroe.