The lease of Natasha Lytess's apartment on Harper Avenue () ended on Friday, January 5.
Natasha decided to purchase a small villa in Hollywood.
But Natasha soon was short of money. At the moment she had to sign the agreement to sell, she realized that she got 1 000$ missing.
Marilyn knew it and the next day, she turned up at Natasha's place with the missing sum of money. She had sold the mink stole, a gift of Johnny Hyde.
Marilyn shot"As Young As You Feel", directed by Harmon Jones, for the Fox.
It was her 12th movie.
But her participation in the movie didn't give her any satisfaction.
This unpretentious comedy presented the tribulations of a 65 years old businessman, forced to retire.
Despite her minor and ordinary part, Marilyn appeared at the top of the bill to allow the movie to make the most of her success. But her moral was extremely weak, because the dullness of her part was equal to the plot's one, and she was still very affected by the death of her protector.
On the set, she met Elia Kazan (), friend of Harmon Jones, the director. Kazan's reputation hadn't stop growing. Famous stage director and co-founder of the Actors Studio, this Greek immigrant had know how to make his mark face to the Hollywood superproductions.
Devoted body and soul to his work, Kazan, though married, wasn't against romantic escapades. He had already briefly met Marilyn, at Hyde's arm, in August 1950. Marilyn accepted a dinner invitation; their love affair lasted throughout the shooting and untill Summer.
At the beginning, they met together in Marilyn's room at the Beverly Carlton Hotel. Then, they spent their nights at Charles
Feldman's house (), Kazan's impresario, and his wife Joan Howard, actress and renowed photographer.
It was during this same shooting that she met Arthur Miller () for the first time, in January.
This one, friend of Kazan, had just finished "The Hook", original screenplay Kazan hoped to direct. Like Kazan, Miller was captivated by Marilyn's sensual beauty.
The day following this meeting, Miller and Kazan went to Harry Cohn's office (), head of the Columbia. This one planned to produce Miller's screenplay. Cohn insisted on that the screenplay was sent to Roy Brewer, head of the Hollywood unions and personal friend of Joe Ryan, himself leading the International Longshoremen’s Association. Shortly after, Brewer announced to Cohn that he had asked the FBI to read "The Hook" and that the text had immediately been considered as inflammatory and dangerously anti American (and maybe even constituted a high treason action). Brewer also announced that unless Miller modified his screenplay to present the Communists as the evil, and the anti-Communism as the main topic, each movie theaters which received a copy of "The Hook" would have their projectionists dismissed. Miller preferred taking his screenplay back rather than conforming to such stupid demands, and with this only artistic integrity action, won Marilyn's admiration. From then on he became the champion of the underdogs, of all those who had to say in the matter, and for this, he won her respect.
During the following weeks, Miller often joined Elia Kazan and Marilyn for visits to an author or composer. They rummaged through bookshops (where she purchased the poetry collection of Frost, E.E.Cummings and Whitman), went on picnics on the Coast or in the canyons.
Thursday, February 15 : with Elia Kazan, they went to Santa Barbara, to attend a preview of "A Streetcar Named Desire" :
Friday,February 23 : Kazan went back to New York City.
Thursday, March 29 : Marilyn appeared at the Academy Awards ceremony, at thePantages Theater (6233 Hollywood
Boulevard, Hollywood), where she presented the award for Best Sound Recording to Thomas Moulton () for his performance in "All About Eve" (1950).
"All About Eve" was nominated in the Best Movie category, along with "Born Yesterday", "Father of the Bride", "King Solomon's Mines" and "Sunset Boulevard".
Joseph Mankiewicz won the Academy Award of Best Director for "All About Eve".
Thanks toJoe Schenck's recommendations, the Fox offered Marilyn the too desired contract.
Johnny Hyde's partners at the William
Morris Agency negotiated the contract with the Fox without much enthusiasm (Johnny
Hyde had turned them against him by only devoting himself to Marilyn, at the other clients expense).
They let 3 weeks passed before making Marilyn sign the papers sent by the Fox; disgusted by their manners, Marilyn wanted to change her agent.
Through Elia Kazan, she had met Charles Feldman who ran the Famous Artists Agency, in association with Hugh French. The 2 men would run Marilyn's interests for 3 years, which didn't prevent the William Morris agency from receiving a part of the commissions.(3 years were necessary to settle the agreement William Morris/Marilyn. She was only officially represented by the Famous Artists since March 12, 1953, signed her contract only in March 1954, shortly before breaking their alliance.
The terms in her favour were alas reduced to the minimum, but it was nevertheless a real contract.
The Fox guaranteed her a 500$ salary a week, whether she played or not. The studio reserved the right to renew the contract the following year, in which case her salary would rise up to 750$ a week. The third year she would receive 1 250$ a week, the 4th year1 500$, the 5th 2 000$ and 2 500$ the 6th year.
If she would still work for the Fox in 1957, she would receive 3 500$ a week. An exclusive clause linked her to the Fox for 7 years.
The heads of the studio were allowed to dismiss her at the end of each year without any explanation, but they also granted themselves the right to impose her the parts of their own choice.
So they could "rent" her out, at the price of their convenience to another firm, paying her only her weekly fee.
In addition, Marilyn had to promise to refuse any other propositions from the outside (including television, theater or singing), even if she didn't play in any of the Fox film. This kind of conventions put the actors under contract at the mercy of the film industry big companies.
The process lasted until the demolition of the system itself, to which Marilyn largely gave her contribution.
When she signed her contract, (which only took effect on May 11, 1951),she obtained that her drama teacher, Natasha Lytess was also hired. This one earned 500$ a week from the Fox, plus 250$ Marilyn paid her for private lessons.
Thereof, the first year Marilyn was at the Fox, Natasha Lytess earned more money than her.
But Marilyn was once again pushed on the circle of stereotyped and uninteresting parts.
Thursday, April 5, fitting of the costumes for "Love Nest" (,,,,
SPRING : she shot "Love Nest" (,), a light comedy, custom-written. She played a provocative blonde, ex member of the WAC (Women’s Army Corps), who rented an apartment in a Manhattan building whose owner, a former serviceman, was married.
Marilyn's presence in this movie, purely decorative (she had been put there to emphasize a screenplay with no major interest) attracted however a lot of attention.
Release of "Hometown Story" (;,,).
Wednesday, May 2 :
Sidney Skolsky, in his column, celebrated Marilyn's performance in "Love Nest" and told than when she had taken her dress off
The leading role of the movie, June Haver, remembers that "the whole crew kept quiet, opened the mouth like petrified".
Reporter Ezra Goodman also praised Marilyn as "one of the most brilliant future star".
Besides, she was elected the Feminine Star of the Month at the Fox, the Masculine was Robert Wagner.
Monday, May 7 : Marilyn accompanied Elia Kazan to a dinner at Charles Feldman's home. Kazan was back to Hollywood for the shooting of his next movie, "Viva Zapata!".
She made an interview with Robert Cahn, the first one to portray her in a national magazine.
She arrived an hour late to the appointment, but the article, published in Collier’s magazine in September 1951 (), was laudatory and with a shrewd analysis, thanks to the influence of Harry Brand, the Fox publicist. But Cohn also contributed to Marilyn's myth development, falling for the exaggerated stories told to him by the Fox and Marilyn herself. According to Sidney Skolsky, who helped Marilyn and Harry Brand to create the legend, the truth was more flat. As Skolsky had well understood it, Marilyn didn't know who she was, but she knew what she had to be. She knew the necessary ingredients to make a good movie. The following year, it took the form of a literary exercise to which she gave the content, and Skolsky and writer Ben Hecht, the form.
Robert Cahn wrote in detail Marilyn's astonishing arrival to a dinner at the studio, where she was placed at the right side of Spyros Skouras, the president of the Fox. Of course, he didn't miss to notice her proportions, then got onto the question of her childhood before reminded to which point the public was eager to see her more.
After having visited her apartment, Cahn also reported that this platinum blonde was really interested in literature (and the studios had nothing to do with it) : on her shelves, he saw the books of Whitman, Rilke, Tolstoï, Carl Sandburg and Arthur Miller, with bookmarks and notes sticking out of the pages.
Since "The Asphalt Jungle" and "All About Eve", the Fox received each week 2 000 to 3 000 letters from Marilyn's fans (much more than for the stars as Susan Hayward, Linda Darnell, Betty Grable, June Haver, Gregory Peck or Tyrone Power), and since January, the press service had sent more than 3 000 pictures of her.
She started the shooting of"Let’s Make it Legal" : .
The Fox tried hard to give a supportive role to its new sexual bomb in each of its productions.
It was maybe the most thankless and the less funny role of her whole career, although presented as a comedy.
In the part both brief and useless of a blond adventuress, she was seen less than 2 minutes, even if she was credited on the 3rd
Marilyn's lateness caused a dispute with the director of the movie, Richard Sale; he demanded apologizes in front of the whole crew; Marilyn vivaciously left the set but went back, sheepish.
Saturday, August 4 : Marilyn, "Miss Cheesecake 1952" by Stars ans Stripes magazine (a US Army magazine), attended a party given in the honor of Michael Gaszynski, a Polish diplomat who celebrated this evening, his American citizenship obtaining.
Thanks to Natasha Lytess's friends, Marilyn began to attend drama lessons with actor and stage teacher Michael Tchekhov
(), nephew of the Russian playwright Anton Tchekhov and former colleague of Konstantin Stanislavski
() at the Moscow Art Theater. He hung her up to the Russian tradition so popular at the Actors Laboratory and for Natasha Lytess.
It was the actor Jack Palance, met when she was shooting "All About Eve" in 1950, who had told her about Tchekhov, with who he also took lessons.
When she met him, Michael Tchekhov put the finishing touches on his book "To the Actor : on the Technique of Acting", which was going to be the Bible of Marilyn and many other actors in the following years.
Some of Tchekhov ideas probably reminded Marilyn the way kind of oppressive with which Natasha Lytess emphasized the fact to feel with the body what was felt with the mind.
Tchekhov preferred working on classical plays like "King Lear", "Twelfth Night" and "Hamlet".
However, he dissented from Natasha on one point : while she was constantly impatient with Marilyn, Tchekhov, him, took his time and made her do a serie of exercises which had nothing to do with the atmosphere on a set or during a lesson with Natasha. The body, he told, had to change to become a sensitive membrane, a way to send modified images, feelings and imupulses of will. Maybe the most important lesson Tchekhov gave to Marilyn was to made her getting out of her reference frame. He advised her to broaden her interest circle; thus, she would be more able to adopt the psychology of other characters without imposing them her own point of view. It was the basis of the Moscow Art Theater philosophy, even if Lee Strasberg
() made of it something very different, several years later. The exercises he asked her to do were followed with stretchings, a work on breathing she learned to modulate, all conceived to increase her sense of freedom that Tchekhov felt stifled within her. Through this freedom, Marilyn would end by emptying herself, by changing, by being "possessed" by her character.
But the seriousness of Marilyn's work intentions began to have unfortunate side effects on her, because if the tireless search of perfection of Natasha Lytess had changed her natural way to express herself into an exaggerated and shy diction, Tchekhov's lessons terrified her much more that she feared not to be valuable.
Moreover, their work relations suffered from Marilyn's lack of punctuality.
It was at that time that Marilyn began to acquire the reputation of always being late.
So those efforts made Marilyn more shy, more embarrassed by her acting, and kind of paralysed her. Instead of searching the character within her, she was pushed by her teachers to search herself within the character, and by doing so, went back to her own insecurity and insufficiencies.
In a way, she found the strenght to pass from unexperience to the simple ability, from the simple ability to refined competence. But she only had few occasions to prove it, because of the studios functioning, of the advisors often well-intentioned but really too much academic, and lastly because of her own emotional fragility and bad health.
Marilyn gave another interview with Rupert Allan for Look magazine (he was the editor of this magazine on the West Coast).
He noticed too her terrible delays. Allan's article was a big success; he published it, accompanied with 14 pictures of Marilyn
press, from the beginning of her career, treated her rather well. Most
of the critics were rather indulgent toward her, and a kind of
protection started to appear in their comments about her performances.
The press, from the beginning of her career, treated her rather well. Most of the critics were rather indulgent toward her, and a kind of protection started to appear in their comments about her performances.
week after the publication of the interview with Rupert Allan, Sidney
Skolsky in his column, repeated the comparison with Lana Turner.
A week after the publication of the interview with Rupert Allan, Sidney Skolsky in his column, repeated the comparison with Lana Turner.
The Fox not having any project for her for the time being, Spyros Skouras, the head of the studio, lent her to th
The Fox not having any project for her for the time being, Spyros Skouras, the head of the studio, lent her to the RKO for a
was signed on Tuesday, August 21.
It was Sidney Skolsky who convinced the producer of the movie, Jerry Wald (,,,
"Clash By Night" was based on a play of Clifford Odets (), Marilyn had studied at the time she worked at the Actors Laboratory. For the first time, she was about to pull away from secretaries and blondes parts in which she had been confined until then.
She succeeded with difficultie because the shooting was a test for her and her colleagues. She was sick before almost each scene, and her hands and face became covered with red blotches. Only her ambition and strong determination ended by dragging her on the set.Marjorie Plecher who dealt with the costumes on the set (she would become the future Mrs Allan Whitey Snyder), remembered that because of her search of perfection, most of the people considered Marilyn as someone difficult. She had to call for the whole goodwill she could find within her. Fritz Lang, unable to put up with the actors habits, summed up in few words Marilyn as "terrified to come to the studio, always late, unable to remember her lines and certainly responsible for the shooting slowness".
The star of the movie, Barbara Stanwyck was particularly kind with Marilyn. Already experienced actress, she liked to be patient toward an anxious newcomer, sold as a future star.
More proud than ever, Marilyn nevertheless was angry at the press, because of only having pictures of her and spicy anecdotes about her life : she rather preferred talking about her career, a topic the reporters avoided as it was taboo.
Herman Hover's home, the owner of Ciro’s restaurant (,,,
Wednesday, October 10 : release of "Love Nest" (;,).
She made a serie of publicity pictures for the clothes catalog of Sak’s store (,,,
Tuesday, November 6, release of "Let's Make It Legal" (; ,;
Marilyn went to Hemet (South-East of Los Angeles), accompanied with Natasha Lytess, where her alleged father lived, Stanley Gifford. She called him but he didn't want to see her, once again.
She lived alone for few monthsat the Beverly Carlton Hotel (;,
After the shooting for the RKO of "Clash By Night", Marilyn returned to the Fox studios.
Some directors of movie theaters had seen a copy of the Fritz Lang movie, and soon, a rumor spread at the Fox, that the actress lent to the RKO didn't deserve to be so bad used. In the Fox offices in New York City, the studio shareholders asked Spyros Skouras when the Fox would make her work again. Skouras also asked the question to Zanuck ; this one couldn't move back anymore.
So the Fox offered her her first big part in "Don’t Bother to Knock" ; it was a movie that was to prove that Marilyn could play something else than supportive roles.
And that's what she did, despite a screenplay riddled with clichés, a minor budget and a director (the English Roy Baker) who treated her with much more contempt than Fritz Lang.
However, Zanuck demanded a screen-test before giving her the part. She worked hard night and day with Natasha Lytess. Zanuck, after having viewed the screen-test write a small laudatory note about her.
END OF THE YEAR:
Marilyn went to live with Natasha Lytess, in her new house, 611 North Crescent Drive, West Hollywood
She started the shooting of
She started the shooting of"Don't Bother to Knock". It lasted only 28 days.
Baker, the director, kept the first shot of each scene, despite
Marilyn's protests; themovie, finished at the beginning of the
year 1952, showed a Marilyn who improvised in a surprising way.
Marilyn made of Nell, her character, not the woman's madness stereotype, but the victim of the madness of the town. A woman psychologically hurt by the war, emotionally shattered by the loss of a loved one, a woman who had made a suicide attempt but who was deeply looking for a reason to live.
Something really happened between the lens and the reel, as a result, her partners thought they didn't exist beside her, so much she made a big splash
Facing her partners praises, Marilyn showed a sincere and stunned modesty : it seemed to her she could have make it better.
In this year 1951, she won many awards :
- "The girl the most able to defrost Alaska" by the GI based in the Aleutian Islands : ,.
- "The girl they'd like to inspect" by the 7th division of the Medical Corp.
She made a picture session at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel (,,), another one
with photographer Larry Barbier Jr (,,,) and also at the Beverly