“Do you know who I’d like to marry?”
“I don’t care..”
Today we are celebrating 65 years of Marilyn Monroe, Betty Grable and Lauren Bacall coming together in what the movie industry labelled “The Most Glamorous Entertainment Of Your Lifetime!” in the 1953 Cinemascope sensation “How To Marry A Millionaire.”
On November 4th 1953, “How To Marry A Millionaire” made its big screen debut at the Fox Wilshire Theatre (now the Saban Theatre), in Beverly Hills. Marilyn turned up on the arm of Nunally Johnson who wrote and directed the film, alongside Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart. Betty Grable was not in attendance that night, after a disagreement with the studio.
Marilyn, looking every inch the Hollywood icon that night, had borrowed a white crepe de Chine dress covered in rhinestones and finished the look off with long white gloves and an item from her own personal wardrobe, a white fur stole. Between her hairdresser Gladys Rasmussen and make up man Whitey Snyder, it took them 6 hours to prepare her for the evening. Marilyn glowed that night, it was a triumph from start to finish and Monroe was quoted as saying that it was “the most beautiful night of her life.”
Memories of Marilyn on the set:
“She wasn’t easy – often irritating. And yet I couldn’t dislike Marilyn. She had no meanness in her – no bitchery. She just had to concentrate on herself and the people who were there only for her.”
“It may sound peculiar to say so, because she is no longer with us, but we were very close. Once when we were doing that picture ‘How To Marry A Millionaire’ together, I got a call on the set: my younger daughter had had a fall. I ran home and the one person to call was Marilyn. She did an awful lot to boost things up for movies when everything was at a low state; there’ll never be anyone like her for looks, for attitude, for all of it. “
“Negulesco (the Director) was very good with her and handled her beautifully. Of course she was always late, but I don’t think either Betty Grable or Lauren Bacall minded her. They were tough old pros and knew their business. There again, I also recall Marilyn being quite capable in her scenes with the other two girls. I wasn’t necessarily in the scene with them, but I’d sit next to Negulesco and watch the three of them work and by that time I thought that Marilyn had got a little technique under her belt.”
“The two Bettys have gone out of their way to help, and make friends with Marilyn, but Miss Monroe is generally something of a zombie. Talking to her is like talking to somebody underwater. She’s very honest and ambitious and is either studying her lines or her face during all of her working hours, and there is nothing whatever to be said against her, but she’s not material for warm friendship.”
“How To Marry A Millionaire” went on to be the 4th highest grossing movies of 1953 and earned itself these award nominations:
‘Academy Awards – Best Costume Design: Colour’
‘Writers Guild Of America Award – Best Written Comedy.’
‘British Academy Of Film Awards – Best Film Of Any Source.’
65 years have passed since this films release and although some of the themes in the film may seem very dated by 2018 standards, it is a perfect snapshot of what made glamorous 1950’s technicolour comedies so appealing. Monroe, Grable and Bacall’s comedic performances are still as fresh as they were and you’d be hard pressed to find a Marilyn fan who wouldn’t have this delightful romp in their top 10 Monroe movies.