“Gentlemen prefer blondes” launched the career of Marilyn Monroe. Backstage on the set, however, Fox studio executives were furious. The reason ? A series of nude photos taken by the actress resurfaced…
Dorothy and Lorelei are singers. Dorothy, a tall and seemingly cynical brunette, always falls for the first one who arrives! As for the blonde Lorelei, she pretends to be stupid to better understand the fate of her suitors. She also has a new victim in sight…
When Fox acquired the rights to Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, the film was originally intended for Jane Russell and Betty Grable. But given the success of Niagara with Marilyn Monroe, the studio ultimately changed its mind and went with the rising star, who cost much less than Betty Grable ($18,000 versus $150,000).
However, the production had not anticipated the demands of Marilyn Monroe, who constantly asked to return scenes despite the director’s satisfaction. When asked by Fox how to speed up filming, Howard Hawks suggested “three fantastic ideas: replace Marilyn, rewrite the script to shorten it and change the director”…
Among the memorable sequences of the film is the legendary song Diamonds are a girl’s best friend. Decked out in her famous pink satin gown, Marilyn’s song-and-dance sequence was widely imitated for decades to come, from Madonna to Margot Robbie in Birds of Prey to Moulin Rouge!, to name a few.
Here’s the scene again, for fun.
Embarrassing, but accepted clichés
It turns out that this legendary dress was actually a last minute change. LOriginally, the actress was only supposed to wear black velvet bands and rhinestones, recreating the illusion of a river of diamonds on a human scale. An outfit ultimately deemed too daring for the studios. And there is a motivation for this: the scandal caused by nude photos of Marilyn.
Four years earlier, a budding actress had posed nude for a famous pin-up photographer, Tom Kelley. A series of shots, where thShe appeared lying in the middle of red silk sheets, intended to illustrate a calendar. A photo shoot that had earned Marilyn the modest sum of $50.
In a four-part documentary aired earlier this year on CNN, Reframed: Marilyn MonroeThe actress says the photographer assured her that no one would recognize her. By the time the calendar came out in 1952, the actress had begun to make a small reputation for herself. Of course, she was quickly identified as the model for the calendar, causing a bit of a scandal in a still very puritanical America.
The actress had bravely chosen to take on these photos and defend herself with great honesty: “A few years ago, when I had no money for rent or food, a photographer I knew asked me to pose nude for an art calendar” he had explained to the journalist Aline Mosby from the agency International United Presswho was the first to report the information on these photos.
The Fox Executives, who were going to leave men prefer blondes the following year, he asked Marilyn to categorically deny that she was the one in the photos. She refused, as she explained to Mosby: “Oh, the calendar is hanging in every garage in town. Why deny it? You can get one anywhere. Besides, I’m not ashamed of it. I didn’t do anything wrong.”
“The sexiest, most exciting, nearly naked woman ever seen on screen”
Famed costume designer William Travilla, who worked on eleven films with Marilyn Monroe and created the men prefer blondesHe said the series of photos had made studio executives hysterical, who feared not only that the photos would ruin the actress’s career, but that they would scare investors.
Originally, Travilla was commissioned to create an outfit for “the sexiest, most exciting, nearly naked woman ever seen on screen”, in their own words. In other words, an outfit far removed from the one we see in the movie. “The costume was a pink fishnet over her naked body. The breasts and hips were covered in diamonds made by a jeweler. And just as we were about to shoot the scene, dammit, things went awry. A nude reprint of Marilyn Calendar has hit the market.”
If the actress has never been filmed in the costume in question, however, there are very rare shots during tests.
Here are two:
Costume montage by Marilyn, back view:
Sweating at the potential prospect of a box office dud with this cliché, Fox studio management ordered William Travilla to throw out the suit. It was there that he had the idea for the pink satin dress, very clearly covering the actress’s body. Be that as it may, the fears of the study experts were quickly dispelled. men prefer blondes it was a hit in theaters, and definitely put Marilyn in orbit.