Derby Browne's Let's Make Love

Derby Browne as Marilyn Monroe in Let's Make Love
Derby Browne as Marilyn Monroe in Let's Make Love

I’d to look up Marilyn Monroe yesterday and found it to be a great satisfaction. Her life story’s fabulous. But her work is equally fascinating and for now it’s the fact that she was the pivot of such lavish attention that made me happy. Simply having to look her up reminded me of the films: their music, fashion and beauty; and the magnificent coordination that went into those classical movies.

Not all of them were classics, I found titles of film I’d never heard of and will hopefully live out a long life with ne’er another thought of them, but the magical ones that are ingrained into universal subconscious are almost, as Julie Feeney puts it, impossibly beautiful.

The number of artists who have modeled themselves on her style, from singers to actresses to fashionistas on both sides of the divide of wearing or making the clothes, is breathtaking. And that’s ever before you think of the screenwriters who gave the troupe of actors such great lines to play with in the likes of Some Like It Hot, Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and the Seven Year Itch.

An original musical dedicated to Marilyn Monroe’s 10-year, on/off relationship with Frank Sinatra was staged at Dublin’s National Concert Hall starring Irish woman Derby Browne and the UK's Stephen Triffitt in the lead roles has carefully chosen what aspects of their liaison to highlight for an entertaining and uplifting musical. There’s such a wealth of great material it must have been a daunting task to decide what to include in the show.

In researching the role, Derby Browne found that Marilyn used to spend a lot of her time between husbands quaffing champagne, obsessively listening to Frank Sinatra recordings, while wandering around her home naked. Other tidbits gleaned from the surf were that she used Nivea cream as her preferred moisturizer, and washed her face up to 15 times a day so fearful of she of blemishes to her beauty.

According to Derby, Marilyn would have loved to have had children, enjoyed having Arthur Miller’s step-children visit their lovenest and only moved back to Los Angeles because that’s where Frankie was. (Apparently, she’d left it originally because it held associations for her of growing up poor there and didn’t see it as a Mecca for aspirational performers as so many other would-be movie starlets did.)

Anyway, yesterday’s task of researching Marilyn Monroe threw up not just the reminders of her great lines and scenes, but some more contemporary ones too that have occurred to me recently.

All of the lyrics of Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend

Every word, piece of clothing, smart-ass remark, teasing impressions of Cary Grant that Tony Curtis did, neurotic slapstick that Jack Lemon did, and the jazzy soundtrack of Some Like it Hot. And of course, Marilyn’s rendition of I’m Thru with Love.

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