Monday, March 10, 2008
Marilyn Monroe is haunting me.
Until the last 10 days, I had barely spared her a thought in years. But now, I switch on a music channel and Sir Elton, complete with outrageous blue periwig, is singing Candle in the Wind, backed by footage of a kiss-blowing Marilyn. A Marilyn ‘expert’ is fooled by a Madonna picture in a wannabe pose and Lindsay Lohan attempts to ape MM in a magazine photoshoot. A columnist praises the pneumatic blonde for her support of Ella Fitzgerald in segregated ‘50s America. An interviewee asks for my opinion on dream dinner party guests. “Monroe and Kennedy,” I say, without missing a beat.
At 18, Monroe and fellow ‘live fast, die young, have a beautiful corpse’ icon James Dean were my retro poster stars of choice. In the late ‘80s, student union poster sales were packed with arty shots of MM to cover crappy student house wallpaper and peeling paint. I devoured biographies, soaked up conspiracy theories and stared hard at grainy black and white images taken after the post-mortem. My homage extended to my bleached platinum bob and a period sporting scarlet lipstick and fingernails.
Like other teenage obsessions, it passed. But, nearly 50 years after her death, it seems the world’s obsession is still strong. That, I suppose, is a mark of true charisma and star quality. I look at the fragile and vulnerable blonde with the big, vibrant smile and consider today’s crop of celebrities. I wonder how many of them will still be making it into the news – or even people’s thoughts – half a century after they’ve gone?