(December 7, 2011 in Beverly Hills, California) Marilyn Monroe is as hot as ever with My Week with Marilyn in theaters (see Buzzine film trailer review), and just when you think you’ve heard all the tales of the iconic blonde bombshell, you’re surprised with further untold details. Gorgeous new coffee table book Marilyn: Intimate Exposures is a lovingly curated volume of both photos and writings from author Susan Bernard’s father Bruno Bernard, famously known as Bernard of Hollywood. The book features 40 previously unpublished photos of Marilyn, introductions from Lindsay Lohan and Jane Russell, fascinating notes and journal entries from Bruno Bernard, and poetic commentary from Susan.
Ms. Bernard celebrated the release of her book with a reading at Largo at The Coronet in Beverly Hills. The affair was hosted by hip literary events firm Rare Bird Lit, esteemed writers organization Pen USA, and Los Angeles Magazine. The Coronet was the perfect setting for a remembrance of old Hollywood; built in 1944, the 300-seat theater has a legacy of both theatrical performances and film screenings with a retro-chic vibe in the brick courtyard and speakeasy-esque cocktail lounge. “'S Wonderful, ’s marvelous” and other standard songs of the era set the mood.
The presentation featured the sparkly Bernard reading her narrative, accompanied by a big-screen projection of the book’s photographs, spiked with cuts of vintage film footage from the family archives. Joining Susan on stage were it-man Thomas Jane, who read the memoirs of Bernard of Hollywood, foxy Rose McGowan as Marilyn, and the brightly versatile Jonno Roberts reading the supporting cast of characters. Jane and Roberts dressed the part in plaid, vests and fedora, and McGowan had the breathy-sweet Marilyn delivery down. We were taken through the account of Bruno Bernard’s initial photo session with Norma Jean -- “Never put hot on hot -- that’s vulgar” -- to his concerns about the distressed starlet who he cared about like a ‘kid sister.’ The actors had fun and a wonderful rapport, creating another layer of emotional connection for the audience as we were taken through the gorgeous photo documentation of the rise and fall of one the world’s most beloved movie stars.
Susan Bernard followed the reading with a Q&A by novelist-screenwriter Jerry Stahl and actor Don Murray, who was Marilyn Monroe’s co-star in the 1956 film, Bus Stop. Mr. Murray shared fascinating memories -- from her profound inability to get through lines, to the challenge of a scene lying in bed next to a fully unclad Marilyn with an uptight director sweating him to “keep those sheets tucked in” so they wouldn’t lose the footage to censorship. The attendees relished the opportunity to ask questions to these classic Hollywood insiders, and Ms. Bernard revealed touching stories about the challenges of her father’s early life escaping Nazi Germany, and how that created a special bond with Marilyn, who also came from a sad and impoverished childhood.
The night was a celebration of Hollywood dreams come true, if even briefly, and the images that keep them alive today.
'Marilyn: Intimate Exposures' is available now from Sterling Publishing.