I got nothin'. I mean, seriously nothing. So here is yet another one I have been saving.
The Siren is too hard on Marilyn Monroe and she realizes that. She realized it even more Tuesday night at a raucously appreciative showing of All About Eve. On the Ziegfeld's screen, the precision of Monroe's timing becomes even more delightful. The party scene is Monroe's most famous, but the Siren has a special place in her heart for Monroe swanning out of the ladies, shall we say, lounge and murmuring, in reply to George Sanders asking how she feels, "Like I just swam the English Channel."
So here is a little Marilyn story, one that doesn't involve Joe DiMaggio or being late to the set. It's from Norma Barzman's The Red and the Blacklist, which deals with Barzman's marriage to left-wing screenwriter Ben (The Boy With Green Hair, Give Us This Day, El Cid) and their subsequent blacklisting and exile. Some of this anecdote rings true, some of it not so much, but it reads well.
In a chapter candidly called "The Shit Hits the Electric Fan," Norma talks about about a sultry night in Los Angeles in 1947. She's gone out on the lawn in search of a breeze and Ben, clad in a sombrero and loud print shirt acquired on vacation in Acapulco, joins his wife. They sip gin-and-tonics and notice that cars keep slowing down in front of their house. Neighbor Groucho Marx breezes by, wearing a pith helmet and pushing daughter Melinda in a pram, and remarks to Norma that it's awfully hot: "Of course, it's doubly hot for you--with two kinds of heat. But don't ask me for anything more than ice cubes, which is as far as my sympathies go."
The Barzmans barely have time to decode this when an outdated white Cadillac convertible pulls up, top down and Monroe behind the wheel. The actress, whom they've never seen before, shimmers over to the couple and remarks that she's on her way to a party at the Minnellis and gee, the sombrero looked fun. Would somebody get her a drink?
I'd venture to say that a woman resembling Monroe could still get a gin and tonic from a random stranger at a moment's notice. Ben leaps up and fetches her the drink (the Siren imagines Marilyn responding with a variation of "Thank you, Mr. Fabian") and she starts to talk. Well, ramble mostly. About the importance in Hollywood of having a signature drink, and did they think a gin and tonic would work for her? And Murphy's Law, which Norma hasn't heard of. Monroe says her mother always told her not to be the one to bring bad news, on account of Murphy's Law.
'You were trying to make up your mind whether or not to tell us something unpleasant?' I prompted.
'Don't you know?' she asked hopefully. We shook our heads. She took a deep breath. 'There's a deputy sheriff's car with two cops at the bottom of this hill. They're stopping practically every car coming up the hill. There was this guy in front of me and the deputy stopped him so suddenly I almost hit him. I was really upset. Then I hear the deputy ask the guy where he was going? Was he going to your address by any chance?'
'Our address?' I asked incredulously.
'I heard it loud and clear. The guy said no and the cop waves him on. Then I drove up. "You stopped that guy so suddenly I almost crashed into him." The cop says in that way I hate--I seem to bring it out in most guys--"Lady, I wouldn't have stopped you," then he grins a big fat grin and says, "I sure would've, if I'd had an excuse." Well, to make a long story short, he leans over me, he's a really big guy, and says, "You don't happen to be going to 1290 Sunset Plaza Drive?"'
'"No, I don't,"' she said. 'That's your number, isn't it?' It was. 'What's going on? Is there a murder or something?'
The ground had slipped from under me in one of those near Los Angeles land-shifts. I guessed what was coming.
The girl went on. '"The sheriff's office is keeping an eye on the house. Subversive groups are meeting there." Well, sir, I really blew. I said, "Who the hell is this sheriff of yours? Hitler?" Gee whiz. Subversive? With that sombrero?'
I moved closer to Ben. 'You mean he's told everybody on this hill we're subversive?'
'So what did the deputy sheriff do finally?' Ben asked.
'Oh, he gave me a ticket for obstructing traffic,' the girl said. 'My mother was right. There's no percentage in being the one who brings lousy news.'