Does This Picture Tell More Than It Should?—Marilyn Monroe
It didn’t seem to matter that everyone in the room Was staring at them. It didn’t seem to mater that reporters were writing furiously into notebooks and that photographers were snapping pictures. And it didn’t even seem to matter that her husband. Arthur Miller, was standing close by. For almost a minute. for fifty-seven long seconds—a lifetime, an eternity—Marilyn Monroe looked at Yves Montand. It was the kind of look that she’d given to probably only two other men in her whole life. To Joe DiMaggio. To Arthur Miller himself—on the day that they wed.
It was an open-eyed, baby-faced, quivering lips expression, somehow coolly innocent and breathlessly sexy at the same time. As Marilyn, in her form-fitting beige halter-neck dress of clinging jersey, cut low in front and back, with a matching chiffon skirt, leaned forward and looked at Yves, the crowd at the cocktail party gasped.
Yves shifted his body nervously, all six-feet, 190 pounds of him, but he could not take his eyes off Marilyn.
Only two people in the crowded room, it seemed to me, appeared unaware of what was going on. Arthur Miller was lost in his own thoughts. Simone Signoret, Yves’ wife, chatted away briskly in French, her back to her husband and to Marilyn.
The contrast between the two women couldn’t have been stronger: Simone, sophisticated and mature, was dressed in a severe high-necked gown, and wore a chic fur hat on her head, and had only the faintest touch of eye makeup on her face; Marilyn was a study in sultriness—the helpless and bewildered quality of her little-girl face conflicting sharply with the bare-legged, exposed fullness of her seductive figure.
Shortly after this party, Marilyn and Yves made separate statements about each other to the press. Both chose their words carefully, but in each instance they revealed more than they realized.
“I like him,” Marilyn said, in that breathless way of hers that made the simple word “like” sound as if she’d said “adore” or “love.” Then she continued, qualifying her feelings but exposing them at the same time, “Next to my husband, and along with Marlon Brando, Yves is the most attractive man I’ve ever met.”
And Yves, wrestling with the English language and his own excitement, said of Marilyn, “Everything she do is original, even just standing and talking to you. She is so rich in her heart that you receive a beeng-beeng in your heart—and for me that is more important than anything.”
Once the filming of “Let’s Make Love” got underway, Marilyn made it clear to those associated with her that the ruggedly charming actor swept into her life as her “dream man,” establishing himself as her Prince Charming overnight.
Her eyes sparkled with warmth in his presence. . . . Her sensuous mouth dropped open in breath-taking awe on several occasions when he would enter the sound stage at 20th Century-Fox. . . . Her personality was at its best when he was near.
It was as if Marilyn Monroe was torn between another world—the world of a knight in shining armor and reality. The reality was that she is the devoted wife of Arthur Miller and Montand belongs to someone else, too, French actress Simone Signoret. Although Marilyn and Yves frequently acted like a couple of lovesick teenagers around the studio, there was nothing to indicate conclusively that their relationship reached a serious romantic level. As one member of the crew put it—“strictly a platonic arrangement.”
Yet, their actions on and off camera around the studio led some to believe that Marilyn had fallen head over heels in love with Montand. It was Marilyn (and ironically Miller) who had to persuade the studio execs to accept Montand for the role. After all, he’s virtually an unknown (or was) in this country. However, the studio tried to deny it was Marilyn who put on the pressure to get them to accept Montand. Their version is that Producer Jerry Wald saw Yves on the Dinah Shore TV show, and mentioned him to Marilyn as a possible leading man. Still, several weeks before that, both Marilyn and Arthur had attended the opening of Yves’ one-man show at the Huntington Hartford Theater in Hollywood. And they were quite familiar with his talents, since Montand starred together with Simone in the stage production of “Les Sorcieres de Salem,” the French version of Miller’s “The Crucible.” So it was no wonder that the Millers joined Montand in a small celebration after the show.
Hollywood knows Marilyn
Surprisingly, the warmth between Marilyn and Yves didn’t really develop until midway during the filming. She was particularly moody at first. As Hollywood knows, her personality can be turned off and on as fast as turning off the cold water and turning on the hot. Some of her crew members and fellow performers swore she’d go out of her way to make their lives miserable. Often, she’d have an 8 o’clock call and she and her black Cadillac didn’t wind their way into the lot until noon. On another occasion she didn’t show up at all, keeping the whole company waiting. The next day she claimed she had been ill and was at her doctor’s office. However, a simple telephone call from her, explaining her woes, could have saved the studio a pile of money in overtime. On still another occasion she showed her MM spunk by making the studio call back advertising posters because she didn’t like the photograph of her that was on the ads. Yet, she had approved it previously. And one member of the studio staff can thank the loss of his job to Marilyn. He accidentally let a magazine have a photograph of the actress that hadn’t been okayed by her. One person I talked to maintained that, just to get even, she automatically rejected all of the photographs taken during the first few weeks of shooting, but this could be just talk.
For there is definitely a good side to Marilyn, and it finally revealed itself. Many observers give Yves Montand the credit for this. A big change came over Marilyn. She almost was like another person. She amazed the company by starting to report to work on time, joked with crew members and, what was more amazing, she broke out of her shell by lunching in the studio commissary. The old MM just didn’t do this, but, instead, had her lunch sent to her dressing-room where she usually ate alone or with her constant companion, Paula Strasberg, her Method acting coach.
Oddly enough, Marilyn and Montand never once lunched together in the commissary. Yves usually would enter with Tony Randall or Frankie Vaughan (they’re also in the picture) and sit at a large table. Marilyn, wearing a blouse (usually low-cut) and tight capri pants, would make her entrance later, sitting at a table for two near the wall. What followed became the routine. Marilyn would wave and smile at Montand and he likewise; just as she was finishing a plate of cottage cheese and fresh fruit (she watches her weight carefully, especially of late, because she has a tendency to be over-hippy) Montand would walk over to her table and they’d chat. But usually they would return to the set separately.
What was happening to Arthur Miller and Simone Signoret during all of this? Were they suspicious or did they have complete faith in their spouses? Miller wasn’t around town much. He busied himself in New York and would be gone for weeks at a time. However, on his return, he and Marilyn acted like nothing was happening—and maybe nothing was. Simone kept out of Yves’ work, never visiting the set but usually spending her time in their bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel. It could be just coincidence, but Marilyn and Arthur had a bungalow at the same hotel. Simone’s friendliness toward Marilyn, however, began to grow cold, a friend of hers told me. Simone made a point to tell the press, after winning her Academy Award for “Room at the Top,” that if making pictures meant being away from her husband for any length of time she’d give up her career. But shortly after that, she unexpectedly accepted an offer to make a picture in Europe and left for Rome. Miller, at this time was in New York, further opening the way for rumors that Marilyn and Yves were carrying their love roles off-screen.
In fact, it was during this time that they were making love on screen.
“I’ve never seen such a realistic love sequence,” a member of the company told me. “It’s red hot.”
Undoubtedly it was. One Hollywood columnist reported that Marilyn had closed the set on the day she and Montand had their first screen kiss together.
He cast a spell over her
Certainly Yves Montand had cast a spell over Marilyn. But how? Montand, who’ll be 39 years old on October 13, has been described as having “the Bogart quality.” Yet, in talking to him and watching him perform, it’s hard to agree. Granted, he’s handsome in a rugged sort of way, yet his mannerisms don’t suggest a Bogart. He’s always the gentleman and seems to feel more at ease with the ladies than men, not that he can’t hold his own with the boys but he often appears shy and ill at ease with them. As for looks, he isn’t a Tony Curtis or Cary Grant but his husky, six-foot build makes him a standout with all the females.
Another reason Marilyn may have taken a liking to him is that, strangely enough, he and Arthur Miller resemble each other both physically and in personality in many ways. For instance, they both have about the same profile and build. And Arthur can be classified, too, as a ladies’ man.
“I think Marilyn is certainly one, if not the greatest actress I have ever worked with,” Yves said. And the praise for her talent rather than her beauty must have struck just the right note with Marilyn, who’s been working so hard on her acting. “It has been an experience,” he added, “I’ll never forget.”
Yves made such a sudden rise to publicity via MM that little was known of him. Usually, when you mention him now, the tourists about town say: “Oh yes, that Frenchman who’s making a picture with Marilyn.” But Yves isn’t a Frenchman. He was born in Monsummano, Italy, on Oct. 13, 1921. His early life (like Marilyn’s) was a rugged one. He quit school when he was eleven and, due to the shaky political conditions in Italy, his family fled to Marseilles where he worked as a waiter, a bartender, a laborer and even studied to be a hairdresser. At eighteen, he made his debut as a singer in a rough waterfront night club, and in 1945 made his film debut in “Etoile Sans Lumiere.”
Today, he’s considered France’s number one actor-singer. And his wife, whom he married in 1950, the number one actress.
Marilyn had definitely fallen for the idol, but was it love? Some seem to think so, yet others around town maintain that Yves was just a passing fancy in her life and there are no strings attached. Those who insist that Marilyn had fallen for the idol point to her 32nd birthday party, held June 1, on the set of the picture. Yves and Marilyn acted like a couple of newlyweds. She was posing for pictures with her arm around him and they had eyes for no one else. Marilyn was gifted with a pearl necklace from the cast and crew, who pitched in two dollars apiece to buy it. You may wonder why the company, suffering so many headaches as a result of Marilyn, dug into their pockets. It was mainly because she became a heroine in their eyes when she was moved to give the family of a studio electrician, who died during the film, a check for $1,000.
Near the end of the filming, Marilyn showed up at Gina Lollobrigida’s going-away party with her publicist, Ruppert Alan. But it was with Yves that Marilyn danced most of the evening at Beverly Hills’ swank Romanoff’s restaurant.
Then, suddenly, in the final days of shooting, they became quite cool toward each other. Miller had flown back to town, and the rumor buzzed around town that he was wise to the situation. And from Rome came a report that Simone was getting suspicious and telephoned Yves several times to ask him about the rumors.
The final day of shooting, the company worked until nearly 8 p.m. Due to the weariness of all, there was no customary set party and both Marilyn and Yves went their separate ways. Marilyn left for New York with Arthur Miller that week while Yves remained in Hollywood two weeks longer.
The picture was finished—and so was an important chapter in Marilyn’s life. Or was it Montand’s arrival in New York started the rumors all over again. At Idlewild Airport, Marilyn Monroe, in white slacks and dark glasses, waited with him for the plane that would take him back to Europe and his wife. The plane was late, and for three hours Yves and Marilyn sat and talked in her rented limousine. At 1:00 a.m. she rode back sadly to New York City—alone.
No one knows what they said to each other during those three hours. Perhaps it was goodbye. For some weeks later, when Yves returned to New York, on his way to Hollywood to film “Sanctuary,” he didn’t see Marilyn. “You Americans go so fast,” he told reporters and then went on to deny that there had ever been anything serious between him and Marilyn.
Some people, though, still weren’t convinced. After all, Yves was in Hollywood again and Marilyn, too, would soon be starting a new film. They may have avoided meeting each other in New York, but, in Hollywood, where the film colony is more closely-knit, it wouldn’t be so easy. From what I’ve seen of these two so far, it would only take a chance meeting and the “chemistry” could explode again. There may still be a scorching new chapter written on this romance.
—BY JAE LYLE
BE SURE TO SEE MARILYN AND YVES IN 20TH’S “LET’S MAKE LOVE.” DON’T MISS MARILYN IN U.A.’S “THE MISFITS,” AND YVES IN “WHERE THE HOT WIND BLOWS” FOR M-G-M. WATCH FOR HIM IN “SANCTUARY” FOR 20TH CENTURY-FOX.
It is a quote. PHOTOPLAY MAGAZINE OCTOBER 1960