Thursday, August 19, 2010
Gene, Marilyn, and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
Time for another “unknown” story about Gene Marshall in Hollywood. It was late 1952, and Gene was getting ready to enjoy a day off. She had slept in and was looking forward to a leisurely day at home by the pool, enjoying a little sunshine and curling up with the wildly popular book “Giant” by Edna Ferber; Gene was probably the only person in Hollywood who hadn’t read it yet! Jane Russell interupted all that when she called Gene in a panic.
“Gene, I really hate to ask you, but boy do I need a favor!” said the famously curvy brunette. “We’re supposed to do a run-through of the musical number today and I can’t be there. Bob & I are trying to adopt a little boy and we have to meet with the attorneys today. Marilyn is so scared about doing a dance number and I just know she’ll panic without me there to help her. Could you go there and do the rehearsal with her? The number is a breeze but that poor girl has no confidence, and Darryl will kill me if production gets held up even by one day.”
Gene knew well of Darryl F. Zanuck, famous producer at 20th Century Fox, and sympathized with Jane’s plight.
“Oh Jane, I would be happy to help! Don’t you worry about a thing, I’m on the way right now. And congrats on the new baby; I had no idea you were adopting another child! I think that is so wonderful!”
“Thanks Gene—I owe you one! I’ll call Marilyn and let her know that you’ll be there to help.”
Gene got out of her swimsuit, quickly put on a casual outfit and scarf, and she was on her way to the soundstages of 20th Century Fox. She’d heard quite a bit about Fox's blonde sensation, Marilyn Monroe, but had never met her before. Although she wanted to help her dear friend Jane, curiosity was a good motivator as she was anxious to see in person what all of the ruckus was about when it came to the young starlet.
The crew was appreciative of Gene helping to keep the film production going, and naturally they were all gaga to see the famous Monolithic Studios star in person. For Gene though, the experience started out with a less than stellar beginning. Her outfit was gorgeous: a skin-tight sparkly red dress and a huge feathered contraption for her head. On Jane Russell, the dress was a sensation; on the much smaller-framed Gene Marshall, the extra fabric made Gene look like a scarecrow. “Oh well...it’s not about me, and it’s not like anyone is going to see me in this dress anyway!” she said to herself as the wardrobe girl attempted to pin the dress for Gene.
Choreographer Jack Cole did a quick run-through of the number (“Two Little Girls from Little Rock”) for Gene, and naturally, she soaked up the steps like a sponge. This was an important song and dance number, as this is what audiences would first see when the movie began. Both Marilyn & Jane would be dressed in identical outfits, singing a song that let the audience know that they were two showgirls who’d had a rough time with men, but were able to use their "charms” to get a dinner and a bauble or two out of the deal.
Gene and Marilyn hit it off immediately; poor Marilyn was so nervous and sweating as if it were a hot day in Louisiana! Gene quickly put her at ease and gave her some tips on how to make the simple dance number look effortless.
Marilyn never forgot Gene’s generosity that day, nor did Jane Russell. But that’s just the kind of girl Gene Marshall was.
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