Marilyn’s image sells, so, if Marilyn’s image sells… just imagine you’re an aspiring singer or actress or both! What gave this icon her status? What was it about her that endures? For many people that have become enchanted with Marilyn it would have been her image that captured their attention first.
Madonna, an astute and naturally gifted business woman – recognised the impact that ‘re-creating’ Marilyn would have – without having to take the time to carve a style of her own using Marilyn’s look immediately gave her Sex Goddess status and she used it to her full advantage. Though whilst Madonna has a successful career as a singer and entertainer her attempts at becoming an actress have not been as well received.
In an interview with Denise Worrell in 1985 for Time Magazine Madonna said that as a child she was captivated by films and their stars, saying “I loved Carole Lombard and Judy Holliday and Marilyn Monroe. They were all incredibly funny… and I saw myself in them… my girlishness, my knowingness and my innocence”
In February 1985 Madonna stepped up her game and released ‘Material Girl’ the video that accompanied the song was a spin on Marilyn’s ‘Diamond’s Are a Girls Best Friend’ musical scene from one of her most successful movies (arguably the film that made Marilyn the iconic star and legend she is today) Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. The lyrics of Material Girl plagiarise the subtext of Diamonds
Whether its homage, parody or outright plagiarism, one thing is for certain – this song and video firmly established Madonna in the pop culture history archives. Ironically, Madonna has stated that she regrets recording this song due to the fact that she has since become known as ‘The Material Girl’ however, would Madonna have been so successful in her career to date had she not ‘borrowed’ so heavily from Marilyn Monroe?
The singer Debbie Harry who is also known as Blondie has always identified with Marilyn. The following extract was taken from an interview for Radio Times, September 2007. Debbie whose birth name was ‘Angela Trimble was adopted in 1945, once tried to trace her mother but wasn't convinced by the findings of the detective she hired. Not knowing her ancestry has, she believes, played a significant role in her search for identity.
"It gave me a depth of imagination maybe lacking in people who know their lineage. There's a sense of freedom because there's always a question there."
At the height of Blondie-mania, it was said that she believed she was the illegitimate daughter of Marilyn Monroe. Had she ever considered it a possibility?
"No. But there was a time in my life when I wanted to have that, because I thought it was glamorous and mysterious."
Debbie and her one time partner and band member Chris Stein brought one of Marilyn’s dresses from an auction in the mid 1970’s. Unfortunately, the dress was partially burned in a fire but there are photographs of Debbie wearing it in “Making Tracks” The Rise of Blondie 1982 published by Da Capo Press inc.
Anna Nicole Smith
One of the most tragic celebrity Marilyn lookalikes was the late Anna Nicole Smith.
Whilst Many Monroe purists find it hard to accept the comparisons between Anna Nicole and Marilyn comparisons continue to be drawn.
Anna Nicole was born Vickie Lynn Hogan on November 28th 1967, having had a troubled childhood she married at 17 but one son and two years later she was divorced. Following the breakdown of her marriage she changed her name to Anna Nicole Smith and found jobs as a waitress and Walmart cashier but her ambition was to be a model and actress.
Whilst working as a topless dancer she met and married millionaire J. Howard Marshall, who at the ripe old age of 88 was a man more than 60yrs her senior. She began pursuing her dream career. After posing in Playboy she was named 1994’s Playmate of the year. This gave her the stepping stone she needed, she achieved a lucrative modelling contract with Guess Jeans, movie and TV roles followed.
Taking on the image of her idol, Marilyn Monroe, Anna Nicole sported the blonde goddess look.