Musical Monday: Let’s Make Love (1960)

It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 600. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

This week’s musical:
Let’s Make Love (1960) – Musical No. 621

20th Century Fox

George Cukor

Marilyn Monroe, Yves Montand, Tony Randall, Frankie Vaughan, Wilfrid Hyde-White, David Burns, Robert Banas (uncredited), Dick Dale (uncredited), Richard Haydn (narrator)
Themselves: Bing Crosby, Gene Kelly and Milton Berle

Billionaire Jean-Marc Clément (Montand) learns that he is being made fun of in a new musical show. He goes to the theater with his public relations man Alexander Kaufman (Randall) to show he has a sense of humor towards the show. But while at the theater, he is mistaken for an actor auditioning for the show and goes along with the farce when he sees leading lady Amanda Dell (Monroe).

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Musical Monday: Ladies of the Chorus (1948)

It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 500. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

This week’s musical:
Ladies of the Chorus (1948) – Musical #568


Columbia Pictures

Phil Karlson

Adele Jergens, Marilyn Monroe, Rand Brooks, Nana Bryant, Eddie Garr, Bill Edwards

May Martin (Jergens) and her daughter Peggy (Monroe) are both chorus girls at a burlesque theater. May is protective over Peggy, not wanting her to go out with “stage-door Johnnys.” When the head of the show walks out, Peggy becomes the main attraction and captures the interest of wealthy Randy Carroll (Brooks). Will his society family accept Peggy if they find out she is a burlesque queen?

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Actress Beauty Tip #30: Marilyn Monroe breakfast

This is the thirtieth installment of the monthly classic actress beauty tips that I have read about and tested.

Since I’ve started these beauty tips, I’ve tried some crazy things. Some include washing my hair with champagne and bathing in milk.

When I was living at home, my parents didn’t mind as long as I cleaned up after myself.

However, I get the feeling that I would have been scolded for Beauty Tip #30.

Recently, I’ve been reading columns by NY Magazine diet columnist, Rebecca Harrington. Harrington read about what Greta Garbo, Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe ate and tests it for about two weeks to see the results. Most of the foods are revolting, have complicated recipes and Harringon’s accounts are hilarious.

To celebrate Marilyn Monroe’s birthday, I decided to try one of her diet tricks.

Every morning, Monroe had warm milk with a raw egg in this, according to Harrington.

An article about Monroe's diet routine in Pageant magazine, Sept. 1952

An article about Monroe’s diet routine in Pageant magazine, Sept. 1952

“To my surprise it was utterly delicious,” she said in her column. Reading this I thought, “Hm. Milk and eggs are actually two things I have at my house. I’m trying to lose weight. I should try this.”

My goal was to drink the milk and raw egg concoction for a week and see what weight loss results I had. I lasted two days.

I didn’t stop because I was hungry or that it tasted bad. The combination is actually pretty good -really only taste the milk- and I stayed full for hours after drinking it.

My issue was looking at the drippy, gooey consistency of the raw egg in my milk and that I was basically drinking salmonella-in-a-cup.

It also dawned on me that drinking a raw egg is just plain stupid. The health benefit of drinking a glass of milk and eating a hard boiled egg is probably about the same and it’s safer.

To review: The milk and raw egg combination kept me full and  tasted fine, but the fact that I was drinking a raw egg (salmonella in a cup) unnerved me. I can stay just as full and healthy by drinking a glass of milk and a cooked egg.

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“I didn’t care about the movies really. I was tall. I could talk. It was easy to do.” -Joseph Cotten

Joseph Cotten

Joseph Cotten

I have two huge classic Hollywood crushes, both highly underrated: Joseph Cotten and Joel McCrea.

But it is Cotten who we celebrate today at Comet, born on this day in 1905 in Virginia, making Mr. Cotten even more appealing to your southern writer.

But if his smooth voice, wavy hair and good looks aren’t enough for you, Cotten is a darn good actor.

He stars in two of my favorite films “Since You Went Away” (1944) and Alfred Hitchcock’s “Shadow of a Doubt” (1943) as well “Citizen Kane” (1940), which the American Film Institute has named the greatest film of all-time.

He was directed by Alfred Hitchcock and Orson Welles.

Some of his leading ladies include Bette Davis, Ingrid Bergman, Loretta Young, Claudette Colbert, Jennifer Jones, Ginger Rogers, Joan Fontaine and Barbara Stanwyck.

Before films, he performed in the stage version of “Philadelphia Story” with Katharine Hepburn.

Here are a few anecdotes from Cotten’s 1987 autobiography “Vanity Will Get You Somewhere.”

Orson Welles and Joseph Cotten in Citizen Kane

Orson Welles and Joseph Cotten in Citizen Kane

Citizen Kane (1940)

The film was originally set to open in Radio City Music Hall in February 1941, until Hearst stepped in, said Joseph Cotten, who played Jedediah Leland in the film.

“Of course I knew we’d been treading on thin ice with the obvious similarities between Kane and William Randolph Hearst. I also knew that Mr. Hearst was a powerful man. I was to discover just how powerful,” said Cotten. “The Radio City Music Hall turned down Citizen Kane because Louella Parsons, Hearst’s right hand, had threatened the theater.”

The executive producer, George Schaefer, was offered money to destroy the picture and the negative.

“The whole motion picture industry was threatened if they showed the movie,” Cotten said. “Hearst’s newspapers would bring skeletons out of the closets, and there were many.”

Schaefer refused to be bullied and was able to get bookings for the film in a couple of independent movie houses, Cotten said.

“Although people who sneaked in to see the picture raved about it, none of our names were mentioned in the Hearst newspapers or mentioned in Louella Parson’s column,” he said. “What I found personally rather baffling, after Kane, I made several movies in which my name was above the title but Hearst’s newspapers always managed to review these pictures without mentioning my name. It was quite a feat to tell the entire story of a film and leave out the leading man.”

 Shadow of a Doubt (1943)

Cotten told Hitchcock that he was nervous to play a murderer and wasn’t sure how they behaved, he wrote in his autobiography.

“Uncle Charlie (Cotten’s character) feels no guilt at all. To him, the elimination of his widows is a dedication, an important sociological contribution to civilization,” Hitchcock told him.  (67)

As Uncle Charlie in “Shadow of a Doubt”:

Her’s to Hold (1943)

While Cotten filmed “Her’s to Hold” with Deanna Durbin, a misunderstanding occurred.

Cotten was out late and had an early morning call for a radio show. He left a message with his wife Lenore that he would be staying in his dressing room (69).

Cotten and Durbin in a scene in "Her's to Hold" with Murray Alper in the background.

Cotten and Durbin in a scene in “Her’s to Hold” with Murray Alper in the background.

When he left his dressing room that morning, he found a security guard waiting outside who greeted him good morning. When Cotten met Durbin that morning in the commissary, he found out she had also stayed overnight in her bungalow.

Hedda Hopper got a hold of the story.

“The item that appeared in Hedda’s column was not the personal kind of reference that one would clip for a scrapbook, or care to preserve in any of those elaborate, leather-bound gift journals inscribed ‘Golden Memories,’” Cotten wrote (71).

After the incident, he called Hopper up and said if his name was mentioned again, he would kick her in the behind. She did and he did.

“The Kick was not a boot that would have carried a football over the crossbar, but neither was it a token tap,” he wrote. “…the contact was positive enough to disturb the flower garden on top of the outrageous hats she was renowned for.”

Since You Went Away (1944)

Cotten on the set of Since You Went Away with Jones. The two starred in four films together. He remained friends with Jones and Selznick.

Cotten on the set of Since You Went Away with Jones. The two starred in four films together. He remained friends with Jones and Selznick.

“Claudette (Colbert) was one of the most complete, humorous, hard-working and delightfully, almost shockingly, honest creatures I’ve ever worked with, Cotten said in his autobiography.

During the filming, Robert Walker and Jennifer Jones were going through a divorce and it was rumored Jones would marry David O. Selznick after the divorce was final.

“Claudette and I, each thinking that we were sitting on a powder keg, remained silent. The picture was not in any way affected by their romance.

The only person on our set who behaved in a rather furtive and giggly fashion was young Shirley Temple. Years later she told me that she had a schoolgirl crush on me.” (56)

Cotten said Temple had tried to convince the director to let her kiss him in the film. But in the movie, it was Jones’s character who had the crush on Cotten.

“The poor girl had to gaze at me adoringly non-stop,” he said.

Niagara (1953)

Cotten and Monroe on the set of Niagara

Cotten and Monroe on the set of Niagara

“I enjoyed her company. I enjoyed working with her,” Cotten said about working with Marilyn Monroe in her first starring role (110).

He said she had an appetite for laughter and was aware of her sense of humor describing her as a “pretty clown.”

Cotten recalls hearing about her death and receiving a phone call from the Associated Press for a comment.

“At first I was sure it had to be an accident. Such buoyancy of spirit, such sparkling anticipation, such a happy and comic attitude would deny support to any theory,” he wrote. “But she had such moments of fear and insecurity….As to all the other furtive theories-cover-up, murder, etc. – I have no knowledge or interest in such sordidness. I knew and acted with Marilyn Monroe. I am proud of having that privilege.”

Medina and Cotten in 1962

Medina and Cotten in 1962

Cotten was married to his first wife from 1931 to 1960 when she passed away from leukemia.

He married Patricia Medina from 1960 until his death in 1994. Cotten said she was the most beautiful woman in the world.

“If Helen of Troy’s face launched a thousand ships, Patricia’s could launch a million,” he said. “She is possibly the only truly beautiful woman ever to exist who is not disliked by one single person.”

“We are ordinary, extraordinarily lucky people,” Cotten wrote. “For that, all I can say is ‘Amen.’”

Happy birthday, Joseph Cotten, one of the best actors of classic film.

Happy birthday, Jo

Happy birthday, Jo

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Classic Movies in Music Videos: Give Me All Your Luvin’ by Madonna

This is August’s edition of Comet Over Hollywood’s classic film references in music videos.

2012 marks the 50th anniversary of Marilyn Monroe’s death on August 5, 1962.  Turner Classic Movies is dedicating today to Marilyn Monroe with a whole day of her film’s during their 10th annual Summer Under the Stars Salute.

As we all know, everyone and their mother has imitated Marilyn Monroe in some shape or form. Comet has even already spotlighted two music videos where Lana Del Rey and Madonna both paid tribute to the 1950s sex symbol.

Well 27 years after Madonna dressed up like Marilyn in “Material Girl,” the singer paid tribute to her again in her 2012 single “Give Me All Your Luvin’.”

But Madonna isn’t the only one in the video who donned short blond curls and a sexy white dress. Her two famous back-up singers in the song, MIA and Nicki Minaj also dress up like Monroe.

The Marilyn moment happens at 2:08 to 2:54 minutes into the video:

Check out other posts on Marilyn Monroe during the TCM Summer Under the Stars blogathon at and for the month long classic film celebration!

Check back in September for another classic film reference in music videos!

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Classic film in music videos: National Anthem by Lana Del Rey

This is July’s edition of Comet Over Hollywood’s classic film references in music videos.

As we just pass the Fourth of July, it only seems appropriate to have a song with patriotic lyrics like “Red, white, blues in the sky, summer’s in the air and baby heaven’s in your eyes.”   However, Lana Del Rey’s “National Anthem” video isn’t a summer, patriotic explosion.

The video starts off with Del Rey as Marilyn Monroe singing “Happy Birthday” to President John F. Kennedy.  Some may find it odd that Del Rey wore her hair naturally-not Monroe bleached blond-but even more interesting that JFK is played by rapper A$AP.

The rest of the video is Lana Del Rey (playing a dual role) as Jackie O. with the president and their children.

The director, Anthony Mandler, of the video said:

“And I think the Kennedy relationship, certainly the triangle of Marilyn Monroe and Jackie O and Jack Kennedy, became this kind of ideal of what seemed perfect from the outside was maybe rotting from the inside,” he continued. “And Lana was really interested in exploring this loss of innocence, this idea that what you think you’re experiencing is maybe not what it’s always going to be. “

For comparison, here is Marilyn Monroe singing happy birthday to JFK inMay 1962:

Lana Del Rey’s “National Anthem” as both Marilyn and Jackie:

It’s not surprise that Del Rey donned a Jackie O. look. Her fashion and music style is 1960s inspired and she calls herself a version of Nancy Sinatra.

I think it’s interesting that a few songs recently use Monroe’s and Kennedy’s relationship as inspiration, including Lady Gaga’s “Government Hooker.”

Check back in August for another classic film reference in music videos!

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Classic film in music videos: Material Girl by Madonna

This is June’s edition of Comet Over Hollywood’s classic film references in music videos.

In honor of Marilyn Monroe’s 86th birthday on Friday, June 1,  Comet is spotlighting a Madonna’s 1985 music video “Material Girl.” I remember seeing this music video when I was little and loving the glamour, and Madonna’s wardrobe.

Madonna and Marilyn

It wasn’t until much later that I realized she was recreating Monroe’s “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” musical number from the 1953 film “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.”

Madonna was a fan of Marilyn Monroe and wanted to pay homage to her in the music video:

“My favorite scene in all of Monroe’s movies is when she does that dance sequence for ‘Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend’. And when it came time to do the video for the song [Material Girl], I said, I can just redo that whole scene and it will be perfect,” Madonna said in 1987 to the New York Daily News.  “Marilyn was made into something not human in a way, and I can relate to that. Her sexuality was something everyone was obsessed with and that I can relate to. There were certain things about her vulnerability that I’m curious about and attracted to.”


-When Marilyn is singing “No no no,” singer Marnie Nixon was dubbing her.
-You can see George Chakiris, who later won Best Supporting Actor for “West Side Story,” as a back-up singer.
-Jessica Pickens (me) is not a Marilyn Monroe fan.

Who hasn’t tried to look like Marilyn? Here is a link I came across with other actresses who dressed up as Marilyn Monroe. Pretty interesting, most of them are terrible.

My apologies for not having classic film references in April or May, guys.  McCrea in May contest winners will be announced soon!

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