credit © 1962 Bert Stern
Marilyn Monroe in late June 1962, six weeks before her death, as photographed by Bert Stern for Vogue magazine
Forgive me, but I plan to traipse down memory lane today (and seriously date myself).
Every year, as the summer movie season begins to wind down in August, I become nostalgic for the bittersweet season of 1962. Ah, yes, 1962...
I vividly remember my father driving me to Mass on Sunday, August 5th in '62 and picking me up an hour later with the announcement that Marilyn Monroe had died. Marilyn. MM. My first movie crush. Dead.
A profound loss that was very personal to me.
That summer, my parents enrolled me at Steelman's Business School to learn typing (because the Catholic school that I attended allowed only girls to take typing classes) and also signed me up at a Rick's Gym (because I was a skinny movie nerd). I went to Steelman's at 8 a.m., the gym at 10 and then I'd have lunch at a cozy little place called Calico Kitchen.
My lunch was always the same - a Texas Tommy and a black-&-white milk shake. I believe that the Texas Tommy sandwich no longer exists, but it was fab-u-lous - a hot dog, split down the center with a strip of pickle and cheese tucked in, and then wrapped in bacon and stuffed inside a bun.
I'm amazed that I survived puberty.
Then I'd go to a noon movie at one of two theaters in downtown Camden, New Jersey - the Stanley, a sprawling palace, or the art-deco Savar (which was conveniently next-door to Calico Kitchen).
On August 6th, the day after Marilyn passed, instead of working out at Rick's, I spent most of my time there reading about her in all the local papers - The Philadelphia Bulletin, The Philadelphia Inquire, The Daily News and the Camden Courier-Post. I clipped out the articles to keep.
I was heartbroken and reluctant to see a movie that day. I felt guilty. It seemed wrong. But the Savar was showing a Jack Lemmon comedy, "The Notorious Landlady," and, given that I loved Lemmon, I couldn't resist. So I had my Texas Tommy and fries and spent the next two hours with Jack.
"The Notorious Landlady" remains one of my all-time favorite films, not just because it's a terrific, clever comedy but largely because of the situation, the time and the place, that embrace it. It's a special movie that perhaps no one else views - or can appreciate - quite the way I do.
I binged-watched it that summer, seeing it multiple times.
But the summer of '62 also holds a special place in my heart because of the rich array of films that moved in and out of the local theaters - "The Music Man" ... "Lolita" ... "Advise and Consent" ... "Hatari" ... "Lonely Are the Brave" ... "Five Finger Exercise" ... "The Counterfeit Traitor" ... "That Touch of Mink" ... "My Geisha" ... "Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation" ... "David and Lisa" ... "Birdman of Alcatraz" ... "The Interns" ... Cinerama's "The Wonderful World of the Brother Grimm" ... the Hope-Crosby reunion comeback, "The Road to Hong Kong" ... Elvis' version of "Kid Galahad."
And Kim Novak had two films released within the same month - "Boys' Night Out," which her company Kimco produced, and a comedy directed by her then-significant other, Richard Quine, and co-starring her frequent screen partner, Jack Lemmon ... "The Notorious Landlady."
It's a film that I watch every August 6th.
Note in Passing: The movie year 1962, in general, is arguably the greatest in film history, surpassing (yes) even 1939 - something which I addressed back in 2012 in this essay.
The Marilyn Artwork: Photographer Bert Stern had three sessions with Marilyn Monroe for Vogue magazine in late June 1962, six weeks before her death. These sessions, as evidenced here, produced extraordinarily beautiful and unique images of Marilyn.