Happy birthday, Marilyn Monroe

GOOD MORNING: I, too remember Marilyn Monroe — fondly. Even though she kept me waiting for hours anytime I visited one of her sets. Like “Some Like It Hot,” with Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis and Billy Wilder on the beach in front of the Del Coronado hotel. My column, Sept. 17, 1958: “In what was considered a rare interview, MM admitted, ‘The best role I’ve ever played is the one I’m playing now — that of Mrs. Arthur Miller’.” I wrote further, “Arthur, always on the set, has penned another screenplay, ‘The Misfits,’ but doesn’t know whom he wants to film it. ‘But,’ he said, ‘I’ll be very careful’.” “The Misfits” eventually was the last film for both Marilyn and Clark Gable. And Marilyn divorced Miller that same year, 1961 … I wrote that “Everyone on the set was kidding MM about her ‘method acting.’ And when I asked if she was using the Stanislavsky method she answered, ‘I don’t know, I’ve never read him. I don’t even know what the ‘method’ is but at the Actors’ Studio (where she’s an observer student), we go beyond ‘the method.'” It was suspected that Marilyn was pregnant and the next day she checked into Cedars for observation. I wrote, “Billy Wilder can shoot around the ailing MM for five-six days.” However, the Sept. 19 column started with “It’s a GOOD MORNING in N.Y. this weekend for Marilyn Monroe, who pulled outta Cedars and winged to Gotham with husband Arthur Miller, despite the fact Billy Wilder was shooting around her on ‘Some Like It Hot’ during the hospitalization. ‘It was personal business,’ said producer Harold Mirisch ‘and she promised to be on the set Monday morning. we have no problem at all with her’.” On Sept. 23, I wrote, “Marilyn Monroe kept her word — reported back to work yesterday on ‘Some Like It Hot.’ Then, on Oct. 9, I reported, “Marilyn Monroe is ill again and under the care of her obstetrician. ‘Some Like It Hot” simmers around her with Tony Curtis working in a bubble bath sequence. Now that’s a switch” … On Oct. 17, “Marilyn Monroe who is expecting, requested a grand piano be moved to her Hotel Bel Air suite to save her going to the studio for rehearsals — in her delicate condition. She was off work again yesterday.” And in my Nov. 14. column, I wrote, “Marilyn Monroe’s body will be missing from the ads in ‘Some Like It Hot’ — she was too ill to pose for ad stills yesterday, so a model subbed her torso and MM’s face will later be super-imposed.” She lost the baby. Marilyn died Aug. 5, 1962. She would have been 75 Friday.

THEY NEVER MET. Although Marilyn was the first Playboy magazine nude — the famous Tom Kelley, red-velveted Marilyn — she and Hugh Hefner never met. But he will rest alongside her in the Westwood Village Mortuary. Hef hosted a party at the mansion Thursday for AMC and 20th-Fox Home Entertainment’s video tributes to her. He reminded that Playboy was to have been called, “Stag Party” and the nude was to have been its monthly “Sweetheart.” Hef said she appeared in eight Playboys. One included the nude swimming pool scene from the ill-fated “Something’s Got to Give.” “She really became the sex star of the 20th century. And,” Hef added, “she also had that vulnerability that made us all feel we knew her.” Hef, from a tour of Europe (Cannes, Milan, Munich and London) with his seven girlfriends, will be the subject of a N.Y. Friars’ toast (roast?) Sept. 29 at the N.Y. Hilton.

OSCAR WINNER EVA MARIE SAINT delivers the commencement address at UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and TV graduation June 16. And Emmy-winning TV director Louis J. Horvitz (Oscars, Emmys, People’s Choice, Kennedy Center Honors) receives the school’s second Alumni Achievement Award … Valerie Harper hosts the Tony Awards party honoring Lauren Bacall at the Santa Monica Museum of Flying, Sunday, live (from 6 p.m.) with Alison Arngrim as auctioneer following the telecast and dinner. The Actors’ Fund and Aid for AIDS benefit … The 28th annual Carl Reiner Pro-Am Celeb Tennis and Golf Tourney at La Costa over the Memorial Day weekend benefited the Kayne-ERAS Center with these celebs on hand: Ray Romano, John Byner and Annie Gaybis, Wil Shriner, Bob Goen, Paul Williams, Michael Reagan and Ron Masak who also auctioneered. David Gee m.c.’d the show of comics including Sid Caesar, who, of course, got a standing ovation, Greg Fitzimmons, Steve White, Kevin Meany. American Airlines was the presenting sponsor of the event under the leadership of Gloria and Mike Franks … It’s the third time in L.A. for “Smokey Joe’s Cafe: The Songs of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller,” this time starring Gladys Knight at the Wilshire Theater. Award-winning choreographer Onna White, in the audience opening night, told me she’d never seen a more enthusiastic (and athletic) cast as these singer-dancers. The show which bowed six years ago in Hollywood, has since become B’way’s revue record-holder with troupes in Japan, England, Australia, and traveling companies throughout the U.S. Leiber and Stoller both on hand (Mike, with wife Corky Hale) to applaud — and be applauded at the party following at the new Le Meridien Hotel of BevHills on LaCienega, whose general manger, Jacques Ligue, is no stranger to Holywoodites — who knew him at Cannes at the Gray d’Albion hotel. He brought back vintage fotos of the fest to this hotel going through a $10 million facelift since takeover from the Nikko. Venice mag, with a cover story on Gladys Knight, coincidentally cosponsored the post-party.