"TODAY I am thirty-six. I've officially reached the age that Hollywood considers a has-been. All I know how to be is Marilyn Monroe. It's the only thing I've ever really been successful at. Time is making it impossible to continue. And I don't know who I will be anymore."
THAT is not a quote from the late but eternally lively Miss Monroe. Those are words written by author/filmmaker/actor Charles Casillo in his classic novel, "The Marilyn Diaries," first published in 1999, now out in a new edition, from Hayworth Press.
Casillo, who also wrote an acclaimed biography about "City of Night" author John Rechy, published the first edition of "The Marilyn Diaries" before there was such a glut of "novels based on" Marilyn Monroe. And though it is fiction, this book sticks close to the facts of her last months (and the never proven rumors of Kennedy affairs). More interesting, it sounds like Monroe. If she had kept a diary, it might have read like Casillo's fiction. (The real-life Monroe was once asked in an interview if she kept a diary? She said: "Not really. Sometimes I would write things down, but then ... I'd tear them up!")
"THE Marilyn Diaries" really hits pay dirt when Casillo's "Marilyn" considers the trajectory of her career, ruminates bitterly on her marriage to Arthur Miller and pragmatically recalls her long struggle to the top. There are some entertainingly fanciful episodes -- a ladies' room brawl with Elizabeth Taylor, a clandestine luncheon with Jackie Kennedy -- but the essential honesty and vulnerability of our heroine is never lost, just as she never lost those qualities in her real life.
CASILLO'S introduction to "The Marilyn Diaries" explains his own fascination with the star, and deftly examines the duality of her nature and the atomic impact of her fame during her own lifetime. Nobody knew what to make of her, really. And she never knew what to make of herself. And we are still trying to figure her out, 50 years after her death.
As Charles Casillo writes: "Marilyn left just enough behind to allow anyone to create her into what they want her to be. I don't think she would want it any other way."
MARC Rosen, the clever product designer wed to the glamorous MGM era Arlene Dahl, is complaining that the National Enquirer has Liza Minnelli in a wheelchair on her last legs.
But Marc and Arlene had dinner with Liza right before this disaster article appeared. "She is not sick, in a wheelchair or drugged out" insists Mr. Rosen. So there!
P.S. In fact, Liza Minnelli will appear at the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center's Renberg Theatre on March 20, as a part of the Center's ongoing "Conversations with Coco." (That's drag-legend Miss Coco Peru to you -- still fondly remembered in the movie "Trick.") Miss Coco conducts lively interviews with the greats. And who could be greater than Oscar-Emmy-Grammy-Tony-winner Minnelli? For info call 323-860-7300.
SPEAKING of scurrilous gossip, my friend Michael Lewittes has a website that corrects the untrue gossip that permeates the fantastic Internet news world. It's called GossipCop.com. Michael says: "This is the only site that separates fact from fiction in celebrity reporting. We scour through dozens and dozens of entertainment blogs, magazines and news shows.
"The idea came out of my chasing down stories over the years at places like USWeekly and "Access Hollywood," only to find out that the rumor was false. I said to myself that there really needs to be a site where people can find out what's real or rumor. We are the only site doing this on a daily basis. The concept must have struck a nerve, because in just four years, we've grown to 5.5 million unique visitors a month, and we're still growing!
"A number of celebrities, including Kim Kardashian, Lena Dunham and Justin Bieber have thanked GossipCop.com for setting the record straight on some inaccurate reports. We've even had talks with networks about turning the site into a TV show."
ELAINE STRITCH HAS had a lot of jabbering about herself to appear in this column since she fled New York and went to her hometown of Birmingham, Mich., to try to disprove the Tom Wolfe theory that "you can't go home again."
But she is coming back to Manhattan on Feb 15, staying through the 22nd at the Lotus Club where she's a member. This will be for the kickoff of director Chiemi Karasawa's documentary on her titled "Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me."
"Now in her late 80s, Broadway legend Elaine Stritch remains as ferociously funny as ever" -- so goes the IFC Center's description of the film, which includes words from the likes of the late James Gandolfini, Tina Fey, Hal Prince, John Turturro, George C. Wolfe, Nathan Lane and Cherry Jones.
Call 212-924-7771, if you want more info about how and when to see this documentary. Supposedly, Elaine's co-star from "30 Rock," Alec Baldwin, will give a party for the woman who played his demanding mother in that series.
With Ms. Stritch in town, I believe there'll be a whole lot of shaking going on.
(E-mail Liz Smith at MES3838@aol.com.)
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