From my Inbox to you — this show will be up through September.
Wait No More:
Star Museum’s Marilyn Monroe Exhibition Heralds Summer
‘Waiting for Monroe: Marilyn & Co.,’ a new exhibition at Abingdon’s Star Museum, recognizes a year of intense pop culture interest in Marilyn Monroe, whose 86th birthday was June 1, & whose 50th anniversary of passing is August 4th.
Her fascinating life story is very much of the moment, of the ‘zeitgeist,’ as the Germans say,” says Star Museum owner Robert Weisfeld.
Monroe was cover girl for June’s ‘Vanity Fair,’ and is channeled by actresses Elizabeth Banks (narrating a new documentary about Marilyn) and Elvis’ granddaughter Riley Keough, for ‘VF’s July issue.
The past year has seen Michelle Williams’ movie; and NBC’s Spielberg-produced ‘SMASH,’ intent upon being the basis for ‘Bombshell,’ a Broadway musical about Monroe.
And she was poster girl for the recent 65th Cannes Film Festival, an event her employers never encouraged her to attend. Always hamstrung by contractual conditions at a studio which treated her with little regard, Monroe’s journey was therefore the more remarkable.
“It’s interesting,” notes Weisfeld, “to analyze why Monroe succeeded among a fleet of ambitious starlets while simultaneously surpassing better actresses and greater beauties; and contemporary counterparts’ subsequent wishful thinking. Her relationship with the still and motion picture camera hasn’t yet been challenged by another entertainer, even after five decades.
Monroe’s trajectory was mapped out with great forethought. She had tricks for posing, movement, body image, dress, make-up, press relations and characterizations, most of them created on her own. To dismiss her as a woebegone tragic Venus is to lose sight of what a clever rascal she was!
Despite an unfortunate life start of illegitimacy and poverty, Monroe excelled because she was, if not educated, intelligent, driven and street smart. Norma Jeane’s solo creation of Marilyn Monroe turned out to be her greatest role, her King Lear. She fashioned her raw self into a transcendent master of sensuality American style, a benevolent button-pusher who knew exactly when to pull back, the most dazzling star package of all time. That’s why there’s such a sense in entertainment culture about waiting for the next Marilyn, who never quite comes along.”
‘Waiting for Monroe,’ obviously a play on Becket’s ‘Waiting for Godot,’ and a reference to Monroe’s chronic lateness, assembles a mountainous trove of rare Monroe memorabilia, in order to analyze her fully. The exhibition, on display through September, also includes about 30 rare items of personal effects and studio wardrobe, amidst those of her leading men, directors, friends, enemies, rivals and imitators.
Star Museum, preparing to enter its fifth year at 170 East Main Street, in Abingdon, Va., displays hundreds of items from over a century of celebrity, It is one of the few U.S. destinations devoted to the famous, from among the Ava Gardner Museum, in Smithfield, N.C.; one for John Wayne, in Winterset, Ia.; James Dean’s, in Fairmount, In.; Grand Rapids, Mn.’s, for Judy Garland; a James Stewart museum, in Indiana, Pa.; Clark Gable’s, in Cadiz, Oh.; a Steve McQueen library collection, in an Indianapolis suburb; and the largest by far, devoted to Will Rogers, in Clairmore, Ok.
Last year, international journalist and author David Pitt called Weisfeld’s collection “easily the broadest and most comprehensive.”
Star Museum has recently appeared twice on WCYB-TV, while making Huffington Post, RoadsideAttractions.com, Examiner.com, ‘Fun Things to Do In the Mountains,’ the ‘Kingsport Times-News,’ ‘Johnson City News,’ Bristol Herald Courier,’ ‘Elizabethton Star,’ ‘Smyth County News’ and ‘The Loafer.’ It will soon be featured in northern Va.’s ‘Recreation News,’ the largest monthly travel and leisure tabloid in the Mid-Atlantic.
The museum observes regular hours after 1 p.m., Tuesday-Saturday, but with fair warning, is given to throwing open the door to accommodate other schedules.