Marilyn: The Untold Story (1980)
For a generation of TV viewers, this biopic was the quintessential representation of Marilyn Monroe. Though Catherine Hicks bore little resemblance to the star, her portrayal of a playful yet manipulative sex symbol cast new light on the iconic figure, revealing she was much more than ‘just another dumb blonde’.
For many the untold, or at least unknown, portion of her story took place before Marilyn appeared. Norma Jean’s troubled childhood, first marriage, modelling career and relationship with agent Johnny Hyde all provide an illuminating backstory that Marilyn happily amends once she becomes a star. And though she may loudly proclaim “Norma Jean is dead”, she cannot as easily shrug off the affects that her past life continues to exert on her present relationships.
Catherine Hicks captures this dichotomy brilliantly. One particularly effective scene has Marilyn strolling down a crowded street unrecognised. She turns to her companion and asks “do you want to see her?” whereupon she removes her sunglasses, unties her hair and flashes a brilliant smile. Within seconds she is swamped by adoring fans.
There have been many depictions of Marilyn Monroe since her untimely death, be it on stage, screen or television, yet Hicks' performance remains unsurpassed.
For the depiction of Marilyn constantly fluffing her lines in Some Like It Hot, the biopic itself gets the line wrong. In Marilyn: The Untold Story, the actress has trouble with the line “Where’s my ukulele?” The actual line from the scene depicted was “Where’s the bourbon?” Jack Lemmon has stated that this line took over 60 retakes.
Biopic's scene recreation from Marilyn's final film The Misfits is included in the clip below (08:05)