Marilyn’s Story?


Los Angeles Times

Weekly TV Magazine – TV Times

February 10 – 16, 1963

By Cecil Smith

With all this probing into the dark regions of the psyche for TV dramas, particularly since the birth of The Eleventh Hour, it was inevitable that someone would get around to dramatizing the tragic life and death of Marylyn Monroe. And it is inevitable that program would be The Eleventh Hour.

Not that there’s any hint in Alfred Brenner’s play, “Lile A Diamond In The Sky,” that it was in any way inspired by Miss Monroe’s suicide (“Our legal opinions are thicker than the script,” say producer Sam Rolfe), but parallels are there. To wit:

Caption: Herschel Barnardi and Julie London are featured in “Like a Diamond in the Sky,” an Eleventh Hour drama about a suicidal actress.

In the drama, which NBC offers Wednesday night, the beautiful singer on our cover, Julie London, plays a beautiful singer named Joan Ashmond, who is first discovered sprawled across her bed, whispering the word “Mike” into a tape recorder. She’s found there the next morning dead.

The coroner’s office orders a psychiatric examination to determine whether Joan Ashmond’s death was suicide or accident (as happened in the Monroe case) and the show’s stars, Jack Ging and Wendell Corey, handle the investigation.

The story is told in flashbacks from conversations with the men who had worked with her --- Herschel Bernardi, Everett Sloane and others. Each flashback is done against a velvety black background --- again emphasizing the black recesses of the mind.

The completed portrait --- a lost and lonely idol, unable to handle the success.

(How close a parallel this could be to the real Marilyn Monroe can be checked in a theatrical documentary her studio, 20th Century-Fox, has prepared, “World of Marilyn Monroe.” It includes footage from her incomplete last movie, “Something’s Got to Give,” as well as an intimate study of her life.)

Julie London said she never met Marilyn Monroe nor did she make any attempt to identify with the blond star while filming the play.

“We’re opposite types,” said Julie. “Marilyn was the sexpot --- a sex symbol. I never think of myself that way.”

I told her I knew a million men who’d disagree.

“No,” she said, “I’m strictly the housewife-mother type.” Julie is married to actor-musician Bobby Troup and they have a daughter, Kelly, who’ll be a year old in April.

“I played Joan Ashmond as she was written --- a sick gal, lost and afraid,” Julie said. “I didn’t aim toward Marilyn.”

This is the first TV acting that Julie has done in some time --- “I got so sick of doing junk that I swore I’d do nothing unless I could do something good,” said Julie. “Then this script came along.” The part of Joan Ashmond gives her the chance for perhaps the finest acting she’s ever done on television.

Meanwhile, of course, she’s been singing --- that haunting voice lifted on records and in clubs and concert halls. That voice that is stilled in “Like a Diamond in the Sky.” Thank heavens only temporarily.


Julie London Returns to TV, But in a Mystery