15 Facts About “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,” the Movie That Brought Marilyn Monroe to Tears
In 1953, the film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes with Marilyn Monroe in the lead role entered the top box office charts. The actress played the role of a “dumb blonde.” It was in this film that Monroe performed the famous song about diamonds being a girl’s best friend. We’ll tell you all about what happened behind the scenes of this legendary movie.
- It was initially planned for another actress, Betty Grable, to play the main character Lorelei. But the creators of the film cast Marilyn Monroe for the role just to save money.
Grable was one of the highest-paid actresses of that time, and her fee would have been $150,000. Monroe, on the other hand, received way less — just $18,000. Besides, Marilyn was already popular at the time: she had already become famous from her part in the movie Niagara.
- In many of their scenes together, Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell (who played Dorothy, Lorelei’s friend) performed all of their movements in unison. A choreographer was hired to help them achieve synchronicity in their dance numbers. And the girls moved in step with each other the whole time, as the filmmakers deliberately arranged it so that the actresses even walked in sync.
- During the first musical number, where Russell and Monroe sing the song “Little Girl from Little Rock” in red dresses, the actresses quickly climbed up and down stairs in high heels. At these moments, Jane was careful and kept looking down at her feet. Marilyn, on the other hand, never looked down.
- Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell became friends on the set. In an interview, Russell said that Monroe was very sensitive to everything, for example, to the rudeness of the men on set. During really difficult moments, Jane was the only one who could convince Marilyn to come out of her trailer and start shooting.
- The episode where Dorothy falls into the pool wasn’t planned. It happened accidentally. But when the director saw the scene, he decided to keep it in the film.
- The ship they used in the movie is the same one that was previously used in Titanic (1953) and it was refurbished to resemble the SS Ile de France, which is clearly named in the film.
- Marilyn Monroe’s look in the iconic performance of the song “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” could have been more edgy. The actress was supposed to wear a dress made of fishnet material, ornamented with a scattering of rhinestones, imitating diamond jewelry. However, the costume was considered too revealing, and Marilyn ended up singing in a fuchsia-colored dress.
- In her final interview, Marilyn Monroe said that the studio executives were disrespectful to her during filming. This was even evident in the pay discrepancy between her and Jane Russell. Russell earned 11 times more than Monroe: $200,000 compared to $18,000. Despite this, Marilyn held warm feelings toward Jane.
- During the performance of the song “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend,” all of the dancers were made to wear black mesh on their heads. This was done specifically for Marilyn Monroe because she was supposed to be the only blonde according to the filmmakers’ plan. Even the male performers’ light hair was disguised by dyeing their temples gray.
- The film was based on a novel written by American writer and screenwriter Anita Loos. However, there were many differences between the plot of the film and the book. For example, in the novel, Dorothy does not meet a private detective during her travels.
Instead, she meets a poor magazine editor at the beginning. In the film’s ending, Lorelei doesn’t end up with the man who paid for her trip, but with a new acquaintance who agrees to pay for a film with her in it.
- Tommy Noonan, Monroe’s partner that played the fiancé of her character, didn’t like kissing her. He talked about it to a crew member, describing the kiss “like being swallowed alive.” Monroe found out about it, and she was so worried that she burst out crying and locked herself in the makeup room. It took her colleagues a long time to calm her own and convince her to continue working.
- 2 years after the premiere, it was decided to make a film based on a similar plot. So, the movie Gentlemen Prefer Blondes was followed by Gentlemen Marry Brunettes. Jane Russell also starred in this film, but this time, without Marilyn Monroe.
The plot of the later film is not related to the legendary original. It is the story of 2 Broadway actresses who are tired of their lives in New York. They leave for France to pursue their careers and find husbands.
- In 1949, the musical Gentlemen Prefer Blondes premiered on Broadway. The lead role was played by actress Carol Channing, who was the first to perform the song “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend.” However, the creators of the film adaptation never considered Channing for the role of Lorelei in the movie.
- At the end of the film, when Monroe’s character is talking to the father of her fiancé, she says the famous line, “I can be smart when it’s important, but most men don’t like it.” This line was entirely Monroe’s idea.
- It was originally planned for other girls to sing instead of Monroe and Russell. Marilyn’s voice was initially considered ridiculous. However, after listening to recordings of the actresses singing, the filmmakers changed their minds and left everything as it was.
Professional singer Marni Nixon only voiced a couple of lines in the song “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend,” which required an opera-like performance. By the way, it was Nixon who first noticed that there was no more suitable voice than Monroe’s.