Frock Flicks note: This is a guest post by Andrew Schroeder.
Lifetime original movies get a (somewhat deserved) bad rap. 2015’s The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe is a notable exception. Though it deviates to some degree from the documented facts about Monroe’s life, it nevertheless paints a moving picture of the deeply troubled yet immensely talented sex goddess, who spent her life searching for the love and affection that always seemed to elude her. Lead actress Kelli Garner crafts a believable characterization of Marilyn –the woman — that never devolves into cheap impersonation (I’m looking at you, Mira Sorvino). Susan Sarandon delivers a creditable performance as Marilyn’s unbalanced mother, Gladys Baker.
Costumes in The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe
The costumes in The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe are top-notch. Costume designer Gersha Phillips clearly spent considerable time and effort precisely recreating several of Marilyn’s most iconic film looks, as well as elements of her personal of-screen style. I could only find one interview where Phillips discusses her work on the mini-series, in which notes:
“You know, I’ve done fat-suits and things like that. And when I did [The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe] we had to do some different augmentations for the body to make our actress, Kelli Garner, look more like Marilyn Monroe, and therefore more voluptuous and more curvy. And we just used different sorts of body padding and augmentations to help us with that.”
Kelli Garner also discusses the body manipulation:
To take the actress through 21 years of Monroe’s life, costume designer Gersha Phillips had to manipulate Garner’s body by raising her waist, padding her hips, and lessening her bust line. “In some of the scenes, we had to hide my breasts a little as I’m a little more two-some than she was … Gersha kept things really, really tight … When you shoot over a course of two months, as a woman your body fluctuates. And sometimes Gersha would take something in so tight and be like, This would be great for Friday, and it would be Wednesday. Then come Friday, I don’t know what happened, but I couldn’t get anywhere in it … It was just a dance of, is it gonna fit? Is it gonna zip up? Are we going to have to only shoot it from the front?”
I’m sure Marilyn felt similarly about her costumes at times!
I was so impressed with all of the costume design so I’ll run down all of the direct historical recreations I spotted. I’m sure I missed a few…
Are you a Marilyn fan? Have you seen The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe?