On June 26, 1953, Marilyn Monroe received her star along Hollywood's Walk of Fame. She wrote her name in the wet cement in front of Grauman''s Chinese Theater and dotted the "i" in her first name with a rhinestone.
The blonde bombshell had quickly become Hollywood's darling, a legendary movie star, and would soon become one of the biggest silver screen icons of the 20th century.
On Friday, to celebrate what would have been Monroe's 75th birthday, cable network AMC will premiere Marilyn Monroe: The Final Days, a feature-length documentary chronicling the tragic last months in the life of Hollywood's sweetheart.
The documentary will include the premiere of the edited, 37-minute reconstruction of her final film, Something's Got to Give.
The film was a remake of the 1940 romantic comedy My Favorite Wife, starring Cary Grant and Irene Dunne. The footage languished for nearly 40 years in 20th Century Fox's vault.
The rise to stardom wasn't easy for Monroe, born was Norma Jean Baker. Having grown up in a string of foster homes and an orphanage, she eventually found her talent in modeling. She quickly moved to Hollywood in the late 1940s to launch a movie career.
Scoring bit parts in such films as John Huston's Asphalt Jungle and All About Eve was enough for Monroe to catch the attention of many studio producers in the 1950s. Monroe's curvaceous body, platinum hair and breathless voice were just some of the traits which led studios to knock on her door with movie deals.
The American Film Institute, dedicated to advancing and preserving the art of the moving images, has included Monroe on three of its Best 100 movies list.
An AFI panel of more than 1,500 leaders of the American movie community ranked Monroe's 1959 film Some Like It Hot as No. 1 on the "Funniest Movies" list and No. 14 on its "Greatest Movies" list. She also is No. 6 on the AFI's list of "Greatest American Screen Legends" for actresses.
Her status as a sex symbol began to solidify when she graced the first issue of Playboy magazine in 1952.
"Marilyn Monroe is the playmate of all time," Elizabeth Norris, director of public relations for Playboy, said.
The actress not only appeared on the magazine's first cover, but also was its first playmate, Norris said. Monroe has been featured eight times in Playboy but she never posed for the magazine. Playboy purchased the pictures.
"She was a flagship model [for Playboy]," Morris said.
Monroe's image has been forever preserved as a result of crooning "Happy Birthday" to President John F. Kennedy or standing with a billowing skirt over a subway gate in Billy Wilder's The Seven Year Itch.
She died in August 1962 of an overdose of barbiturates. Her last completed film was The Misfits. She never completed Something's Got to Give.
Kevin Burns, executive producer of AMC's Marilyn Monroe: The Final Days, found nearly 9 ½ hours of raw footage of her last film, Something's Got to Give, in 1996.
Most of the footage was faded badly, but it was restored and color corrected using technical video technology.
After restoration, "the quality was better than we feared," Burns recalled. "There was a lot more footage than we thought existed."
Producers had to string together pieces of the film following the order they thought the plot would fall into. But the actress' performance seemed promising as she played the part of a "flesh-and-blood person," Burns said, having matured as a woman and an actress in the final years leading up to The Misfits.
"Marilyn looks beautiful, although she was not in great emotional or physical condition," Burns said. "She seemed to have difficulty remembering lines and seemed to have physical and emotional problems."
Monroe's personal physician, Dr. Hyman Engelberg, will discuss publicly for the first time in the documentary Monroe's emotional instability, chemical dependency and general poor health during the period of filming.
It is difficult to say how Something's Got to Give would have fared at the box office since it's incomplete, Burns said. Monroe wasn't present in all of the found footage. Her illnesses led to her absence from the set 17 of 30 days scheduled for shooting.
"It would have probably been one of the featherweight comedies of the 1960s," Burns said. "It would have been cute and charming."
It is hard to predict what Monroe would be doing today if she was still alive, but Burns assumed that she would continue being the charming, yet vulnerable, person that she was.
Burns pondered whether Monroe could have survived losing her looks, because she didn't have a strong personality. She was sweet yet very fragile, he said.
"It's intriguing to watch a woman like Marilyn, and yet know that she was full of doubt, insecurity and pain," Burns said. " [Marilyn's] death was part of who she was."
Burns promises that the charm which people love about Monroe will come across in the documentary.
The documentary is a part of a daylong celebration of Monroe's 75th birthday, ending at 4 a.m. EST Saturday. Marilyn Monroe: The Final Days will premiere at 8 p.m. EST.
To coincide with Monroe's birthday, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment launching Marilyn Monroe: The Diamond Collection. The collection features the debut of Monroe's most celebrated and colorful films on DVD, such as The Seven Year Itch, Bus Stop and more. Almost a million copies were pre-ordered before the collection's release.
Perhaps you can call it Bond luck.
Actor Roger Moore walked away unscathed after a car accident in southwestern Sweden on Saturday, Reuters reports.
The 73-year-old ex-007 actor and his Swedish partner Christina Tholstrup were en route from a Swedish airport to a television studio when another car rammed into theirs. The two were able to avoid serious injury due to protective airbags.
BRIDGING THE WORLD: Charity ain't just about salad dressing for Paul Newman. The way cool actor has donated $10,000 to build a bridge as part of a 2.2 mile walking trail along the revitalized Still River in Danbury, Conn., The Associated Press reports.
"We are ecstatic that Paul Newman has chosen to support this environmental initiative," Mayor Gene Enriquez said Friday.
STING GETS SOME: British rocker Sting was decorated today by Chile's government for defending human rights during Augusto Pinochet's 1973-1990 dictatorship, Reuters says.
The crooner's song "They Dance Alone" -- about the mothers of those who disappeared during the autocracy -- has been seen as an emblem for the victims of the Pinochet reign.
NATIVE SON: The English city of Bristol is planning to honor their native son, actor Cary Grant, in September with a film retrospective, various exhibitions and a proposed statue.
Actor Richard Gere is not only getting religious but political as well.
The avowed Buddhist presented U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Monday with a copy of his 1997 coffee table book called "Pilgrim," a black and white photo documentary of the Tibetan people taken by Gere himself, Reuters reports.
The 52-year-old actor and star of this year's "Dr. T and the Women" has been a very vocal activist for the independence of Tibet, which has been under the sovereignty of China since 1951. The United Nations has largely ignored the plight of the Tibetan people.
HUNT FILES FOR DIVORCE: Emmy- and Oscar-winning actress Helen Hunt filed for divorce Monday from actor-husband Hank Azaria. The couple, who announced their separation in August, cited irreconcilable differences for torpedoing their 17-month union.
THE AWFUL TRUTH: Who needs a therapist when you can talk to a magazine reporter. Seven months after the big split between Hugh Grant and Elizabeth Hurley, the 40-year-old "Four Weddings and a Funeral" actor has disclosed to a German mag one of the reasons behind the breakup, Reuters says.
"Basically my life is so boring, it's embarrassing. I would love to be a jet-setter, flying off to parties in New York and Monte Carlo. Obviously I was simply too dull for Liz,'' the 40-year-old actor told the German publication Hoer Zu.
The ex-couple called it quits this May after 13 years of being together.
'CAT' IS IN THE BAG: "The Last Picture Show" director Peter Bogdanovich has completed production of his latest film "The Cat's Meow," Variety says. The $6 million project -- starring Eddie Izzard, Kirsten Dunst, Cary Elwes and Edward Hermann -- chronicles the killing that allegedly took place on newspaper mogul William Randolph Hearst's yacht in 1924.
Specifically, the story is based on the Hollywood legend that an angry Hearst (Hermann) mistakenly shot film producer Thomas Ince (Elwes) after he suspected his mistress Marion Davies (Dunst) was having an affair with silent star Charlie Chaplin (Izzard).
"The Insider's" Russell Crowe is looking to get the skinny on Claire Danes in the Jodie Foster-directed drama "Flora Plum."
The Hollywood Reporter notes that the actor is in negotiations to join Foster and company on the Depression-era romance, which is slated to begin filming in late summer or early fall.
The story involves a circus freak played by Crowe who falls for a penniless girl (Danes) after taking her in and helping her become a star. Steven Rodgers ("Hope Floats") is the screenwriter.
GOTTA HAVE HART: Melissa Joan Hart's obsession is the 1947 RKO romantic comedy "The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer". The teen fave's Heartbreak Films and RKO's independent film arm, Radio Pictures, are teaming up to remake the demi-classic. Hart will star and produce.
The original flick featured Cary Grant and Shirley Temple in the tale of a playboy sentenced by a judge to spend time with the court official's younger sister.
According to the Reporter, the all-new "Bobby-Soxer" will offer a "contemporary look at teen angst." Hart, of ABC's "Sabrina the Teenage Witch," was last seen on the big screen in 1999's "Drive Me Crazy."
KEEPING UP WITH THE JONZE: "Being John Malkovich" director Spike Jonze is investigating "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button."
According to trade-paper reports, the filmmaker is in final negotiations to make the Paramount Pictures drama. Charlie Kaufman, the screenwriter who penned "Malkovich," might reteam with Jonze on the project -- based on an F. Scott Fitzgerald short story. Robin Swicord ("Little Women") scripted the initial draft.
Fitzgerald's tale detailed the life of a man who ages backwards. At 50, he falls in love with a 30-year-old woman and is forced to deal with the consequences of their physical dilemma.
The Hollywood Reporter notes that no start date has yet been set.
'N Sync SANTA MONICA, Calif., April 27, 2000 -- They made "Spice World," didn't they? Yes, they did, and so in the continuing tradition of pop stars turned movie stars -- a tradition that includes the good ("A Hard Day's Night"), the bad ("Under the Cherry Moon") and the unwatchable ("Spice World") -- comes word that the boybanders of 'N Sync are reportedly going big screen.
A company called Total Film says it'll unveil its cinematic vision with the teen idols May 16 at the Cannes Film Festival. For now, all we know is that Total Film is most eager to work with the Sync guys because they are, in a remarkable phrase, "an international musical treasure.''
Said Total Film Group Chairman and Chief Executive Gerald Green in a statement: "By turning to film, they will give their fans around the world a new medium in which to enjoy their remarkable talents."
The Total Film project supposedly is to start shooting in early 2001. The guys previously have been rumored to be doing a flick with Tom Hanks' production company.
'N Sync is currently the biggest-selling music act in the nation -- moving 4.84 million copies of its sophomore album, "No Strings Attached," since its release five weeks ago.
LOST IN THE TRANSLATION: MTV comic Tom Green, who underwent cancer surgery last month, will star in an English-language remake of Roberto Benigni's 1994 Italian comedy "The Monster," The Hollywood Reporter says.
GONE TO POT: Ashton Kutcher, resident dreamboat on Fox's "That '70s Show," will stretch his thespian muscles in "Dude, Where's My Car?," a stoner comedy for 20th Century Fox. The Reporter says a June start date is planned for the shoot.
GEE, DO YOU THINK VINCE VAUGHN IS AVAILABLE FOR THIS PROJECT, TOO? Universal Pictures, which in 1998 offered moviegoers the wholly unnecessary shot-by-shot remake of Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho," is next planning to destroy, er, redo the master filmmaker's 1941 suspense classic "Suspicion," Daily Variety says. The original film starred one Cary Grant.