A future biographer of Carole Lombard and a close Facebook friend who already has plenty on her plate is further adding to her media smorgasbord. Michelle Morgan, whose book "Carole Lombard: Twentieth Century Star" is scheduled to be published in September 2016, is branching out into screenwriting, having optioned a script on the star she's perhaps most identified with...
...Marilyn Monroe, whom she's written about in the 2012 best-seller "Marilyn Monroe: Private and Confidential" and more recently in co-writing "Before Marilyn," examining Monroe's modeling work in the mid-1940s. Unlike most Marilyn biographers, Morgan never inflates her to iconic scale, but always retains her human side. (That, and her authoritative research, are why Lombard fans are excited about her book, the first truly comprehensive biography of Carole in more than 40 years.)
The feature film is to be titled...
"M..." (and don't forget the ellipses, folks, otherwise you have a different movie entirely!). Prospect House Entertainment of Burbank is eyeing a 2017 release for this biopic.
Many movies have been made about Monroe's brief (36 years and two months, less than three years longer than Lombard), tumultuous life. What should make this one special is that it has Morgan -- a stickler for fairness and accuracy -- in its corner. In the release, she promises we well see Marilyn "as an actress, wife, daughter, businesswoman, acting student, animal lover, friend and most of all, a human being." Bravo.
Morgan had kept this project under wraps the past two years, and I had no idea she had any screenwriting background to begin with. (Since my move to Los Angeles, I've been learning the craft, and am working on a pair of romantic comedy scripts inspired in part by Lombard, William Powell and Myrna Loy, Cary Grant and other old-school legends.) Says Morgan,
"I have written several screenplays in the past, but never tried to get them produced until now. I have also co-written a play which was published a few years back, called 'Wife Five.' I watch a lot of movies, read a lot of screenplays and books about writing them too. Tegan Summer [of Prospect House] gave me some good advice about pace etc, and I just went for it. I enjoyed the nuts and bolts of putting it together and I am definitely going to do more in the future."
Great to hear, and down the road perhaps we might pursue a long-distance online collaboration. (OK, I'm getting ahead of myself.) With this and the Lombard book as future projects, Morgan certainly will be kept busy.
Sad news today regarding another longtime Facebook friend of mine. Monica Lewis, a singer, actress and voice of a fabled advertising character, died in her sleep overnight at age 93.
Lewis sang with Benny Goodman's orchestra and worked on radio with Frank Sinatra in the 1940s, made a number of films for MGM and Warners in the 1950s (and later married producer Jennings Lang) and appeared in ads for items such as Burlington stockings (which, as you can tell from her legs, was something she was perfectly qualified for). But for 14 years, she was the voice of Chiquita Banana on radio and television -- and thanks to her, nearly all of us now know not to refrigerate bananas.
Lewis had a remarkable life, meeting all sorts of fascinating people (she wrote a fine biography, "Hollywood Through My Eyes"), and I met her several times at memorabilia shows since moving west last year. She was a frequent visitor to Facebook, and in fact was there as recently as Wednesday, engaging to the end with a self-deprecating sense of humor. This was the pic she showed on Wednesday, from 1950, and many of the responses were good-natured jokes about that era's famed "bullet bras":
Facebook won't be quite as much fun without you, Monica. Thanks. (By the way, your obituary made CBS radio's World News Roundup, Late Edition, much to my pleasure -- how wonderful that you were remembered!) And as my tribute, here's her version of the standard, "I'm In the Mood for Love":