8 Fun Facts about ‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’ as the Film Turns 70
It was in the 1953 film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes that Marilyn Monroe performed one of her most famous songs “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend.” The film premiered 70 years ago today in Atlantic City, New Jersey with premiere dates in New York City, Los Angeles, and the entire country following in the next few weeks. The film starred Monroe as Lorelei Lee, a showgirl engaged to the wealthy Gus Esmond (played by Tommy Noonan). When she travels with her friend Dorothy Shaw (played by Jane Russell), her fiance’s father hires a private detective to follow them and of course, antics ensue in this comedy musical.
Marilyn Monroe almost wasn’t hired for the film
Originally, the producers wanted Betty Grable to play the lead role. However, she was one of the highest-paid actresses of the time and they would have had to pay her $150,000. They cast Monroe instead and only paid her $18,000. Russell actually ended up earning $200,000.
Dorothy falling in the pool wasn’t scripted
Russell accidentally fell into the pool but the director decided to keep it in the scene. It is hard to imagine that scene without it! She recovered so well, you would have thought that it was on purpose.
Tommy Noonan dissed Monroe
Noonan played Monroe’s fiance in the film and reportedly told a crew member that kissing her was akin to being swallowed alive. Monroe found out and locked herself in her makeup room and it took a lot of coaxing for her to continue with the film. Noonan wasn’t the only one to diss Monroe’s kissing style during her career. Tony Curtis once said kissing her was like “kissing Hitler.” Ouch!
The movie’s famous line was Monroe’s idea
At the end of the film, Monroe’s character says to her fiance’s father, “I can be smart when it’s important, but most men don’t like it.” It was reportedly Monroe’s idea, perhaps based on her real-life experiences.
The ship was used in 1953’s ‘Titanic’
The ship in the movie was the same one that they used in the Titanic film but was refurbished to resemble the SS Ile de France instead.
The film spawned the idea for another movie two years later
Just two years after Gentlemen Prefer Blondes came out, a movie called Gentlemen Marry Brunettes premiered. It also starred Russell.
Monroe almost didn’t wear her iconic pink dress
Originally, they wanted her to wear something a bit flashier, with more diamonds but settled on the hot pink dress that is now synonymous with the film. Seems like a good choice! Fun fact within a fun fact: Madonna wore something that was a nod to this scene in her “Material Girl” music video.
The movie was great for Monroe
The film was so successful that it led to her renegotiating a deal with 20th Century Fox. It earned over $5 million at the box office during its initial release. What do you think of the film? If you’d like to watch it in honor of its 70th anniversary, you can stream it on Free Classic Movies, Movieland Tv, Cinema Box, The Criterion Channel, Prime Video, Vudu, or Apple TV.