August 10, 2012

Marilyn, Jack and Charles

Sunday was the 50th anniversary of the death of actress and pop culture icon Marilyn Monroe. The milestone prompted reflections, reminiscences and movie reruns. It also gives your scribe occasion to mention an astonishing Marilyn story I stumbled upon recently.

The tale comes courtesy of someone who might be considered an icon of Canadian entertainment journalism, for lack of a better description. Charles Foster, now about to turn 90, but whose memory appears to be eternally sharp, is the author of two books rich with stories of the many Canadians who had an important impact on the early years of Hollywood.

The British-born Foster has done an amazing number of things in his life ranging from being an air force pilot to writing episodes of The Beverly Hillbillies.

His career led him to the newspaper trade in Canada and retirement in the vicinity of Moncton, New Brunswick.

It was, however, his connection to MM that draws one’s interest in light of the anniversary of her death, and, one supposes, next year’s 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination. If Charles Foster’s tale is true — and why would he fabricate such a yarn? — then the mystery of when these two towering figures first met is now resolved.

Foster recounted the story a few years ago as part of series of his memoirs published in a local seniors magazine. While there is no space here for Foster’s full story of the supposed first fateful encounter of JFK and MM, the following are the basics: Foster had been Monroe’s publicist during the shooting of The Prince and the Showgirl in England in late 1956. Their friendship continued when Foster moved to Hollywood to pursue his career as a writer.

Then on a “very warm summer evening” on July 12, 1960, as the Democrat Party was preparing to nominate its candidate (you can look it up), Foster noticed a man sneaking out of a window across the courtyard from his apartment. The man — Kennedy — greeted Foster and asked if he would let him in.

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