In 1956 the biggest movie sex symbol of all time went to England to make a movie with Sir Laurence Olivier. It was called “The Prince and the Showgirl” and it was just what the title said, a bittersweet story of a prince who arrogantly invites a showgirl to a late night dinner. Both are surprised by what comes next. Olivier was trying to raise his profile and Monroe wanted to be associated with classier projects. But she was already fragile and he was frustrated by her unreliability.
While Monroe was filming, she had a brief relationship with assistant on the production 23-year-old Colin Clark, who wrote about it in his book, My Week with Marilyn.
That relationship is the subject of a new movie starring Kenneth Branagh as Sir Laurence and Michelle Williams in a performance that is already generating Oscar buzz as Monroe. Branagh told The Guardian that “The Prince and the Showgirl” was made at a pivotal time.
“It was the last of please and thank-yous, collars and ties, and bobbies on the beat,” says Kenneth Branagh, whose new film bears witness to this clash of generations and cultures. “After this, haircuts were longer, there was rock’n’roll and all the sex involved with it. Politeness, manners, formality, dress codes – all those things were being swept away.”
You can watch the real Monroe and Olivier tonight on Turner Classic Movies (4 pm Eastern)