Saturday, December 11, 2010

Jimmy the Raven: Frank Capra's Avian Star

When most people think of stars with whom Frank Capra worked frequently, Gary Cooper might come to mind. But there was another actor with whom the director worked more frequently.  In fact, he was the star with whom Frank Capra worked more than many other, appearing in every Frank Capra film after You Can't Take It With You (1938) for many years. Despite this, most audiences probably didn't know his name, and they probably couldn't tell the difference between him and other members of his species. He was Jimmy the Raven.

Not only did Jimmy the Raven star in many Frank Capra movies, including rather central roles in You Can't Take It With You, Arsenic and Old  Lace (1944), and It's a Wonderful Life (1946), but he may have appeared more than any other avian star, and certainly more than any other corvid. It is estimated that he appeared in over 600 other films.

Contrary to popular belief, Jimmy the Raven was not Frank Capra's pet. Instead he was the bird of animal trainer Curly Twiford. He trained a wide variety of animals for films, including a raccoon, a marmoset, and a rat, as well as such birds as canaries, meadowlarks, parrots, and robins. Of all this animal stars, by far the most popular would be Jimmy. Mr. Twiford claimed he found Jimmy as a raven chick in a nest in the Mojave Desert which had apparently been deserted. He adopted the young bird and named him Jimmy. Curly Twiford kept Jimmy in his house and trained him to do a variety of tasks, from typing, putting coins in piggy banks, lighting cigarettes, and so on.

Indeed, Jimmy's skills were put to good use in You Can't Take It With You, his first film with Frank Capra. In the movie Jimmy plays, for lack of a better term, the household crow of Martin Vanderhof's eccentric family. Not only is the crow one of the family, but he even helps out in the family's firecracker factory. Arguably, it would be the most pivotal role Jimmy would play in a Frank Capra movie until It's a Wonderful Life, in which he played Uncle Billy's pet raven. It was a part which Mr. Capra created for Jimmy--the original script to It's a Wonderful Life did not call for a raven in any scene. Here it is worth noting that while Mr. Capra perhaps wished to give Uncle Billy a pet raven to show his eccentricity, he may have had other reasons as well. I do not know how much Frank Capra knew about Norse mythology, but according to Norse myth the god Óðinn had two ravens, Hugiinn (often interpreted as "Thought") and Muninn ("Memory"), which he sent across the world to gather information each day. Given Norse myth and the fact that Uncle Billy was absent minded, a raven would then make a fitting pet for him. Jimmy also had a fairly visible role in Arsenic and Old Lace, where he was the raven who frequented the graveyard.

Having appeared in over 200 movies, Jimmy obviously appeared in more than just Frank Capra films.Indeed, he would also have a rather obvious part in The Bride Came C.O.D. (1941), in which he played the crow of Pop Tolliver (Harry Davenport). Besides It's a Wonderful Life, the most famous movie in which Jimmy ever appeared was The Wizard of Oz (1939). He was the crow who landed on the Scarecrow's shoulder in the cornfield. Jimmy also appeared in Moon Over Miami (1941--as Mr. Sylvester), Son of Dracula (1943--as Madame Zimba's crow), The Enchanted Forest (1945--as Blackie), and many other films. His last on screen appearance may have been 3 Ring Circus in 1954. Curly Twifold died in the Fifties and it is not known what happened to Jimmy afterwards. At any rate, by 1954 he would have been around 20 years old--not particularly old for a domesticated corvid, but not young either.As an animal actor, Jimmy was extremely successful. He made enough money on his own to pay for the food and housing of all of Curly Twifold's animals.

Here I must address a question which has perplexed me for some time. In most articles on Jimmy, he is referred to as a "raven." Indeed, Curly Twifold referred to him as such. That having been said, his IMDB profile is under "Jimmy the Crow," and in the few films in which he was given credit, he is referred to as "Jimmy the Crow" or  "Jim the Crow." In the book For the Birds: An Uncommon Guide, author Laura Erickson insists he is actually a crow. That having been said, I believe that Jimmy is indeed a raven. In the films in which he is most visible (You Can't Take It With You, It's a Wonderful Life), he looks to me more like a Common Raven (native to virtually the whole Northern Hemisphere) than the smaller American Crow. Regardless of his species, Jimmy played both crows and ravens throughout his career.

While Jimmy the Raven would go uncredited in the majority of the films in which he appeared, he earned a place in film history that no other bird would. He starred in several classic films and in some of them he was played primary roles. If he had appeared in It's a Wonderful Life alone, Jimmy would be memorable, but he appeared in so much more.

Friday, December 10, 2010

TV Producer Alan Armer Passes On

Television producer Alan A. Armer, who produced such classic shows as The Fugitive and The Invaders, passed on December 5, 2010 at the age of 88. The cause was colon cancer.

Alan Armer was born on July 7, 1922 in Los Angeles, California. During World War II he served in the United States Army. He served as an announcer for Armed Forces Radio in Sri Lanka, then called Ceylon. He attended Stanford University where he graduated with a bachelor's degree in speech in 1947. After graduation he because a radio announcer at a radio station in San Jose, California.

It was upon his return to Los Angeles that he made his first tentative steps into television. He took a job with an advertising agency where he wrote, directed, narrated, and even acted in commercials for television. It was in 1949 that with Walter Grauman he created Lights! Camera! Action! for KNBH (now KNBC), a talent show.  Her remained with the show until 1951. It was in 1956 that he began producing nationally broadcast television shows. It was that year that he produced My Friend Flicka and then the Western Broken Arrow. He produced Man Without a Gun before moving onto The Untouchables. After The Fugitive Mr. Armer produced The Fugitive, for which he won one Emmy Award. Over the next several years Alan Armer produced such shows as The Invaders, Lancer, Cannon, and The Magician,

It was in 1980 that Alan Armer became part time faculty at California State University, Northridge. He eventually became a full professor.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The 30th Anniversary of John Lennon's Death

Today it is the 30th anniversary of John Lennon's murder. It was around 10:50 PM on 8 December 1980 that John Lennon and Yoko Ono were returning from a recording session at the Record Plant to The Dakota, the late Victorian apartment house John and Yoko had called home since 1973. Unfortunately, in the shadows one Mark David Chapman was waiting for John. As John made his way towards The Dakota's entrance, Chapman took aim and fired upon him. The first bullet would miss. Unfortunately, the next two would strike John, one in the left side of his back and the next in his left shoulder. Chapman would shoot John several more times, one of the bullets penetrating the aorta of John's heart. The shot was fatal. John managed to stagger a few steps to The Dakota's reception area where he murmured, "I'm shot," before collapsing. The Dakota's concierge Jay Hastings covered John's body with the jacket from his uniform and called the police. The Dakota's doorman Jose Perdromo seized Chapman and shook the gun from his hand.

John was taken by policemen Bill Gamble and James Moran to Roosevelt Hospital. When John was brought into the emergency he had no pulse and was not breathing. Three doctors worked for twenty minutes in an attempt to revive John. It was at 11:15 PM, Monday, 8 December 1980 that John Lennon was declared dead on arrival.

On 8 December 1980 I had a severe case of influenza which included several trips to the bathroom during the day. The following morning of 9 December 1980 I had no intention of waking up and going to school at 6:30 AM as I usually did. Unfortunately, I would be awakened with the second worst news I had ever had in my life (the worst was when my mother passed). My brother shook me awake and simply said, "John Lennon's dead. He was shot." I simply sat up in my bed, glared at my brother, and said flatly, "B.S. (well, that's the abbreviation for what I said--I used the whole word...)." My brother shook his head and replied, "No. It's true. The Today Show is on." I could tell by the tremble in my brother's voice and the state of shock in which he looked to be that what he said was true. I walked into the living room to learn the horrible truth.  The Today Show was indeed on a half hour early. The usually calm Tom Brokaw looked shaken. Jane Pauley, a self proclaimed Beatles fan, was as white as a sheet and looked as if she had been crying. It was true. The night before John Lennon had been shot and murdered.

It was perhaps good that I had the flu, as I could not have gone to school that day regardless. I spent the next three days crying and listening to Beatles and John Lennon songs. In fact, in the weeks that came I would cry any time John Lennon's latest single, "Starting Over," or his perennial holiday classic, "Happy Xmas (War is Over)," would come on the radio (indeed, I have to confess, I have cried while writing this). While I had already heard of the deaths of many celebrities I admired (the first was Judy Garland, followed later that summer by Sharon Tate) in my young life, the death of John  Lennon grieved me more than any before or since. Quite simply, he was John Lennon. I have already written of the impact John Lennon had on my life.  Suffice it to say that John Lennon had a greater and longer lasting impact on my life than any other artist in any field.

Of course, I was not alone in mourning John Lennon. In fact, the sheer scale of the grief upon his murder was far greater than anything seen before. Fans gathered from all around outside The Dakota, creating a makeshift memorial of flowers and other tokens of appreciation for John. Tape players played old Beatles and John Lennon songs, and fans sang some themselves. By the night of Tuesday, 9 December 1980, the crowd had swelled to over 1000. No funeral was held, but perhaps because she had witnessed the grief of John's fans first hand, Yoko Ono suggested that on 14 December 1980 fans should meet at Central Park for 10 minutes of silence in remembrance of John Lennon. Fans would not only meet at Central Park, however, as the 10 minutes of silence in remembrance of John would become a worldwide event, making John Lennon's vigil perhaps the largest ever held in history. On 14 December 1980, over 225,000 fans gathered at Central Park in New York City. They gathered in other cities as well. Thirty thousand gathered in John's hometown of Liverpool. Even in Moscow fans gathered to mourn John, although there the Soviet police broke up the vigil. The ten minutes of silence was not simply limited to John Lennon fans either. Radio stations around the world fell silent for ten minutes too. Sales of Beatles albums and John Lennon albums rose sharply in sales after John's murder.

Even the media seemed to take notice of the sheer scale of mourning for John Lennon. Indeed, after dismissing rock musicians for years, they actually realised John Lennon's importance in the history of the late 20th Century. I am not sure who first used the term. It may have been Tom Brokaw that very morning of 9 December 1980 or it may have been in Time magazine or some other news outlet. Regardless, John Lennon may have been the first musician in the history of mankind whose murder was termed an assassination, as if he had been a political or religious figure, or at least as important as a political or religious figure. Over the next several weeks there would be literally thousands of articles in the news and pieces on television shows on John Lennon's life and death. A search on Google's news archive for December 1980 results in about 2080 articles. Given that even Google's formidable news archive does not cover every printed news source and certainly not those of television or radio stations, this number is probably very conservative.

I am sure in 1980 there were many who wondered why John's fans mourned him so and in such numbers. Indeed, most all of us had experienced the deaths of celebrities before. The first celebrity death I remember happened when I was six. when Judy Garland died. Knowing she played Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, the news upset me. Indeed, I thought she was still 17 years old. I asked my mother how someone so young could die and she told me The Wizard of Oz was made years ago and Judy Garland was not young any more. She conveniently left out the part about her death being cause by a drug overdose and that she was that old. It was only a few weeks later that I would hear of Sharon Tate's murder, later to be revealed as having been at the hands of the Manson Family. Much more so than Miss Garland's death, Sharon Tate's death would haunt me for years to come. I did not quite know who Sharon Tate was, but I knew she played Janet Trego (on whom I had a crush) on The Beverly Hillbillies. And while I did not know the details of her murder, the fact that she had been murdered bothered me to no end (it still does to this day). Over the years other celebrities I admired would pass, including Jack Benny (whom I actually cried over), Groucho Marx, and Steve McQueen. Keith Moon of The Who would be the first rock star I admired whose death I heard reported, but as much as I loved The Who, I fully expected him to die young given his lifestyle. But none of those deaths would impact me in the way John Lennon's death did.

In fact, the plain truth is that John Lennon's death still has an impact on me. Over the years I have cried many times over John Lennon's passing, and I always do on the anniversary of his death. Indeed, as I stated earlier, I have cried writing this post, as I had also cried during the post I wrote for his 70th birthday. Since John Lennon's death there have been only a few deaths that have come close to evoking the sort of grief in me that John's did (George Harrison, John Entwistle, Patrick McGoohan), but none have ever surpassed the sheer level of emotion that John's murder evoked in me. He is truly the only celebrity whose passing evoked grief in me as intense as if a personal friend or family member died.

I suppose there are those who think that it is silly that someone should mourn over someone famous as intensely as I did John Lennon. After all, I never met him or even so much as exchanged letters with him.  Having experienced such grief, I do not. The plain fact is that we have lived in a society of mass communication for the past several hundred years, since the invention of the printing press. This has made it possible for us to be touched by the lives and words of individuals we have never even met. Before the advent of radio, much less television, in 1870 Charles Dickens was mourned by all of England and much of the rest of the world. In 1944 crowds of people gathered to witness the passing of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's funeral train. In 1962 Marilyn Monroe was mourned nearly as much as some politicians. In 1964 the assassination of John F. Kennedy not only resulted in schools and businesses closing down, but in coverage of the passing of the President for the next three days on television. The vast majority of people who mourned Messrs. Dickens, Roosevelt, and Kennedy and Miss Monroe had never met them in person or even so much as exchanged letters with them, yet these individuals had a huge impact on the lives of many. As a musician, songwriter, and political activist, John Lennon had influenced the lives of many and shaped the lives of many. It should be little wonder, then, that people mourned him so.

Terence Towles Canote
8 December, 2010

As I wrote on his 70th birthday, John Lennon had an enormous impact on my life. Given the fact that I was a Beatles fan and John Lennon fan since birth (they came to the U.S. less than a year after I had been born), John Lennon perhaps influenced and shaped my life in ways I cannot measure and cannot possibly begin to understand. Indeed, it would seem I am not alone. In the days following his death a young New Yorker said what many of us felt, "I can't believe he's dead. He kept me from dying so many times before." Given John Lennon had influenced the lives of many, shaped the lives of many, and even saved the lives of many, it should be little wonder he was mourned by so many and so intensely. If the outpouring of grief for John Lennon was so great and came from so many, it is perhaps a mark of so deeply he had touched so many of us. In fact, if many John Lennon fans are like myself, he continues to be a lasting influence on them as well as me. In a way, then, while John Lennon may have died that cold, New York night on Monday, 8 December 1980, he has never really left us.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Characters Inspired By Marilyn Monroe

There can be no doubt that Marilyn Monroe was one of the most popular actresses in the history of Hollywood. From 1953 to 1962 she ranked in Quigley's top ten box office stars three separate years. In Empire magazine's list of the "Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time" Miss Monroe ranked #8. In Empire magazine's list of "Sexiest Female Movie Stars of All Time" she ranked #1. In the American Film Institute's list of "100 Years...100 Stars" she was ranked #6. Premier magazine voted her the #2 greatest movie star of all time (Cary Grant was #1). In a poll conducted by Clairol, Marilyn even beat out Grace Kelly (who was #2 and would have gotten my vote) as the greatest blonde of all time. Even before she died, Marilyn Monroe had become an icon. After he death she would become even more of one.

Given the impact Marilyn Monroe had on popular culture, even as she was still alive, it should come as no surprise that several characters in pop culture have been inspired by her and even based directly on her. Some characters merely took her appearance, while others took various aspects of her personality as well. In fact, it seems possible that of female celebrities, Marilyn Monroe has inspired more characters than any other woman, except possibly for Bettie Page.

Indeed, it is possible that one character was inspired by Marilyn Monroe before she was even famous. Vicki Vale, a photojournalist for The Gotham Gazette, first appeared in Batman #48, October/November 1948 (it probably hit the stands in August or September of that year). According to legend, she was based on a young actress named Norma Jean Mortensen. As told by Bob Kane, he first met Norma Jean in 1943 at a cast party held after shooting had ended on the serial The Batman (1943). Later when Bob Kane was serving as a consultant on the serial Batman and Robin in 1948, he met Norma Jean, now Marilyn Monroe, on a Hollywood backlot. The two went to the beach where Mr. Kane drew some sketches of her. When he returned to New York City he showed the sketches to his editor and told him his idea for the character of Vicki Vale. The editor approved the idea. When Batman #48 was being prepared, however, the colourist made her hair red instead of blonde. Of course, here I must mention that Bob Kane also claimed to have had an affair with Marilyn....

Although it has often been stated that Vicki Vale was based on Marilyn Monroe, Bob Kane's story does seem questionable. I must point out that Bob Kane was well known for embellishing his life and his career. Indeed, for decades he insisted that he and he alone created Batman. When it was finally revealed that the character was co-created by Bill Finger, Mr. Kane even denied the fact, although he would eventually acknowledge the fact that Mr. Finger made Batman's costume darker and more bat-like, created and named the secret identity of Bruce Wayne, created Robin, and even named Gotham City. Sadly, this was not the only instance in which Bob Kane stretched the truth, so it possible he did the same with his story of the creation of Vicki Vale. First, it seems highly unlikely he first met Norma Jeane Mortensen in 1943. The Batman was an extremely, low budget serial shot very swiftly, so that it is doubtful that there was ever a cast party when it ended shooting. If there was, there can be no doubt that Columbia Pictures did not flit the bill. Even if there was a cast party, it is doubtful Miss Mortensen was even there. She had not yet begun her career in modelling, let alone acting. Second, it seems unlikely Bob Kane ever had an affair with Marilyn Monroe. Although Bob Kane was a known womaniser and was actually very handsome (when younger he looked somewhat like Robert Young), it is curious that Marilyn herself never mentioned any such affair, nor anyone who knew her! Indeed, it must be pointed out that in 1948, Marilyn Monroe was married.

Some have questioned Bob Kane's story of the creation of Vicki Vale based on the fact that by 1948 Bob Kane no longer worked on Batman, leaving that to a number of ghost artists. Here I must point out that even after Mr. Kane had ceased drawing the feature, he still had input on its characters. For instance, Bill Finger himself has said Bob Kane created The Penguin, basing him on Willy, the advertising mascot for Kool cigarettes. It was Bill Finger who gave The Penguin his personality as a rather snooty gentleman. Bill Finger has also credited Bob Kane with co-creating  The Mad Hatter, who first  appeared in Batman #49, November 1948, only a month after Vicki's first appearance!

That having been said, there could be a kernel of truth to the story that Bob Kane based Vicki Vale on Marilyn Monroe. One scenario is that Bob Kane did indeed meet Marilyn Monroe on a Hollywood backlot in 1948 and she served as a the model for Vicki Vale. Batman and Robin, like the first serial, was shot at Columbia Pictures. Marilyn Monroe had a contract with Columbia from March 9, 1948 to September 8, 1948. This at least makes it possible that they met on the Columbia backlot. Another scenario is that Bob Kane met Marilyn Monroe on a beach and asked if he could sketch her. The sketches which Bob Kane always claimed he made of Marilyn Monroe on that beach do indeed resemble her. And since Bob Kane had an eye for the ladies, it seems likely he would ask her to pose for him for sketches. A third scenario, is that Bob Kane based Vicki Vale on Marilyn Monroe without ever having met her.  Norma Jeane Dougherty ( her surname having changed after marrying James Dougherty) began modelling in 1944 and proved rather popular as a pinup and cover model. By 1948 she had appeared in such publications as Family Circle, Yank, U.S. Camera, and Pageant, among others. Indeed, this cold explain why Vick's hair was red rather than blonde. When Norma Jeane first started modelling, she still had her natural hair colour, which was auburn. The closest comic books in the late Forties could come to auburn was red.

Regardless, while Bob Kane's story of how Vicki Vale was created is unlikely, it is quite possible that Vicki Vale was based on Marilyn Monroe. Of course, while Vicki Vale's appearance may have been based on Marilyn Monroe, her personality was based largely on Lois Lane. Just as Lois was always trying to uncover Superman's identity, so too was Vicki always trying to uncover Batman's identity!  From her face to her figure, Vicki does resemble Marilyn a good deal, particularly in her early days of modelling. Vicki Vale would appear in the serial Batman and Robin, where she would be played by Jane Adams. In the movie Batman (1989) she was played by the very blonde Kim Basinger. Vicki Vale would be a regular character in the Batman comic books until 1963, after which editor Julius Schwartz dropped the character. Since then she has resurfaced a few times in the comic books.

Given Bob Kane's story of the creation of Vicki Vale, it would seem that he was very attracted to Marilyn Monroe whether he met her or not. In 1960 Bob Kane created the animated series Courageous Cat and Minute Mouse. A funny animal parody of Batman, the series ran from 1960 to 1962. Minute Mouse's love interest was a movie star named Marilyn Mouse, who looked like a rodent version of the movie star.

While it is debatable whether Vicki Vale was based on Marilyn Monroe, it is fairly certain that Milton Caniff based the character of Miss Columbia Mizzou in the comic strip Steve Canyon on the actress. Of course, her name has an entirely other source of inspiration. Miss Columbia Mizzou first appeared in  Steve Canyon in September 1952. Miss Mizzou was a blonde who wore a trenchcoat and generally nothing else. Milton Caniff drew her while consulting a picture of already famous actress Marilyn Monroe. As to her name, Milton Caniff spoke at the University of Missouri in Columbia in 1949 as part of the university's Journalism Week. Mr. Caniff apparently enjoyed his visit to Columbia, as he maintained close ties with the university for the rest of his life. The first name of Miss Mizzou then came from the city in which the University of Missouri is located. Her surname came from the nickname of the university to this day--Mizzou (short for "Missouri University"). Here I must note that the University of Missouri is also the alma mater of Beetle Bailey creator Mort Walker and underground cartoonist Frank Stack was an art professor there (in fact, he still lives in Columbia). I must also point out that I was named for Milton Caniff's Terry Lee from Terry and the Pirates...

It would be in 1955 that one of the earliest characters to be based on Marilyn Monroe would appear in a play. The play Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? revolved around a fan magazine writer (Orson Bean) who must ,make a deal with a Hollywood literary agent in order to become a successful screenwriter. Among the characters was Rita Marlowe (played by Jayne Mansfield in a break through role), a movie star who was essentially an exaggerated version of Marilyn Monroe. The 1957 film version would retain Rita Marlowe and Jayne Mansfield, and she would remain an exaggerated parody of Marilyn, but it largely jettisoned the plot. In the movie, starring Tony Randall, an advertising man must pretend to be Rita Marlowe's boyfriend in order to make her actual boyfriend jealous. Jayne Mansfield would essentially make a career out of parodying Marilyn Monroe.

Most of the characters based on Marilyn Monroe up to the late Fifties had been largely positive, if some of them were a bit exaggerated. This was not the case with the lead character in Paddy Chayefsky's movie The Goddess (1958). The movie starred Kim Stanley as Emily Ann Faulkner, who becomes the extremely famous and popular movie star Rita Shawn. The film portray how, even though Rita has attained dizzying heights of fame and wealth, she is still essentially lonely and unhappy. It has always been said that the film was based loosely on the life of Marilyn Monroe and, indeed, there are many similarities between Rita Shawn and Marilyn.

Courageous Cat and Minute Mouse would not be the only TV series to draw inspiration from Marilyn Monroe. Although it has never been clear, many have often suspected that the character of Marilyn Munster was based on Marilyn Monroe. Indeed, not only is Marilyn the only normal looking human being in the Munster family (the rest looking like classic Universal monsters), she is a beautiful blonde. Beverly Owen, the first actress to play Marilyn Munster, certainly thought so. She stated that the producers seemed to be going for Marilyn Monroe's image. In the end, however, Miss Owen confessed that she thought Marilyn Munster wound up being a cross between Marilyn Monroe and Sandra Dee.

Another television character patterned after Marilyn Monroe was Sweet Polly Purebred, TV reporter and the romantic interest of Shoeshine Boy and his alter ego Underdog. While creators W. Watts Biggers and Chet Stover named and developed the characters, it was artist Joe Harris who designed their appearances. In the case of Sweet Polly Purebred, he modelled her after Marilyn Monroe. This is fairly obvious given the colour (blonde) and style of her hair. Of course, Polly was not the only character on Underdog based on a movie star. Underdog's archnemesis Simon Barsinister was based on Lionel Barrymore. The gangster Riff-Raff was based on George Raft. Even Underdog himself was based on an actor, namely the actor who voiced him, Wally Cox.

While it is fairly certain that Sweet Polly Purebred is based on Marilyn Monroe in her appearance, it is not so clear that the character of Maggie in Arthur Miller's play After the Fall was based on Marilyn. The play debuted in 1964 and centred around lawyer Quentin. Quentin later marries the sexy Maggie, who goes from a shy, slightly scatter brained girl to an outright prima donna after she attains fame as a singer. Maggie drinks, takes barbiturates, and becomes increasingly irrational. Maggie eventually commits suicide. Although Arthur Miller always denied it, many have suspected that Maggie was based on Marilyn Monroe. From her shyness to being slightly scatter brained at times to taking barbiturates, Maggie does have a lot in common with Marilyn Monroe. For that matter, After the Fall seems all to similar to Arthur Miller's actual life, including being suspected of Communist sympathies. Of course, Arthur Miller was married to Marilyn Monroe.

While After the Fall had a very dark character who may or may not have been based on Marilyn Monroe, cartoonist Mort Walker would base a much lighter character on her. It was in 1971 that Mr. Walker gave General Halftrack a secretary named Miss Buxley in his comic strip Beetle Bailey. She was largely based on Marilyn Monroe. Miss Buxley was a sexy blonde who dressed provocatively but was entirely oblivious to her affect on men. Miss Buxley was sweet, but a bit scatter brained, and not always efficient at her job. With Miss Buxley, Mort Walker was trying to capture the air of innocent sexuality Marilyn Monroe often displayed. Unfortunately, Miss Buxley would increasingly become a source of controversy. Starting in the Minneanpolis Tribune in 1981 and soon spreading nationwide, Miss Buxley was increasingly criticised as being a stereotypical, dumb blonde secretary. Even though most readers were not critical of Miss Buxley, Mort Walker was eventually forced to revamp the character in 1984. Sadly, many of his critics missed the fact that Beetle Bailey was a comic strip that poked fun at everyone and everything: the United States Army, lazy soldiers (Beetle himself), martinet officers (Lt. Fuzz), intellectuals (Plato), womanisers (Killer), dirty old men (General Halftrack), and volatile, fat people (Sgt. Snorkle).

While many characters have been based on Marilyn Monroe, there are many that people believe were based on the actress who most certainly were not. Most incredulously, there are those who believe classic cartoon character Betty Boop was based on Marilyn Monroe! This is obviously not the case. Besides the fact that Betty is very much black haired as opposed to blonde or even auburn haired, the first prototypes for Betty came about in 1930, when Norma Jeane Baker was only four years old! Betty Boop emerged completely in her now familiar form in 1932. This is not to say that the character was not based on a sex symbol. Betty Boop was based in appearance on the It Girl herself, Clara Bow. If Betty shares anything in common with Marilyn Monroe, it is perhaps because Marilyn shared a lot in common with Clara Bow.

Another character often claimed to be based on Marilyn Monroe is Tinker Bell from Disney's version of Peter Pan (1953). While Tinker Bell is blonde and most certainly has an hourglass figure, she was not based on Marilyn Monroe. In fact, it is impossible that she could have been. Disney bought the rights to Peter Pan in 1939. While World War II would halt the film, work would start on the animated Peter Pan again in 1949. While traditionally Tinker Bell had been portrayed only as a spot of light accompanied by tinkling bells in the stage play, the Disney studio had decided from the beginning to make Tinker Bell a humanoid fairy. Indeed, they even decided Tinker Bell should have some sex appeal to keep male viewers interested. That having been said, they did not look to Marilyn Monroe for inspiration. In fact, in 1949 Marilyn was not yet a big name movie star and probably below Disney's radar. Instead, they held auditions for women to try out as the model for Tinker Bell. They chose Margaret Kerry, a shapely and leggy young actress and model. Of course, by the time Peter Pan  was released in 1953, Marilyn Monroe was at the height of her fame. People then simply assumed Tinker Bell, the shapely blonde fairy, was based on Marilyn Monroe, the shapely blonde actress.

Another character people often assume is based on Marilyn Monroe actually owes very little to her. The character of actress Ginger Grant on Gilligan's Island was originally written as a wisecracking actress and was portrayed as such by the original actress to play her in the series' original pilot. In other words, she was closer to Jane Russell or Eve Arden than Marilyn Monroe. Tina Louise was re-cast as Ginger Grant and it soon became apparent she was not comfortable playing a wisecracking actress. Ginger Grant then became an amalgam of various actresses. Like Marilyn Monroe, Ginger exuded a naive sexuality. Like Sandra Dee she tended to be wide eyed and innocent. Like Lucille Ball she could be daffy and get into all kind of scraps. While Ginger Grant owes a little to Marilyn Monroe, she also owes a good deal to other actresses as well. This makes sense as she is meant to be an archetypal Hollywood starlet.

Regardless, Marilyn Monroe provided the inspiration for many characters in popular culture and there can be no doubt that she will continue to do so. It is possible that more characters in various media are based upon than any other actress. Indeed, more characters may be based on her than any other actor, male or female. From comic strips to plays, she has had an enormous impact on American pop culture.