Marilyns from around the world meet for Monroe tributes
Posted at 08/04/2012 12:50 PM | Updated as of 08/04/2012 12:50 PM
LOS ANGELES - When a faux Hugh Hefner, clad in his trademark smoking jacket, finishes his karaoke song, he turns to Marilyn Monroe and asks: "Do you want to marry me?"
The Marilyn look-alike -- Canadian Nadine Banville -- was part of a recent tribute to the iconic movie star, who died 50 years ago Sunday, held at a hotel just two blocks away from Hollywood Boulevard.
Some 200 Monroe fans from as far away as Italy and Australia met there to honor the real Marilyn Monroe, who was just 36 and at the height of her career when she succumbed to a barbiturate overdose.
"I've had people say that these Immortal Marilyn gatherings have been the highlight of their life," said Mary Sims, president of the fan club.
"Some of us come from all over the world and Marilyn brought us all together," she said, her eyes filling with tears. "I get a little emotional," she apologized.
Over the weekend, fans will honor Monroe's memory at several events, including a banquet at the 20th Century Fox studios and, on Sunday, a memorial service at a Los Angeles Presbyterian church.
Other tributes have already taken place.
At a pool party, women dressed like extras from the 1960s hit show "Mad Men." Several wore bright red lipstick and dangled long cigarettes from their fingers.
Guests included Ernesto Galindez, who claims to have the largest collection of Marilyn memorabilia in his native Venezuela. His trove comprises checks and other documents signed by the diva, as well -- or so he claims -- all of the magazine covers featuring the star.
Freelance writer Leslee Kasperozoicz said she attributes the enduring interest in Marilyn's life to the fact that the star was able to blend the beauty and fickle behavior of a diva with a heavy dose of vulnerability.
"We have so much in common in certain ways" said Kasperozoicz, 34, donning a long 1950s-style black dress with white polka dots.
"That's true for most fans. They see a little bit of themselves in her. Her insecurity, her struggles to try to be herself in the face of all the pressure on her, her humanity is such a big thing for the fans," Kasperozoicz said.
One of the event stars was a Marilyn impersonator from the Netherlands who attracted a crowd of adoring fans. Decked out in a single-piece light blue swimsuit, she flashed sultry smiles in a perfect Marilyn imitation.
Another Marilyn impersonator -- or "tribute artist" as they like to be known -- wore a green velvet dress, a replica of the gown the star sported in "River of No Return" (1954).
The woman gave an excellent rendition of "I'm Gonna File My Claim," the song Monroe sang in the movie.
"It's my passion," said Banville, a 35 year-old from Ottowa, the Canadian capital.
"I fell in love with her when I started to study the character because I'm a singer. She's an amazing person, there's nobody like her in the world -- ever," Banville said.
Her boyfriend, Morgan Blackbyrne, dressed up as Playboy magazine millionaire Hugh Hefner, was the one who sang the karaoke song before popping the big question.
"Of course!" Banville answered as the crowd of Marilyns sighed adoringly.
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