Marilyn: The Untold Story

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Marilyn: The Untold Story
Marilyn The Untold Story.jpg
Based onLife of Marilyn Monroe
Written byNorman Mailer (novel)
Dalene Young
Directed byJack Arnold
John Flynn
Lawrence Schiller
StarringCatherine Hicks
Richard Basehart
Frank Converse
Jason Miller
Music byWilliam Goldstein
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
ProducerLawrence Schiller
CinematographyTerry K. Meade
EditorsJack Gleason
Patrick Roark
Running time156 minutes
Production companySchiller Productions Inc.
Original networkABC
Picture formatColor
Audio formatMono
Original releaseSeptember 28, 1980 (1980-09-28)

Marilyn: The Untold Story is a 1980 television film, about the life of the 1950s sex symbol-movie star, Marilyn Monroe. The feature stars Catherine Hicks as Monroe; Richard Basehart as her early-career agent Johnny Hyde; Frank Converse as her second husband Joe DiMaggio; Jason Miller as her third husband Arthur Miller; Kevin Geer as her first husband James Dougherty; Viveca Lindfors as her acting coach Natasha Lytess; and Sheree North as her mother, Gladys Pearl Baker.

The movie premiered on September 28, 1980, and was greeted with positive reviews.[1] It was the second-highest rated prime time program in the United States for the week.[2] Catherine Hicks was praised by the critics for her portrayal of Monroe, as were others including Richard Basehart, Frank Converse, Sheree North and Jason Miller, playing fellow playwright Arthur Miller.


The movie begins with a young Marilyn (then Norma Jeane), as an orphan in California. The feature progresses with the young girl growing up and superstar dreams fill her head, and she eventually marries, starts modelling, divorces, signs a contract with 20th Century Fox, and changes her moniker to Marilyn Monroe. The movie also takes a view of her personal life; with her husbands, baseball-star Joe DiMaggio, and with playwright Arthur Miller. As with her personal life, the movie shows a great deal of Monroe's life in the public eye, showing her rise to stardom, her career peak, and her tragic final years. The film ends with the mysterious death of Monroe.


Harry Bartron as Reporter

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee(s) Result
1981 33rd Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie
Catherine Hicks
Outstanding Cinematography for a Limited Series or Movie
Terry K. Meade
Outstanding Art Direction for a Limited Series or Movie
Jan Scott, Sydney Z. Litwack, and Bill Harp
Outstanding Makeup for a Limited Series or Movie
Allan Snyder


John Flynn later recalled:

I quit about two-thirds of the way through, because [producer] Schiller kept interfering with the production, changing my camera set-ups, changing the wardrobe. Schiller is a very bright guy, but he drove me up the wall with his constant meddling, to the point where I literally had my hands around his neck one day. So I left and Schiller brought in Jack Arnold to finish the picture. I shot all the footage with Richard Basehart, Catherine Hicks and John Ireland, who was terrific as director John Huston. I cast this picture very carefully. Sheree North was outstanding as Marilyn’s crazy mother. Jocelyn Brando (Marlon’s sister) had a small part as Marilyn’s grandmother, and she made the most of it. Catherine Hicks was good, but she was kind of an imitation of Marilyn Monroe. I begged Bonnie Bedelia to take the part of Marilyn, but she turned it down. She was a great actress and an absolute knockout back then. I thought Bonnie would have been brilliant as Marilyn. Even Schiller agreed to cast her, but Bonnie wouldn’t do it.[3]

Hicks auditioned three times for the role of Marilyn before given the role.[4] In an April 2015 radio interview, she said ABC wanted Ann Jillian for the part, but Larry Schiller fought for her.

Sheree North, who portrayed Marilyn's mother Gladys in the movie, was under contract to 20th Century Fox at the same time as Marilyn Monroe, and said she coached Catherine Hicks on playing Marilyn.[5]


  1. ^ Hal Erickson (2007). "Marilyn: The Untold Story (1980)". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. Archived from the original on December 5, 2007. Retrieved October 15, 2012.
  2. ^ (October 1, 1980). NBC Again Tops Week's Rating Race, Reno Gazette-Journal (23.4 rating, or 18.2 million homes)
  3. ^ Harvey F. Chartrand (2005). "Interview with John Flynn". Shock Cinema. pp. 26-29+46.
  4. ^ Hicks, Catherine (February 23, 2021). "Catherine Hicks looks back at her Emmy nominated performance as Marilyn Monroe in 1980's Marilyn: The Untold Story". Retrieved July 27, 2021.
  5. ^ Witbeck, Charles (August 21, 1980). "Sheree North Ready for Sitcom". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. p. 29.

External links[edit]