PICTOU — A trip to Hollywood was a thrill for Christina Patchett.
The Pictou County resident returned recently from a week-long stay in Hollywood to rekindle her fascination with Marilyn Monroe and meet some other notable stars of stage and film.
Patchett travelled there five years ago for the 50th anniversary of Monroe’s death at age 36 on August 5, 1962.
“It was as wonderful as the 50th,” she said. “It was quite smaller — not very many news crews about as there were for the 50th. All in all it was again a wonderful week in Hollywood.”
She travelled with her cousin Janet Livingstone Hill. They arrived two hours early for a commemorative service.
“I sat in the back row,” Patchett said. “It was very hot inside. I listened to Mickey Rooney’s daughter speak about her memories of Marilyn” and a photographer’s family speak of their fathers’ memories of her as well.
She said it was bonus to hear others speak about Monroe — including Terry Moore and George Chakiris, whom she later met.
Now 82, but hardly looking his age, Chakiris earned a best supporting actor Oscar for his role in 1961 as Bernardo in the movie version of West Side Story. He also was a dancer in Monroe’s Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend number from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes in 1953.
“Before I knew this fact, I’d always seen this particular dancer stare so adoringly at her during that performance,” Patchett said “After the service, I sat and talked with George for awhile. Not knowing we were photographed, I was sent a photo of us both, which I was so thrilled to have.”
Later, Patchett was putting the air conditioning on in her rental car when a woman approached to ask Patchett if she would drive her and her mother to see the renowned Mae West’s old apartment.
“Her mom was a friend of hers; I said who is your mom… it was Renee Taylor (from the TV show The Nanny).
“She also spoke about her encounters with Marilyn that were so funny. One particular memory she had was that she asked Marilyn how she kept her figure. ‘All I do is gain weight no matter what I do,’ Marilyn replied. ‘Well I eat grapes,’ Renee says. ‘What kind?’ Marilyn says. ‘Green and purple. I freeze them and put them in water.’ So Renee did this for a long time and she ran into Marilyn at Fox and said, ‘I tried eating grapes and I still gained weight.’ Marilyn replied, ‘You must be eating a lot of grapes.’”
“We all laughed.”
Top photo: Christina Patchett stands beside the Marilyn Monroe crypt.