Released in 1953, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is definitely an icon of old Hollywood glamour. The plot follows Dorothy Shaw, played by Jane Russell, and Lorelei Lee, played by Marilyn Monroe, on their adventure to Paris. Little do they know a private detective and a wealthy admirer follows them, among other interested men. Directed by Howard Hawks and written by Charles Lederer, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is a timeless classic. Check out various screen facts below.
Who’s the Star?
Monroe is well known for her role as Lorelei Lee in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, but she wasn’t actually the star. Jane Russell, who played Dorothy Shaw, was intended as the star of the movie. At one point during filming, Marilyn was told that she wasn’t the star of the film to which she responded, “Well, whatever I am, I AM the blonde.”
Loralei’s Necklace Value
In the iconic scene where Marilyn sings “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend”, she’s wearing a diamond encrusted choker. The value of this necklace is estimated at $1.4 million dollars. It is believed that this necklace was on loan from Harry Winston. In fact, she references his name in the song. A diamond tennis necklace was also layered beneath for a larger wow factor.
The Pink Dress
For the Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend number, Marilyn was originally supposed to wear nothing but black velvet banks and masses of rhinestones. These materials were to create an illusion of a woman-sized diamond necklace. In the end, the design was deemed to be too revealing at the time and vetoed by the studio. The pink dress replaced the original outfit idea. Can you imagine what 1950s studios would think of outfits on the screen today?
As compensation for filming Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Marilyn received $500 per week, a considerable amount at the time. On the other hand, Russell received $200,000, significantly more than Monroe. Another sex symbol in the 50s, Betty Grable, was considered for Marilyn’s part too, but her fee was $150,000 compared to Monroe’s $18,000. The studio chose cost over reputation, but maybe this is precisely how Marilyn built her own reputation from the ground up.
Gossip columnists attempted to force a feud between Monroe and Russell because they were two starlets, but their friendship was too strong. In Jane’s autobiography, she credits their fast friendship to their shared zodiac sign, Gemini, as they both were born in June. Apparently, Russell was also the one to coax Monroe out of her trailer to begin filming for the day.