There’s a Sam Kashner-authored profile of Warren Beatty in the new Vanity Fair. Beatty participated mainly to plug Rules Don’t Apply (20th Century Fox, 11.23) but he also gave up some personal stuff, including two stories I’d never heard or read before — one about Marilyn Monroe that happened a little more than 54 years ago, and the other about Edie Sedgwick that also took place in the ’60s.
Monroe: “Peter Lawford invited Beatty out to his house in Malibu [HE correction: Lawford’s home in the early ’60s was on the beach in Santa Monica, not Malibu] for a night of tacos and poker, and Monroe was there. ‘I hadn’t seen anything that beautiful,’ Beatty recalls. She invited him to take a walk along the beach, which he did.”
In a presumed reference to their stroll. Beatty tells Kashner “it was more soulful than romantic.”
“Back in the house he played the piano. Marilyn sat on the edge of the piano in something so clingy that Beatty could tell she wasn’t wearing underwear. ‘How old are you?’ she asked. ‘Twenty-five,’ he answered. ‘How old are you?” he asked cheekily. ‘Three…six,’ she said, as if not wanting to bring the two numbers together.
“By then the tacos had arrived, and no one really played poker that night. Warren noticed that Marilyn was already a bit tipsy from champagne, even before the sun had set.
“The next day Harold Mirisch, brother of the producer Walter Mirisch, called. ‘Did you hear?’ he asked. ‘Marilyn Monroe is dead.’ Warren was one of the last people to see Marilyn alive — a story Beatty tells only reluctantly.”
Sedgwick: “‘I was staying in the Delmonico hotel in New York, when there was a phone call from the lobby,’ Beatty recalls. It was Sedgwick, whom he had met the night before with cultural critic Susan Sontag and some others. ‘I think it was somewhere [like] Max’s Kansas City.’ Beatty and Segwwick had only exchanged a few pleasantries, so it was something of a surprise when she showed up the following evening.
“When he opened the door she stood in the hallway in a yellow rain slicker, with nothing underneath. The television was on. And taken by surprise, Beatty wasn’t all that sure he could rise to the occasion. But she was insistent, flirting and nuzzling. Eventually he gave in, and as they fell to the floor they suddenly heard on the television, ‘That’s one small step for man…one giant leap for mankind.’ The two just stared at the television for the rest of the night.”
In short, Beatty and Sedgwick didn’t quite do it because of Neil Armstrong…am I reading that correctly? And he and Monroe didn’t get around to it either seven years earlier, but they shared a moment.
Both women were downspiraling, of course, when they ran into Beatty. Monroe had been fired off Something’s Got To Give in early June ’62, or almost exactly two months before her Beatty encounter. Sedgwick’s Warhol years peaked in ’65, of course. She died of accidental alcohol and barbiturates in November of ’71 in Santa Barbara, at age 28.