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 Baker.
The movie premiered in late-1980, and was greeted with positive reviews. 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 the star.Catherine Hicks as Marilyn Monroe
Richard Basehart as Johnny Hyde
Frank Converse as Joe DiMaggio
Jason Miller as Arthur Miller
John Ireland as John Huston
Viveca Lindfors as Natasha Lytess
Sheree North as Gladys Baker
Kevin Geer as James Dougherty
Tracey Gold as Young Norma Jeane
Priscilla Morrill as Louella Parsons
John Christy Ewing as Lawyer
Bill Vint as Montgomery Clift
Larry Pennell as Clark Gable
Heath Jobes as Tom Ewell
Howard Caine as Billy Wilder
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or a Special- 1981 Emmy nominationCatherine Hicks
Outstanding Achievement in Makeup - 1981 Emmy nominationAllan Snyder (makeup)
Outstanding Cinematography for a Limited Series or a Special -1981 Emmy nominationTerry K. Meade (cinematographer)
Outstanding Art Direction for a Limited Series or a Special - 1981 Emmy nominationJan Scott (art director)
Sydney Z. Litwack (art director)
Bill Harp (set decorator)
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.
Hicks auditioned three times for the role of Marilyn before given the role. 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 mother Gladys in the movie, was under contact to 20th Century-Fox at the same time as Marilyn Monroe, and said she coached Catherine Hicks on playing Marilyn.