Before Marilyn there was Marilyn

Day 317 of Colourisation Project – March 20

Challenge: to publish daily a colourised photo that has some significance around the day of publication.

She was once compared to Marilyn Monroe to which she replied, “Hey, I’m the blonde with her clothes on.” But like Marilyn, she sought love in all the wrong places.

Marilyn Maxwell, the platinum blonde, American actress and entertainer with a “wholesome” sex appeal, was a leading lady in 1940’s and 1950’s Hollywood. A big hit with servicemen during World War II and the Korean War while on USO tours, she reportedly performed at every American base.

Marilyn Maxwell

Publicity Still ~ Marilyn Maxwell ~ Colourised by Loredana Crupi

Born Marvel Marilyn Maxwell in Clarinda, Iowa in 1921, she was groomed for show business from the age of 3 as a singer and dancer. Signed to MGM in 1942, some of her memorable film roles include Lost in a Harem (1944), Champion (1949), The Lemon Drop Kid (1951), and Rock-A-Bye Baby (1958).

Three times divorced, she was frequently seen with close friend, Rock Hudson, whom she would always describe as, “the very, very best friend I ever had.”

The great love of her life however was comedian, Bob Hope, nearly twenty years her senior. They became lovers in the 1950s after her brief affair with singer Frank Sinatra had ended.  Hope who was married at the time, and Maxwell were seen together in public so often that people routinely referred to her “Mrs Bob Hope”.  According to Bob Hope’s long-time secretary Jean Greenberg, Hope asked Maxwell to marry him.

“She turned him down. She knew that Dolores would never give him a divorce. She also feared that if it was known that she was breaking up what was regarded as a fairytale Hollywood marriage, the big studios would never employ her again.”

“Bob and Dolores might appear happy together in public, but in fact they hadn’t slept together in years.”

By the 1960s, alcohol had taken its toll on Maxwell’s career and her health. She had been suffering from heart trouble for several years.

On this day, March 20, 1972, Maxwell’s 15-year-old son arrived home from school to find his mother slumped on the floor, dead at the age of fifty of an apparent heart attack.

Her funeral was well attended by many of Hollywood icons including Rock Hudson, Jimmy Durante and Dorothy Lamour. A devastated ‘pale faced’ Bob Hope delivered the final grave-side tribute.

“Marilyn had an inner warmth and a love of people. Who knows why some of us are called earlier than others? Maybe God needed a lovely girl to sing and cheer him up and so he called her. I must say it was a great job of casting.”

As his limousine drove away Bob Hope was seen weeping. Dolores usually by his side on public occasions, was this time conspicuous by her absence.        

Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, and Jack Benny were honorary pallbearers at her funeral.


“Their happy marriage is a sham. I know Bob loves me and is only happy with me. I don’t mind staying in the shadows so long as it means we can be together.”  Marilyn Maxwell [reportedly said to her hairdresser]

This entry was posted in Colorization, Colourisation, Film, Hollywood, Photography, USA, Women, Women in Film & TV and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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