Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Emily Carman, Ph.D.
Nam Lee, Ph.D.
John Benitz, MFA
Sexist gossip for women and professional celebration for men is a longstanding, detrimental trend within popular culture, society, and film studies scholarship. While this tendency can be traced consistently throughout film history, it is particularly apparent within the discourse surrounding the transitional period of postwar Hollywood (1945 - 1960). Though frequently disassociated from one another for their seemingly oppositional contemporary legacies, Marilyn Monroe and Shelley Winters began their careers synonymously as studio- created ’blonde bombshell’ archetypes. Monroe’s and Winters’ early acting credits represent severe industry illustrations of objectification and sexist tactics to utilize female bodies to sell performances. Following variable typecasting experiences and frustrating professional and physical exploitation, Monroe and Winters each attempted to expand their artistic integrity and industry respect by pursuing Method acting training. While this education dramatically improved their unique performance techniques and on-screen confidence, Marilyn Monroe’s and Shelley Winters’ legacies have still been disproportionally shaped by sexist gossip, their introductions as ‘Hollywood blondes,’ and their physical bodies. Through an exploration of the transformations in their performance styles and techniques before and after their Method training, and using Monroe’s The Seven Year Itch (Wilder 1955) to Bus Stop (Logan 1956) and Winters’ A Double Life (Cukor 1947), to A Place in the Sun (Stevens 1951) as case studies, this thesis aims to establish an alternative narrational legacy for Marilyn Monroe and Shelley Winters that is contingent on their transformational professional achievements and artistic influence.
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Oliver, Emily. Beyond the Image: Marilyn Monroe, Shelley Winters, and The Method. 2021. Chapman University, MA Thesis. Chapman University Digital Commons, https://doi.org/10.36837/chapman.000263