Tags: Hollywood | west side story | george chakiris | marilyn monroe

'West Side Story' Star Shares Memories of Working With Marilyn Monroe

george chakiris stands on red carpet
US dancer George Chakiris attends Words on Dance: Jerome Robbins and West Side Story presented by The Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills, California on October 11, 2018. (VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images)

By    |   Monday, 08 March 2021 11:04 AM

"West Side Story" star George Chakiris is sharing his favorite memories of Marilyn Monroe. The actor has worked with dozens of celebrities over the years but it was Monroe who left a lasting impression. The pair appeared together in 1953’s "Gentleman Prefer Blondes" and 1954’s "There’s No Business Like Show Business" and although their relationship was strictly professional, Chakiris caught a glimpse of who Monroe was outside of the glitz and glamour of Hollywood. He opened up about his time spent working alongside Monroe in an interview with Fox News.

"The first thing that comes to mind is she was very quiet," he said of his first impression of the Hollywood icon. "She seriously concentrated on her work and trained tirelessly to give her best performances. Whenever we would stop filming a scene, many cast members would just go back to their dressing rooms. But she would just go right back to her starting position, ready to begin again. That’s how concentrated she was in her work. And I really admired her for that. Not everyone did that."

The picture Chakiris painted of Monroe was of a starlet who was humble and eager to engage with her fans. He pointed to one specific moment during which a young boy approached her while they were filming for "There’s No Business Like Show Business." He recalled Monroe greeting the boy "with a huge smile" on her face and taking the time to talk to him.

"I watched her and she was practically glowing," he said. "It was such a sweet, genuine connection she had with this child. She wasn’t like 'leave me alone, I’m busy.' She was generous to take time from her day just for a child."

Speaking about the nature of his relationship with Monroe, Chakiris explained that there was no opportunity to forge a friendship with the blonde bombshell as they were "all there to work" and to deliver the "best performances" that they could on the set." It did not stop him from seeing who the real Monroe was.

"She was very sweet to those on set. She would arrive and leave quietly," he continued. "I never understood how people could say such terrible things about her over the years. I can only speak from my experience, as just a dancer in the background, but my impression was that she was very sweet, kind, incredibly polite, and eager to work hard as the rest of us. I always appreciated that about her. I have a feeling that if we had the chance to become friends, she would have been just the same."

Monroe has been scrutinized in the years following her death Aug. 4, 1962. The media has often portrayed her as a ditzy blonde who was haunted by her personal demons and it has not helped that many co-stars and friends have come forth with stories that have only solidified this image. In an October interview with Closer Weekly, Don Murray spoke about frustrations he experienced while filming "Bus Stop" with Monroe.

"She had difficulty remembering her lines, so we had to do many takes," he shared. "Often, when we were doing a scene, she would get so emotionally involved that she’d go off her mark. The director told me to put my hands on her hips and move her to her marks. That’s what I did whenever we were shooting above the waist."

In a separate interview with the publication, Murray referred to Monroe as a "spoilt brat," according to Fox News.

"[Once] she swung the sequined tail of her costume across my face and it cut my eyelid," he said. "She stalked off the set, and I started after her. I was going to tell that spoiled brat where to get off, but Joshua said, 'No, I’ve won the war by avoiding these battles.'"

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TheWire
"West Side Story" star George Chakiris is sharing his favorite memories of Marilyn Monroe. The actor has worked with dozens of celebrities over the years but it was Monroe who left a lasting impression. The pair appeared together in 1953's...
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2021-04-08
Monday, 08 March 2021 11:04 AM
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