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09/12/2010

Actor Kevin McCarthy on working with Marilyn Monroe

September 12, 2010 | 11:59 am


Veteran actor Kevin McCarthy, who died Saturday at 96, is best remembered for his starring role in the 1956 science-fiction classic "Invasion of the Body Snatchers." But he also was a footnote in the career of Marilyn Monroe: He played the husband Monroe's character divorced in the 1961 film "The Misfits," the last completed film for both Monroe and costar Clark Gable.

It was a small role for McCarthy, one that took place between him and Monroe on the steps of a Reno courthouse.

"We only had one scene together," he recalled in a 1994 interview with the Boston Globe. "She was not in very good shape at the time. She showed up late on the set and kept stumbling over her lines. Pretty soon [director John] Huston was complaining that he couldn't hear her anyway. Neither could the sound guy. 'Did she say her lines, Kevin?' he kept asking me. 'Did you hear her say the lines?' Hell, I wasn't sure myself. She had that throaty, breathless voice, you know.

"Finally, after six or seven takes, I was afraid I had already given my best performance and had nothing left to give. I suggested to Huston that he reverse the camera and shoot over my shoulder, make sure he got Marilyn in this time. He agreed and stuck a microphone under my necktie. They ran a wire down my pant leg — meaning I could no longer move freely, only pivot — and told Marilyn to speak into my chest. The camera rolled. One take. Bang. Huston jumped up and said, 'Perfect, that's a wrap. Print that one.'

"That was my scene in 'The Misfits.' Huston never turned the camera back around on me again."

You can read the news obituary on Kevin McCarthy here.

-- Dennis McLellan

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