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On View : The Woman Who Would Be Monroe

September 22, 1991|SUSAN KING

It's no secret why Susan Griffiths was cast as Marilyn Monroe in ABC's "Marilyn and Me." "People always told me I looked like Marilyn," she said. "There was always a resemblance."

While working as a sales clerk at Bullock's, Griffiths' colleagues suggested she audition at a look-alike agency. "I ended up going there and the photographer just said, 'You're Marilyn.' And that was it."

Griffiths was much in demand as Marilyn, posing for a poster for a rock group called The Monroes and doing commercials in Japan.

The next stops were Las Vegas and Honolulu, where she performed as Marilyn in nostalgia revues. "I had to learn to sing," she said. "Marilyn wasn't known for being an incredible singer. It wasn't like I had to come up to the standards of Judy Garland. But I had to study with several vocal coaches."

Griffiths returned to Los Angeles in 1988 and decided to retire Marilyn to pursue an acting career. Then she heard about the "Marilyn and Me" project.

Griffiths, 26, said she tried to make Marilyn a "real person" in the movie. "I used my own voice," she said. "I never did an imitation of her breathy, low voice. I really just did a version of myself in her capacity."

And viewers, she said, will be surprised by the Marilyn depicted in the film. "It's a cute story. It's a love story. I think it's a delightful way to see Marilyn. There is so much heaviness involved in Marilyn, it's refreshing to see one of our superstars in a light-hearted way."

As for Griffiths, she hopes the movie will lead to other acting roles. "I want to do a lot of different parts. I want to go on."

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