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Colin Clark, 70; Wrote Monroe Book

December 21, 2002|From Staff and Wire Reports

Colin Clark, a television director whose memoir "My Week With Marilyn" described his close but never consummated love affair with Marilyn Monroe, died of cancer Tuesday in his London home. He was 70.

The son of British art historian Lord Kenneth Clark, Colin was 24 when he was hired as an assistant director on the movie "The Prince and the Showgirl" in 1956. It starred Monroe and Sir Laurence Olivier, who did not get along very well.

In his first memoir about the movie, "The Prince, the Showgirl and Me," Clark wrote of the co-stars' misadventures. He said he spent most of his time as a go-between for the two and that Olivier referred to Monroe as "the stupidest, most self-indulgent little tart I've ever come across." The book was published in 1995.

It omitted the one week in Clark's diary entries that became the subject of his second memoir about the movie, "My Week With Marilyn." In the volume he told of having the brief romance with Monroe.

At the time, she was married to Arthur Miller, who stayed with her in Surrey, England, during filming of the movie. Miller's brief trip to Paris led to Clark's "dream come true," as he referred to it in his memoir.

The dream began when Clark was called to Monroe's house on business. He bumped into her on the stairs, wrapped in a pink bedspread, and the next day she invited him to lunch, he said. That led to a day trip to Windsor Castle, a swim in the Thames River and, later in the week, a call from Monroe's staff saying they feared she had taken an overdose of sleeping pills. Clark said he went to the house, found her alive and healthy in bed and accepted the invitation to join her there.

"You are like a beautiful force of nature, Marilyn, forever out of reach," Clark told her.

"But Colin, I don't want to be out of reach," he said she protested. "I want to be touched." Clark wrote that he reminded her she had a husband and that he then went to sleep.

When the book was published in 2000, critics were skeptical. One scolded Clark for letting England down. He continued to refer to the incident as an idyllic "fairy story."

After his adventures in Surrey, Clark spent most of his career as a television director, working with Granada Television in England and, later, PBS in New York.

He is survived by his third wife, Helena, and a son.

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