A middle-aged son attempts to better understand his “tough-as-nails” actress mother by unraveling her intense friendship with Marilyn Monroe during the shooting of BUS STOP. Based on a true story.
“Like two strangers linked by fate on a Greyhound bus, the unlikely personal and professional friendship that developed between vulnerable, lost and emotionally needy Marilyn Monroe and crusty, maternal, no-nonsense Eileen Heckart on the western rodeo set of Bus Stop has now been preserved in amber by Luke Yankee as a stirring footnote to movie history you won’t want to miss. It’s a funny, dark, heartbreaking and unforgettable new play that wraps you in cashmere. Marilyn, Mom & Me is devastating!”
—Rex Reed, nationally syndicated critic
“Many shows have titles that aren’t quite right, but you can’t say that about Luke Yankee’s Marilyn, Mom & Me. All three parties are vibrantly represented in this touching and impressive new drama.
If you guessed that Marilyn is Ms. Monroe, you’d be right. Your assuming that ‘Me’ is playwright Yankee is an easy and correct assumption to make. Who, however, is ‘Mom’? She’s someone that you might well remember from her dazzling performances that got her an Oscar and three Tony nominations. Yankee has dozens of questions to ask Mom about her working with the most famous Marilyn of them all. And yet, he has another reason that reaches far beyond sheer fandom curiosity. Marilyn, Mom & Me is a fascinating glimpse not only into the Hollywood of yore, but also into matters that will stay current and potent as long as there’s a human race.”
—Peter Filichia, Broadway Radio
“I saw this deep, river of sadness every time my mother talked about Marilyn. was it because she couldn’t save her? That she felt she’d somehow let her down? I guess I’ll never really know.”
—Brian Rohan as Luke in MARILYN, MOM & ME
(2 women, 2 men – 1 unit set)
In 1956, when Marilyn Monroe was cast as the lead in the film Bus Stop, she was the biggest star in the world. She had taken the previous year off to study with Lee Strasberg and had become the poster child for “method” acting. The tough, no-nonsense, Broadway character actress Eileen Heckart was cast as her best friend in the movie. As a part of her newly discovered style of acting, Marilyn was determined to make Heckart her best friend – both on screen and off. Reluctantly, Heckart went along with it for the sake of the film and found herself emotionally entrenched in the life of Marilyn Monroe. For all outward appearances, Marilyn had it all. And yet, more than anything, she yearned to have what Heckart took for granted: a stable marriage, two kids and a respected Broadway career.
Forty-five years later, Heckart’s middle-aged gay son, is trying to unravel his mother’s relationship with Monroe in order to better understand his own path with this highly critical, caustic, yet loving woman. Why did his mother burst into tears every time someone mentioned Marilyn’s name? Clearly, she’d had a deep impact on Heckart. If he could get his Mom to open up about Monroe, maybe it would make her a more sympathetic mother – or at least help him to connect with her on another level.
This deeply personal comic drama explores a side of Marilyn Monroe no one has ever seen. It focuses on her craft as an actress as well as her friendship with another woman. It also shows a caring, yet highly complex mother/son relationship explored through the lens of one of the greatest film stars the world has ever known. The play utilizes the unpredictable, often frenzied world of movie making in 1950’s Hollywood to uncover universal truths about love, acceptance and what it really means to feel loved and wanted.
“I don’t have many girlfriends. Most women don’t seem to like me. I can’t imagine why.”
—Alisha Soper as Marilyn Monroe in MARILYN, MOM & ME
Luke Yankee (yes, it’s his real name) is a critically acclaimed author and playwright. His memoir, Just Outside the Spotlight: Growing up with Eileen Heckart has been called “One of the most compassionate, illuminating showbiz books ever written” and was named “One of the Ten Best Celebrity Memoirs of All Time” (Michael Musto – Village Voice & PaperMag). It is published by Random House with a foreword by Mary Tyler Moore. His play, The Last Lifeboat is published by Dramatists Play Service and has received more than 50 productions in the U.S. and Canada. Luke’s play, The Man Who Killed The Cure was a semifinalist for the Eugene O’Neill National Playwrights Festival and is published by Amazon. It has had several regional productions. Confessions of a Star Maker won Best Play at the Moondance Writers Contest and was chosen for the Last Frontier Theatre Festival. His award-winning comedy, The Jesus Hickey premiered in Los Angeles starring Harry Hamlin. He has also adapted each of these plays into film scripts.
His television specs and pilots have all won or been finalists in major contests: The Lavender Mafia (finalist, Sundance Episodic Lab), Nurse Jackie: Anita Vicodin (winner, Scriptwriter’s Network Television Outreach Project), Royal Pains: Little Miss Conception (finalist, Warner Bros. TV Writer’s Workshop), The Lavender Mafia (finalist, NexTV Pilot competition) and Brothers & Sisters: Alabaster Shards. (winner, Best Drama, Scriptapalooza). His screenplay version of The Last Lifeboat was one of ten scripts chosen internationally for the DreamAgo Screenwriting Workshop in The Swiss Alps. As a professional director, Mr. Yankee has worked on and off Broadway at venues ranging from Radio City Music Hall to the ms Crystal Symphony, assistant directed six Broadway shows and has served as artistic director of two regional theatres. Luke is currently writing The Art of Writing for The Theatre: An Introduction to Script Analysis, Criticism & Playwriting, which will be published by Bloomsbury Press in the Fall of 2021. He is an adjunct professor at Chapman University and the University of California, Fullerton, where teaches classes in playwriting, script analysis and theatre criticism.
More information about upcoming readings and productions can be found at LukeYankee.com.
“Nobody cares about the truth! They want to hear about the legend. The fragile, young thing who was so vulnerable. Part woman, part child, who everybody wanted to screw.”
—Laura Gardner as Eileen Heckart in MARILYN, MOM & ME. A new play by Luke Yankee.