A middle-aged gay man 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
“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, Luke, 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 Luke 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 before by focusing 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 chaotic 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.
Luke Yankee is a Los Angeles based writer, director, producer and actor. He is the author of the memoir, JUST OUTSIDE THE SPOTLIGHT: GROWING UP WITH EILEEN HECKART (published by Random House, with a foreword by Mary Tyler Moore). Renowned New York arts critic Michael Musto placed it on his list of The Ten Best Celebrity Memoirs of All Time and called it “One of the most compelling, Illuminating showbiz books ever written.” His other plays include THE MAN WHO KILLED THE CURE (winner of the Theatre Harrisburg New Works Festival), THE JESUS HICKEY (produced in Los Angeles starring Harry Hamlin) and A PLACE AT FOREST LAWN (also published by Dramatists Play Service). THE LAST LIFEBOAT has had more than 20 productions in the U. S. and Canada. Mr. Yankee has also written a screenplay version, which was developed at the DreamAgo Screenwriting Workshop in Sierre, Switzerland.
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.