Blondes prefer gentlemen

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FROM Mr Edwin J Bulloughby

Sir: In all the tributes and reappraisals that have been offered on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the death of Marilyn Monroe, I do not think anyone has mentioned her enduring love of the game of cricket. It was not often realised during her lifetime that in her early years in Hollywood she often turned out for the British expatriate XI and was a very useful seam bowler and a more than average close fielder.

She was no stranger to ball games, of course, having been married for a while to that hero of baseball, Joe Di Maggio, but her heart was always in the older game rather than the American upstart sport, and she sometimes said to me: 'Ah, Edwin, 'tis a fair thing to be sat in the bleachers at Yankee Stadium, but a fairer thing far to be under a nodding chestnut tree with the village blacksmith on strike and the village clock at 10 to tea.'

This was not the way she normally talked, you understand - I believe it was adapted from a line from a film she was then appearing in - and the fact that she could talk of the village blacksmith as being 'on strike' suggests that she never caught the finer points of cricket, but her heart, like most of her, was in the right place.

Yours, etc.

From Mr Ralph 'Scotty' Nelson

Sir: As a stuntman who worked in Hollywood during the halcyon years, I can vouch for much of what Mr Bulloughby says - or Mr Edwin 'Lady's Man' Bulloughby, as I am sure he will not mind me recalling him to be styled.

My professional prowess as a faller and tumbler did not go unnoticed by the British cricketing community, and I was often pressed into service as a wicket- keeper when they played against visiting British teams or expatriate West Indians. Miss Monroe was already a member of the team before me and was invariably placed at silly point in the field. This was not because she was especially agile (though if the ball came to her, she usually held on to it, or at least handed it distastefully to someone else) but because the sight of the formidable Miss Monroe only feet away, bending forward and smiling winsomely, was enough to unnerve all but the most hard- hearted incoming batsmen.

I recall that when a batsman, caught in her full beam, was foolishly run out or straight bowled, she used to say, looking wide-eyed: 'His attention kinda wandered.'

We shall not look upon her like in the inner ring of fielders again.

Yours, etc.

From Mr Will 'Will Jnr' Heyton

Sir: I know little of the game of cricket and care less, but during my brief friendship on the film set with Marilyn Monroe, I became aware that it was possible for an American girl to fall in love with the game. In some way I think she saw it as a safe refuge where, although men were dominant, nothing ever became sexually threatening.

I once asked her if there was no sex in the British Isles at all.

'Oh yes, Will,' she said. 'In almost every county you care to mention. Essex, Sussex, Middlesex . . . Otherwise, not much, thank God.'

Essex was her special love, and I believe that her periods of intense depression can be traced to times when Essex were lying low in the league table. Perhaps some historian could check this.

Yours, etc.

From Mrs Dorothy 'Dotty' Price-Jones

Sir: I was employed in many a Hollywood wardrobe department and I often met the late Marilyn Monroe, in dress and undress. I never saw her play, but I can vouch for the accuracy of your correspondents' memories of her fondness for the English summer game.

At the time I knew her she was engaged on the fruitless liaison with the American president that is sometimes thought to have led to her downfall, and she would often say to me, 'Jack is a dear boy, but does not understand the first thing about cricket. I taught him all about bowling averages this morning, and this afternoon he had forgotten it all again.'

However, some of it may have rubbed off. Do you remember, at the time of the Cuban missile crisis, when the Soviet Union retreated on the high seas, that Kennedy was heard to say: 'This time we have made the Russians follow on'? Nobody in the US knew what he meant, and nobody in the UK believed that he meant it. I think we can see signs of Norma Jean's influence at work here.

Yours, etc.