August 5 marks the 50th anniversary of Marilyn Monroe's death. While the sultry movie icon made only a few television appearances during her lifetime (her TV debut was on "The Jack Benny Program" in 1953, and who can forget her famous birthday serenade on "President Kennedy's Birthday Salute"?), her image has been referenced on countless television shows over the years.
Check out these 10 TV moments that channeled Marilyn Monroe -- before and after her death.
Talk about an odd couple! In 1996, Miss Piggy and Whoopi Goldberg teamed up to do their own rendition of Marilyn Monroe's famous "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" anthem, "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend." The song was the closing number on a "Muppets Tonight" episode, and the ladies were backed by tuxedoed Muppet penguins instead of male dancers.
In "The Beverly Hillbillies" episode "The Clampetts Go Hollywood," the glamour bug bit Elly May (Donna Douglas) as she transformed into a blonde bombshell movie star a la Marilyn Monroe. The rest of the clan dressed up as icons of the day, too, with Jethro (Max Baer) posing as a Marlon Brando-type, and Jed (Buddy Ebsen) donning a gold lame suit and crooning like Elvis.
The sitcom "Roseanne" was known for its annual Halloween-themed episodes, and in 1994 they scared up a Marilyn impersonator. In the episode "Skeleton in the Closet," Roseanne (Roseanne Barr) dressed up as Prince, but her pal Nancy (Sandra Bernhard) went even more out of character by glamming it up as Marilyn Monroe. She even sang "Happy Birthday Mr. President" and reenacted Monroe's famous "Seven Year Itch" subway grate scene. Incidentally, characters sporting Marilyn Monroe Halloween costumes have popped up on a bevy of shows over the years, including "Desperate Housewives," and "Growing Pains."
This spoof "Futurama" public service announcement -- about the dangers of dating a robot -- had a teen named Billy conjuring up a "Marilyn Monrobot." Eighty years later he was still locking lips with the electronic Monroe clone and before you knew it, the Earth was destroyed by aliens. The moral of this Marilyn story? Don't date robots!
On the 1950s sitcom "I Love Lucy," Lucy Ricardo (Lucille Ball) was always meddling in hubby Ricky's business endeavors. When he was up for the lead in the movie "Don Juan," she noticed the talent scout was also looking for "a Marilyn Monroe type." Add one blonde wig and a wiggly swagger, and you have Lucy channeling her inner Marilyn. Fred Mertz's response when Lucy asked him who she was dressed up as? "Humphrey Bogart in a wig."
On the sitcom "Gilligan's Island," the character of Ginger Grant (Tina Louise) was already a movie star, but when a Hollywood producer stopped by the deserted isle, she pulled out all the stops, including impersonating Marilyn Monroe, to get him to notice her acting talents. Fun fact: The Marilyn Monroe-esque Jayne Mansfield was actually producers' first pick for the role of "the movie star" Ginger Grant, but she turned the TV gig down, reportedly declaring, "I am a movie star."
AMC's retro drama "Mad Men" has touched on many significant events of the 1960s, so it's no wonder that Marilyn Monroe's iconic presence can be felt on the show. The Season 2 episode "Maidenform" referenced Monroe as an inspiration for the ad agency's Playtex campaign. The idea being that all women want to be either Jackie Kennedy or Marilyn Monroe. On the episode "Six Month Leave," the death of Marilyn Monroe was addressed, as the women in the office mourned the loss of their idol.
On the 1950s "Ernie Kovacs Show," Kovacs' wife Edie Adams frequently impersonated Marilyn Monroe. In 1960, Adams spoke of her television impersonations of the blonde bombshell, saying she was asked to do it so many times that she finally had to stop. "So I do an imitation of Jayne Mansfield, which is what she does anyway," Adams said.
Bill, Hillary, and Marilyn? Yes, on a 1993 "Saturday Night Live" sketch, musical guest Madonna pulled off her best Marilyn impression and sang a spoofy "Happy Inauguration, Mr. President" to a red-faced Bill Clinton (played by Phil Hartman). But this wasn't Madge's first time as Marilyn. She also portrayed her in a 1985 "SNL" sketch and in her 1985 music video for the song "Material Girl," in which she mimicked Monroe's famous routine from "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes."
10. "Smash" (2012)
And how about an entire TV series built around the premise of a Broadway musical about the life of Marilyn Monroe? In 2012, NBC debuted the musical drama "Smash" -- and everyone from Uma Thurman to "American Idol" alum Katharine McPhee has channeled the glamorous star for the fictional Marilyn Monroe musical, "Bombshell."
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