History Behind the Song

Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend originally featured in the Broadway production ‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’ which opened in 1949.

The story involves an American woman’s voyage to Paris to perform in a nightclub and the musical, written by Jule Styne and Leo Robin, was actually based on a novel by a writer called Anita Loos.

While living in San Francisco, Anita Loos followed her dissolute alcoholic father as they explored the city’s seedy underbelly which fueled Loos’ lifelong fascination with lowlifes and loose women and became part of the inspiration for her novels.

The musical starred a singer called Carol Channing and ran for 740 performances and in 1953 the film adaptation hit the silver screen starring Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe.

For those who haven’t seen the movie ‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’ Monroe’s character, Lorelei Lee, has been followed on a Transatlantic ocean liner by a detective hired by her fiance’s father, who wants assurance that she is not marrying purely for money, (which she most certainly is).

While trying to secure a diamond tiara for herself, Lorelei is unfortunately photographed in a compromising scene with a British diamond mine owner and her fiance’s father cancels her letter of credit before she arrives in France, requiring her to work in a nightclub to survive.

Her fiancé arrives at the cabaret to see her perform this song, about exploiting men for riches.

 

Fun Facts

#1 We all love Marilyn Monroe but did you know that not all of the song is actually her own voice?

I know. I too was shocked to discover this. The part ‘”These rocks don’t lose their shape, diamonds are a girl’s best friend” is actually dubbed with the voice of soprano Marni Nixon.

So are the high pitched ‘no’s’ at the start of the scene in the movie. Still, Marilyn does a fantastic job of this song and looks utterly fabulous so we’ll forgive her.

 

#2 The iconic pink dress worn by Marilyn in the song was created by costume designer William Travilla.  The dress was auctioned on 11 June 2010, and sold for a whopping $310,000.

 

#3 Costume designer William Travilla said the dress was folded into shape rather like cardboard and said, “Any other girl would have looked like she was wearing cardboard, but on screen I swear you would have thought Marilyn had on a pale, thin piece of silk. Her body was so fabulous it still came through.”

 

#4 The song quotes Harry Winston who was at the time, the most famous jewelry designer in the world. Harry got his start as a jeweler working in his father’s jewelry shop and later started his own business in 1920 and opened his first store in New York in 1932.

 

#5 Despite Jane Russell’s character having copious quick witted lines, it was Marilyn Monroe who stole the show. It was also this movie which began Monroe’s type casting as a ‘dumb blonde’ which she took a long time to shake.

Watch The Original

 

 

Nicola Milan
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