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A Different View of Marilyn

A Different View of Marilyn

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A Different View of Marilyn

375 Seiten
10 Stunden
Jan 29, 2004


"Yes, there is a different view of Marilyn."

February 16, 2004 marks the 50th anniversary of our tour of Korea. For one week my musical abilities (uninterupted by military service) and her meteoric rising star power combined in front of more than one hundred thousand service persons. The stuff we shared, and how we got there, and moved onward, are the subjects of this memoir.

Jan 29, 2004

Über den Autor

Al Carmen Guastafeste earned his Bachelor and Master of Science degrees from the Juilliard School of Music on a scholarship. He also received a professional Diploma as a specialist in Music Education from Teacher's College, Columbia University. Mr. Guastafeste is a teacher, pianist, conductor, composer, and lecturer. He has taught on every level of education from elementary school through college, including the Juilliard school of Music. As a performing pianist Mr Guastafeste has toured in the United States, Japan, Korea, Okinawa, Guam, and the Phillipine Islands. He has appeared as a guest artist with several symphony orchestras, symphonic bands, in concert halls, on radio and television in the United States and Far East. Al Carmen Guastafeste was a pianist/conductor for Marilyn Monroe on her tour of Korea in February 1954. He has also performed with Florence Henderson, Marty Allen and Steve Rossi, Kaye Starr, Frank Fontaine, Al Martino, and many other notable stars. Mr. Guastafeste is equally proficient in performing Jazz, and classical concerts. Along with his lecture/demonstration programs, Mr. Guastafeste presents an exciting performance of "Educational Entertainment." Mr. Guastafeste is a member of: United Federation of Teachers (UFT), Local 2 American federation of Teachers (AFT) New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) Music Teachers National association (MTNA) New York State Music Teachers Association (NYSMTA) Phi Mu Alpha Sinphonia Fraternity of America (Beta Gamma) International Association for Jazz Education (IAJE) Juilliard Alumni Association Al Carmen Guastafeste's name appears in Who's Who in Entertainment (First Edition, 1989-1990).

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A Different View of Marilyn - Al Carmen Guastafeste






Al Carmen Guastafeste

Copyright © 2003 by Al Carmen Guastafeste. All rights reserved.

No part of this book, text or photos, may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the written prior permission of both the copyright owner, and the publisher of this book.

Cover design by Robert Canane and Randy Levine from Art-Tech Photo Studio Plus of Royal Palm Beach, Florida. Book design and typesetting, Roy Diment, VRG.

A cataloguing record for this book that includes the U.S. Library of Congress Classification number, the Library of Congress Call number and the Dewey Decimal cataloguing code is available from the National Library of Canada. The complete cataloguing record can be obtained from the National Library’s online database at:

This book was published on-demand in cooperation with Trafford Publishing.

On-demand publishing is a unique process and service of making a book available for retail sale to the public taking advantage of on-demand manufacturing and Internet marketing. On-demand publishing includes promotions, retail sales, manufacturing, order fulfilment, accounting and collecting royalties on behalf of the author.

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Trafford Catalogue #03-2067

10   9   8   7   6   5




Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven



Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen



Chapter Nineteen



Chapter Twenty


February 14,2004 marks the Fiftieth Anniversary of my meeting Marilyn Monroe. February 16, 2004 is the Fiftieth Anniversary of our tour of Korea. Since I was Marilyn’s pianist/musical director on her tour of Korea, I felt it is time for the public to get an accurate account of exactly what took place during the many rehearsals and shows we performed.

Hundreds of books and articles have been written about this internationally famous movie star. Yet, in all my readings I have found some inaccuracies, unintentional I’m sure, which only I can set straight. One of these is in regard to the song, Do It Again. Although it was reported in newspapers and written in some books that Marilyn would sing Do It Again, she never sang it in the shows we did throughout Korea. Simply stated, I let Marilyn know I wasn’t familiar with the song, so she replaced it with another.

I also cover other information that was reported incorrectly so that the reader will have a better understanding of what took place in my presentation of A Different View of Marilyn.


Yes, there is A Different View of Marilyn. February 16, 2004 marks the 50th anniversary of Marilyn Monroe’s tour of Korea. The author’s musical abilities (uninterrupted by military service), and Marilyn’s red-hot star power combined to perform unforgettable shows in front of more than 100,000 service persons. The stuff we shared, and how we got there and moved onward, are the subjects of this memoir.

Much of the information for this book was written from conversations the author had with Marilyn. These conversations took place before, during, and after rehearsals and performances of the Army variety show Marilyn became part of called, Anything Goes.

Most of the pictures of Marilyn presented in this book, were taken by the author, and some members of the cast of Anything Goes, and have never been viewed before.


A Different View of Marilyn, could never have been completed without the unselfish time consuming assistance of the many family members and friends who read through this book and made comments to make it more pleasurable reading. I want to thank my brothers Eddie and Joe, in-laws Yvonne and Eddie D’Alessandro, friends Tony and Angela Vitale, Vinny and Eleanor Carsillo, and Irma and Joe Frieman.

Many thanks to my colleagues at John Dewey High School, Brooklyn, N.Y. for their suggestions: Herman Gersten, Louise La Lotta, Emmy Award writer George Rubino, and Carmine Giordano.

Special thanks to my wonderful friends at the United Federation of Teachers,RandiWeingarten,president; Sandra March, Candy Cook, and Tom Pappas, president Retired Teachers Chapter. I also want to thank the officers and co-workers at the Boca Raton, FL office for their contributions: Marna Davidson, FL coordinator; Myra Golden, office manager; Myrna Mish, Phyllis Lapidus, Florence Kassler, Allan Priesel, Sylvia Belkin, Hilda and Rip Cohen. Florence Fidell, Bernard Heller, Ruth Hochberg, Rita Joseph-son, Delphine Kanter, Susan Klorman, Lil Leviten, Phyllis Neuge-, sser, Barbara Salamon, Michael Silvergleid, Joel Stieglitz, Erica Rhine, Alice Rochlin, Laura Roth, Murray Sussman, and Josie Virgillito.

My thanks also go to Bill Cea, New York State United Teachers, for his efforts in helping make A Different View Of Marilyn, a success.

My heartfelt gratitude goes out to my sister-in-law Bronte Jornod, for her wonderful suggestions, her many questions that had to

be answered, and her careful editing of my manuscript.

Extra special thanks go to Robert Canane, and Randy Levine from Art-Tech Photo Studio Plus, of Royal Palm Beach, FL for the extra hours of work designing the book cover. Their professional opinions on using the many original photographs presented in this book, add a visual excitement to,A Different View of Marilyn.

Writing, A Different View of Marilyn, became more enjoyable when you have friends and professionals saying, Go for it Al. Write about your experiences and be yourself. That is exactly what I did.


Al Carmen Guastafeste is a teacher, pianist, composer, conductor, lecturer, and recording artist. He received his Bachelor and Master of Science degrees from Juilliard, and a Professional Diploma as a Specialist in Music Education, from Teacher’s College, Columbia University.

Mr. Guastafeste has taught on every level of education from Elementary School through College, including Juilliard.

Al Carmen Guastafeste has performed programs and given lecture/demonstration concerts of Pop, Jazz, and Classical music in concert halls, on TV and radio in the United States, and Far East. An example of his versatility is his first performance of his Contemporary Jazz-Rock Piano Sonata, in Carnegie Recital Hall on May 26, 1981.

Mr. Guastafeste has had numerous appearances as guest artist with symphony orchestras, and symphonic bands.

Mr. Guastafeste has been pianist/conductor for Marilyn Monroe on her tour of Korea in February 1954, Allen and Rossi, Florence Henderson, Frank Fontaine, and many other notable stars.

Al Carmen Guastafeste has recorded A History of Jazz Piano. He narrates and performs original compositions of all styles of jazz in the 1900’s. He has also recorded an album of familiar pieces and original compositions titled, Something Old, Something New.

Mr. Guastafeste is a member of:

American Federation of Musicians, Local 802

American Federation of Teachers

International Association for Jazz Education

Music Teachers National Association

New York State Music Teachers Association

New York State United Teachers

Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity of America, (Beta Gamma Chapter)

United Federation of Teachers, Local 2

United Federation of Teachers, Retired Teachers Chapter

Al Carmen Guastafeste’s name appears in Who’s Who in Entertainment, first edition, 1989-199O.


I dedicate this book to my wonderful wife Josephine, whose unfailing and steadfast support in everything I do, brings out the true meaning of love and happiness.

I also dedicate this book to my loving mom and dad,Anna and Carmine. Without them and their love I would not be here to do these writings.

This book is written in fond memory of Marilyn Monroe, without whom I could not have, A Different View of Marilyn.



Chapter One


It was February 1954. Korea was cold and Marilyn was hot! Marilyn was on her honeymoon with Joe Di Maggio in Japan in February 1954. United States Army personnel felt this would be a wonderful opportunity to have Marilyn visit over one hundred thousand troops in Korea.

A U.S. Army representative got in touch with Marilyn and asked, Would you be willing to tour the troops in Korea?

Marilyn refused saying, I would like to, but I don’t have a pianist who can play for me.

The Army representative replied, Don’t worry, we have the right person for you. He’s Al Guastafeste.

When I received a telephone call telling me I was going to be Marilyn Monroe’s pianist, I was dumbfounded. All I could say was, Oh?

The voice on the other end of the line replied, All you can say is Oh,’ aren’t you excited?

Sure I’m excited, but…. can she sing?

The more I thought about it, the more I couldn’t believe Marilyn Monroe, on her honeymoon, would leave Joe Di Maggio to go on tour with Al Guastafeste. I wasn’t worried about playing for her because I knew what Joe was able to do with a baseball, I was able to do with a piano!

Marilyn had dreams when she was a child, and so did I. She wanted to be a famous actress, and I wanted to play for famous people. I felt it was destiny that brought us together. I also knew we came from different upbringings and I didn’t know how we would get along in rehearsals and performances. I began thinking of our lifestyles and realized our lives couldn’t have been more different from birth.

Marilyn was born in Hollywood, California on June 1, 1926. Before becoming a star, Marilyn had the name of Norma Jean Baker through early childhood and adolescent years. Baker was her mother’s name from her first husband. Marilyn never knew who her father was.

As a child she had the unfortunate experience of living first in the Los Angeles Orphan Home, and then in various foster homes. Her mother suffered from emotional depression and was frequently in hospitals for treatment. Her maternal grandparents were committed to a mental institution.

It was in the foster homes where Marilyn learned right from wrong, good from bad, and her values were shaped by the various foster parents with whom she lived. Not having the family foundation to build on, with no father and mother to give her love, warmth, security, understanding, and direction in life, and the constant changing of foster parents was a traumatic experience for Marilyn. This affected her throughout her life.

In the late twenties and thirties when Marilyn was growing up, times were hard. Adoption of children was not popular at that time. Financially, it was more beneficial to foster a child and receive an income allowance than to adopt and receive nothing.

As a child, Marilyn always felt she did not belong and she

resented being an orphan. As a result she was very shy and stayed alone much of the time. She had no one to fuss over her when she was an infant. At an age when children are cuddled and told how beautiful they are, Marilyn was in the Los Angeles Orphan Home. After getting through her pre-school years in foster homes, and about the time when Marilyn enters elementary school, is. when I was born.

I am the third son of Italian-born parents who came to America in the early 1900’s. It was in 1913 when my dad, Carmine Guastafeste, arrived by ship in New York City. His father had passed away and the family decided to come to America for a better life.

While living on Monroe Street in Little Italy, dad began working as an apprentice barber. He learned the barber trade exceptionally well and worked through his seventy second year before he retired.

While working as a young barber, dad also started to learn to play the piano. Although he took piano lessons at age fourteen and only studied for two years, he progressed very rapidly because of his talent and love for music. Dad had to stop taking piano lessons after two years because in those days, when you came from Italy, you had to work to bring the money in, not to spend it. He regretted giving up the lessons but never stopped playing for his own enjoyment. This talent, interest, and love for music was inherited by his three sons.

Mom, whose maiden name was Anna D’Amore, came to America in 1912, when she was seven years old. She first lived in Connecticut for about five years. When she was about ten years old, mom used to accompany her parents to New York City. Her father, suffering from asthma, occasionally visited his doctor in New York. While in New York, Anna’s family would visit Carmine’s family. They were distant relatives because dad’s mother and mom’s grandmother were stepsisters.

Carmine was about fourteen when Anna, who was ten, first met him in this country. They knew each other as kids in Italy and got along very well having lots of fun giggling and playing together. At that time my father’s mother noticed that they enjoyed being together and said to my mom’s parents, Wouldn’t it be nice if the two children eventually got married?

The fix was on!

My mother’s father wouldn’t hear of it and said, My daughter is only a baby!

After spending several years in America, Anna’s father, still feeling miserable with his asthma condition, was advised by his doctor to go back to Italy. Grandpa D’Amore took the doctor’s advice and left America and went back to his native land. Anna, her mother, and two brothers eventually moved to Anna’s aunt Nella’s house in Chicago. A short time later Anna’s mother went back to Italy to take care of her husband.

Carmine had never forgotten Anna when they were kids and how they loved being with each other. When he was in his early twenties, Carmine was given permission by Anna’s oldest brother Frank, to come to Chicago to see Anna. Traveling back and forth from New York City to Chicago was difficult and expensive for Carmine, but it was well worth it. After courting Anna for two years, they were married on June 6, 1926.

Carmine and Anna, now married, lived in a house in Brooklyn that Carmine bought with the money his mother had saved for him from all the years he had been working. In July 1927, Carmine Edward Jr. was born. By April 1930, Joseph Robert was ushered in, and in July 1932, out came Albert Sebastian, that’s me!

The home in Brooklyn had a special meaning to me. I literally felt attached to it since the first day I was born. In 1932 women didn’t go to the hospital to have their babies, they had them right at home. Well, you know the old saying, There’s no place like home!

When I was about two years old I developed pneumonia. This was especially serious during those times because there wasn’t any penicillin or other antibiotics available. Dad’s older brother Tom, had Dr. Giuliano, one of the best doctors around, operate on me. Little chance of survival was expected. He cut out part of one rib on the right side of my rib cage and inserted a tube to drain out the pus from my lungs.

After a few sleepless nights, mom and dad knew I would pull through because I awoke one night saying, I’m hungry!

Just like a true Italian, almost ready to die and yet wanting to eat!

I recuperated quickly and was back on my feet before long. It must have been those delicious Italian meals mom used to cook. After all, I wasn’t going to leave this earth at that early an age and miss out on all that wonderful cooking. Not me!

We mostly spoke English in the house because mom and dad went to school after they arrived in the USA and had no trouble learning the language. I occasionally spoke in a Sicilian dialect with my grandmother, dad’s mother, who was living with us.

The clothes in the 1930’s for young boys up to about seven years old, usually was short pants. Between seven and about thirteen years old you wore knickers. Over thirteen, and in high school, you graduated to long’ pants.

The hair style that stands out in my mind is the style I had when I was two years old. Dad, my personal hair stylist, styled my hair in what was called a Buster Brown cut. This was long straight hair that covered my ears and fell to a little above my shoulders. The front of the hair was cut in bangs about an inch above the eyebrows. I think we all resembled Sir Lancelot, or one of the other Knights of the Round Table. The next time I saw that hair style in fashion again was when the rock group from England, the Beatles, invaded America with their brand of music in 1964. After three decades, something that seemed new and different wasn’t new at all.

Al at two years old in 1934, sporting a Buster Brownhaircut

Between the ages of two and four I was like the typical kid, annoying my big brothers and mother at times. I would be frightened by fire engines and their sirens and would run and hide under the bed. I also hid there when my oldest brother would listen to radio programs such as Inner Sanctum, The Green Hornet, The Shadow, and, The Lone Ranger. They sounded scary to me so I would run and hide. I guess I felt hiding under the bed would protect me.

For me, those pre-school years turned out to be a time of learning, understanding, and fun. I guess I was a pretty normal pain in the neck kid wanting to do what my older brothers did and bothering them much of the time. It was nice having brothers and they really treated me well. I don’t know if they had any complaints, but I didn’t.

While Marilyn unfortunately shuttled between foster homes as a young child, I basked in the sunny warmth and love of a real Sicilian family. I had the comfort of a home, parents who gave me love, security, discipline when needed, and brothers to have fun and play with. I was very fortunate!

Chapter Two


In 1934 Gladys Baker, Marilyn’s mother, resumed work after her release from the hospital. She worked as a motion picture laboratory technician and was able to save some money during this time. Thus, she was able to afford to have Marilyn take piano lessons in 1935. Marilyn enjoyed being a part of music since this became a way of expressing her feelings.

Marilyn was nine years old now and her life was one of being in and out of foster homes, changing almost yearly and sometimes more than once a year. She took refuge in her dreams and found whatever happiness and security she might feel, hidden in those dreams. The dreams and piano studies were Marilyn’s way of escaping from the miseries of childhood in foster homes.

Music lessons became a very important part of our home also. It was in 1935 when dad had my oldest brother Junior, as we called him, begin taking piano lessons when he was seven years old. He would study exercises and classical pieces and dad would monitor his progress.

I remember when I was about four years old, we had a player piano and I would play the piano rolls by pumping the two pedals that controlled the piano roll. I used to move my fingers by the keys as they went up and down and I felt like I was really playing the piano. I also would pester my brother to teach me a song. What really caught my dad’s eye is when I would also go to the piano and play some of the melodies I heard Junior practicing.

When I turned five years old dad noticed how interested I was in playing the piano. He had already decided to have my brother Joe, who was seven years old, study the mandolin. Within a few months, dad felt I was ready to take piano lessons. He sent me to the same piano and instrumental teachers (two sisters) that my brothers were studying with. I was so excited I couldn’t wait to begin!

I learned very fast because I enjoyed making music. I had a good ear and was able to memorize my pieces quickly. When I was six years old, I played in a student recital which also included my two older brothers. It was very successful and mom and dad were very proud of us. We felt great, especially when we heard the applause from the audience.

During these years the law of the house was when dad came home from work, we boys had to be practicing our instruments. Junior would get away with practicing at night because we only had one piano and the two of us couldn’t practice at the same time. In those days dad would work a twelve hour day in his barber shop, and he wouldn’t arrive home til about eight or eight-thirty in the evening. That gave us enough time after school to practice our instruments, do our homework and still have plenty of time to go out and play.

We lived on 78th Street, the first house off the corner of 14th avenue in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, NY. When mom would stand on the porch and see dad coming home from work, she would call out, Junior, Joseph, Albert, get upstairs, your father’s coming!

Hearing the call of the wild,’ we would run to the house, dash up the stairs and without stopping to wash, run to our instruments and start practicing. Dad would enter and see Joe playing the mandolin in the kitchen, and I would be at the opposite end of the house practicing the piano in the parlor. He often mentioned to mom, It’s so nice to come home and see the boys practicing so hard and working up a sweat.

There were those rare times when we didn’t get home before dad. When that happened we knew what to expect. Usually we got smacked in the back of the head or had our ears pulled. I think we were more afraid of the way dad spoke while clenching his teeth, than we were of the slap or ear tug that he gave us.

Mom got so used to calling all three names when she wanted one of us that it sometimes led to confusion. When she only wanted me, she would call out, Junior, Joseph, Albert, and end up saying, Whatever your name is.

I sometimes wondered if my name was, Junior Joseph Albert.

To play it safe, no matter what name mom called out, I would ask, Do you mean Albert, mom?

After dad finished his dinner, he would come into the parlor and listen to me practice. He would offer a few comments and tell me to do certain parts over again, which I did. Dad was a lot of help in the beginning. He reinforced my learning and made sure I prepared my lessons properly.

Before long, dad would fall asleep in his chair. While he was sleeping, I would look through the railroad rooms, (rooms built in a straight line one after the other) from the parlor to the kitchen where my mother was cleaning up. I would motion to her in mime, because I didn’t want to awaken my dad, and let her know dad was sleeping. I would also ask her if it was all right for me to go to bed. As usual, Old Softy’ would give me the sign that meant it would be okay for me to take my bath and go to bed.

Mom, Junior (left), Joseph (right) and Albert (center)

Next to the parlor was my grandmother’s bedroom. She would usually go to bed about eight-thirty or nine o’clock at night. She was now in her mid-seventies and didn’t stay up late. There wasn’t any door for her bedroom, but I remember she had drapes on a rod which she kept closed to have privacy.

Once grandma would go to bed, she wouldn’t leave her room until she woke up the next morning. This presented a problem for her when she got the call from her kidneys to urinate. The problem was solved very simply by means of a urine pot which she kept by her bed.

This urine pot was made of metal and had about an eight inch radius and six inch depth. It had a handle on the side, and curved one inch rim. It had a pearl gray enamel finish that made for a smooth flow when emptying the pot out and washing it the next morning. I can still hear the tinkling of the pot while I would be practicing. I used to think it was kind of funny that this would go on, but I guess I didn’t understand certain things at that age. Besides, grandma wasn’t going to walk through the parlor and my mother’s bedroom a few times during the middle of each night, to do a little tinkling. We may not have had much in those days but at least we knew grandma had a pot to piss in!

My brother Joe eventually switched from mandolin to violin at the age of ten. I suppose you might say my mother had some influence in his decision. One evening while I was practicing, Joe was in the kitchen playing his mandolin. He had a habit of playing for a few minutes and then stopping. He would glance up at the kitchen clock and then start playing again. A few minutes later he would stop, get up from his chair, and go to the sink for a drink of water. He’d sit down and practice again, stop, go to the bathroom,

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