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12 Shocking Facts About Marilyn Monroe’s Hit Classic ‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’

Find out if there really was a feud between Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell


In 1953, the dazzling, showstopping and glamorous musical spectacle Gentlemen Prefer Blondes was released in theaters. It followed showgirls Lorelei Lee (Marilyn Monroe) and Dorothy Shaw (Jane Russell) as they jet off to Paris and attract the attention of men from all around the world — including the US Olympic team. 

The film is perhaps best known, though, for Marilyn’s hit song “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend,” and we uncovered the must-know facts about that song and the rest of the film. 

Want to watch Gentlemen Prefer Blondes again or for the first time? It is available for streaming on Amazon Prime Video. 

MUST READ: Young Marilyn Monroe: Rare Early Photos of Hollywood’s Most Captivating Star

1. Marilyn Monroe came up with one of the movie’s iconic lines 

American actresses Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe on the set of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell (1953) Sunset Boulevard / Contributor/Getty

In the film, the line “I can be smart when it’s important, but most men don’t like it,” was suggested by Monroe. It went on to be one of the film’s most well-known pieces of dialogue. 

MUST READ10 Iconic Marilyn Monroe Movies You Can Watch Right Now

2. Lorelei’s engagement ring wasn’t real 

Marilyn Monroe looking out ship window in a scene from the film 'Gentlemen Prefer Blondes', 1953
Marilyn Monroe (1953) Archive Photos / Stringer/Getty

Lorelei Lee (Monroe) wore a massive diamond engagement ring in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, but it was actually made out of a rhinestone crystal. The ring was later gifted to the movie industry’s Sidney Rosenstein from Monroe’s manager, Inez Melson, after Monroe’s death. Then, after Rosenstein died in 2018, the ring was sold at auction for $15,000. 

MUST READ: Marilyn Monroe Husbands: A Look at the Hollywood Icon’s Three Marriages

3. The people in the ‘Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend’ were selected for a reason 

Marilyn Monroe (1953)
Marilyn Monroe (1953) Century-Fox

Choreographer Jack Cole insisted that Monroe was the only blonde present in the hit number “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend.” This led to the showgirls on the chandeliers being either brunettes or redheads and all the men having grey hairs growing from their roots. 

You can watch the entire song below:

4. Marilyn was upset about not being cast as the lead in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell (1953)
Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell (1953) Archive Photos / Stringer/Getty

After being told that she was not going to be the star of the film, Monroe was apparently very upset. She was also reported to have said: “Well, whatever I am, I AM the blonde,” after she found out.

5. Jane Russell had a very interesting job on set 

Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell (1953) (Gentlemen Prefer Blondes)
Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell (1953) Century-Fox

While filming Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Russell and Monroe began to bond. In fact, Russell was the only person on set who could get Monroe — who was feeling that people were being rude to her on set — to come out of her trailer and start filming. 

6. The scene where Dorthy Shaw fell into the pool wasn’t originally in the script 

Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell (1953)
Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell (1953) Century-Fox

While filming “Ain’t There Anyone Here for Love?,” Russell accidentally fell in the pool in the middle of the number, but director Howard Hawks loved it and left it in the film. 

7. Russell was paid way more than Monroe in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell (1953)
Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell (1953) Century-Fox

Ten years after filming wrapped, Monroe went on record saying that Russell was paid 400% more than she was. 

“I remember when I got the part in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,” Monroe recalled. “Jane Russell, she was the brunette in it, and I was the blonde. She got $200,000 for it, and I got my $500 a week, but that to me was, you know, considerable. She, by the way, was quite wonderful to me.”

8. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes was based on a musical 

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes: Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell (1953)
Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell (1953) Century-Fox

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes started out as a hit Broadway musical with the same name. It first hit the stage on December 8, 1949 and closed on September 15, 1951 after 740 shows. 

There was also a 1928 play that had the same name. It had 128 shows in total. 

9. The iconic pink dress was the studio’s original idea 

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes: Marilyn Monroe (1953)
Marilyn Monroe (1953) Century-Fox

In the song “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend,” Lee (Monroe) is seen wearing a very bright pink dress with lots of diamonds on her neck and arms, but that wasn’t what the studio initially wanted. 

They originally had her in a number of black velvet bands with rhinestones all over her body, to give the illusion of a woman-sized diamond necklace. However, they decided the design was too risqué and went with the pink dress instead. 

MUST READ: 6 Marilyn Monroe Makeup Looks: Celebrity Makeup Artist Reveals How To Re-Create Them

10. Monroe made filming Gentlemen Prefer Blondes complicated

Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell (1953)
Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell (1953)Archive Photos / Stringer/Getty

Despite being told that shots looked good by Hawks, Monroe insisted on retaking until she felt the same way. 

All of these delays led to 20th Century-Fox asking Hawks how filming could be sped up. Hawks reportedly replied, “Three wonderful ideas: replace Marilyn, rewrite the script and make it shorter and get a new director.”

11. The supposed feud between Russell and Monroe was fake 

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes: Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell (1953)
Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell (1953) Century-Fox

Multiple media outlets reported that Monroe and Russell didn’t get along while filming, but that wasn’t true at all. 

The two were actually good friends, and Russell even had a nickname for Monroe: “Blondie.”  However, despite their good on-screen chemistry and fondness for each other, the two never worked together again — even though 20th Century-Fox really wanted them to.

12. They filmed ‘Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend’ twice 

American actor Marilyn Monroe (1926 - 1962) performs the musical number, 'Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend,' from director Howard Hawks's film, 'Gentlemen Prefer Blondes'.
Marilyn Monroe (1953) Hulton Archive / Stringer/Getty

After filming had wrapped, 20th Century-Fox decided to re-film “Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend” in CinemaScope so they could use it in their CinemaScope demonstration in March of 1953.

Viewers, however, didn’t see the CinemaScope version until 1963 in 20th Century-Fox’s documentary tribute to Marilyn Monroe entitled Marilyn

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