A Cornucopia of Marilyn Monroe Copycats
Blonde, buxom and perky, Marilyn Monroe was a celebrity game changer. After the bombshell made waves throughout the 1950s cultural Zeitgeist, plenty of zaftig copycats emerged from the woodwork to attempt to emulate her success. On the birthday of a classic Monroe type—Mamie Van Doren—we celebrate the poor man’s Marilyns who tried to make it big by copying the original.
This former Playboy bunny was not only the brightest and most well known of the imitation Marilyns, but was also a card-carrying member of Mensa. In addition to her star turns in Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? and The Girl Can’t Help It, inspiring drag diva Divine and mothering Law and Order: SVU star Mariska Hargitay, Mansfield is rather famous for her gruesome death in a 1967 auto accident.
Mansfield on What’s My Line?
Mamie Van Doren
Born Joan Olander, this wannabe was known as the first actress to openly copy Marilyn Monroe. Van Doren was discovered by billionaire mogul Howard Hughes on the night she was crowned Miss Palm Springs, and the pair dated for several years. Mamie also served as a beard for closeted actor Rock Hudson; about her arranged pairing, she told the BBC, “Rock was so well endowed he should have been called boulder.”
Monique van Vooren
Though she claimed to have been born in 1938, light research indicates she actually came into the world in 1927. The Belgian star made her way across the Atlantic at age 22, and went on to appear in such films as Tarzan and the She-Devil, Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein and Wall Street. Van Vooren also published two books, Night Sanctuary and The Happy Cooker.
Beverly Powers (Miss Beverly Hills)
Powers—better known by her stage name, Miss Beverly Hills—made her way from the pageant circuit to the silver screen by playing the role of a showgirl in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. After a short stint in Hollywood, Powers found Jesus and moved to Hawaii, where she opened The Living Ministry church in Maui.
This well-educated actress was typecast as a blond bombshell early in her career, and was pigeonholed in such films as The Apartment, Tales of Terror and Good Neighbor Sam. Though she had many movie and TV roles, Jameson, a smart, sensitive woman, found her work largely unfulfilling, and suffered from depression and insomnia. In 1987, Jameson committed suicide by overdosing on pills; her remains were cremated and scattered at sea.