I’m already forty-two and you know what Hollywood and most fans think of aging women especially if they make only three movies in four years and all flounder at the box office. A lot of people in this gossipy town would like to send me away, perhaps in a coffin. I think it’s strange my two Oscars and seven nominations for best actress aren’t helping me get the role of Margo Channing in All About Eve, the upcoming production everyone’s enthused about.
I adore director and screenwriter Joseph Mankiewicz and producer Darryl Zanuck but, in better times, would rebuke them for even considering others. As a professional courtesy, I won’t reveal names but two beautiful ladies are entirely too young for the part of an aging actress, two are much less appropriate than I, and of the two others they prefer one is unavailable and the other injured. I say not a disparaging word when Joe, quite belatedly, offers me what I cherish most.
The day production starts I’m as ever prepared and externally confident but concede my heart seizes when unknown Marilyn Monroe shyly says hello. I’m relieved this gorgeous girl, a generation my junior, has a small part and, so far as I can discern, a correspondingly small talent. In a simple scene she bumbles her lines a dozen times before I say, “You better study the script at night instead of whatever you’re doing that makes you late every day.” She dashes away in tears.
Anne Baxter worries me. Though less luminous than Marilyn, she’s much prettier than I, fifteen years fresher, and a recent Oscar winner, albeit for supporting actress. Anne wants what I’ve got and, as Eve Harrington, slithers her way into becoming my omnipresent aide and companion quick to praise and serve me while also studying my techniques as the preeminent stage actress on Broadway.
I hope Anne won’t try to steal Gary Merrill. Rumor is he plans to have an affair with her off screen. I won’t let that happen. I love hairy and handsome men like Gary, especially when they’re several years younger, and overwhelm him with passion while deciding to replace my third husband. Before the cameras Gary is also my boyfriend and rejects the flirtations of scheming Anne. I’m further distraught when theater critic George Sanders tells me Anne’s wonderful when she secretly reads my part and becomes my understudy. I’ll stay sharp and keep her offstage. Renowned playwright Hugh Marlowe and his wife Celeste Holm, the latter of whom I rebuke the first day on set for being too cheery too early, are supposedly my onscreen friends but contrive to make me miss a performance so eager Anne can perform and delight the audience, arousing acerbic George Sanders to praise dynamic Even and revile me for being an old cow hanging on.
The rest of the original script is irrelevant because I demand a private meeting with Joseph Mankiewicz and Darryl Zanuck and slam soiled and annotated papers on the producer’s desk and say, “That’s enough. The other players are fine but as usual I’m dominating this movie and insist on the following changes. Anne Baxter as planned lures Hugh Marlowe into leaving his wife, cheery Celeste, but on their way to a seaside wedding they blow a tire and fly off the road into a thicket where their remains won’t be discovered for a fortnight. The dry Mr. Sanders, we discover, has a history of ungentlemanly behavior with women and attempts to disrobe terrified Marilyn Monroe who, thankfully, is able to grasp a wine glass on the coffee table next to the sofa on which she’s pinned and smash the glass into Sanders’ temple prior to thrusting her new jagged knife into his throat. Marilyn thereafter moves to Hollywood to launch a career in pictures. And I marry Gary Merrill and we drink and screw a lot when we aren’t berating and beating hell out of each other.”
“That’s even better than what I wrote,” says Joseph Mankiewicz.
“Let’s do it as long as it doesn’t blow the budget,” says Darryl Zanuck.
“Our efforts will still earn us many Academy Award nominations and with this script I’ll surely win the Oscar.”
“We better change the title to All About Margo,” says Mankiewicz.
“I like it,” says Zanuck.