By Carin Chea
Toluca Lake’s Kassandra Carroll is one of the world’s premiere Marilyn Monroe tribute artists. Originally from Dublin, Ireland, the protégé of Hollywood car customizer George Barris has appeared and performed around the world in tribute to the screen icon. Now she’s recording her first-ever album of songs, “Memories of Marilyn” with a tentative Christmas 2018 release date.
The Tolucan Times had the honor of speaking with Carroll, whose aura is as effervescent and intoxicating as Monroe’s herself. To be in Carroll’s presence is to experience the delight and joy that is undeniably Marilyn.
Was it love at first sight with Marilyn?
Yes! My mother looked like Marilyn. I thought my aunt was Marilyn Monroe because she lived in America. I was only three. When my aunt arrived in Ireland, I found the highest heels, climbed onto a chair and yelled, ‘Hi Marilyn!’ She said, ‘Silly girl! My name is Maura, not Marilyn!’ When I was three, ‘Maura’ sounded like Marilyn!
I’ve always loved Marilyn. Growing up in Ireland, if you were a blonde, you were called ‘blondie.’ I wanted to stay away from that stereotype, but as you know, the things you run away from always find you in the end.
What is one of your fondest memories as a Marilyn tribute performer?
It was in Palm Springs when they first put her statue there. There was a lady who came up to me and said, ‘I got pregnant after watching The Seven Year Itch!’ People wanted photos with me. Everyone was walking up to me and telling me their life stories like I was actually Marilyn.
Tell us about your upcoming album release.
It’s called Memories of Marilyn, and it includes a song that Marilyn was due to record, but didn’t. There’s also an accompanying DVD. Harrison Held is the host and co-producer of the DVD, and in it, he interviews those who have worked with Marilyn – photographers, hairdressers, well-known actors and actresses and the like. And 100 percent of the proceeds will go to charities — the Los Angeles Children’s Hospital, as well as Hollygrove, which is where Marilyn lived for the first 10 years of her life as a foster child. The album is being recorded by David Williams of Melrose Mastering at Raleigh Studios.
What sort of message do you want to relay whenever you perform?
There’s only one Marilyn Monroe, one Norma Jean and only one you and I. We’re celebrating Marilyn’s life, and that’s why we call the CD Memories of Marilyn.
For more visit CelebrateMarilyn.com.