The Incredible Career And Sad Death of “Ivory Snow Girl” Marilyn Chambers!
In the history of “adult” cinema, there have been a few legends: Linda Lovelace, Seka, Georgina Spelvin and certainly Marilyn Chambers, the “Ivory Snow” girl!
A Celebration Of An Icon!
I wanted to share some of Marilyn’s career highlights.
Marilyn Chambers was born on April 22, 1952 in Providence, Rhode Island as Marilyn Ann Briggs. Her career included a few mainstream appearances, but she is primarily known for her work in some of the most acclaimed adult films of the early 70’s.
Chambers always wanted to be an Actress, as she explained in an interview:
“When I was about 16 I learned how to write my mother’s name on notes to get out of school”, she said. “And then I’d take the train into the city to go to auditions”.
While in high school she landed a small role in the 1970 Barbara Streisand film “The Owl and the Pussycat”, credited as Evelyn Lang.
While she was known for her adult film work and provocative photo shoots, it was her early work that gained her the lasting nickname “The Ivory Snow Girl!”
Her “Ivory Snow” Past!
During her early career as a model, her most prominent job was as the “Ivory Soap girl” on the Ivory Snow soap flake box, posing as a mother holding a baby under the tag line “99 & 44/100% pure”!
Needless to say, once her adult career took off, she was quickly replaced on the box!
Her Breakout Adult Role!
I grew up in Seattle, and I clipped out this original ad for her breakout role.
This is the original ad for “Behind The Green Door”, showing at Seattle’s Apple Theater, which NEVER allowed us to sneak in to see this film! But you can understand why we wanted to!
Marilyn’s debut in the adult world was the 1972 smash hit “Behind The Green Door”, the story of a wealthy San Francisco socialite, who is taken against her will to an elite sex club and initiated into the world of sex…
Interestingly, Chambers does not have a single word of dialogue in the entire film!
She is a willing participant in a series of erotic adventures that open her up to pleasure…
Among the more notorious scenes in one with a group of six women, and Marilyn also had sex with the African-American Actor Johnnie Keyes, considered shocking at the time because an inter-racial sex scene had never been released in an adult film like this.
The film includes other scenes never attempted in a XXX film before as well, such as the scene where Chambers mounts a trapeze contraption suspended from the ceiling for group sex.
Here’s what Marilyn had to say about the film:
“Each sequence was a surprise to me”, she said in 1987. “They never told me what was happening next. I just did it as it happened, and it worked. I’ve always been highly sexed. Oh, my God, I love it! Insatiable is the right word for me”.
And that word would be used again in a few years…
Following the massive success of “Behind the Green Door”, the Mitchell Brothers and Chambers teamed up for “The Resurrection of Eve”, which was released in September 1973, and helped cement her reputation as the wholesome, All-American “girl next door” alongside adult contemporaries Linda Lovelace and Georgina Spelvin.
She then got involved with Chuck Traynor, and stopped working with the Mitchell Brothers. That did not go well.
In retaliation, the Brothers created a documentary in 1976 called “Inside Marilyn Chambers”, using alternate shots and outtakes from their films with her, as well as interviews with some of her co-stars. This was done without Marilyn’s approval but when she found out about it, she made a deal that gave her 10% of the box office gross in exchange for doing a new interview for the film and helping to promote it.
This gave her a real insight into the ugly part of the business.
“I hated the film and I still do”, she said later. “It’s supposed to be the story of my life, and it’s not true. Jim and Art ripped me off. They felt I’d betrayed them … I felt they’d betrayed me, and for many years, we didn’t speak. Only when money was to be made did we start talking again.”
She spent time making non-adult films before being lured back for one more massive hit:
Chambers returned to the adult film industry with 1980’s “Insatiable.” Sshe played actress, model, and heiress Sandra Chase, whose appetite for sex is, as the title suggests, insatiable.
“My manager had never really wanted me to do X-rated film[s],” she said in 1997. “He tried to move me out of that, but—seeing as things didn’t go that way, and I wasn’t getting any legitimate projects—it was something that we needed to do. I was known in the X-rated business, and it was the right time.”
The bet paid off. Insatiable was the top-selling adult video for two years!
Although she was primarily known for her adult film work, she made a successful transition to mainstream projects and has been called “porn’s most famous crossover”.
Chambers starred in Director David Cronenberg’s 1977 movie “Rabid”.
Check out the trailer:
Cronenberg has said that Chambers put in a lot of hard work on the film and that he was impressed with her – but also says he had not seen “Behind the Green Door” prior to casting her!
“It was great working with David”, Chambers said in a 1997 interview. “He taught me a lot of things that were very valuable as an actress, especially in horror films. I found it useful in sex films, too!”
Chambers also had a lucrative career doing live performances around the world. Still, lasting mainstream success eluded her.
Here’s what she said in 2004:
“I’m just kind of resolved to the fact that this is it and you might as well enjoy it and reap the benefits of working 30-something years to achieve a name. And life is cruel when you get to be over 40 and nobody wants you, nobody wants to see you without your clothes on.”
In a 2004 interview, Chambers said this:
“My advice to somebody who wants to go into adult films is: Absolutely not! It’s heart-breaking. It leaves you kind of empty. So have a day job and don’t quit it”.
She was ranked at No. 6 on the list of Top 50 Porn Stars of All Time by AVN…
Marilyn’s Tragic End…
Sadly, Chambers died in 2009, but continues to fascinate. The Daily Beast has just published a story about her.
Here’s a snippet of their terrific story:
Chambers, who was born Marilyn Ann Briggs in Providence, Rhode Island, died at the age of 56 in 2009 of a cerebral hemorrhage and aneurysm related to heart disease—seven years after Lovelace and Traynor died three months apart. Toxicology results found small traces of the painkiller hydrocodone and the antidepressant Citalopram in her system, but not enough to have played a role in her death.
At the time, Chambers was working at a BMW dealership in Los Angeles and living in a mobile home near Santa Clarita, some 40 miles northeast.
“A lot of people didn’t know who she was,” says Peggy McGinn, another close friend. “She went by Marilyn Taylor. And those who knew didn’t care because of the way she carried herself. She was a classy lady.”
A sad end, and if you want to know more, check out the terrific Daily Beast story here:
Marilyn was truly an “Adult Film” Icon, but she wasn’t the only one to have her own “Inside” film:
Yes, Jennifer Welles had that honor as well, and it was much deserved!
You can see more inside Jennifer here:
And yes, there was another “inside” story as well!
Desiree Cousteau got her start in “Pretty Peaches” and starred in many other films as well! See her story here:
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