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Monday, April 13, 2009

Adult Film Star Marilyn Chambers, Ex-Westporter, Dies at 56

UPDATE Marilyn Chambers, the 1970 Westport Staples High School graduate then known as Marilyn Ann Briggs who won early fame as an Ivory Snow detergent model and later as an adult film star, died Sunday at her suburban Los Angeles home. She was 56.WestportNow.com Image
Marilyn Chambers poses with the Ivory Snow box in which she was depicted holding an infant. File photo

Chambers was found unresponsive at her residence, said a spokesman for the Los Angeles County corner’s office. The cause of death is under investigation but foul play was not suspected and an autopsy is pending, he said.

The Associated Press quoted a family friend, Peggy McGinn, said as saying Chambers’ 17-year-old daughter found the actress’ body at her home in the Los Angeles suburb of Canyon Country.

Chambers became a pop culture phenomenon when she gave up work as a model advertising Ivory Snow laundry detergent to star in the X-rated “Behind the Green Door” in 1972.

The movie also sparked a buying frenzy on boxes of Ivory Snow soap, then graced by Chambers’ angelically complexioned face.

Married and divorced three times, Chambers admitted to interviewers that she had battled drug and alcohol addiction in her past.WestportNow.com Image
Marilyn Chambers (3rd l.) returned to Westport for her 30th Staples class reunion in 2000. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

Chambers went through the Westport school system—Burr Farms Elementary, Hillspoint Elementary, Long Lots Junior High School and Staples.

She kept in touch with Westport friends and mingled with many of them at a 2000 class reunion.

Wrote one on a Facebook entry after learning of her death: “We had so much fun with Marilyn at (the) last reunion and she was so sweet to send a note…telling us that we gave her love life hope.”

At a Class of 1970 Web site, Chambers said she planned to attend next year’s 40th reunion.

In a posting several years ago to classmates, she said: “Haven’t been back to Westport in a long time, as I have no more family living there (both my mom and dad are deceased).

“My brother tells me he went to see our old house on Marc Lane, and they’ve turned it into a MacMansion! Egads, a whole town of Martha Stewarts is evolving!! Would love to hear from old friends from the good old days.” WestportNow.com Image
Chambers shot to fame with the 1972 adult film “Behind the Green Door.” Mitchell Brothers Pictures photo

Born in Providence, R.I., Chambers moved with her family to Westport at an early age.  Her father was in advertising and her mother was a nurse. She was the youngest of three children.

While at Staples, she landed some modeling jobs as well a small role in the film “The Owl and the Pussycat,” which starred Barbra Streisand. She was credited as “Evelyn Lang.”

“When I was about 16 I learned how to write my mother’s name on notes to get out of school. And then I’d take the train into the city to go to auditions,” she told the authors of the 2005 “The Other Hollywood: The Uncensored Oral History of the Porn Film Industry.”

“My whole growing up consisted of me in front of a mirror playing records like ‘West Side Story’ and ‘Bye Bye Birdie.’ I really wanted to be Ann-Margaret, to tell you the truth.”

Throughout the ‘70s and `80s, Chambers was one of the biggest names in the porn industry, ranked by Playboy magazine as one of the top 100 sex stars of the 20th century and named one of the top 10 adult film stars of all time by Adult Video News.

Tom Seligson, a Westporter who knew her brother, wrote on Facebook: “When Westport celebrities are ever mentioned, Marilyn’s name is always included, along with our other illustrious actors and writers. She was a local girl who made good, and we were proud of her.”

She is survived by her daughter, McKenna Marie Taylor; her brother, Bill Briggs; and her sister, Jann Smith.
See Los Angeles Times obituary here and recollections of fellow Staples student Dan Woog here.


Posted 04/13/09 at 09:35 PM  Permalink


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Really, this is the only photo you could find to report the death of this former Westport resident? It is offensive to have this photo displayed where our family visits for town information - please don’t glorify this woman’s poor choices in life.

Posted by anna maria hanson on April 14, 2009 at 01:55 PM | #

How about reading Dan’s linked comments before you judge?

Posted by Jeff Kiker on April 14, 2009 at 06:14 PM | #

Read, why do that? Clearly all she did was look at the “photo”!!

Posted by Frank Saurmann on April 14, 2009 at 06:53 PM | #

I did read the article and Dan’s linked comments. I don’t happen to agree that her childhood was the time that matters most - to me it would be more important what she did as an adult - however my comment was about the use of a naked photo as an unnecessary means to remember a former Westport resident. Some of us still consider pornography sinful and offensive.

Posted by anna maria hanson on April 14, 2009 at 07:05 PM | #

She was a high school classmate who was pretty and nice.  She was a girl the girls loved to be amongst and the guys smiled at.  She was no different than you,  our daughters or any one girl who went to Staples, who lived in Westport or dreamed about fame.  Her choices were questionable but her friends and classmates are everlasting in remembering her as friend and a classmate

Posted by chip stephens on April 15, 2009 at 12:50 AM | #

Many might feel the photo was quite artistic. Would you feel the same way if this was simply a photo of a model of a famous photographer, rather than someone who happened to be in pornographic movies?  Rest in Peace.

Posted by EP Leary on April 15, 2009 at 11:16 PM | #

I missed it ‘till Anna spoke up ;-)

Posted by Tom Feeley on April 16, 2009 at 01:28 AM | #

Dan, nice piece on Marilyn and Chip, right on! 

For a wonderful insight into the true Marilyn you should visit westporters.com (click on class of 1970).  These are memories of Marilyn from her classmates and a heart warming memorial.

My sympathies to Jann and Bill and McKenna.

Posted by Gail Gorian on April 16, 2009 at 03:17 PM | #

Went to Staples with Marilyn, found her bright, funny, and just plain nice to all.  Yeah, maybe some questionable career choices, but have we all always made the right choices along the road?  I was very sorry to hear about her passing, and will definitely miss seeing her at the next reunion.  Extending my sympathies to Bill, Jann, and McKenna.

Posted by Cindy Gough Stalnaker on April 17, 2009 at 08:28 AM | #