Marilyn: Hollywood’s Eternal Icon

Last weekend’s ‘Icons of Hollywood’ auction, hosted by Profiles in History, featured several interesting Monroe items which, of course, sold for high prices.

Highlights included this photo-booth snapshot of a young Norma Jeane ($4,612.50); various negatives, transparencies and prints; clothing worn in River of No Return, There’s No Business Like Show Business and Let’s Make Love; a personally annotated promptbook from The Prince and the Showgirl ($98,400), and a postcard sent by Joe DiMaggio in 1962 ($4.920).

However, an extensive archive of production and publicity material for The Seven Year Itch, and a nude oil painting by Earl Moran went unsold. The weekend’s big story was the sale of Marilyn’s eternity ring, given to her by Joe DiMaggio after their wedding in 1954, which sold for $516,600 (even though one of its diamonds is missing!)

Marilyn wearing Joe’s eternity ring (Photo by Milton Greene, 1954)

Scott Fortner wrote about the history of Joe’s eternity ring on his MM Collection Blog, observing that the whereabouts of the wedding ring remain a mystery:

“The significance of this diamond eternity band cannot be overstated.  It’s safe to assume it was selected by Joe and given to Marilyn as a hopeful symbol of an enduring relationship, promising a life eternal that Marilyn was likely longing for, that of love, companionship, partnership and eventually (hopefully) motherhood.

One must wonder though what may have happened to the other diamond ring that Joe gave to Marilyn. While it is clear that this eternity band was given by Joe to Marilyn (she received a simple gold wedding band from Arthur Miller), what became of the ring that was placed on Marilyn’s finger on her wedding day, shown in photos of Marilyn at City Hall, and also in Korea while on their honeymoon?

This other diamond ring has not yet appeared at auction.  Perhaps it was a family heirloom, loaned to Joe to use for the hastily planned wedding, ultimately returned to the DiMaggio family after the divorce.  Perhaps it still resides with the Strasberg family.  Like many other Marilyn Monroe mysteries, we’ll likely never know.”

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