Marilyn’s Note to Lee

A very private and rather sad letter that Marilyn wrote to Lee Strasberg is to be auctioned by Profiles in History on May 30th. It will also be included in a preview exhibition at the Douglas Elliman Gallery on Madison Avenue, New York, from April 8th-16th, reports Yahoo.

Personally, I find it distasteful that such an item has been put on the open market – especially since many news sites have sensationally  described it as ‘suicidal’.

All of Marilyn’s letters have historic value, of course, and should be preserved – but in a university, library, or museum. Her emotional pain should not be exploited for profit.

It was written on Hotel Bel Air paper, and so may date from the filming of Some Like it Hot, a notoriously stressful shoot.

Her handwriting is quite difficult to read, but members of the Everlasting Star forum have been working on a transcript:

“Hotel Bel Air
701 Stone Canyon Road Los Angeles

Dear Lee,

I’m embarrassed to start this but thank you for understanding and having changed my life – even though you changed it I still am lost. I mean I can’t get myself together – I think it’s because everything is pulling against my concentration, everything one does or lives is impossible almost. You once said, the first time I heard you talk at the Actors’ Studio that ‘there is only concentration between the actor and suicide.’ As soon as I walk into a scene I lose my mental relaxation for some reason, which is my concentration. My will is weak but I can’t stand anything. I sound crazy, but I think I’m going crazy.

Thanks for letting Paula help me on the picture. She is the only thoroughly warm woman I’ve known. It’s just that I get before the camera and my concentration and everything I’m trying to learn leaves me. Then I feel like I’m not existing in the human race at all.



A Toast to Norma Jeane

Marilyn Wines have just released the ‘2012 Norma Jeane‘, priced at $13, inspired by Bruno Bernard’s pin-up photo of the young starlet: ‘100% Merlot from the Lodi AVA of California…rich in color with dark berry flavors end ready to enjoy.’

Steinem’s Marilyn on Kindle

Marilyn: Norma Jeane, the bestselling 1988 collaboration between feminist author Gloria Steinem and photographer George Barris, has been reissued for Kindle and other ebook formats by Open Road Publishing.

While I don’t know how many photos are featured in this edition, and Steinem’s take on Marilyn’s life has proved somewhat controversial, it remains one of the most influential texts about her and is well worth a look.

Reading With Marilyn

Marilyn reads Walt Whitman, 1952

A few years ago, I made a list of all the books owned or read by Marilyn Monroe (some 436 at last count) for ES Updates. At the time, I wondered if anyone else would be interested.

In recent weeks, my list has been picked up by the New YorkerYahoo, and many other websites, after first being spotted by Dan Colman over at Open Culture.

I’m glad to have played a small part in widening public knowledge of MM, and hope that more people will now discover that for Marilyn, reading was much more than an intellectual pose.

Marilyn: Books and Ephemera

This article by Judith Chapman was published in Book and Magazine Collector (sadly now defunct) in March 1988. Click on the images to read in full.


Eva Herzigova Remakes Marilyn’s Pool Scene

Eva Herzigova, 2013

Supermodel Eva Herzigova has recreated the pool scene from Something’s Got to Give, in a commercial for shoe designer Brian Atwood.

The clip (which you can view here) is more risque than the original, with a jazzy soundtrack. However, I felt that it lacked the innocent charm of Marilyn’s version (compare here.)

Marilyn, 1962

It is not the first time that Eva (who found fame with her Wonderbra ads in the 1990s) has imitated Marilyn’s style. This shot from a Monroe-inspired photo shoot is often mistaken for the real thing by the uninitiated.

Eva as Marilyn