Marilyn: A Portrait by Ileana Hunter

This portrait of Marilyn – based on a photo taken during wardrobe tests for The Seven Year Itch in the summer of 1954 – was created by artist Ileana Hunter as a tribute on Marilyn’s birthday.

“This is 11 x 16″ on extra smooth Bristol board, I’ve titled it ‘Birthday Girl’ for lack of a better title, which is still eluding me. Sometimes you just can’t put a name on a look which is so subtle. I chose the picture because of that particular look in her eyes, she is perfectly dolled up, at work, and her eyes are in a different place altogether, they look far beyond the camera lens.”

As always, please respect the artist’s copyright – if you wish to share, give credit to Ileana Hunter, and do not colorise or alter her work in any way.

Richard Kirby: ‘The Birthday Girl’

Some of you may know Richard Kirby as author of the 2010 biography, Something Had to Give. On Marilyn’s birthday, he shared his thoughts on his personal blog:

“I’m sure most of you will have a favourite Marilyn film – mine is Don’t Bother to Knock – and some will have a favourite photograph (although there are quite a few to choose from!).  Mine is this 1953 shot taken by Alfred Eisenstaedt – for me it just encapsulates everything about this remarkable young woman.

Her expression seems to convey Marilyn alone with her thoughts… her dreams maybe, but there is the tiniest hint of fear in her eyes and for me, the photo perfectly displays the stark contrast between Marilyn’s beauty and vulnerability.

The picture will have probably been posed, yet looks effortlessly natural, and captivating as a result.”

 

Vision in White: A Poem by Cecilie

A lovely tribute from Norwegian fan, Cecilie Therese Andersen.

Vision in White

A vision in white haunted by the night
Hollywood and Golden Dreams,
A city where nothing is what it seems.
Was “she” ever real to you,
an immortal goddess on screen or a woman like the rest?
That sweet laughter and smile,
dancing to music and toasting champagne-
or reciting a poem for friends with a soft voice
waiting for the rain.
Reaching out for endless love, can you feel it now?
Did you know your own strength to make it like you did?
A force of nature is never easy to comprehend.
So here`s to you, Marilyn, for inspiring me like nobody else
To be all the things you are to me!

Birthday Tributes in the Blogosphere

Over the next few posts I’m going to focus on the best fan tributes for Marilyn’s birthday. But firstly, here are a few selections from the blogosphere.

We’re all used to reading Marilyn’s own words online – though sadly, some of them are internet fakes – but Flavorwire has compiled a rather good list, 30 of Marilyn Monroe’s Smartest and Most Insightful Quotes.

Nearly all of these are genuine, in my opinion – meaning, they can be traced back to reputable biographies and interviews with MM herself. The only one I’m not sure about is the second one, regarding James Joyce’s Ulysses, which comes from the disputed Miner transcripts. (However, we do at least have Eve Arnold’s 1955 photo as evidence that Marilyn read the book – and, indeed, she later performed Molly Bloom’s closing soliloquy as an exercise for her dramatic coach, Lee Strasberg.) 

“Here is [James] Joyce writing what a woman thinks to herself. Can he, does he really know her innermost thoughts? But after I read the whole book, I could better understand that Joyce is an artist who could penetrate the souls of people, male or female. It really doesn’t matter that Joyce doesn’t have… or never felt a menstrual cramp. To me Leopold Bloom is a central character. He is the despised Irish Jew, married to an Irish Catholic woman. It is through them Joyce develops much of what he wants to say.”

Geeks of Doom posted this thoughtful tribute:

“While she didn’t have the cocksure winking swagger of a Mae West, or the sharp natural beauty of an Ava Gardner, she somehow fell somewhere in the middle of both of those ladies…In a strange way, she is old Hollywood and still remains fresh in new Hollywood.”

And finally, Kim Morgan reposts her wonderful Playboy tribute from last year over at her Sunset Gun blog.

“Because through it all, no matter what was happening in her life, Marilyn gave us that gift: pleasure. Pleasure in happiness and pleasure in pain and the pleasure of looking at her. And great artist that she was, looking at her provoked whatever you desired to interpret from her. Her beauty was transcendent. For that, we should do as Dylan instructs: ‘Bow down to her on Sunday, salute her when her birthday comes.'”

Brian Seed: Photographing Marilyn

Native Londoner Brian Seed photographed Marilyn in 1956, in full movie star regalia at a theatre premiere with her new husband, Arthur Miller, on a night off from filming The Prince and the Showgirl in England, reports the Chicago Sun-Times.

These rare pictures – unattributed until now – will be displayed at this year’s Ray Bradbury Dandelion Wine Festival, today at Bowen Park in Waukegan, Illinois, where Brian now lives.

“‘That Marilyn Monroe was a really smart cookie,’ said Seed, a retired freelance photographer for Life magazine.

Sifting through photos he took of the Hollywood icon in October 1956, he says: ‘Look at this picture — she’s looking directly at me, because she knows I’m likely the only photographer in there who’s working for a magazine, and that the photo that would result would not be used in one day’s paper and then gone forever.’

As it turned out, Seed’s photos from that night outside London’s Comedy Theatre would sit unseen for more than a half-century.

Though Seed was pleased with his results, Life editors didn’t use any of the images they commissioned of Monroe. The magazine would eventually release a career’s worth of negatives to Seed in the late 1970s and he filed everything away until recently stumbling across the images.”