Richard C. Miller first photographed Norma Jeane Dougherty as a young model in 1946. By 1950, she was an aspiring actress and he photographed her again at an audition for Street Scene, an upcoming production at the Players Ring Theatre in Los Angeles. She didn’t get the part, and the photos remained obscure until just a few years ago.
The series was recently posted on the Considerable blog, a timely reminder that Marilyn Monroe worked long and hard for fame, with disappointments along the way. When she and Miller next met in 1958, she was at the peak of her success, filming Some Like It Hot.
This photo of Marilyn talking with an unnamed man (most likely involved with the production) has led to speculation among fans that he may have been making unwanted advances on her, from the way he was tugging at her collar and the solemnity of her expression in contrast to his.
But while sexual harassment was certainly a widespread problem in Hollywood – and is still making headlines today – it’s all too easy to pass judgement on images without knowing their full context. They were not alone at the time, and the relaxed demeanour of others in the frame doesn’t indicate any cause for concern. (This poster from the 1931 movie adaptation of Elmer Rice’s Pulitzer-winning play, in fact, suggests Marilyn may simply have been rehearsing with another hopeful actor.)