Marilyn Monroe: The Red Party – an exhibition of photography by Bert Stern, last seen at HGU NY in February – will open this weekend at Keyes Art Gallery in Sag Harbor, the East Hampton Star reports. (The gallery will be open weekends from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and the show will be up through July 11. Hand sanitizer and masks will be available, and social distancing will be observed.)
This 11×14 numbered print is one of five portraits of Marilyn by Milton Greene, currently available from the Archive Images store for $50 each with free shipping in the US, as part of a new series to be updated weekly.
Meanwhile, this original studio photo promoting How to Marry a Millionaire, with a personal inscription from Marilyn herself, will go under the hammer on June 24, in an online auction hosted by University Archives. It reads: “To Jerry, It’s a pleasure to know you – Marilyn Monroe.” The listing informs us that Jerry Gotham worked with her in There’s No Business Like Show Business (1954.)
Other Monroe-related lots include a stash of vintage gossip magazines owned by beat writer Jack Kerouac, with a 1957 issue of Hush Hush featuring an article about MM; and an invitation to John F. Kennedy’s 45th birthday gala at Madison Square Garden, where in one of her final and most memorable public appearances, Marilyn performed ‘Happy Birthday Mr President.’
Long before Monroe-inspired photo shoots became de rigueur, Marilyn herself posed as five ‘fabled enchantresses’ for LIFE magazine in 1958. She considered the session on a par with her best screen performances, and in his accompanying text, husband Arthur Miller supported that claim. In a week when another Richard Avedon sold at auction for more than $8K (see here), the Flashbak website looks back at their supreme collaboration.
“As in life so in these pictures — [Marilyn] salutes fantasy from the shore of the real until there comes a moment when she carries us, reality and all, into the dream with her, and we are grateful. Her wit here consists of her absolute commitment to two ordinarily irreconcilable opposites — the real feminine and the man’s fantasy of femininity. We know she knows the difference in these pictures, but is refusing to concede that there is any contradiction, and it is serious and funny at the same time.
I am quite conceivably prejudiced, but I think this collection is a wonder of Marilyn’s wittiness. As Lillian Russell, Marilyn sits [on] the solid gold bicycle just inexpertly enough to indicate that she is, after all, a lady… Her hands lace around the bike handles so much more femininely than they grasp the fan as Clara Bow. And here again is the difference between imitation and interpretation, between making an affect and rendering a spirit.”Arthur Miller
A real estate brochure for Marilyn’s last home at Fifth Helena Drive – which sold for $7.25 million in 2017 – fetched $5,120 yesterday during an online sale marking Marilyn’s 94th birthday at Julien’s Auctions.
The highest final bid, however, went to this signed portrait by Richard Avedon ($8,960.)
This photo from an iconic 1952 shoot is signed by Gene Kornman, one of two photographers present at the session (alongside Frank Powolny), and sold for $6,400.
This signed lithograph, made from a photo taken during Marilyn’s so-called ‘Last Sitting’ with Bert Stern in June 1962, sold for $2,880; and an image from her final photo session at Santa Monica Beach in July, signed by photographer George Barris, sold for $2,560.
And finally, more instantly recognisable images sold for $1,024 each: Marilyn’s 1949 nude calendar pose, photographed by Tom Kelley and later signed by Playboy founder Hugh Hefner…
… and a shot credited to Bruno Bernard (aka Bernard of Hollywood) from Marilyn’s unforgettable subway scene in The Seven Year Itch, signed by Bernard’s daughter and archivist Susan.
More auction highlights here
June 1st, 2020 marks what would be Marilyn Monroe’s 94th birthday. On a personal note, it has also been ten years since I started this blog.
Artists Pegasus and Alejandro Mogollo both paid tribute, while superfan Megan Monroes has written a well-researched blog post listing 94 facts about MM, and a special edition of e-zine Crazy for You features a pictorial from Marilyn’s 34th birthday party on the Let’s Make Love set, 60 years ago.
Starlet turned photographer Jean Howard first met Marilyn at the home of her husband, Hollywood agent Charles Feldman. In 1954, Feldman produced one of Marilyn’s most successful films, The Seven Year Itch, and her ‘birdcage sitting’ with Jean was probably shot at this time. The Jean Howard archive is now held at the Wyoming Public Media & American Heritage Centre, and her photos of Marilyn are the subject of their latest podcast, Archives on the Air #183.
“Marilyn arrived in a form-fitting dress and began the usual seductive poses expected of her. But Jean had other ideas. After adding a modest black jacket to Marilyn’s outfit, Jean recalled that the resulting photographs revealed the true spirit and soul of that beautiful, gifted girl. Later at a party Marilyn said something that surprised the photographer: ‘Jean took the best pictures of me I’ve ever had.'”
An Earl Moran shot of a topless Marilyn in the late 1940s, signed by Hugh Hefner (who purchased Moran’s secret vault for Playboy many years later, after the model’s identity was finally revealed), was sold yesterday at Nate G. Saunders Auctions for $11.794. Several photos by Andre de Dienes were also sold in the event.
Julien’s Auctions are holding an online sale of Marilyn-related photos and memorabilia, ending on June 1st (her 94th birthday.) Here are some highlights.
Program for the 1972 exhibition, Marilyn Monroe: The Legend and the Truth, curated by Lawrence Schiller; and catalogue for The Berniece and Mona Rae Miracle Collection, a Sotheby’s online auction from 2001.
Photos of a young Marilyn by Andre de Dienes
Original still photo and lobby card from River of No Return (1954.)
2017 real estate brochure for Marilyn’s last home at 5th St Helena Drive, L.A.
UPDATE: View results here
A group of professional photographers have created isolation self-portraits for the Washingtonian. Among them, Jada Imani M took inspiration from Marilyn and the glamour of classic Hollywood (she also reminds me of the great Dorothy Dandridge here.)
“During this quarantine I have been faced with my own personal insecurities in relation to my appearance. I knew for a while I was not completely confident in my looks, but now I am forced to face my issues head on. I found some photos from a Marilyn Monroe calendar I was gifted years ago—ever since I was little, I knew Marilyn Monroe was one of the most beautiful women I had ever seen, a timeless beauty. Those photos inspired me to create this self-portrait series in a similar fashion and reminded me that I am a timeless beauty as well.”
The British poet Helen Morton has contributed a new poem, ‘Ms. Monroe,’ to the New York Times, as part of the ‘Mrs. Files‘ project, “looking at history through a contemporary lens to see what the honorific ‘Mrs.’ means to women and their identity.” (The illustration shown above is by Alf Buttons’ Revenge, based on a photo by Eve Arnold and a quote from Marilyn: “A career is made in public, talent in private.”)
“‘In America, a blonde is not just a blonde.’ — William K. Zinsser
When I first let the mirror see me
in my high-street wedding dress, I lift the hem
and laugh into the lace, all mock-Monroe,
her skirt a breaking wave, her open mouth, her head
tipped back, accepting a communion wafer from the sky.
I press my fingers to the glass and feel them
pass through each reflection, every photograph
and — sweet impossibility — rest against the raised hand
of The Other Marilyn, not poster girl but poet,
the woman who filled notebooks with her nightmares,
dreams of emptying: the slab of the operating table,
the eminent doctors, the neat incision and its big
reveal, her insides nothing but sawdust. Marilyn
Monroe: not Mrs. Miller, Mrs. DiMaggio.
We have been wearing our white dresses
far too long — squeezing into spotlit silk, chiffon
the colour of nothing. Palm to palm in the mirror,
she swims towards me now and surfaces,
tears at her cream bodice, opens the skin
underneath, unfolds her heart and lungs
and what’s within her isn’t dust or hollowness
but a litany, a roll call, the true names of men:
Diego Kahlo, Johnny Carter, Jackson Krasner,
Martin Luther Scott and in the nameless dusk
she repeats them all until they seem beautiful.
I can’t stop reading her lips.”