This rare photo was taken by a fan after Marilyn sang ‘Happy Birthday Mr. President’ to John F. Kennedy at Madison Square Garden, 56 years ago today. Marilyn looks far younger than her thirty-five years, and the dress worn by her loyal publicist Pat Newcomb can be seen close behind. Over at Getty Images, Bill Ray – the LIFE magazine photographer who covered the event – shares memories of that legendary evening.
“A quick scan of the program for ‘New York’s Birthday Salute to President Kennedy’ on May 19, 1962, reveals a veritable who’s who of Old Hollywood: Jack Benny, Ella Fitzgerald, Henry Fonda, Danny Kaye. And there, nestled between Peter Lawford and Jimmy Durante, an unmissable entry: Marilyn Monroe. No explanation. No footnote.
‘You could have heard a pin drop,’ recalls Bill Ray … who made the now-iconic image of the actress from behind. ‘I think people were stunned when she finished.’
Due to the disparate lighting conditions — Monroe in a bright spotlight, Kennedy in total darkness — Ray’s dream of getting the two in the same picture didn’t come to fruition. ‘If I’d been luckier, there would have been a tiny bit of light that would have spilled onto Kennedy, who was over her shoulder between the podium and her head.'”
Supermodel and photographer Helena Christensen tells The Guardian today that Marilyn would be her ideal subject.
“I wish I could have shot Marilyn Monroe. Every picture of her shows so much rawness. Vulnerability. She’d been a male subject her entire life and is one of those people you want to go back and hold close to you, shield them.”
Seward Johnson’s giant sculpture, Forever Marilyn, is coming to Latham Park in Stamford, Connecticut this summer, as part of an outdoor art exhibition, Seward Johnson: Timeless, as Annette Einhorn reports for Hamlet Hub. You can read more about the exhibit and other events (including a screening of The Seven Year Itch at the Avon Film Centre on June 7) here.
“The installation will begin on Monday, June 4 when a crane will lift the 26-foot, 30,000 pound Marilyn, in various parts, high into the air before she is assembled in place in Latham Park in Stamford Downtown. The opportunity to capture photos of the flying sculpture parts; legs, torso, skirt, will be from 10:30am to 2pm.
The monumental Forever Marilyn, sponsored by Avon Theatre Film Center, from the Icons Revisited Collection, is just one of 36 sculptures that will be on display in Stamford Downtown. 35 life-size, realistic sculptures from Seward Johnson’s Celebrating the Familiar series will also be on display as part of UC Funds presents Timeless – The Works of Seward Johnson for the Summer of 2018. Installation of the life-size works begins May 30.
The exhibition will kick off with an opening night celebration on Wednesday, June 6, hosted by Stamford Downtown. The event will be held at the Palace Theatre at 61 Atlantic Street from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m. Trolley tours are set to run throughout the evening, offering guests a chance to view many of the sculptures.”
In addition to Up Close With Marilyn, the Milton Greene exhibition now at London’s Proud Central, another exhibition featuring various photographers, Marilyn Monroe: Timeless, will open at Moyse’s Hall Museum in Bury St. Edmund’s, Suffolk, on June 2 through to September 30. More details to follow…
Double Marilyn (or Two Marilyns), originally a gift from Andy Warhol to his late brother, is to be sold as part of the 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale this Thursday (May 17) at the Phillips auction house on Park Avenue, NYC, with an estimate of $3-4 million, as Marylynne Pitz reports for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
“Seven of the artist’s nieces and nephews, who range in age from 58 to 75, will share the proceeds. They are the children of Paul Warhola, who died in 2014, and his wife, Anne, who died in 2016.
Until last fall, ‘Double Marilyn’ and 10 early Warhol artworks owned by the Warhola family hung at The Andy Warhol Museum on the North Side. James Warhola, who lives in Long Island City in the New York borough of Queens, took them back after he was unable to arrange a sale or trade with museum director Patrick Moore.
‘My dad was the oldest brother,’ said James Warhola, a 63-year-old artist. ‘He saved the early works when my uncle left for New York. They have been in the family ever since as well as the “Double Marilyn” silkscreen. That was part of our household for close to 60 years.’
He said The Andy Warhol Museum ‘would have loved for us to have donated the collection’ but that was not possible.
‘My uncle’s estate went to a foundation. We didn’t get anything from the foundation. We’re not the Rockefellers. It was my dad’s main asset,’ Mr. Warhola said.
Pre-sale estimates are not always indicators of a painting’s actual auction price. Warhol’s works often sell for more than the pre-sale estimate. A 1962 ‘White Marilyn’ silkscreen by Warhol was estimated to sell for $12 million to $18 million in 2014. It fetched slightly more than $41 million at a Christie’s auction on May 13, 2014.
In this case, Phillips auction house has a third-party guarantee on ‘Double Marilyn.’ This means that one bidder has guaranteed a price of $3 million for the painting if no one bids higher.”
A dress owned by Marilyn will be auctioned at the annual Hollywood Legends sale hosted by Julien’s in Las Vegas on June 23 to save a valuable collection of items belonging to her idol, Abraham Lincoln, as Ray Long reports for the Chicago Tribune. The dress is authenticated as it was previously listed in the famous Christie’s auction of Marilyn’s estate back in 1999, where it was purchased as an addition to the Lincoln collection. (I think it may be Lot 215, shown between two other black dresses on P160 of The Personal Property of Marilyn Monroe.)
“Struggling to pay back a loan used to buy Abraham Lincoln artifacts, the foundation that supports the 16th president’s library in Springfield [Illinois, Lincoln’s birthplace] is selling a black wool dress once owned and worn by movie star Marilyn Monroe.
The three-quarter-length, long-sleeved dress with a scooped neck is the centerpiece of nine items the Lincoln foundation is putting on the block … The auctioneer estimates the dress is worth $40,000 to $60,000, but could sell for much more.
It’s a windfall the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation could use. The group acquired the Monroe dress as part of a private collection of more than 1,000 items from Louise Taper 11 years ago. The foundation financed the purchase with the help of a $23 million loan … The foundation raised private money and whittled the debt down to $9.7 million, but officials said they’ve run into trouble on the loan, which comes up for renewal in October 2019 …
Proceeds from the auction of the non-Lincoln items, including the Monroe dress, seven photographs of the 1950s bombshell shot by noted photographer Arnold Newman, and a bust of Chicago poet Carl Sandburg that she owned, could help make the loan payments.”
British fans can expect lots of media coverage for Marilyn this month. In this week’s issue of free magazine Stylist, Rhiannon Lucy Coslett interviews gallery director Amy Thornett about Up Close With Marilyn, the exhibition of Milton Greene photos at London’s Proud Central until June 24. You can read it here, or buy a copy (N415) for just £1 from Newsstand (shipping costs may vary outside the UK.)
And in the latest issue of The Lady (dated May 11), ‘Marilyn Monroe: An Unlikely Feminist’, a four-page article by Michelle Morgan, author of The Girl (just published in the US, and coming to our shores very soon),is accompanied by more Greene photos.
Folk art turned its eye to the silver screen this weekend, with Marilyn gracing this year’s Scarecrow Festival in Wray, Lancashire – alongside Charlie Chaplin, the Pink Panther and more, the Guardian reports.
Meanwhile in India, this early contender for National Geographic‘s Photographer of the Year has captured another unlikely parallel to Marilyn’s ‘subway scene’ in The Seven Year Itch.
“‘Tribute to Marilyn’ by Tihomir Trichkov: ‘My imagination ran wild, I was smelling the gunpowder, hearing the gunshots, the neighing of the horses and the screams of the wounded, picturing what is it like to be under siege, protecting your freedom and ideals against foreign invasion. But the human mind is incredible, a sudden breeze of wind took me straight to a different time, a completely different movie set, a hundred or so years later, well famed for a single white dress…'”
Art Paul, who designed the first Playboy cover as well as the iconic bunny logo, has died aged 93, the Washington Postreports. The cover featured a photo of Marilyn at the 1952 Miss America pageant in Atlantic City, with her famous nude calendar pose making the centrefold.
“[Hugh] Hefner was developing his idea for a new men’s magazine in 1953 when he approached Mr. Paul, then working as a freelance illustrator and designer in Chicago. Hefner sought a clean, modern design for the magazine that he wanted to call Stag Party.
When another men’s publication, Stag, sent a cease-and-desist letter, Hefner was forced to come up with another name, and Playboy was born. Mr. Paul designed the first cover, a photograph of Marilyn Monroe taken during a parade as she waved to the crowd.
‘Art Paul managed to create a striking black-and-white cover design with a red logo,’ Hefner wrote in Playboy in 1994. ‘This was just the first example of how Art took ordinary pictures and, through inventive design and the addition of illustrative details, made the magazine and its covers innovative and interesting.'”
The French-born photographer, Henri Dauman, who photographed Marilyn at several public events from 1957-59, is the subject of a new retrospective at KP Projects (LaBrea Gallery) in Los Angeles from April 28-May 12, as Benjamin Svetkey writes in the Hollywood Reporter. Dauman also photographed Jacqueline Kennedy, Elvis Presley, Andy Warhol, Brigitte Bardot and many others. A documentary, Henri Dauman: Looking Up, is in the works, and you can see more of his Marilyn photos here.
“When I was a young child growing up in Paris [where he was orphaned at 13, after his parents were killed in the Holocaust], I saw all the film noir movies. And that’s what inspired my photography. Before working at LIFE, when I was 18 or 19, I sold a big layout on Marilyn Monroe in Paris. And then I shot Jane Fonda for an Italian magazine. I was beating out all these LIFE magazine photographers — LIFE would send three or four teams of photographers to Paris to try to get different thing and here I was, this little guy, getting all these pictures. So that’s how, in 1958, I got a call to do my first assignment for LIFE.”