Marilyn Sightings in L.A., Madrid

Fans have posted their latest Monroe sightings on the Marilyn Remembered Facebook group. Firstly, ChadMichael Christian Morrissette found this mural (based on Alfred Eisenstadt’s famous 1953 photo of Marilyn) on Highland in Hollywood.

And secondly, Lorenzo Presti spotted Marilyn gracing the cover of the ironically-titled Marilyn Had Eleven Fingers On Her Feet, a book of Hollywood-themed paintings by artist Maria Herreros on sale in Madrid. This portrait was inspired by Milton Greene’s 1953 Laurel canyon series. And of course, Marilyn had no extra fingers, or toes – this rumour was debunked by Snopes.

Incidentally, another of Maria’s portraits – based on another shot of Marilyn by Eisenstadt – is featured on the cover of Autobiografía de Marilyn Monroe, a novel by Rafael Reig.

Susan Bernard 1948-2019

Photo by Amy Graves

Susan Bernard, the actress and archivist for her photographer father Bruno Bernard (or ‘Bernard of Hollywood’), has died aged 71, the New York Times reports.

Her father was a German Jew who fled to America in 1937 to escape Nazi persecution; while her mother Ruth Bernard [née Brandman] was an actress and television director. Susan also had a sister, Celeste, who survives her.

Bruno Bernard would take his first photos of model Norma Jeane Dougherty in 1946, several months before she changed her name. Susan had one hazy memory of seeing Marilyn in her father’s car when she was three or four years old. “It’s almost like a mirage,’ Susan told the San Francisco Chronicle. “An apparition. I remember she had blond hair, and she was called Marilyn. She was very sweet. She giggled a lot.”

In 1965, Susan played ‘Linda’, a teenager kidnapped by a trio of go-go dancers, in Russ Meyer’s Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! That December, Susan became Playboy’s Playmate of the Month after visiting Hugh Hefner’s Chicago office with her father; she was later named among the magazine’s 100 Most Beautiful Women of the 20th century. In That Tender Touch (1969) she played a lesbian, and the film has been preserved as part of Outfest’s Legacy Project. Closing out a wild decade, Susan appeared in two seasons of TV’s General Hospital.


In 1974, Susan married playwright Jason Miller (who also played Father Damian Karras in The Exorcist.) The couple divorced nine years later; their son, Joshua John Miller, is a screenwriter. Susan was also married to publishing guru Stanley J. Corwin, and she wrote and developed TV docudramas about Anais Nin, Ernie Davis and Nellie Bly.

Bruno Bernard died in 1987, the same year his Requiem for Marilyn was published. Susan became his chief archivist, publishing two further Monroe books, Bernard of Hollywood’s Marilyn (1993) and Marilyn: Intimate Exposures (2011.) She also edited a full retrospective, Bernard of Hollywood Pin-Ups (1999), and wrote two books on parenting. She turned ‘Bernard of Hollywood’ into an international brand, entering a partnership with ABG after the licensing company purchased Marilyn’s estate.

“I wanted to not just show photos, but show the back of the photos to show the process of the photographer,” Susan told the Examiner‘s Elisa Jordan in 2011. “I thought that was really interesting where they would literally type a story on a typewriter and they’d cut it out and paste it with tape on the back of a photo. Life was different then! He always wanted to tell the back story. The process of what it was like to be a photographer at that time was very interesting to me and I thought it would be very interesting to other people. And I wanted actually show the negatives. I wanted to show that there is a negative of the flying skirt [from The Seven Year Itch] in existence, and that the original proof sheets do exist. That was one of my goals. In picking the pictures, I just wanted to select the pictures that showed not the obvious glamour pictures, but showed her pensive or thinking—pictures that told a story.”

Photo by Brant Ward

Marilyn: Intimate Exposures also contained rare photographs of Robert F. Kennedy and his family at the remote ranch home of his friend John Bates in Gilroy, California on the same weekend in 1962 when Marilyn died – in a forceful rebuttal of persistent rumours that the Attorney General visited her at home in Los Angeles on her last day alive (Saturday, August 4th.) As Susan explained, “It gives the reader a glimpse into the private files of a renowned photographer who poured out his soul to set the record straight and defend those who were no longer here to defend themselves.”

Susan made regular public appearances across the USA and Europe to promote her father’s work, and his images of Marilyn. She was a guest speaker at the 2018 memorial service for Marilyn in Westwood Memorial Park. She was also interviewed by filmmaker Ian Ayres for his long-awaited documentary, The Birth of Marilyn.

“Marilyn has been my guardian angel,” Susan told the Huffington Post in 2012. “She picks me up when I am down and gives me strength. She empowered women way before Women’s Lib. Marilyn, the writer Anais Nin, and my mother are my inspirations.”

Marilyn and the Hollywood Dogs

Marilyn and Maf by Eric Skipsey, 1961 (Thanks to Nicola from Marilyn Remembered)

Hollywood Dogs, featuring vintage shots of movie stars and their canine pals taken from the John Kobal Foundation, has been reissued in compact format. The first edition, published in 2013, also included a photo of Marilyn from her starlet days (more info here.)

Arnold Newman’s ‘Environmental’ Marilyn

Photographer Arnold Newman, who died in 2006, was known as the ‘father of the environmental portrait’, although according to the New York Times, he hated that title: “He was not interested in the details of his subject’s surroundings, but the symbols he could create with them.” In 1962, he photographed Marilyn dancing and chatting with her poet friend Carl Sandburg during a party at the Beverly Hills home of Something’s Got to Give producer Henry Weinstein. Dressed casually with minimal make-up, Marilyn appears thin and rather fragile. The photo shown above is featured in Arnold Newman: One Hundred, published last year to celebrate what would have been his centenary,

Newman was one of many notable photographers who appeared in Marilyn Monroe: Still Life, a 2006 documentary for PBS:

“He says it’s the real Marilyn, you know? It really is this portrait shot of her, cut out of a two shot of her talking to Carl Sandburg. I had looked at those pictures many times, and never seen that the portrait was actually just a cropped version of this photograph. So already the eye of the photographer is present, just in being able to see what he has in his own picture. And I said to him, ‘God, look at that. Carl Sandburg is just listening to her,’ and he said, ‘No, she was just pouring her heart out, she was miserable.’ He did that photograph in March of ’62 and she was dead by August of ’62. She was already very troubled, very sad. So the whole circumstance of the photograph was one that you didn’t necessarily know when first looking at it. “

Gail Levin, filmmaker

The Bluffer’s Guide to Marilyn

Paul Donnelley, author of Pocket Essentials: Marilyn Monroe (2000), has written a list of trivia for the UK’s Daily Star, in advance of what would be Marilyn’s 93rd birthday this Saturday, June 1st. Here are a few selections…

“Marilyn was born in Los Angeles as Norma Jeane Mortenson. She was not named for fellow blonde bombshell Jean Harlow despite numerous reports to that effect – when Marilyn was born, Harlow was only 15 and at least two years away from her film debut.”

“Marilyn’s half-sister, Berniece Miracle, will celebrate her 100th birthday on July 30. Her half-brother, Robert, died in 1933, aged 15.”

“Marilyn has a reputation for being promiscuous but she was choosy about who she bedded. Groucho Marx confessed he spent $8,000 wining and dining her, trying to get her into bed but was unsuccessful. Harry Cohn, the head of Columbia Pictures, tore up her contract because she wouldn’t sleep with him.”

“In 1953, the town of Monroe, New York changed its name for one day to Marilyn Monroe, New York in tribute to Marilyn.”

Marilyn at Julien’s: Among the Stars

A cast of Marilyn Monroe’s hand and foot prints from Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood (SOLD for $25,600)

In another look at the upcoming Legends sale at Julien’s Auctions on June 13-14 (see previous posts here), Marilyn rubs shoulders with her fellow stars.

UPDATE: I have added the final bids to each item.

“A group of eight telephone messages from April, May and June 1961 while Marilyn was staying at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Messages from those instantly recognized in Marilyn’s inner-circle include Frank McCarthy of Twentieth Century-Fox, comedian Ernie Kovacs, and director George Cukor. Interestingly, Marilyn received a message from a “Dr. Goddard” on May 28. Dr. Goddard is presumably the husband of Grace Goddard, who fostered Marilyn as a young child.” (SOLD for $1,600)

“A typed form letter from Dorothy Frooks, publisher of The Murray Hills News, inviting Marilyn to the annual Pro-American Rally on September 25, 1959, which would take place ‘between 37th and 38th Streets.’ Included is a handwritten letter from Cowboy Tex Weinstein asking Marilyn to attend. ” (SOLD for $375)

“A telegram to Marilyn from Lauren Bacall, dated January 18, 1954, congratulating Marilyn on her marriage to baseball legend Joe DiMaggio. The telegram reads, ‘All the best luck always. Couldn’t be more delighted for you. Now you’ll really know how wonderful life can be. Love, Schatze Bogart.’ Interestingly, Bacall signed the telegram using the first name of her character in How to Marry a Millionaire, the film she had starred in with Marilyn the year prior to the Monroe/DiMaggio wedding, and the last name of her movie star husband, Humphrey Bogart. The telegram is addressed to ‘Mrs. Joe DiMaggio’ at Marilyn’s apartment on North Doheny Drive in Beverly Hills.” (SOLD to Gary Vitaccco-Robles, author of Icon: The Life, Times and Films of Marilyn Monroe, for $1,562.50)

“A one-page typed letter to Marilyn from television personality Jack Benny, dated July 13, 1961. The letter reads in part, ‘This little note is merely to say that I do hope you will be feeling much better and that I miss seeing you – even though it is on rare occasions.’ The letter is signed, “Love – Jack,” in his own handwriting. Also, a holiday card from Mary and Jack Benny from 1954. Marilyn’s first-ever television appearance was on The Jack Benny Show on September 13, 1953. They remained friends throughout her entire life.” (SOLD for $750)

“A one-page typed letter to Marilyn, dated June 17, 1958, in regards to the release of SNOOPY, the new book by famed cartoonist Charles Schulz, creator of the comic strip Peanuts. The letter reads, ‘Dear Miss Monroe, As I promised some weeks ago I am having sent to you under separate cover a few copies of Charles Schulz’s new “Peanuts” book, SNOOPY, which just came in from the bindery. I hope you like SNOOPY as much as we like publishing him.’ The letter is signed, ‘Sincerely yours, Theodore S. Amussen, Vice President.'” (SOLD for $576)

Various large-format photos of Marilyn, shot by former silent movie comedian Harold Lloyd from 1952-53 (All SOLD, with 3 lots reaching a maximum bid of $3,200)
Four copies of Playboy‘s first issue, including two signed by founder Hugh Hefner (All SOLD, with a rare, Hefner-signed ‘Page 3’ copy reaching $16,000)

“A collection of approximately 30 vintage magazines, books, and other publications, from the collection of actress Morgan Fairchild: including Movieland magazine (October 1952); Silver Screen magazine (October 1953); Song Fan magazine (July 1954); LIFE magazine (November 1959); TV and Movie Screen magazine (September 1960); LOOK magazine (January 1961); LIFE magazine (August 1964); the cover of Show magazine (September 1972, framed); Parade magazine (framed); and the August 6, 1962, edition of the Los Angeles Times with the headline ‘Marilyn Monroe Found Dead.’ Together with six books on the life of Monroe, several greeting cards with Monroe’s image, and a poster produced from a photo by Philippe Halsman showing Monroe at the gym.” (SOLD for $768)

Marilyn’s Letter to Lee Goes Unsold

Marilyn with hairdresser Agnes Flanagan by Eve Arnold, 1960 – sold for
$596.25 at RR Auctions this week

Surprisingly, Marilyn’s 1961 letter to Lee Strasberg failed to reach the $20,000 estimate at the RR Auctions Hollywood sale on Thursday, May 23. A Marilyn-owned black velvet belt, possibly worn in As Young As You Feel, sold for $7,837.50; while her copy of Something To Live By, a self-help book by Dorothea S. Kopplin, fetched $7,730. You can find out more about the winning Marilyn-related lots here; and the full list is over here.

Marilyn at the Chateau Marmont

Shawn Levy is the author of several books about the entertainment in the 1950s and ’60s, including Rat Pack Confidential, which became a bestseller on its release twenty years ago. Marilyn’s association with the Rat Pack was covered in this entertaining book, but Levy’s style is gossipy and speculative.

In his latest tome, The Castle On Sunset, Levy explores the history of one of Hollywood’s most fabled hotels, the Chateau Marmont. Levy isn’t the first author to tackle the subject; Raymond Sarlot and Fred E. Basten beat him to it with Life At the Marmont back in 1987.

Marilyn stayed there while filming Bus Stop in 1956, although her official residence was a rented house in Beverly Glen. She most likely used Paula Strasberg’s suite for convenience, not to mention her secret trysts with Arthur Miller, who was waiting out his divorce in Nevada. (Miller’s legal battle with the House Un-American Activities Committee was hotting up at the time, and rather disturbingly, the FBI tracked the couple to the hotel.)

Levy also mentions that journalist Brad Darrach interviewed Marilyn there for her Time magazine cover story. This may seem a little odd, as the article’s author was Ezra Goodman. However, Darrach was apparently part of a team which assembled the piece. He first shared his memories with Anthony Summers for Goddess: The Secret Lives of Marilyn Monroe in 1984. Here’s the original account, as related by Summers…

“When Time magazine mounted its first cover story on Marilyn, during the shooting of Bus Stop, its researchers began uncovering a good deal about Marilyn’s parentage. This was a vulnerable area because of her various deceptions. As a result, one of Time‘s youngest reporters, Brad Darrach, was granted a personal interview, in bizarre circumstances.

Darrach collected Marilyn at Fox at 11:00 A.M., and drove her to her hotel, the Chateau Marmont. Marilyn, herself a fast driver, asked the reporter to drive slowly. She seemed to him to be afraid, not of his driving, but ‘generally frightened.’ Once in her suite Marilyn soon declared she was tired, and asked if they could do the interview in her bedroom.

So it was that Darrach ended up, he laughingly remembered, ‘spending ten hours in bed with Marilyn Monroe’. She lay down with her head at one end of the bed. He settled at the foot, and there they talked until long after dark.

‘She was Marilyn, and reasonably pretty,’ Darrach remembered. ‘And of course there were those extraordinary jutting breasts and jutting behind. I’ve never seen a behind like hers; it was really remarkable, it was a very subtly composed ass. Yet I never felt for a moment any sexual temptation. There was nothing about her skin that made me want to touch it. She looked strained and a little unhealthy, as though there was some nervous inner heat that dried the skin. But there was no sexual feeling emanating from her. I am sure that was something that she put on for the camera.'”