Gene London, the television personality turned fashion designer who owned one of the world’s largest Hollywood costume collections, has died aged 88. Born Eugene Yulish in Cleveland, Ohio, he presented a children’s television programme on WCAU Channel 10 in Philadelphia from 1959-77.
When the show was cancelled, Gene moved to New York and started a second career as a dress designer, opening a retro boutique, ‘Gene London: The Fan Club’ on West 19th Street in Manhattan. He also worked as a fashion consultant in film, television and theatre, and as a spokesman for Mikimoto jewellery.
After closing his store in 2001, Gene unveiled over fifty costumes from classic movies which he had collected as a hobby and would showcase in exhibitions over the coming years.
In 2011, Gene appeared on Four Rooms, a UK television show about auctions and collectibles, presenting ‘Myself, Exercising’, an original watercolour by Marilyn Monroe. He was offered £150,000 for the painting, but turned it down.
Gene also owned this photo-booth image of a 13-year-old Norma Jeane, which she had sent with a letter to her older half-sister, Berniece Baker Miracle.
A year later, Gene attended a screening of the biopic My Week With Marilyn, showing filmgoers the original dress worn by Monroe in The Prince and the Showgirl (one of four copies.)
“‘You can see by this dress that Marilyn’s figure was ample,’ said London pointing to the white gown. ‘She’s very curvy which was the style then, no longer the style now.’
London said he had his eye on this dress when he was buying other costumes from a man in Wisconsin.
‘The one thing he wouldn’t give me was this dress,’ said London, ‘I wanted it the most of all of them. He said nope, that’s going to my children.’
But London said the grandchild called 25 years later.
‘I adored the way she acted,’ said London about Monroe. ‘I adore the way she sang “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend.” I just love her. It’s hard to explain why. I just do.'”
Marilyn will be featured in two separate auctions in different locations, hosted by Bonham’s, this Tuesday, December 17. Firstly, vintage magazines and photographs by Andre de Dienes, as featured in Marilyn Monroe: A British Love Affair, the 2012 exhibition at London’s National Portrait Gallery curated by Terence Pepper (and reviewed here), will go under the hammer in Knightsbridge as part of an Entertainment Memorabilia sale. And this 1954 portrait of Marilyn during filming of The Seven Year Itch, taken by Elliott Erwitt, is among the lots on sale in New York, as part of A Wonderful Life: Photographs From the Peter Fetterman Collection.
UPDATE: The NPG archive was sold for £1,785, and the Andre de Dienes photo of Norma Jeane ‘on the road’ fetched £2,040 in London on Tuesday. In New York, however, the Erwitt portrait went unsold.
In our final post ahead of the November 14 event at Julien’s Auctions, A Southern Gentleman’s Collection, we focus on Marilyn’s marriage to Arthur Miller and the last years of her life. (You can read all posts about this sale here.)
“A group of six audio recordings including: 1) a late 1950s-era 3-inch reel tape (Type 151) featuring interviews Monroe conducted with Look magazine and Chicago disc jockey Dave Garroway, housed in its original box with handwritten annotations reading in part ‘May Reis’ [Monroe’s longtime New York-based secretary]; 2) a 33 1/3 RPM record labeled “M. Monroe – Belmont / Side 1 / Side 2[her 1960 interview with Georges Belmont for Marie Claire]; 3) another 33 1/3 RPM record identical to #2 but sides 3-4; 4) another 33 1/2 RPM record identical to #2 but sides 5-6, content unknown on all; 5) a 78 RPM record on the RCA Victor label of the star singing ‘The River of No Return’ and ‘I’m Gonna File My Claim;’ and 6) a 45 RPM record same as the 78; further included with a CD of the reel tape; all originally from the Estate of May Reis. And sold separately, a publicity still from River of No Return, autographed by Marilyn.”
Recordings SOLD for $3,840; photo SOLD for $10,240
“A legal-sized financial document from Woodbury Savings Bank in Connecticut, two hole punch marks on left side, dated ‘Sept. 9, 1957,’ filled out in blue fountain pen ink by Arthur Miller, briefly outlining the couple’s finances, noting their annual income as ‘$50,000,’ interestingly, Miller adds that there is a ‘suit pending against M.M. Productions,’ both signed twice on the lower margin, with MM’s reading ‘Marilyn Monroe Miller;’ also included is a related photocopied document from the same bank.” And sold separately, a window card for The Prince and The Showgirl (1957.)
Document SOLD for $4,480; poster SOLD for $384
“Nine original snapshots depicting Marilyn at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn on May 12, 1957 as she makes a guest appearance at a soccer match between the U.S. and Israel. And sold separately, a medical insurance form from Associated Hospital Service of New York, entirely filled out in blue ballpoint ink by Miller when the couple was applying for insurance, noting their address on ‘Tophet Road, Roxbury, Conn.’ and noting Monroe’s health issues as ‘Appendix Removed / 5% (hearing) impairment, Ectopic Pregnancy,’ oddly, Miller checked off ‘no’ under ‘female trouble’ for his wife, signed by Miller on page 3 and further signed by Monroe right below but in different blue ballpoint ink.”
Photos SOLD for $1,024; document SOLD for $3,750
“Miscellaneous paperwork from 1958 including: an invoice from Carl Perutz Photography sent to Marilyn at her NYC address on ’18 June 1958;’ and four receipts from the Yellow Cab Company of Los Angeles ranging in date from July 14 to July 16, 1958, showing that MM was at the Hotel Bel Air, Saks Fifth Avenue, and a mysterious address at 8719 Bonner Drive; though her name does not appear anywhere on the receipts, they come from the same files as the Perutz invoice.”
SOLD for $512
“Telegram dated October 28, 1958, sent to Jack Lemmon by the producer of Some Like It Hot, reading in part ‘By reason of the illness of Marilyn Monroe, please be advised / that we hereby exercise the right to suspension…;’ and sold separately, a standard check from the ‘Marilyn Monroe Productions, Inc.’ account … matted under a 1970s-era re-issue soundtrack album from Some Like It Hot.”
Telegram SOLD for $768; check + album SOLD for $2,560
“A standard address book with navy blue leather covers and A to Z tabs, kept by May Reis [Monroe’s longtime New York secretary] on the star’s behalf for a number of years, inside pages contain Reis’ handwritten entries in pencil or various colors of ballpoint ink for Monroe’s personal and business contacts including (in alphabetical order): Rupert Allan, Elizabeth Arden, Richard Avedon, Kenneth Battale, Saul Bellow, Chateau Marmont, Michael Chekhov, Jack Cole, George Cukor, Lilly Daché, Agnes Flanagan, Bob Fosse, Ben Gazzara, Lotte Goslar, Sydney Guilaroff, Lillian Hellman, Hedda Hopper, Hotel Bel Air, John Huston, William Inge, Jax, Anne Karger, Marianne Kris, Leon Krohn, Ann Landers, Erno Laszlo, Jean Louis, Carson McCullers, Inez Melson, Isidore Miller, Berniece Miracle, Monroe Six, Eunice Murray, Jean Negulesco, Norman Norell, Clifford Odets, Louella Parsons, Lena Pepitone, The Plaza Hotel, Henry Rosenfeld, Hedda and Norman Rosten, Eva Marie Saint, Norma Shearer, Frank Sinatra, Sidney Skolsky, Allan Snyder, John Steinbeck, Paula Strasberg, Western Costume Co., Billy Wilder, and Shelley Winters, among a few others; also included are a few notes relating to the stars personal identification numbers as well as bank accounts; Reis’ ownership signature is penned on the second page next to a date of ‘1958;’ Monroe penciled in a note on the last page reading ‘Roxbury Conn. / Tophet Rd.'”
UNSOLD – reserve not met
“A single page of personalized stationery, dated ‘April 15, 1960,’ to ‘Mr. Ehrlich,’ reading in part ‘Will you please convey my sincere appreciation to the public and critics of Chile for awarding the Laurel de Oro as Best Actress of 1959,’ signed in black fountain pen ink in the lower right corner ‘Marilyn Monroe;’ with its original transmittal envelope. And sold separately, a contact sheet showing Marilyn in a scene from Some Like It Hot (1959.)”
Letter SOLD for $3,750; contact sheet SOLD for $768
“A small receipt from Gray Reid’s in Reno, Nevada noting a date of ’16 Aug 60′ and that ‘$6.07’ was spent, verso has a blue ballpoint ink handwritten annotation (not in MM’s hand) reading ‘Black / Umbrella’ — probably the umbrella that Marilyn bought for her acting coach, Paula Strasberg, during shooting of The Misfits.”
SOLD for $256
“A black silk and ostrich feather wrap with two black velvet arm straps, label reads ‘Made to Order / Rex / Inc. / Beverly Hills / California;’ displayed in a shadow box with a black and white image of the star wearing it during a 1960 photo shoot with Eve Arnold. Interestingly, this piece may have been used as a prop in MM’s last and unfinished 1962 film, Something’s Got To Give as a similar wrap can be seen in her tote bag in the sequence where she watches her children in the swimming pool.”
SOLD for $10,240
“A deep brownish-black mink fur stole, rectangular shaped with slightly flared ends, lined in a black and gold brocade textured raw silk, no labels present.” [Worn by Marilyn to the premiere of The Misfits in 1961.]
SOLD for $5,760
“A group of seven accessories including: 1) a pair of cat eye sunglasses with rhinestone detailing; 2) their case made of beige vinyl and brown plastic, stamped ‘Cosmetan / Sun Glasses;’ 3) a cordovan alligator eyeglass case stamped in part ‘Schilling;’ 4) a red cotton eyeglass case with a label reading in part ‘Devonaire of California;’ 5) a sterling silver shoe horn, stamped ‘Sterling’ on both sides; and 6-7) a pair of orange plastic shoe trees.”
SOLD for $7,500
“A two page hand-written note on light blue pieces of notepaper from the Los Angeles Institute for Psychoanalysis, penciled by the star in full “‘CR 12151 Western Union / Dear Marlon / I need your / opinion about a / plan for getting / Lee out here on more / than a temporary / basis please / phone me as soon / as possible / Time / is of the essence / Marilyn;’ evidently written for a telegram that she was sending to Brando about Actors’ Studio head Lee Strasberg. And sold separately, a telegram from Brando dated ‘1962 Jan 13,’ sent to Marilyn at her ‘882 North Doheny Apt 3’ address, reading in full ‘Tried to reach you by fone must leave city this weekend / sorry / Marlon,’ with a number of stamps and other handwritten delivery annotations evident; seeming to be Brando’s response to Monroe’s note.”
Marilyn’s note SOLD for $6,400; Marlon’s telegram SOLD for $2,560
“A standard postcard from the Fontainebleu Hotel in Miami, signed in blue ballpoint ink on the verso ‘To Gisele / Thank you / so much! / Marilyn Monroe.'” [Marilyn stayed overnight at the Fontainebleu in 1962 with her former father-in-law, Isidore Miller.]
SOLD for $2,500
“A large collection of approximately 130 loose-leaf ‘colored’ script change pages given to the star throughout the production of Something’s Got to Give, as the script was being revised on a regular basis, noting numerous and various dates in April and May of 1962, many pages are paper-clipped or stapled together by their revision date, a number of them have the star’s name penned in the upper right hand corner (though not in her hand) or small notes addressed to her, Monroe’s own handwritten annotations appear on a few pages, mainly as directions to herself such as ‘drop voice – / lean against post’ or additional dialogue she added such as ‘if you’d take it out’ and the like, she also circled her character’s name [“Ellen”] on many pages; two pink pages are torn with one having Monroe’s penciled annotation reading ‘No good one.’ And sold separately, an oversize colour photo taken during Marilyn’s 1962 session with Bert Stern for Vogue magazine, entitled ‘I Beg Of You‘.”
Script pages SOLD for $12,800; photo SOLD for $5,120
Sold separately, these contact sheets are among several lots featuring photos by Bert Stern.
Contact sheets SOLD for $1,152 and $896, respectively
“A telegram dated ‘1962 Jun 1 AM 9 55,’ sent to Marilyn at her Fifth Helena Drive address in Brentwood, CA, reading in full ‘Happy Birthday Hope Today And Future Years Bring You / Sunny Skies And All Your Heart Desires As Ever / Joe’ — most likely DiMaggio as it was sent from ‘Madrid Via RCA.'”
SOLD for $6,250
“A ticket reading in part ‘May 19, 1962 / Madison Square Garden / Gala All Star Show’ — the now-historic event celebrating President John F. Kennedy‘s 45th birthday, plus a photo of Marilyn during her performance of ‘Happy Birthday, Mr President’. And sold separately, a group of four telephone bills, sent to “M. Monroe” from General Telephone Company, ranging in date from April 30 to July 30, 1962, listing all the long distance calls she made to cities noted on the bills as ‘NYC, Bkln, Queen, Wbury, Engla, Telav’ and, most interestingly, to ‘Wash’ a number of times in July — so maybe she was calling the Kennedys?”
Ticket + photo SOLD for $896; telephone bills SOLD for $4,375
“A 1960s-era Steno spiral-bound notebook filled with about 45 pages of notes and reminiscences penned in blue ballpoint ink that George Barris wrote down while he was working with the star in the summer of 1962; appearing to be taken verbatim from conversations the two had, the subjects mentioned are quite varied and range from Monroe’s favorite films to her health to people on her mind at that particular time such as President Kennedy, Arthur Miller, Joe DiMaggio, Cyd Charisse, Marlon Brando, Paula Strasberg, and Greta Garbo; other topics include living in California, nude scenes in films, her termination from her last film, sex, on being a sex symbol, marriage, children, and life philosophy in general; some of the notes appear to have been jotted down later or even after the star’s death but in any case, it’s a fascinating look into the star’s psyche as recounted by someone who closely worked with her at the very end of her life. And sold separately, a signed photo by Barris.
Goodman Basil Espy III, M.D. loved purchasing sports and Hollywood memorabilia, so it’s not surprising that Marilyn’s romance with baseball legend Joe DiMaggio – and especially, their tour of Japan and Korea – would be at the heart of his Monroe archive, as we discover in this third post about the November 14 auction at Julien’s, A Southern Gentleman’s Collection. And first up, this ‘Official American League Ball‘ is signed in blue ballpoint ink ‘Marilyn Monroe’ – but not in the sweet spot! (You can read all posts about this sale here.)
“A set of two travel alarm clocks; the first beige metal with a ribbed plastic retractable cover by Westclox; the second brass with a red face by Tiffany & Co., engraved on the bottom ‘Marilyn Monroe;’ interestingly, MM was shot in a series of black and white photographs by Bob Beerman circa 1953 where the Westclox piece can be seen on her bedside table.”
SOLD for $7,500
Following a two-year courtship, Marilyn and Joe were married in January 1954. Weeks later, they went on a ‘honeymoon‘ of sorts, as Joe promoted baseball in Japan. These four photos show the couple en route, and after their arrival in Tokyo. And sold separately, “a traditional Japanese fan likely made of bamboo and painted black with a natural wood handle … according to a catalogue description from Christie’s where it was originally sold, ‘…Joe immediately purchased this small memento for his one true love’ apparently on ‘February 2, 1954.'”
Photos SOLD for $896; fan SOLD for $2,560
“A standard United States Department of Defense identification card issued to Marilyn, featuring a small black and white photograph of her in the upper left corner, text reads in part ‘DiMaggio, Norma Jeane,’ photograph is dated ‘4 Feb 54,’ card is dated ‘8 Feb. 1954,’ signed by Monroe in blue ballpoint ink on the lower margin ‘Norma Jeane DiMaggio,’ further black fountain pen ink annotations of the issuing officer appear below, verso displays Monroe’s finger prints next to her typed statistics reading ‘Height 5′ 5 1/2″ / Weight 118 / Color of Hair Blonde / Color of Eyes Blue / Religion None / Blood Type UNK / Date of Birth 1 June 26,’ laminated. Monroe visited Japan and then Korea while on her honeymoon with Joe DiMaggio in February of 1954, and she was given this ‘Noncombatant’s Certificate of Identity’ so she could perform for the American troops while there.”
UNSOLD – reserve not met
A group of three snapshots, all taken in February 1954 when Marilyn was performing for the US troops in Korea; the first shows MM from the back as she walks by; the other two show a cake the soldiers presented to her (though she’s not in the shots). And sold separately, a strip of paper with a soldier’s name and other information on it, signed in blue ballpoint ink ‘Marilyn Monroe.'”
Photos SOLD for $320; autograph SOLD for $2,240
“A single sheet of paper, typed with notes about Marilyn’s Korean tour that appears to be for photo captions or perhaps an interview, heavily annotated in pencil in Monroe’s hand where she revises or edits the typed text, ending with ‘I knew it was raining – but I somehow didn’t / feel it – all I could think was I hoped / they weren’t getting too wet / Korea – / an experience I’ll never forget.'”
SOLD for $3,200
“A standard issue military jacket made of olive green wool, long sleeves, two front flap pockets, six button front closure, stamped on inside lining in part ‘Medium,’ adorned with countless Army-related patches, insignia, and lapel pins, further patch sewn above left pocket with white stitching reads ‘Monroe;’ presented to the star by a VIP soldier when she famously visited the troops in February 1954 while on her honeymoon with Joe DiMaggio; the jacket is displayed within a shadow box along with two black and white images [sold separately, here]: one shows MM receiving the folded-up jacket from a soldier named McGarr; the other shows MM with McGarr and Jean O’Doul [wife of baseball great, Lefty O’Doul] wearing the jacket.
Jacket SOLD for $44,800; photos SOLD for $768
“A single page of stationery printed with an ‘M,’ penned in blue ballpoint ink, no date, to ‘Jimmy,’ reading in part ‘I was so happy you met us / at the airport and I got to see you / again – your [sic] one of my favorite / people you know,’ ending with ‘Have a Happy Birthday and a / wonderful time / Marilyn’ — Jimmy being James ‘Lefty’ O’Doul, professional baseball player and later a manager and mentor to Joe DiMaggio; included with its original envelope addressed to ‘Mr. Jimmy Gold O’doul [sic] / Personal.’ And sold separately, four photos taken in Korea; three depict Marilyn with others as she wears her fitted checkered dress from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953); one depicts Jean O’Doul [wife of baseball great Lefty O’Doul] and a soldier; versos of all display various handwritten annotations in pencil and fountain pen ink including the date of ’27/2/54.'”
Letter SOLD for $6,400; photos SOLD for $1,250
Original photo, though now creased and wrinkled, depicting Marilyn in a living room with four other females circa 1954, a black ballpoint ink annotation handwritten on the verso reads ‘This is the interior / of the house in / Beverly Hills. It was / rented by Joe;’ also included are three other snapshots from the same day but printed decades later.”
SOLD for $768
“A small clutch-style purse, made of beige raw silk, gold-tone metal frame with rhinestone closure, zipper on bottom opens to reveal another compartment, inside lined in tan-colored silk, label reads ‘Saks Fifth Avenue,’ additional studio label reads ‘1-6-3-1667 M. Monroe A-729; used by Marilyn as ‘Vicky Parker’ in an extended sequence with Donald O’Connor as ‘Tim Donahue’ in There’s No Business Like Show Business (1954.)”
SOLD for $15,625
“A standard playbill for The Teahouse of the August Moonsigned in blue fountain pen ink on the top margin of the cover by Marilyn and in turquoise fountain pen ink on the side margin of the cover by Joe DiMaggio.” [The play starred David Wayne, who had appeared with Marilyn in four films, including How to Marry a Millionaire. She would see the play again after moving to New York, when her Actors’ Studio buddy Eli Wallach joined the cast.]
SOLD for $5,670
“A group of four telegrams, variously dated in December 1954, to the star and her lawyer [Frank Delaney] from an executive at 20th Century Fox, outlining how Marilyn needs to fulfill her obligation to The Seven Year Itch even though she’s sick; funny documents showing how Marilyn was being Marilyn and the studio had to acquiesce because she was…Marilyn. And sold separately, a contact sheet depicting 12 images of Marilyn wearing a white fur stole as she stands next to Itch director Billy Wilder in 1954, mounted to cardboard, signed in black felt-tip ink in the lower right corner ‘for Billy Wilder from Dick Avedon / 67.'”
Telegrams SOLD for $1,024; contact sheet SOLD for $3,200
“A small piece of paper with the top and bottom portions torn off, one side has penciled questions written in another hand, likely that of Ben Hecht or Sidney Skolsky [as both men who helped Marilyn to write her 1954 memoir, My Story, which wasn’t published until 1974], reading in full ‘Think about / 1) anecdote about pics / working on / 2) about Johnny Hyde – / how helped you – gave courage,’ rest of page and other side have Monroe’s blue fountain pen ink responses, with one compelling part reading ‘for those who want to / judge – I’ve traded my (paper purposely torn off here but evidently ‘body’) / more than once / for shelter and small quantities / of understanding and / warmth. I never traded for money / or a job directly or anything (one) could see / with the naked eye / except from one man / who was also deeply lonely…’ and it ends there on that cliffhanger!”
Goodman Basil Espy III, M.D. was “a true Southern gentleman.” He began collecting memorabilia for his beloved Georgia Tech, and sports in general. He was also a Marilyn Monroe fan, and his collection – which includes original photos and important documents plus key fashion items – enables us to review her life in a unique way. One of the auction’s four catalogues is devoted solely to Marilyn (you can order the entire set for $150 plus shipping here.)
Marilyn Southern Gentleman’s Collection will go under the hammer at Julien’s Auctions next Thursday, November 14. In the first of several posts, I look at items relating to Marilyn’s childhood and family background. (You can read all posts about this sale here.)
“An original print with a semi-gloss finish, depicting five young women in the 1920s standing in front of a Spanish-style building, Norma Jeane’s penciled annotation on the verso reading ‘Mother, second from End on Right / with her girl friends;’ also included are two other snapshots: another 1920s-era original print with a glossy finish, depicting Gladys Baker and two girlfriends, and a 1940s-era original print with a glossy finish, depicting a middle-aged Baker standing on a street in Reno, Nevada.” [Marilyn would later film The Misfits in Reno.]
SOLD for $768
“An original childhood snapshot with a glossy finish, depicting a six or seven year-old Norma Jeane crouching outside of someone’s house in rural-looking 1930s Los Angeles, a pre-printed decorative black border has an Olympic theme showing images of the Coliseum plus two bears displaying the initials ‘LA,’ thus seeming to date the photograph to 1932 or thereabouts. And sold separately, a set of two letters; the first a single page, now yellowed with age, typed, dated ‘December 4, 1935,’ sent to ‘Mrs. Dewey’ of the Los Angeles Orphans Home (later known as Hollygrove) by Grace Goddard, outlining how Goddard didn’t want Ida Bolender to see the 9 year-old Norma Jeane anymore ‘as her visits seem to upset the child,’ though Goddard does allow that many others can visit including ‘Elsie or Harvey Giffin, / Maude, George or Nell Atkinson, or her Aunt, Olive / Monroe, or Mrs. Martin, Olive’s Mother’ but poor Ida was banned; the second is a single page of letterhead from the Los Angeles Orphans Home Society, typed, dated ‘Dec. 6, 1935,’ Mrs. Dewey’s response to Goddard, reading in part ‘I’ll do as you request. We want to do all we can to / make Norma happy, and to please you’ — interesting documents illustrating some of the early childhood strife Norma Jeane went through.”
Photo SOLD for $2,187.50; letters SOLD for $2,812.50
“A group of seven though only one is annotated, original prints with a glossy finish, taken circa 1942-1944, four show a small house at 6707 Odessa Avenue in Van Nuys, CA, and three show its interior; one has Norma Jeane’s penciled annotation on the verso reading ‘6707 Odessa Ave / Van Nuys, Calif. / Where I lived when I first / ment [sic] Jimmy’ [Dougherty, her first husband]. Interestingly, this house was owned by Ana Lower, the paternal aunt of Grace Goddard, Gladys Baker’s best friend and on-and-off guardian of the child Norma Jeane. Grace seemed to use this house of her aunt’s as a temporary crash pad from time to time, such as in the early 1940s when she moved there with her third husband, ‘Doc’ Goddard, his children (including Eleanor ‘Bebe’ Goddard), and a teen-aged Norma Jeane Baker.”
SOLD for $1,000
“A set of two snapshots taken circa 1942-1944; the first depicts Ana Lower [Grace Goddard’s paternal aunt and sometime guardian of the child Norma Jeane] in front of the house she owned at 6707 Odessa Avenue in Van Nuys, CA, with Norma Jeanes penciled annotation on the verso reading ‘Aunt Ana;’ the second depicts Ana standing next to four others, NJs penciled annotation on the verso reading Taken at Aunt Alices & Uncle / Arts wedding / Aunt Ana, John, U. Art, A. Alice, Opal — interesting to see that NJ did have a family growing up, albeit a non-blood one. And, sold separately, a single sheet of onion skin paper, no date but circa 1944, penciled on the front and back with a number of tenets and quotes about the Christian Science religion such as ‘Thank God I’m not a mortal; / living in a material world subject / to a material law; But I am / an Immortal living in a spiritual / world subject to a spiritual law’ and the like, ending with ‘He who gets much out of Christian Sciences / puts much into it’ and ‘Am going to make a book on good / thoughts and helpful things in C.S.;’ likely an assignment for the young Norma Jeane from her ‘aunt’ Ana Lower who was a strict practitioner of the religion as was Monroe’s mother, as much as she could be.”
Photos SOLD for $437.50; Essay SOLD for $3,200
“A two pager on plain stationery, penned in blue fountain pen ink on both sides, addressed to ‘Dear Norm,’ dated ‘May 25, 1942,’ sent to a 15 year-old Norma Jeane from Grace Goddard’s step-daughter, Eleanor ‘Bebe’ Goddard, who had just moved to Virginia; Bebe blathers on about mundane goings-on but does mention NJ’s pending nuptials ‘…I know / that you’ll be very happy. I hope the / first one is a boy,’ and interestingly, she does mention a number of people the two young girls both knew such as Grace [Goddard, NJ’s mother’s best friend and her on-and-off childhood guardian], Enid [Knebelkamp, Grace’s sister], Sam [Knebelkamp, Enid’s second husband], ‘Daddy’ [Ervin Silliman Goddard aka ‘Doc,’ Grace’s third husband], Mrs. Dougherty [Ethel, NJ’s soon to be mother-in-law], and others such as Mrs. Watson, Bub, Diane, and Pat, ending with ‘give the Doughertys our love / Love / Bebe’ — a sweet letter to an unknown teenager who would become world famous less than a decade later.”
SOLD for $640
“A 12 page booklet titled ‘Our Wedding Day‘ noting a 1938 copyright date, on page 7 someone filled in the blank spaces in blue fountain pen ink that related to the event, noting the details ‘Nineteenth / June / 1942 / James Edward Dougherty / of Van Nuys / Norma Jeane Mortenesor [sic] / of Westwood / 432 South Bentley, Westwood / California,’ three witnesses’ names are evident but only one is legible: ‘Marion C. Dougherty,’ brother of the groom, and coincidentally with the same first name as Norma Jeane’s maternal uncle. And sold separately, a snapshot depicting James Dougherty wearing sweats, inscribed in blue fountain pen ink on the verso by his then wife ‘Jimmie in his gym / clothes, also these are the / work clothes of the Physical / Training Instructors. This was / taken at the Catalina Ball / Park where he works.’ (Both items are water damaged.)”
Photo SOLD for $640; wedding card SOLD for $2,812.50
A framed modelling photo of Norma Jeane by Andre De Dienes; and sold seperately, two love letters sent by Norma Jeane to Andre in 1946. The first is on a single page of stationery, no date but circa 1946, penciled on one side in full ‘Darling W.W. [Worry Wart, a nickname NJ gave to De Dienes], I’m writing today / I miss you. I love you with all / my heart and only you;’ and penned in blue fountain pen ink on the other in full ‘Dear Andre, / I’m not doing anything / much except just existing. / Darling there is absoltly [sic] / no one but you. Please / believe me. Absolutly [sic] / absolutely;’ most likely never sent as the then called Norma Jeane was figuring out how to spell the word ‘absolutely’ which she finally got on the last try. The second is penned in black and blue fountain pen ink, dated ‘June 4th, 1946‘ when Norma Jeane had just turned 20 years old, addressed to ‘My Dearest W.W.’ [Worry Wart – a nickname NJ gave to AD], reading in part ‘I’m so much in love with / you, Andre my darling…Don’t worry W.W. I’m being / a good girl. I wouldn’t for / the world be insincere toward / you… / all I / think about is Andre, Andre, / Andre. When will he ever get / here’ — a true love letter penned by a very smitten young girl,” seeming to prove De Dienes’ assertion that the two did indeed have a love affair.
Photo SOLD for $1,280; Letters SOLD for $2,187.50 and $5,625, respectively
Two telegrams and a love letter from Andre De Dienes, dated 1946-47; together with a snapshot of Norma Jeane and a man described as ‘possibly De Dienes’, but actually another photographer, Richard C. Miller. Sold separately, a 1946 model release form signed by Miller and Norma Jeane.
Correspondence SOLD for $750; model release form SOLD for $8,750
“A set of two letters from Jim Dougherty, then serving abroad in the Merchant Marines; the first on a single sheet of stationery, penned in blue fountain pen ink on both sides, dated ‘May 23, 1946,’ basically imploring his wife to write him, ending with ‘I get Mom’s letters O.K. but none / from you / …P.S. No Mail No Souvenirs,’ signed ‘Love / Jim;’ the second a birthday card probably from the same year as the letter, signed in black fountain pen ink ‘All my Love / Jimmie’ — little did poor Jimmie know he’d be divorced just four months later.”
Letters SOLD for $768
Handwritten letter from Norma Jeane to her half-sister Berniece, undated but from 1943; photo of Berniece with her husband Paris included. And sold separately, a single piece of plain paper, no date but July 1946 by postmark, penned in black fountain pen ink, a newsy letter from Berniece Miracle, sent to Norma Jeane (though Berniece leaves off the final ‘e’), reading in part ‘Your picture was in / the paper…I’m so / proud of you’ and ‘I was sorry to hear / about you & Jimmie,’ ending with ‘Tell Grace & Doc “hello”;’ with its original transmittal envelope addressed to ‘Norma Jean Dougherty’ at her ‘11348 Nebraska Ave’ address in Los Angeles but also addressed to her temporary Las Vegas address where she was staying during her divorce proceedings from James Dougherty.”
Norma Jeane’s letter SOLD for $12,500; Berniece’s letter SOLD for $1,125
“Two mysterious notes from Norma Jeane (or as she would soon be known, Marilyn), sold separately: firstly, a small gift card from Bullock’s Los Angeles, penned in black fountain pen ink, ‘Heres [sic] a little salt / for someone who is / “The salt of the earth” / Love, / Norma Jeane;’ included with its envelope but it’s not addressed so we’ll never know who NJ bought this gift for or what it was! By contrast, the second is a cryptic handwritten note, penciled on the front side ‘Do Not Call me / Neither on the Phone nor / in person do not want / to go into any explainations [sic] / this is absolutely final.’ — seems like she was breaking it off with some overzealous suitor, but who was it?”
Notes SOLD for $2,560 and $12,500, respectively
Four books, including three purchased in ‘an obscure Butterfield’s auction’, described as belonging to Norma Jeane and possibly passed on by family members: “1) Hammond’s Handy Atlas of the World by C.S. Hammond & Company, printed in 1933, signed in pencil on the front free end page ‘Hollywood, Cal. / Columbia Studio / Grace McKee / Dec. 29th 1933;’ 2) The Female Impersonators by Ralph Werther, printed in 1922, signed in green fountain pen ink on the front free end paper ‘Property of / John G. Eley M.D. / Fellow College of Phys / Physo-Gyn-Diseases;’ 3) Male and Female by Jack Woodford, printed in 1946; and 4) Illegitimate by Jack Woodford, printed in 1946, with dust jacket.” [John Eley was the bigamous third husband of Norma Jeane’s mother Gladys.]
SOLD for $2,500
“A group of eight pieces given to Norma Jeane during her childhood by her beloved guardian. ‘Aunt Ana’ Lower including: 1) a partial two page letter penned by Lower in blue fountain pen ink to ‘My darling,’ dated ‘June 1st 1947’ [NJ’s 21st birthday], reading in part ‘A girl needs a father, mine / was never a help, so you and / I are alike in that respect,’ last pages now missing; 2) a single sheet of paper with notes penciled by Grace Goddard [Lower’s niece] about the history of her friend’s [Gladys Baker, though she’s never mentioned] mental breakdowns from 1935 to the early 1950s; 3) a prayer card inscribed on the verso by Lower in blue fountain pen ink ‘To Norma Jeane / With love / Aunt Ana / June 10, 1940;’ 4) a 1947 Christian Science pamphlet; 5) a 1947 schedule for a Christian Science meeting; 6) two pages removed from a prayer book; 7) two of Ana Lower’s business cards plus an envelope flap printed with her name and famous address of ‘11348 Nebraska Avenue / West Los Angeles, 25, California;’ and 8) a 1943 newspaper clipping about Mary Pickford adopting a son. And sold separately, a letter from Gladys Baker, dated ‘May 30, 1948,’ addressed to ‘Grace and all’ [Goddard, Gladys’ best friend and Norma Jeane’s on-and-off guardian], a newsy yet somewhat sad letter written to her old friend, Gladys references how she’s in debt for the first time in her life and how she hates it, she further writes ‘…why didn’t / you let me know of / Aunt Ana’s passing away? / Didn’t you have my address? / Or what?!’, and then she briefly mentions her daughter as an afterthought (even though NJ’s 22nd birthday was just two days away) with ‘By the way how is / Norma Jeane getting / along(?)’ Gladys oddly signs off as ‘Gladys V. Baker’ as if Grace wouldn’t know who she was if she had just written her first name; included with its original transmittal envelope addressed to Grace at her Van Nuys address and coincidentally with a postmark of ‘June 1, 1948.'”
Anna’s correspondence SOLD for $896; Gladys’ letter SOLD for $768
“A single page of small lined notebook paper, with penciled scribblings by Marilyn, reading in full ‘We can only / merge spiritually / never physically – no matter / contact your partner / focus your look / your thought on the partner;’ evidently some musings on her religion; also included is a small black and white cheesecake photograph of MM.”
SOLD for $576
“A small group of seven items all sent to Norma Jeane/Marilyn ranging in date from the mid-1940s to about 1952, though sadly all are severely water damaged; including: 1) a two page letter handwritten in blue fountain pen ink from her half-sister Berniece Miracle; 2) a birthday card also from her sister; 3) a black and white snapshot of Berniece and her daughter, Mona Rae; 4) a black and white snapshot of Berniece and her husband, Paris Miracle; 5) a black and white snapshot of a good-looking young man; 6) a completely damaged black and white snapshot with a partial inscription on the verso reading in part ‘Bill;’ and 7) an early 1947 fan letter sent to MM at 20th Century Fox from someone in Italy.”
Marilyn Monroe: Timeless Elegance, an exhibition featuring items of her personal property from the collections of Greg Schreiner and Scott Fortner, plus photos by Lawrence Schiller, is now on display at the Blancpain boutique on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, in association with the licensing wing of Marilyn’s estate, Authentic Brands Group (ABG) until November 23. The items on display include Marilyn’s diamond-ensconced 1930s Swiss Art Deco watch, purchased by Blancpain from Julien’s Auctions in 2016 for $225,000, and her costume from The Prince and the Showgirl, as Roberta Naas reports for Forbes.
This green lace blouse and black pencil skirt ensemble, created by Travilla for Marilyn’s role as down-at-heel showgirl Cherie in Bus Stop (and topped with a black fedora she wore in the Arizona sun), is among many iconic movie costumes on display in Designing Hollywood, an exhibit showcasing the extensive collection of Gene London, opening on September 29 until December 22 at the Allentown Museum of Art in Pennsylvania, as WFMZ reports. Previous exhibits from London’s archive have also included costumes from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, The Seven Year Itch and The Prince and the Showgirl.
Monroe expert and friend of this blog Scott Fortner has been interviewed by the New York Post, giving tips to other Marilyn collectors.
“According to Scott Fortner, a top collector of Marilyn Monroe memorabilia who works as a health-care executive, bodily fluids are an enhancement. ‘I have a dress of Marilyn’s with a sweat stain on the underarm,’ said the 50-year-old Bay area resident. ‘That personal touch makes the dress . . . more valuable to collectors.’
Another gambit for increasing the worth of Fortner’s 200-plus-item Monroe collection: Putting together multiple elements to create documented ensembles. He had a mink collar, purchased in 2006 as part of a lot that went for $10,000, and sought the jacket to go with it. He ‘spent forever’ looking for the piece. In 2016, he bought it at auction for $10,000. Combined, the outfit would now sell for $50,000 to $60,000.
He does what he can to keep the value and the threads intact. ‘I [store] everything in a temperature-controlled environment,’ said Fortner. ‘I’m happy to not touch anything. Putting [these garments] on mannequins would stress the fabric.’ With that in mind, he adds that accessing the Monroe collection is beside the point. ‘I’m happy to know that I have it and to have the photos.'”
Original photos of Marilyn by Andre de Dienes, Cecil Beaton, Gordon Parks, Eric Skipsey and Bert Stern will be auctioned at Christie’s in Paris on June 19, as part of the Icons of Glamour and Style sale, taken from the collection of Leon Constantiner.