My review of Amanda Konkle’s excellent book, Some Kind of Mirror: Creating Marilyn Monroe, is featured in the latest issue (#38) of UK fanzine Mad About Marilyn, alongside articles about Marilyn’s arduous promotional tour for the final Marx Brothers movie, Love Happy (1949); ‘A New Marilyn Comes Back’, first published by Movie Spotlight in 1956; and a profile of photographer Bruno Bernard, aka ‘Bernard of Hollywood’.
Ellen Burstyn is one of America’s most respected actresses. Now 87, she won Oscars for her work in The Last Picture Show and Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, and also enjoyed a distinguished stage career, winning the Sarah Siddons Award. She joined the Actors Studio in 1967, and is now a co-president. Ellen has long been an admirer of Marilyn, praising Carl Rollyson’s biography, A Life of the Actress, and appearing in documentaries like The Mortal Goddess and Love, Marilyn. As a new interview with Vulture‘s Matt Zoller Seitz reveals, Ellen still holds a torch for Marilyn today.
“All around us are pictures commemorating her experiences as an actress, a mother, a grandmother, an arts administrator, a producer, and a performer. Burstyn’s face is instantly recognizable, and she has been one of our finest actors for decades, but despite her eventful life and career, she has managed to avoid the kind of notoriety that might have limited her freedom, talent, and generosity. Among the pictures in her apartment is a black-and-white close-up of Marilyn Monroe from the early 1960s [not shown]. ‘I didn’t know her, but I adored her,’ she explains. ‘And she was so troubled and vulnerable because she had what I call scary fame, the kind that jumps out like this,’ she says, snarling like a predator and clawing at the air. ‘I never had that kind of fame.'”
Among those who attended the opening night of the Marilyn exhibit at Blancpain in Manhattan this week was Australian actress Naomi Watts, who shot to fame as a fragile Hollywood starlet in David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive (2001), and was the initial favourite to play Marilyn in filmmaker Andrew Dominik’s long-mooted adaptation of Joyce Carol Oates’ Blonde. After nearly a decade’s gestation, the film went into production this year with Ana de Armas in the lead role. Nonetheless, Naomi’s love for Marilyn is still strong, as she told Fashion Week Daily after arriving at Blancpain yesterday.
“Why did you want to be a part of tonight?
A New York night. Like any actress, I’m fascinated by Marilyn’s story.
What are your first memories of her?
I think she was there before I saw her films because she was everywhere. I was probably too young to know the films. She was just a glamour symbol. Then as I got to see her on film and then become an actor and get inside of her story. It was a wonderful discovery. Some of her work in the later part of her life was particularly extraordinary. Knowing what she had gone through as well. She was one of a kind.
Did you ever have any desire to play her in a biopic?
There was a moment where I nearly did quite a while ago. I’m too old now. I’m aged out. Yes, it was something I considered and I was talking to a filmmaker for a period of time. It was a dark piece.
Do you have a favorite Marilyn Monroe movie?
The Misfits. I love the rawness of that. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is another. The Seven Year Itch! There are so many!”
“A page likely removed from a magazine and then glued to a piece of black construction paper, depicting MM posing by the ocean, signed in blue fountain pen ink on the left side ‘To Linda, / Love and Kisses, / Marilyn Monroe’ — Linda being child actress Linda Bennett who had the star sign a number of items for her.”
SOLD for $4,480
“A vintage fan magazine, and (sold separately) a three-page handwritten letter from a fan by the name of Irene Nagy, in which Nagy offers advice to Marilyn Monroe on how to become a serious actress. The letter, dated November 18, 1952, reads in part, ‘If you’re going to be a dramatic actress and hope to be one, you certainly can’t expect to wear frilly thin nighties or low cut gowns all the time.’ While criticism is offered based on the clothing Monroe wears, the fan also offers encouragement and support: ‘I like you also as a person. I love to see you with your blonde short curly hair-do, you’re very pretty, you’ve got pretty eyes and when you laugh whole-heartedly you sound like lots of fun.’ Overall, a very interesting look into the type of mail Monroe received from fans. The original envelope is also included.”
Pin-Ups magazine SOLD for $1,920; fan letter SOLD for $125
“A framed photo of Marilyn visiting Brady Airbase, Japan; and sold separately, a three-page handwritten letter from the mother of a United States soldier stationed in Korea who had recently seen Marilyn Monroe perform for the troops there as part of a USO tour. The February 25, 1954, letter reads, ‘This morning I received a letter from my son in Korea. I think you should know what he says about your appearance there. I save all of his letters, or I would enclose it. This is what he wrote. Two days ago, Marilyn Monroe played before 12,000 men of this division. It was a sunny, cold day but true to the standards that have been set for her, she appeared in a low cut, sheathe dress of purple glittery sort of material. She is certainly beautiful!!! When she appeared on the stage, there was just a sort of gasp from the audience – a single gasp multiplied by the 12,000 soldiers present, what quite a gasp. The broadcasting system was extremely poor, and had I not seen the movie from which the songs were taken, I’m not too sure I would have known what she was singing. However, it didn’t matter. Had she only walked out on the stage and smiled, it would have been enough. I might add, that she is certainly making a lot of friends here. Everyone realizes that there is no reason she is here except to entertain. She doesn’t need the publicity, and she is not being paid. Too, unlike lesser entertainers, after the show she autographed, chatted, and posed for pictures. Then thru all the trucks and jeeps she rode perched on top of the seat of her jeep, smiling and waving. All in all I think it was pretty wonderful that she came to Korea at all, and doubly so that she came to the divisions that have been so long on the line, and by-passed the easy duty in Seoul, Inchon and the southern cities. You are a real soldier. I know what that trip cost you. But you didn’t disappoint those boys. In our hearts we thank you for your wonderful generosity and kindness to our son. Your friends, Mr. and Mrs. N. T. Rupe, 6315 So Yakima, Tacoma, Wash.'”
Photos SOLD for $896; letter SOLD for $448.
A group of 4 candid photos, showing Marilyn on top of a military tank with soldiers surrounding her during her 1954 tour of Korea for American troops.
SOLD for $448
A group of six colour slides and corresponding photographs of Marilyn Monroe in Korea. Copyrights to these images will be transferred to the winning bidder.
SOLD for $1,562.50
A framed photo of Marilyn; and, sold separately, a two-page document on plain white paper, no date but circa 1955, penned in blue ballpoint ink, ‘To the Men of the Thule Air Base / Greenland,’ apologizing to them for not being able to visit, signed on the second page ‘I love you all / Happy New Year / Marilyn Monroe.'”
Photo SOLD for $1, 024; letter SOLD for $7,500
“A negative image of Marilyn Monroe taken while the actress signed an autograph book for a fan in New York City circa 1955. Together with a black and white photograph printed from the negative, believed to have been previously unpublished.”
SOLD for $576
“A typed letter from Shirley Potash Clurman from TIME Incorporated regarding Marilyn Monroe’s appearance at ‘the official kickoff for the opening of the Sidewalk Superintendents Club for the construction of the new Time-Life Building.’ The June 20, 1957, letter reads in part, ‘Marilyn Monroe, naturally, was the unanimous favorite of Time-Life staffers to officially get our new building rolling by setting off a facsimile fire-cracker.’ The letter continues, ‘As I told you, our company plane would be delighted to pick up Miss Monroe wherever she is out of town and deliver her home again.’ Monroe did appear at this event on July 2, 1957, and she did light the aforementioned firecracker.”
SOLD for $256
“A handwritten letter from actress Julie Harris. The December 2, 1957, letter reads, ‘Dear Miss Monroe, Through the kindness of Joe Wolhandler we sent you, Manning Gurian and I, Julie Harris, a play, The Warm Peninsula. Well, it’s as simple as that! We hoped you would love it and would want to play the part of June de Lynn. If you are at all interested and would like to talk to us about it we would be overjoyed. We asked you – with a faint hope in our hearts – knowing how busy you are – but if you are at all interested please let us know. With all good wishes, Julie Harris.’ A carbon copy of the letter sent in response, dated December 4, 1957, reads, ‘After receiving your note I called my agent, Mort Viner, At MCA. Unfortunately, through some mix-up at their office the script had never been delivered to me. However, I now have it, and I’m reading it. I’m a slow reader, but I’ll let you know as soon as I finish. Please accept my apologies for such a delay.’ The letter’s signature line reads ‘Warm Regards.'”
SOLD for $384
“An undated typed letter on ‘Who’s Who of American Women‘ letterhead referencing Marilyn Monroe’s listing in the 1958 publication. The letter reads in part, ‘Active compilation of the First Edition of the newest Marquis reference work, WHO’S WHO OF AMERICAN WOMEN, is now under way’ and ‘I enclose – for what additions you wish to make – the sketch of you just prepared for the new “Who’s Who in America,” in which you are of course also being listed.’ A carbon copy of a letter from Monroe’s secretary, dated December 4, 1957, reads in part, ‘Enclosed herewith is the sketch of Marilyn Monroe to be inserted in the next edition of Who’s Who in America. Please make the following corrections: The name in parenthesis should be Norma Jean Mortenson. The name of her first husband is Jim Daugherty [sic], her second Joe DiMaggio, from both of whom she was divorced. She is now married to Arthur Miller. The title The Sleeping Prince should be eliminated inasmuch as that is the name of a stage play in which Miss Monroe did not appear.’ Also included is a pre-publication order form for Who’s Who of American Women.”
SOLD for $256
“A six page document, dated ‘Feb. 7, 1958,’ outlining an agreement the star had with MCA Artists, Ltd. for that organization to act as her agent for television work, signed in blue fountain pen ink on the last page ‘Marilyn Monroe.'”
SOLD for $3,750
“A one-page letter to Marilyn Monroe from Private First Class Don L. Miller of the United States Army. The May 16, 1958, letter reads in part, ‘On 24 April at three p.m. I called at your New York apartment, hoping you could spare five minutes then or could possibly arrange an appointment for the following day. It took two weeks of my leave before I was able to find out your New York address, which left but two days before I had to return to active duty here in Texas. Please forgive the delay, which I surely caused in your appointment with Mrs. [Hedda] Hopper. After following your screen career closely since its birth as the chorus girl-daughter of Adele Jergens many years ago [in Ladies of the Chorus, 1948] it has been somewhat of a project of mine to meet you. It was disappointing to be close enough to hear your voice yet still have the first encounter to anticipate.'”
SOLD for $192
“A group of four letters related to possible acting roles for Marilyn Monroe. One letter, dated May 26, 1958, is from Jerry Webb, former test director at Twentieth Century-Fox. Webb proposes to Monroe a project titled Papa Married a Mormon and suggests that Monroe play the role of ‘Tena.’ Another letter, dated February 24, 1959, is from George Cayley, who sent Monroe a script for The First Chewinks and suggested it would start on Broadway that spring. The third letter, dated March 11, 1957, is from Tony Award winning Broadway producer Edward Padula, who suggests that Monroe consider Lie Down in Darkness, the novel by William Styron, ‘both for its theatrical and motion picture possibilities.’ The fourth letter, dated August 12, 1958, is from Julian Olney asking if Monroe would be interested in playing Nell Gwynn in a new stage production of In Good King Charles’ Golden Days by George Bernard Shaw. “
SOLD for $384
A signed George Barris photo; and, sold separately, a handwritten letter to Marilyn Monroe from a fan by the name of William Perez. The heartfelt letter reads, ‘I would appreciate it so very much if you would kindly autograph this picture I had the pleasure of taking a few years back when you were filming Seven Year Itch in New York [not included here]. If you’ll address it to Bill, and leave it in your lobby I will pick it up in a few days. I work right around the corner and have spent so many lunch hours and coffee breaks in front of your building hoping to see you that I’ve become a laughing stock in my office. I don’t mind it, because you’ve given me so many hours of pleasure in your movies. Your [sic] my favorite star, and I hope you’ll continue to make more and more movies.’ This February 10, 1959, letter is signed ‘Thank you so much for your patience and understanding. Sincerely, William Perez.'”
Photo SOLD for $1,250; letter SOLD for $192
“An October 11, 1961, memo to Marilyn Monroe’s attorney Aaron Frosch from Howard O. LeShaw regarding balance sheets for Monroe and for Marilyn Monroe Productions. The statements clarify Monroe’s cash on hand, together with receivables and liabilities. As of October 10, 1961, Monroe’s net worth, according to these statements, was $716,791.74, an astonishing amount of money for the time. Also included is a one-page Schedule L balance sheet for ‘Year Ended November 30, 1960.’ Five pages total.”
SOLD for $768
“A two-page handwritten letter dated May 29, 1962, from Blanche Neubardt, Arthur Miller’s aunt. The letter reads in part, ‘Happy birthday to you! We wish you many, many more happy birthdays. We saw Dad Sunday and of course you were the topic of conversation. Dad told us you were having a birthday.’ ‘Dad’ in this case is Isidore Miller, Arthur Miller’s father. Marilyn often referred to him as ‘Dad,’ and he even signed his letters to her that way. Sadly, this would be Monroe’s final birthday as she would pass away in the coming August. The letter continues, ‘We want to thank you for the perfectly wonderful time we had at the President’s birthday. And you made all this possible. It is something we shall never forget, and we are thrilled that you thought of us. We loved your performance, it was delightful, and I’m sure the President never had anyone sweeter sing Happy Birthday to him. Your gown was magnificent. You looked like a dream walking.’ The letter is signed, ‘Keep well and stay as sweet as you are. Love, Blanche and Sam.’ Records from Monroe’s archives show that she purchased five tickets to the JFK birthday gala held on May 19, 1962. It is documented that Monroe’s date was her former father-in-law, Isidore Miller. Publicist Pat Newcomb also accompanied Monroe to the event. However, it has never been known for whom the other two tickets were purchased. This letter indicates that Monroe likely bought them for Samuel and Blanche Neubardt, who lived at 550 East 21st Street in Brooklyn. Photos of the July 1 Monroe/Miller wedding published in the July 16, 1956, issue of LIFE magazine show that Blanche was present for the nuptials. The original envelope, addressed to Monroe at her Fifth Helena Drive home in Brentwood, California, is included.”
Of all the performers influenced by Marilyn’s style, few have paid homage with as much panache as Blondie singer Debbie Harry – albeit with a punk rock edge all her own. In the first of two extracts from her new memoir, Face It, Debbie looks back to her childhood days with her adoptive New Jersey family, when Marilyn was her idol. (UPDATE: you can read my second post here.)
“By the time I was fourteen, I was dyeing my hair. I wanted to be platinum blond. On our old black-and-white television and at the theater where they screened Technicolor movies, there was something about platinum hair that was so luminescent and exciting. In my time, Marilyn Monroe was the biggest platinum blonde on the silver screen. She was so charismatic and the aura she cast was enormous. I identified with her strongly in ways I couldn’t articulate. As I grew up, the more I stood out physically in my family, the more people that I felt I related to in some physical way. With Marilyn, I sensed a vulnerability and a particular kind of femaleness that I felt we shared. Marilyn struck me as someone who needed so much love. That was long before I discovered that Marilyn had been a foster child.”
Later on, Debbie describes how she incorporated her fascination with Marilyn’s image into her own stage performances with Blondie.
“Iggy Pop apparently described me once as ‘Barbarella on speed’ … Our band shared its name with a cartoon character, after all. And I was playing at being a cartoon fantasy onstage. But the mother of that character was really Marilyn Monroe. From the first time I set eyes on Marilyn, I thought she was just wonderful. On the silver screen, her lovely skin and platinum hair were luminescent and fantastic. I loved the fantasy of it. In the fifties, when I grew up, Marilyn was an enormous star, but there was such a double standard. The fact that she was such a hot number meant that many middle-class women looked down on her as a slut. And since the publicity machine behind her sold her as a sex idol, she wasn’t valued as a comedic actor or given credit for her talent. I never felt that way about her, obviously. I felt that Marilyn was also playing a character, the proverbial dumb blonde with the little-girl voice and the big-girl body, and that there was a lot of smarts behind that act. My character in Blondie was partly a visual homage to Marilyn, and partly a statement about the good old double standard.
The ‘Blondie’ character I created was sort of androgynous. More and more lately, I’ve been thinking that I was probably portraying some sort of transsexual creature … A lot of my drag queen friends have said to me, ‘Oh, you were definitely a drag queen.’ They didn’t have problems seeing it. It was the same thing with Marilyn really. She was a woman playing a man’s idea of a woman … My Blondie character was an inflatable doll but with a dark, provocative, aggressive side. I was playing it up but I was very serious.”
An online entertainment sale, featuring 78 Marilyn-related lots, is set for August 19 at Julien’s Auctions. In addition to photos by Andre de Dienes, Bert Stern and George Barris, and an original nude calendar from 1955, there are also numerous documents from her personal files which shed new light on her life and career. Here are some selected highlights:
“A counter check written entirely in Monroe’s hand in black ink dated February 26, 1952, and paid to Dr. A. Gottesman, in the amount of $160. The check is drawn on Monroe’s Bank of America account. Monroe lists her address as the Beverly Carlton Hotel. Gottesman was a psychoanalyst Marilyn started seeing in the early 1950s. “
“A colorful birthday card sent to Marilyn for her 30th birthday by business manager and friend Inez Melson. In her message Melson acknowledges she’s been informed that Marilyn has transitioned the responsibility for the care of her mother Gladys away from Inez. Melson’s handwritten message reads, ‘Dearest Marilyn, This little card not only wishes you a Happy Birthday, but says “au-revoir.” I say this because Mr. [Irving] Stein was in this morning and told me of the new arrangement with the Arthur Jacobs Company with respect to taking care of all matters relating to Mrs. Eley. I am truly sorry, dear one, but you know you can always call upon me if you should ever need me. With fondest love, always, Inez.’ The original transmittal envelope is included. Melson managed Marilyn’s finances and business affairs throughout the early portion of Marilyn’s career. Interestingly, Melson ended up becoming the executrix of Marilyn’s estate after her death, which included ensuring the care of Marilyn’s mother who passed away in 1984. Inez passed away in 1985.”
“A September 8, 1956 letter to Marilyn from Mary Lee Fairbank reading in part, ‘We’ve just got back and looking forward to having you both for dinner – what night? How many? Who particularly do you want to meet – political, (undecipherable), fluff, philosophical, scientifical (sic).’ The original envelope, also included, is addressed to Mrs. Arthur Miller, Parkside House, Englefield Green, Surrey, where Marilyn and husband Arthur Miller stayed for four months while filming The Prince and the Showgirl.” [Possibly from Mary Lee Fairbanks, who married actor Douglas Fairbanks Jr. in 1939.]
“An April 2, 1957 letter to Marilyn from Margaret Hohenberg, M.D., reading, ‘I am sending you your file for the sessions you had during March. I hope you are getting along in your new analysis, yet I want to repeat what I said last time over the phone: Whenever and for whatever reason you may want to see me again – you will be always welcome.’ Hohenberg was Marilyn’s psychoanalyst from 1955 through early 1957.”
“An original program for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof from its run at the Erlanger Theatre in Chicago, IL for the week of July 7, 1957 signed by American character actor and producer/director Delos Smith. On the cover, Smith wrote, ‘How sweet of you to ask my autograph! We are closing Saturday, then I go to Kansas for two weeks on income taxes, then back to N.Y. Read page 13. Love, Delos.'”
“An August 21, 1957 letter from [theatre director] John Gerstad. The letter reads, ‘Dear Miss Monroe, Arnold Schulman introduced us in Sardi’s quite a few months ago. Arnold figured that since I had directed The Seven Year Itch for Broadway and you had made the picture that we should meet. This is just to tell you how much I enjoyed your picture The Prince and the Showgirl, particularly your fetching performance. I hope this note finds you in good health. Sincerely yours, John Gerstad.’ Also included, a carbon copy of a December 5, 1957 letter sent to Gerstad from Marilyn, reading, ‘I am sorry it took so long to answer your note. It was very nice of you to write telling me that you enjoyed my performance in The Prince and the Showgirl. Thank you for your kindness. Warmest regards. Sincerely …'”
A November 13, 1957 handwritten letter to Marilyn from Stefan Lorant, which reads, ‘I have sent you the picture in which Lincoln looks like your husband. I hope you like it. It was so good to meet you at Amagansett. With kindest regards to you and your husband, Stefan Lorant.’ Lorant is referred to as a pioneering Hungarian-American filmmaker, photojournalist, and author. Included is a carbon copy of the response letter dated December 4, 1957 reading, ‘I am so happy with the picture you sent me of Lincoln. It was kind of you to remember. My husband loves it a much as I do, and we both feel it is probably one of the best of the Lincoln portraits. Thank you again for your thoughtfulness. Perhaps we will be seeing you again soon. We haven’t seen Mary Bass since the summer but we hope to. With kindest regards from my husband and myself.’ Mary Bass was the executive editor of Ladies’ Home Journal.”
“A small notecard dated November 13, 1957 with a very unusual message. The card reads, ‘Please forgive this extreme personal intrusion: It is my utmost desire to learn if you were adopted from an Iowa orphanage around 1935. I am looking for a browneyed (sic) sister formerly named Geraldine. Sincerely, Ruth Webb.’ Included is a carbon copy of the response letter dated December 5, 1957 reading in part, ‘For your information, I am not the person you describe, as I have never even been in Iowa. I hope you will find the person you are looking for.’ Interestingly, Marilyn herself signed the original letter, and not a secretary as was the case for a great deal of Marilyn’s correspondence.”
“A July 16, 1958 letter to Marilyn from Dr. Eugen Grabscheid that reads in part, ‘I am sorry to hear that the complaints after your flight have increased. I am very sure that everything will come out all right as long as the treatment is not overdone.’ This letter is likely referencing Marilyn’s flight from New York to Los Angeles on July 7, to meet with director Billy Wilder about Some Like it Hot.”
“A carbon copy of an October 21, 1958 letter to Marilyn from Rex Taylor in reference to Marilyn’s interest in painting. The letter reads in part, ‘I just talked with Jon Whitcomb who tells me you are quite interested in painting. He also tells me that you would like too (sic) take the Famous Artists Painting Course. At Jon’s request we are making you a scholarship student but I am at a loss as to where to forward the textbooks since, as I understand it, you will be in Hollywood for sometime (sic) before returning to New York City,’ and ‘I thought you might be interested in seeing a recent story on the army of Hollywood painters.’ Included with the letter is a reprint of a story referencing film stars taking up painting with a picture of Tony Curtis featured.” (Marilyn did subsequently take this course, and some of her artwork survives – more info here.)
“A small notecard originally affixed to a floral arrangement with a personal message from Oscar winning American actress Eva Marie Saint and her husband American television director and producer Jeffrey Hayden. The notecard reads, ‘We are so happy about the beautiful news. Best Wishes.’ The greetings are likely in response to the news that Marilyn and husband Arthur Miller were expecting a child. Sadly Marilyn miscarried in December, 1958. Also included, the original carbon copy response letter from Marilyn to the couple reading, ‘Thank you so very much for the beautiful flowers and the good wishes. My best to you both.'”
“A July 23, 1959 letter to Marilyn from Mrs. Frank Klein, regarding an article her daughter had written for speech and drama class during her freshman year in high school. The assignment was to write about the voice of a well-known personality. The typed article, also included with this lot, reads in part, ‘Marilyn Monroe’s voice is high-pitched and soft-toned. Her manner of speaking is breathless and rapid. Her voice has an appealing little girl quality. It convey’s (sic) Miss Monroe’s screen personality, the only one with which I am familiar, to perfection.'”
More fan mail, including a torn-up 1958 letter from Phil D’Agostino, asking Marilyn to send two signed photos daily for 2 months; a small photo sent by Myrna E. Phaire, who also gave Marilyn artwork previously sold at Julien’s; and an unsigned drawing.
“A Western Union telegram from publicist Pat Newcomb, addressed to Marilyn at her 444 East 57th Street, New York apartment, dated April 16, 1961 reading, ‘Hey friend. You know I knew even before and that I understand, but please call me today. I want to talk to you. Love, Pat.’ It’s unclear what this telegram is referencing. A number of events were occurring in Marilyn’s life at this time. Just five days prior to the date of this telegram Marilyn attended an opening day baseball game at Yankee Stadium with former husband Joe DiMaggio. They’d been on vacation together in Florida just weeks prior. In early March Marilyn was released from Columbia Presbyterian hospital. On March 7, Marilyn attended the funeral for August Miller, the mother of third husband Arthur. “
“A greeting card from Rupert Allan, who handled Marilyn’s publicity and press inquiries for several years. The card’s message from Allan reads in part, ‘I am already much better after a day in the sun: none of the pressures of the office, and the fabulous mineral waters and whirlpool bath treatment for my pinched nerve. It is so hot and relaxing.’ Included is the original transmittal envelope date stamped May 4, 1961.”
“A small red gift tag with an attached red ribbon. The tag reads, ‘Happy Christmas, 1961,’ and ‘George Cukor,’ written in silver ink in Cukor’s own hand. Interestingly, research indicates that Cukor agreed to direct Something’s Got to Give in November of 1961, and this card was likely attached to a Christmas gift he gave to Marilyn considering they’d soon be working together again.”
“A small notecard, presumably originally affixed to a floral arrangement due to its size and artwork, with a personal message from two-time Oscar winner Shelley Winters. The card reads, ‘All your fellow students from the Actors Studio California branch at the moment thinking of you.’ The card is signed, ‘Shelley W.'” [UNDATED]
“A small notecard with embossed letters reading ‘WADLEY & SMYTHE, NEW YORK.’ The handwritten note on the card reads, ‘May the days of your years be gentle always. Sincerely, Joan Blondell.’ A comparison of Blondell’s known autograph resembles the signature on the card, indicating it’s very likely she wrote the note herself. Blondel starred in more than 100 productions both in film and television, her most notable being her performance in the 1951 film The Blue Veil, for which she received an Academy Award nomination. Younger generations will recognize her as Vi, one of the waitresses at the Frosty Palace in the 1978 cult classic, Grease. [UNDATED]
“An oversized birthday card with an image of Marilyn on the cover together with an image of Brigitte Bardot. The card’s cover reads, ‘Brigitte Bardot or Marilyn Monroe.’ The message inside offers the bearer a night with Bardot or Monroe for $2.00 with the coupon printed in the card. A handwritten message on the card’s inside cover reads, ‘Tell M.M.M. I’ve saved up $1.62 already yet. Love, Del’ under a greeting that reads, ‘For your Birthday.’ An interesting yet crass greeting card featuring Marilyn herself (and likely without her approval) sent to the film star by a fan. [UNDATED]
UPDATE: The nude calendar, and check to Dr. Gottesman were the biggest sellers among the Marilyn-related lots – more details here.
As we reach the 57th anniversary of Marilyn’s death, Megan Monroe reminds us of her true legacy in a timely blog post.
“So many people and society tend to view Marilyn as a victim, passed around from man to man and used throughout her lifetime. This both angers and frustrates not just me, but many fans, who have spent years taking the time to research legitimate sources and find out who Marilyn herself was. Often her death is viewed as a conspiracy-fueled, gossip-loving debate, so much so that she ends up no longer seeming like a young woman anymore, but an object of fascination.
It seems to me that it’s easier for people to believe in the distasteful lies and conspiracies that surround not just Marilyn, but many other celebrities and icons before and after her. People cannot comprehend someone as beautiful, talented and loved as her to have any demons or hardships … In the end Marilyn ends up being turned into a former shadow of her true self, which is just not acceptable to me and so many others – therefore, I will continue to try and dispel the lies and bring back her true character.
Furthermore, Marilyn’s death does not define her – intended or accidental it is still and will always be a tragedy, but, it does not take away from her 36 years of life and the achievements she made during and after her lifetime … Ultimately, this was the real Marilyn, the person that so often gets lost in the publicity of hearsay and money making headlines. “
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.'”
Photos of Marilyn taken by George Barris in 1962 (taken from the original negatives, and signed by Barris) will go under the hammer for a starting price of $500 each at the Heritage Auctions‘ Entertainment, Music & Posters sale, set for July 20-21. Photos by William Carroll, Andre de Dienes and Kashio Aoki are also on offer, plus images from Ray Anthony’s ‘My Marilyn’ party, the hand-print ceremony at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, and a silk-screen print by Bert Stern.
Among the more unusual items are a newspaper clipping accompanying an original photo of Marilyn and Joe DiMaggio on Redington Beach in Florida; and a grave marker from Marilyn’s crypt at Westwood Memorial Park, plus vintage photos and slides of fans paying their respects.
UPDATE: Marilyn’s grave marker sold for $7,500 – view results here