Marilyn Collector’s Advice to Fans

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.'”

Marilyn: the Pencil Skirt’s Best Friend

No history of the pencil skirt is complete without reference to Marilyn, as Rosalind Jana writes for Australian Vogue.

“The pencil skirt became a defining garment of the 1950s and early 1960s. It could be luxuriously smart, as seen in lime green on Grace Kelly in Rear Window. It could exude sex appeal, as demonstrated by Sophia Loren who paired it with strappy tops and tightly tailored jackets. It could be chic in black on Audrey Hepburn. For Marilyn Monroe, perhaps the most famous wearer of the pencil skirt, it came to define an entire aesthetic: one predicated on a particularly voluptuous projection of femininity, complete with tight sweaters, crisp white shirts and an overarching emphasis on her hourglass figure. Like the hobble-skirt, it required a very particular way of walking—see Monroe’s famous wiggle epitomised in Some Like It Hot, her wide-eyed character Sugar Kane sashaying provocatively in the skin-tight skirt.”

The Mystery of Marilyn’s Gingham Dress

In 2010, artist Yury Toroptsov photographed fans across the world posing with a blue-and-white gingham summer dress from Marilyn’s private collection, for an exhibition and accompanying book, Marilyn & I. However, no images of Marilyn herself wearing the dress were found – until this week, when Eric Patry posted this newspaper clipping on the Facebook group, MM Fanclub Belgium.

Although the publication and date have not been established, the photo is thought to have been taken in the summer of 1960, while Marilyn was en route to Reno, Nevada to shoot The Misfits. With her face and hair partly covered, it’s hard to identify her as Monroe – except by that radiant smile. (The belt worn with the dress is not her usual style, so perhaps she removed it.)

Oleg Cassini’s Marilyn: High Style and Low Talk

This Cassini gown, first seen on ex-wife Gene Tierney, scandalized Hollywood when worn by Marilyn

The estate of fashion designer Oleg Cassini went under the hammer at Doyle’s Auctioneers in New York today, with all 755 lots sold for a total $1.3 million. Cassini, who died in 2006, was recently described as a ‘notable rogue’ in the New York Times. He was married to actress Gene Tierney, engaged to Grace Kelly, and worked extensively with Jacqueline Kennedy during her time as First Lady. He also designed two gowns worn by Marilyn, and would claim in his 1987 memoir, In My Own Fashion, that they were lovers.

“Ever concerned with his image, Cassini only wanted to be seen with what he called, ‘top top girls.’ Wholesome and glamorous, Grace Kelly was a ‘top girl,’ so was Jacqueline Kennedy who he said had ‘a hieroglyphic figure.’ However Marilyn Monroe, one of Cassini’s many conquests, did not make the cut. In his book he described her as ‘the world’s most marvelous marshmallow.’ According to [Maureen] Orth, he told journalist Joe Klein, that she was just ‘a little show pony.'”

Tate Delloye, Mail Online
Another Tierney cast-off, worn by Marilyn to the ‘Monkey Business’ premiere.

Interestingly, there were no Marilyn-related lots in today’s auction; and there is no corroborating evidence of Cassini’s claim. At the very least, his disparaging remarks suggest the great lothario was also a snob. (At worst, one might wonder if he ever really slept with Marilyn at all!)

Whatever the truth about their relationship, Marilyn loved Cassini’s gowns, praising their “taste and imagination” in an article for Modern Screen.

When Marilyn Made Clogs Cool

Clogs are cool again, as Grace Back writes for Australian Marie-Claire, citing Marilyn’s 1956 ‘Peasant Sitting’ with Milton Greene as inspiration. This was one of several sittings using sets and costume from the Fox lot, with Marilyn recreating Jennifer Jones’ role in the 1943 movie, The Song of Bernadette.

Marilyn T-Shirt at H&M

H&M are currently stocking a women’s T-Shirt licensed by Marilyn’s estate – in dark grey, with a classic Milton Greene image – for just £8.99. The UK webstore currently stocks it in sizes XS, Small and Medium – but if you’re looking for a large or XL, try visiting your local branch.

Thanks to MMWriterGirl

Marilyn’s Costumes and Jewellery Sold at Julien’s

The results are in for this year’s Legends sale at Julien’s Auctions. A number of photos from the Manfred ‘Linus’ Kreiner archive (see above) were sold, with the Marilyn-related lots fetching up to $3,800. These photos were recently featured in Parade magazine (see here.)

Marilyn at the Fox luncheon for Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev (Manfred Kreiner, 1959)

Within the fan community, biographer Gary Vitacco-Robles won a telegram from Lauren Bacall congratulating Marilyn after her wedding to Joe DiMaggio, for $1,582.50. The biggest Marilyn-related sales, however, were her costume from A Ticket to Tomahawk (sold for $22,400), and her bathrobe from How to Marry a Millionaire (which fetched $28,800.) Here are some more highlights:

  1. A rare ‘Page 3’ copy of Playboy‘s first issue, signed by Hugh Hefner ($16,00)
  2. A cast of Marilyn’s hands and feet from Grauman’s Chinese Theatre ($25,600)
  3. A black chiffon overblouse ($19, 200)
  4. A six-strand, iridiscent crystal necklace in purple and green ($11,250)
  5. A pair of rhinestone clip earrings ($28,125)
  6. Marilyn’s script for Something’s Got to Give, dated August 30, 1961 ($12,800)

And finally, I’ve added the maximum bids for each item featured in my previous posts – learn more about this fascinating auction here.

Marilyn’s How to Marry a Millionaire bathrobe today

Marilyn at Julien’s: A Life On Film

(SOLD for $22, 400)

A final post (for now) on the Julien’s Legends series, in advance of the auction on June 13-14. As well as Marilyn’s bathrobe from How to Marry a Millionaire (see here) her costume from A Ticket to Tomahawk (1950) is also on offer. She wore it to perform ‘Oh, What A Forward Young Man You Are’ with Dan Dailey and her fellow chorines.

As well as an archive of material by Manfred ‘Linus’ Kreiner (see here), several other photographers are also represented.

UPDATE: I have now added the final bids for each item.

Marilyn at the Racquet Club in Palm Springs, by Bruno Bernard (1949) SOLD for $1,920
A collection of 10 original vintage film stills,
together with approximately 25 publicity image photographs of Monroe (printed circa 1970s and 1980s), from the collection of actress Morgan Fairchild (SOLD for $768)
33 vintage lobby cards from the collection of Morgan Fairchild (SOLD for $768)
Colour transparency from a publicity shoot for Niagara (1953) UNSOLD
Silver gelatin print of Marilyn by Andre de Dienes (SOLD for $1,024)
Marilyn in 1962, signed by George Barris – from the private collection of the late Kim Goodwin (SOLD for $1,024)

“A group of seven color slides, all showing Marilyn performing for U.S. troops in Korea in 1954. Four slides show Monroe wearing a purple spaghetti-strapped dress on stage, three show her wearing a bomber jacket and pants in the camp, and one has a further handwritten annotation in black fountain pen ink reading in part ‘6 Feb 54 – A little/ closer this time.'” (SOLD for $448)

A group of 21 colour slides (SOLD for $5,625)
A black-and-white negative from Marilyn’s ‘Hooker’ series with Milton Greene; and a large screenprint from the Black Sitting, signed by Greene (from the collection of Morgan Fairchild) SOLD for $1,562.50 and $2,187.50, respectively
Screenprint by Bert Stern, signed (from the collection of Morgan Fairchild) SOLD for $1,600
10 large-format photos of Marilyn by Harold Lloyd (SOLD – three lots reached $3,200 each)
Marilyn’s ‘revised final script’ for Something’s Got to Give, dated August 30, 1961. In fact, the screenplay would be revised several more times, even before the ill-fated production began shooting in 1962. (SOLD for $12,800)

Marilyn at Julien’s: Fashion and Beauty

In today’s post about the upcoming Legends event at Julien’s Auctions, let’s take a look at Marilyn’s fashion and beauty habits, and what they cost her. (Read more about the June 13-14 sale here.)

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

“A typed letter on Jamie, Inc. letterhead dated July 24, 1958 in regards to a newspaper article reporting that Marilyn’s new white platinum bleach is breaking off her tresses. The letter, from the president of Jamie, Inc. reads, ‘Enclosed is a clipping from one of our daily newspapers regarding damage to your hair. We are sending you under separate cover our hair conditioner. If used according to directions, it will allow you to bleach your hair as light and as often as you desire. I am sure you will find that you will no longer have hair damage of any kind, and you will also be able to obtain a truer color.’ Enclosed with the letter is the original newspaper clipping referencing Monroe’s hair.” (SOLD for $1,152)

“An October 19, 1959 invoice for the storage of several of Marilyn’s furs, including a white ermine coat, a black fox stole trimmed with silk, a ranch mink coat, a white beaver coat, a white fox stole, a black fox stole, and a white fox stole and muff, among others. Nearly all of the furs listed on this receipt are instantly recognized in photos of Marilyn at publicity and red carpet events. ” (SOLD for $750)

“An extensive collection of statements from Lilly Dache Boutique and Beauty Salon in New York, with dates throughout 1958 and 1959, together with a letter addressed to Marilyn informing her that she has an overdue balance of $238.40.”  (SOLD for $768)

“A grouping of shopping receipts addressed to Marilyn Monroe Miller for various purchases, one receipt specifies an alteration to a tweed item for her stepdaughter, Janie Miller. Also included is an envelope from the famed clothing line address to Jax in Beverly Hills.” (SOLD for $875)

“A receipt from I. Magnin & Co. addressed to Mrs. Arthur Miller at the Beverly Hills Hotel, dated December 23, 1959, for the purchase of ‘5# Original,’ indicating a purchase for the famed perfume, widely believed to be a favorite of Monroe’s. Interestingly, the order was specified to be delivered to ‘Dorothy Blass,’ a name Marilyn occasionally used for past purchases and deliveries to disguise her identity. During this period Marilyn was completing filming of Let’s Make Love. Research indicates she actually called out sick on this date.” (SOLD for $1,152)


“A black chiffon overblouse. Label reads ‘Rudi Gernreich Design for Walter Bass.’ A separate paper label reads ‘Style 104 M. Monroe.'” (SOLD for $19,200)

“A pair of drop rhinestone ear clips with three strands of teardrop-shaped rhinestones, unmarked; and a
six-stranded iridescent crystal necklace in purple and green. ” (SOLD for $28,125 and $11,250, respectively)

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.