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.”

Manfred Kreiner’s Widow Remembers Marilyn

Manfred Kreiner visits Marilyn on the Misfits set, 1960

An archive of material by the German photographer Manfred ‘Linus’ Kreiner was recently sold at Julien’s Auctions, including many images of Marilyn. His widow Sally Kreiner (Manfred died in 2005, aged 78) has shared her memories of Marilyn with Stephanie Nolasco for Fox News.

“‘[My husband] met Marilyn through a friend who turned out to be her publicist for [1959’s] Some Like it Hot,’ Sally told Fox News about the encounter. ‘This publicist told him one day, “How would you like to photograph Marilyn Monroe?” My husband said, “Of course I would love to.” And that’s how it all started.’

The German native soon found himself in Chicago face to face with Monroe. And she was far from a Hollywood diva.

‘He thought she was really lovely,’ said Sally. ‘He really liked her. He was a little bit nervous about shooting her because she was just so famous. And he was really delighted to become part of her entourage and photograph her. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity and he was really happy to tag along.’

As for Sally, she decided to stay behind.

‘No I certainly didn’t tag along,’ Sally chuckled. ‘I would have been more of a hindrance … She was really happy with [then-husband] Arthur Miller. She was just in awe of him. Arthur was an intellectual and she was not. And for the same reasons, he saw something in her, obviously.’

However, when it came to anyone capturing Monroe’s image, the actress had one request. ‘She had the right to select the photos he could print and the ones he could not,’ said Sally. ‘She had a final say when it came to her pictures. And it worked out because she selected the ones he wanted to print of her. There was no argument there.’

While Kreiner went on to pursue a thriving career, Monroe would be plagued with tragedy … Sally said Kreiner was heartbroken by the news [of Marilyn’s death.]

‘He said it was too bad something like this happened to her,’ said Sally. ‘Even at that time, there were a lot of rumors and questions. He certainly didn’t have an answer for it. And I don’t know if anyone ever really did get an answer for what happened to her and why … She became such a celebrity overnight. And that just became so much bigger than her.’

‘But despite everything that was said about her, she did have a certain quality, a remarkable quality,’ continued Sally. ‘You just see her and you wish you could have known her. She’s ethereal, but earthy too. And she possessed a certain charm, an American charm. You think of all the celebrities in Hollywood today, how many of them have exactly what she had. I don’t think people can ever really totally figure out her magic. She’s still mystical.’

‘What you see is what my husband saw in her,’ she said. ‘He really didn’t see her as a sex symbol. He saw her as a lovely person with a great smile.'”

When ‘Typhoon Marilyn’ Came to Tokyo

Heather Howard has accessed the Yomiuri Shimbun archives on Marilyn and Joe DiMaggio’s Far-East adventure for The Japan News.

“‘Typhoon Marilyn Monroe comes to Tokyo.’ She certainly did, with a force so powerful it sent some of her fans tumbling into a pond at the Imperial Hotel.

On Feb. 2, 1954, the morning edition of The Yomiuri Shimbun reported — under that typhoon headline — that Monroe had arrived at Haneda Airport the day before with her new husband, baseball great Joe DiMaggio. The trip was part honeymoon, part business: DiMaggio had been invited to coach Central League teams during spring training that year.

Fans began gathering at Haneda Airport two hours before their scheduled arrival. When Monroe and DiMaggio’s Pan American flight finally touched down — four hours late — the fans pushed past police and flooded onto the runway, surrounding the plane.

A group of Japanese dignitaries was waiting to greet them at the base of the stairs, but that plan was abandoned. Monroe appeared, carried by DiMaggio, bringing what The Yomiuri described as an ‘ecstatic reaction.’

However, the crowds of people made it impossible for them to get to customs, so they retreated back into the plane. After nearly another hour they finally exited through a cargo door and headed in a U.S. Embassy car for the Imperial Hotel.

The brouhaha, however, was far from over, as fans even climbed trees along her route. Monroe and her party had been scheduled to parade through the Shinbashi, Ginza and Hibiya areas of Tokyo, but that too was scrapped due to the chaos at the airport.

Monroe was forced to use a rear banquet entrance when she arrived at the Imperial, according to a history of the hotel. When it looked like the crush of fans, irate at not seeing their idol, would break the glass in the lobby doors, Monroe showed herself from a second-floor balcony at the hotel’s request. This calmed the ruckus, but as she was greeting the crowd, the history tells us, ‘two or three fans fell into the pond in front of the [hotel’s] Wright building.’

That seems like a fortunately small number. One of the photos accompanying the Yomiuri article shows a veritable sea of people outside the Imperial Hotel, with some fans having even climbed up on the roof.

Monroe and DiMaggio traveled to other parts of the country as well. When they stayed in Fukuoka for four days, about 5,000 people gathered outside their hotel there.

Nor was the fuss limited to fans. Over 300 journalists attended a press conference the day after Monroe’s arrival, and in Fukuoka, local journalists who had learned where Monroe and DiMaggio were dining one day abruptly opened the door to their room at the restaurant, took her picture, and with just a ‘thank you’ fled the scene.

Monroe ultimately departed Japan with DiMaggio on Feb. 24 from Haneda Airport. The furor of their arrival had clearly made an impression: This time the general public’s entry was restricted, Japanese plainclothes police stood guard along with military police from the U.S. Air Force, and there was at least one armored car on the apron. “

Fatherless Daughters: Marilyn and Gloria Vanderbilt

Gloria Vanderbilt, who has died aged 95, was born in Manhattan in 1924, the only child of railroad tycoon Reginald Claypoole Vanderbilt and his second wife, the Swiss-born socialite Gloria Morgan. Her father died when she was a baby, making Gloria and her half-sister Cathleen heiresses to a $5 million trust fund each ($73 million in today’s currency.) This sparked a notorious legal battle, in which her aunt Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney fought and won for custody of Gloria, described in the press as a ‘poor little rich girl’.

At 17 Gloria married Pat DiCicco, a much-older Hollywood agent with rumoured connections to organised crime. They divorced in 1945, and Gloria (like his first wife, actress Thelma Todd) claimed he was physically abusive. Three years later, DiCicco would escort a young Marilyn Monroe to a party at the home of movie mogul Joe Schenck, who became her close friend.

Soon after divorcing DiCicco, Gloria married conductor Leopold Stokowski, and had two sons. That marriage ended in 1955. She would also have romances with Howard Hughes, Marlon Brando, Frank Sinatra, and photographer Gordon Parks. She studied acting with Sanford Meisner and became a top model, and married director Sidney Lumet in 1956.

Photographer Jean Howard recalled seeing Marilyn at one of Gloria’s parties in the 1950s, and other mutual friends included Richard Avedon and novelist Truman Capote (she and Marilyn were among his inspirations for Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.) Gloria wrote about Marilyn in her 2008 book, It Seemed Important At the Time: A Romance Memoir.

“Marilyn Monroe, who had fled to New York from Hollywood to form her own production company with Milton Greene, came to our parties unrecognisable, wearing a baggy army/navy sweater, and no makeup save a bit of vaseline on her eyelids. We huddled together one night, separated from the party while she talked about Joe DiMaggio – how she had been afraid of him though she didn’t know quite why. But I did – both of us were fatherless; therefore we believed all things possible and nothing safe.”

During a 2011 television interview, Gloria claimed to have made contact with Marilyn during a seance with psychic John Edward:

“I was a friend of hers. I’ve always felt the whole world identifies in some way with her, which is why she’s such an incredible – I mean, she’s with us today, and we all have things in us that we identify with her and relate to her.  And I felt very close to her for many reasons.”

Via MM Collection Blog

In 1963, Gloria found lasting happiness in her fourth marriage, to author Wyatt Emery Cooper. They had two sons; Carter Vanderbilt Cooper, who tragically committed suicide at 23; and Anderson Cooper, now a CNN News broadcaster. Wyatt died in 1978 during open-heart surgery.

Gloria Vanderbilt with her son, Anderson Cooper

In later years Gloria ventured into fashion design, launching a coveted line of designer jeans. She wrote several books and was also a painter. In 2016, she was the subject of an HBO documentary, Nothing Left Unsaid: Gloria Vanderbilt & Anderson Cooper.

“The truth is I made a film about Marilyn Monroe [2012’s Love, Marilyn], and you would think that she’s the most photographed woman ever, but with Gloria Vanderbilt, because she was famous from the moment of birth, the amount of material — not just what they had in their storage rooms, but what was already existing in the world — was so massive, I just felt like I want to turn over every stone.”

Liz Garbus, filmmaker

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

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.'”

Jazz DJ and Van Nuys Alumni Chuck Cecil Dies at 97

According to the Syncopated Times, the jazz radio DJ Chuck Cecil – who has died aged 97 – was a contemporary of Norma Jeane Baker. He was a student at Van Nuys High School, where his fellow alumni included Norma Jeane (who attended from September 1941 – February 1942, before moving on to University Senior High.) Marilyn’s future co-star, Jane Russell, and her first husband, Jim Dougherty, were also students. Five years older than Norma Jeane, they once appeared together in a school play.

Jim Dougherty and Norma Jeane

Moreover, the article states that Chuck Cecil attended Jim’s wedding to Norma Jeane in June 1942. Although he’s not usually mentioned among the guests at the intimate ceremony, it’s possible that Chuck may have joined them for their reception at the Florentine Gardens Restaurant. As Chuck was around the same age as Jim, he may have known the groom better than the bride.

On the cusp of stardom, Marilyn revisited her ‘alma mater’ (in reality, one of many) and was photographed chatting with students in 1951.

Marilyn ‘Pops Up’ in London, Lewes

Marilyn will star in two ‘pop-up cinema’ screenings at the Rivoli Ballroom in Brockley, South London this summer. (The Rivoli Ballroom is one of the last remaining intact 1950s-style ballrooms left in London.) First up is Some Like It Hot on  May 17; followed by Gentlemen Prefer Blondes on July 18. Screenings start at 8 pm, with admission from £10; check out the full schedule here.

Meanwhile in Sussex, There’s No Business Like Show Business will be screened at Lewes Depot on June 4 at 2 pm. (Tickets cost £4.) Lewes has a personal connection to Marilyn, as according to biographer Michelle Morgan, she visited the historic town in 1956, dining at The Shelleys Hotel with husband Arthur Miller. “She wore no makeup but looked really beautiful,” receptionist Peggy Heriot recalled. “They ate in the drawing room and when they left they thanked the chef and me profusely …”

Don Murray Talks Marilyn in ‘Closer’

Don Murray, who made his movie debut in Bus Stop (1956), shares memories of his leading lady’s “uncontrollable anxiety, forbidden romances and secret acts of kindness” in a cover story for US magazine Closer.

Now 89, Don had a major role in the acclaimed 2017 revival of TV’s Twin Peaks, and is rumoured to be writing his memoirs. Out now in the US, the May 6 issue of Closer should reach British shores in a week or so (not to be confused with the UK magazine of the same name.)

“‘She was very, very nervous,’ Murray recalled to Closer Weekly in the magazine’s latest issue on newsstands. ‘She’d break out in a rash every time we’d shoot a scene.’

‘Paula would watch and listen and give Marilyn advice between takes,’ said Murray. ‘She was friendly and nice and a very good influence on Marilyn … [But] she would lose track of scenes very quickly, so they had to put her performance together out of small pieces. You never got the feeling of a complete scene or performance. I had to be at my best on every take — I couldn’t have a letdown.’

Despite the on-set struggles, Murray never regretted appearing in his first big film with Monroe.

‘I never really held it against her, because for her to agree to let me play this leading role was such a generous thing; she and I had never done a movie,’ said Murray. ‘I was always aware of that and grateful to her.'”

Thanks to Lorraine at Marilyn Remembered

Donald Zec Turns 100 (And Remembers Marilyn)

As entertainment writer for the Daily Mirror, Donald Zec was the British equivalent of US columnists Sidney Skolsky and Earl Wilson, and he is seen here sharing a joke with Marilyn at Parkside House in Egham, Surrey after she flew into London on July 13, 1956 to begin filming The Prince and the Showgirl.  They had met a few months before, on a flight to Phoenix, Arizona where Marilyn would film the rodeo scene in Bus Stop. (You can read about their airborne chat here.)

By the time Marilyn came to England, Marilyn had married Arthur Miller and with an independent production deal for The Prince and the Showgirl, she was about to lock horns with her esteemed director and co-star, Sir Laurence Olivier. Finding her standoffish, the British press soon took his side and she would doubtless have been glad to see a friendly face.

After recently attending Donald Zec’s 100th birthday party, author Howard Jacobson has paid tribute in an essay for the Jewish magazine, Tablet – recounting his boyhood idol’s show-business exploits, including the story behind his photo opportunity with Marilyn.

“For a while I had a page from the Daily Mirror pinned above my bed. It showed Donald Zec and Marilyn Monroe standing so close they could have been secretly holding hands. She was throwing her head back in appreciation of something he’d told her. A Jewish joke was my guess. Rabbi walks into a bar. But nothing suggestive. Jews didn’t do suggestive. Not English Jews, anyway. And Marilyn’s mirth had a clear innocence about it. As did my passion for Donald Zec. But it alarmed my father. Why him? ‘He knows how to make Marilyn Monroe laugh,’ I explained. ‘Joe DiMaggio made her go hot all over; Arthur Miller made her read the Oxford English Dictionary from cover to cover; only Donald Zec makes her laugh.’

I have said that he had just become a widower when we met. Dancing cheek to cheek with Hollywood beauties notwithstanding, his marriage had been by all accounts spectacularly successful. So he was suffering the cruel heartbreak that a happy marriage has in store for us. I never heard a man speak more reverently of his wife. And yet he could make sublime comedy out of his grief. This was the opposite of disrespect. He knew that if you are to bring the whole range of your emotions to remembering and describing love, then laughter is as important as sorrow.

‘So anyway, Marilyn …’ I said to him once. He shook his head. Nothing doing. ‘It touches me to think you remained such a good Jewish boy all those years,’ I said. This time he put a hand on mine. ‘Let’s not make a nebbish of me altogether,’ he said. Make what you will of that. Every heart, as D.H. Lawrence wrote, has its secrets.

He did not intend to give speeches at his 100th birthday, then ended up giving three. He has the fluency a man a quarter of his age would kill for. His comic timing is still perfect. But there is a weight in his words that wasn’t there in 1955. The weight of grief; of experience touched by love. If you didn’t know how he’d earned his living you’d guess teaching philosophy at Oxford, not making Marilyn laugh in Beverly Hills.

To Marilyn, the last word. Never really grasping that London and Hollywood were in different time zones, she would ring up at some crazy hour. Donald told me of his phone going off in his London apartment in the middle of the night. His wife would take the phone and in the sweetest tone of understanding pass the receiver over to Donald. ‘It’s Marilyn for you,’ she’d say.

I hear that and all my old envious idolatry returns. I can’t decide which I covet most, the age he has reached while still accumulating accomplishments, or the fact that Marilyn Monroe rang him in his bed.”