When Phil Stanziola Met Marilyn

Phil Stanziola, who passed away recently, worked as a press photographer in New York, the Daily News reports. On September 9, 1954, Marilyn Monroe arrived in NYC to film exterior scenes for The Seven Year Itch. Over the next ten days, she posed for the Ballerina sitting at Milton Greene’s studio on Lexington Avenue; undertook numerous interviews and photo shoots, and hosted a press party at the St. Regis Hotel; took in Broadway shows, and dined out with husband Joe DiMaggio; and shot the movie’s iconic ‘subway scene’. With such a frantic schedule, it’s not surprising to see her kicking off her shoes in her hotel suite for Stanziola’s camera.

Nina Mae Fowler Inspired by Marilyn

British artist Nina Mae Fowler just posted this on Instagram:

“A small drawing of Marilyn as she leaves the hospital, shortly after suffering an ectopic pregnancy. The press and the crowds waited outside so she was forced to put on makeup and a smile. The frame is handmade in aluminium and reminiscent of a surgical dish/tray …”

Nina often uses Hollywood iconography in her art, and has drawn Marilyn several times – I wrote about her work here.

Charles ‘Jerry’ Juroe on Marilyn Vs Olivier

Photo by Milton Greene

In a third extract from movie publicist Charles ‘Jerry’ Juroe’s memoir, Bond, the Beatles and My Year With Marilyn, he describes his struggle to keep under wraps Marilyn’s increasingly toxic relationship with Sir Laurence Olivier, her co-star and director of The Prince and the Showgirl. (You can read the other posts here.)

“I managed to keep the degree of bitterness that developed between Monroe and Olivier out of the British press, even though our British unit publicist was fired after writing a behind-the-scenes story for one of the Sunday newspapers on what was really happening at dear old Pinewood Studios in leafy idyllic Buckinghamshire. Despite that, Milton Greene, who was ‘Piggy in the Middle,’ did appreciate what the publicity department was accomplishing. That he kept his sanity and laid-back charm was a miracle, and I held him in high esteem. The Milton Greene I knew was a talented and caring person, and I valued his friendship. His tenure at the head of Marilyn Monroe Productions was not to last long, though certainly longer than mine …”

The Oliviers and the Millers say their goodbyes, November 1956

“Arrangements were being finalised for the departure back to New York and it took all the persuasive powers of [Arthur] Jacobs, plus the head of Warner Bros. production in the UK and myself, to persuade Olivier that he had to be at [the airport] to be photographed giving Monroe a ‘going away present’ of a beautiful watch. Naturally, it was charged to the film’s overhead. It is a little short of amazing what so often ends up on a film’s budget that has so little to do with what ends up on the screen!”

Marilyn with Arthur Miller at the New York premiere of The Prince and the Showgirl, 1957

“At the end of production, I returned to the States with Jacobs and saw out my duties on The Prince and the Showgirl when required. I continued working in concert with the New York publicity department of Warner Bros., particularly during the New York premiere. The most traumatic happening during that time was when Warners decided they needed a specially posed photo of Monroe and Olivier for the advertising campaign. I had to fly to London and accompany a very reluctant Larry to New York. We left the hotel to go to Greene’s studio where Olivier put on his costume, a polka-dotted silk robe. Madame arrived and after the briefest of greetings the session started. Two rolls of film later – only some twenty shots – our diva said, ‘That’s it!’ and left. As the saying goes, that was that!”

New York Stories: Marilyn at the Circus

This somewhat inelegant shot of Marilyn on a pink elephant, taken by Arthur Fellig (aka ‘Weegee’) backstage during the Ringling Brothers circus at Madison Square Garden in March 1955 is featured in New York Stories: Vintage Postwar Photographs, on display at the Keith de Lellis Gallery on East 57th Street until March 27. (Some more of Weegee’s photos from the evening are posted below.)

George Rodriguez’s ‘Double Vision’ of Marilyn and José

Photographer George Rodriguez, who captured Los Angeles life for forty years – from Hollywood glitz to Chicano civil rights movement – is the subject of a retrospective, George Rodriguez: Double Vision, at the Vincent Price Art Museum in LA until February 29, We Are Mitú reports. (Rodriguez photographed Marilyn at the Golden Globes in 1962 with her date, Mexican screenwriter José Bolaños, though it’s unclear whether these images of part of the exhibition.)

Charles ‘Jerry’ Juroe Remembers Marilyn

In his 2018 memoir, Bond, the Beatles and My Year With Marilyn, veteran movie publicist Charles ‘Jerry’ Juroe devotes an entire chapter, ‘Life With Marilyn’, to his memories The Prince and the Showgirl, filmed in England in 1956. He had previously worked with Sir Laurence Olivier in Hollywood, and was also acquainted with Marilyn’s press agent, Arthur P. Jacobs, and photographer Milton Greene, co-founder of Marilyn Monroe Productions. In the first of three posts, Juroe describes how after an exceptionally promising start, the shoot quickly became a nightmare for everyone involved.

Marilyn’s arrival in Britain and her first press conference at London’s Savoy Hotel caused a sensation – “not because of my organisational handling,” Juroe writes, “but because of her wit, charm and intelligence … It was the last time that I found myself to be in complete favour with Monroe.”

Marilyn with director/co-star Sir Laurence Olivier on the set of The Prince and the Showgirl

“When one was on the set and watched Marilyn do a scene, you saw movement and dialogue, but nothing that caused goosebumps. But! – in the screening room, when seeing the rushes, it was something else. By some mysterious process of osmosis, between the live action, the camera’s lens, the film, the processing, and then the projection onto a screen, something somewhere in all that – magic happened! What you saw on the set was not what you observed in the screening room. I will never know the answer because I’m not sure there is one. This charisma was what audiences all over the world paid for and saw from their cinema seats. This was what, for those years as Queen of the Hill, set her very much apart and kept her at the pinnacle of the Hollywood Heap.”

Albert ‘Cubby’ Broccoli, an American producer living in London, invited Marilyn and friends to watch his film starring Alan Ladd (possibly 1953’s The Red Beret) at a screening room on Audley Square. Several years later, he and Juroe would begin their association on the James Bond movie series. Broccoli remembered Marilyn from the late 1940s when she was dating Hollywood agent Johnny Hyde. “I am sure Hyde’s death was certainly one of many contributory factors to her fragility,” Juroe writes.

“Before too long, life on the film became unbearable. I found I could not recommend or offer any suggestion or give an opinion because her mindset became such that whatever I suggested was inevitably never in her best interest. One cannot work under such a condition for long, so survival became the name of the game. In fact, I was privately offered $5000 (no small amount then) by someone at the famous French magazine Paris Match if I got her to Paris for a weekend. I never considered this because even though it would have in fact been a great opportunity, it would also have been a fiasco. To get her there in the first place, plus the demands on her time, it would never have worked!”

Marilyn and the Polka Dot

As Shelby Rowe Moyer notes in her ‘History of the Polka Dot’ for South Sound magazine, Marilyn wore a number of polka-dot dresses (and a bikini) to great effect. Originally known as Dotted Swiss, the print took off during the Industrial Revolution and later renamed after the Polka, a Czech peasant dance popularised in the 1830s.

In 1926, the year Marilyn was born, Norma Smallwood seized victory in the Miss America contest wearing a polka-dot bathing suit, and launched a fashion craze. In 1952, Marilyn wore an ivory rayon Ceil Chapman dress with oversized red polka dots while visiting Atlantic City, where she greeted contestants in that year’s Miss America pageant. A year prior, she had caused sensation on the Love Nest set by sporting a bikini with hot pink polka-dots designed by Renié, and considered daring for the era.

The white cotton halter-neck sheath dress that Marilyn wore to Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in 1953, designed by Dorothy Jeakins, wasn’t quite ‘polka-dot’ but spotted with eyelets. Marilyn makes her first entrance in The Seven Year Itch (1955) wearing a polka-dot dress, one of Travilla’s spectacular designs for the film. And finally, she wore a blue polka-dot sundress for a photo shoot with Sam Shaw in 1957.

Bill Ray, Marilyn’s ‘Mr President’ Photographer, Has Died

LIFE magazine photographer Bill Ray, who got the scoop of a lifetime when he captured Marilyn’s singing ‘Happy Birthday Mr. President’ at Madison Square Garden in 1962, has died aged 83, the New York Post reports.

Born in Shelby, Nebraska, Bill joined the Omaha Camera Club aged eleven and built a professional darkroom in his family home. At seventeen, he got his first newspaper job in Lincoln; and in 1957, after excelling in a photographic workshop in Hannibal, Missouri, he moved to New York to work for LIFE. During the 1960s, he worked extensively in Paris and Hollywood.

Bill and his wife of 62 years, Marlys Ray, lived in an apartment overlooking Central Park in Manhattan. He died of a heart attack on January 8, 2020.

“‘It had been a noisy night, a very ‘rah rah rah’ kind of atmosphere. Then boom, on comes this spotlight. There was no sound. No sound at all. It was like we were in outer space. [Marilyn’s dress] was skin-colored, and it was skin-tight. It was sewn on, covered with brilliant crystals. There was this long, long pause … and finally, she comes out with this unbelievably breathy, ‘Happy biiiiirthday to youuuu,’ and everybody just went into a swoon. I was praying [that I could get the shot] because I had to guess at the exposure. It was a very long lens, and I had no tripod, so I had to rest the lens itself on the railing, and tried very, very hard not to breathe … If you got a picture from the front, everybody else would have it on the front page the next day and it wouldn’t be good for LIFE. You always needed something different. I had this idea that if I got way up I could shoot over Marilyn’s shoulder and have Kennedy in the picture. There was one slightly before that’s a little blurry because of the 300 mm lens. Shortly thereafter the lights went out and she disappeared, and the next thing I knew JFK was up on the stage. If I’d been luckier, there would have been a tiny bit of light that would have spilled onto Kennedy, who was over her shoulder between the podium and her head. ”

Bill Ray

Thanks for the Memories, Marilyn

A souvenir album featuring images from the star-studded gala for John F. Kennedy’s 45th birthday at Madison Square Garden in 1962 will soon go under the hammer at RR Auctions as part of an extensive archive of memorabilia relating to the former president. The sale ends on January 23, with a starting bid of $1,000 for the album, although auctioneer Robert Livingston hopes that this private collection, with an estimated value of $1.5 million, will be sold as a single lot.

UPDATE: The album was sold for $6,970.

Mystery Solved: Marilyn on New Year’s Eve, 1948

This stunning photo is part of a set taken by Peter Stackpole for LIFE magazine during a party at the Beverly Hills home of producer Sam Spiegel on New Year’s Eve, 1948, posted on Twitter. Marilyn was still a long way from stardom, having only two bit parts and a lead in a B-movie (Ladies of the Chorus) to her name. It is thought that Spiegel invited her as a pretty starlet, probably at the instigation of Marilyn’s well-connected friends, John Carroll and Lucille Ryman, who were managing her career.

Among the guests were some of Hollywood’s biggest names: James Mason, Glenn Ford, Ava Gardner, Judy Garland, Alfred Hitchcock, Charlie Chaplin, Frank Sinatra, Edward G. Robinson, Shirley Temple, Danny Kaye were among them, as well as George Sanders (Marilyn’s future co-star in All About Eve), his wife-to-be Zsa Zsa Gabor, and four of Marilyn’s future directors; John Huston, Henry Hathaway, Jean Negulesco, and Otto Preminger.

Huston wanted to test Marilyn for We Were Strangers (1949), but Spiegel vetoed it, opting for the more bankable Jennifer Jones instead. The director would later give Marilyn her breakthrough role in The Asphalt Jungle (1950.)

In the photo shown above, Marilyn wears the strapless gown seen in her brief appearance in Love Happy (1949), and a separate set of photos taken by J.R. Eyerman for LIFE in 1949, showing her rehearsing with vocal coach Phil Moore. She had also worn the dress in March 1948, during her performance in Strictly for Kicks, a revue staged at Twentieth Century Fox. Notably, she was one of the only female guests at Spiegel’s party not wearing any jewellery (suggesting that for Marilyn, ‘Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend’ was just a song.)

Two other photos from the party (found by another fan on the Getty Images website) show Marilyn dancing in a crowd, and chatting with two men.

Here’s Marilyn again; plus another dancefloor photo with Marilyn to the left, Danny Kaye in the middle and George Sanders on the right (possibly with Zsa Zsa!)

Another photo shows Marilyn dancing with her former beau, musician Fred Karger. Their stormy romance, which began on the Ladies of the Chorus, was coming to an end, but Marilyn remained close to the Karger family for the rest of her life. Interestingly, his watch may have been Marilyn’s Christmas present to him, which took her two years to pay off. She left her name off the engraving so his next girlfriend wouldn’t know it came from her.

It has been said that Marilyn met agent and lover Johnny Hyde that night (although photographer Bruno Bernard has claimed they were introduced a few months later, in Palm Springs.) I haven’t found any photos of him with Marilyn at the party; however, he can be seen in the photos shown above. (They would be snapped together at another New Year’s Eve party a year later.)

And finally, here’s the LIFE article about the party, although Marilyn isn’t featured in it. In 1957, Peter Stackpole would photograph Monroe again at the peak of her fame, with husband Arthur Miller at the ‘April in Paris Ball’ in New York’s Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.)

Thanks to Everlasting Star