You can read my review of Arthur Miller – Writer, the intimate 2017 documentary made by his daughter Rebecca Miller, here.
Three Marilyn-related lots are featured in the University Archives’ Autographs & Books online auction on January 16, Artfix Daily reports. Interestingly, all three items were sold in another recent auction, A Southern Gentleman’s Collection, at Julien’s in November 2019.
- The letter shown above, from Marilyn to baseball player Jimmy ‘Lefty’ O’Doul (circa 1954) fetched $6,400, and now has an estimate of $10-12K.
- A typed letter from April 1950, addressed to the William Morris Agency and signed by Marilyn, sold for $2,280 and now has an estimate of $3.5-4.5K.
- A financial document from the Woodbury Savings Bank, signed by Marilyn and husband Arthur Miller, sold for $4,480, and now has an estimate of $3.5-4.5K.
UPDATE: The financial document signed by Marilyn and Arthur Miller in 1957 was sold for $3,250 – more than $1K less than the $4,480 paid for it at Julien’s just three months ago. The other two lots went unsold.
Marilyn’s Jewish prayer book or ‘Siddur’, given to her by Paula Strasberg when she converted to Judaism and married Arthur Miller in 1956, was resold yesterday for $8,750 at J. Greenstein & Co. in Cedarhurst, NY, reports Antiques and the Arts. Originally auctioned at Christie’s in 1999, it was resold for $26,000 at Greenstein’s in November 2018 (see here), before going under the hammer again at a lower price just a year later.
Interestingly, the book was published in 1926, the year of Norma Jeane’s birth; and was first gifted to one Kenneth Wasserman on August 4th, 1934 – Monroe would pass away exactly 28 years later. It seems to have passed through several owners, including a Marilyn Cooper-Smith, nee Miller (1931-2014) who like her famous near-namesake, also received it upon her marriage.
Over 50 Marilyn-related lots will go under the hammer at on December 17-19, as part of the Hollywood – A Collector’s Ransom auction at Profiles in History. Marilyn’s costumes from A Ticket to Tomahawk, Love Nest, and Don’t Bother to Knock, and her fishnet tights from Bus Stop – which went unsold at last year’s Essentially Marilyn event – are back for a second chance. (UPDATE: the brown skirt suit worn by Marilyn in Love Nest has been sold for $30,000 – but again, the other movie costumes went unsold.)
As Simon Lindley reports for Just Collecting, Marilyn’s personal annotated screenplay for The Seven Year Itch is also on offer, with a reserve of $60-80K. (The photo shown above, taken on location in New York, is sold separately.)
“In the film Monroe’s character is known simply as ‘The Girl’, an aspiring actress who serves as the object of the husband’s desires.
But behind her on-screen persona as the blonde sex symbol, Monroe’s extensive handwritten annotations reveal her dedication to her craft.
Throughout the script she has written notes to herself such as ‘Look first indecisive – pause – hesitation – little smile’ and ‘My body into his – sliding into him as if I want to sleep with him right then & there. Swing hips again’.
This preparation and complete understanding of the role in evident in her notes for the famous ‘Subway’ scene, which helped cement her place as a genuine Hollywood icon.
The energy and sexuality which Monroe portrays may seem effortless, but her script notes show she though very carefully about how to play the moment: ‘Child w/a woman. Direct & fem[inine]. Open… This is everything there is in the world. Light & easy. Everything flies out of her. Newborn – the baby looking at the moon for the first time.'”Screenplay UNSOLD; photo sold for $200
And now, let’s take a closer look at what else is on offer…
“Vintage original 8 x 10 in. photograph taken of 13 year-old Norma Jeane on a trip to Yosemite with ‘Aunt’ Ana Lower and other family members. And sold separately, a vintage original 2-page printed 6.25 x 9 in. Ralph Waldo Emerson Junior High School Class of Summer 1941 commencement program. The printed program contains itinerary including music, speeches, and songs. Listed alphabetically in the ‘Graduating Class, June 1941 Girls’ roster of graduates is ‘Baker, Norma Jeane’.”UNSOLD
“Vintage original gelatin silver 8 x 10 in. photograph of Marilyn with her junior high school glee club, smiling in the center of the group. The verso is copiously inscribed with messages to Norma Jeane by her girlfriends, including, ‘To a beautiful, sweet, charming, and darling, adorable Norma Jean’ and ‘I hope your ambition will come true – to stay an old maid all your life’.”SOLD for $3,000
“A 2-page letter to ‘Cathy’ handwritten in pencil and signed, ‘Norma Jeane’. Written during a period of major transition in her life, Norma Jeane mentions a leave of absence from her job as a parachute inspector at Radioplane. She had recently been ‘discovered’ by US Army Air Force First Motion Picture Unit photographer David Conover while working at the plant, and through his connections, had been able to get freelance work as a pin-up model. She writes in full: ‘Thursday. My dearest Cathy, thank you for your sweet little note, why of course of course I like you dear very much, you know that. If I seem a little neglectful at times its because I’m so busy I don’t seem to have any time to catch up on my correspondence, but I promise after this, I shall, do better, honestly I will. Jimmie arrived about three weeks ago and you can imagine how thrilled I was. I only wish he didn’t have to go back. Jimmie and I went up to Big Bear Lake for a week and had a grand time I hope you and Bud will be down soon because I would love for you both to meet him. I’ve been on leave of absence from Radioplane. I shall tell you all about it when I see you honey or I shall write to you later. I have so many things I have to do so I had better close for now but I shall write soon. Tell Bud Hello for me. Love, Norma Jeane.'”UNSOLD
Vintage original 8 x 10 in. cast & crew photo from Marilyn’s first movie, Scudda Hoo! Scudda Hay! She is in the third row, just above leading lady June Haver. SOLD for $1,500
“Vintage original gelatin silver 7 x 8.75 in. double weight matte photograph, inscribed and signed in black ink at lower right, ‘To Grace and Daddy Always Lovingly Norma Jeane 12/25/46′. The ‘daddy’ to whom Norma Jeanne inscribed this early headshot is Erwin ‘Doc’ Goddard, a research engineer and the husband of Norma Jeanne’s legal guardian, Grace Goddard. And sold separately, two oversize glamour portrait photographs of Marilyn Monroe in character as ‘Miss Caswell’ in All About Eve. The first is credit stamped by Ray Nolan with studio snipe, and the other, seen at right, attributed to Ed Clark.” [A poster for the film, signed by Bette Davis, Joseph Mankiewicz, and Celeste Holm, is being sold separately.]Signed photo SOLD for $30,000; poster SOLD for $6,000.
Two vintage calendars including a 1950 wall calendar measuring 8.5 x 14.5 in., and featuring paintings by Earl Moran, six featuring Marilyn, alongside cute, risque poems like, ‘What are little girls made of? Sugar and spice, Perfume that smells nice, Jewels and furs, To attract attention, And other good things Too obvious to mention’, and a wall calendar featuring unique topless ‘cowgirl’ images of Marilyn not seen elsewhere. Sold separately, a 16 x 32 in. pin-up 1952 wall calendar titled, ‘The Lure of Lace‘. Featuring Marilyn Monroe in her famous Tom Kelley nude kneeling pose, but with a black lace teddy ‘overprint’.”UNSOLD
“Two original studio production 8 x 10 in. negatives of Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, each modeling wardrobe by designer William Travilla. [Russell wore a blonde wig to impersonate Marilyn in a courtroom scene.] Each includes within image a ‘shot-board’ documentation of production, scene, and change numbers. Also included are two original wardrobe documentation green pages detailing costumes [Monroe page describes a different costume, for the opening ‘Little Rock’ number.] At some point in time a positive copy print of the Monroe negative was made for archive continuity, but is not original to the production.”UNSOLD
“11 x 14 in. portrait by Ed Clark of Marilyn in the gold lame gown from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes for LIFE magazine. Signed in black ink on Marilyn’s skirt by the photographer, ‘Edmund Clark Life’.”SOLD for $300
“Photo of Marilyn at the Photoplay Awards in 1953, part of a 1750-image archive for celebrity snapper J.B. Scott. And sold separately, an award plaque presented to Marilyn by a County Fair ‘Sugar Queen’, engraved, ‘To the Sweetest Girl in Motion Pictures, Marilyn Monroe, 20th Century-Fox Films Star Presented by 1953 Yolo County Fair Sugar Queen’.”Photo archive SOLD for $95,000; award plaque UNSOLD.
“Elois Jenssen costume sketch for Lucille Ball as ‘Lucy Ricardo’ as ‘Marilyn Monroe’ from I Love Lucy. Elois Jenssen was Lucille Ball’s designer of choice, who is credited with creating the ‘Lucy Look’. This dress design was created for the I Love Lucy Episode: ‘Ricky’s Movie Offer’, which aired on Nov. 8th, 1954. In the episode, ‘Lucy’ transforms herself into Marilyn Monroe to try to win a role in Ricky’s (Desi Arnaz) new Hollywood film. This costume was then repurposed into a showgirl costume for two subsequent episodes.” [Elois Jenssen’s costume sketches for Marilyn in We’re Not Married are being sold separately.]UNSOLD
“Ten 8 x 10 in. photographs of Marilyn Monroe in scenes from films, including the earliest title which depicts her on any of its publicity, Dangerous Years. Other highlights include Ladies of the Chorus, The Asphalt Jungle, Right Cross [to our knowledge, this still is the only original release paper to depict Marilyn], Let’s Make it Legal, and [shown above] Bus Stop.SOLD for $225
“A set of fourteen 7 x 8.5 in. to 8 x 10 in. photographs, a mix of portraits, candids, and scenes, including stills from The Seven Year Itch and Let’s Make Love [at left] and a candid by Al Brack [at right], showing Marilyn on location for Bus Stop in Sun Valley, Idaho.”UNSOLD
“Two exhibition photos signed by Marvin Scott, of Marilyn performing at a circus benefit in 1955; and sold separately, another set including this photo of Marilyn arriving at Los Angeles in 1958 for the filming of Some Like It Hot.UNSOLD
“A candid photo taken by Milton Greene at Marilyn’s wedding to Arthur Miller; and sold separately, two address books from her estate, including typed and annotated entries for contacts including Actor’s Studio, Jack Benny, Eve Arden, George Cukor, Montgomery Clift, Jack Cardiff, Joe DiMaggio, Henry Fonda, John Huston, Hedda Hopper, Designers, makeup artists, Ben Gazzara, Gene Kelly, Jack Lemmon, Yves Montand, Arthur Miller, Robert Montgomery, Jane Russell, Jean Negulesco, Lee and Paula Strasberg, David Selznick, Carl Sandburg, Frank Sinatra, Eli Wallach, Shelley Winters, Clifford Odets, Peter Lawford, JAX, Richard Avedon, Louella Parsons, and more. Annotations not attributed to Monroe.”UNSOLD
And finally, a set of nine photos from Marilyn’s last completed film, The Misfits (1961.) SOLD for $4,500
The menorah candelabra given to Marilyn by Arthur Miller’s parents Isidore and Augusta for their wedding in 1956 will be auctioned at Kestenbaum & Co. in New York next Thursday, November 7, with a guide price of $100,000 – $150,000, CNN reports. Marilyn converted to Judaism shortly before marrying Arthur, and the menorah was still in her possession when she died in 1962, almost two years after their separation.
Originally sold at Christie’s in 1999, the menorah symbolises a lamp carried by Moses during his forty years in the wilderness, as described in the Old Testament. Marilyn’s menorah is brass-plated, with a wind-up mechanism which plays the Israeli national anthem. It was featured in a 2015 exhibition at New York’s Jewish Museum. Another Judaic artefact owned by Marilyn, her siddur prayer book, was sold for $26, 000 at auction in 2018.
UPDATE: Marilyn’s menorah has been sold for $90,018.
In the latest post on the November 1 event at Julien’s Auctions, Property From the Life and Career of Marilyn Monroe, let’s take at a little-known side of Marilyn, her home and family life.
(You can read all my posts on the sale here.)
“A set of two books; the first The Woman Who Was Poor by Leon Bloy, hardcover, no dust jacket, published in 1947; the second Lidice by Eleanor Wheeler, hardcover, dust jacket, published in 1957.”SOLD for $4,375
“A receipt from Morgan Smith Jeweler located in Reno, Nevada, dated November 11, 1960, for the purchase of three Navajo rugs and a sterling silver bead necklace. Marilyn had been staying in Reno while filming The Misfits.”SOLD for $320
A brass mechanism with a mother of pearl push button doorbell, previously wired, now not in working order; used by Marilyn in her Brentwood home which she bought in 1962.
SOLD for $3,840
“A glass coupe design champagne glass with a bulbous stem, ‘Marilyn’ is etched on the outside rim so it can be read while sipping from it; a gift to the star for her birthday from her psychiatrist, Dr. Ralph Greenson.” [And sold separately, a photo of Marilyn by George Barris.]Glass sold for $6,250; photo sold for $768
“An ornate, Italian-style, carved wood corner chair with olive green velvet upholstery; one of the star’s own chairs that was in her newly-purchased Brentwood home when Life magazine photographer Allan Grant took a number of photographs of her sitting in and on it to accompany an article written by Richard Meryman in July 1962; Monroe wore high heels that day which caused a small tear in the upholstery (which can still be seen) and she also slightly cracked the frame as she sat on top of the chair … Included are two letters: one from 1977 noting that a Joanne Raksin bought this chair directly from Inez Melson [Monroe’s business manager] and one from years later outlining how Raksin sold it to another person.”Chair SOLD for $$81,250; photos SOLD for $768
“A three-page handwritten letter from Grace Goddard, Marilyn Monroe’s former foster mother, dated July 8, 1953. In the letter, Goddard informs Monroe that she had written to C.S. Publishing [Christian Science] on behalf of Mrs. Gladys P. Eley (Monroe’s mother, formerly Gladys Monroe Baker Mortensen) to renew her subscription for C.S. Literature. Goddard also informs Monroe that her mother is ‘improving and seems happy in her nursing.’ Goddard also states that she sent Eley a pair of white shoes along with a personal letter, which Eley received and was happy about.”SOLD for $437.50
A standard issue United Airlines ticket for a flight the star took on March 18, 1954 from Los Angeles to San Francisco using the name ‘Mrs. Joseph DiMaggio.’
SOLD for $1,024
“A single sheet of stationery from Parkside House, the English manor where Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller stayed in Surrey while Monroe filmed The Prince and the Showgirl in London in 1956. The page contains a mournful handwritten poem in pencil on front of sheet with multiple strikethroughs and edits, reading in full, ‘Where his eyes rest with pleasure-I/ want to still be-but time has changed/ the hold of that glance./ Alas how will I cope when I am/ even less youthful-/ I seek joy but it is clothed/ with pain-/ take heart as in my youth/ sleep and rest my heavy head/ on his breast for still my love/ sleeps beside me.'”SOLD for $6,250
“A one-page typed letter from an author’s representative by the name of Alex Jackinson dated September 7, 1957. The letter references a query Jackinson had received regarding Marilyn Monroe’s family heritage and a potentially forthcoming news article mentioning Edward Mortensen’s daughter, who was claiming to be Monroe’s half-sister. Mortensen was listed as Monroe’s father on her birth certificate; however, it is known today that Stanley C. Gifford is Monroe’s biological father. The Jackinson letter reads in part, ‘One of the unhappy aspects of agenting is that articles come along which I would rather they did not, such as the one about which I am now writing. For the story concerns you, your father(?) and half-sister (?). The enclosed query is something which I received from Graham Fisher, one of my English clients.’ The letter continues, ‘He came across the story about your alleged family from a Scandinavian source. Once the query was in my hands, I sent it to THE AMERICAN WEEKLY. They showed an interest in running the story, but expressed some doubt as to the authenticity of Mr. Mortensen being your father. At any rate, I would not be a party to the sale unless the story had your okay.’ A copy of the article is included in this lot. It reads in part, ‘Living quietly in the small military town of Holback, 30 miles from Copenhagen, is a baker’s wife whose sister is the most famous movie-star in the world. Yes Mrs. Olava Nielsen has never seen her famous sister, Marilyn Monroe, in the movies.’ The article continues, ‘Her father, Mortensen, was a Norwegian who left for the United States in 1924 to check on the prospects of immigration. His wife, however, decided against leaving her native Norway. The result – Mr. Mortensen fell in love with a follies dancer in the states … and Marilyn Monroe was born. When the scandal leaked back to Norway, his wife and family found life embarrassingly difficult and moved to Denmark.’ Interestingly, Monroe s birth certificate reads ‘Mortenson’ while the article reads ‘Mortensen.’ The word ‘Answered’ is handwritten in pencil on the original letter from Jackinson.”SOLD for $750
“A pair of letters from the North American Newspaper Alliance regarding Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller’s requested appearance at the organization’s annual cocktail party. The first letter, dated March 26, 1958, reads in part, ‘Since your husband and you have been nice enough to come other years, we would like it very much to have you – and will miss you if you cannot make it.’ The second letter, dated July 2, 1958, sent to Lois Weber, Monroe’s publicist, reads in part, ‘Tell her we were disappointed that she could not attend the annual cocktail party, but I don’t blame her because I think cocktail parties are a pain in the neck, anyway, and she has been very patient in the past.’ Both letters are signed by John N. Wheeler.”SOLD for $192
Bob Bahr explores Marilyn’s spiritual side in a cover story for the Atlanta Jewish Times (dated August 30.)
“Monroe once told Paula Strasberg, her drama coach at the time, that she felt a special kinship with her newfound faith. ‘I can identify with the Jews,’ she said. ‘Everybody’s out to get them, no matter what they do, like me.’
On the front door of the home where she died, she had affixed a mezuzah with its tiny parchment scroll of sacred Jewish writings. She still had the prayer book with her personal notes written in its pages, a gift from Miller that had once belonged to the Brooklyn synagogue where he had had his bar mitzvah. On her mantle she kept a bronze menorah, which played ‘Hatikvah,’ the national anthem of the State of Israel. It was a present from Miller’s Yiddish-speaking mother.
Rabbi Robert Goldburg had worked with her during her conversion and provided her with a number of Jewish historical and religious works to study. About three weeks after her death, he wrote of his impressions of her at the time.
‘She was aware of the great character that the Jewish people had produced. … She was impressed by the rationalism of Judaism — its ethical and prophetic ideals and its close family life.’
When she rebelled against the exploitation of the Hollywood studio system, broke her contract with 20th Century Fox and fled Hollywood in 1954 for a new life in New York, it was at the urging of Milton Greene, a popular Jewish photographer with whom she founded Marilyn Monroe Productions. For a while she lived with Greene and his wife and helped take care of their year-old son.
Even before the move she lived and worked in what was largely a Jewish world. In Hollywood her agent and publicist and an early drama coach and mentor were all Jewish. She owed her early success, in part, to personal relationships with the powerful Jewish studio executive Joseph Schenck and the important talent agent Johnny Hyde, who had originally emigrated from the Jewish Ukraine. Her three psychiatrists were Jewish as well as many of her doctors. One of her closest journalistic confidants was the newspaper columnist Sidney Skolsky.
But all that accelerated when she moved to New York and enrolled in Lee and Paula Strasberg’s Actors Studio … She quickly fell in with their circle of friends, who made up the theatrical and literary elite of Jewish New York. She volunteered to be the star attraction at a United Jewish Appeal dinner.
The poet Norman Rosten and his wife and children were close friends. She was a regular at a summer of brunches and picnics and cookouts with the Strasbergs in Ocean Beach on Fire Island. She frequently dug into what Paula Strasberg called her ‘Jewish icebox’ there, with its salamis from Zabar’s on New York’s Upper West Side and the honey cakes and fancy European pastries from some of the bakeries started in New York by refugees from Nazi persecution.
It was, in the words of one Monroe biographer, ‘a year of joy,’ made even more joyful by a newfound romance with [Arthur] Miller … Gloria Steinem, the Jewish American essayist and feminist, wrote a perceptive analysis about the relationship and Monroe’s decision just before their marriage to convert to Judaism.
‘Miller himself was not religious, but she wanted to be part of his family’s tradition.”‘I’ll cook noodles like your mother,” she told him on their wedding day. She was optimistic this marriage would work. On the back of a wedding photograph, she wrote “Hope, Hope, Hope.”‘
Her public commitment to Judaism in the mid-50s was just one of the signs that Jews were winning new acceptance in America after the end of World War II and of the changes that the war had brought.
Although she’s been gone these many years, she is not forgotten. Time has treated the memory of Monroe with kindness. Her estate, most of which she left to the Strasberg family, has consistently earned tens of millions of dollars over the more than 50 years since her death … As for that prayer book that Arthur Miller took from his Brooklyn synagogue and Monroe kept to her dying day, it sold at auction last year for $18,000.”
Thanks to Marco at Marilyn Remembered
Adrian Brody, who won an Oscar for The Pianist back in 2002, will play Arthur Miller in Andrew Domink’s Netflix adaptation of Joyce Carol Oates’ Blonde, as Garth Franklin reports for Dark Horizons. Brody has also appeared in The Grand Budapest Hotel and TV’s Peaky Blinders. Meanwhile, Bobby Cannavale – who won an Emmy for TV’s Boardwalk Empire, and has also acted in films such as Blue Jasmine and I, Tonya, will play Joe DiMaggio. With Ana de Armas set to play Marilyn, we’re sure to hear of more casting decisions soon (and incidentally, Ana posted this tribute to Marilyn on Instagram earlier this month, marking the 57th anniversary of her death.)
This week marks 63 years since Marilyn married Arthur Miller, and the newlyweds (as photographed by Jack Cardiff a few weeks later) Grace the cover of Le Nouveau Magazine Litteraire‘s summer double-issue (#19), as part of a feature on ‘Literary Couples and Crossed Destinies’, with a short profile inside by Philippe Labro. The magazine is now available from the Newsstand website for £7.78.
Thanks to Eric Patry and Fraser Penney
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.'”