Pre-Trial Hearing for ‘Letter of Despair’

letter of despair

A final hearing before a trial concerning ownership of Marilyn’s so-called ‘letter of despair’ to Lee Strasberg was held at the Los Angeles Superior Court this week, reports Westside Today.

“In a final hearing prior to a trial to determine who owns a letter handwritten by Marilyn Monroe on hotel stationery to her former mentor, an attorney for an auction house told a judge today that a version of the letter typed by the late actress exists.

Robert Enders, an attorney for Calabasas-based auctioneer Profiles in History, told Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Richard Fruin that both the written and typed letters to Lee Strasberg have numerous misspellings and corrections.

The Beverly Hilton Hotel is crossed out on the typewritten stationery and the name of the Hotel Bel-Air is inserted, Enders said.

The handwritten letter is on Hotel Bel-Air stationery, Enders said. It is signed by Monroe, but the typed account is not, Enders said.

‘Did Marilyn Monroe type?’ Fruin asked.

Enders said the actress may have typed many letters.

Plaintiff Anna Strasberg, who is administrator of the Monroe estate and has a  collection of the actress’ memorabilia, sued Profiles in History in May 2013, saying she learned the month before that the written version, dubbed a ‘letter of despair’ in a New York Post article, was missing from her collection.

She inherited the writing from her late husband, Lee Strasberg, who also was Monroe’s acting coach.

Both letters are in a safe at a Los Angeles law firm selected by the buyer pending the outcome of the trial, Enders said. The nonjury trial is scheduled Nov. 17.

According to her court papers, Strasberg thought the handwritten letter was with other Monroe memorabilia, locked in a filing cabinet at home.

The letter was bought via the Internet and sold by Profiles in History.

The buyer is not a party to the case. Strasberg’s attorney, Bradley Mancuso, said that if his client wins at trial, there may be a second legal step needed to get possession of the handwritten letter if the buyer does not relinquish it.

The purchaser lives in another state, but Fruin said he believes he has jurisdiction over the letter because it was auctioned in California.

Enders told Fruin the consigner who provided the letter to the auction house said he got it from a member of the housekeeping staff at the Hotel Bel-Air in the 1970s and that it was a draft of a letter never sent Lee Strasberg.

Fruin said the fact that the written and typed versions have so many corrections makes him wonder if Monroe sent either letter to Lee Strasberg because people do not usually forward correspondence in that fashion.

Strasberg, who wants unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, became heir to her husband’s estate, including the Monroe letters, when he died in February 1982 at age 80.

Strasberg is 75 years old and lives on the East Coast, Mancuso said.”

Bert Stern Returns to Bel Air

Carrie White of the Huffington Post reports on the launch of Bert Stern’s new Marilyn book for Taschen, with text by Norman Mailer, at the Hotel Bel-Air, Los Angeles, where Stern photographed Monroe in 1962.

Guests included legendary music producer Quincy Jones, actresses Penelope Ann Miller and Julie Newmar (who played Catwoman in the cult 1960s TV series, Batman), and comedian Chris Tucker. (Interestingly, some guests were as shocked as me by the book’s $1,000 price tag!)

Stern was introduced by Lawrence Schiller, who photographed Marilyn during filming of the pool scene in the unfinished Something’s Got to Give.

While at the launch, Stern spoke to the Los Angeles Times about his memories of the shoot. The suite where he photographed Marilyn is now part of the hotel’s La Prairie Spa.

‘”I didn’t want any clothes. I wanted things — jewelry, scarves, objects,” said Stern of the Monroe session. As usual, she showed up three hours late but thinner then he had expected. The 36-year-old Monroe sipped on her favorite Dom Pérignon champagne, picked up a few scarves from off the bed and giddily danced around while Stern snapped away. “She was in a terrific mood, a lot of fun,” Stern said. “She wanted to be in Vogue.”

“She got fed up with the dresses and wanted to go back to less things,” recalled Stern, who didn’t want a glitzy showbiz photo. An admirer of Edward Steichen’s black and white portrait of Greta Garbo, he wanted something more intimate, that definitive, immortal picture.

“It was a once-in-a-lifetime event. I knew I’d never shoot her again.”‘

Bel Air Hotel Re-Opens


Bel Air Hotel, 1951

The Bel Air Hotel has re-opened after a $100 million facelift, reports the Financial Times. However, not everyone welcomes the news – particularly the 300 former workers who were made redundant when the hotel closed in 2009.

Marilyn’s long association with the Bel Air Hotel is reflected in the name of a new cocktail: Monroe’s Passion. She first lived there in 1948, while under contract to Columbia. She returned in 1952, while filming Don’t Bother to Knock; and spent her 26th birthday there, drinking champagne to celebrate landing the role of Lorelei Lee in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

Monroe stayed at the Bel Air Hotel in 1958, while filming scenes for Some Like it Hot. She was photographed at the hotel by Andre de Dienes in 1953, and by Bert Stern June 1962, her last visit.