This year marks the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, one of the most influential pop albums ever made. The cover – a collage by artist Peter Blake – features the Fab Four lining up alongside more than sixty of the last century’s most iconic figures. Marilyn is there, as photographed by Ben Ross in 1953. BBC Music have compiled a mini-documentary for each one: Marilyn’s includes newsreel footage from her arrival in England to shoot The Prince and the Showgirl in 1956. You can watch the clip here.
Heroines, an exhibition by artist Audrey Flack, will be on display at the Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown, Ohio, from February 14-May 10, and includes a portrait of Marilyn among a range of female icons from Medusa to Mother Teresa.
Marilyn has been a recurring subject in Flack’s long career. One of her early ‘photorealist’ paintings of Marilyn graced the first edition cover of Carl Rollyson’s Marilyn Monroe: A Life of the Actress. By contrast, the Heroines portrait – inspired by Marilyn’s 1953 photo session with Ben Ross, and first seen in 2011 – is moody and bleak.
‘Flack’s drawing of Marilyn Monroe conveys a sad version of the sex symbol as a 30-something dependent on drugs and alcohol, lost and faded,’ Rebecca S. Nieminen writes in The Vindicator. ‘Unlike glossy, glamorous renditions of the late movie star, Flack’s depiction of Monroe requests sympathy. ‘
Last weekend, I posted here about the unpublished photos by Sam Shaw and Richard Avedon, part of the Hollywood Auction 56 from Profiles in History (set for July 28th.)
Other items on offer include photos taken by Ben Ross in 1952, of Marilyn in her Niagara dress; and master prints by Zinn Arthur, taken while Monroe filmed her ‘That Old Black Magic’ number for Bus Stop, in 1956.
There are also a selection of personal notes from Marilyn to friends and family, including a Chanukah card for Bobby Miller; a calling card, inscribed ‘For my love / I love you with all of my heart Happy Christmas’ (probably for Arthur Miller); and a letter to her niece, Mona Rae Miracle, which reads like this:
“Dear Mona Rae, I hardly know what to write about — it’s been so long since I’ve seen you. Your mother told me you are away at school and I’m very proud of you. Also she told me what a lovely girl you are. I would love to see you and know you again. Are you going to get married soon? Your mother said you might. If it’s really so, I wish you all the happiness there is. I’m sure he must be wonderful if you love him. And the whole world must be a beautiful place because he’s there — you see your old Auntie isn’t so old — I know how it is. But please don’t rush — but don’t hesitate either. You will know what you want and if you’r [sic] unsure life teaches us. Take care of yourself. I still see you as a little blonde headed brown eyed thin little girl as when I met you — very sweet and you wanted to be an actress. You have time — time for everything. Love, Marilyn your Auntie.”
A terrific profile of photographer Ben Ross, by Rebecca Swift, heads this month’s Immortal Marilyn updates. Also featured are Fraser’s review of Sam Shaw: A Personal View, and a vintage magazine article from Tony, ‘Why Marilyn Now Wears the Pants’.