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.”

Marilyn at Julien’s: A Life On Film

(SOLD for $22, 400)

A final post (for now) on the Julien’s Legends series, in advance of the auction on June 13-14. As well as Marilyn’s bathrobe from How to Marry a Millionaire (see here) her costume from A Ticket to Tomahawk (1950) is also on offer. She wore it to perform ‘Oh, What A Forward Young Man You Are’ with Dan Dailey and her fellow chorines.

As well as an archive of material by Manfred ‘Linus’ Kreiner (see here), several other photographers are also represented.

UPDATE: I have now added the final bids for each item.

Marilyn at the Racquet Club in Palm Springs, by Bruno Bernard (1949) SOLD for $1,920
A collection of 10 original vintage film stills,
together with approximately 25 publicity image photographs of Monroe (printed circa 1970s and 1980s), from the collection of actress Morgan Fairchild (SOLD for $768)
33 vintage lobby cards from the collection of Morgan Fairchild (SOLD for $768)
Colour transparency from a publicity shoot for Niagara (1953) UNSOLD
Silver gelatin print of Marilyn by Andre de Dienes (SOLD for $1,024)
Marilyn in 1962, signed by George Barris – from the private collection of the late Kim Goodwin (SOLD for $1,024)

“A group of seven color slides, all showing Marilyn performing for U.S. troops in Korea in 1954. Four slides show Monroe wearing a purple spaghetti-strapped dress on stage, three show her wearing a bomber jacket and pants in the camp, and one has a further handwritten annotation in black fountain pen ink reading in part ‘6 Feb 54 – A little/ closer this time.'” (SOLD for $448)

A group of 21 colour slides (SOLD for $5,625)
A black-and-white negative from Marilyn’s ‘Hooker’ series with Milton Greene; and a large screenprint from the Black Sitting, signed by Greene (from the collection of Morgan Fairchild) SOLD for $1,562.50 and $2,187.50, respectively
Screenprint by Bert Stern, signed (from the collection of Morgan Fairchild) SOLD for $1,600
10 large-format photos of Marilyn by Harold Lloyd (SOLD – three lots reached $3,200 each)
Marilyn’s ‘revised final script’ for Something’s Got to Give, dated August 30, 1961. In fact, the screenplay would be revised several more times, even before the ill-fated production began shooting in 1962. (SOLD for $12,800)

Don Murray Speaks at Palm Springs Film Festival

Don Murray – Marilyn’s cowboy love in Bus Stop (1956) spoke about her at the Palm Springs International Film Festival this weekend, where The Prince and the Showgirl was also screened, and Susan Bernard talked about her father’s photos of Monroe.

‘He was filming his first major motion picture and she was “one of the biggest stars in the world.” And yet, he learned quickly that filming revolved precariously around Monroe and her whims…

“Bus Stop” has been called her “best-behaved film.”

“When I heard that I thought, well, God, what was her worst-behaved film?” Murray said.

He told the stories with fondness and also spoke of her talent and sense of humor.’

Remembering Marilyn at UCLA

Marilyn was briefly a student at UCLA – studying Renaissance Art and Literature. So it seems apt that her ‘alma mater’ should mark the upcoming 50th anniversary of her passing on January 25 at 7.30pm in the Billy Wilder Theatre (also apt), with a selection from the Archive’s vast Hearst Metrotone News collection of newsreel clips and outtakes featuring a candid Monroe; a screening of the seminal documentary, ‘The Legend of Marilyn Monroe’, with an appearance by producer Terry Sanders; and also Susan Bernard (who seems to be everywhere lately!)

Celebrating Marilyn in Palm Springs

Marilyn in Palm Springs by Bruno Bernard, 1949

Marilyn, a regular visitor to Palm Springs, will be remembered at its International Film Festival with a screening of The Prince and the Showgirl at 1pm this Saturday, January 14, at the Palm Canyon Theatre, reports My Desert.

Susan Bernard will be talking about her new book, Marilyn: Intimate Exposures, afterward.  She has also selected 40 of her father’s photographs to exhibit in stores on both sides of North Palm Canyon Drive in the Uptown Design District north of Alejo Road as part of a Marilyn Walk (on display all week.)

Susan Bernard Interviewed


Author Susan Bernard talks to Elisa Jordan at The Examiner about her new book, Marilyn: Intimate Exposures; her father, Bruno Bernard’s photo archive; and the claim that he introduced Marilyn to agent Johnny Hyde.

“I wanted to not just show photos, but show the back of the photos to show the process of the photographer. 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.”

Marilyn in the Blogosphere

Early fan reviews of MM-related books and film have been posted online. Artist Elizabeth Grammaticas attended last week’s premiere of My Week With Marilyn at the New York Film Festival:

” ‘My Week with Marilyn’ is the most heartfelt attempt to understand Marilyn Monroe that I’ve seen in a motion picture, despite at times the questionable credibility of the initial text. Michelle Williams doesn’t physically look all that much like Marilyn.  Marilyn is hard to physically capture,  and there are others with a greater likeness…but personality wise…Michelle finds Marilyn.  I agree with other critics that Michelle falls short of…performing Marilyn performing Marilyn (ie…in her scenes recreating ‘The Prince and the Showgirl’), but at times if you blur your eyes, catch a profile, angle, a walk or an expression you see moments of candour or pain where you feel like you are actually seeing something more real than a publicity shot of the real Marilyn Monroe with a her white dress blowing up over her head. One of my favorite parts of the film is when Michelle as Marilyn says ‘shall I be her?’ and turns the Marilyn persona on.  This is seen in the trailer of the film, but like the trailer of the original ‘Prince and the Showgirl’…this trailer doesn’t remotely depict what ‘My Week with Marilyn’ is about. The films are about basic interaction between very different people on a much more subtle level.’

Over at The Mmm Blog, Melinda Mason reviews Susan Bernard’s new book, Marilyn: Intimate Exposures:

“Intimacy (as the title suggests) is what Susan Bernard must have been striving for in this edition of her book.  As Marilyn book collectors will be aware, Susan also published a book based on her father’s photos and journal entries called ‘Bernard of Hollywood’s Marilyn’ in 1993.  While some photos are the same and many journal entries are identical, that is where the similarities end.  ‘Marilyn: Intimate Exposures’ is a far superior book.  It even includes a beautiful photographic print from ‘The Seven Year Itch’ in an envelope at the back so you can frame it.”

And on Goodreads, David Marshall (author of The DD Group and Life Among the Cannibals) reviews Bye Bye, Baby, a novel about Marilyn’s death by crime writer Max Allan Collins.

‘But when a historical figure is suddenly no more, (and make no mistake about it, Marilyn Monroe is a historical figure), attention should be paid. All angles concerning their passing should be looked at carefully. All research should be scrutinized. All opinions should be considered. And that should not be restricted to non-fiction attempts at understanding the incomprehensible. Fiction can be a powerful tool and this includes the fun reads. Future generations may come across Bye Bye, Baby and even if they understand the work is “just” a novel, there’s plenty here to get you thinking and rethinking, and, hopefully, that will lead them on to other books on the subject. That, as far as I am concerned, is one of the greatest services of fiction—it makes you think. And Collins more than does his share in that regard.’

Greene, Kelley, Bernard Join ABG

Statement from PR Newswire:

‘Authentic Brands Group (ABG), in addition to its recent acquisition of The Estate of Marilyn Monroe owned in partnership with NECA, Anna Strasberg and Anna Freud Center, announced today it has consolidated the licensing efforts of the Marilyn Monroe brand by signing exclusive agreements to represent the Marilyn Monroe photography of Milton H. Greene, Tom Kelley and Bernard of Hollywood – who together produced the most celebrated and recognized photographs of Monroe.’