Hugh Hefner 1926-2017

Hugh Hefner, founder of Playboy magazine, has died aged 91.

In 1953, he acquired Tom Kelley’s nude calendar shot of Marilyn for the magazine’s first issue, also putting her on the cover. (You can read the full story here.) ‘She was actually in my brother’s acting class in New York,’ he told CNN. ‘But the reality is that I never met her. I talked to her once on the phone, but I never met her. She was gone, sadly, before I came out here.’

In 1960, Playboy published another laudatory feature headlined ‘The Magnificent Marilyn.’ If Marilyn sometimes resented others profiteering from her nude calendar – for which she had earned a flat $50 back in 1949 – by 1962 she was considering posing for Playboy‘s Christmas issue (although some sources indicate she changed her mind.)

Lawrence Schiller’s poolside nudes, taken during filming of the unfinished Something’s Got to Give, were published by Playboy in 1964, two years after Marilyn’s death.

The women’s rights campaigner Gloria Steinem, who would later write a biography of Marilyn, went ‘undercover’ as a Bunny Girl in a Playboy club for a magazine assignment durging the 1960s, and found the experience degrading – an opinion echoed by feminists today, as the BBC reports. Cultural historian Camille Paglia takes a different view, citing Hefner as ‘one of the principal architects of the social revolution.’

Marilyn has made many posthumous appearances on Playboy covers through the years. The magazine has also revealed rare and unseen images, such as Jon Whitcomb’s 1958 painting of Marilyn (based on a photo by Carl Perutz), and illustrator Earl Moran’s photos of a young Marilyn.

Many distinguished authors have written about Marilyn for Playboy, including John Updike, Roger Ebert, and Joyce Carol Oates. More dubiously, the magazine also published detective John Miner’s contested transcripts of tapes allegedly made by Marilyn for her psychiatrist, Dr Ralph Greenson.

Since his death was announced earlier today, Twitter users and even some news websites have mistakenly posted a photo of Marilyn with Sir Laurence Olivier, confusing him with Hefner, as Mashable reports (a final absurdity that all three would probably have found hilarious.)

In 1992, Hefner reportedly purchased the crypt next to Marilyn’s in Westwood Memorial Park for $75,000. If he is buried there, it will either pave the way for extra security measures, or make Marilyn’s final resting place even more of a spectacle.

Happy Birthday Marilyn!

Marilyn photographed at home in New York by Robert Kelley, 1958. (In the background you can see a formal portrait, recently shot by Carl Perutz. A painting based on Perutz’s photo was later acquired by Marilyn’s ex-husband, Joe DiMaggio.)

Marilyn Monroe was born on this day, 88 years ago…

“I like celebrating birthdays. I enjoy knowing that I’m alive. And you can underline alive.” – Marilyn to reporter Bob Thomas, 1962

‘Gone But Not Forgotten’ at WH Smith

Marilyn Monroe: Gone But Not Forgotten is a UK ‘bookazine’ special, published by Instinctive Product Development and currently on sale at WH Smith for £5.99. Photos include a few by Carl Perutz, and the text is by Jessica Bailey. Six free 7×5″ postcards and a folder are also included.

Marilyn at Carnegie Hall

Carl Perutz, 1958

Bill Cunningham, best known as the ‘on-the-street’ photojournalist at the New York Times, has lived at Carnegie Hall for sixty years. This week, Cunningham and Carnegie’s four other remaining tenants are moving out as the legendary concert venue is set to become a music school.

In his latest slideshow, Cunningham talks about his bohemian home and the many famous names who have visited him there. During the 1950s, when Cunningham designed hats, Marilyn Monroe would pass through on her way home from the Actor’s Studio.

The image of Marilyn trying on hats in Cunningham’s studio apartment reminded me of some beautiful photographs of her taken by Carl Perutz, used by illustrator Jon Whitcomb for artwork in American Weekly. (Whitcomb’s painting was kept by her ex-husband, Joe DiMaggio, until his death.)

Painting by Jon Whitcomb

Although Cunningham was then a hatmaker – and not yet a photographer – at this time, I wonder if he might know the story behind these pictures?