Marilyn at Julien’s: A Life In Pictures

Property From The Life and Career of Marilyn Monroe, coming to Julien’s on November 1, features images from all stages of her life, starting with David Conover, the photographer who first discovered Norma Jeane Dougherty in 1945. (You can read all my posts on the sale here.)

Photo sets SOLD for $256 and $384, respectively

Norma Jeane poses here with another of her early photographers, Joseph Jasgur (includes his later inscription to a fan.)

SOLD for $1,024

“Original pages from Andre de Dienes’ manuscript that were used 17 years later to create Hollywood, the small soft cover book (with the black elastic band) included with the Taschen box set, Marilyn; approximately 180 pages, the document is typed with De Dienes’ black fountain pen, felt-tip, or ballpoint ink annotations throughout, exactly as they appeared in the miniaturized version that was released to the public; of particular interest are all the original print black and white photographs of Monroe that De Dienes glued to these pages as well as magazine cut-outs and other photographs he used to ‘decorate’ his manuscript; his black ink credit stamps can be seen on the versos of most of the photographs if the pages are held up to the light; frustratingly, the document starts with page 157 (just like the black booklet does) as this was all that was found after De Dienes’ death in 1985.”

SOLD for $3,200

“A standard design parasol made of crème-colored nylon with a wooden hook handle; used by the then-called Norma Jeane in 1949 when Andre De Dienes took photographs of her at Jones Beach and at Tobey Beach on Long Island in New York; saved by the photographer for the rest of his life.”

Parasol SOLD for $21,875; photo SOLD for $640

Selected photos by Andre De Dienes.

SOLD for $1,152 each

A candid snapshot of Marilyn holding a cocker spaniel on the Fox parking lot during her 1953 photo shoot with Alfred Eisenstadt for LIFE magazine.

Photo set SOLD for $896

“A collection of 6 color transparencies and 7 black and white negatives, all originals, all depicting Marilyn wearing her red bathing suit from the 1953 20th Century Fox film, How to Marry a Millionaire; shot at Harold Lloyd’s ‘Greenacres’ Beverly Hills home by the Air Force photographer Harold Davidson, who was likely working on the odd PSA commercial Marilyn filmed there where she purrs ‘I hate a careless man.'”

SOLD for $5,000

Framed print from Marilyn’s 1956 ‘Black Sitting‘ with photographer Milton Greene.

SOLD for $768

“An original Cecil Beaton print with a matte finish, depicting Marilyn in 1956 as she lays against a Japanese print holding a flower, mounted to a mat board which is signed by Beaton in red pencil in the lower right corner … according to MM lore, this was her favorite photograph …”

SOLD for $3,437.50

And finally, selected photos by Bert Stern and George Barris.

Stern photos SOLD for $7,500 and $1.920; Barris photos SOLD for $1,250, $768, and $896.

Beyond the Blonde: Debbie Harry and Marilyn

In my previous post (see here), I revealed how Blondie singer Debbie Harry was influenced by Marilyn, as described in her new memoir, Face It. Now I’m looking at some other parallels in their careers. In 1975, Debbie posed on the New York subway for her bandmate and boyfriend Chris Stein, echoing Marilyn’s photo shoot with Ed Feingersh twenty years earlier (shown above.)

Debbie Harry with Sam Shaw

In 1977, Marilyn’s photographer friend Sam Shaw filmed Blondie playing live at the Whisky A Go Go in Los Angeles for a short documentary about the band, released a year later (more info here.) “It was an odd sort of thing, about Blondie but also about my fantasy of being Marilyn Monroe’s daughter,” Debbie recalls. This was also mentioned in a New York Times profile in 1979. (At the time, Debbie said Marilyn was adopted. This was technically incorrect, but she did spend most of her childhood in the care of family and friends.)

Debbie in LA

“In the summer of 1978, she was asked by the photographer and film maker Sam Shaw to provide biographical information for a one‐hour documentary film on Blondie. Interviewed by the screenwriter/novelist Ted Allan, Debbie mentioned liking a play, Fame, loosely based on the life of Marilyn Monroe. The conversation continued:

ALLAN: Do you have an affinity for Marilyn Monroe?

HARRY: Tremendous. I always thought she was my mother.

ALLAN: Did you ever seriously think that you’d go and meet her and say, ‘You might be my mother.’

HARRY: No! God! Well, you know, there’s that kind of admiration, I guess. They say that most adopted children now, in their adult life, look for their real parents … I sort of have my wild imaginings. Like she [Monroe] had wild imaginings about Clark Gable being her father … See, my mother did keep me for three months, and I have memories, a visual memory of when I was 3 months old when I was adopted.

Such fantasies percolated through Debbie’s adolescence. She says that she felt ‘different,’ worried about being crazy. As late as last year, Debbie reminded a reporter that ‘Marilyn was also an adopted child.'”

There is also a curious story about this photo, taken by Chris Stein at his and Debbie’s New York home in the 1970s. Debbie explains that Maria Duval, their downstairs neighbour and an aspiring actress, had bought this gown at auction and gave it to Debbie, believing it had been worn by Marilyn in The Seven Year Itch. I don’t recognise it as a costume from that movie, but nonetheless, perhaps it was connected to Marilyn in some way. While Debbie and Chris were on tour, there was a fire in their apartment, which leads us to this story…

“When we finally did get back, it was hugely upsetting. The place was strewn with debris from the fire. And because people were able to walk into our apartment and take things, they did … Fortunately, Chris had his guitar and camera with him. So he set up a photo session in the burned-out kitchen. The walls were caked in soot and the range was covered in ash. I put on Marilyn’s dress, which had been badly singed in the fire, and our latest close call (which wasn’t really close at all) became a work of art.”

UPDATE: Fraser Penney has suggested the dress could have been worn by Marilyn during her 1956 photo shoot with Cecil Beaton. The mystery deepens!

Beaton’s Marilyn in the Sotheby Archive

The Sotheby’s blog takes a look at Cecil Beaton’s extraordinary portraits of Marilyn today. The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive is located at the London auction house.

“Cecil Beaton had only one shoot with Marilyn Monroe, which took place at the Ambassador Hotel in New York in February 1956. The actress turned up at his suite 90 minutes late and in his diary Beaton admitted that he was: ‘startled, then disarmed, by her lack of inhibition’.

Marilyn shot to fame playing dumb yet witty blondes in films … Beaton acknowledged that while it was likely ‘press agentry or manufactured illusion’ that had helped her find success, it was ‘her own weird genius that [had] sustained her flight’ .

Prophetically, his diary entry ends, ‘It will probably end in tears’.”

Beaton’s Marilyn in Madrid

This 1956 portrait of Marilyn is featured in Cecil Beaton: Icons of the 20th Century, at Fundacion Canal in Madrid until August 19. It’s also the first Beaton retrospective held in Spain. “Beaton photographed Monroe in his Hotel Ambassador suite in New York, after she arrived an hour late,” the Guardian reports. “He later wrote that he forgave her for the delay in the moment because ‘her girlish ingenuity and cunningness broke my schemes’.”

‘Timeless Marilyn’ in Bury St. Edmunds

Marilyn Monroe: Timeless, a new photo exhibition, has opened at Moyse’s Hall Museum in Bury St. Edmund’s, Suffolk, following a preview performance by lookalike Suzie Kennedy last night. Among the artists featured are Alfred Eisenstadt, Frank Powolny, Philippe Halsman, Elliott Erwitt, Milton Greene, Bert Stern and George Barris. Additionally, a silver-framed triptych of portraits and text by Cecil Beaton (a wedding gift to Marilyn and Arthur Miller from Joshua and Nedda Logan in 1956), is also on display (see video here.)

Arts editor and MM fan Andrew Clarke has reviewed the exhibit for the East Anglian Daily Times.  (The lovely image below, credited in the article to Andre de Dienes, was actually taken by Joseph Jasgur in 1946.)

“Part of her enduring appeal can be put down to the fact that she is adored by women (particularly young women) as much as she is by men. This is down to the fact that she was a strong woman, who refused to bow to the studio system, went to work on her terms, and was always looking to improve herself … She loved the camera and she recognised its value and the support it gave her, even at her lowest moments. Even when she had been fired from her unfinished film Something’s Got To Give, opposite Dean Martin, she commissioned at least two photo-sessions to not only keep her name before her loyal public, but to let them know she was evolving and moving on.”

In the same article, Clarke also interviews curator Brian White of Kudos Memorabilia…

“One of our personal favourites, however, is a bewitching black and white portrait of Marilyn, from 1953, by famed portrait photographer, Alfred Eisenstaedt (1898-1995). Marilyn, age 26, is posing informally in a simple black pullover and white slacks. Her nuanced expression is exquisite, and her warm, yet casual, intimacy, combined with an almost palpable vulnerability, memorialises an authentic Marilyn that many studio photographers failed to capture. This image was originally shot by ‘Eisie’ as a potential cover image for Life Magazine. At the time, editors considered it to be too understated to make the grade, but, every year since 1953, this image has grown in prestige amongst collectors of classic Marilyn Monroe photography. This beautiful silver gelatine print also features Eisenstaedt’s personal signature.”

Marilyn Lights Up the Empire State

Cecil Beaton’s ethereal 1956 portrait of Marilyn – which she kept framed in her New York apartment, on top of her famous piano – was one of many iconic images projected onto the Empire State Building this week, marking the 150th anniversary of Harper’s Bazaar magazine. Among her contemporaries, Elizabeth Taylor and Audrey Hepburn were also featured.

Marilyn Book News: Greene, Beaton and More

This autumn will see the release of what could be the most comprehensive Greene retrospective to date, The Essential Marilyn Monroe by Milton H. Greene: 50 Sessions. Coming from ACC Art Books on September 27,  it spans 324 pages and 400 photos.

Marilyn also graces the cover of Cecil Beaton: Portraits and Profiles, one of many celebrities featured, out in paperback on October 5. This book was originally released in hardback (with Beaton on the cover) back in 2014.

And for something completely different, Robin Holabird’s Elvis, Marilyn, and the Space Aliens: Icons on Screen in Nevada is out now. Don’t be put off by the wacky cover: it includes a chapter on The Misfits.