Twelve images from Douglas Kirkland’s 1961 photo session with Marilyn are featured in a new exhibition at the Galerie GADCOLLECTION in Paris, alongside his portraits of Coco Chanel, Audrey Hepburn and others, on display until December 8th.
Henri Dauman: Looking Up, a documentary about the Frenchman who photographed Marilyn on several occasions during the late 1950s, has been acquired by Samuel Goldwyn Films for a theatrical release in 2020, according to the Hollywood Reporter. And while the camera used by Douglas Kirkland in his 1961 photo session with Marilyn went unsold at Christie’s last month, he is also the subject of a new documentary, That Click, which recently had its world premiere in Italy.
Archival prints from Douglas Kirkland’s 1961 session with Marilyn – plus the camera he used – will go under the hammer at Christie’s in New York on October 29.
“The fresh-faced photographer, who had made his name photographing Hollywood stars such as Elizabeth Taylor and Marlene Dietrich, had been commissioned to capture a ‘sizzling’ picture of the screen siren for Look magazine’s 25th anniversary issue.
On 29 October at Christie’s in New York, the 1959 Hasselblad (No. 36980) that Kirkland used to take those pictures of Marilyn Monroe (as well as many others) — together with two magazine backs, two Carl Zeiss lenses and two limited-edition archival pigment prints — will be offered in The Exceptional Sale.
A few days before the shoot in November 1961, Douglas Kirkland and two of his magazine colleagues met with Marilyn Monroe and her agent in the star’s Beverly Hills apartment. ‘My greatest difficulty as a very young photographer,’ recalls Kirkland, who is now 85, ‘was telling Marilyn exactly how I wanted to photograph her.’
He needn’t have worried. Monroe took charge … ‘She understood my ideas and articulated them better than I had been able to do,’ says Kirkland.
‘I learned an important lesson from her: if you are to elicit her most outstanding performance, treat a star like the princess you want her to be in front of your lens.’
The first set-up saw Marilyn in a dress, but she clearly was not at ease. Returning to the dressing room, she took off her clothes before slipping unannounced into the unmade bed, wrapping herself seductively in the white silk sheet. ‘It was extremely intimate,’ he remembers. ‘It was just myself, the camera and Marilyn.’
‘I didn’t even use a strobe light; just a flood light, a constant light, so that there was no interruption of flash,’ he explains. ‘Marilyn showed me how she felt, slithering erotically between the sheets. I kept shooting.’
This unforgettable, one-on-one encounter had a lasting impact on Kirkland. ‘The Marilyn Monroe I had been with on that night of the shoot unquestionably took a firm hold on me,’ he admits. ‘She arrived in a misty vision and when she left it was as if she had evaporated. I admitted to myself with some embarrassment that I missed her.’
But there was never just one Marilyn. ‘There was the sunny girl next door of our first meeting,’ Kirkland recalls. ‘Then there was the “true” Marilyn of the night of our shoot: the breathy, sexy beauty that every red-blooded man was in love with. And lastly there was the darker, sadder woman I sat with reviewing my pictures a week later. I was never with the same individual twice.’”
UPDATE: Bids in the auction did not meet the estimated price and the camera has gone unsold.
Carol Ann Jones was born in Manhattan and worked as a child model, making the cover of LIFE magazine at fifteen. She made her Broadway debut as Carol Lynley in The Potting Shed (1957), which also starred Dame Sybil Thorndike (fresh from co-starring with Marilyn Monroe in The Prince and the Showgirl.)
Carol went on to play the lead in Blue Denim (1958), a teen drama directed by Joshua Logan (who had made Bus Stop with Monroe two years previously.) The play deals with themes of unwanted pregnancy and abortion (which was then illegal in the US.) Carol would reprise her role in the 1960 movie of the same name, produced by Twentieth Century Fox, with Macdonald Carey among the cast. (Carey had worked with Marilyn in Let’s Make It Legal back in 1951.) Blue Denim earned Carol a second Golden Globe nominations as Most Promising Newcomer, having first been nominated for The Light in the Forest (1958.)
In 1960, the eighteen-year-old Carol married Michael Selsman, who was six years her senior and a publicist for the Arthur P. Jacobs Agency, who also represented Monroe. Selsman occasionally worked with Marilyn when Pat Newcomb was unavailable. In November 1961, he drove with Carol to Marilyn’s Doheny Drive apartment.
Marilyn was then 34 years old, and in the process of approving images from her photo shoot with Douglas Kirkland for Look magazine. As Selsman told biographer Michelle Morgan, she refused to let Carol come inside although she was heavily pregnant. This seems rather selfish and uncaring, but it’s possible that Marilyn distrusted the blonde starlet, sixteen years her junior and also under contract at Fox. Or perhaps she simply wanted to continue her work without interruptions. (Carol never commented on the story, so we have only Selsman’s word to go by.)
Their daughter Jill was born shortly afterwards. Carol worked both in television, and movies such as Return to Peyton Place (1961), and The Last Sunset, opposite Marilyn’s Niagara co-star, Joseph Cotten.
In 1963, Carol appeared in The Stripper (known in the UK as A Woman of Summer.) Adapted from William Inge’s play, A Loss Of Roses, it was originally pitched to Marilyn, but after her death in 1962, Joanne Woodard took her place as Lila, a former burlesque star who falls in love with a much younger man, Kenny (played by Richard Beymer, this was a role first offered to Warren Beatty.) Carol Lynley played Miriam Caswell, Kenny’s girlfriend and Lila’s unwitting rival. (Another curious coincidence: Marilyn had played Claudia Caswell in All About Eve, her breakthrough role at Fox.)
In 1963, Carol starred with one of Marilyn’s favourite leading men, Jack Lemmon, in a romantic comedy, Under the Yum Yum Tree. Also that year, Carol worked with one of Marilyn’s least favourite directors, Otto Preminger, in The Cardinal. John Huston, who had directed Marilyn twice, also acted in the movie, as did Tom Tryon, previously cast as Marilyn’s desert island companion in the shelved Something’s Got to Give.
Carol divorced Selsman in 1964, and later had a long affair with the British newscaster, David Frost. She starred alongside Lauren Bacall in the controversial Shock Treatment (1964.) This was followed by The Pleasure Seekers, pitting Carol with two other young beauties, Ann-Margret and Pamela Tiffin, and directed by Jean Negulesco (of How to Marry a Millionaire fame.)
Marilyn Monroe had once considered playing Jean Harlow in a biopic. It never came to pass, but in 1965 Carol starred as the original ‘platinum blonde’ in the low-budget indie, Harlow, shot over eight days, and with Ginger Rogers playing the domineering ‘Mother Jean’. The film was overshadowed by Paramount’s rival Harlow, starring Carroll Baker and released a month later. Neither were well-received, and the bizarre saga is recounted in Tom Lisanti’s 2011 book, Duelling Harlows: Race to the Silver Screen. (Carol also posed nude for Playboy that year.)
Carol’s next performance, as a young mother in Preminger’s Bunny Lake Is Missing, was one of her best. Her co-star was Sir Laurence Olivier, and she more than held her own. She then starred in The Shuttered Room and Danger Route (1967), Norwood (1970), and Cotter (1973), with Don Murray. Her greatest success was in The Poseidon Adventure (1972.)
For the rest of her career Carol worked mainly in television, making several TV movies and appearing in Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., The Big Valley, Mannix, Quincy M.E., Kojak, Hawaii Five-O, The Love Boat, Charlie’s Angels, Hart to Hart, Hotel, and Fantasy Island. Her final short film, Vic, was released in 2006. Carol Lynley died aged 77 of a heart attack at home in Pacific Palisades, California on September 3, 2019.
Photographer Bettina Bogar was inspired by fellow Canadian Douglas Kirkland’s iconic 1961 shots of Marilyn between the sheets to launch Skinwork, a women’s empowerment project in aid of skin cancer awareness, on display at Toronto’s Artscape Youngplace until March 16, as Wing Tze Tang reports for the Toronto Star.
“When Toronto photographer Bettina Bogar visited a local art gallery a few years ago, she was struck by a picture of Marilyn Monroe, facing Douglas Kirkland’s camera wearing nothing but white bedsheets. ‘I thought, she feels so comfortable in her skin. I’ve never seen a woman feeling that good about herself,’ says Bogar, who decided to create her own shoot inspired by that iconic image … The photos celebrate the female figure and skin in intimate and varied detail, including close-ups of skin tags, scars and markings, all cast in a bright and beautiful light. None of the images were retouched.”
Meanwhile, a Douglas Kirkland retrospective opens today at the Palos Verdes Art Center in California – more details here.
Last night, Marilyn was featured alongside Charlie Chaplin, Billie Holiday and David Bowie in the entertainment segment of the BBC series, Icons: The Story of the 20th Century. Theepisode was presented by actress Kathleen Turner, with biographer Sarah Churchwell and photographer Douglas Kirkland among the guests. Marilyn was nominated as an icon of glamour; or in Turner’s words, ‘the sex symbol who took on Hollywood.’
Her frank admission to having posed for a nude calendar, and later on her triumphant battle with Twentieth Century Fox and setting up her own production company, were cited as exemplifying her refusal to be bound by the limitations imposed on her by an industry which failed to recognise that she could have both brains and beauty. Sarah Churchwell praised her ability to spoof feminine stereotypes, with clips from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes showcasing her comedic skill.
The public vote was won by David Bowie, who will now be featured in the series finale. As noted in Mixmag, Marilyn came in second. Viewers in the UK (with a current TV licence) can watch the full episode here.
A Douglas Kirkland retrospective is opening at the Lumiere Brothers Centre for Photography in Moscow tomorrow, reports the Russian news agency, TASS.
“Kirkland’s exhibition will last till April 15. Visitors will have a chance to see the pictures he took during his 60-year career. The items particularly include a series of Marilyn Monroe’s photographs made in 1961 and pictures of Coco Chanel, whom Kirkland photographed for Look magazine in 1962.
In response to a question about his favorite picture, Kirkland said that it ‘is the one I am about to take. That said, of course Marilyn Monroe is the person the world is most curious about but I am in love with all my subjects, male or female,’ he noted. ‘I have been lucky to get along with most of my subjects,’ the photographer added.”
This 2010 photograph – showing a Douglas Kirkland canvas of Marilyn on a Lebanese teenager’s bedroom wall – is part of In Her Image, a retrospective for photographer Rania Matar, at the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth, Texas until June, as Natalie Gempel reports for Paper City.
“The show combines three portfolios of the photographer’s work, all produced in the United States and the Middle East … A Girl & Her Room depicts teenage girls from different cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds in the personal world of their bedrooms … A girl in Lebanon perches on an armchair beneath a massive Marilyn Monroe poster, a pink bra hanging on the doorknob beside her … The photographs transcend cultural differences and societal labels to show girls as they want to be shown. And, even in 2018, that’s not as common as you’d think.”