A ‘Collector’s Ransom’ for Marilyn

Over 50 Marilyn-related lots will go under the hammer at on December 17-19, as part of the Hollywood – A Collector’s Ransom auction at Profiles in History. Marilyn’s costumes from A Ticket to Tomahawk, Love Nest, and Don’t Bother to Knock, and her fishnet tights from Bus Stop – which went unsold at last year’s Essentially Marilyn event – are back for a second chance.)

As Simon Lindley reports for Just Collecting, Marilyn’s personal annotated screenplay for The Seven Year Itch is also on offer, with a reserve of $60-80K. (The photo shown above, taken on location in New York, is sold separately.)

“In the film Monroe’s character is known simply as ‘The Girl’, an aspiring actress who serves as the object of the husband’s desires.

But behind her on-screen persona as the blonde sex symbol, Monroe’s extensive handwritten annotations reveal her dedication to her craft.

Throughout the script she has written notes to herself such as ‘Look first indecisive – pause – hesitation – little smile’ and ‘My body into his – sliding into him as if I want to sleep with him right then & there. Swing hips again’.

This preparation and complete understanding of the role in evident in her notes for the famous ‘Subway’ scene, which helped cement her place as a genuine Hollywood icon.

The energy and sexuality which Monroe portrays may seem effortless, but her script notes show she though very carefully about how to play the moment: ‘Child w/a woman. Direct & fem[inine]. Open… This is everything there is in the world. Light & easy. Everything flies out of her. Newborn – the baby looking at the moon for the first time.'”

And now, let’s take a closer look at what else is on offer…

“Vintage original 8 x 10 in. photograph taken of 13 year-old Norma Jeane on a trip to Yosemite with ‘Aunt’ Anna Lower and other family members. And sold separately, a vintage original 2-page printed 6.25 x 9 in. Ralph Waldo Emerson Junior High School Class of Summer 1941 commencement program. The printed program contains itinerary including music, speeches, and songs. Listed alphabetically in the ‘Graduating Class, June 1941 Girls’ roster of graduates is ‘Baker, Norma Jeane’.”

“Vintage original gelatin silver 8 x 10 in. photograph of Marilyn with her junior high school glee club, smiling in the center of the group. The verso is copiously inscribed with messages to Norma Jeane by her girlfriends, including, ‘To a beautiful, sweet, charming, and darling, adorable Norma Jean’ and ‘I hope your ambition will come true – to stay an old maid all your life’.”

“A 2-page letter to ‘Cathy’ handwritten in pencil and signed, ‘Norma Jeane’. Written during a period of major transition in her life, Norma Jeane mentions a leave of absence from her job as a parachute inspector at Radioplane. She had recently been ‘discovered’ by US Army Air Force First Motion Picture Unit photographer David Conover while working at the plant, and through his connections, had been able to get freelance work as a pin-up model. She writes in full: ‘Thursday. My dearest Cathy, thank you for your sweet little note, why of course of course I like you dear very much, you know that. If I seem a little neglectful at times its because I’m so busy I don’t seem to have any time to catch up on my correspondence, but I promise after this, I shall, do better, honestly I will. Jimmie arrived about three weeks ago and you can imagine how thrilled I was. I only wish he didn’t have to go back. Jimmie and I went up to Big Bear Lake for a week and had a grand time I hope you and Bud will be down soon because I would love for you both to meet him. I’ve been on leave of absence from Radioplane. I shall tell you all about it when I see you honey or I shall write to you later. I have so many things I have to do so I had better close for now but I shall write soon. Tell Bud Hello for me. Love, Norma Jeane.'”

Vintage original 8 x 10 in. cast & crew photo from Marilyn’s first movie, Scudda Hoo! Scudda Hay! She is in the third row, just above leading lady June Haver.

“Vintage original gelatin silver 7 x 8.75 in. double weight matte photograph, inscribed and signed in black ink at lower right, ‘To Grace and Daddy Always Lovingly Norma Jeane 12/25/46′. The ‘daddy’ to whom Norma Jeanne inscribed this early headshot is Erwin ‘Doc’ Goddard, a research engineer and the husband of Norma Jeanne’s legal guardian, Grace Goddard.  And sold separately, two oversize glamour portrait photographs of Marilyn Monroe in character as ‘Miss Caswell’ in All About Eve. The first is credit stamped by Ray Nolan with studio snipe, and the other, seen at right, attributed to Ed Clark.” [A poster for the film, signed by Bette Davis, Joseph Mankiewicz, and Celeste Holm, is being sold separately.]

Two vintage calendars including a 1950 wall calendar measuring 8.5 x 14.5 in., and featuring paintings by Earl Moran, six featuring Marilyn, alongside cute, risque poems like, ‘What are little girls made of? Sugar and spice, Perfume that smells nice, Jewels and furs, To attract attention, And other good things Too obvious to mention’, and a wall calendar featuring unique topless ‘cowgirl’ images of Marilyn not seen elsewhere. Sold separately, a 16 x 32 in. pin-up 1952 wall calendar titled, ‘The Lure of Lace‘. Featuring Marilyn Monroe in her famous Tom Kelley nude kneeling pose, but with a black lace teddy ‘overprint’.” 

“Two original studio production 8 x 10 in. negatives of Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, each modeling wardrobe by designer William Travilla. [Russell wore a blonde wig to impersonate Marilyn in a courtroom scene.] Each includes within image a ‘shot-board’ documentation of production, scene, and change numbers. Also included are two original wardrobe documentation green pages detailing costumes [Monroe page describes a different costume, for the opening ‘Little Rock’ number.] At some point in time a positive copy print of the Monroe negative was made for archive continuity, but is not original to the production.”

“11 x 14 in. portrait by Ed Clark of Marilyn in the gold lame gown from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes for LIFE magazine. Signed in black ink on Marilyn’s skirt by the photographer, ‘Edmund Clark Life’.” 

“Photo of Marilyn at the Photoplay Awards in 1953, part of a 1750-image archive for celebrity snapper J.B. Scott. And sold separately, an award plaque presented to Marilyn by a County Fair ‘Sugar Queen’, engraved, ‘To the Sweetest Girl in Motion Pictures, Marilyn Monroe, 20th Century-Fox Films Star Presented by 1953 Yolo County Fair Sugar Queen’.” 

“Elois Jenssen costume sketch for Lucille Ball as ‘Lucy Ricardo’ as ‘Marilyn Monroe’ from I Love Lucy. Elois Jenssen was Lucille Ball’s designer of choice, who is credited with creating the ‘Lucy Look’. This dress design was created for the I Love Lucy Episode: ‘Ricky’s Movie Offer’, which aired on Nov. 8th, 1954. In the episode, ‘Lucy’ transforms herself into Marilyn Monroe to try to win a role in Ricky’s (Desi Arnaz) new Hollywood film. This costume was then repurposed into a showgirl costume for two subsequent episodes.” [Elois Jenssen’s costume sketches for Marilyn in We’re Not Married are being sold separately.]

“Ten 8 x 10 in. photographs of Marilyn Monroe in scenes from films, including the earliest title which depicts her on any of its publicity, Dangerous Years. Other highlights include Ladies of the ChorusThe Asphalt JungleRight Cross [to our knowledge, this still is the only original release paper to depict Marilyn], Let’s Make it Legal, and [shown above] Bus Stop.

“A set of fourteen 7 x 8.5 in. to 8 x 10 in. photographs, a mix of portraits, candids, and scenes, including stills from The Seven Year Itch and Let’s Make Love [at left] and a candid by Al Brack [at right], showing Marilyn on location for Bus Stop in Sun Valley, Idaho.”

“Two exhibition photos signed by Marvin Scott, of Marilyn performing at a circus benefit in 1955; and sold separately, another set including this photo of Marilyn arriving at Los Angeles in 1958 for the filming of Some Like It Hot.

“A candid photo taken by Milton Greene at Marilyn’s wedding to Arthur Miller; and sold separately, two address books from her estate, including typed and annotated entries for contacts including Actor’s Studio, Jack Benny, Eve Arden, George Cukor, Montgomery Clift, Jack Cardiff, Joe DiMaggio, Henry Fonda, John Huston, Hedda Hopper, Designers, makeup artists, Ben Gazzara, Gene Kelly, Jack Lemmon, Yves Montand, Arthur Miller, Robert Montgomery, Jane Russell, Jean Negulesco, Lee and Paula Strasberg, David Selznick, Carl Sandburg, Frank Sinatra, Eli Wallach, Shelley Winters, Clifford Odets, Peter Lawford, JAX, Richard Avedon, Louella Parsons, and more. Annotations not attributed to Monroe.”

And finally, a set of nine photos from Marilyn’s last completed film, The Misfits (1961.)

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.

Pin-Up Artists: Marilyn and Earl Moran

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A lavishly illustrated article about the photographer and artist Earl Moran’s risqué work with a young Marilyn in the 1940s has been posted at Messy Nessy Chic. The photos were used as a basis for his illustrations, and the model’s true identity remained a secret until the 1980s – proving that Marilyn’s more famous calendar for Tom Kelley wasn’t her first experience of posing au naturel.

“In 1946, a nineteen year-old aspiring actress in Hollywood was in need of a job, and fast. Born Norma Jean Dougherty, destined to become Marilyn Monroe, but in between, for those not-so-squeaky-clean modelling jobs, she preferred to go by Mona– with a going rate of $10 an hour.

The famous artist and the unknown aspiring actress struck up an unlikely friendship and for the next four years, Marilyn would pose regularly for Earl, and she credited him with making her skinny legs look better than they were in real-life.

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But with some of Moran’s illustrations the then little known actress’s body seems to have ended up with a not-so-familiar face to the iconic one we’ve come to know so well. Combining poses and facial expressions from more than one model was common practice for pin-up artists. The late artist’s surviving and most accurate depictions of Monroe are of course now considered his most valuable.”

Marilyn at South Avon Street

Over at the I Am Not a Stalker blog, a new post on one of Marilyn’s most mysterious addresses – an apartment building on 131 South Avon Street, Burbank, where she lived during the summer of 1947.

“I came across a Curbed post that mapped 43 properties where my girl Marilyn Monroe once lived…directly across the street from Warner Bros. Studio in Burbank…Prior to reading the Curbed post, I had no idea that Marilyn had ever called Burbank home.  According to the article, she lived in an apartment building at 131 South Avon Street for a very brief period during the summer of 1947 in what seemed to be some sort of house-sitting arrangement…Per Realtor.com (and several other websites), the 13,283-square-foot structure (which I believe is comprised of 13 units) was originally built in 1835 – 179 years ago.  Yeah, that seems a bit ridiculous to me, too.  My guess is that the 1835 date is a typo (that somehow got picked up by numerous sources) and that the building was actually constructed in 1935.

Because the building does look so new, I had originally wondered if Marilyn’s former domicile had been torn down at some point and a different edifice built in its place.  That does not appear to have been the case, though.  Pictured below is a 1972 aerial view of the property, as well as a current one.  As you can see, the structure of the building seems to be the same in both images.  Which means that Marilyn’s former home is actually still standing!  How incredibly cool is that?

The fake Fendi building from Sex and the City is located two doors south at 141 South Avon Street.”

Marilyn was 21, and had just been dropped by Twentieth Century-Fox. Her new address was opposite Warner Brothers Studios, though she never worked there.

An odd story surrounds this period, concerning a stranger whom she had met in a bank one afternoon, while attempting to cash a paycheck from photographer Earl Moran. She arrived too late, and the man offered to lend her the money. Later that night, he climbed through her window at South Avon Street.

Marilyn chased him down the street in her nightdress, and called to her neighbours for help – but no one came. She reported the incident to the police, only to find that the man was, in fact, an off-duty policeman.

Earlier biographers thought Marilyn had imagined or lied about her ordeal, but this seems unlikely as it was mentioned in a local newspaper. Her agent, Harry Lipton, also contacted the police. As a hopeful actress, Marilyn would not have wanted that kind of publicity.

She told actor John Carroll about the break-in while serving as his caddy at a celebrity gold tournament that August. He and his wife, Lucille Ryman – a talent scout for MGM – insisted that she move in with them, and so Marilyn’s brief residency at South Avon Street came to an abrupt end.

Marilyn at Julien’s in November

Some interesting Marilyn-related items are featured in the upcoming Icons and Idols auction at Julien’s, set for November 9th. My favourites are these Korea photos, taken by Daryl Mitchell, who served in the Korean War from August 1952 to August 1954 as ‘Senior Still Photographer’ of the 101st Signal Battalion.

There is also a set of three childhood photos of Norma Jeane, taken when she was 3 1/2 years old. Her young companion is named as ‘Dona’.

This photo of Marilyn holding a fan was probably taken during filming of Niagara in 1952. The photographer is not named, but it seems to came from the same occasion when Marilyn posed with Robert Slatzer (who went on to write several books about their controversial relationship, though some believe he was a fantasist.)

 Also from 1952, a series of photos by Philippe Halsman:

Among the more curious items on offer are a painting by Earl Moran, believed to be of Marilyn though I’m not sure (I’ll let the experts decide!)

A medical file from the office of Dr Michael Gurdin has attracted the attention of Reuters, and will doubtless ignite further debate about cosmetic surgery. While certainly interesting, I think this kind of item is too personal to be sold at auction.

Also included in November’s auction are Marilyn’s Redbook trophy from 1952; a contact sheet from the pool scene of Something’s Got to Give; and Marilyn’s snuff bottle.

Marilyn in Playboy (Again)

While I’ve said here before that I’m not Hugh Hefner’s greatest fan, we do share a liking for a certain iconic blonde. In recent years, it has become something of a tradition for Marilyn to feature in Playboy‘s Christmas issue.

‘The Nude Marilyn’ graces the December issue, due out on November 20th in the US and elsewhere thereafter. A selection of (mostly familiar) nudes and semi-nudes from Earl Moran, Tom Kelley, Lawrence Schiller and Bert Stern are included, as well as tributes by the late novelist John Updike, film critic Roger Ebert and blogger Kim Morgan (aka Sunset Gun.)

You can check out the photos on Playboy‘s website, while the article can now be viewed in its entirety at Everlasting Star (thanks to Megan.)

Marilyn: Hollywood’s Eternal Icon

Last weekend’s ‘Icons of Hollywood’ auction, hosted by Profiles in History, featured several interesting Monroe items which, of course, sold for high prices.

Highlights included this photo-booth snapshot of a young Norma Jeane ($4,612.50); various negatives, transparencies and prints; clothing worn in River of No Return, There’s No Business Like Show Business and Let’s Make Love; a personally annotated promptbook from The Prince and the Showgirl ($98,400), and a postcard sent by Joe DiMaggio in 1962 ($4.920).

However, an extensive archive of production and publicity material for The Seven Year Itch, and a nude oil painting by Earl Moran went unsold. The weekend’s big story was the sale of Marilyn’s eternity ring, given to her by Joe DiMaggio after their wedding in 1954, which sold for $516,600 (even though one of its diamonds is missing!)

Marilyn wearing Joe’s eternity ring (Photo by Milton Greene, 1954)

Scott Fortner wrote about the history of Joe’s eternity ring on his MM Collection Blog, observing that the whereabouts of the wedding ring remain a mystery:

“The significance of this diamond eternity band cannot be overstated.  It’s safe to assume it was selected by Joe and given to Marilyn as a hopeful symbol of an enduring relationship, promising a life eternal that Marilyn was likely longing for, that of love, companionship, partnership and eventually (hopefully) motherhood.

One must wonder though what may have happened to the other diamond ring that Joe gave to Marilyn. While it is clear that this eternity band was given by Joe to Marilyn (she received a simple gold wedding band from Arthur Miller), what became of the ring that was placed on Marilyn’s finger on her wedding day, shown in photos of Marilyn at City Hall, and also in Korea while on their honeymoon?

This other diamond ring has not yet appeared at auction.  Perhaps it was a family heirloom, loaned to Joe to use for the hastily planned wedding, ultimately returned to the DiMaggio family after the divorce.  Perhaps it still resides with the Strasberg family.  Like many other Marilyn Monroe mysteries, we’ll likely never know.”