Two signed photos were the highest sellers among the Marilyn-related lots in the Entertainment Signatures sale at Heritage Auctions yesterday. A Frank Powolny headshot (from the same session which later inspired Andy Warhol) sold for $13,750, and a classic pin-up image by Earl Thiesen fetched over $9,000. A restaurant menu from Trader Vic’s in Honolulu, signed by Marilyn and Joe DiMaggio in 1954, reached a top bid of $6,875. Among other popular lots were sets of rare photos showing a young Marilyn with security guard Aviv Wardimon (aka Blackman) on the Fox lot in 1947. You can see more photos from the auction here.
‘What makes your hometown weird?’ Mey Valdivia Rude asks over at Autostraddle. Her hometown of Blackfoot is also the home of the Idaho Potato Museum, which ‘houses things like a life size pin-up of Marilyn Monroe in a dress made from a potato sack and the world’s largest potato crisp.’
The museum’s website includes ‘Movie Star in Burlap‘, an article revealing how Marilyn came to wear an Idaho potato sack, and souvenirs are available in the gift shop. (You can see more photos from the shoot with Earl Thiesen here.)
“In the early days of her struggle to attract the attention of the Hollywood community and the media, Norma Jeane wore a sexy and revealing red dress to a 1951 holiday-season party. A columnist commented in a print about the incident and observed that Marilyn’s stunning figure would look good even if she wore a potato sack. The remark prompted her publicity agent to have a dress made from a burlap bag obtained at the local produce market, which Marilyn wore for a photographic session. [NB: Another version of this story, told by Marilyn herself, is that the columnist had actually insulted her dress by saying she would have looked better in a potato sack.]
The bag had been packed at Long Produce in Twin Falls, Idaho, and displayed the Idaho identification and Long’s Sawtooth brand as never before.
The Longs wrote to Marilyn and thanked her for the publicity and she graciously responded with an autographed picture that was displayed on the office wall and reproduced for advertising and promotional purposes.
When Long Produce ceased business in the late 50’s, the prized autograph disappeared. Another print, however, was found recently at a garage sale in Minneapolis and purchased by a Union Pacific Railroad executive who presented the Idaho Grower-Shippers Association with two copies for their use. Reproduction of the picture by the Association in their yearbook publication captured the fancy of a new generation of fans.”
Reality TV star Lucy Mecklenburgh has recreated Marilyn’s famous ‘potato sack’ photo shoot as part of a campaign to promote ‘healthy carbs’ for UK supermarket Asda, reports The Sun.
“There are two theories as to why Marilyn Monroe originally wore a sack of potatoes in her 1951 photoshoot.
One is that Twentieth Century Fox capitalised on a female journalist suggesting the actress would look better in a sack of potatoes than a particular vulgar red dress.
The other is that someone simply made an off-the-cuff comment about her being so attractive she could make even a sack of potatoes look good, Twentieth Century Fox then taking the stills to prove him right.”
David Wills’ 2011 book, Marilyn Monroe: Metamorphosis, is one of the best photo retrospectives on the market – so it’s no surprise to report that his latest publication, Hollywood in Kodachrome, is also of fine quality. Focussing on 1940s photography, Wills devotes ten pages to Richard C. Miller, Bruno Bernard, Tom Kelley and Earl Thiesen’s glorious colour shots of a young Marilyn in her starlet years.
Scans by Chris at Club Passion Marilyn – click on thumbnails to see them at full size.
My review of Lawrence Schiller’s Marilyn & Me: A Memoir in Words and Photographs has been published in Issue 25 of the Mad About Marilyn fanzine, which also includes an in-depth profile of photographer Earl Thiesen and ‘I Dress for Men’, an article penned by Marilyn herself in 1953.
You can read my review in full here. For more details on Mad About Marilyn, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
A series of rare, previously unpublished photos of Marilyn – taken by Earl Theisen between 1947 and 1953 – have been posted on Vanity Fair‘s Italian website today.