Fake James Dean/Marilyn Image Debunked


In a post debunking fake, Photoshopped images, Gizmodo’s Matt Novak points out a frequently circulated image of Marilyn, supposedly with James Dean. In fact, she was photographed alone by Ed Feingersh in 1955, smoking a cigarette on a balcony overlooking a New York street. The photo of Dean appears to have been taken while filming East of Eden. While the two iconic stars have often been compared, actually they only met on a handful of occasions and were not close friends.

Robert Stein on Feingersh, Marilyn, and Joe

Robert Stein in 1950
Robert Stein in 1950

The respected journalist and editor, Robert Stein, has died aged 90, reports the New York Times. As editor-in-chief of Redbook during the 1950s, Stein oversaw several profiles of MM, including ‘The Marilyn Monroe You’ve Never Seen‘, a 1955 cover story in which, shortly after Marilyn’s self-imposed exile from Hollywood, New York photographer Ed Feingersh chronicled a week in her life.

redbook 53

redbook 55

In my 2010 profile of Feingersh for Immortal Marilyn, I explained how the project took shape:

“In his introduction to the 1990 book, Marilyn 55, Bob LaBrasca stated that it was Milton Greene who arranged for a cover spread in Redbook. But Robert Stein, magazine editor at the time, has claimed that it was another of Marilyn’s photographers, Sam Shaw, who arranged the initial contact, and one of Shaw’s portraits of Marilyn graces the resulting July 1955 cover story, ‘The Marilyn Monroe You’ve Never Seen’.

However, neither Shaw nor Greene worked on the story directly. Over a hectic week, photojournalist Ed Feingersh followed Marilyn, along with Stein, and Marilyn’s small coterie of business associates. Whether shopping, dining, or dressing up, Marilyn’s daily life was captured on film.

In a 2005 article for American Heritage, ‘Do You Want to See Her?’, Stein recalled that ‘the two Marilyns kept fading in and out’: in other words, the star charisma she could switch on at will, and the nervous, sensitive woman that lay just behind that mask.

According to Stein, Feingersh was also a rather unpredictable character.   ‘He lived in the now, letting moments take him wherever they would… He must have had an apartment or room somewhere, but in all our years as close friends, I never saw it… His energy was unending… Life with him was never at a standstill.’”

Stein’s own thoughts on Feingersh and Marilyn, published in 2005, can be read in full on the American Heritage magazine’s website.


But as a tribute on The Moderate Voice website notes, Stein’s writings on Marilyn didn’t end there. Stein also kept a blog, posting a moving portrait of Joe DiMaggio in 2008:

“I met DiMaggio soon after their divorce the next year, when Marilyn came to New York and Joe, still in love with her as he would always be, confided how happy he was that she was getting away from ‘that Hollywood crowd.’

Five years after Marilyn’s death, the story I wanted as a magazine editor was Joe’s. He had arranged her funeral, kept it private and was still sending flowers to her grave three times a week but had not said a word about her.

He invited me to his New York suite at cocktail time and poured a drink. There were half a dozen men there, and it became clear he wanted me to sit at the edge of his circle, listening to locker—room banter, while he eyed me once in a while, freshened my drink and made up his mind about talking to me.

He was a matador surrounded by his entourage. Two men in business suits came in for a Polaroid picture. With DiMaggio’s arms draped over them, years fell from their middle-aged faces. They were boys in the embrace of their boyhood hero…

The evening ground on, the friends chattered, Joe said little. Finally I asked, ‘Could we talk?’ ‘Tomorrow morning,’ he said. ‘Come up about ten.’

When I arrived, he was packing his bags. I talked as he kept putting shirts, socks and underwear into a suitcase. He never looked up.

I told him I didn’t want to intrude, but it was my job to ask if he would ever say anything about Marilyn. If he did, he could trust me to make sure it came out right.

He was still staring into the suitcase, but I could see his eyes clouding. His jaw muscles tightened. For a long minute, he was silent.

‘I could never talk about her,’ he finally said in a choked voice. ‘Never.’

He never did.”

A Decisive Moment: Marilyn in New York

feingersh ny

Over at the American Past blog, Jenny Thompson takes an in-depth look at Marilyn’s time in New York, through the lens of photographers Ed Feingersh and Sam Shaw.

“In 1955, Monroe had returned to New York City to capture something of herself, for herself. She roamed the city, taking classes at the Actors Studio (from teacher and friend Lee Strasberg, who lived with his wife Paula at 255 W. 86th Street), relaxing, changing. . . It was, to use Cartier-Bresson’s famous phrase about image-making, a “decisive moment” in her life.

“I’m much happier now,” she told the press in an interview.  Although she maintained a house in Brentwood, she would never really leave New York entirely. She would maintain a home in the city for the rest of her life.

For me, it is a far more satisfying image-memory of Monroe to picture her standing on the balcony of the Ambassador Hotel, looking forward to her future, and smiling with that special something that she possessed all of her too short life.”

When Marge Met Marilyn

Everyone’s favourite cartoon mom, Marge Simpson, has a Marilyn moment in this illustration by artist AleXsandro Palombo for Vogue, in a series of classic fashion recreations celebrating 25 years of The Simpsons:

“‘There is a Marge Simpson in every woman and with this tribute I wanted to ignite the magic that is in every women; the strength, femininity, elegance, eroticism and beauty,’ Palombo told us. ‘I made a strict and careful selection of what, in my opinion, has really influenced the style of the last 100 years. Each of these dresses really changed the course of the history of costume, giving a new aesthetic vision that has anticipated major changes in our society. We may not consider these clothes as art, but the aesthetic vision that they emanate has played an important role in giving strength to the path of emancipation of women since 1900. In many cases it’s the dress that has transformed a woman into an icon, but in many others, it’s the personality of the women that has enlightened the dress.'”

UPDATE: Here’s another famous MM pose, based on Ed Feingersh’s 1955 photo of Marilyn dabbing on her favourite perfume, Chanel No. 5…

palombo chanel


Rihanna Goes Back to Blonde

Pop star Rihanna has posted a series of Marilyn-inspired photos to Instagram this weekend, including this Ed Feingersh-style montage. In another, she dons a blonde wig.

It’s not the first time the singer has referenced MM. ‘Red lipstick, rose petals, heartbreak / I was his Marilyn Monroe,’ is a line from ‘Love Without Tragedy/Mother Mary‘ on her latest album Unapologetic, possibly referring to her troubled relationship with Chris Brown.


Feingersh Exhibit in LA

‘Remembering Marilyn’, a display of about 30 photos by Ed Feingersh, will open on Sunday, September 9th, at 5pm at the Drkrm Gallery in Los Angeles (pronounced ‘darkroom’.) Admission is free and the exhibition will run through to October 14.

Kate Upton’s Monroe Muse

After some truly terrifying MM-inspired photo shoots in recent days (yes, Courtney Stodden and Angela ‘Big Ang’ Raiola, I mean you), it was a pleasant surprise to see this superior effort featuring glamour model Kate Upton, photographed by Sebastien Faena for Muse magazine.

There are also elements of Bardot, Mansfield, Anna Nicole in Kate’s look.  Faena seems to have taken his inspiration from Bert Stern, Sam Shaw and Ed Feingersh’s work with Monroe.


Marilyn in the Blogosphere

Marilyn on the marquee at Grauman’s, 1955

First, some sad news: Grauman’s Chinese Theatre is to be sold, reports Melinda at The MMM Blog.

Dressing Marilyn, an illustrated tribute to William Travilla’s costume designs for Marilyn, will be released in October. By Andrew Hansford and Karen Homer, to be published by Goodman Books, 192pp. More details at MM Collection Blog

And for French-fluent readers, Blonde a Manhattan is a newly published collection of Ed Feingersh‘s photos, taken over one week with Marilyn in March 1955, 216 pp, with text by Adrien Gombeaud; the book’s release is accompanied by an exhibition in Paris.

Meeting George Zimbel

Melinda Mason’s account of meeting George Zimbel – one of the photographers who covered the famous ‘subway scene’ shoot from The Seven Year Itch – last week at the ongoing Marilyn exhibit at the McMichael, Ontario, is posted at The MMM Blog.