When ‘Typhoon Marilyn’ Came to Tokyo

Heather Howard has accessed the Yomiuri Shimbun archives on Marilyn and Joe DiMaggio’s Far-East adventure for The Japan News.

“‘Typhoon Marilyn Monroe comes to Tokyo.’ She certainly did, with a force so powerful it sent some of her fans tumbling into a pond at the Imperial Hotel.

On Feb. 2, 1954, the morning edition of The Yomiuri Shimbun reported — under that typhoon headline — that Monroe had arrived at Haneda Airport the day before with her new husband, baseball great Joe DiMaggio. The trip was part honeymoon, part business: DiMaggio had been invited to coach Central League teams during spring training that year.

Fans began gathering at Haneda Airport two hours before their scheduled arrival. When Monroe and DiMaggio’s Pan American flight finally touched down — four hours late — the fans pushed past police and flooded onto the runway, surrounding the plane.

A group of Japanese dignitaries was waiting to greet them at the base of the stairs, but that plan was abandoned. Monroe appeared, carried by DiMaggio, bringing what The Yomiuri described as an ‘ecstatic reaction.’

However, the crowds of people made it impossible for them to get to customs, so they retreated back into the plane. After nearly another hour they finally exited through a cargo door and headed in a U.S. Embassy car for the Imperial Hotel.

The brouhaha, however, was far from over, as fans even climbed trees along her route. Monroe and her party had been scheduled to parade through the Shinbashi, Ginza and Hibiya areas of Tokyo, but that too was scrapped due to the chaos at the airport.

Monroe was forced to use a rear banquet entrance when she arrived at the Imperial, according to a history of the hotel. When it looked like the crush of fans, irate at not seeing their idol, would break the glass in the lobby doors, Monroe showed herself from a second-floor balcony at the hotel’s request. This calmed the ruckus, but as she was greeting the crowd, the history tells us, ‘two or three fans fell into the pond in front of the [hotel’s] Wright building.’

That seems like a fortunately small number. One of the photos accompanying the Yomiuri article shows a veritable sea of people outside the Imperial Hotel, with some fans having even climbed up on the roof.

Monroe and DiMaggio traveled to other parts of the country as well. When they stayed in Fukuoka for four days, about 5,000 people gathered outside their hotel there.

Nor was the fuss limited to fans. Over 300 journalists attended a press conference the day after Monroe’s arrival, and in Fukuoka, local journalists who had learned where Monroe and DiMaggio were dining one day abruptly opened the door to their room at the restaurant, took her picture, and with just a ‘thank you’ fled the scene.

Monroe ultimately departed Japan with DiMaggio on Feb. 24 from Haneda Airport. The furor of their arrival had clearly made an impression: This time the general public’s entry was restricted, Japanese plainclothes police stood guard along with military police from the U.S. Air Force, and there was at least one armored car on the apron. “

When Marilyn Met Yohji Yamamoto

One of the world’s greatest fashion designers, Yohji Yamamoto, has teamed up with Marilyn’s estate, creating a special tribute for his capsule collection, Project Y, based on two of Monroe’s most memorable photo shoots – her 1949 nude calendar, and the 1956 ‘Black Sitting’, as Jake Silbert reports for Hypebeast.

“The opportunity to work with the estates of Tom Kelley and Milton Greene, two photographers famous for their intimate imagery of Monroe, reads like a match made in heaven.

Drawing from Kelley’s ‘Red Velvet Series’ and Greene’s photographic archive, the collection emblazons a blouson jacket, cloak, gown, shirt and cut-and-sew with lush prints of ‘the world’s most photographed woman.’ Nude snapshots of Monroe take center stage, printed at the chest of the shirt and jacket and rear of the gown and mantle cloak. With Yamamoto’s preferred all-black palette at the core of the designs, the imagery is granted extra emphasis, ensuring that each image is unforgettably bold.

The Marilyn Monroe capsule hits Ground Y’s web store on June 7.”

Joe and Marilyn’s Japanese Photo Album

A souvenir album featuring 34 original photos taken during Marilyn and Joe DiMaggio’s trip to Japan in early 1954 – including Joe’s stint as a coach to the Japanese baseball league, and Marilyn’s solo jaunt to Korea – will go under the hammer at a sports memorabilia sale hosted by Heritage Auctions on February 23-24, as Simon Lindley reports for Just Collecting. First sold in the 2006 auction of the DiMaggio estate, it was most likely a parting gift from the newlyweds’ hosts.

UPDATE: The album has been sold for $12,000.

Remembering Marilyn’s Nikon Moment

This lovely photo of Marilyn holding a Nikon F camera – shot by Bert Stern in 1962 – has been used for an advertising campaign to celebrate the Japanese company’s centenary. You can read the backstory at Wired.

“IN THE SUMMER of 1962, Bert Stern arrived at the Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles to shoot Marilyn Monroe with the last camera anyone expected — the Nikon F … Tough, portable and the most advanced camera of its day, the F would be used to capture everything from overseas battles to NASA space missions to the Super Bowl — but Stern would use it to revolutionize the world of celebrities …’On the Nikon, you’re looking right through the lens, so the shutter goes black when the picture is taken,’ he later said. ‘At that perfect moment, you just have to close your eyes and jump — you have to grab it.’

While Nikon continues to send cameras to the far corners of the galaxy, expanding the possibilities of photography, it remains Stern who first popularized them in another field — celebrities. In 1962, he had been waiting for hours in the Bel-Air when the world’s most famous actress suddenly arrived. ‘She was alone wearing a scarf and green slacks and a sweater,’ Stern later wrote. ‘She had no makeup on. I said, “You’re beautiful” and she said, “What a nice thing to say”‘ … ‘There have been many beautiful women since Marilyn Monroe,’ he later said. ‘But who is there that has her total magic? Nobody has that vulnerability anymore.'”

And here are some more images from this delightful sitting…

Thanks to Johann

Did Marilyn Pass Through Hong Kong in 1954?

Today’s obituary page in the Daily Mail includes an interesting anecdote from Timothy Goss, son-in-law of Derek Bishop who died recently, aged 85. Apparently, Derek met Marilyn at the former Kai Tak airport in Hong Kong one freezing night, while on guard duty as part of his national service in the British Royal Air Force.

Although the story is dated as from 1952, Marilyn didn’t travel to the Far East until 1954. National service usually lasted for 1 year, sometimes more. And I haven’t heard of her visiting Hong Kong before, but it’s possible she passed through while returning to husband Joe DiMaggio in Japan after entertaining US troops in Korea.

However, as April VeVea points out over at Marilyn Remembered, “That seems really far out of the way when Hong Kong is roughly 2000 miles [from South Korea] and Kobe, Japan is 800.” So did Derek really meet Marilyn, or another blonde starlet that night?

“When his shift came to an end at 9pm, Derek and another solider were asked if they would stay on because a delayed flight was expected and there was a ‘celebrity’ on board.

They agreed and when the plane landed at 11pm, the famous passenger who stepped out was none other than the woman who would become the ultimate screen goddess.

Derek said she was dressed in ‘everyday’ clothes and wore very little make-up. She insisted on thanking him and his pal personally for working late and took them for a drink in the Nissen Hut that served as the mess.

He had half a lager and his only comment was that ‘she had no side to her.'”

Marilyn and Joe in Japan

Over at Japan Today, Patrick Parr looks back at the newlywed Marilyn and Joe DiMaggio’s eventful trip to the Far East in 1954, where he attended a baseball junket and she entertained US troops in Korea. (They’re photographed here with the manager of Tokyo’s Imperial Hotel, where they stayed during their visit.)

“For Monroe, this was now her life when visiting other countries. As she puts it in her abbreviated as-told-to Ben Hecht autobiography, My Story: ‘My travels have always been of the same kind. No matter where I’ve gone or why I’ve gone there, it ends up that I never see anything. Becoming a movie star is living on a merry-go-round… you don’t see natives or new scenery. You see chiefly the same press agent, the same sort of interviewers and the same picture layouts of yourself… ‘

Before heading out to support the troops in South Korea, Monroe first visited soldiers who had been fighting over in Korea and were now recuperating in Japanese hospitals. Always under heavy security detail, on Feb 11 she visited the Iwakuni City military base south of Hiroshima and then on the Feb 14 traveled to Osaka. She also visited a Tokyo medical center for wounded soldiers.

At the time, she was being treated by Tokujiro Namikoshi, the ‘founder of modern shiatsu,’ for ‘chronic endometriosis,’ a painful condition that can affect the female reproductive system. During this downtime, Monroe always had on hand her favorite perfume.  According to writer Pauline Torin, back in 2009 a bottle of Monroe’s Chanel No. 5 was found sewn into a pillowcase by a housekeeper and dated ‘Feb. 5 1954.’

When Monroe returned to Japan, she came down with the flu and remained mainly in the Imperial Hotel. She and DiMaggio did eat in Ginza once, at Irene’s Hungaria Restaurant, an ‘elegant’ place to dine. One of the cooks there, Yoshimasa Saito, remembered the couple coming in for a bite in a May 2006 interview with Judit Kawaguchi for The Japan Times: ‘Mon-chan, as we called her, was more beautiful in person than on film. I only got a glimpse of her because I was busy cooking.'”

Marilyn and the Women Who Changed History

Marilyn is featured in this one-off special from Elle, joining Sarah Bernhardt, Ella Fitzgerald, and Brigitte Bardot among forty ‘Women Who Changed History‘. (Her photo was taken during a tour of Brady Airbase in Fukuoka, Japan in February 1954.) The magazine is available now in France for € 6.95.

Marilyn was also the subject of L’Autre là, la Blonde, a play starring Marie-Line Rossetti as an older Monroe, staged last week at the Balcony Theatre in Avignon.