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.

Marilyn at Julien’s: Trinkets and Keepsakes

Among Marilyn’s possessions were many items of sentimental value.  She kept this ballerina paperweight in her New York apartment next to a framed photo of 1920s Broadway star Marilyn Miller, who inspired her own stage name. In a strange twist of fate, she would also become ‘Marilyn Miller’ after her third marriage. She later gave the paperweight to her friend and masseur, Ralph Roberts, calling it “the other Marilyn.”

This silver-tone St Christopher pendant was a gift from Natasha Lytess, Marilyn’s drama coach from 1948-54. (St Christopher is the patron saint of travellers.) Marilyn cut ties with Lytess after discovering she was writing a book about their friendship. She later gave the pendant to Ralph Roberts, telling him, “I’ve outgrown Natasha.

This gold and silver-tone Gemini pendant reflects Marilyn’s close identification with her astrological sign, symbolised by twin faces. “I’m so many people,” she told journalist W.J. Weatherby. “Sometimes I wish I was just me.

Marilyn was exceedingly generous to her friends, as the story behind this bracelet reveals.

“A rhinestone bracelet owned by Marilyn Monroe and gifted to Vanessa Reis, the sister-in-law to May Reis, Monroe’s personal assistant and secretary. In a letter to the consigner dated November 28, 1994, Ralph Roberts writes, ‘Reference Marilyn robe and bracelet. As best I recall, late one Saturday afternoon Marilyn and I were in the dining area of the Miller 9th floor suite at the Mapes Hotel. She had just changed into a robe, sitting on one of the chairs and I was massaging her back and shoulders. She showed me a bracelet she’d brought to Reno with thought of possibly wearing it as a [undecipherable comment] for Roslyn [Monroe’s character in The Misfits]. Upon discussing it, she and Paula [Paula Strasberg was Monroe’s acting coach and friend] had decided somehow it wouldn’t be appropriate. Just then May Reis entered with Vanessa Reis (the widow of Irving Reis, May’s greatly loved brother and film director). Vanessa had come up from LA for a long weekend visit – there’d been some talk of our going out to some of the casinos to do a bit of gambling. Vanessa told Marilyn how lovely she looked in that robe. Marilyn thanked her + impulsively held out the bracelet, Take this + wear it as a good luck charm. I was wearing it during dance rehearsals for Let’s Make Love, smashed into a prop, so a stone is loosened. I wish I could go with you, but Raffe is getting some Misfits knots out. And I should go over that scene coming up Monday. They left. Marilyn asked me to remind her to have the robe cleaned to give to Vanessa. Whitey, Agnes, May – all of us – knew from experience we couldn’t compliment Marilyn on any personal items or had to be very careful. She’d be compulsive about giving it, or getting a copy – to you.’ Accompanied by a copy of the letter.”

Jack Dempsey, a former world heavyweight champion boxer, wrote to Joe DiMaggio’s New York Yankees teammate, Jerry Coleman, in 1954. “Have been reading a lot about Marilyn, Joe and yourself, here in the east,” Dempsey remarked. “Best of luck to you and your family, and send Marilyn’s autograph along.

This small pine-cone Christmas tree, held together with wire and dusted in glitter, was given to Marilyn as a surprise by Joe DiMaggio one year when she had no plans, or decorations. Christmas can be a lonely time, and Joe made sure to bring some cheer.

This vintage Hallmark card was sent to Marilyn one Christmas by her favourite singer, Ella Fitzgerald.

Author Truman Capote sent Marilyn a personally inscribed 1959 album of himself reading ‘A Christmas Memory‘ (an excerpt from his famous novella, Breakfast at Tiffany’s.)

Marilyn owned a leather-bound, monogrammed copy of Esquire magazine’s July 1953 issue, featuring an article about herself titled “The ‘Altogether’ Girl.”

Marilyn’s 1954 trip to Korea to entertain American troops was one of her happiest memories. This photo shows her with the band and is accompanied by a letter from George Sweers of the St Petersburg Times, sent after their chance reunion when Marilyn took a short break in Florida in 1961.

This endearing note accompanied a gift from Marilyn to Paula Strasberg, who replaced Natasha Lytess as her acting coach in 1956: “Dear Paula, I’m glad you were born because you are needed. Your warmth is both astonishing and welcomed. Love & Happy Birthday, Marilyn.”

In April 1955, novelist John Steinbeck wrote a letter to Marilyn, asking her to sign a photo for his young nephew.

“In my whole experience I have never known anyone to ask for an autograph for himself. It is always for a child or an ancient aunt, which gets very tiresome as you know better than I. It is therefore, with a certain nausea that I tell you that I have a nephew-in-law … he has a foot in the door of puberty, but that is only one of his problems. You are the other. … I know that you are not made of ether, but he doesn’t. … Would you send him, in my care, a picture of yourself, perhaps in pensive, girlish mood, inscribed to him by name and indicating that you are aware of his existence. He is already your slave. This would make him mine. If you will do this, I will send you a guest key to the ladies’ entrance of Fort Knox.”

Television host Edward K. Murrow sent Marilyn a Columbia Records album, featuring excerpts from speeches by Sir Winston Churchill, in November 1955. She had been a guest on Murrow’s CBS show, Person to Person, a few months previously.

Marilyn’s custom-bound edition of Arthur Miller’s Collected Plays included a personal dedication. Miller had drafted a fuller tribute, but it was nixed – possibly because his first divorce was not final when it was published.

“This book is being written out of the courage, the widened view of life, the awareness of love and beauty, given to me by my love, my wife-to-be, my Marilyn. I bless her for this gift, and I write it so that she may have from me the only unique thing I know how to make. I bless her, I owe her the discovery of my soul.”

Costume designer Donfeld sent Marilyn this handmade birthday card one year, together with a small note that read, “M – I hope this finds you well and happy – My thoughts are with you now – Love, Feld.”

This engraved cigarette case was given by Marilyn to Joe DiMaggio during their post-honeymoon trip to Japan in 1954.

This souvenir brochure for the small town of Bement, Illinois was signed by Marilyn when she made a surprise appearance in 1955, during a festival marking the centennial of an historic visit by her idol, Abraham Lincoln.

Comedian Ernie Kovacs sent this rather cheeky letter to Marilyn in 1961. He would die in a tragic car crash in January 1962, aged 43, followed by Marilyn in August.

“The letter, addressed to ‘Marilyneleh’, invites Monroe to a get together at his home on June 15, giving the dress code as ‘… slacks or if you want to be chic, just spray yourself with aluminum paint or something.’ He continues, ‘I’ll try to find someone more mature than Carl Sandburg for you. … if Frank is in town, will be asking him. … don’t be a miserable shit and say you can’t come. … Look as ugly as possible cause the neighbors talk if attractive women come into my study.’ He signs the letter in black pen ‘Ernie’ and adds a note at the bottom: ‘If you don’t have any aluminum paint, you could back into a mud pack and come as an adobe hut. … we’ll make it a costume party. … Kovacs.'”

Always gracious to her fans, Marilyn gave child actress Linda Bennett a magazine clipping with the inscription, “I saw you in The Seven Little Foys. Great – Marilyn Monroe.” She also signed this photograph, “Dear Linda, I wish you luck with your acting. Love and kisses, Marilyn Monroe Miller.”

Misfits Footage (and More) at Profiles in History

H3257-L78855457The upcoming Hollywood Auction 74 at Profiles in History contains some interesting Marilyn-related items, mainly on Day 2 (September 30.)

  1. An early pin-up photo, signed by Marilyn.
  2. Artwork inspired by Marilyn’s nude calendar.
  3. Marilyn’s ‘topless cowgirl‘ calendar.
  4. Marilyn’s 1952 contract for The Charlie McCarthy Show.
  5. Marilyn’s hand-annotated script for Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.
  6. Travilla’s costume sketch for ‘Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend.’     H3257-L78859923
  7. Original transparencies of photos taken on location for River of No Return.
  8. Photos taken by Darlene Hammond at various public events in 1953.
  9. Original prints stamped by Milton Greene.
  10. Candid photos taken in Japan and Korea.
  11. Marilyn’s 1953 recording contract with RCA.
  12. Photos taken by Sam Shaw during filming of The Seven Year Itch.   123a
  13. Candid negatives of Marilyn in public, circa 1955.
  14. Books on psychology and mythology, owned by Marilyn.
  15. A painting of Marilyn and Sir Laurence Olivier in The Prince and the Showgirl, by Francis R. Flint.                                                              H3257-L78859604
  16. Posters from Marilyn’s ‘Fabled Enchantresses‘ session, signed by Richard Avedon.
  17. Letters to Marilyn from Pat Newcomb and Arthur Miller.
  18. 48 minutes of 8mm film shot on location for The Misfits by Stanley Killar, an uncredited extra.
  19. A Misfits autograph book, signed by Marilyn and others.
  20. Contact sheets for photos taken by Sylvia Norris at the Golden Globes in 1962.
  21. The final draft of Something’s Got to Give.
  22. A camera used for many of Marilyn’s films at Fox.
  23. An archive of vintage press clippings.

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