Bulgari has launched the ‘Diamond Wonder’ necklace and earrings inspired by Marilyn’s ‘Diamonds Are a Girl’s Friend’ number from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes as part of their Cinemagia high jewellery collection, Annie Darling reports for Hong Kong Tatler.
This stunning photo is part of a set taken by Peter Stackpole for LIFE magazine during a party at the Beverly Hills home of producer Sam Spiegel on New Year’s Eve, 1948, posted on Twitter. Marilyn was still a long way from stardom, having only two bit parts and a lead in a B-movie (Ladies of the Chorus) to her name. It is thought that Spiegel invited her as a pretty starlet, probably at the instigation of Marilyn’s well-connected friends, John Carroll and Lucille Ryman, who were managing her career.
Among the guests were some of Hollywood’s biggest names: James Mason, Glenn Ford, Ava Gardner, Judy Garland, Alfred Hitchcock, Charlie Chaplin, Frank Sinatra, Edward G. Robinson, Shirley Temple, Danny Kaye were among them, as well as George Sanders (Marilyn’s future co-star in All About Eve), his wife-to-be Zsa Zsa Gabor, and four of Marilyn’s future directors; John Huston, Henry Hathaway, Jean Negulesco, and Otto Preminger.
Huston wanted to test Marilyn for We Were Strangers (1949), but Spiegel vetoed it, opting for the more bankable Jennifer Jones instead. The director would later give Marilyn her breakthrough role in The Asphalt Jungle (1950.)
In the photo shown above, Marilyn wears the strapless gown seen in her brief appearance in Love Happy (1949), and a separate set of photos taken by J.R. Eyerman for LIFE in 1949, showing her rehearsing with vocal coach Phil Moore. She had also worn the dress in March 1948, during her performance in Strictly for Kicks, a revue staged at Twentieth Century Fox. Notably, she was one of the only female guests at Spiegel’s party not wearing any jewellery (suggesting that for Marilyn, ‘Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend’ was just a song.)
Two other photos from the party (found by another fan on the Getty Images website) show Marilyn dancing in a crowd, and chatting with two men.
Here’s Marilyn again; plus another dancefloor photo with Marilyn to the left, Danny Kaye in the middle and George Sanders on the right (possibly with Zsa Zsa!)
Another photo shows Marilyn dancing with her former beau, musician Fred Karger. Their stormy romance, which began on the Ladies of the Chorus, was coming to an end, but Marilyn remained close to the Karger family for the rest of her life. Interestingly, his watch may have been Marilyn’s Christmas present to him, which took her two years to pay off. She left her name off the engraving so his next girlfriend wouldn’t know it came from her.
It has been said that Marilyn met agent and lover Johnny Hyde that night (although photographer Bruno Bernard has claimed they were introduced a few months later, in Palm Springs.) I haven’t found any photos of him with Marilyn at the party; however, he can be seen in the photos shown above. (They would be snapped together at another New Year’s Eve party a year later.)
And finally, here’s the LIFE article about the party, although Marilyn isn’t featured in it. In 1957, Peter Stackpole would photograph Monroe again at the peak of her fame, with husband Arthur Miller at the ‘April in Paris Ball’ in New York’s Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.)
Thanks to Everlasting Star
As expected, Marilyn’s ‘Heat Wave’ costume from There’s No Business Like Show Business was the biggest seller at Julien’s Auctions yesterday, fetching $280,000 (over three times the maximum estimate) in the Property From the Life and Career of Marilyn Monroe sale – and Travilla’s ‘Heat Wave’ design sketch sold for $11,520. Marilyn’s ‘Little Rock’ costume from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes was close behind at $250,000 (while Jane Russell’s matching gown fetched $43,750.) Her River of No Return costume fetched $175,000, and the black cocktail dress she wore to the Some Like It Hot press conference reached $100,000.
Other big sellers included the chair from Marilyn’s Brentwood home, at $81,250; her green Pucci ensemble, at $46,875; the bathing suit from Let’s Make It Legal, at $37, 500; the pink Ferragamo shoes worn by Marilyn in the ‘Incurably Romantic’ number from Let’s Make Love, at $25,000; the white parasol from her 1949 photo-shoot with Andre de Dienes, and her necklace from the 1953 Cinerama party, at $21,875 each; and finally, her custom-made MGM bathing suit, and Dr Ralph Greenson’s couch at $11,250 each.
I have now updated all my posts on this sale with final bids – see here.
In the latest post on the November 1 event at Julien’s Auctions, Property From the Life and Career of Marilyn Monroe, let’s take at a little-known side of Marilyn, her home and family life.
(You can read all my posts on the sale here.)
“A set of two books; the first The Woman Who Was Poor by Leon Bloy, hardcover, no dust jacket, published in 1947; the second Lidice by Eleanor Wheeler, hardcover, dust jacket, published in 1957.”SOLD for $4,375
“A receipt from Morgan Smith Jeweler located in Reno, Nevada, dated November 11, 1960, for the purchase of three Navajo rugs and a sterling silver bead necklace. Marilyn had been staying in Reno while filming The Misfits.”SOLD for $320
A brass mechanism with a mother of pearl push button doorbell, previously wired, now not in working order; used by Marilyn in her Brentwood home which she bought in 1962.
SOLD for $3,840
“A glass coupe design champagne glass with a bulbous stem, ‘Marilyn’ is etched on the outside rim so it can be read while sipping from it; a gift to the star for her birthday from her psychiatrist, Dr. Ralph Greenson.” [And sold separately, a photo of Marilyn by George Barris.]Glass sold for $6,250; photo sold for $768
“An ornate, Italian-style, carved wood corner chair with olive green velvet upholstery; one of the star’s own chairs that was in her newly-purchased Brentwood home when Life magazine photographer Allan Grant took a number of photographs of her sitting in and on it to accompany an article written by Richard Meryman in July 1962; Monroe wore high heels that day which caused a small tear in the upholstery (which can still be seen) and she also slightly cracked the frame as she sat on top of the chair … Included are two letters: one from 1977 noting that a Joanne Raksin bought this chair directly from Inez Melson [Monroe’s business manager] and one from years later outlining how Raksin sold it to another person.”Chair SOLD for $$81,250; photos SOLD for $768
“A three-page handwritten letter from Grace Goddard, Marilyn Monroe’s former foster mother, dated July 8, 1953. In the letter, Goddard informs Monroe that she had written to C.S. Publishing [Christian Science] on behalf of Mrs. Gladys P. Eley (Monroe’s mother, formerly Gladys Monroe Baker Mortensen) to renew her subscription for C.S. Literature. Goddard also informs Monroe that her mother is ‘improving and seems happy in her nursing.’ Goddard also states that she sent Eley a pair of white shoes along with a personal letter, which Eley received and was happy about.”SOLD for $437.50
A standard issue United Airlines ticket for a flight the star took on March 18, 1954 from Los Angeles to San Francisco using the name ‘Mrs. Joseph DiMaggio.’
SOLD for $1,024
“A single sheet of stationery from Parkside House, the English manor where Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller stayed in Surrey while Monroe filmed The Prince and the Showgirl in London in 1956. The page contains a mournful handwritten poem in pencil on front of sheet with multiple strikethroughs and edits, reading in full, ‘Where his eyes rest with pleasure-I/ want to still be-but time has changed/ the hold of that glance./ Alas how will I cope when I am/ even less youthful-/ I seek joy but it is clothed/ with pain-/ take heart as in my youth/ sleep and rest my heavy head/ on his breast for still my love/ sleeps beside me.'”SOLD for $6,250
“A one-page typed letter from an author’s representative by the name of Alex Jackinson dated September 7, 1957. The letter references a query Jackinson had received regarding Marilyn Monroe’s family heritage and a potentially forthcoming news article mentioning Edward Mortensen’s daughter, who was claiming to be Monroe’s half-sister. Mortensen was listed as Monroe’s father on her birth certificate; however, it is known today that Stanley C. Gifford is Monroe’s biological father. The Jackinson letter reads in part, ‘One of the unhappy aspects of agenting is that articles come along which I would rather they did not, such as the one about which I am now writing. For the story concerns you, your father(?) and half-sister (?). The enclosed query is something which I received from Graham Fisher, one of my English clients.’ The letter continues, ‘He came across the story about your alleged family from a Scandinavian source. Once the query was in my hands, I sent it to THE AMERICAN WEEKLY. They showed an interest in running the story, but expressed some doubt as to the authenticity of Mr. Mortensen being your father. At any rate, I would not be a party to the sale unless the story had your okay.’ A copy of the article is included in this lot. It reads in part, ‘Living quietly in the small military town of Holback, 30 miles from Copenhagen, is a baker’s wife whose sister is the most famous movie-star in the world. Yes Mrs. Olava Nielsen has never seen her famous sister, Marilyn Monroe, in the movies.’ The article continues, ‘Her father, Mortensen, was a Norwegian who left for the United States in 1924 to check on the prospects of immigration. His wife, however, decided against leaving her native Norway. The result – Mr. Mortensen fell in love with a follies dancer in the states … and Marilyn Monroe was born. When the scandal leaked back to Norway, his wife and family found life embarrassingly difficult and moved to Denmark.’ Interestingly, Monroe s birth certificate reads ‘Mortenson’ while the article reads ‘Mortensen.’ The word ‘Answered’ is handwritten in pencil on the original letter from Jackinson.”SOLD for $750
“A pair of letters from the North American Newspaper Alliance regarding Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller’s requested appearance at the organization’s annual cocktail party. The first letter, dated March 26, 1958, reads in part, ‘Since your husband and you have been nice enough to come other years, we would like it very much to have you – and will miss you if you cannot make it.’ The second letter, dated July 2, 1958, sent to Lois Weber, Monroe’s publicist, reads in part, ‘Tell her we were disappointed that she could not attend the annual cocktail party, but I don’t blame her because I think cocktail parties are a pain in the neck, anyway, and she has been very patient in the past.’ Both letters are signed by John N. Wheeler.”SOLD for $192
In the first of several posts about Property From the Life and Career of Marilyn Monroe (coming to Julien’s Auctions on November 1), I’m looking at the lots relating to Marilyn’s personal style. The three movie costumes and the black cocktail dress shown above have been widely publicised, so here’s the best of the rest. (You can read all my posts on the sale here.)
“Marilyn Monroe’s bathing suit from Let’s Make It Legal (20th Century Fox, 1951), worn by the star as ‘Joyce Mannering’ in the scene where she utters the funny line of ‘Who wouldn’t want to meet a man who has millions who isn’t even bald?’
A black silk jersey fabric with a gold and black ‘lace’ print, center is gathered with a wider band of gold down the front, back zip-up closure, interior with attached strapless under-wire brassiere, label reads ’20th Century Fox,’ further handwritten annotation reads ‘M. Monroe’ though that appears to have been added later.
Included with a March 1952 issue of Pageant Magazine where an image of Marilyn Monroe wearing this bathing suit is on the back cover.
(Please note the top of the bust appears to have been slightly altered for a later use.)”SOLD for $37,500
“Bubble gum-pink satin high-heeled shoes, inside stamped ‘Creations / Ferragamo’s / Florence / Italy,’ black fountain pen ink handwritten annotations on interior of both note in part ‘7 1/2 AA,’ leather interior and sole, further handwritten annotation in same ink on each sole reads in part ‘M.M. F-13,’ soles additionally stamped ‘Handmade in Italy;’ worn by the star as ‘Amanda Dell’ in the ‘Incurably Romantic’ song and dance number from Let’s Make Love (1960.)”SOLD for $25,000
“A black stretch rayon fabric bathing-suit, shoulder straps, light blue satin bow on bust with matching pleated detail on either side, back zip-up closure, label reads ‘Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer / M. Monroe.’ [Marilyn made three pictures for MGM in 1950, but never wore this onscreen.]SOLD for $11,250
“A tan wide-wale corduroy skirt, knee-length, straight, kick pleat in back, side zip-up closure, label reads ‘designed by Jax.'”SOLD for $3,750
“A mint green jersey silk Pucci ensemble; the top sleeveless, boat neck, elasticized waistband, label reads ‘Emilio Pucci / Florence – Italy / Made in Italy / 100% Pure Silk’ and another one reads ‘Made in Italy Exclusively For / Saks Fifth Avenue;’ together with a matching straight skirt, knee-length, elasticized waistband.”SOLD for $46,875
“A cabochon black oval necklace in gold-tone casing with gold-tone box link chain worn by Marilyn Monroe to a Cinemascope launch party held at the Cocoanut Grove nightclub in Hollywood, and in a circa 1954 portrait with her drama coach, Natasha Lytess.”SOLD for $21,875
This 1.5 metre white-bead necklace worn by Marilyn in Richard Avedon’s publicity shots for Some Like It Hot and worth £12,000, is up for grabs in a contest ending on December 31 this year. To enter, subscribe now to the JewelStreet email newsletter.
The results are in for this year’s Legends sale at Julien’s Auctions. A number of photos from the Manfred ‘Linus’ Kreiner archive (see above) were sold, with the Marilyn-related lots fetching up to $3,800. These photos were recently featured in Parade magazine (see here.)
Within the fan community, biographer Gary Vitacco-Robles won a telegram from Lauren Bacall congratulating Marilyn after her wedding to Joe DiMaggio, for $1,582.50. The biggest Marilyn-related sales, however, were her costume from A Ticket to Tomahawk (sold for $22,400), and her bathrobe from How to Marry a Millionaire (which fetched $28,800.) Here are some more highlights:
- A rare ‘Page 3’ copy of Playboy‘s first issue, signed by Hugh Hefner ($16,00)
- A cast of Marilyn’s hands and feet from Grauman’s Chinese Theatre ($25,600)
- A black chiffon overblouse ($19, 200)
- A six-strand, iridiscent crystal necklace in purple and green ($11,250)
- A pair of rhinestone clip earrings ($28,125)
- Marilyn’s script for Something’s Got to Give, dated August 30, 1961 ($12,800)
And finally, I’ve added the maximum bids for each item featured in my previous posts – learn more about this fascinating auction here.
UPDATE: I have added the final bids to each item.
“A typed letter on Jamie, Inc. letterhead dated July 24, 1958 in regards to a newspaper article reporting that Marilyn’s new white platinum bleach is breaking off her tresses. The letter, from the president of Jamie, Inc. reads, ‘Enclosed is a clipping from one of our daily newspapers regarding damage to your hair. We are sending you under separate cover our hair conditioner. If used according to directions, it will allow you to bleach your hair as light and as often as you desire. I am sure you will find that you will no longer have hair damage of any kind, and you will also be able to obtain a truer color.’ Enclosed with the letter is the original newspaper clipping referencing Monroe’s hair.” (SOLD for $1,152)
“An October 19, 1959 invoice for the storage of several of Marilyn’s furs, including a white ermine coat, a black fox stole trimmed with silk, a ranch mink coat, a white beaver coat, a white fox stole, a black fox stole, and a white fox stole and muff, among others. Nearly all of the furs listed on this receipt are instantly recognized in photos of Marilyn at publicity and red carpet events. ” (SOLD for $750)
“An extensive collection of statements from Lilly Dache Boutique and Beauty Salon in New York, with dates throughout 1958 and 1959, together with a letter addressed to Marilyn informing her that she has an overdue balance of $238.40.” (SOLD for $768)
“A grouping of shopping receipts addressed to Marilyn Monroe Miller for various purchases, one receipt specifies an alteration to a tweed item for her stepdaughter, Janie Miller. Also included is an envelope from the famed clothing line address to Jax in Beverly Hills.” (SOLD for $875)
“A receipt from I. Magnin & Co. addressed to Mrs. Arthur Miller at the Beverly Hills Hotel, dated December 23, 1959, for the purchase of ‘5# Original,’ indicating a purchase for the famed perfume, widely believed to be a favorite of Monroe’s. Interestingly, the order was specified to be delivered to ‘Dorothy Blass,’ a name Marilyn occasionally used for past purchases and deliveries to disguise her identity. During this period Marilyn was completing filming of Let’s Make Love. Research indicates she actually called out sick on this date.” (SOLD for $1,152)
“A black chiffon overblouse. Label reads ‘Rudi Gernreich Design for Walter Bass.’ A separate paper label reads ‘Style 104 M. Monroe.'” (SOLD for $19,200)
“A pair of drop rhinestone ear clips with three strands of teardrop-shaped rhinestones, unmarked; and a
six-stranded iridescent crystal necklace in purple and green. ” (SOLD for $28,125 and $11,250, respectively)
When Argentine actress Camila Morrone turned out for the Cannes premiere of Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time In Hollywood this week, she wore a Bvlgari Cinemagia necklace – inspired by Marilyn’s performance of ‘Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend’ in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, as Nafeesa Saini reports for Prestige Online. Although rising star Camila, there to support boyfriend Leonardo DiCaprio, has been compared to screen goddess Sophia Loren, she eschews glamour in her latest film, Mickey And The Bear. But as a recent AFP interview reveals, her Monroe homage is no accident…
“Morrone looks up to Charlize Theron — another former catwalk beauty, who won an Oscar for Monster — though she has a soft spot for Marilyn Monroe who ‘never stopped trying to be a good actor… All she wanted was for someone to say she had talent.'”
The legendary Moon of Baroda diamond – valued by its current owner at between $500,000 and $750,000 – is now on display at Christie’s in Los Angeles until October 20, and will be auctioned in Hong Kong on November 27 alongside a signed photo of Marilyn wearing it, as Jordan Riefe writes for the Hollywood Reporter.
“‘It’s gorgeous,’ said Marilyn Monroe when first gazing upon the Moon of Baroda; not a heavenly body to match her own, but a diamond, a rare 24.04-carat canary yellow gem pulled from the legendary Golconda mine, outside Hyderabad, in 16th-century India.
Monroe was on a publicity tour for her breakout 1953 comedy Gentleman Prefer Blondes with its unforgettable song, ‘Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend’ when the Moon of Baroda became her best friend, on loan from Meyer Jewelry Company in Detroit.
Meyer Rosenbaum loaned it to the legendary actor for publicity purposes surrounding Howard Hawks’ classic comedy, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, co-starring Jane Russell, and photos of Monroe wearing it went viral.
What won’t add to its price is a rumored curse alleging that if the gem travels overseas, bad luck will come to its owner. Its 19th century stint in Austria ended with the death of Maria Theresa, and others claim that Monroe’s fortunes took a southward turn after wearing it in 1953, when Gentlemen Prefer Blondes launched her to stardom.”
UPDATE: The Moon of Baroda diamond has been sold at auction in China for $1.3 million – more than double its low estimate, as Christie’s reports.