Tag Archives: Lois Smith

Marilyn at Julien’s: The Lois Weber Collection

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Lois Smith, publicist to Meryl Streep, Robert Redford and others, died in 2012, aged 84. “In a tough business known for steel-sharp elbows,” her New York Times obituary read, “Ms. Smith stood out for being nurturing. She was at the birth of Marilyn Monroe’s kittens...”

Born Lois Eileen Wollenweber of Brooklyn in 1928, she began working for publicist Ted Saucier in the 1950s. His most famous client was the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, where he and Lois recruited celebrities who had come there to escape Hollywood’s crumbling studio system. One of them was Marilyn, who lived there for several months after moving to New York in 1955.

Lois later married journalist Gene Smith, and formed Pickwick Public Relations with Pat Newcomb – Marilyn’s publicist at the time of her death – in 1969. A number of items in the current Julien’s sale, ending today, come from her estate (under the name of Lois Weber.)

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This photo was taken by Hans Knopf on February 22, 1956, when Marilyn was walking to Cecil Beaton’s studio for their famous session. Lois, who accompanied her that morning, is generally cropped out of the picture.

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Two other photos taken by Knopf that day show Marilyn and Lois getting into a taxi cab en route to lunch at the Ambassador Hotel with society columnist Elsa Maxwell.

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Interestingly, some copies of the candid photos taken by Frieda Hull and other members of the ‘Monroe Six’ were also in Lois’ possession. The young fans gave each other copies of their photos, so perhaps they shared a few with her as well.

A 32-page transcript of Marilyn’s 1960 interview with George Belmont, submitted by Lois to Look magazine, is also on offer. Perhaps the most significant items from her estate, however, are the many beautiful photos, negatives and colour transparencies from the set of The Prince and the Showgirl. Marilyn exercised a strict  approval process over all images, and relegated these to a ‘Kill’ folder.

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Liz Smith Remembers Marilyn

 Veteran entertainment writer Liz Smith, who often mentions Marilyn, recalls her brief encounter with MM in today’s Huffington Post.

“I am forever writing here about Marilyn. And people often ask me when and if I met her and was I a good friend? I have already written that we were not friends and never actually met. My vast information about Marilyn springs from my long friendship with her great (and last) press agent Pat Newcomb, from the late PR insiders Lois Smith, and John Springer and from speaking privately with Frank Sinatra, Dean and Jeannie Martin, Pat Lawford , Tita Cahn, Tony Curtis, etc. Marilyn knew a lot of people and I knew those people. And they were all obsessed by her. Lois Smith once told me: ‘I never felt that way about another star ever I worked with. She made you want to protect her from anything hurtful.’ Sinatra would have married her, if Joe DiMaggio hadn’t been around.

But I have often recounted barely recovering, as a fan, back in early 1961, from seeing her smothered in a black sable wrap, very glamorous, very beautiful, very blond, attending the New York premiere of The Misfits in NYC. She was with Montgomery Clift. (The Arthur Miller marriage had already collapsed.) They sat down in front of my aisle and I observed them throughout the film, cuddling, giggling and being very happy in the manner of real pals. So here’s a photo that very night. And I had never seen it before. Perhaps it is one of the few nights in the lives of these two talented stars when they were truly happy. (At least in each other’s company.) Marilyn famously disliked the film and her character, which was based so much on her. Both of them were to die only too young, but they were even then, already legends.”