Marilyn’s Letter to Lee Goes Unsold

Marilyn with hairdresser Agnes Flanagan by Eve Arnold, 1960 – sold for
$596.25 at RR Auctions this week

Surprisingly, Marilyn’s 1961 letter to Lee Strasberg failed to reach the $20,000 estimate at the RR Auctions Hollywood sale on Thursday, May 23. A Marilyn-owned black velvet belt, possibly worn in As Young As You Feel, sold for $7,837.50; while her copy of Something To Live By, a self-help book by Dorothea S. Kopplin, fetched $7,730. You can find out more about the winning Marilyn-related lots here; and the full list is over here.

Manfred Kreiner’s Marilyn at Julien’s Legends

Following reports that the bathrobe worn by Marilyn in How to Marry a Millionaire will be auctioned at the annual Legends sale at Julien’s on June 13-14 (see here), the full listings are now available online here. I will review Marilyn’s personal and business correspondence in a future post, but today I’m looking through the archives of German photographer Manfred ‘Kreiner’ Linus.

Marilyn opens the Time-Life building in New York, July 1957
This group of photos includes images from the Time-Life building (bottom, centre), and with Arthur at the Crystal Awards, where Marilyn received an award for The Prince and the Showgirl at New York’s French embassy in February 1959 (top left, and bottom right)
Arriving in Chicago, March 1959
Meeting the press at Chicago’s Ambassador Hotel
Arriving at the New York premiere of Some Like It Hot, March 1959
This group of photos includes an image of Marilyn attending the Hollywood reception for Russian premier Nikita Khrushchev in September 1959 (top right)
This slide shows Manfred Kreiner with Marilyn during filming of The Misfits, 1960

Burt Reynolds’ Marilyn Collection

Actor Burt Reynolds, who died last year, once told of meeting Marilyn at the Actors Studio (see here.) And it seems she made a lasting impression, as his personal property – up for auction at Julien’s on June 15-16 – includes several Monroe posters and biographies, including the 2010 book, Fragments – as Scott Fortner reports on his MM Collection Blog.

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.”

Bob Mackie Documentary Announced

The spectacular career of Bob Mackie, designer to the stars, will be explored in a new documentary, as Bronwyn Cosgrave writes in the Hollywood Reporter.

“Slated for a December 2020 release, the as-yet-untitled doc will examine the Burbank-based designer’s 50-year career, commencing from his start in 1961 at Paramount Pictures working as a sketch artist for Edith Head before moving on to assist Columbia’s costume designer Jean Louis. For Louis, Mackie innovated the nude-illusion sartorial concept by creating an illustration that proved to be the blueprint of the form-fitting, rhinestone-studded sheer gown in which Marilyn Monroe generated a sensation performing ‘Happy Birthday, Mr. President’ to President John F. Kennedy at Madison Square Garden in May 1962.”

Marilyn’s ‘Millionaire’ Bathrobe at Julien’s

A bathrobe designed by Travilla and (briefly) worn by Marilyn over a bathing suit in the ‘fashion show’ scene from How to Marry a Millionaire will be auctioned in the annual Legends sale at Julien’s on June 13-14, as Chris Jenkins reports for Arts and Collections International. Among the other items on offer will be an archive for photographer Manfred ‘Linus’ Kreiner, including his images of Marilyn on her publicity tour for Some Like It Hot in 1959 (as seen here gracing the catalogue cover.) More details to follow….

“June 1st marks the 93rd birthday of Hollywood legend Marilyn Monroe. included in the auction are her iconic bathrobe worn in one of her most famous roles as Pola Debevoise in How to Marry a Millionaire (20th Century, 1953) (estimate: $20,000-$40,000); her pair of rhinestone ear clips with three strands of teardrop-shaped rhinestones (estimate: $30,000-$40,000) and her six-stranded iridescent crystal necklace in purple and green (estimate: $10,000-$20,000); the two piece period costume she wore in one of her earliest roles in the film Ticket to Tomahawk (20th Century, 1962) (estimate: $40,000-$60,000); a ‘Rudi Gernreich Design for Walter Bass’ black chiffon overblouse with dolman sleeves and elastic waistband (estimate: $15,000-$20,000); Marilyn Monroe’s personal copy of the script for her film Something’s Got To Give (20th Century, 1962) (estimate: $10,000-$15,000); a cast of Marilyn Monroe’s hand and foot prints from Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood when she and her Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (20th Century, 1953) co-star Jane Russell immortalized their hand and foot prints on June 26, 1953 (estimate: $10,000-$20,000); a collection of rare large format photographs taken of Marilyn Monroe dressed in various swimsuits, negligees and dresses by Harold Lloyd (range of estimates: $600-$800); a collection of 33 vintage Marilyn Monroe lobby cards including How to Marry a Millionaire (20th Cent. Fox, 1953), Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (20th Cent. Fox, 1953), River of No Return (20th Cent. Fox, 1954), The Seven Year Itch (Warner Bros., 1955) and more (estimate: $800-$1,200); colour slides of Monroe’s visit and 1954 performance for the troops in Korea (estimate: $600-$800) and more.”

Marilyn’s Letter to Lee On Auction

A letter from Marilyn to Lee Strasberg will be sold online during the Classic Hollywood sale at RR Auctions this Thursday, May 23. While Marilyn talks frankly about her emotional problems and disappointments in life, she also proposed an ambitious plan for her future career. Sadly, her goals would never be realised as she passed away just eight months after the letter was written. It is dated 19 December, 1961, and like other letters from her final years, it was typed (probably by a secretary), and was previously published in the 2010 book, Fragments. Coming from her estate (along with all her personal possessions, 75% was passed on to Lee after she died), it is the first time the letter has gone up for auction with an estimate of $20,000. Further details, including a full transcript, are also available here.

“This is an important personal letter and please don’t start to read it until you have the time to give it your careful thought. This letter concerns my future plans and therefore concerns yours as well since my future development as an artist is based on our working together. All this is an introduction; let me outline the recent events, my ideas and my suggestions.

As you know, for years I have been struggling to find some emotional security with little success, for many different reasons. Only in the last several months, as you detected, do I seem to have made a modest beginning. It is true that my treatment with Dr. Greenson has had its ups and downs, as you know. However, my overall progress is such that I have hopes of finally establishing a piece of ground for myself to stand on, instead of the quicksand I have always been in. But Dr. Greenson agrees with you, that for me to live decently and productively, I must work! And work means not merely performing professionally, but to study and truly devote myself. My work is the only trustworthy hope I have. And here, Lee, is where you come in. To me, work and Lee Strasberg are synonymous. I do not want to be presumptuous in expecting you to come out here for me alone. I have contacted Marlon on this subject and he seems to be quite interested, despite the fact that he is in the process of finishing a movie. I shall talk with him more thoroughly in a day or two.

Furthermore, and this must be kept confidential for the time being, my attorneys and I are planning to set up and [sic] independent production unit, in which we have envisaged an important position for you. This is still in the formative phase, but I am thinking of you in some consultative position or in whatever way you might see fit. I know you will want enough freedom to pursue your teaching and any other private interests you might want to follow.

Though I am committed to my analysis, as painful as it is, I cannot definitively decide, until I hear from you, because without working with you only half of me is functioning. Therefore, I must know under what condition you might consider coming out here and even settling here.

I know this might sound quite fantastic, but if you add up all the possible advantages it should be quite a rewarding venture. I mean not only for Marlon and me—but for others. This independent production unit will also be making pictures without me—this is even required for legal reasons. This will offer an opportunity for Susan if she should be interested and perhaps even for Johnny. And Paula would have a great many opportunities for coaching. As for you, Lee, I still have the dream of you some day directing me in a film! I know this is a big step to take, but I have the wish that you might realize out here some of the incomplete hopes that were perhaps not fulfilled for you, like Lincoln Center, etc.

So I don’t know how else to persuade you. I need you to study with and I am not alone in this. I want to do everything in my power to get you to come out—within reason—as long as it is to your advantage as well as mine. So, Lee, please think this over carefully; this is an awfully important time of my life and since you mentioned on the phone that you too felt things were unsettled, I have dared to hope. I have meetings set up with Marlon and also with my attorneys and will phone you if there are any important new developments. Otherwise, please get in touch with me.”

Also on offer, the 1952-53 editions of Who’s Who in Hollywood, autographed by a multitude of stars, are a treasure trove for movie buffs. Marilyn is listed in the category ‘Super Stars: The Younger Set.’ (EDIT: unsold)

The lamp seen in the restaurant scene from How To Marry a Millionaire (here, with Alex D’Arcy) was used as a prop in other Fox movies, including The Girl Can’t Help It, starring that other fifties blonde, Jayne Mansfield. (EDIT: Unsold)

Small piece of card signed ‘To Joe’, with affixed cutout photo of Marilyn (EDIT: Final price
$2,625.000 )
Photo of Marilyn, signed by Joe DiMaggio (EDIT: Final price
$2,756,25 )
Black velvet belt owned by Marilyn, possibly worn in As Young As You Feel (1951) EDIT: Final price
$7,837.50
Book owned by Marilyn, seen on her bookcase in this 1952 photo (EDIT: Final price
$7, 730.000 )

A number of original photos are also on sale…

Photos from the Hollywood Foreign Correspondents luncheon, 1951 (EDIT: Unsold)
As Cherie in ‘Bus Stop’, 1956 (EDIT: Final price $250.00)
Diptych photo by Eve Arnold, 1960 (EDIT: Final price
$722.50 )
On the same Eve Arnold shoot, with hairdresser Agnes Flanagan (EDIT: Final price
$596.25 )