Ron Galella’s Greatest Regret

Candid photo of Marilyn filming ‘Bus Stop’ (1956)

Legendary paparazzo Ron Galella once turned down an opportunity to photograph Marilyn, and has regretted it ever since, he tells the Daily Telegraph:

“What’s the greatest picture you didn’t take?

The greatest picture that I didn’t take came out of an opportunity to photograph Marilyn Monroe, who is the greatest superstar, filmwise—Elvis remains the number one superstar of all time. While I was attending Art Center College of Design in Hollywood, and majoring in photojournalism, an unknown actor approached me to take portfolio pictures of him. He got me onto the 20th Century Fox Studios lot, where I photographed him with various props and sets. One of the studios was filming Bus Stop with Marilyn, but I didn’t wait around for her to finish. My ‘paparazzi approach’ came later in life with Jackie (Kennedy Onassis.) At Art Center, they taught me to be a life photographer, and never spoke or listed the markets for paparazzi photography, except for Photoplay Magazine.”

Gaga for Marilyn

This month’s Vanity Fair interview with singer Lady Gaga took place close to one of Marilyn Monroe’s old haunts….

“Bungalow 9, the Beverly Hills Hotel…the pink stucco bungalow stands between No. 10 – where Marilyn Monroe had a torrid affair in 1960 with her ‘Let’s Make Love’ co-star Yves Montand – and No. 8, home at one time to Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.”

Photo by Bruce Davidson, Beverly Hills Hotel, 1960

During the interview, Gaga referenced MM while discussing her controversial ‘Paparazzi’ video of 2009.

“And while my fascination with celebrity has almost left the building, I had this incredible fascination with how people love watching celebrities fall apart, or when celebrities die; I wanted to know, what did they look like when they died? Marilyn Monroe, Princess Diana, JonBenet Ramsey…I think about all those dead girls, all those dead blonde icons. What did they look like when they died? So then I thought, well maybe if I show what I look like when I die, people won’t wonder. Maybe that’s what I want people to think I’ll look like when I die.”

Hollywood vs. Marilyn Monroe

“Monroe was no meek studio star.  She tested the weakened boundaries that governed star contracts in the early ‘50s, and fled Hollywood, formed her own production company, and chose her own projects.  Monroe also ‘acted out what mattered’ to people in the 1950s — which is to say, she acted out sex — and did so in a manner that seemed to heighten and soothe anxieties about sexuality during the era.  As a result, she also proved a singular challenge to the gossip industry, which had little experience in processing an image of which sexuality was so forthrightly a part.”

A fascinating look at Marilyn and the gossip rags, part of a thesis on ‘Problem Stars’ by Anne Helen Petersen