‘Essentially Marilyn’: Hit Or Miss?

The most surprising aspect of last week’s Essentially Marilyn auction at Profiles in History was how many valuable items from the Maite Minguez-Ricart collection and others (including movie costumes) went unsold, while others only reached the lower estimate. In a post for his MM Collection blog, Scott Fortner goes as far as to call it a flop – and noting the high prices reached at Julien’s only last month, he argues that poor organisation was to blame, rather than a lack of interest. Here’s a selection of items that sold well, and others that didn’t: you can find the full list over at iCollector.

Photo of Norma Jeane aged five, with her ‘first boyfriend’, Lester Bolender ($10,000)

Wedding photo of Norma Jeane and Jim Dougherty ($15,000)

Seven photos from Norma Jeane’s first assignments with the Blue Book Modelling Agency, 1945 ($11,000)

Marilyn’s personally inscribed photo with Ben Lyon ($37,500 – more info here)

Black silk cocktail dress with oversize white bow, designed by John Moore and worn by Marilyn in 1958 ($40,000)

Gold pleated halter gown designed by Travilla for Gentlemen Prefer Blondes ($100,000)

Crème-coloured gown by Travilla for How to Marry a Millionaire ($100,000)

Crème and blue gown by Travilla for There’s No Business Like Show Business ($70,000)

Pink and purple satin pantsuit with train, designed by Charles LeMaire for The Seven Year Itch ($100,000)

Silver cigarette box inscribed by Marilyn to Billy Wilder, 1954 ($10,000)

Sheer tan dress by JAX, worn by Marilyn in 1958 ($20,000)

Patterned wool overcoat, worn by Marilyn in 1961 ($30,000)

Marilyn’s personal key to Warner Brothers, 1956 ($10,000)

Red halter dress by JAX, worn by Marilyn in her final photo session with Milton Greene, 1957 ($100,000)

Certificate of nomination from the Golden Globe Awards for Some Like It Hot, 1959 ($10,000)

Black address book ca 1960-62 ($17,000)

John Bryson’s candid photo of Marilyn and Arthur Miller on the set of Let’s Make Love, signed by both ($8,00)

Pucci silk blouse, worn by Marilyn in 1962 ($95,000)

White Ferragamo pumps, worn by Marilyn in Something’s Got to Give ($16,000)

Marilyn’s original grave marker from Westwood Memorial Park ($38,400)

Period costume by Rene Hubert for A Ticket to Tomahawk (UNSOLD)

Brown Skirt Suit by Charles LeMaire for Love Nest (UNSOLD)

Costume sketches by Eloise Jenssen for We’re Not Married (UNSOLD)

Green dress by Travilla for Don’t Bother to Knock (UNSOLD)

Marilyn’s personally owned Ceil Chapman dress (UNSOLD)

Unreleased studio master for ‘Down Boy’ (UNSOLD – more info here)

Showgirl costume by Travilla for Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (UNSOLD)

Charles Feldman’s archive regarding The Seven Year Itch (UNSOLD)

Pearl encrusted gown, one of several copies made for The Prince and the Showgirl (UNSOLD)

Two address books, ca. 1950s-60s (UNSOLD)

Various exhibition prints by Milton Greene (UNSOLD)

‘Merry Marilyn’ in Turin

Another new exhibition, Merry Marilyn: Natural Elegance, Magical Charm, is now on display at the National Cinema Museum in Turin, Italy until January 28, 2019. Shoes and other Marilyn-related items from the Salvatore Ferragamo collection are featured alongside film clips and vintage magazines, with a festive vibe befitting the season. Nine of Marilyn’s films will also be screened, including Niagara and Some Like It Hot. 

Thanks to Rick at Marilyn Remembered 

“She was ‘somewhere between Chaplin and James Dean’, according to François Truffaut, to underline the talent and instinct, physicality and sensibility of an actress whose image was based not only on the absolute beauty of a seductive woman, but also on the complex personality of an actress who challenged conventions and imposed a new model. Diva of modernity, feminist in her own way, Norma Jeane Mortenson Baker, aka Marilyn Monroe, helped to dictate the new rules of the Star System, anticipating the revolutions and social changes that in a few years would have transformed Hollywood.

It is no coincidence that Edgar Morin calls her ‘the last star of the past and the first without Star System’, which she attempted to rebel against to avoid the commodification of her own image. Capricious and humorous, but able to amaze directors like Henry Hathaway and Billy Wilder with her talent, Marilyn has been proclaimed by the American Film Institute the sixth greatest actress in the history of cinema.

An inexhaustible source of inspiration for artists and scholars: from the drama After the Fall (1964) in which the playwright Arthur Miller , her ex-husband, reflects in the balance between cynicism and guilt over the diva’s suicide, in the pages of Truman Capote in Music for Chameleons (1975), from the portrait of Andy Warhol who transforms Marilyn into a pop icon; to the recent Blonde novel by Joyce Carol Oates, who describes her as a ‘beautiful child’ with a thousand insecurities.

At the glow of celluloid of the great Hollywood diva, they finally act as a counterpoint to Elton John with Candle in the Wind and Pier Paolo Pasolini, who calls her ‘little sister’, asking: ‘It is possible that Marilyn, the little Marilyn, has shown us the road?’, in a poem that – not surprisingly – is one of the most moving moments of his film La Rabbia, released in 1963, a year after her controversial suicide.”

Marilyn at Julien’s: Style and Beauty

Marilyn in costume for ‘The Prince and the Showgirl’

“Marilyn Monroe famously sang ‘Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend,’” Sheila Gibson Stoodley writes for Robb Report, “but collectors of her memorabilia disagree. Seven of the 10 most-expensive Marilyn Monroe items sold at auction are dresses—mainly costumes that the late star wore in her films. The few that she donned outside of the studio earn their high sums thanks to period photographs that prove Monroe wore them.” And over at his MM Collection Blog, Scott Fortner – who helped to catalogue this week’s auction at Julien’s – takes a closer look at the ‘I’m Through With Love‘ dress from Some Like It Hot, and the ‘After You Get What You Want‘ dress from There’s No Business Like Show Business. Both costumes are from the David Gainsborough Roberts collection, and will go under the hammer tomorrow.

Several other items which contributed to Marilyn’s glamorous look are also among the lots. From her modelling days onward, Marilyn often wore her own clothing in photo shoots. These brown leather sandals date back to a 1950 session with photographer Earl Leaf, shot at the Hollywood home of her agent, Johnny Hyde.

Unlike her cinematic alter-ego Lorelei Lee, Marilyn wasn’t really a material girl. These earrings, worn to the premiere of The Seven Year Itch, were made from simulated diamonds.

Green lace blouse, from ‘Bus Stop’

Marilyn’s movie costumes were made in duplicates, with her name next to the Fox logo on a sewn-in label. This green lace bodice from Bus Stop was won in a contest by a lucky reader of the British fan magazine, Picture Show.

These red satin platform shoes – designed by Annello & Davide – were born by Marilyn to the London premiere of Arthur Miller’s controversial play, A View From the Bridge.

John Moore’s pencil sketches for the form-fitting mermaid gown worn by Marilyn to the premiere of The Prince and the Showgirl are also on offer.

Marilyn’s personal diet plan and skincare regime are available in full.

“A two-page, typed plan titled ‘Calorie Restricted Diet/ 1000 Calories/ 100 Grams Protein’ prepared for Monroe by Dr. Leon Krohn. The pages are undated, but some of the approved foods and meal plans are in line with the notations found in Monroe’s hand in the back of one of her notebooks from 1958. The diet put forth presents sound health advice even by today’s standards, recommending the restriction of sugar, fats and carbohydrates to whole wheat and ‘one small white potato boiled baked or riced’ as a substitution for one slice of bread.

Five sets of instructions, eight pages, from the Erno Laszlo Institute written out for Marilyn Monroe Miller, dated June 5, 6, 11, and 12, 1958, and July 3, 1958, outlining her constantly changing skincare regime in great detail. The instructions not only divide skincare into ‘Morning,’ ‘Evening if dressing,’ and ‘Evening before retiring,’ but also there are instructions on what not to eat: ‘Not one piece of any kind of nuts, olives, chocolate, clams and oysters.’ There are also separate instructions for California and ‘Instructions for Makeup While Making Films.'”

These white leather shoes by Salvatore Ferragamo are just one of several pairs that she owned. (The spiked heels were 3 inches high, and the size was 7.5B.)

In the spring of 1958, Marilyn made plans to appear at the Cannes Film Festival. Simone Noir sent her an invitation to visit Christian Dior in Paris. Unfortunately, the trip was cancelled, but a separate invoice shows that Marilyn bought a dress and coat by Dior from a Park Avenue boutique.

That Christmas, Marilyn’s longtime hairdresser, Agnes Flanagan, gave her a bottle of her favourite perfume, Chanel No. 5, purchased from I. Magnin in Beverly Hills.

Finally, a costume sketch by Bob Mackie for Something’s Got to Give. Based on a Jean Louis design, the red skirt suit with a swing jacket trimmed in leopard print, and matching hat, was intended as an ‘Outfit Worn on Day Off/Also in Courtroom Sequence.’ However, the ensemble was not worn by Marilyn during wardrobe tests, or any surviving footage from the ill-fated movie.

Ferragamo Launches Marilyn-Inspired Shoe

Edgardo Osorio has launched a capsule collection for Salvatore Ferragamo, recalling the legendary Italian designer’s reputation in Hollywood as ‘shoemaker to the stars’, reports AccessWDUN. The range includes a Marilyn-inspired pump with sheer netted panels.

Ferragamo’s grandson James claims that Marilyn bought a pair of Ferragamo shoes from a shop in Madison Avenue, NYC, for $45 in the late 1940s. Marilyn didn’t live in New York permanently until 1955, but James says he has the receipt to prove it. He also repeats the rumour that Marilyn had one heel cut several milimeters lower than the other to achieve the famous Monroe wiggle. Marilyn’s masseur, Ralph Roberts, also mentioned this, although this alleged anomaly has not generally been noted by auctioneers.

Perhaps Marilyn should have the last word: “I learned to walk when I was nine months old, and haven’t had a lesson since.”

Ferragamo Museum to Showcase Marilyn

The Ferragamo Museum in Florence, Italy, is launching a new exhibit, showcasing Monroe’s style, in June 2012, reports Scott Fortner on his MM Collection Blog. (Items from Scott’s collection, among others, will be featured.)

This follows a similar, highly successful exhibit on Greta Garbo, collected in a book, The Mystery of Style. I hope that Ferragamo will also consider publishing a book on their Monroe exhibit.