Meryl, Debbie and Marilyn’s Elusive Dress

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In an article for Woman’s Day magazine, tracing the history of Marilyn’s iconic white halter dress – designed by Travilla, and famously worn in The Seven Year Itch – Marlisse Cepeda reveals how Oscar-winning actress Meryl Streep helped track it down. (However, as Scott Fortner noted in 2011, that dress may have been a prototype rather than the one worn by Marilyn.)

“In June 2011, Debbie [Reynolds] put much of her collection up for auction, including the white cocktail dress. It was purchased for $5.52 million, the most money ever paid for a movie costume. The winning bid was made over the phone, and the dress is now part of a private collection—the mysterious owner has remained unidentified.

The last time the dress was seen in public was in October 2012, for the “Hollywood Costume” exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. The last-minute addition was made possible by another actress, Meryl Streep.

The exhibition’s curator happened to tell Meryl that she was hoping to add Eliza Doolittle’s Ascot dress from My Fair Lady to the show. Meryl claimed she knew the dress’s current owner, and helped the curator track her down. But it turned out the woman didn’t have the Ascot number, but she did, in fact, own Marilyn’s iconic costume. She agreed to loan the gown to the exhibit, and just like that, it made its way to London, into the spotlight once again. “

Gainsborough-Roberts Collection: Tour and Sale

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The collection of David Gainsborough Roberts – one of the world’s largest Marilyn archives, including many of her iconic movie costumes – will be sold in November, Julien’s Auctions has announced.

Although the live auction will be held in Los Angeles, UK fans will be able to see Roberts’ full collection at London’s Design Centre from May 25- June 20. It will then visit the Newbridge Museum of Style Icons in Ireland from June 25-July 25, before crossing the Atlantic on Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 in August, with more US exhibition dates to be confirmed.

Fellow collector Scott Fortner has been helping to catalogue the items, and is reporting his findings on the MM Collection blog. And finally, here’s an excerpt from the Julien’s press release.

“Highlights from this historic sale include a sheer black beaded and sequined dress worn by Monroe in her Golden Globe winning role Sugar Kane as she crooned ‘I’m Through With Love’ in the award winning 1959 film Some Like it Hot; an elaborate embellished stage gown worn by Monroe as she sang ‘After You Get What You Want You Don’t Want It’ in the 1954 comedy There’s No Business Like Show Business which was designed by one of Marilyn’s all-time favorite designers, William Travilla; a pink linen halter wiggle dress designed for Monroe by Dorothy Jenkins for the 1953 thriller Niagara; a green satin one-piece with black sequins and gold fringe worn by Monroe as she sang ‘That Old Black Magic’ in the 1956 film Bus Stop; a lilac satin leotard worn by Monroe as Lillian Russell in the 1958 photo series by Richard Avedon and featured in Life magazine in 1958. Additional film pieces offered include costumes from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and Let’s Make Love, along with a pair of rhinestone earrings worn by Monroe in How To Marry A Millionaire and a pair of sequin embellished opera gloves from the Rachmaninoff scene of The Seven Year Itch.

Monroe’s personal style is represented by a figure hugging black cocktail dress by Ceil Chapman, a favorite of Monroe; a slender fitting bias cut crepe evening gown worn by Monroe to the 1955 premiere of The Rose Tattoo; an embellished slubbed silk Lanvin gown; and rhinestone jewelry. Personal items include prescription pill bottles, Victoria and Albert museum exhibited high heels, a plastic doll in the likeness of Monroe given as a souvenir at her 34th birthday party; documents and correspondences; household items; and Monroe’s Detroit Free Press New Faces Award from 1952.”

Marilyn’s Korea Dress On Show in Bendigo

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One of Marilyn’s most iconic dresses, rarely seen today, is currently on display as part of Twentieth Century Fox Presents Marilyn Monroe, the new exhibition at Bendigo Art Gallery, as Scott Fortner reports for his MM Collection blog.

“Many of the items on exhibit have been seen around the world, including the US, Italy, Germany, Japan, Canada, Spain and Prague.  However, one item in particular hasn’t been seen by the public in over 20 years, and that’s the striking purple gown that Marilyn Monroe wore throughout her Korean USO tour in 1954 when she performed for US troops stationed there.  Marilyn is often quoted as saying performing in Korea was one of the highlights of her life.

The dress and matching bolero jacket, owned by a private collector in Australia, is quite simply, stunning.  It sparkles in the light today exactly as it must have in February of ’54 as Marilyn sang ‘Diamonds are a girl’s best friend’ in front of thousands of US servicemen in freezing temperatures.  It was an absolute thrill to see this treasure live and in person.  And for those who may doubt it’s the actual Korea USO dress, I’ve done a bit of analysis, and I’m convinced it’s THE dress Marilyn owned and wore throughout her USO tour.  Many have speculated the whereabouts of this dress, yet those of us ‘in the know’ have known it was in the hands of a private collector in Australia.  His generosity in sharing the gown with the public is greatly appreciated.”

Collecting Marilyn: From Hollywood to Bendigo

bendigo scott4With the much-anticipated Australian exhibit, Twentieth Century Fox Presents Marilyn Monroe, opening at the Bendigo Art Gallery next Friday (March 5), Los Angeles-based collector Scott Fortner – whose treasure trove will be featured extensively in the display – has been interviewed by Time Out.

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“I’ve basically been collecting Marilyn Monroe related pieces for as long as I can remember. In junior high I bought my first Marilyn book and also my first Marilyn Monroe collectible, which was a poster composed of a collage of Marilyn photos – I still have that poster today. For quite some time, my collection focused on Marilyn Monroe books. I bought (and still do) just about every book that came out about her.

In 1999, Marilyn’s personal estate went up for auction via Christie’s New York. Not long after that sale, Marilyn’s items started being auctioned on eBay, and that’s when I really started expanding my collection to include her personal property … It’s a very expensive hobby and one that becomes more and more expensive all the time. Over 50 years after her death, items from her personal life and her films are only going up in value …”

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MM Collection Set For Bendigo

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After news from Maite Minguez Ricart and Debbie Reynolds, Scott Fortner – owner of one of the world’s largest collections of Marilyn’s personal property – has given fans a preview of the items he has loaned to the Bendigo Art Gallery in Australia for their much-anticipated exhibition, ‘Twentieth Century-Fox Presents Marilyn Monroe’, opening on March 5.  You can follow Scott’s updates on the exhibition at The MM Collection‘s Facebook page.

Fox Brings Marilyn to Australia

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After recent reports that touring exhibition Marilyn: Celebrating an American Icon is heading to Australia in 2016, comes news of a second, original exhibition. Marilyn Monroe, presented in association with Twentieth Century-Fox, will have its world premiere at the Bendigo Art Gallery, Victoria, and includes items from the collection of Scott Fortner, such as the black cocktail dress worn by Marilyn when she accompanied Arthur Miller to an awards ceremony in 1959.

Here’s the blurb:

“Marilyn Monroe remains one of the most celebrated and enigmatic film stars in history, she transformed herself from ordinary girl next door, Norma Jeane Baker into a glamorous and universally-recognised screen goddess. This comprehensive exhibition brings together authentic artefacts, clothing and other objects belonging to Marilyn. More than 20 original film costumes from some of Marilyn’s greatest films such as Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, How to Marry a Millionaire and Love Nest feature alongside numerous dresses and accessories from Marilyn’s personal wardrobe. The ground-breaking collaboration with Twentieth Century Fox will allow unprecedented access to the 12 films Marilyn completed with the studio, including glamorous studio portraits, wardrobe test photographs, lobby cards and film posters. Curated by Bendigo Art Gallery, the costumes, personal clothing and artefacts have been drawn from private collections around the world and have never been seen before in Australia.

To complement the exhibition, Bendigo Art Gallery has secured Seward Johnson’s iconic eight metre high sculpture of Marilyn Monroe, Forever Marilyn. This sculpture has been seen in Chicago and Palm Springs, USA and makes its international debut in Bendigo.”

More details in The Age:

“The gallery has worked with film studio Twentieth Century Fox to bring together items from collections around the world, including a pleated gold lame gown seen in Gentleman Prefer Blondes, costumes from films including How to Marry a Millionaire, accessories and even the star’s personal address book.

Curator Tansy Curtin has been hunting for pieces across the US and Europe, particularly some sold at a large auction of items owned by the actress Debbie Reynolds in 2012. On her wish list is a version of the famed white dress from Some Like it Hot, also designed by William Travilla. A request for a dress has been made (there are multiple versions, part of the ‘mystery and falsehoods’ surrounding Monroe’s costumes, Curtin said), and the Bendigo Art Gallery hopes to lock in its final inventory within weeks.”

‘MM and Me’: Online Art Exhibit

Marilyn Monroe collector and historian Scott Fortner visits Marilyn Monroe’s crypt on August 5, 2012, following the 50th anniversary memorial.

If you’ve visited Marilyn’s crypt and had your photo taken there, you may be interested in participating in ‘Marilyn Monroe and Me’, a new online art exhibit, curated by MM collector and historian, Scott Fortner. More details at the MM Collection Blog.

A Sneak Peek at Newsweek

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The much-vaunted Newsweek special, Marilyn Monroe: The Lost Scrapbook, is now on sale across the US, although some deliveries may have been delayed due to poor weather.

It isn’t yet available elsewhere, but I would advise fans to be patient rather than paying vast prices on Ebay. The magazine will be on sale until March 14, and speaking as a UK resident, I’ve found it’s normal for American magazines to arrive up to a month after publication. (And as I’ve mentioned before, previous Newsweek specials have been sold at WH Smith.)

Over on the Marilyn Monroe Collection Blog today, Scott Fortner gives us a preview – including several pages dedicated to Marilyn’s personal property, now owned by himself, and others by Greg Schreiner.

As to the rest of the magazine, Scott tells us that it ‘includes an introduction written by Joshua Greene, and has many photos of Marilyn along with comments from photographers Douglas Kirkland, Lawrence Schiller and Elliott Erwitt. Other information on Marilyn is also included in glossy, full color spreads.’

Despite the rather distasteful rumour-mongering about Marilyn’s relationship with Sam Shaw that has dominated media coverage of this issue, I remain confident it will be a must-have for fans.

Hollywood Museum: Marilyn Returns

Back by popular demand, ‘Marilyn – The Exhibit: Hollywood Icon‘ is open now at the Hollywood Museum, through to September 8th, reports Scott Fortner on his MM Collection website.

“The scope of the exhibition encompasses Marilyn’s costumes, jewelry, furs and accessories from her films; publicity gowns and personal wardrobe; her 1961 Fleetwood Cadillac limousine; original Marilyn Monroe artwork, photographs and documents from her private files; and many of Marilyn’s personally owned artifacts.

‘Marilyn Monroe: The Exhibit’ displays the million-dollar dress Marilyn wore on her honeymoon with Joe DiMaggio, one of the highlights of The Hollywood Museum’s permanent collection. In addition to THM’s permanent collection, items from the Scott Fortner Marilyn Monroe Collection and the Greg Schreiner Marilyn Monroe Collection are featured in this exclusive exhibit, including film costumes from The Prince and The Showgirl, There’s No Business Like Show Business, and clothing and furs from Marilyn’s personal wardrobe, including the brilliant green Pucci jersey top.

Highlighting the exhibit are exclusive photos by world-renowned photographer George Barris, who shot Marilyn’s the last photo sitting while collaborating on a book at the time of her death 50 years ago. Barris Photography: www.inhollywoodland.com

This exhibit also includes original works of art by famed celebrity artists LUDVIC, original photographs, including the legendary “red velvet” nude photographs shot by Tom Kelley, and a vast photograph collection of her childhood, family and early modeling career when she was still Norma Jeane Baker; and much more.

Additional Marilyn commemorative events planned:

• Saturday, August 3, 1-3 PM Meet & Greet with collectors Greg Schreiner, Scott Fortner and THM President Donelle Dadigan at The Hollywood Museum

• Sunday, August 4, 1-3 PM George Barris Book and Photo Signing at The Hollywood Museum

Monday, August 5 TBD ‘Marilyn Remembered’ Annual Memorial Service, co-sponsored by  The Hollywood Museum, at Westwood Mortuary