Tom Kelley’s Marilyn in Sedona

Following the 70th anniversary of Marilyn’s nude calendar shoot (see here), Tom Kelley’s ‘Red Velvet‘ session is coming to Sedona PhotoFest in Arizona, as Verde News reports.

“Born Norma Jeane Baker on June 1, 1926, Marilyn Monroe would be turning 93 years old this year. This iconic actress is celebrated through the beautiful, rare and historic ‘Golden Dreams’ collection represented by Linda Goldenstein and Goldenstein Gallery.

Who could have imagined that a chance encounter would result in what has been called ‘the most famous picture since the Mona Lisa,’ transforming a 22-year-old aspiring Marilyn Monroe into one of Hollywood’s greatest film icons and helping a young man named Hugh Hefner launch his Playboy empire along the way?

Photographer Tom Kelley met Monroe on Sunset Boulevard in October 1948, after a minor auto accident. Marilyn told him she had an audition. He gave her $5 cab fare and his business card. In May 1949, Marilyn was behind on rent and her car in repossession. She found Kelley’s card and appeared unannounced at his studio. A model called in sick for a Pabst beer poster photoshoot and Marilyn got the job.

Two weeks later, Kelley called Marilyn saying that John Baumgarth, a major calendar publisher, had seen the Pabst poster and wanted Marilyn to pose for an upcoming calendar.

Not long after, Kelley’s color transparencies of unknown nude models arrived at Baumgarth’s Chicago offices. Among them was ‘Golden Dreams’ featuring the then-unknown Marilyn. Although it wasn’t Baumgarth’s first choice, based on the calendar selection committee he agreed to run Marilyn’s image in the 1951 calendar line. Baumgarth’s preferred image ‘The Charmer’ featuring Maxine Strong outsold Marilyn’s Golden Dreams by 2 to 1, until it was later revealed that the model in Golden Dreams was in fact Marilyn Monroe.

Narrowly escaping destruction, the color separations represented by Goldenstein are the unique, original separations first created by hand in 1950 and used by Baumgarth to produce the Golden Dreams calendars featuring Marilyn Monroe.

Baumgarth sold 9 million calendars throughout the 1950s, making Marilyn the best-selling calendar girl and earning John Baumgarth the moniker ‘The Man Who Made Monroe.’

Reproducing Marilyn’s refined features, supple texture and luxurious tones was no small feat – print artisans painstakingly created and corrected the many layers of film for the full color printing process – a masterpiece of printer’s art.

In December 1953, an astute man named Hugh Hefner bought the rights to reproduce the Golden Dreams image for $500 from John Baumgarth Company, to be used as the ‘Sweetheart of the Month’ in Playboy magazine. That first issue sold over 54,000 copies and the profits provided Hefner the funding to continue publishing and ultimately launch his Playboy Empire.

In 2010, Al Babbitt purchased the original and unique film positives and negatives used by Baumgarth Co. to produce the 1950s Marilyn Monroe Golden Dreams pin up calendars. Babbitt will speak at Sedona PhotoFest on June 15 at 1p.m., in the Mary D. Fisher Theatre, about the history of Marilyn Monroe, the iconic Golden Dreams collection and the color separation process.

Original Monroe large format color separations will be exhibited. These pieces are part of the ‘Messenger Art Collection’ represented by Goldenstein Gallery, 6,000 works of art created over 100 years by diverse calendar and promotional companies.”

Marilyn’s Nude Calendar at 70

Today, May 27, marks seventy years since a little-known actress posed nude for photographer Tom Kelley. The photos were sold to a calendar company, and three years later, someone recognised the model as Marilyn Monroe. Against studio advice, she admitted it and the public loved her for it. Lorraine Nicol tells us the full story today, over at Marilyn Remembered.

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.”

The True Story of Marilyn’s Nude Calendar Scandal

The story behind Marilyn’s nude calendar scandal is retold by Pierre Vulag, owner of the Limited Runs poster company, in an interview with Alec Banks for High Snobiety. It’s a good read, with a couple of minor corrections: firstly, Marilyn was shooting Clash By Night when the news broke in early 1952 (not Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, which came later); and secondly, while Marilyn told reporters she had posed nude for photographer Tom Kelley because she was behind on her rent, it was actually to get her car out of hock. (Her friend Sidney Skolsky had advised her that the rent story would play better with the public, and it worked!)

“Every press person I talk to ends their questions with ‘why do you still think people are fascinated by Marilyn Monroe?’ It’s exactly that. When the studio insisted that she deny it, she said ‘I will not, and it is me. I have nothing to be ashamed of.’ It was that honesty that the public could relate to … You think of all the Hollywood actors that people still relate to today – James Dean, Elvis Presley, Humphrey Bogart. Those people bled on the screen. They were honest and their personality was like ‘this is who I am, take me or leave me.’ And it’s that thing that she had and people loved.”

Marilyn Auction News: Calendars, Letters and More

A letter written to Marilyn by Pat Newcomb, her publicist and close friend for the last two years of her life, is among the items on auction in the UK tomorrow (Saturday, September 22), as Fox News reports.

Henry Aldridge & Sons, based in Devizes, Wiltshire, is offering several lots from the estate of Monroe collector David Gainsborough Roberts, who died in 2016. Bidding opens at 10 am GMT, and bids can also be made online via The Salesroom or Invaluable (but you’ll need to register first.)

In the letter, Pat advises Marilyn on how to field intrusive questions from the acerbic Hollywood columnist, Hedda Hopper. “If you want to return her call … I think it would be a good idea and you can avoid answering anything you don’t want,” Pat writes. “When she asks what you did over the holidays you just say ‘nothing special’ – that gives her nothing to print. You ‘saw a few friends, whom she doesn’t know anyway’ and just relaxed.'” Probably referring to the latest dance craze, Pat makes a further suggestion: “You can tell Hedda you hear she’s quite a ‘Twister’ and she’ll do a monologue which will completely take her away from anything about you.”

Pat also mentions that “Harrison Cannall’s office called to say that Joe [DiMaggio] was in town and could I confirm it. I said I didn’t know and didn’t discuss your personal life in any case.” Pat refers to related matters, such as the title of an upcoming Redbook article. The letter has an estimated price of £300-£500.

Another letter from Marilyn’s psychiatrist, Dr Ralph Greenson,  is dated June 30, 1962, billing her for services totalling $1,250, with an estimated price of £400-£600.

Two vintage movie posters are also available, plus a four-page 1955 calendar featuring a censored version of Marilyn’s famous nude photo by Tom Kelley and three other pin-up shots, complete with envelope (estimated at £600-£800.)

Edible Marilyn: Isn’t She Delicious?

Lily Pair and Jay Muse of Lulu Cake Boutique in Scarsdale, New York have taken the art of erotic bakery to new levels with this lifesize nude cake based on Marilyn’s iconic 1949 calendar pose for Tom Kelley. Their creation will be the centerfold in the Hudson Valley summer edition of Edible magazine, as Tess Koman reports for Delish.

Hugh Hefner 1926-2017

Hugh Hefner, founder of Playboy magazine, has died aged 91.

In 1953, he acquired Tom Kelley’s nude calendar shot of Marilyn for the magazine’s first issue, also putting her on the cover. (You can read the full story here.) ‘She was actually in my brother’s acting class in New York,’ he told CNN. ‘But the reality is that I never met her. I talked to her once on the phone, but I never met her. She was gone, sadly, before I came out here.’

In 1960, Playboy published another laudatory feature headlined ‘The Magnificent Marilyn.’ If Marilyn sometimes resented others profiteering from her nude calendar – for which she had earned a flat $50 back in 1949 – by 1962 she was considering posing for Playboy‘s Christmas issue (although some sources indicate she changed her mind.)

Lawrence Schiller’s poolside nudes, taken during filming of the unfinished Something’s Got to Give, were published by Playboy in 1964, two years after Marilyn’s death.

The women’s rights campaigner Gloria Steinem, who would later write a biography of Marilyn, went ‘undercover’ as a Bunny Girl in a Playboy club for a magazine assignment durging the 1960s, and found the experience degrading – an opinion echoed by feminists today, as the BBC reports. Cultural historian Camille Paglia takes a different view, citing Hefner as ‘one of the principal architects of the social revolution.’

Marilyn has made many posthumous appearances on Playboy covers through the years. The magazine has also revealed rare and unseen images, such as Jon Whitcomb’s 1958 painting of Marilyn (based on a photo by Carl Perutz), and illustrator Earl Moran’s photos of a young Marilyn.

Many distinguished authors have written about Marilyn for Playboy, including John Updike, Roger Ebert, and Joyce Carol Oates. More dubiously, the magazine also published detective John Miner’s contested transcripts of tapes allegedly made by Marilyn for her psychiatrist, Dr Ralph Greenson.

Since his death was announced earlier today, Twitter users and even some news websites have mistakenly posted a photo of Marilyn with Sir Laurence Olivier, confusing him with Hefner, as Mashable reports (a final absurdity that all three would probably have found hilarious.)

In 1992, Hefner reportedly purchased the crypt next to Marilyn’s in Westwood Memorial Park for $75,000. If he is buried there, it will either pave the way for extra security measures, or make Marilyn’s final resting place even more of a spectacle.

Multiple Marilyn Prints Sold at Bonham’s

Marilyn featured heavily in Bonhams’ Modern & Contemporary Prints & Multiples auction this week, with a dye-transfer print for Tom Kelley’s ‘red velvet‘ nude calendar shot, mounted on illustration board and signed by Hugh Hefner, fetching $37,500 (£29,406.) Other photographers included Philippe Halsman, Andre De Dienes, Alfred Eisenstaedt, George S. Zimbel, Cecil W. Stoughton, George Barris, William J. Carroll, Laszlo Willinger, and Bert Stern. Some of the photos in this auction were previously displayed in 17 Years, Marilyn: The Making of a Legend, at the Andrew Weiss Gallery in Los Angeles.

Thanks to Fraser Penney

Marilyn’s Little Black Book, and More

The annual Hollywood Legends auction at Julien’s, set for April 29, features a number of Marilyn-related items, including a 1961 check  book which, as UK tabloid The Mirror reports, shows she was overdrawn at the time.

Here are some of the more unusual lots…

“A Marilyn Monroe novelty game night set. The Brown & Bigelow set contains two decks of playing cards, one showing Monroe in the ‘A New Wrinkle’ pose and one of Monroe in the ‘Golden Dreams’ pose from her 1949 Red Velvet photo session with Tom Kelley, and a set of four tin coasters showing Monroe in the ‘Golden Dreams’ pose and ‘Marilyn Monroe’ printed on each. Contained in a black flocked presentation box, stamped with an image of Monroe and branded text that reads ‘Always First/ with the Best Figures/ T D F CO.’ at lower right.”

Rare photos taken by Bruce Davidson during filming of Let’s Make Love.

A number of items related to photographer John Florea, including this contact sheet from the ‘Heat Wave’ number in There’s No Business Like Show Business.

A personal note from photographer Zinn Arthur to Marilyn and Milton Greene, probably penned during filming of Bus Stop.

And an invitation to the 1961 Berlin Film Festival