Korea Photos, and More, at Heritage Auctions

Heritage Auctions are holding an Entertainment & Music Memorabilia sale on August 10th, including several very desirable Marilyn-related items. Among the lots, two sets of rare Korea photos have attracted the attention of the Daily Mail:

“A set of 13 black and white photographs, taken by an official army photographer, capture touching behind the scenes moments from the tour.

Monroe, who was aged 28 at the time, is seen in combat boots and black trousers and a flight jacket chatting to soldiers and signing autographs in the 8ins by 10ins prints.

Several images show her on stage wowing crowds in a sparkling cocktail dress while in others she is wearing her famed houndstooth dress from her film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

A set of four colour slides depict Monroe mingling and laughing with troops and signing autographs.

A 90-second clip of unseen footage from the visit shot by a young soldier shows her arriving in an army helicopter, meeting troops then leaving in the helicopter.

The images were bought by a collector in the 1990s direct from the photographer and have never been published.

Margaret Barrett, director of entertainment at Heritage Auctions, said: ‘These photos came from a collector who bought them about 18 years ago for very little money.

‘It isn’t known who shot the photos but we think it would have been an official Army photographer because they are professional images.

‘There were thousands of soldiers there all with their cameras but these photos show Marilyn behind the scenes posing for the camera and signing things for VIPs.

‘It was the only trip she did to see troops and in fact she only ever visited England after that trip – she wasn’t a world traveller.

‘These photos are really nice and have never been seen before. The photographer was with Marilyn at all the events she went to while in Korea.’

‘There are not too many quality photos of this trip, especially ones such as these which capture the behind the scenes moments.'”



Also on offer is the ‘possibly worn’ silver evening gown from Love Happy; some offscreen clothing; letters from Jean Negulesco and William Inge, and one from Marilyn to Inez Melson; two books owned by MM; and scripts for Don’t Bother to Knock, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, How to Marry a Millionaire and Let’s Make Love.

And finally, this rather sweet photo was taken on the set of Love Nest in 1951.

Tom Kelley, Dennis Stock at Reel Art Press

Tom Kelley’s Studio, a new book from Reel Art Press (the people behind The Rat Pack) features his most famous session – with a young, unknown Marilyn – on its cover. It is a general review of his work, will be published on November 1st.

Also coming soon from Reel Art Press is Dennis Stock: American Cool, including these photos taken during filming of The Misfits. (I’m not sure yet whether his other work with Marilyn is also featured.)


‘Niagara’ on Blu-Ray

Niagara is now available on Blu-Ray, and the digitally restored version is being hailed as ‘a beautiful piece of Technicolour noir.’ Screen-caps from Immortal Marilyn’s Facebook page.

Fox is releasing Niagara on Blu-ray for its 60th Anniversary. The full-frame HD presentation, 1080p and MPEG-4 AVC encoded, shown at a standard 1.33:1 aspect ratio, is positively breathtaking. Colors are gorgeous, with an impressive level of detail. “Fans of the movie will right away notice how exceptional the disc looks when we first see Marilyn, naked in bed, inexplicably wearing the shiniest red lipstick, its hue never dulling or smudging on the pillow. The various textures in the room, and the balance of color, are fantastic. Niagara is a film that in previous home video editions has often burned too hot, which had the ironic effect of making it murky. This is not so on Blu-ray. Every spray of water, every curl of hair, and every cobblestone on the walkway is visible, with proper color timing and no dirt, scratches, or noise.” – DVD Talk

Niagara is a superbly-crafted noir tale, but the rare one filmed in color. Much of the production is filmed on-location, and the scenery mixed with Technicolor and the art design of the time — all of it in Bluray high-definition — makes for one gorgeous motion picture.

And so of course does Marilyn. The camera practically gropes her, especially during the first act. Marilyn is introduced to us in bed wearing only piercing red lipstick. Then it’s one tight dress to another with only a shower scene in-between. This was 1953, so everything is left to the imagination — but my imagination still hasn’t cooled off.” – Breitbart

Memorial 2013: Updates

You can now read an updated agenda for this year’s memorial over at Marilyn Remembered. Among the added events are Becoming Marilyn Monroe, an art installation by Alice Toohey, on August 4th; and a screening of The Final Days, the documentary about the making of Something’s Got to Give, at the El Portal Theatre on the 5th. 

Note: George Barris and Christopher Nickens will no longer be attending the book signing on the 4th, but Douglas Kirkland and Lois Banner will be present.

Marilyn in Vancouver

On July 27th, 1953 – exactly sixty years ago – Marilyn Monroe came to Vancouver. This anniversary is marked by John Mackie in today’s Vancouver Sun.

“Marilyn Monroe stopped off in Vancouver 60 years ago en route to Jasper, where she was to film River of No Return. She spent five hours in the city before departing on a Canadian National train, and caused quite a stir.

Vancouver Sun columnist Jack Wasserman met her in Seattle and spent eight hours ‘interviewing, protecting and just looking’ at the screen goddess he dubbed ’20th Century Fox’s contribution to culture.’

‘She is a sweet, unaffected, smooth-talking, sloe-eyed American girl with a 37-inch bust and a sense of humour,’ Wasserman wrote. ‘During the time (in Vancouver) she signed hundreds of autographs, posed for 373 amateur and professional photographers, was interviewed by 32 newspapermen (11 of whom had actually been assigned to the story), strutted her stuff on the tarmac at Vancouver International Airport and went on a sightseeing tour of Stanley Park and the Capilano Indian reserve.’ Wasserman found her witty and forthright.

‘I’m a 37-inch bust, 23 waist and 34 hips,’ she said. ‘My upper hips are 34. Where they measure 37 really isn’t the hips at all. I’m really my own self, from tip to toe. No, I take that back; I tint my hair.’ Wasserman wasn’t the only media type to spend time with Marilyn.

There is a photo of the dashing local photographer Ray Munro escorting Monroe into the Hotel Vancouver, and the Province’s Norm Sedawie wrote a story about chauffeuring her around Stanley Park and the Capilano reserve in a convertible. Chief Joe Matthias jogged up to the car to greet her. ‘You’re that Hollywood woman, ain’t you?’ he asked Monroe.

‘She said yes in that low, breathless voice she almost always uses,’ wrote Sedawie. ‘He shook her hand all the way up the elbow, then scampered off to find some feathered garments with which to accommodate our photographer.’ That would be Harry Cantlon, whose photo of Marilyn and Matthias is still in The Sun and Province archives. Alas, the rest of the photos that ran in the papers that day have vanished, including a fabulous front-page shot by The Sun’s Dave Buchan of Marilyn posing in front of a United Airlines plane at the airport.

A similar photo by the Province’s Bill Cunningham is in the Vancouver Public Library collection, however. Oddly, the Cunningham shot doesn’t seem to have run in the Province – the editors chose to run four other photos.”


Snapshot of War: Norma Jeane and the Drone

Over at Paleofuture, Matt Novak takes another look at David Conover’s 1944 photo of 18 year-old Norma Jeane Dougherty working at the Radioplane munitions plant – the picture that launched her modelling career – and asks, what was she making?

“Though her main job at the factory was spraying down the planes with fire retardant, here she’s seen assembling the OQ-2 radioplane, (sometimes called the RP-5A, TDD-l or the “Dennymite” for its designer Reginald Denny), which was the first mass produced unmanned aerial vehicle in the world. Drones have been in the news so much recently that we often think of them as a new concept in war.”

Marilyn, JFK and The Palm Springs Story

Whenever the home of a star from Hollywood’s golden age goes on the market, it is now routine for estate agents to claim that Marilyn Monroe visited them there – often adding that she and said celebrity enjoyed a passionate affair on the grounds.

Generally, it’s false. However, there are a couple of exceptions: the most notable being Bing Crosby’s Palm Springs estate, visited by Marilyn in the spring of 1962. Among the guests was President John F. Kennedy, taking time off from the Democratic Convention in Los Angeles.

Lindsay, owner of the provocatively titled, but actually very informative IAmNotaStalker blog, has visited many Marilyn locations, and posted many great photos taken from outside Uncle Bing’s former pad just recently.

Even the most sceptical observers concede that Marilyn may have had a fling with Kennedy that weekend. Her masseur and close friend, Ralph Roberts, has said that Marilyn called him from the house in flirtatious mood, and that a ‘friend’ bearing that familiar Bostonian accent joined in the conversation.

This may even have been Marilyn’s only liaison with the president, as none of their other alleged trysts have been confirmed by such a trustworthy source.


Hank Jones Tribute in Vicksburg

Hank Jones, the legendary jazz pianist who accompanied Marilyn’s birthday serenade to JFK in 1962, is the subject of a fourth annual tribute event, including an exhibition, concert and panel discussion on August 4th (coincidentally, the anniversary of Marilyn’s death) in his native Vicksburg, Mississippi, reports Seattle PI.

You can read my own tribute to Hank, written after his death in 2010, here. As reported on ES Updates recently, it has recently been suggested that Jones may also have been the ‘mystery man’ seated with Marilyn and designer Bill Travilla in a nightclub photo from 1952.

Marilyn, Ava and Peter Evans

Ava Gardner: The Secret Conversations is one of the hottest books of 2013. Author Peter Evans – who died last year – collaborated with the star on a planned memoir in 1989. Unfortunately, Ava abandoned the project – possibly at the behest of her ex-husband, Frank Sinatra.

A revised autobiography, written with a different author, was published after Ava’s death in 1990. But many thought it too sanitised, and so Evans finally decided to revisit his time with Ava.

The book includes an interesting quote from Ava; about stars, image and truth, with reference to Marilyn:

“I know a lot of men fantasise about me; that’s how Hollywood gossip becomes Hollywood history. Someday someone is going to say, ‘All the lies ever told about Ava Gardner,’ and the truth about me, just like poor, maligned Marilyn, will disappear like names on old tombstones. I know I’m not defending a spotless reputation. Hell, it’s too late for that. Scratching one name off my dance card won’t mean a row of beans in the final tally. It’s just that I like to keep the books straight while I’m still around and sufficiently sober and compos mentis to do it.”

Evans also knew Marilyn, and spoke with her in 1961, shortly after her divorce from Arthur Miller. He wrote about that conversation in a 2010 article for the Daily Mail.

Ava was a feisty character, and in many ways, quite different to Marilyn. But their lives also had striking parallels, which I explored in an article for my own website last year. You can read it here.