Marilyn and the Hollywood Beach Beauties

Several photos of Marilyn are featured in Hollywood Beach Beauties, a new book from David Wills (author of MM: Metamorphosis and Marilyn in the Flash.) Eagle-eyed fans will know that the back cover photo, as shown above – taken by Laszlo Willinger circa 1951-52 – has been colorized (by Olga Shimina), as other photos from the same session show that Marilyn’s two-piece wasn’t red.


In an interview with Stephanie Nolasco for Fox News, David Wills shared his thoughts on the ultimate California girl:

“I don’t know if she thought much about it at the time, because I know later in her career she didn’t want to be associated with that, but it certainly helped her get a lot of attention. You look back as early as 1945 and she was posing in bathing suits.

Then at a certain time, she didn’t want to do that anymore… So for the last 10 years of her life, you rarely saw her posing in bathing suits. Only a few occasions, like the ones taken by Sam Shaw, which are in the book … But professionally at some point, she just stopped.”

Switched On: Marilyn in the Sixties

This photo of Marilyn boarding a Pan-Am flight to Mexico City at Miami International Airport on February 21, 1962 is published in a new book, Switched On: Women Who Revolutionised Style in the 60s, by David Wills, author of MM: Metamorphosis and Marilyn in the Flash.

“MM’s personal style loosened up in the last months of her life, as she played a wife and mother for the first time in the aborted Something’s Got to Give. Now paler, blonder and more refined – her features and body transformed by an extreme weight loss – she resembled a beautiful ghost. Marilyn indulged her fondness for Pucci prints, Jax slacks, and Ferragamo high-heel mules, perhaps sensing in her new home life – in the first home she ever owned – a saner existence within reach. This was not to be: a Hollywood legendary was made tragically eternal instead.”

Here are some more photos from the same day, including one of Marilyn kissing goodbye to Joe DiMaggio.

Marilyn will also feature in Wills’ next book, Hollywood Beach Beauties: Sea Sirens, Sun Goddesses, and Summer Style 1930-1970, due for release in June 2018.

Hollywood Beach Beauties highlights the sexy, carefree attitude of the summer, the elegant seaside couture, and the enchanting and alluring beauty of the female form. Included here are candid and stylish photographs featuring stars of yesterday such as Elizabeth Taylor, Rita Hayworth, Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, Brigitte Bardot, Sharon Tate, Raquel Welch, Sophia Loren, Dorothy Dandridge, and Nancy Sinatra.”

David Wills: ‘Marilyn – In the Flash’

David Wills’ 2011 book, Marilyn Monroe: Metamorphosis, is one of the best pictorial studies of MM ever published, and a firm fan favourite. So I was delighted to hear this morning that Mr Wills will soon publish a sequel, Marilyn: In the Flash. With an introduction by legendary actor Robert Wagner, it’s already listed on major online bookstores with a December release date, although publisher Dey Street Books (formerly IT Books, an imprint of Harper Collins) sets an earlier release date of October 27. Here’s the synopsis:

“A stunning collection of hundreds of rare and unseen photographs, behind-the-scenes notes, and interviews chronicling the media’s lifelong love affair with Marilyn, created by the acclaimed curator and author of Marilyn Monroe: Metamorphosis.

Though Hollywood goddess Marilyn Monroe was married three times, her longest lasting relationship was with the press—the photographers, reporters, and press agents who followed her every move for nearly two decades, and made her into the greatest icon in Hollywood history. One of the most publicized actresses of her time, Marilyn actively sought out the press, carefully crafting her public image and using events from her private life to further her career. Her romances with baseball legend Joe DiMaggio, playwright Arthur Miller, and others made her a daily feature for newspapers, magazines, and wire services; new images of the star were guaranteed to boost sales.

Drawing on unseen troves from dozens of photographers, archives, and collectors, acclaimed photography expert David Wills brings together an unprecedented array of press photos from throughout Marilyn’s career—including hundreds of unpublished and rare photographs that have been beautifully restored; uncropped and unretouched outtakes; handwritten notations; period captions; clippings; and more. With a foreword by Robert J. Wagner and interviews from key press agents and others, this portfolio of images offers a fresh, indelible portrait of one of the most enduring icons in history and illuminates the special alliance she shared with the press as never before.”

Hollywood in Kodachrome

David Wills’ 2011 book, Marilyn Monroe: Metamorphosis, is one of the best photo retrospectives on the market – so it’s no surprise to report that his latest publication, Hollywood in Kodachrome, is also of fine quality. Focussing on 1940s photography, Wills devotes ten pages to Richard C. Miller, Bruno Bernard, Tom Kelley and Earl Thiesen’s glorious colour shots of a young Marilyn in her starlet years.

Scans by Chris at Club Passion Marilyn – click on thumbnails to see them at full size.

Marilyn’s Eternal Flame

Marilyn by Eve Arnold, 1955

Liza Power of the Sydney Morning Herald examines the Marilyn phenomenon, interviewing David Wills, Australian-born author of MM: Metamorphosis; Dr Lois Banner (MM: Personal) and Laurent Morlet, director of With Her, a new documentary about Marilyn’s fans:

”’There is something unexplainable about their love for her,” Morlet says. ”She is a confidante, a friend, a guide, a support for them, usually since a very young age. I don’t think they ‘see’ specific things in her as much as just feeling a need for her, often without knowing why.”’

Marilyn Fan Review: Metamorphosis

MM fan Edgar Freire has reviewed Marilyn Monroe: Metamorphosis, hailing it as ‘the definitive visual biography’:

“The theme of the book (as implied by the title) propels the simple story of the transformation of the young, exuberant Norma Jeane (in her brunette model phase) into the dream-factory creation known as Marilyn Monroe, Hollywood sex goddess, the impossibly blonde image imprinted firmly onto the world’s consciousness. But in between these two extremes are presented other incarnations, seldom seen, of the woman behind the mask and artifice, and it is these images that will surprise many.”

Read Edgar’s review in full here

David Wills on ‘Metamorphosis’

A selection of photos from Marilyn Monroe: Metamorphosis are featured in the Wall Street Journal, while author David Wills talks about his book at Betty Confidential:

“Marilyn Monroe stands alone as a photographic subject for two reasons – visual transformation (her metamorphosis) and inner projection (her charisma). She was a very pretty woman of course, but she wasn’t what you would call a traditional beauty. She didn’t have a long neck or perfect symmetry or particularly strong bone structure. Her beauty was more subtle, but the way she was able to project that beauty – especially on screen or in a still photograph – was absolutely dynamic.”

MM: Metamorphosis

This new photo book, set to be published in October 2011, looks very tempting…

‘Marilyn Monroe: Metamorphosis’ features images by world-class photographers including Richard Avedon, Milton Greene, Sam Shaw, Cecil Beaton, Philippe Halsman, Andre de Dienes, George Barris, Alfred Eisenstaedt, Philippe Halsman, Willy Rizzo, Richard C. Miller, Tom Kelley, and others.

“More than 60% of the photographs in the book have never before been published.

“Australian-born curator and preservationist David Wills has accrued one of the world’s largest independent archives of original Marilyn Monroe photographs. Now, in ‘Marilyn Metamorphosis’, he has gathered the work of every major Marilyn photographer-and dozens of unknowns-to create the most dazzling portfolio of images from every period in Marilyn Monroe’s life, from her earliest sittings in 1942 till just weeks before her death two decades later. With more than three hundred full-bleed photos-including countless dazzling, unseen color photos from the very start of her career- ‘Marilyn Metamorphosis’ chronicles her meteoric rise from a humble catalog model to one of the most recognized faces in history. No other book even comes close.

“Norma Jean Baker’s transformation into one of the most emulated and iconic Hollywood starlets is an epic American story—one that careens from a troubled childhood through bright spotlights and dark depression. ‘Marilyn Metamorphosis’ offers a straightforward, cleanly designed photograph journey through Monroe’s meteoric rise and tragic undoing. From ‘The Rehearsal’ years of a brunette Norma Jean posing in factories and on beaches, to the final chapter, ‘Icarus,’ which contains images taken only weeks before her death, ‘Marilyn Metamorphosis’ presents a visual historical record like never before seen.

‘Marilyn Monroe: Metamorphosis’ by David Wills, Stephen Schmidt

Publisher: Harper-Collins/It Books

  • ISBN-10: 006203619X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062036193

320 pages; 9 x 11 1/2
b&w and color photos throughout

Pre-order now at Amazon UK or