1956: Marilyn in New York.
1958: Marilyn on the beach by Sam Shaw
1953: Ben Ross
Marilyn Monroe at Ray Anthony’s party, 1952
Marilyn photographed by Jack Cardiff
1959: Breathtakingly beautiful.
Stolen kisses are always sweetest - Leigh Hunt
ABCs of Marilyn Monroe
→ L: Love and loneliness.
Marilyn was a complex woman who was lonely quite a lot in life. Her turbulent childhood, failed marriages and fame left her feeling isolated from the world for a lot of her life. That being said, Marilyn was also a very loving person who cared dearly for friends, children and animals. Sometimes she cared too much and pushed those who took her under their wing away - leaving her lonely again. Her complicated life story made her feel misunderstood by a lot of people and she frequently wrote poems and small passages discussing these topics - which seems so very intertwined throughout her life.
ABCs of Marilyn Monroe
→ K: Kissing Hitler.
It was the comment that entered movie legend the second Tony Curtis muttered the words. When asked what it was like to kiss Marilyn he replied: “It was like kissing Hitler.” In his defence, it was most likely meant as a joke and in 2008 he told a Daily Mail interviewer that it “was such a darn stupid question, so I gave a stupid answer.” Nevertheless, when Marilyn was asked about it in her last interview, in 1962, she quipped: “well I think that’s his problem, and if I really have to do intimate love scenes with an individual who has these kind of feeling towards me then my fantasy can come into play!” Judging by those words, it’s hard to believe Tony’s claim that the pair had an affair during the filming of Some Like It Hot.
ABCs of Marilyn Monroe
→ J: Jane Russell
Jane Russell remained friends with Marilyn until her death in 1962 having co-starred with her in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Below is the introduction, written by Jane Russell, to the book Marilyn Monroe and the Camera.
The first time I met Marilyn she was dancing with her first husband, Jim Dougherty, a past schoolmate of mine. He was in uniform and called out to me, “Hey, outlaw! I want you to see my wife, Norma Jeane.” I looked up from the table and saw a little thing with ash-brown hair and a very sweet smile. We waved hi. She was curled literally over his arm. A year or so later I was riding with the director Nick Ray on the RKO lot when we passed a girl wearing very “stressed” blue jeans and a man’s shirt tied under her bosom and showing quite a lot of midriff. Nick stopped the car and said, ”I’d like you to meet this kid…. She’s having a tough time on her picture with the lady star, who is being very sarcastic to her.” As she walked alongside, he called, ”Marilyn, I want you two to meet. Jane, this is Marilyn Monroe.” Her hair was blonder now – tousled, but definitely blonder. Nick was very concerned, caring, protective. I believe that the outstanding quality that made Marilyn different from other so-called sex symbols was her … vulnerability. Everyone wanted to take care of her, to help. She brought out protectiveness in all but the insensitive, or those who, of course, simply wanted a more sophisticated adult world where everyone was responsible to himself, a world of caustic humor, a take-as-much-as-you-give world. I was accustomed to that world, but Marilyn could get terribly hurt. She simply could not understand people being mean. She was super sensitive – and with good reason, considering her rudderless past and unsure future. Marilyn had a never-ending thirst for knowledge and self-improvement. She loved poetry and music andwas instinctively drawn to culture, to all the arts, but money and power were not to be gained by coercion; especially not when applied to Marilyn. She would flit off like a butterfly. I remember her saying, “If they aren’t going to be fair and nice, I can always leave. I can get by on very little. After all, I’ve done it before.”
When we started making Gentlemen Prefer Blondes she was in her very first “star” dressing room,even though she had already starred in a picture. She was determined that her bosses at Fox were going to take her seriously. She worked night and day rehearsing the dance numbers, or she’d shoot the film all day and then go over the script with her coach at night. I’d go home exhausted and ready to relax, but Marilyn worked on into the night. The next day she would arrive a good hour before I did. She was always ready but could not make herself get out on the set. She puttered, seemingly frozen there. It got a little tense on the set for a couple of days – you just didn’t keep Howard Hawks waiting without getting the steely blue eye! Whitey, her makeup man, confided to us in my dressing room that he felt that she was afraid to go out on the set– to face the “tiger,” as it were. So, from then on, I would stop by her dressing room and say, “Come on, Blondel, it’s five of. Let’s go get‘em !” Marilyn would look up and in her little-girl whisper say, “Oh … O.K.,” and we’d trot out together. We all found her very cooperative, sweet, and humorous, and when the camera rolled she glowed.
Physically, she seemed to have no bones … she curved every which way … undulating flesh … and yet, the innocence of a child was ever present. If you raised your voice at her or were too harsh, she’d cry –you knew that. Still photographers are the gentlest of creatures. They coax the very best out of their subjects. They have to, or they’d lose you … and our girl Marilyn responded to them like a flower opening to the sun.