Thursday 18 March 2021

Me & Marilyn: My Marilyn Monroe Collection

 Like millions of people around the world, I would class myself as a "fan" of Marilyn Monroe. Or as she was born, Norma Jeane.

I've loved her for as long as I can remember. Despite never knowing her, not being alive during her lifetime or even really knowing why. 

My grandfather loved her too, she was after all the ultimate 50's pin up.

Perhaps that's how I first came to know who she was. Years later at university I had the pleasure of studying several of her films during my the "gold age of cinema" module.

My curiosity and admiration grew to a point where I absorbed as much information about this woman and her tragically short life as I could.

Like doubtless millions other I own an impressive and beautiful collection of books about Marilyn; from large, heavy coffee shop books filled with beautiful photos to numerous books written about her life from various authors. Some who knew her, some who didn't.

I learnt from my reading that she in fact had a sister. This woman is called Bernice Miracle. 

A half sister as they shared the same mother, Gladys. 

What's more, she was still alive & had written a book about her life with her iconic sister.

Compelled by some unknown force after reading it, I wrote to her. 

I wanted to "feel" closer to Marilyn somehow, and to my utter astonishment, she replied.

Here I was, conversing with a living, breathing relative of my idol who not only knew Marilyn but was actually related to her and shared her genes. 

My heart soared when I received her letter speaking of Marilyn "sitting on a rainbow, waving a greeting" to me. 

I don't know why, but from this moment I decided I wanted to begin collecting Marilyn memorabilia.

Being a new graduate in a poorly paid job there was no chance of me ever being able to afford to buy something as amazing as something that Marilyn had once owned or worn (I did however drag my husband all the way to Bath just to attend an exhibition of many of her gowns and personal artefacts on temporary loan from a multi-millionaire mega collector) but I realised that there were still other wonderful items around that I myself might be able to lay my hands on.

9 or 10 years ago I partook in an auction in LA via online bidding and won two items which were being sold in a collection from the famed American publicist John Springers estate. 

He had once represented Marilyn.

I won an original, vintage photograph taken on the set of The Misfits which pictured her larking about with her co star Eli Wallach. It was both Marilyn & Clark Gables last film they'd ever make (or at least complete in Marilyn's case).

I just love it. She looks so genuinely happy in this un-posed, relaxed shot.

I also won one of my most prized possessions. An original Marilyn Monroe "Golden Dreams" calendar from 1954 featuring the famous "Red Velvet" photo session image of Monroe, taken by Tom Kelley in 1949. 

At the time of the photo session, Monroe was 22 years old and struggling with her career. By 1954, Monroe's career was skyrocketing.

She brushed off the media criticism of the calendar (and it's nudity) and refused to lie about the photographs when asked by the studio she was under contract to, 20th Century Fox.

I love her for this. 

Unapologetically brilliant, brave and strong. 

Also in my collection are two original LIFE magazines from the 50's featuring stunning spreads and articles about her, an original 50's newspaper advert for Lustre Cream Shampoo featuring Marilyn as their poster girl along with two original 50's "cinema books" to celebrate the release of Some Like it Hot & Bus Stop.

I'm not sure why I'm sharing this, I guess I just wanted to share some images of my teenie tiny collection which to many likely mean nothing, but to me mean so much.

For example, I love the interview in LIFE written by her then husband Arthur Miller. Look how blissfully happy she appears in the black and white photograph.

Equally I had never seen the photos of Marilyn transformed into the images of "Fabled Enchantresses", Including earlier cinematic contemporaries such as Marlene Dietrich & Jean Harlow before.

These images were just stunning to me and Indeed, remain so. 

My little collection is precious to me & I just wanted to share it so that any other Marilyn fans could enjoy seeing them too. 

I may have also revisited them due to the launch of a certain beauty brands limited edition Marilyn Monroe collaboration... keep your eyes peeled.


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