A trove of rare photographs of Marilyn Monroe have been uncovered – including a previously unseen ‘unflattering’ shot she had sent to third husband Arthur Miller.
The image does not appear to be one of Marilyn’s best, showing her dressed down with only a little makeup, the DailyMail reports. However, what got the public’s attention was its mysterious caption, written by Marilyn herself.
“I know when I’m not there for you!” she scribbled on to the picture itself with the same red wax pencil that she used to mark shots she didn’t like on contact sheets after a shoot.
The ‘unflattering’ or ‘natural’ shot, showing her dressed down and with only a little makeup, is not typical of pictures of the star – who was often glammed-up and showed more skin.
It appears that these images were taken by Jean Howard in 1952. The former movie star who married into the Hollywood elite photographed Monroe backstage on the set of How To Marry A Millionaire.
Although Howard took reels of pictures both on the set and behind it, auctioneers believe these have never seen the light of day until now.
These images show Marilyn in Korea in 1954. Thousands of images were taken during her visit, and these were snapped by a ranking officer who had unique access to the star.
Shortly after marrying her second husband, famous baseball center fielder Joe DiMaggio, Marilyn made a brief visit to the Korean Peninsula when the pair decided to honeymoon in Japan.
Margaret Barrett, Director of Entertainment Memorabilia, offered some context: “It’s not the classic, sexy movie star look she’s known for, she is in a white shirt with a collar, you can’t see any skin but her face. She’s completely covered up with a regular dress shirt with buttons and long sleeve with subtle make-up and an odd expression. It’s the picture of a regular woman – you rarely see Marilyn like that. You see her as the famous movie star.”
We can only agree. And it makes sense for Arthur to hold this photo dear to his heart – he loved the regular woman, the real Marilyn, not the public perception.
Ms. Barrett adds: “She wrote a message on the glass frame to Arthur where she knew he would see it. Who knows what that means? Maybe he felt she wasn’t there for him, maybe was he that needy, who can guess?’
The auction will also feature images of Marilyn entertaining the troops during the Korean War, and will take place in Dallas next week.
While Ms. Barrett agrees that images of Marilyn in Korea are far from unique, as thousands of troops were photographing her, these ones are of particularly good quality. They were taken by a ranking officer who had good access to her.
“She was beautiful, had a great figure, made it to the top of her professional world, she was the biggest movie star in the world and checked out at the age of 36. Whether it was accidental suicide, murder or something else, we don’t know. The mystery of why she didn’t live beyond 36 is why we grasp at parts of her life. It’s not like she faded into obscurity. She was still making movies, in gossip, she was singing to President Kennedy in the famous happy birthday video,” Barrett adds.
“It’s one of the most famous events in pop culture: The biggest movie star of the time and most popular president America has ever had, both tragically way too young to die.”
While entertaining the soldiers, Marilyn wore little more than a summer dress and high heels, despite it being the depths of winter. When off-duty, however, we see the more ordinary woman, dressed in warm winter clothes. Some of the photographs in the auction show the star in candid behind-the-scenes moments such as this image of her dining with the men:
Yet others show her being escorted around the military base, helping cut a cake in the officers’ mess.
Marilyn Monroe visits, performs for troops in Korea – 1954
An enlarged print of the Playboy cover where Marilyn featured, signed by the recently deceased Hugh Heffner is up for auction too.
Margaret, being an expert on these matters, filled us in: ‘The print on the Marilyn magazine cover is 36inch by 26inch blown-up limited edition from the cover on high-quality paper and signed by Hugh Heffner. There were only 950 of them, this is number 771 and was presented in 1991. It’s initialed by a man who is now gone and will never initial anything again.”
The Heritage Auctions specialist’s favorite pieces is the one from Jean Howard: “Jean shot loads of images on the set and off, the way she looked, they are rare, I’ve never seen them and they likely are unseen. These are behind the scenes, they are seconds we’ve not seen of Marilyn even though we’ve seen some of those moments in film.”
Other items in the auction include a signed playbill from the April in Paris Ball, in 1957.
This document was signed by Marilyn in 1952 as part of a contract with 20th Century Fox, though it is a mystery what it relates to.
Other memorabilia includes selections of business documents which were signed by the Hollywood star.
“Warmest regards, Marilyn Monroe” reads an autographed book, which is expected to fetch $1,400.
Here’s a reminder of more never-before-seen photos of Marilyn Monroe that emerged back in 2016
Sigh. Shine bright, Marilyn!