Classic Hollywood #50 – Marilyn Monroe Sans Makeup

Marilyn Monroe Without Makeup – 1954

Marilyn Monroe in the morning with no makeup cloes up photo Milton GreeneIt is said that Marilyn Monroe was an expert at posing for photographers. During her early modeling days she questioned her photographers about the technical aspects of photography and over time and with studying, Marilyn learned how to always look her best in front of the camera.

So it was unusual that anyone would ever get to photograph Marilyn without makeup.

It did happen occasionally, but those sans makeup photographs are the exception.

With photographer and one time business partner Milton Greene, Marilyn would relax and allow Greene to photograph her in ways that others would never be allowed to. Once Monroe became a star, the only other person I can think of who also had trusted access to Monroe, would be was friend / photographer Sam Shaw,

On September 9, 1954 Milton Greene took a few photos of Marilyn Monroe while she was staying at New York’s St. Regis Hotel. Monroe had come to New York to begin shooting The Seven Year Itch. Greene would spend a few days with Marilyn while she was in the city and later had a full formal photo session with her at his studio.

Marilyn Monroe St Regis 3 Marilyn Monroe St Regis 2

Marilyn Monroe in the morning with no makeup photo Milton GreeneBut these intimate moments at the St. Regis would not be released until many years after Monroe’s death. Greene captured the star eating breakfast in her suite. No fancy costumes, no makeup.

These are impromptu shots as Marilyn is relaxed and hauntingly beautiful – even without makeup. On the right is the uncropped version of Greene’s candid photo seen at the top of the story.

3 thoughts on “Classic Hollywood #50 – Marilyn Monroe Sans Makeup

  1. Steve

    I’ve never been a fan of her more popular Hollywood “Glammed Up” photos. IMO it cheapened her true beauty. The Shaw, Greene and later Barris and Stern photos are how I’ll always want to remember her. THAT was my Marilyn.

    1. Maria

      Hello, Steve:
      One of MM’s first photographers, BRUNO BERNARD,
      would have agreed with you. 🙂
      He advised her to “always put sweet on hot” in a photo.
      In other words, look “sweet” while posing sexy.
      MM was a master model who treated the camera like a lover,
      but she should have heeded his advice because it really made a
      a difference in the way she conveyed her sensuality.

      Besides Bernard, my favorite MM photographers
      are Andre De Dienes when she was starting out,
      and George Barris, her last photographer.

      She never looked more beautiful than in these photos.
      She was in her element when she was in nature.
      At the beach, relaxed and playful, not a stitch of makeup,
      and more importantly, clearly trusting the photographer,
      which is more than I can say for Bert Stern.

      Despite marking several photos of her with an X
      to indicate that she did not want them published,
      he did so anyway, a total violation of her wishes.

      As a photographer, it was unprofessional.
      As a human being, it was cruel and self-serving.

      So many took advantage of her that it’s little wonder
      she remained a lost child.


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