Marilyn Monroe’s 90th Birthday

June 1, 2016 Would Have Been Marilyn Monroe’s 90th Birthday

10 Rare Photographs From Her Life

A simply stunning unadorned Marilyn Monroe at agent Johnny Hyde's home 1950 photograph: Earl Leaf

A simply stunning, unadorned Marilyn Monroe at agent Johnny Hyde’s home 1950 photograph: Earl Leaf

June 1 marks Marilyn Monroe’s 90th birthday. We have pondered this before: what would an elderly Marilyn Monroe have been like? Reclusive and mentally ill like her mother was? Elder stateswoman of the movies and spokesperson for women’s rights? It’s all conjecture, there’s obviously no clear answer.

Marilyn Monroe at age 11 when she was just Norma Jeane Baker

Marilyn Monroe at age 11 when she was just Norma Jeane Baker

As much as Marilyn accomplished, her life was unfulfilled. No babies, no aging to segue into nuanced character roles in films, no Broadway or television career, no venturing into social activism on issues that would have concerned her.

When Marilyn died at the age of 36 in 1962, she became immortalized in ways that probably would have amused her. The movie goddess is still forever young, and has become an icon of many things: the 1950s; glamor; gay rights; womanhood and sex to name a few.

As time passes and the people who actually knew her pass away, Marilyn becomes more of a figurehead of a time rather than a once living flesh and blood person. Authors are drawn to Marilyn and have made her the subject of hundreds of books and millions of words analyzing her without knowing her.

Marilyn Monroe in a publicity photo for Hometown Story a rarely seen 1950 film which includes Alan Hale Jr. (yes, the Skipper from Gilligan's Island!)

Marilyn Monroe in a publicity photo for Hometown Story a rarely seen 1951 film which includes Donald Crisp, Jeffrey Lynn and Alan Hale Jr. (yes, the Skipper from Gilligan’s Island!)

This literary interest in every aspect of Marilyn’s life was not displayed when she was alive. Only six books were written about her during her lifetime. True, there were the articles in magazines that gave superficial glimpses into her life. But Marilyn and the publicity machine that surrounded her obfuscated much of who she really was.

Marilyn Monroe in a parka 1951 photograph: JR Eyerman

Marilyn Monroe in a parka 1951 photograph: JR Eyerman

The people who knew Marilyn privately rarely divulged any deep insights into her. If they did, they only told of a part of Marilyn’s life, the part she chose to share with them or gleanings based on their own observations. Like a diamond Marilyn had many facets.

Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio. Note the giant safety pins holding Marilyn's scarf in place.

Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio. Note the giant safety pins holding Marilyn’s neck piece in place.

Read one of Marilyn’s true friend’s, Norman Rosten’s biography Marilyn An Untold Story (Signet/ NAL: 1973) and then read Tony Curtis’ The Making of Some Like It Hot: My Memories of Marilyn Monroe and the Classic American Movie (Wiley; 2009).¬† They tell two very different viewpoints of Marilyn that intersect when it comes to certain traits; a quest for knowledge, a need to love and be loved, and an underlying lack of self-confidence.

Marilyn Monroe with wounded soldiers in Korea

Marilyn Monroe with wounded soldiers in Korea 1954

The unpublished photographs of Marilyn keep trickling out from professional photographers, private collectors, relatives, friends, and long lost archives.

If Marilyn was not the most photographed person of the 1950s, who was?

Stars eventually fade and had Marilyn reached 90 she probably would have been like most 90 and older stars, rarely being in the public eye or photographed – see Doris Day, Olivia de Havilland, Kirk Douglas for proof.

Marilyn Monroe in Korea 1954 photograph: Pan Asia news service

Marilyn Monroe in Korea 1954 photograph: Pan Asia news service

The last of the old-time Hollywood stars have stayed away from the camera, Marilyn doesn’t have that choice.

Marilyn Monroe caught in a candid moment.

Marilyn Monroe caught in a candid moment c. 1955

Then as now there were paparazzi ready to snap a candid photo of you whether you wanted it or not. Marilyn was usually cooperative with her fans when they did it.

Marilyn Monroe in Cadillac holding a portrait of Abraham Lincoln. photograph: Milton Greene

Marilyn Monroe in Cadillac holding a portrait of Abraham Lincoln. photograph: Milton Greene

Marilyn had “a thing” for Abraham Lincoln. She became friendly with Lincoln biographer Carl Sandburg and thought that playwright husband Arthur Miller bore a striking resemblance to the 16th president.

Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller with hot dog vendor at the Battery photograph: Sam Shaw

Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller with hot dog vendor near the Battery in lower Manhattan. photograph: Sam Shaw

Can you imagine the story the hot dog vendor was able to tell to her family and friends?

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