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Marilyn's day in the park.
June 2, 2009 8:43 AM   Subscribe

LIFE magazine publishes new photos of a 24-year-old Marilyn Monroe, with interesting captions explaining why they've never been seen before.
posted by HumanComplex (68 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
The US has a decades long history of letting boring people capture its collective imagination.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:48 AM on June 2, 2009 [3 favorites]


Whoa. Picture 13. .. Whoa.
posted by ChickenringNYC at 8:52 AM on June 2, 2009 [5 favorites]


I like how almost every picture's caption starts off with a simple literal description.

Marilyn sits on a bench.
Marilyn balances on two rocks in the water.
Marilyn leans against a railing, her short shorts riding up.
Marilyn lives her life like a candle in the wind.
posted by Spatch at 8:53 AM on June 2, 2009 [3 favorites]


Monroe appears to be acting out a scene.

I see.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:54 AM on June 2, 2009


She's pretty. Whatever happened to her?
posted by wittgenstein at 8:55 AM on June 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


She makes my pants go crazy.
posted by Senator at 9:09 AM on June 2, 2009


Wittgenstein: repressive, sexist 1950s American culture, perhaps?
posted by leotrotsky at 9:10 AM on June 2, 2009


From the page you liked to, "29 Hottest Sports Wives (and Exes)".

Life seems to have lowered its standards from those my dad remembers it having fifty years ago.
posted by orange swan at 9:13 AM on June 2, 2009


This is much better than the previously undisclosed montage of Arthur Miller's day in the park.
posted by bigskyguy at 9:16 AM on June 2, 2009 [8 favorites]


Why were they never seen? A note says the photos were overdeveloped and poorly printed.

So actually you're looking at crappy photos. Enjoy!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:17 AM on June 2, 2009


She definitely was beautiful.
posted by Flood at 9:20 AM on June 2, 2009


A note says the photos were overdeveloped and poorly printed.

Many are. And most of the compositions suck.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 9:21 AM on June 2, 2009


I was surprised by the resemblance between a young Marilyn Monroe and Penelope Ann Miller.
posted by fatbird at 9:23 AM on June 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ed Clark's camera captures something else here: a not-yet-packaged young woman unaware of what lies in store for her

I find this depressing on several levels.
posted by Joe Beese at 9:23 AM on June 2, 2009 [4 favorites]


I'm struck by how . . . well, normal she looks. She's cute (that short shorts pic--though I don't know if I'd call it "innocently sexy"), but man, is her hair fried.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:25 AM on June 2, 2009 [3 favorites]


I like these photos. Yeah, there's some skin. no denying it. Also evident in the photos is that sense of humor that made her more than just a pretty face. Is some of it the very archetype of the dumb blonde? You bet, but remember, these photos were about 1950, about thirteen years past "Men seldom make passes. At girls who wear glasses." So, no, we cannot expect Sandra Bernhard wit at that time. The ingenue it is, at least in the beginning.

She did pretty well, given what she had to work with and the times.
posted by adipocere at 9:29 AM on June 2, 2009 [4 favorites]


So young.
posted by bigbigdog at 9:29 AM on June 2, 2009


Also you need to be wearing a suit and drinking a martini.
posted by Artw at 9:30 AM on June 2, 2009


wittgenstein, she took a lot of pills and died.
posted by snofoam at 9:35 AM on June 2, 2009


adipocere: "She did pretty well, given what she had to work with and the times."

As a wise man once put it: A woman's got to use what she got to get just what she wants.
posted by Joe Beese at 9:36 AM on June 2, 2009


I'm struck by how . . . well, normal she looks. She's cute (that short shorts pic--though I don't know if I'd call it "innocently sexy"), but man, is her hair fried.

There are very few celebrities/models who I don't see the equivalent of, beauty-wise, in at least one person (if not several) in every school and nearly every workplace I've been. They just aren't famous.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:37 AM on June 2, 2009 [9 favorites]


I like these photos. Yeah, there's some skin. no denying it. Also evident in the photos is that sense of humor that made her more than just a pretty face. Is some of it the very archetype of the dumb blonde? You bet, but remember, these photos were about 1950, about thirteen years past "Men seldom make passes. At girls who wear glasses." So, no, we cannot expect Sandra Bernhard wit at that time. The ingenue it is, at least in the beginning.

From what I understand (and as someone mentioned in the Wurtzel thread), Monroe was anything but a dumb blonde. She was a voracious reader, and the text for this gallery even mentions that she went to the park to read poetry.
posted by nasreddin at 9:44 AM on June 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


snofoam hears a whistling sound overhead.
posted by spock at 9:56 AM on June 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm struck by how . . . well, normal she looks.

Marilyn was more full-figured than current models and stars (size 8 to 10, not 16 as some sources stated), and these pictures were more natural-looking than her more glamorous shots that would come later.

Why were they never seen? A note says the photos were overdeveloped and poorly printed.

The caption on the page prior has a quote from LIFE photographer Ed Clark: "We'd go out to Griffith Park and she'd read poetry. I sent several rolls to LIFE in New York, but they wired back, 'Who the hell is Marilyn Monroe?'" So they were initially shelved because she was a nobody, but were probably passed over later due to the note that "this take was over-developed and poorly printed." I'd imagine that these photos were digitally cleaned up, something that wasn't available until recent times.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:04 AM on June 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


snofoam doesn't understand what spock is saying. maybe spock did not enjoy delightfully clever robbie fulks song.
posted by snofoam at 10:04 AM on June 2, 2009


She was a voracious reader

Oh come on! No-one has ever got that far into Ulysses.....

I like the photos even if they are a bit amatuerish. I always liked MM. She was a far better actress than most people gave her credit for.
posted by elendil71 at 10:07 AM on June 2, 2009


Paradoxically, these early photographs remind me of her in The Misfits, her last film.
posted by xod at 10:20 AM on June 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


She looks an awful lot like Little Edie in Photo 7.
posted by raysmj at 10:21 AM on June 2, 2009


I like her wide-eyed looks here better than her sultry half-closed lids. But even more, I want a cute little shirt with my initials embroidered on it in block print. (Sadly, my shape is all wrong for those type of shorts.)
posted by vespabelle at 10:21 AM on June 2, 2009


snofoam, that's one view of the story....
posted by FatherDagon at 10:25 AM on June 2, 2009


It's worth watching the later Marx Bros movie _Love Happy_ to see her screen sort-of-debut -- IIRC, she'd had some bit/extra parts before but this was her AND INTRODUCING... movie.

Anyway, she's not in the movie for long, but man, it's like the sun walked into the room. Not in a leering way, just a holy-shit-that's-some-charisma way.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:30 AM on June 2, 2009 [3 favorites]


So, Danzig's Misfits were named after the film? You learn something new every day.
posted by JBennett at 10:31 AM on June 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


FatherDagon: "that's one view of the story...."

If the Kennedys had Monroe killed, it sure was a lucky break for them that her years of depression and drug abuse made it so easy for them to make it a look like a suicide.
posted by Joe Beese at 10:36 AM on June 2, 2009 [3 favorites]


Huba, huba.
posted by JeffK at 10:41 AM on June 2, 2009


You think that's crazy? JFK actually shot himself!
posted by Artw at 10:44 AM on June 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


Life seems to have lowered its standards from those my dad remembers it having fifty years ago.

Oh, I don't know. The Life cover with Marilyn on it (#16) highlights the lead story, "There is a Case for Interplanetary Saucers."

I think she looks lovely in these pictures. I do prefer the wide-eyed ingenue look to the heavy-lidded seductress, as noted above.
posted by misha at 11:09 AM on June 2, 2009


I think she looks lovely in these pictures. I do prefer the wide-eyed ingenue look to the heavy-lidded seductress, as noted above.

Agreed. She looks fresh and natural, as opposed to a studio creation.
posted by never used baby shoes at 11:18 AM on June 2, 2009


Sorry, but this thread really skews towards the creepy end. No matter what the justification (the standard she's a public figure/sex symbol and it's fair game), it's still just dissecting a corpse and presuming some kind of affinity.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:21 AM on June 2, 2009


I believe a 2nd 'hubba' is in order.

I remember hearing about the story when she was married to DiMaggio (probably apocryphal) where she's going off to entertain the troops, doing other shows, etc. and he's wanting her to stick around more and she says to him "You don't know what it's like to have thousands of people screaming your name." And he just sort of paused and looked at her and said "I think I do."

Which is funny. And I'm a big DiMaggio fan. But I wouldn't want to see DiMaggio in hot pants leaning over a bridge rail.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:29 AM on June 2, 2009


Down on the casting couch
A star is gonna be born
A star with the stature of a Harlow
Who's doomed
And groomed to enrapture
All her co-stars, and stuntmen, the co-stars
Oh, let there be lights, action, sound
Lights, action, sound - Roll 'em!

posted by The Whelk at 11:33 AM on June 2, 2009


She's lovely in these shots. I liked when she explained relativity to Einstein.
posted by maxwelton at 11:41 AM on June 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh come on! No-one has ever got that far into Ulysses.....

Maybe she skipped the first 17 chapters and was just reading Molly Bloom's feverish soliloquy. I thought it was an awesome picture and I would love to put it on my wall.
posted by Falconetti at 11:45 AM on June 2, 2009


There are very few celebrities/models who I don't see the equivalent of, beauty-wise, in at least one person (if not several) in every school and nearly every workplace I've been. They just aren't famous.

Or professionally styled and photoshopped.
posted by orange swan at 11:45 AM on June 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


it's still just dissecting a corpse and presuming some kind of affinity.

Huh?
posted by smackfu at 11:47 AM on June 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


Monroe was anything but a dumb blonde

It's true, she was intelligent, and she had talent. And she wanted to take on much more interesting roles than her handlers would allow. Truman Capote wanted her to play Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany's, and she wanted to do it, but she wasn't allowed to because the people in charge of her career didn't want her playing a prostitute.

It's maddening to hear about how stifled and thwarted women were back in those days, even when, as in this case, the woman was exceptionally circumstanced and one would expect she could do whatever she wanted. See also Jayne Mansfield, who spoke five languages, was a classically trained pianist and violinist, and had an I.Q. of 150.
posted by orange swan at 11:58 AM on June 2, 2009 [9 favorites]


Allow me to add a third hubba.

As for the composition of the photos, yeah they generally stink. But there's a difference between creating a photograph and photographing someone. If I were pointing a camera at a woman who looked like that, I would just be snapping as many photos as I could and not be worrying so much about composition.
posted by DWRoelands at 12:28 PM on June 2, 2009


Wow, take that, Ms Ciccone! And that's without the execrability of "Truth or Dare". Sign me up for a meeting by that bridge railing in the afterlife. To quote Commander Riker, "If anyone wants me, I'll be on Holodeck 4!"
posted by Mike D at 12:35 PM on June 2, 2009


it's still just dissecting a corpse
Hyperbole much?

We're having a nice conversation about what a charming and attractive young woman Marilyn Monroe was. What are you having?
posted by Aquaman at 12:37 PM on June 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm struck by how . . . well, normal she looks.

Likewise. We can see hints of the later Marilyn in pictures like number 13, but otherwise it's very strange to see her prior to assuming the status of icon, looking and posing like an ordinary person who just happens to be pretty.

What makes this moreso than an ordinary celebrity is that we have no pictures of her as an old woman and we see virtually no pictures of her as a child. The only Marilyn we're familiar with is the Marilyn standing on the grate, the first-ever Playboy centerfold Marilyn, the Warhol Marilyn, i.e. the iconic Marilyn.
posted by Ndwright at 1:14 PM on June 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think she looks lovely in these pictures. I do prefer the wide-eyed ingenue look to the heavy-lidded seductress, as noted above.

It's still jarring to me, though, to reconcile the Sex Symbol Icon we all know with this young woman who hasn't quite lost all her baby fat and hasn't yet learned to regard the camera with an alluring detachment. I'm surprised to be thinking this, but I kind of prefer the former; seeing the latter Marilyn is uncomfortably intimate.
posted by kittyprecious at 1:18 PM on June 2, 2009


The US has a decades long history of letting boring people capture its collective imagination. posted by Burhanistan at 8:48 AM on June 2

Sorry, but this thread really skews towards the creepy end. No matter what the justification (the standard she's a public figure/sex symbol and it's fair game), it's still just dissecting a corpse and presuming some kind of affinity. posted by Burhanistan at 1:21 PM on June 2

Man, some people just have to ruin everything. Previously unpublished photos of a lovely young woman were found in an archive. Here they are. Enjoy. No justification for the implied boringness of the subject or corpse-dissecting affinity required.

(Yes, I know boringness is not a word. I was being ironical.)
posted by jennaratrix at 1:21 PM on June 2, 2009


It ain't a mystery
Baby, not to me
Funny funny funny mystery
Baby, not to me
posted by DecemberBoy at 1:43 PM on June 2, 2009


So, Danzig's Misfits were named after the film? You learn something new every day.

Their first single, "Cough/Cool" (back when the band consisted of Glenn on piano, Jerry on bass and a drummer), contains the text "Thanks to Marilyn, Clark and Monty", referring to the stars of the film.
posted by DecemberBoy at 1:50 PM on June 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


Weirdly what struck me about these was the high waistline of her shorts. And because it doesn't curve the way low-slung trousers of today do, it's like a little dividing line - this part is legs, and this part is torso. Which has the effect, I think, of making her legs look longer. (But it still looks weird to me. /resolute low-slung jeans type person)
posted by marginaliana at 1:57 PM on June 2, 2009


My own favorite probably-apocryphal Monroe story concerns her arguing with the suits over her compensation: "The title of the movie is Gentlemen Prefer Blondes... and I am the blonde."
posted by Joe Beese at 2:05 PM on June 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


I wonder what she, and Mansfield, and hell, Gracie Allen, thought of the leering chubby hollywood guys with the thick cigars. You've got the wolves thinking they're easy marks, and really, those folks would be no slouches in the savvy department. And along comes this gorgeous woman who shakes off the "don't worry your pretty little head about the fine print" and bakes them with the heat from their sex appeal (using their own technique against them) while out-thinking them.
I suppose it would explain Monroe's depression. You're the smartest or most able person in the room and everyone's patronizing you.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:15 PM on June 2, 2009


Well to be technical, it says Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, not Gentlemen Prefer This Specific (Not Real) Blonde.
posted by spicynuts at 2:20 PM on June 2, 2009


You're the smartest or most able person in the room and everyone's patronizing you.

Let's not get carried away. You're painting a pretty cartoonish picture of a pretty sophisticated business. It's not like she was Einstein walking through a Kindergarten.
posted by spicynuts at 2:23 PM on June 2, 2009


Anyway, she's not in the movie for long, but man, it's like the sun walked into the room. Not in a leering way, just a holy-shit-that's-some-charisma way.

It's the same with All About Eve. Monroe's onscreen for maybe seven minutes total, but you cannot. take. your. eyes. off. of. her.
posted by shakespeherian at 3:05 PM on June 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


spicynuts - no, not at all. But it'd have to be hard on any woman with any degree of intellect to deal with society in general at that time, not to mention that sub-set of society. Frustrating I'd think. Tough being black as well (segregation of blood - not the mythic death story), but Hollywood had the blacklist, etc. Just being that high-viz would carry some freight.
Just wondering what they 'really' thought. Louis Armstrong getting pissed off at racism comes to mind. At some point it'd have to just break your balls to have to deal with being successful, talented, etc - all these people cheering, appreciating you, and then, bam - back in your place. Not that there wouldn't be exceptions of course, again, Hollywood.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:04 PM on June 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


She looks very plain in some of these shots. Obviously there wasn't a stylist in sight. That has to be the most unflattering bikini top possible.
posted by tellurian at 4:43 PM on June 2, 2009


I'm sure that much if not most of this is due to how absurdly iconic Monroe is, but I found myself getting that rare feeling seeing these of reacting to beauty as if it's an actual, admirable moral virtue instead of just a happy accident of pleasing aesthetic genetic luck (which, to be clear, I certainly appreciate, but the feeling is just... different.)

That's a ridiculous idea, though, of course, and I spent part of the day (don't worry, I did other things too, like work) trying to puzzle it out, and the reality of it was that I wasn't thinking that Monroe was better than others for her looks in any way, but rather that the combination of her beauty, charm and - at this point at least - innocence before "packaging" brought about the same feeling you get when viewing something breathtaking in nature. I guess the idea is that sometimes you come across something in the world which it would be churlish not to take notice of and appreciate, for your own life and for whatever force or happenstance allowed it to be.

Which is romantic in one way, and depressing in another, because other people saw that as well, and exploited the shit out of her because of it, because her beauty and charm were so overwhelming that they couldn't see that there was a person living inside that skin with ideas of her own.
posted by Navelgazer at 5:06 PM on June 2, 2009


Burhanistan is the Debbie Downer of Metafilter.
posted by tkchrist at 5:40 PM on June 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


I recently watched Some Like it Hot. If you haven't seen her in a great role, it may be hard to understand how charismatic an actress she was. That movie was, infamously, filmed on some of her worst days, and she still steals practically every scene.

(On the other hand, Billy Wilder was eventually moved to parody her in The Apartment ... he did not enjoy the experience, as much as he admired her as an actress.)

But The Misfits. Oh my God. What an incredible, unpolished, mind-blowing, seemingly unfinished film that is. You can watch the Fifties disintegrating before your eyes.

seeing the latter Marilyn is uncomfortably intimate.

True, but on the other hand, one can see how the Icon Marilyn was fashioned from this sharper-than-she-looks clay.

Life seems to have lowered its standards from those my dad remembers it having fifty years ago.

You know, it used to be published every week, just like Paris Match. You shovel that much volume, some of it's going to be crap.
posted by dhartung at 8:28 PM on June 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


.
posted by hillabeans at 9:39 PM on June 2, 2009


The overly-adoring captions kind of stink.

A glimpse of the future superstar as she walks -- in adorable saddle shoes -- down a trail.

I mean really.
posted by ericost at 9:46 PM on June 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


I approve of these photos.
posted by grubi at 6:14 AM on June 3, 2009


For those interested: many more LIFE photos of M.M..
posted by HumanComplex at 12:53 PM on June 3, 2009


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