Marilyn Monroe's Mystique

Marilyn Monroe's Mystique  by Rosemary McKittrick

Photo courtesy of Julien's Auctions.

When Marilyn Monroe was a child she fantasized about growing into a beautiful woman who would stop people in their tracks. 

She had a quality no one else ever had on the screen except Garbo.  No one. 
— Billy Wilder, Director

“I made up the praises and repeated them aloud as if someone else were saying them,” she said.

Marilyn was willing to do whatever it took to become the beauty she fantasized about.  Her sculpted image of herself began in puberty and continued until her death.    

A trim figure, tight sweaters, see-through, skin-revealing gowns, makeup, hair coloring, she systematically created the image of the touchingly vulnerable blonde bombshell.  Her blue eyes and big smile was a bonus.

“I’ve never see anyone stop a room like that,” said actress Arlene Dahl.  “People just wanted to stand near her, smell her fragrance, breathe the same air as she.”

“It’s certainly her beauty I remember most,” recalled songstress Diahann Carroll.  “As I sang, I distinctly remember being somewhat distracted by her gaze.  Her tragic beauty, so vulnerable…so lost.”   

On June 1, 2011 Marilyn Monroe would have been 85-years-old.  People remember Marilyn today as if she’s still the 36-year-old seductress.  

Her friend and acting Coach Michael Shaw saw her arrive one day at Fox studio.  Marilyn was wearing a pair of pedal pushers, flat shoes and a simple scarf.  He said no one paid any attention to her because she looked like a 14-year-old kid.  Then she went into her dressing room and said, “Well, time to put her together.”  About 40 minutes later she came out and there was a total transformation.  Marilyn Monroe walked out, he said.  She was a knockout.

Marilyn studied acting for years as a way to break the blonde sex-kitten stereotype but friends say she retreated back into the role in critical moments.  The Marilyn Monroe character was like a comfortable pair of worn slippers.  Each time she played the caricature of herself she lost the chance to be taken seriously.

“She had a quality no one else ever had on the screen except Garbo.  No one,” director Billy Wilder said.  In a little more than a dozen movies Marilyn created a mythological presence on screen that fans still cling to.

“She was the postwar ideal of the American girl, soft, transparently needy, worshipful of men, naïve, offering sex without demands,” said biographer Donald Spoto.

For some, owning a photo Marilyn autographed or cocktail dress she wore is like owning a piece of the real person.  It’s as though some of her mystery and magic might actually rub off.

On May 7 & 8, Julien’s Auctions in Beverly Hills, Calif., featured a selection of Marilyn Monroe items in its Hollywood Legends auction.  A black crepe cocktail dress with a deep v-neck and low cut back Marilyn wore to a 1958 party at the Beverly Hills Hotel sold in the auction for $348,000. 

The photo of Marilyn in the dress was also featured on the cover of the book “Marilyn Monroe.  From Beginning to End” by Michael Ventura.

Marilyn Monroe

Photograph; color page of unknown magazine; signed and inscribed by Marilyn; 14 ¼ inches by 17 ¼ inches;  $6,875.

Photographs; 2; publicity shot of Marilyn; also signed and inscribed by her; accompanied by a signed black-and-white photo of Joe DiMaggio; includes copy of their wedding certificate; 31 ½ inches by 43 ½ inches overall;  $7,188.     

Negatives and Transparencies; 13; with copyright; taken by Harold Davidson; Marilyn reclining on a lounge chair poolside; 7 black-and-white, six color transparencies;  $72,000.   

Photograph; by Joseph Jasgur; black-and-white; signed by the photographer; 13 ½ inches by 10 ½ inches;  $84,000.      

Rosemary McKittrick is a storyteller.  For 26 years she has brought the world of collecting to life in her column.  Her website is a mother lode of information about art, antiques and collectibles.  Rosemary received her education in the trenches working as a professional appraiser.

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