While the Old Hollywood icon’s public persona was that of a “dumb blonde,” that couldn’t be further from the truth.
An icon of mid-century Hollywood glamor, Marilyn Monroe continues to inspire young starlets and the fashionably inclined everywhere almost 60 years after her death. However, her platinum blonde hair, winning smile, and curvaceous body were only pieces of the puzzle that made her her. In truth, the image of Monroe that many remember today is the manufactured product of good marketing and careful narrative shaping.
Turn the clock back to 1953. Hugh Hefner launched his debut issue of Playboy with “the Marilyn Monroe nude” front and center, but what many people don’t know is that the actress never posed for Hefner—the two never actually met—or the shoot. Instead, the photographs came from a pin-up photo shoot she did with photographer Tom Kelley four years earlier before her acting career had taken off. She made $50 from the photos which Kelley later sold to Western Lithograph Co. for $900, from which Hefner purchased the rights to them for $500.
Monroe was never compensated and did not consent to the use of the images, nor was she legally required to. Not only were these intimate photographs o her body bought and sold without her permission, but under one of the photos, the magazine read, “There were actually two poses shot au naturel back in ’49, just before the gorgeous blonde got her first movie break. When they appeared as calendar art, they helped catapult her to stardom. We’ve selected the better of the two as our first Playboy Sweetheart.”
Original publication 1 June, 2021
Posted on NatCorn 3rd June 2021
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