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Fade to Black: 1953

Fade to Black: 1953

September 2, 1953. Los Angeles. "Marilyn Monroe posed in sweater with coffee mug." Color transparency by Milton Greene for Look magazine. View full size.

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How could a man not succumb to that disarming gaze?

3D vs. 2D

As below, having done a fair bit of photography over the years, there are definitely people who look much different in person than on film. I have seen several cases of the inverse of Marilyn and James Dean, where the person was unusually attractive in real life but didn't look particularly good in still photos. I am not sure what the issue is or how it works, but something about interacting with someone live or just with them moving naturally can be very, very different from just looking at a static image.

Other people have commented on this before, but I have noticed that the few movie/TV "stars" I have been around, that they tended to be on the small side, but with normal-sized or disproportionately large heads/faces, particularly the men. The large face part seems straightforward enough, but they don't look nearly as disproportionate on camera compared to the sometime very odd appearance in real life.

The other thing I discovered is that the people who do makeup and costumes for TV, in particular, really know what they are doing, and seeing some of your favorite TV actresses in person might, er, not meet your expectations.

Before Joe and Arthur

MM’s first husband was my neighbor in Auburn, Maine: James Dougherty. As you might imagine, Jimmie was a local celebrity.

Her eyes

Her tousled hair and flushed cheeks give her a tumbled, natural, highly attractive look. But her eyes do not project happiness or contentment. I read a yearning gaze, slightly beseeching, maybe even a bit anxious.


MM and BB.

Candid Marilyn

I apologize if I've mentioned this before, but many years ago, in the Globe Photo office in NYC, I spent a few hours looking through their contact sheet files of Marilyn Monroe and James Dean.

My takeaway was that those two could seldom look bad even when they were yawning, sneezing, lost in thought, or laughing. The cameras just loved their faces.

I've often wondered whether that was because they were just so perfect looking in real life or whether it was something that just happened when they were shown in 2D.

Epsom salts please

I too noticed the un-retouched, stressed look of the skin on Marilyn's feet and legs. It's a contrast to her face, which is perfectly (if not heavily) made up, and glowing. But then, she was a mere 27 years old. According to Milton Greene's son, Joshua, quoted in a 2017 article about this shoot in Vanity Fair, Marilyn had sprained her ankle on the set of River of No Return and consequently had to sit, kneel, or lie on the floor. She later spent two years living in the home of Milton Greene and his second wife, Amy Franco Greene.

Looks good in black!

MM, that is gorgeous! I collected photos of MM for years, and rarely found a better resolution and quality than this! If you have more, please put 'em up!

Hope the estate doesn't make you stop. They are fierce over images of Marilyn.

[Actually, they are not. - Dave]


That's the least retouched, most raw photo I've ever seen of Marilyn. And also the most stunningly beautiful.

She's a real woman here -- barely more than a girl -- not some airbrushed, perfectionist ideal. Her feet are red and tired from the shoes she was wearing 20 minutes ago.

She never really wowed me before but now I see what all the fuss was about.

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