Tuesday, January 31, 2012

1956 | A New Marilyn

I've always loved the photos taken of Marilyn Monroe during her session with famed photographer Cecil Beaton. This was a turning point in Marilyn's real-life and career and he captures her beauty effortlessly. I especially love the photos taken by Beaton's assistant of him photographing Marilyn.

There came a time in Marilyn Monroe's career when she grew tired of being a pin-up queen. She grew tired of being viewed as a body with a voice and getting little respect as an actor or a person. She refused to take roles that were more of the same, which resulted in her being suspended from 20th Century Fox. Marilyn was ready to become a serious actress, so she headed to New York where she joined The Actor's Studio and created Marilyn Monroe Productions with friend/photographer Milton Greene. Next on the agenda? Be photographed as a lady with class who demanded respect. Who better to take those photos than high society photographer Cecil Beaton?

On February 22, 1956, Monroe arrived at Beaton's suite at Ambassador Hotel in New York City. She arrived with two gowns and left her sexpot attitude behind in order to develop another side of Marilyn Monroe. A more mature, sophisticated side that wanted to be taken seriously. As usual, Marilyn did her own make-up (a fact many find hard to believe). Cecil had redecorated the suite in a 'Japanese Nouveau' style and brought a few props for Marilyn to use while being photographed. The results were beautiful and unlike any other images of Marilyn anyone had seen before. 

Cecil Beaton would later describe his subject... "The initial shyness over, excitement has now gotten the better of her. She romps, she squeals with delight, she leaps onto the sofa. She puts a flower stem in her mouth, puffing on a daisy as though it were a cigarette. It is an artless, impromptu, high-spirited, infectiously gay performance. It may end in tears."

As you can see, the photographs are nothing less than amazing!


  1. Awesome pictures of Marilyn Monroe.

  2. The pictures are great, but I must say that they are far from classy. If she was going for class and sophistication she didn't get it. Some women just can't pull that off and I think she was one of them. One of her downfalls, I think, is she wanted to be something or someone that she could never be--no matter how hard she tried. She should have embraced what worked for her and been happy--life might have turned out much better for her had she done this.

  3. Monroe is at her most alluring when she's her most natural; the jazzed-up, "sexpot" pics really don't hold up well. Beaton gives Marilyn a blend of informality and sophistication, and it works beautifully. Compare these to a few images Beaton took of Carole Lombard a quarter-century earlier: http://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/88568.html.