Sunday, January 5, 2014

Marilyn, Chanel and Pumpkins

More than 50 years after she died, Marilyn Monroe (1926 – 1962) has become the face of Chanel No 5 perfume. Using archive footage and a newly discovered audio recording dating from 1960, Marilyn is heard commenting on her response – “Chanel No 5” – when she had been asked in 1952 by a reporter what she wore to bed.

In the 1960 radio interview she says “'You know, they ask me questions. Just an example: ‘What do you wear to bed? A pajama top? The bottoms of the pajamas? A nightgown?’ So I said, ‘Chanel No.5,’ because it’s the truth. And yet, I don’t want to say “nude”. But it’s the truth!” The comments were not published.

A year after she made the 1952 comment she was photographed in bed for Modern Screen but the photographs weren’t published. A bottle of Chanel No 5 can be seen on her bed stand.

It may be that readers and audiences of the 1950’s and 1960’s needed to be protected from mental images of a naked Marilyn Monroe in bed.

See the ad and the history of the comment by clicking on:

The sad thing is that the woman who would become a cultural icon, the archetypal dumb blond sex goddess, a plaything of rich and powerful men, remained an intelligent, vulnerable and lonely person wishing for happiness.

Her later life and ultimately her death were at variance to the Marilyn who posed for photographer Andre de Dienes in October 1945 for her first modelling portfolio. Aged 19 and still Norma Jean Baker, her chestnut curls pinned back and wearing jeans and work boots, she is barely recognisable as the later Marilyn. Dienes was struck by her, describing the meeting ‘as if a miracle had happened’ and that she ‘seemed to be like an angel’. 

The fresh face and youthful innocence make all the more tragic the sad later years of her life.

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Some other early Marilyn pics . . . 

Marilyn, born Norma Jeane Mortensen, at age 6 months.  Her mother had the name changed to Norma Jeane Baker on the birth certificate immediately after the birth, the surname of her first husband, which she still used.

7 months

Norma Jeane Baker around the age of 3, with her mother, Gladys, who would place the young child in foster care and then eventually reclaim her, only to be forced herself to be institutionalised at the State Hospital in Norwalk, Los Angeles County.

"No one ever told me I was pretty when I was a little girl.  All little girls should be told they are pretty, even if they aren't."

- Marilyn Monroe

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