Beside the Seaside: England’s Marilyn Lookalike Craze

Marilyn Monroe lookalike contests were quite popular in English seaside resorts in the 1950s – the photo above shows one such event in Hastings, 1958 – while below, we see contestants in Newquay in 1959, and at the South Parade Pier in Southsea.

Michelle Morgan wrote about the lookalike craze in her 2018 book, The Girl: Marilyn Monroe, The Seven Year Itch, and the Birth of an Unlikely Feminist.

“For those able to perfect the Monroe look and walk, there were look-alike competitions to enter. It would be fair to say that most young women wanted to win one, including a seventeen-year-old skater involved in an ice show in Weymouth, Dorset. When she heard that they were having a Marilyn look-alike competition on the promenade, Penny Wilson pulled off her skates, changed into a bikini, and then ran down to the seafront. She won the contest and then returned in time to complete the second half of the skating show.”