Remembering Marilyn in Reno

Marilyn mingles with fans during filming of The Misfits

Encounters with Marilyn often become part of a family’s lore. Mary Ekorn Jackson has shared her late mother Jean Alice Ekorn’s memory of spotting the star during a family vacation in Reno (where Marilyn filmed The Misfits in the summer of 1960) with the Daily Astorian‘s Elleda Wilson here. (The description of Marilyn’s attire evokes her ‘cherry dress,’ designed by Jean Louis for the movie.)

“We often spent summer vacations in the Reno area … We could pack lunches for the four of us — Jean (mom), dad, little sister Nan, and me — and stop to eat our sandwiches along the road ​… On this day, according to Jean, she was walking by herself along the sidewalk in downtown Reno on that stifling summer afternoon (window-shopping no doubt) when a big limo, chock full of people, pulls to a stop alongside her.

The limo door opened, out stepped Marilyn Monroe, standing momentarily toe-to-toe with Jean (who was also one of her biggest fans). I’m not sure if they exchanged smiles, shook hands, or what happened next. I am sure, at that moment, my mom was riveted in place, taking in every detail during those most exciting few minutes of her brush with fame. When the family reunited later that day, we heard a vivid description of the event. The story of that happy meeting in Reno was re-told countless times within our family throughout the years.

And the one attribute my mom would emphasize, after she described Marilyn’s dress, which was a kind of a form-fitting, summery organza, perfect as a red-hot scene-stealer; or the pale yellow semi-bouffant trademarked hairstyle, literally sparkling in the Nevada sun; or the retinue of stylists, dressers and make-up artists who accompanied her; along with all the Hollywood trappings within that limo, Jean often said that Marilyn’s most remarkable asset was her almost perfect, translucent skin: not a pesky freckle anywhere!”

Photo by Bruce Davidson