Marilyn at Julien’s: Career and Peers

Among the 80 Marilyn-related lots going under the hammer on April 28 as part of the Legends & Luminaries event at Julien’s Auctions are numerous letters and documents from her personal filing cabinets. In the second of a series, I focus on items related to Marilyn’s career (and you can read my last post here.)

Pictured above, a set of ten envelopes addressed to her at various locations, including 20th Century-Fox Studios, the Beverly Hills Hotel, Dressing Room ‘M’ in the Star’s Building at Fox, and the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.

“A counter check from the Imperial Bank of Canada entirely penned in blue fountain pen ink by Marilyn Monroe to her somewhat controversial acting coach, Natasha Lytess. Dated July 29, 1953, when the star was in Jasper in Alberta, Canada, to film River of No Return, the check is in the then-huge sum of $350 and is boldly signed in the lower right corner ‘Marilyn Monroe.'”

“A handwritten message from impresario Michael Todd, reading, ‘I saw a screening of [Gentlemen Prefer] Blondes last nite – this is my first fan letter,’ written on a folded notecard. Interestingly, a message from a member of Monroe’s staff is written on the card as well.” [In 1955, Mike Todd would enlist Marilyn to ride a pink elephant for a charity circus benefit at Madison Square Garden.]

“A handwritten letter sent to Marilyn Monroe from Laurence Olivier, her co-star on the 1957 Warner Bros. film The Prince and the Showgirl. On a single sheet of letterhead noting, in part, ‘The Green Room Cavalcade/ Under the Presidency of/ Sir Laurence Olivier,’ the actor penned his message in blue fountain pen ink on both sides, reading in full, ‘Dear Marylin (Phew!) Marilyn, I am sending you a quick note of affectionate wishes on this paper to show the sort of thing I get let in for. You will be let in for one thing, probably for some food charity over here, but you can rely on me to see it’s a good thing, and nothing you need feel ashamed or foolish about. I am very anxious to get on with The Sleeping Prince [film’s original working title], and hope to God old Milt [Photographer/Producer Milton H. Greene] fixes us up properly soon./ You will be starting Bus Stop any minute now. Give Josh [director Joshua Logan] my love please/ and my very warmest wishes Marilyn, dear, from your Laurence O.’ Olivier further added ‘M.M./ from LO/ M.M.’ on the verso. It is somewhat of a sad letter in hindsight as Monroe scholars know that her collaboration with Olivier did not end well, though it evidently started off hopefully.”

“A handwritten message from publicist Bob Taplinger wishing Monroe luck ‘on the eve of your premiere,’ written on a folded notecard and printed with ‘Robert Spencer Taplinger’ on the cover.” [Taplinger was working at Warner Brothers during the time when Marilyn made The Prince and the Showgirl for the studio.]

“Letter dated February 9, 1959 and sent to Marilyn Monroe by her publicist, Joe Wolhandler, who in part references her photoshoot with Richard Avedon, and an illustration by Jon Whitcomb for the cover of Cosmopolitan‘s March issue.” Sold separately, “approximately 20 letters, notes, or memos from Wolhandler sent to Marilyn throughout the late 1950s, touching on various topics including Let’s Make Love and Some Like It Hot. Also included are settlement documents from a legal dispute regarding the conflicted end of their professional relationship.”

“Five letters regarding various topics, including one from the William Morris Agency congratulating Marilyn on Some Like It Hot. The letter reads, in part, ‘It is one of the greatest comedies I have seen in twenty-five years. Congratulations to you on your wonderful performance. And, you never looked lovelier.’ The letter is signed by Abe Lastfogel.

“Three letters to Monroe regarding publicity related issues, including requests for interviews, and a letter about photos of Monroe that had been taken by photographer Henri Dauman the day she received Italy’s highest award for acting [the David di Donatello award.]”

“A handwritten note on a card originally attached to a flower arrangement, sent to Monroe at the Beverly Hills Hotel. The note reads ‘Hope you enjoyed last night – call me at home at 6:30 please?’ Signed Harold Mirisch [producer of Some Like It Hot.]”

“Two letters from Harry Brand, head of publicity at 20th Century Fox” [sent during production of Let’s Make Love (1960.) In one letter, he commends her for a ‘fine and heartwarming’ charitable act. This may refer to Marilyn’s generosity towards a crew member whose wife was in hospital.]

“Four letters to Monroe regarding various topics, including one from W. J. ‘Bill’ Weatherby, who later authored the book Conversations With Marilyn, in which he asks for Monroe’s opinion on a piece he wrote about The Misfits. Also, a request from David Ross about Monroe’s financial sponsorship of his production of Three Sisters by Chekhov.”