Bedfordshire’s very own Marilyn dollmaker, Adam Marciniak, has spoken to the Biggleswade Chronicle about his passion project, Jean Norman Dolls (named after one of Norma Jeane Dougherty’s early modelling pseudonyms.)
“Adam told the Chronicle: ‘I was brought up in Poland and back then children were not allowed to watch telly after 10pm. My parents were quite strict, but my older sister had her own telly and a massive oak table. You could easily hide underneath and sneak out without anyone noticing!’
‘I remember late one night there was a documentary about Marilyn and it was love at first sight. I remember seeing a clip of her [singing] Diamonds Are a Girls Best Friend – the dress and the sparkle! I didn’t realise it was anything to do with sex; I was just a child. I liked the way she moved and admired the way she spoke. I thought: “I want to know more about that girl.”
Adam, who acquired over 250 books on Marilyn and decorated his bedroom top to toe with her posters, said: ‘When I was around 16 or 17 I ordered a very expensive Marilyn doll from Franklin Mint, but unfortunately I was not pleased with it. My mum asked, “Why don’t you repaint her? If you spoil her I will buy you another one.” Back then I used to be a make-up artist – she knew I would improve the look!’
True to his mum’s prediction, Adam (who worked at his sister’s salon) dramatically altered Marilyn’s appearance. His new creation inspired a part-time hobby for pocket money, as Adam would collect Marilyn dolls to repaint and sell on. After attending university in Poland, he came to England and was able to focus on creating dolls full-time three years ago. The skilled sewer makes all the dolls’ clothes and adds real diamonds, and is now in demand from collectors across the world.
Adam concluded: ‘My work is important because I’m keeping the legacy of Marilyn alive. People overlook how important her personality was. She was ahead of her time with everything she did for equality: for sexual liberation, for women, for black people. She was one of the first women to speak openly about child abuse and sexual abuse, and she talked very frankly about mental health. Marilyn was fighting for equality and sexuality, and she wasn’t afraid to say it and have it printed in the papers.'”
UPDATE: Another article, showcasing 13 beautiful Jean Norman dolls – more here.