Cooking Up a Treat With Marilyn

Marilyn’s personal cookbooks, with notes and a typewritten diet schedule, will go under the hammer at Siegel Auction Galleries on June 22, with an estimated price of $50-70,000, as Conor Skelding reports for the New York Post. The two books were last seen at the 1999 Christie’s auction of Marilyn’s personal property, selling for $45K.

“The two 1950s hardbacks — The New Fannie Farmer Boston Cooking-School Cook Book and The New Joy of Cooking — are the only cookbooks confirmed to have been owned by the archetypical blonde bombshell. The books offer a glimpse into her culinary life, and include handwritten notes with a grocery list, a deli business card with a Beverly Hills-area address written in her handwriting on the back, and a diet schedule. The 20th-century grocery list includes eggs, milk, cornflakes, jello, cream, bread, coffee, butter, and soda. The lot also includes a recipe for cheese lasagna clipped from a newspaper, with doodles.

So what were Monroe’s dietary best friends? The typewritten diet schedule lists alternate options for breakfast, lunch, dinner. Breakfast, at 8 a.m., included orange juice or stewed prunes, well-cooked cereal, white toast with butter, and one cup of milk or ‘weak cocoa.’ Lunch, at 1 p.m., was a choice of an egg, cottage cheese, potato, spaghetti, or noodles, with bread or toast and jello or cooked fruit. Dinner, lastly, at 6:30 p.m., was a choice of lean beef, chicken, lamb, sweetbread, fish, or chicken liver, with a potato (‘any way but fried’), a cup of vegetables, bread — and pudding or a baked apple for dessert. The schedule also provides for a late-morning and late-afternoon snack: one cup of milk plus one cracker. Lastly, it listed a late-night serving of eggnog at 11 p.m., but no word on if it was boozy.”

The auction listing provides further details about Marilyn’s cookbooks.

“The New Fannie Farmer Boston Cooking-School Cook Book, published by Little, Brown & Co. and copyright 1951, original cloth, with dust jacket (worn edges). Nestled at page 254 is a recipe for Avery Island French dressing with illustration of a bottle of Tabasco sauce. At page 342 there are two pieces of paper with notes in Marilyn’s hand listing menu for Beef Bourguignon, corned beef and cabbage, and marrow bone soup. The second piece of paper has a short shopping list — 6 or 8 marrow bones for soup, plus bouillon cubes. Page 694 has a blank Thank You card with pencil around the ‘Thank You’, this was used as a book marker for a cake recipe. Page 696 has a hand-written grocery list for rib roast, tomatoes, tomatoes, milk, cream and coffee. A few pages have small stains from cooking — no doubt the cookbook was kept close to the stove as she cooked these elaborate meals.

The New Joy of Cooking by Irma Bombauer and Marion Bombauer Becker, 1953 edition, original cloth and dust jacket (worn and chipped). This book contains several items between pages, such as a printed Borden’s recipe at page 135. Page 274 has a typed diet with times for all three meals plus egg nog at 11:00 P.M. Page 279 has a note to herself to buy a phonograph needle. Page 523 has a blank 3c envelope. Page 633 has a business card for the Hole in the Wall Delicatessen with her handwriting on back ‘Marilyn Monroe, 8827 Doheny Dr. Los Angeles’ with heavily emphasized horizontal lines. Page 635 contains recipes cut out from the New York Post and from a Pyrex pie plate. Page 757 has a clipping from a newspaper with a dinner menu and Marilyn’s doodles on an advertisement. Page 787 contains a shopping list in Marilyn’s hand plus a small pamphlet for Nature’s Own. Page 899 contains a business card for a New York attorney with some names and a phone number in her hand.”

UPDATE: Marilyn’s cookbooks went unsold.