The green lacy blouse and black pencil skirt ensemble by Marilyn in Bus Stop (1956) will go under the hammer at Heritage Auctions tomorrow, July 16, as part of their Entertainment & Music Memorabilia Signature event. The costume comes from the collection of Gene London, who died in 2020. (A pair of fishnet tights worn with the outfit is also on offer.)
Costume SOLD for $399,000; tights unsold.
Also from the Gene London estate is Marilyn’s polka-dot dress from The Seven Year Itch, as well as her personally owned, and heavily annotated screenplay. (As you can see above, the dress – originally white – has become discoloured with age.)
Dress SOLD for $212,500; screenplay SOLD for $81,250.
“Nothing less than the sexual revolution began with these notes, as when for instance, she refers to the ‘subway grate’ scene in the script: ‘Child w/a woman. Direct & fem[inine]. Open… This is everything there is in the world. Light & easy. Everything flies out of her. Newborn – the baby looking at the moon for the first time.’
Here we see, sometimes line-by-line, how she thought about playing her scenes – even including a note to show herself thinking. Not a muscle moved, in fact, unpremeditated. ‘Let go of – drop – then let everything come from there – stomach’; ‘Look first indecisive – pause – hesitation – little smile’; ‘My body into his – sliding into him as if I want to sleep with him right then & there. Swing hips again’; ‘All together one thought.’ Perhaps the most remarkable note, however, is the last.
On the verso of the final page of the script, Monroe sums up how she will play the part of ‘THE GIRL.’ and in doing so, change both modern life and her own personal history. In a staccato tattoo, she writes: ‘Make only little effort… giving it away – yourself – not keeping anything in myself … What is the quality of the electricity… only thru him… there is nothing else any where … open to him, my destiny to him (help carry the burden)… play the girl open and free, and it shall help me, Marilyn to be free, direct, open, honest, frank, charming – fresh, a twinkle, only morality, nature, a moral child.'”
As with the Bus Stop ensemble, Gene London’s version of the pearl-encrusted gown from The Prince and the Showgirl is one of a few replicas. In both films, Marilyn wore the same costume for most of her screen-time, so more than one copy was needed.
SOLD for $156,250
Costume sketch by Eloise Jenssen for the wedding scene in We’re Not Married! (1952)
Marilyn wore this silk dress from her favourite boutique, Jax, while promoting Some Like It Hot in Chicago in March 1959 – sourced from another major collector, David Gainsborough Roberts, who has also passed away. (The black bra worn under her negligee in the film’s party scene is listed here.)
Dress SOLD for $118,250; bra SOLD for $15,000
Other fashion-related items include a costume sketch for The Misfits, by Jean Louis; he also designed her ‘Happy Birthday Mr President‘ gown, and another sketch is available alongside a crystal-embossed, double-layer nude chiffon swatch.
SOLD for $6,875 and $50,000, respectively
Photographer John Florea puts Marilyn through her paces in these behind-the-scenes glimpses of their classic glamour shoots.
SOLD for $2,375
One of Marilyn’s lesser-known honours, this award plaque was presented by the 1953 Yolo County Fair Sugar Queen, proclaiming her ‘The Sweetest Girl in Motion Pictures.’
Among several items from Norma Jeane’s early years are this 1939 family photograph of the 13-year-old on a trip to Yosemite with her ‘aunt,’ Ana Lower; and a 1945 letter from the 19-year-old Mrs. Jim Dougherty to a friend, Cathy Staub.
Photo SOLD for $1,750; letter SOLD for $27,500
“Thursday. My dearest Cathy, thank you for your sweet little note, why of course of course I like you dear very much, you know that. If I seem a little neglectful at times its because I’m so busy I don’t seem to have any time to catch up on my correspondence, but I promise after this, I shall, do better, honestly I will. Jimmie arrived about three weeks ago and you can imagine how thrilled I was. I only wish he didn’t have to go back. Jimmie and I went up to Big Bear Lake for a week and had a grand time I hope you and Bud will be down soon because I would love for you both to meet him. I’ve been on leave of absence from Radioplane. I shall tell you all about it when I see you honey or I shall write to you later. I have so many things I have to do so I had better close for now but I shall write soon. Tell Bud Hello for me. Love, Norma Jeane.”
An apologetic letter from Marilyn to Michael Chekhov, with whom she studied acting from the late 1940s. They remained close until his death in 1955, and Marilyn would remember his widow, Xenia Chekhov, in his will.
SOLD for $36,250
“Monroe was one of Chekhov’s most famous students, he was instantly impressed with her acting potential and had a profound impact on not only her professional, but personal life. She was quoted as saying, ‘he was the most brilliant man I have ever known.’ The content of this letter is printed in Marilyn’s posthumously-published autobiography, My Story, where she devoted an entire section to his memory. This rare, handwritten note reflects upon the slightly tumultuous aspect of Monroe’s tendency to arrive late for lessons, or to miss them entirely, and reads: ‘Please don’t give up on me yet – I know (painfully so) that I try your patience. I need the work and your friendship desperately. I shall call you soon.'”
A brief note from Marilyn to another of her earliest champions, columnist Sidney Skolsky, who would call her on the day she died. The undated missive reads, “Sidney, My Love, What happened to you? Yours Truly, M. Monroe.”
SOLD for $2,500
Candid photo of Marilyn with Arthur Miller at their 1956 wedding, taken by Milton Greene. (This 1998 print is signed on the verso by Greene’s son and archivist, Joshua.)
SOLD for $1,697.50
From the Gene London collection, an original watercolour painting by Marilyn, entitled ‘Myself, Exercising,’ and signed ‘Marilyn Monroe Miller, Sep. 1956.’
SOLD for $125,000
“Created by Monroe for a children’s charity auction to benefit the Actors’ Orphanage Fund (now the Actors’ Children’s Trust) whilst filming The Prince and the Showgirl. Laurence Olivier, president of the charity, was the auctioneer for the event. The artwork was purchased by none other than prolific playwright Sir Terence Rattigan, who wrote the screenplay for The Prince and the Showgirl which was adapted from his play The Sleeping Prince.”
A set of 75 vintage magazines and ephemera, including a 1946 issue of Family Circle (her first U.S. cover, as Norma Jeane Dougherty.)
SOLD for $2,125
And finally, a mammoth print from Marilyn’s 1949 ‘red velvet sitting‘ for photographer Tom Kelley. Shot for a calendar company, the pose was entitled ‘A New Wrinkle.’ Sold separately, an original edition of Playboy‘s first issue, signed by founder Hugh Hefner. Published in December 1953, the magazine featured another pose from the calendar shoot (known as ‘Golden Dreams’) as its centrefold.
Print SOLD for $5,250; magazine SOLD for $48,750