Heather Clarke, a lifelong Monroe fan from Spokane, WA, has shared her collection – including Marilyn Merlot wines, Franklin Mint dolls, shelves of books, countless posters, and of course, every Monroe movie – in an interview for the Spokesman Review.
“At age 12, Heather Clarke was shopping with her mom at Kmart in Spokane Valley when a shirt featuring the actress in her classic pose from The Seven Year Itch caught her eye. She grabbed it, added a poster and a collection was born.
‘By the time I was 13, my mom said, “OK, I think you have enough, now,”‘ Clarke said.
For 40 years, she’s continued to add memorabilia. She estimates her collection is close to 350 items.
‘Something just connected with me,’ Clarke said. ‘Not necessarily the way she looked, but I liked her as a person. I identified with her.'”
“Clarke may have been the only teen at University High School who was obsessed with Marilyn Monroe, but she said she had a cool group of friends.
‘I was weird, but my friends all just said, “Oh, that’s Heather.”‘
‘The books are my favorite thing in my collection,’ said Clarke, who’s worked for Spokane Public Library for the past 12 years.”
“Monroe was often misunderstood during her life. Two misconceptions that make Clarke livid are that the actress was sleazy and stupid.
‘She was very well-read. She owned lots of books. My screen saver is pictures of Marilyn reading,’ Clarke said. ‘The older I get, the more I relate to her.’
In the collector’s shelves, biographies mingle among large coffee table books, which she especially prizes for their stunning photography.
‘Milton Greene is my favorite photographer,’ she said.
‘It was weird when I outlived her,’ she said. ‘The more I read about her as a person, I just thought she was really cool. Her insecurities were real to me and she was open about seeking therapy. These people we glamourise as stars were real people and at the end of the day they weren’t infallible.'”