Marilyn can now add Switzerland to the list of countries where the 60th anniversary of death is being commemorated on magazine covers. L’Illustré is a French-language weekly published in Switzerland. The cover photo was shot by Ernest Bachrach on the set of Clash By Night (1952), though purists will note that the image has been colourised – with digital tattoos adorning Marilyn’s limbs, in an attempt to ‘update’ her look. (In the uncropped original, we can see her fitness bible, Mabel Elsworth Todd’s The Thinking Body, at her side.)
Inside, there’s a tribute to her ‘enchanted parenthesis’ with creative partner Milton Greene.
“In Europe, Milton H. Greene does not enjoy the status of an Irving Penn or a Richard Avedon. However, like them, he contributed to elevating fashion photography to the rank of an artistic discipline. And his portraits of Marilyn Monroe are sumptuous. This lack of notoriety is due to the fact that he published very little. A strange shortcoming when you consider that, in the 1950s, he was the highest paid photographer in the American press!
‘A lot of photos were taken out of the blue,’ says Joshua Greene, one of the photographer’s two sons [Milton died of lymphoma in 1985, aged 63.] In these moments, Marilyn Monroe offered a share of intimacy that she had always tried to conceal … Amy Greene, the photographer’s widow, now 92, insists: ‘Marilyn was not a victim. She was a hypersensitive and funny young woman, fully living the present moment. She expected a lot from life.’
He was witness to Marilyn’s romance with Brando, whom he met with her at the Actors Studio, and photographed them without publishing the images. ‘She trusted him completely. She knew he would never hurt her and, indeed, he always protected her,’ insists his widow.
‘He made her happy,’ she continues. Thanks to him, she made friends. In LA, she had none. By sharing the life of this loving family, Zelda Zonk – the nickname she gave in hotels or for traveling – discovered herself. In Hollywood, she lived as a recluse. At the Greenes, here she was herself.
‘With the support of the right people, she was able to break her chains […]. Marilyn yearned for freedom. It was his fight,’ explains Joshua Greene. His father had understood this well. He did not seek to profit from it, gave him a family. ‘She would sit for hours reading or listening to jazz records,’ he continues. Marilyn was a woman who preferred moccasins to high heels and loved simple dishes, such as potato salad and fried chicken.”
The enchanted parenthesis would end abruptly after her wedding to Arthur Miller … ‘Nothing should have separated them,’ says the photographer’s widow. ‘I was smart enough to see it. Arthur Miller, he did not understand it …'”
Marilyn has a long history with L’Illustré, which marked its centenary in 2021.
And finally, here’s how L’Illustré commemorated her passing in 1962, with a tribute headlined ‘Marilyn: Journey to the End of Glory.’
Thanks to Divine Marilyn