Bob Willoughby and Marilyn’s Cinematic Life

Considered the definitive on-set still photographer, Bob Willoughby worked on numerous classic films from the 1950s to the 1970s, including A Place in the Sun, My Fair Lady, and The Graduate. Following books on Elizabeth Taylor, Audrey Hepburn, Frank Sinatra and the world of jazz, Bob Willoughby: A Cinematic Life is a new monograph offering a panoramic view of his career.

Willoughby first photographed Marilyn in 1952, at the ‘My Marilyn’ party thrown by bandleader Ray Anthony at his Sherman Oaks mansion. “Marilyn had some sort of energy field which it seemed she could switch on or off when she posed, which I don’t think I’ll ever see again,” he recalled. “Hollywood’s publicity departments called it sex appeal and thought it was achieved by showing cleavage, but they missed the point. This attractive energy is something you are born with. It is there to see at any age.”

They met for the second time on the set of Marilyn’s penultimate movie, Let’s Make Love (1960.) He was then working on ‘Marilyn’s Men,’ a feature for American Weekly, and also photographed director George Cukor, actors Yves Montand and Tony Randall, and husband Arthur Miller.

“Marilyn was wearing a leotard,” Willoughby told Mike Evans, author of The Marilyn Handbook, in 2004. “The shots were done on the actual stage that was in the movie, and I think the picture [shown below] tells more about what I feel about Marilyn than any other I did.  The idea of a lost child, the vulnerability, it says all that. She’s the lost child.”

From The Marilyn Handbook (2004)

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