The Private Side of Marilyn at Julien’s Auctions

Continuing my series of posts on the Icons and Idols event at Julien’s Auctions this Saturday, December 17, today I’m exploring a selection of the 175 Marilyn-related items which give insight into her personal life. Most private of all, of course, is the greetings card sent by her father when Marilyn was in hospital (see here.)

Some of these items are rather sad in retrospect, and might be thought too intimate for public sale. On a more positive note, they add to our factual knowledge of Marilyn’s life as opposed to tabloid myths. You can read all my posts on this auction here.

  1. A David Conover colour negative of Norma Jeane Dougherty numbered negative 17. The 1945 image shows her in a red sweater with white suspenders. Together with a printed colour copy. – SOLD for $4,480
  2. “From the personal files of Marilyn Monroe: A one-page typed letter from Ruth Edens, apparently an acquaintance of Monroe’s from her childhood, dated August 24, 1954, and reading in part, ‘I have long intended to write you this letter because I have particularly wanted to say that when you used to visit me at my Balboa Island cottage, you were a shy and charming child whose appeal, it seems to me, must have reached the hearts of many people. I could never seem to get you to say much to me, but I loved having you come in and I missed your doing so after you’d gone away. I wondered about you many times and was delighted when I discovered you in the films. I hope the stories in the magazines which say you felt yourself unloved throughout your childhood, are merely press-agentry. In any case, I want you to know that I, for one, was truly fond of you and I’m proud of you for having developed enough grit to struggle through to success.’ The letter also states, ‘I hope you are getting much happiness out of life, little Marian [sic]. I saw so much that was ethereal in you when you were a little girl that I fell sure you are not blind to life’s spiritual side. May all that is good and best come your way!?’ The letter is signed ‘Sincerely, Ruth Edens.'” – SOLD for $896

“A personal journal with 150 numbered and lined pages, the first page dated ‘Feb 18, 1953’ with approximately 14 pages containing entries in Monroe’s hand … ruminating about her life and experiences in her past that continue to affect her life, including these notes about the childhood influence of [foster parent] Ida Bolender that lingers into her adult life, reading in part, ‘Ida – I have still been obeying her – it’s not only harmful for me to do so but unrealality [sic] because in my work – I don’t want to obey her any longer.'”

SOLD for $87,500

“A personalised brown leather, six-ring Gucci address book with custom stamped ‘M.M.’ on the front cover, that belonged to Marilyn (circa 1955) with handwritten entries, many in her own hand.

Contacts include Marlon Brando, ‘Mother Miller,’ Lee Strasberg, Maurine [sic] Stapleton, and Harold Clurman, among others. The book includes various handwritten entries and notes throughout. Of particular note is Monroe’s handwritten list of very personal things she must make an effort to do, including ‘as often as possible to observe Strassberg’s [sic] other private classes’; ‘never miss my actors studio sessions’; ‘must make strong effort to work on current problems and phobias that out of my past has arisen,’ among other entries.

The address book is from the estate of Lee Strasberg, Marilyn’s acting coach and close friend, and to whom she left the bulk of her own estate.”

SOLD for $64,000

“An undated note on a single sheet of unlined paper, entirely in Monroe’s hand, reading ‘For life/ It is rather a determination not to be overwhelmed./ For work/ The truth can only be recalled, never invented.'”

SOLD for $25,000

“A vintage home movie reel featuring Marilyn Monroe at multiple locations. June 29, 1956, Monroe, soon-to-be husband Arthur Miller, and Miller’s parents are seen at a press conference at Miller’s farm in Roxbury, Connecticut. This scene from the film is approximately 23 seconds. Note that parts of this scene are repeated at the end of the film. Various footage from 1956 shows Monroe at airports traveling to and from Los Angeles to film Bus Stop. These scenes from the film are approximately 40 seconds in length. Total length: one minute, 37 seconds. (From the estate of Frieda Hull of the Monroe Six)”

SOLD for $3,437.50

  1. “A single piece of lined paper torn from a spiral-bound notebook, heavily stained, containing a notation in Arthur Miller’s hand reading ‘This book is being written out of the courage, the widened view of life, the awareness of love and beauty, given to me by my love, my wife-to-be, my Marilyn. I bless her for this gift, and I write it so that she may have from me the only unique thing I know how to make. I bless her, I owe her the discovery of my soul.’ Although the note is undated, Miller refers to Marilyn as his wife to be, indicating that it was written prior to their marriage on June 29, 1956. Although this dedication did not appear in any of Miller’s books it was possibly intended to be used in A View from the Bridge, which Miller was rewriting as a two-act play. Because Miller was not officially divorced until June 1956, it is possible that the dedication was not used due to timing.” – SOLD for $2,240
  2. “A red leather clamshell box with gilt designs, title on spine and a simple ‘MM’ on the lower right corner. The ivory silk satin lined box contains a matching red leather bound volume with ‘MM’ on cover, gilt edged pages and chartreuse silk satin boards and end papers. Special dedication page reads, ‘This first copy/ of the first edition/ has been specially hand-bound/ for Marilyn.’ Arthur Miller’s Collected Plays, The Viking Press, copyright 1957. Bound by Gerhard Gerlach, stamped in gold inside back cover.” – UNSOLD

“A Union Prayer Book for Jewish Worship. The cover is stamped ‘Marilyn Monroe Miller’ and inscribed … ‘For Marilyn – with all of my best wishes and deepest respect – fondly, Bob’ [Probably Robert Goldburg, the Rabbi who oversaw her conversion in 1956.]”

SOLD for $28,800

  1. “A single sheet of stationery from Parkside House, the English manor where Monroe and Arthur Miller stayed in Surrey while she filmed The Prince and The Showgirl in London in 1956. The note reads ‘I guess I have always been deeply terrified to really be someone’s wife since I know from life one cannot love another, ever, really.’ Monroe had just entered her third marriage and was on location with her new husband, Arthur Miller.” – SOLD for $21,875
  2. Two black-and-white photos of Marilyn and Arthur. At left, she is seen leaving hospital after recovering from an ectopic pregnancy in 1957. At right, the couple return to Reno in 1960, after Marilyn spent a week in hospital for exhaustion during filming of The Misfits. – SOLD for $437.50

A proposal sent to Normal Norell from Thomas DeAngelis Inc. for Mrs. A. Miller’s bedroom. The proposal gives estimates to custom upholster a settee, headboard, bedspread, pillows and box spring drop using the fabric ordered by Norell from Italy, samples of which are included in the previous lot. The estimate is accompanied by six invoices from De Angelis, an invoice from Scalamandr Silks, and an invoice with Scalamandr silk fabric sample.”

SOLD for $768

  1. Top: “A group of four vintage copper hollowware items, including a coffeepot with a wood handle marked ‘Majestic,’ a teapot marked ‘Old Dutch,’ an unmarked pitcher, and a pot marked ‘Bazar Francais.'” – SOLD for $4,480
  2. Bottom: “A green and pink felt cutlery holder, with decorative embroidery and scalloped edges.” – SOLD for $1,600

  1. At left: “A double-gourd shaped decanter with all over etched floral decoration and a sterling rim with marks for Birmingham, 1911-12. (Lacking stopper).” – SOLD for $2,560
  2. Top right: “A white handkerchief featuring a border with a recurring poinsettia design and a larger poinsettia in the centre.” – SOLD for $8,960
  3. Bottom right: “A sterling silver Gorham brand reticulated heart dish with scrolling bows and ribbons.” – SOLD for $2,880

“Titled ‘Old Man sitting on a bench listening,’ Marilyn’s conte crayon on paper sketch is a monochromatic abstract portrait of a man leaning forward. The title is written along lower edge of sheet. The drawing is unsigned and framed in a gilt wood frame.”

SOLD for $15,625

  1. “Three receipts from Martindale’s Book Stores in Los Angeles with dates in 1958 [while Marilyn was filming Some Like It Hot.] Titles of various books purchased include, Collected Short Stories by Dorothy Parker, Red Arrow, and Peace in Piccadilly. – SOLD for $1,024
  2. “Four Marilyn Monroe receipts from Martindale’s Book Stores with dates in 1960 [probably during filming of Let’s Make Love.] Titles of various books purchased include, Color of EveningHow to Live with a CatMy Father Charlie Chaplin, and Vogue among others. [Marilyn had briefly dated Charlie Chaplin Jr. in the 1940s, as mentioned in his memoir. His rather terse account was markedly different from the heavily fictionalised version of their relationship depicted in Joyce Carol Oates’ novel, Blonde, and the recent Netflix adaptation.] – SOLD for $1,024

  1. A two-piece blue and white cardboard box from Schwab’s Pharmacy in Los Angeles. – SOLD for $2,240
  2. “An empty prescription bottle of Seconal. The brown glass bottle with a white twist-off plastic lid features a label from Schwab’s Pharmacy in Beverly Hills and the prescription is made out to Mrs. Arthur Miller by Dr. Hyman Engelberg. The label features prescription number B366320 and reads ‘Seconal / Take as directed.’ The prescription is dated August 13, 1960 [Marilyn was filming The Misfits at the time.]” – SOLD for $12,500

  1. “An original black and white photograph gelatin print of Marilyn taken by Andre de Dienes in 1949. Stamped on the verso by Dienes circa 1955.”- SOLD for $1,152
  2. “From the Personal Files of Marilyn Monroe: A February 11, 1961 telegram sent to the star from early photographer and friend Andre de Dienes, reading, ‘Turkey Foot, stop feeling sorry for yourself. Get out of the hospital. Let’s go driving and hiking through the redwoods, incognito, and take beautiful pictures like nobody could ever take. It will cure you of all your ills. Call me up. Love, WW.’ [Marilyn’s nickname for Andre was ‘Worry-Wart.’] The day prior, Marilyn had been released from Payne Whitney hospital’s psychiatric unit, following a horrifying stay, tricked into admitting herself thinking it was for rest and relaxation. She spent the next three weeks at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center recuperating.” – SOLD for $2,560

“A medical file pertaining to cosmetic surgery performed on Marilyn Monroe. The file includes facial X-rays and doctors’ notes from the office of Dr. Michael Gurdin, M.D., and the X-ray office of Drs. Conti and Steinberg. Dr. Gurdin’s chart on Monroe begins on July 14, 1958, and lists the patient as Marilyn Miller with addresses in New York and Los Angeles.

The chief complaint listed is ‘chin deformity’ and goes on to give a medical history that begins in 1950 and ends in 1962. Listed are a 1956 bout of neutropenia in England; 1957 ectopic pregnancy in New York; and 1950 cartilage implant in chin that the doctor observed had slowly begun to dissolve. Those with knowledge of the implant procedure have explained that this was done in association with a tip rhinoplasty, a procedure involving the tip of Monroe’s nose only, not the bones.

The last entry is dated June 7, 1962, and reports a fall at between 2 and 3 a.m. resulting in swelling and tenderness of the nose. Monroe was brought to Dr. Gurdin by her psychoanalyst, Dr. Ralph Greenson. Monroe was referred to Drs. Conti and Steinberg for X-rays. For her visit to the radiologists she was given the alias ‘Miss Joan Newman,’ and that name appears on the paperwork with Monroe’s Brentwood home address. [The pseudonym was probably inspired by Dr. Greenson’s daughter, Joan, and Doctor Newman, MD, a novel based on Greenson’s wartime experiences.]

Six X-rays are in the folder: a frontal facial bones X-ray; a smaller X-ray that is a composite of the right and left sides of her nasal bones; and four small dental X-rays into the roof of Monroe’s mouth, looking upward toward the nasal bones. The conclusion, written by Dr. Conti and dated June 7, 1962, is that there was no damage to Monroe’s nose due to her fall. A more recent evaluation of the X-rays indicates a very minute hairline fracture of this bone. Monroe had turned 36 less than a week earlier. On June 8, the following day, Monroe was fired from the film Something’s Got to Give.”

SOLD for $25,600

One of several letters from Patricia Traviss, manager of Rockhaven Sanitarium, to Inez Melson, Marilyn’s financial manager and legal guardian to her mother, Gladys Pearl Eley, a resident since 1953: “This four-page letter, dated May 20, 1961, is typewritten on two pages of Rockland Sanitarium letterhead and concerns the ‘ups and downs’ of Mrs. Eley’s mental health.”

SOLD for $384

“An envelope and three-page letter handwritten in pencil by Marilyn’s mother, Gladys Baker Eley, to United States Government Employ, Portlant (sic), Oregon. The return address on the letter is the location of Rockhaven Sanitarium, where she was institutionalised in 1953. Marilyn paid for her care there. In the letter, Mrs. Eley writes about her past employment in 1945 and the concern she had, as a follower of Christian Science, at being asked to work with medicine.”

SOLD for $320 and $1,024, respectively