I have a hard time choosing which photo of Marilyn Monroe I like best. In general, the rehearsals I was comfortable with, with less production, are the ones I tend to choose. Interestingly, I disagree with the choice of Marilyn herself, who chose the 1956 photo, taken at the Ambassador Hotel in New York, by Cecil Beaton, as her favorite. It is on display at the National Portrait Museum in London and hung on the wall of her home when she was married to Arthur Miller.
Cecil Beaton was already one of the most famous photographers of the time and Marilyn was the most disputed star among the best. It was an almost necessary junction. If she suffered in front of film cameras, she was completely comfortable with photo shoots. It’s not for nothing that Marilyn was unanimously preferred by the best. She knew, like few others, to be at ease and create moments, immortalizing her image that still retains her charm.
In addition to the images, biographers like Beaton’s analysis of the star, as he also “fell in love” with her, even though he spent more than an hour waiting for her and was initially irritated by her lack of professionalism. From the moment she entered the room, everyone melted with her.
Image expert, he was aware that Marilyn’s roles explored innocence and the label of “dumb blonde”, but kind-hearted and witty. He had doubts if it was something manufactured, but he came across something far more complex. Your conclusion? Marilyn Monroe was a genius.
“The real wonder is in the paradox – somehow we know that this extraordinary performance is pure farce, a youthful caricature of Mae West,” he said, adding that it was “her own strange genius that [had] sustained her flight.” In other words, Marilyn was what sold and was aware of what was being sold. Genius, as already said.
The description was considered the most accurate and even director Joshua Logan, who worked with her in the movie Bus Stop, presented her with a triptych with the photo (below) and two pages handwritten by Beaton. with his analysis of her, such as the one that considered her as one of the muses of the French painter Jean-Baptiste Greuze, from the 18th century, but circulating in a contemporary world.
Another surprise that Cecil Beaton highlighted was the actress’ ability to transform, to provide the photographer with thousands of “versions of herself”, “without inhibition, insecurity and with a true vulnerability”, and, even with an “incandescent” beauty, she presented freedom equally paradoxical of not caring about clothes or hair. Let’s summarize: authentic and beautiful.
The experience at the Ambassador was so remarkable for the actress that until the end of her life she carried some copies of the photos to autograph for fans. In particular, the photo in which she holds a single flower was her favorite of all.
As they say, the photo above was purely improvised. Marilyn had used the flower to mimic a cigarette and then placed it on her chest, protecting and caressing it like a gift.
Beacon ended his description by comparing Marilyn Monroe to Ondine: “She has only 15 years to live, but she will never die.”
Sadly, Marilyn died just 6 years after these photos. His legend, however, lives on, even 60 years later.