Marilyn Monroe photographed by James Haspiel in New York, 1955.
“She asked if she could borrow that slide. And I loaned it to her, and it took me two and a half weeks to get it back. She didn’t want to give it back to me, and having retrieved it, I looked at it again and thought, ‘Why does she like this? Maybe it’s because the camera’s not up her nose’. She’s just a human being in a city setting, with other people and buildings and street-lamps and whatever. But she loved that picture.” - James Haspiel.
A letter written on 20 January 1958 summed it up: ‘Always find MMM just wonderful!' Indeed, for ever time we met, I would move on, bursting with pride. She had ethics I wanted for myself. She was a pleasure to observe, to study, to know. Once, when my demand was more than she could give, she chose the very next we met to make a public spectacle of her approach to me, and with all eyes about glued to her, asked, ’Did I pay enough attention to you today, Jimmy?’ Love is an enriching thing. When she was near, I felt like the wealthiest man alive.
I remember asking Marilyn one afternoon, “How do you feel about Jayne Mansfield going to work at your studio, at Fox?” Now, I may sound like I’m always protecting Marilyn, but in reality, I promise you that I’m simply telling it all exactly as it originally happened; there was no trace of anger in Marilyn’s soft-spoken response, she simply said in a low-key, matter-of-fact way, “I just wish that she’d realize that there is room for everyone.” And Marilyn was saying this about a woman who was openly trying to walk away with her image, so to speak, trying at all times to be her. I found it very interesting that Marilyn’s reaction to the certain prospect of Jayne Mansfield’s coming presence on the sound stages of Fox. And I admired her for it, too. Besides, in the coming months, Marilyn had bigger fish to fry, indeed!
- James Haspiel, Marilyn: The Ultimate Look At The Legend
“Sometimes wearing a scarf and a polo coat and no makeup and with a certain attitude of walking, I go shopping or just look at people living. But then you know, there will be a few teenagers who are kind of sharp and they’ll say, “Hey, just a minute. You know who I think that is?” And they’ll start tailing me. And I don’t mind. I realize some people want to see if you’re real. The teenagers, the little kids, their faces light up. They say “Gee”, and they can’t wait to tell their friends. And old people come up and say, “Wait till I tell my wife.” You’ve changed their whole day. […] Those times are nice. People knowing who you are and all of that, the feeling that you’ve meant something to them.” - Marilyn Monroe in an interview with Richard Meryman in 1962.
For me, what began in the reel world on 8 August 1952, and continues to this day, began in the real world on 9 September 1954 and ended in the early-morning hours of 20 May 1962. In both worlds her name was Marilyn Monroe. On that day in 1952, I looked up at her from my seat in a local cinema. Twenty-five months and one day later, I looked at her in the flesh for the first time, as I would continue to do for the remained of her life. During the eight-year interval, I would progress in age from sixteen to twenty-four, while she would transcend into an agelessness all her own. At our first encounter on a New York street, I asked her for a kiss and she responded, her lips landing on this admirer with an impact that was destined to last a lifetime. Following that event, everywhere she appeared, I showed up, and before long she was calling me ‘Jimmy’. The journey that took place between us was charged with happiness and, on my part, wonder, sensuality, outrageousness, even anger. Marilyn was friend, sister, mother and the one soul around who gave me the strength to meet another day.
It was three years since I had asked Marilyn to congratulate me upon turning eighteen years old, and those thirty-six months had obviously escalated the rapport between us, as evidenced by her invitation to me on February 25th (four days after my twenty-first birthday) to ‘Come by tomorrow evening, Jimmy, and we can take a picture of me giving you a birthday kiss!’ Now, I don’t know anybody out there who would have refused this offer, so I put on my best slacks, a dress shirt and tie, and a sports jacket, and returned to Marilyn’s abode on the 26th all smiles. As it turned out, that was the night that Monroe belatedly picked up her Crystal Star Award, the French equivalent of the Academy Award, as Best Foreign Actress for The Prince and the Showgirl. Subsequent to the awards ceremony, when she arrived home, I remember that it was the first time (and the only time) that I ever saw Marilyn act like a movie star away from the crowd. Emerging from the car, Marilyn actually dragged her mink coat along the street and up the curb. As Arthur led her into the building, she advised him, 'It’s Jimmy’s birthday and I have to give him a kiss, Arthur.’ Soon enough, my arm was around Marilyn’s waist, our bodies pressed tightly together, and as Miller attempted to mask the scowl-like expression coming onto his face, three people began shooting flash pictures. An autograph collector named Walter Horoshko had joined Frieda Hull and Eileen Collins behind the camera lens to record the moment as Marilyn proceeded to plant a birthday kiss on me. And, having done so, Marilyn then examined my cheek, exclaiming, 'Oh, I didn’t leave a lip print, Jimmy,’ then kissed me a second time, being sure to leave the outline of her lips firmly affixed to my skin. As I let go of her waist, Marilyn came back at me yet another time, put her arms around me, squeezed me hard, and whispered in my ear in a most endearing way, 'I remember when you were seventeen, Jimmy!’
- James Haspiel, fan, friend, and author of Marilyn: The Ultimate Look at the Legend
“On a mild mid-morning…I was walking towards the Gladstone and as I arrived at the entrance I came upon a teenager standing outside with an 8-mm camera aimed directly at the hotel’s revolving door, which was already in motion. Marilyn came awhirl through the door and literally performed a 360-degree turn for his home-movie camera. She was dressed in an elegant black suit with a fur collar, her lustrous hair shoulder length, and was fully made up. Dazzling! She was about to walk from 52nd Street and Lexington Avenue over to the fifth Avenue beauty salon of Elizabeth Arden. So I walked side by side with her; naturally, to the utter frustration of this kid who was walking backwards with his movie camera pointed at us, because I was now unavoidably in all of his wonderful footage of Marilyn. In fact, although I sought him out over the following years, he never allowed me to see the candid film he took of Marilyn and me walking across town that day. As she walked her famous walk in her very high black stiletto heels, cars and trucks just pulled over to the curb and drivers emerged from them shouting “Marilyn! Marilyn!” When we finally got the three blocks over to Fifth Avenue, we then had to walk uptown to 54th-55th Streets. As we arrived at the doorway to Elizabeth Arden’s salon, I heard the nearby sounds of an automobile crashing, and looked over to see a taxicab driver whose head was bobbing out of the passenger-side front window of his cab, the vehicle itself now embedded in the back end of a delivery truck! He had a gleeful smile on his face and was hollering, “Marilyn!” I tapped her on the shoulder and exclaimed “See what you did!” She gave me a very “Marilynesque” laugh and swept rather grandly into the salon.” - James Haspiel