marlene lillian

Avedon, Richard

After the strains and rigors of working on Some Like It Hot (1959), Marilyn was relieved to get back to the still camera. Avedon shot a sequence of Marilyn posing as film stars Marlene Dietrich, Lillian Russell, Jean Harlow, Theda Bara, and Clara Bow, for a feature first published in Life on December 22, 1958. Avedon found her easy to work with: “She gave more to the still camera than any actress - any woman - I’ve ever photographed; infinitely more patient, more demanding of herself and more comfortable in front of the camera than away from it.”

In Arthur Miller’s accompanying text, he wrote about “the spontaneous joy she takes in anything a child does, her quick sympathy and respect for old people….The child in her catches the fun and the promise, and the old person in her the mortality.”

Two years later Marilyn told Simone Signoret that this photo session was one of the greatest moments of her career; this was a typical Monroe performance, changing herself for the camera not into her own persona, but into that of film goddesses who had come before. In her autobiography Signoret says, “She talked about these photography sessions the way other actors talk about their films. She seemed to have no other happy professional memories.”

- The Marilyn Encyclopedia by Adam Victor.