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Marilyn Monroe
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svdgrift's picture

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Diamonds might be a girls best friend, but I’d rather have respect and Equal Pay.

This fabulous picture (and many many more) was taken on February 22, 1956. That's over 60 years ago. Six-ty! The timeless beauty had been photographed probably a million times before, but there was something different about this photo shoot. Until 1955 she was usually pictured in a sexy, pin-up kinda way. But after divorcing Joe DiMaggio in 1954, Marilyn was fed up with being known as the hottie who could  also sing a tune or two. She wanted to be respected as an actress, but also just as a person.

She refused two huge film roles in the "Girl in the Red Velvet Swing" and the "Girl in the Pink Tights" in 1955. Also, her co-star in that last movie, Frank Sinatra, was set to earn $5000 a week. Marilyn would only earn $1500 a week. I hear ya, girl! 20th-Century Fox didn't like this one bit, so they suspended her from the film studio. Marilyn was like “eff that!” so she took off to New York City, where she got pretty busy! First of all, together with friend and photographer Milton Greene she formed Marilyn Monroe Productions. She also took private acting classes with Lee Strasberg and hired his wife as her personal on-set drama coach. All of this to become a better and more respected actress, not just the hot blonde with the boobs and butt. A photo shoot with renowned photographer Cecil Beaton would really be the icing on the cake.

Even though earlier on people would have laughed at the idea of Cecil Beaton photographing someone like Marilyn, her plan worked! That fateful day in February, Cecil and Marilyn met at the Ambassador Hotel in New York City and something *magical* happened.  Story goes she came all by herself, no assistants, no hairdresser, nada. The only thing she took with her were these two dresses and believe it or not, she even did her own make-up for the shoot. Modern Hollywood stars can learn a thing or two from this independent lady. Cecil added some props to the set and that was it. He wrote about their encounter in his now famous diary. “The initial shyness over, excitement has now gotten the better of her. She romps, she squeals with delight, she leaps onto the sofa.” He found her a delight to work with and she absolutely loved the result. Mission accomplished, I would say!

Marilyn received a handwritten copy of his writings. She used a silver picture frame to display the article, with her favorite picture from the shoot in between. The whole thing eventually sold at Christie’s “Property of Marilyn Monroe” auction in 1999 for 145,500 USD. If Norma Jean could see it now...