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Marilyn & Me
Written by Lawrence Schiller   

Book Review by James Colt Harrison


marilyn__cover_book200.jpgHad she lived, Marilyn Monroe would have turned 86 years old on June 1. Would she still have been a blond bombshell? Not likely, but she still would have been a beautiful woman and not a cartoon of which another legendary actress, Mae West, became.

Monroe took herself seriously. I think she would have moved on to more dramatic roles and left behind the bubbly, showgirl types she played so well in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Bus Stop, and How To Marry A Millionaire.

Monroeís life was cut short in 1962 when she died Ė accidentally or otherwise Ė of a drug overdose. The jury is still out if she took her own life or if somebody else assisted her demise. We will never know the truth. She was only 36 when she died, but we are fortunate to have the last photos taken of her when she was looking her absolute best, slim and sexy, and gorgeously platinum blonde.


What we do know is how her life was going near the end in author/photographer Lawrence Schillerís sprightly jewel of a remembrance in the new book Marilyn & Me from Doubleday. The small book is the narrative part of his reminiscences, while a larger book of photos from the upscale publisher Taschen is also being published.

Schiller was 23 when he first met Monroe on the set of Letís Make Love. He had been assigned to shoot photos on the set of Monroe and her co-star, French singing idol Yves Montand. Monroe liked the spunky young Schiller and came to trust him because of his honesty.

Schiller returned to the 20th Century Fox lot two years later when the original American idol was filming her latest epic, the comedy-romance Somethingís Got To Give with Dean Martin, Wally Cox and Cyd Charisse. In one provocative scene, Monroe was to get into the swimming pool to entice Martinís character. Schiller and Monroeís photographer/journalist William Read Woodfield were given the assignment to capture set photos. Little did they know Monroe would be acting devilishly that day when she slipped into the pool completely nude. She had always had a love affair with a camera lens, and she knew exactly how to seduce it to produce spectacular photos.

marilyn_in_pool.jpgThe boys nearly dropped their cameras into the water, but they knew what they were doing, just as Monroe knew how to create a sensation of publicity. If they didnít leave their lens caps on their cameras, they would be getting the first nude photos of Marilyn Monroe since her early nude calendar of 1952 before she became a star. They snapped and snapped as she frolicked in the water and provocatively threw her leg up over the edge of the pool. When she emerged from the pool she slipped sexily into a blue robe that just happened to fall open at all the right anatomical parts.

Schillerís remembrances bring it all back clearly and simply. His prose is not embellished, and his memories are of a professional man who tried to separate his work from his personal relationships with Monroe.

Mariyln in Somthings Got To Give

Schiller and Woodfield knew they had something spectacularly marketable Ė the first nude shots of a reigning movie star. The saga of what happened then is a fascinating look into the machinations of Hollywood publicists, the studios, and world-wide magazines that would all go into a frenzy to get the rights to the photos.

The book is a slim remembrance of a very lucky man. Itís a wonderfully detailed look into the life of a movie icon. We see the real Norma Jean, the girl who played Marilyn Monroe. The photos of a nude Marilyn gave a huge boost to Schillerís career and wallet. The photos sold around the world in 1962 for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Itís the equivalent of millions in todayís economy.


● Marilyn & Me

● Nan A. Talese/ Doubleday, Publishers, New York, July 17, 2012

● ISBN: 978-0-385-53667-7

● Hardcover (available in softcover)

● 115 pages

● $20.

††††††††††† PHOTOS:

Front Cover jacket © Nan A. Talese/ Doubleday

Marilyn Monroe pool photos © 2012 Steven Kasher Gallery




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