“A Pictorial History of The Movies”
A Book from Marilyn Monroe’s Childhood
Published in 1943 when Marilyn was 17 years old, “A Pictorial History of The Movies” comprises 350 pages, including photographs and comprehensive text related to filmmaking up to that point in history. Chapter subjects are:
- Birth and Infancy (1893-1914)
- Griffith Turns A Page (1915-1919)
- The Twenties (1920-1927)
- Comes The Revolution (1927-1928)
- The Talking Picture (1929-1941)
This book, coupled with Marilyn’s “Album of Film Stars,” provides insight into Marilyn’s interest in films and celebrities from a very young age.
Of course, Marilyn’s idols, Clarke Gable and Jean Harlow, are featured prominently throughout this book.
Marilyn herself owned and packed this book into a trunk along with many other personal items as she was moving out of her Roxbury, Connecticut home when she and Arthur Miller were breaking up in 1961. Ralph Roberts, Marilyn’s masseur took Marilyn and her half sister Berniece Miracle to what had been the Miller-Monroe country home in Roxbury to retrieve these items. Items in the trunk that Marilyn retrieved that day which are part of this collection include:
Marilyn’s trunk and her personal belongings are prominently featured on page 188 of The Marilyn Encyclopedia.
Note that Marilyn’s trunk is also part of The Marilyn Monroe Collection.
Ralph Roberts: Marilyn’s personal masseur, Ralph Roberts, has been described as a gentle giant and a Southern gentleman. They first met in 1955 at Lee Strasberg’s home. Like Marilyn, Roberts was a student of The Method who had become a friend of the family, and masseur to Susan Strasberg. He took up massage to make ends meet between acting jobs, and quickly built up an appreciative clientele including Milton Berle, Ellen Burstyn, Judy Holliday, and Walter Matthau. Roberts also provided the inspiration (and behind the scenes training) for the masseur character in the Broadway hit Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?
Biographer Donald Spoto says that after Marilyn hired him to help her through filming of Let’s Make Love (1960), “he quickly became her closest friend and most intimate confidant for the rest of her life.”
Roberts played a minor part as an ambulance driver in The Misfits (1961), as well as massaging the tired and aching limbs of actors in the production. He was in the thick of the battles between Marilyn and Arthur Miller in the final months of their married life and he helped Marilyn through the loneliness she felt after the split. Roberts drove her home after her horrific experience in the psychiatric ward of the Payne Whitney Hospital; later in 1961 he took Marilyn and her half sister Berniece Miracle to what had been Miller’s and Marilyn’s country home in Roxbury to pick up some of Marilyn’s things.
When Marilyn moved back to Los Angeles in August 1961, Roberts flew West with her. Marilyn rented a room for him at the Chateau Marmont hotel, ten minutes from her Doheny Drive apartment. Marilyn felt so close to him she nicknamed him “the Brother.” However, some time in late November, Marilyn told Roberts that her psychoanalyst Dr. Ralph Greenson thought it would be better if Ralph went back to New York. He obeyed her wishes, but they stayed in touch, and Ralph was back in Los Angeles in March 1962 to help Marilyn with the many errands she had after moving into her new home in Brentwood. He stayed on, continuing to spend time with her and relieve her tensions with his massage skills.
On the day Marilyn died, Roberts called her home before 6 P.M. to double check what food to buy for the barbecue they had planned for the following evening. Dr. Greenson picked up the phone and told Roberts that Marilyn was not home. It has been said that later that evening a very groggy Marilyn left an incomprehensible message on Roberts’ answering machine.
Provenance: Christie’s East: Film and Television Memorabilia Auction, December 18, 1995