The Marilyn Monroe Collection

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Fifty years on, everyone still wants a piece of Marilyn

By Robert MacPherson

July 31, 2012 | 9:30 am

WASHINGTON – The first thing you notice when you see Marilyn Monroe’s full-length gloves in the storeroom of the Smithsonian National Museum of American History is how small her hands were.

“They’re one of a number of pairs she had,” says curator Dwight Bowers, gently lifting them out of the beige steel cabinet they share with Christopher Reeves’ Superman costume and the 10-gallon hat that J.R. wore in “Dallas.”

“They’re white kid. They’re very tiny and petite. And they show the decorousness of the 1950s,” he explained. “There’s a stain of ink on the left one … perhaps it came from giving an autograph to someone.”

Donated by a private collector, the gloves make up the entire Marilyn Monroe collection at the publicly-funded Smithsonian Institution, the world’s largest network of museums and, in principle, repository of all things Americana.

Bowers, who plans to include the gloves in an forthcoming Smithsonian exhibition on American popular culture, said it’s “logical” for the museum to hold more Monroe memorabilia.

“But Hollywood material and Hollywood celebrities are big business in the auction world,” he told AFP in the windowless storeroom that’s packed floor to ceiling with show-business artifacts from vaudeville to today.

“Private collectors are part of our competition — and private collectors have a much bigger budget than we have.”

Fifty years after her death, demand for anything related to Hollywood’s original blonde bombshell — from the dresses she wore to the magazine covers she graced — is stronger than ever. And it’s more global as well.

Many choice items can be seen at the Hollywood Museum in Los Angeles, where a handful of private collectors have pooled their most prized Monroe objects for a summer-long public exhibition.

It’s a wide-ranging show, from the mortgage paperwork on Monroe’s house to never-before-seen photographs and a host of garments like the black silk crepe dress she wore on her honeymoon with baseball legend Joe DiMaggio.

“It had been in storage for 35 years,” Hollywood Museum founder Donelle Dadigan said. “When we received it, you knew who it belonged to, because the Chanel Number Five perfume still lingered… It was almost magical.”

The bulk of Monroe’s personal belongings went on the auction block at Christie’s in New York in October 1999 at a historic two-day estate sale that raked in $13.4 million.

“They literally had everything from pots and pans to her brassieres,” recalled Clark Kidder, a collector of Monroe-related magazines in Wisconsin and author of a 2001 guide to Monroe memorabilia who attended the sale.

The most expensive item then was a diamond-studded platinum eternity band, a gift from DiMaggio, her second husband, that Christie’s experts had estimated at $50,000 tops. It sold for $772,000 and it’s likely worth much more today.

Monroe’s baby grand piano went, too, for $662,500, along with everything else from a pair of bikinis and a set of gym equipment to her driver’s license — as well as the gloves that eventually wound up in the Smithsonian.

Such prices today would be considered bargains, due in part to the globalization of the memorabilia market and an influx of cash-rich and reclusive Asian and Gulf collectors for whom price is no object.

“Some of the top prices for Marilyn Monroe memorabilia, in the seven figures, you may end up finding in China, in Japan, in the Middle East … it’s just extraordinary,” Dadigan told AFP in a telephone interview.

Last year, in Macau, Los Angeles auctioneers Julien’s sold a gown that Monroe wore in the movie “River of No Return” for $516,600 and a signed nude from her “red velvet” session with photographer Tom Kelly for $16,250.

Earlier in 2011, the billowing dress that Monroe wore over that famously breezy subway grating in “The Seven-Year Itch” sold for a staggering $4.6 million — plus commission — in Los Angeles.

The seller was the actress Debbie Reynolds, who at 79 had no more room for her collection of 35,000 Hollywood movie costumes. The buyer, as is so often the case at auctions, opted for discretion and bid by telephone.

“A lot of these high-profile pieces, when they come up for auction, are going to the Asian countries,” Los Angeles collector Scott Fortner, whose own Monroe objects are part of the Hollywood Museum exhibition, told AFP.

“I find it disappointing that some of these pieces literally just disappear and we have no idea where they go,” added Fortner, who has catalogued his entire collection — from a feather boa to make-up and eye drops — online.

Fortner sees himself not so much as a collector than as a custodian of the memory of a timeless motion picture icon. He’s especially proud of one item in his possession — Monroe’s humble Brownie snapshot camera.

“I have always found that piece very, very intriguing,” he said. “It’s the childhood camera of one of the most photographed women, if not the most photographed woman, in the world. There’s an interesting bit of irony there.”

Santa Cruzans Get a Look At Private Marilyn Monroe Collection


Monroe fans got a taste of the Hollywood Museum at a United Way fundraiser at Chaminade Friday and Saturday.

Fifty years after her death, hundreds of United Way supporters got a look into the private life of Marilyn Monroe this weekend.

Scott Fortner’s collection of Marilyn’s most intimate items were on display at Chaminade Resort and Spa Friday and Saturday, to raise money for the United Way of Santa Cruz and celebrate both the 70-year anniversary of the United Way and the 50th year since Marilyn died.

Fortner is considered an authority on Marilyn Monroe.

The heavy rains didn’t stop many curious Monroe fans from checking out the display of Fortner’s extensive collection.

One woman viewing the exhibit says she also collects Marilyn memorabilia. But not these kind of things, says Zenaida Castillo.

“Pictures, jewelry with her, anywhere you look I have her stuff. So it was just kind of fun to come and see her real stuff,” says Castillo. “My favorite, believe it or not is to see her creams and stuff, I love her personal things.”

Polly Hormel of Santa Cruz agrees.

“I love it,” she said. “I’ve been a fan of hers for years. Especially her make up,” says Hormel, pointing out Marilyn’s Elizabeth Arden perfume and cashew cream make up.

Fortner has been collecting Marilyn’s items and original photographs for years. He says he obtains things for his collection at auctions and private transactions.

“Believe it or not, people give me things,” says Fortner. “Like the yearbook was given to me by someone who was in school with Marilyn. She wanted it to go to a fan. Someone who appreciated Marilyn and someone who would really appreciate the book.”

Raelynn McGraw of Santa Cruz appreciated the ‘Marilyn cocktail’ created for the event containing vodka, Chambord, pineapple juice, and champagne.

“They said she liked champagne,” says McGraw. “It was very interesting with the pineapple but it was very good…like a martini.”

Marilyn’s personal correspondence was especially intriguing for June Ralston of Santa Cruz.

“Everything is so different and unique, i kinda just enjoy reading the letters,” says Ralston.

There were many letters, notes, receipts, film scripts, skin care items, gowns, garments and much more to enjoy viewing along with videos of Marilyn wearing some of the very same clothing items on display.

At the main dinner gala Saturday night, the guests were treated to a $125-a-plate dinner and music and met the winner of a Monroe lookalike contest. Winners of the silent auction were announced and the raffle winners from both nights were informed on Sunday.

The event was sponsored by Plantronics, the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds, Tina Shull, and the Pacific Cookie Company.


Santa Cruz Sentinel

The Divine Miss M: Clothing, Personal Items of Marilyn Monroe Help United Way Fundraiser

By Shanna McCord


Personal items belonging to one of Hollywood’s most famous bombshells were on display at a fundraiser for the United Way of Santa Cruz County.

Designer clothing and other pieces owned by the 1950s and 60s sex symbol, Marilyn Monroe, drew several hundred people to Chaminade Resort & Spa on Friday and Saturday to view the exhibit.

The fundraiser was planned to honor the United Way’s 70th anniversary in Santa Cruz County, and mark the 50 years since Monroe died in 1962.

“I’m a fan and she’s a beautiful woman,” said Joanie Birmingham, a Santa Cruz resident viewing the exhibit Saturday. “I’m going to go home and watch a couple of her movies now – ‘Some Like It Hot’ and ‘How to Marry A Millionaire.'”

Monroe’s sartorial collection included a slinky low-cut cocktail dress, a beige and pastel silk evening cape, a mink fur collar and a green long-sleeved jersey blouse by Pucci.

Empty jars of Erno Laszlo face creams, paycheck stubs from 20th Century Fox, dry-cleaning receipts, a telephone bill for $34 and bank statements rounded out the collection.

Monroe’s bank account at Bank of America in 1951 showed an ending balance of $245.99.

Collector Scott Fortner, who has been a fan of the movie star his entire life, works closely with the United Way of Santa Cruz County. He’s known for loaning the exhibit to The Hollywood Museum, and plans to take some items to Florence, Italy, later this year. However, this was the first charity fundraiser for the exhibit.

“I thought it would be fun and exciting to commemorate the anniversaries,” Fortner said. “You just can’t explain it. I’ve just always been fascinated by who she was as a person and how she reached this iconic status.”

Anne Cawley of the United Way said all the money raised will go to programs that help the 75,000 people in Santa Cruz County who seek the nonprofit’s assistance each year.

Besides the exhibit, the fundraiser included a black-tie optional dinner and silent auction at Chaminade on Saturday evening for 200 people.

Cawley estimated the nonprofit could raise as much as $50,000 from the Monroe event.

Chaminade created a Marilyn Monroe-themed cocktail just for the occasion, Cawley said.

Santa Cruz Sentinel

United Way of Santa Cruz County Marks 70th Anniversary Featuring Collection of Marilyn Monroe Memorabilia


An exhibition of the clothing and personal belongings of Marilyn Monroe will go on display March…

A rare display of personal items once owned by actress Marilyn Monroe will be on display for the public during fundraising festivities on March 16 and 17 to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the United Way of Santa Cruz County.

“It’s a gift for us, because the public gets a chance to see these artifacts,” said Mary Lou Goeke, executive director of United Way of Santa Cruz County. “It’s a wonderful blend of personal items from one of the most recognizable movie stars of all time.”

Monroe, who died in 1962, was a top box office attraction during the 1950s and was rated the sixth greatest female star of all time by the American Film Institute. She has remained an enduring star and pop icon to this day.

“Not only is it the 70th anniversary of United Way of Santa Cruz County, but it’s also the 50th anniversary of the death of Marilyn Monroe,” Goeke said. “This year will see, in addition to movies about Marilyn Monroe, retrospectives on her life in newspapers, books, PBS and other television cable channels.” The Monroe memorabilia was assembled by Scott Fortner, a noted collector. Goeke said Fortner’s collection includes private photos of the star, original clothing items, cosmetics, private papers, documents and other items.

“It’s a priceless collection,” she said.

After Monroe’s death, her personal effects were shipped to a family friend where they languished boxed up in a basement. Fortner was able to acquire many of them as they came up for auction in famous outlets such as Christie’s New York.

“Some of Monroe’s dresses have sold in the hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Goeke said.

United Way of Santa Cruz County was originally formed in 1941 in Watsonville and Santa Cruz to raise funding to help troops overseas fighting World War II. At the time it was called “Community Chest.”

“People have seen Community Chest on their Monopoly board game,” Goeke said. “That’s named after us. In the 1970s we became known as United Way of Santa Cruz County.”

The nonprofit works to improve the quality of life by providing financial support for youth, family and health services.

“For example, we support a telephone 211 line that provides referrals for families who need help, and we’re active in helping change laws to make the community healthier,” Goeke said.

United Way of Santa Cruz County funds its operations from local donations and fund raisers. All the money raised locally stays local to help fund United Way of Santa Cruz County operations. Goeke said the organization hopes to raise $40,000 from the Monroe exhibition.

The celebration will be held at Chaminade Resort & Spa, 1 Chaminade Lane in Santa Cruz.

dividerGood Times

Legacy of a Legend and Marilyn Unveiled Wednesday, 14 March 2012

J.D. Ramey

United Way fundraiser at Chaminade offers a candid view of Marilyn Monroe’s private life

Most Marilyn Monroe historians play up the more sensational aspects of the film star’s life: the glamour, the mystique, the mysterious circumstances surrounding her death, the rumors of her affairs with this or that Kennedy. But beneath all the glitter and intrigue, Monroe was a shy, sensitive soul with a soft spot for humans in need, not to mention a strong belief in equal rights for minorities and the poor. Her compassionate side is evidenced by the fact that she supported several charities, all the way up to her last public appearance on June 1, 1962 (her birthday): a fundraiser to fight muscular dystrophy at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, Calif.

Being the 50th anniversary of Monroe’s death, 2012 is a fitting year for “An Evening with Marilyn: An Intimate Look at the Legend,” which takes place at Chaminade Resort & Spa on Saturday, March 17. A fundraiser for United Way of Santa Cruz County, which is celebrating its 70th anniversary, the event features cocktails, dinner, a silent auction, a special presentation, and an exhibition of Marilyn memorabilia from the collection of local aficionado Scott Fortner. As Fortner puts it, “Marilyn Monroe, the glamorous movie star, is very well known, yet exhibit and gala attendees will experience the very private and personal life of Marilyn.”

Among the items on display will be the first fur that the film star ever owned, the blouse she was wearing in the last photos ever taken of her before her death, the Kodak Brownie camera she owned as a child, private letters, cosmetics, books from her library, invoices and receipts from her files, and one of her bank checks, dated Aug. 3, 1962—two days before her death. Also exhibited will be photos from throughout Monroe’s career, including early modeling shots from the days when she still went by Norma Jeane.

“I’ve worked closely with Santa Cruz County United Way for over 10 years, and I know their community support is far reaching, just based on the number of agencies they support throughout our county,” Fortner offers. “I’m hoping we can raise a lot of money to help support our community members in need.”

Fortner explains that most of the items in his collection come straight from Monroe’s estate. The screen legend willed the lion’s share of her possessions to her acting coaches, Lee and Paula Strasberg, who kept the memorabilia in a storage locker for decades. Fortner amassed the bulk of his collection at auctions that the Strasbergs held in 1999 and 2005 at the New York fine arts house Christie’s.

It’s a testament to Monroe’s iconic status that a display of items from her off-screen life can still draw a crowd a full five decades after her death. One has to wonder what it is about the actress that makes her such a perennial subject of fascination. Fortner says he’s presented that question to each of the thousands of Marilyn Monroe fans he’s met over the years. “The one answer I receive time and time again is that people feel a need to protect her,” he notes. “I hear this from people who actually knew Marilyn, and also from casual fans born after Marilyn died.”

The collector adds that people relate to the personal challenges that Monroe faced. “For example, Marilyn had a troubled childhood, never knowing who her father was,” he expounds, also citing the institutionalization of her mother, her challenging relationships with men, her weight problems in the late ’50s, and her addictions to alcohol and medications. “She struggled to be taken seriously and also to be respected. She was painfully shy, afraid and insecure. She was very unsure of herself. These are aspects of Marilyn’s life in which many people around the world feel a connection because they experience one or more of these same issues or feelings.”

Asked what three questions he’d ask Monroe if given the opportunity, Fortner offers, “Since the circumstances surrounding Marilyn’s death are still shrouded in mystery today, I’d ask what actually happened the night she died.” Secondly, he’d ask what her true relationship with the Kennedy brothers was. And lastly? “I’d ask her what her feelings are about her stardom today and how popular she continues to be 50 years after her death.”


The Asian Age

Marilyn Mystique

January 29, 2012

In her heyday, Marilyn Monroe was a tantalising dream — her talent extended far beyond just acting and her persona being equal parts mystique and enigma. And those who have researched her well and who have spoken to her associates and acquaintances say that from the very start of her career, she worked really hard with acting coaches and was determined to become a good actress.

Marilyn even today, half a century after her tragic demise, lives on in the image she so effortlessly created for herself. She is also the unofficial benchmark for beauty, sexuality, vulnerability and stardom, all at the same time.

A wave of Marilyn nostalgia is set to be triggered now by the television series Smash that is to be aired by NBC from February 6. The series centres on the process of creating a Broadway musical based on the life of Marilyn Monroe, who history records as one of the greatest smash hits.

As an actor, Marilyn is said to have had her faults but none so overwhelming as to take away anything from the wave she created with her fantastic presence on the silver screen. “From the start, she was good at associating and sometimes having intimate relationships with the kind of people who could further her career, including top Hollywood agent Johnny Hyde (who secured her first important film roles) and 20th Century Fox president Joseph Schenck, which was why, even as an unknown starlet, she was able to show up late for filming, much to the amazement of established stars, establishing a habit that would become much more problematic in later years,” says Richard Buskin, the author of Blonde Heat.

Richard goes on to throw light on her downside thus, “She created the sexy, breathy-voiced Marilyn persona which was very different to the more natural person who we saw and heard in interviews and she could turn it on and off at will. Despite all the hard work and the extent to which she took control of her own career, on the film set she often forgot her lines, appeared to have no idea where to stand with regard to the lighting, often required multiple (sometimes more than 50) takes to get a scene right, and then had no clue as to which was the best take.”

Even so, in today’s fast paced world inundated with pop icons, socialites, fashionistas, cinema stars and red-carpet divas, it is still fascinating how Marilyn who died five decades ago retains her appeal to represent timeless icons of style, fashion and sexuality. Richard explains, “Women admire women like Marilyn for being strong and independent. Marilyn took charge of her own career and refused to be bullied by men at the big studios. Men desired her for obvious reasons, and many men also fantasise that, had they had the chance to befriend or have a relationship with Marilyn, they somehow could have saved her and she would still be alive today,” explains Richard.

Scott Fortner, one of the largest collectors of Marilyn Memorabilia and who runs a website says, “People are able to relate to Marilyn in very private, intimate and personal ways. For example, Marilyn had a troubled childhood, never knowing who her father was. Her mother was institutionalised for mental health issues. Marilyn was married three times, and she had challenging relationships with her husbands and other men. She had weight problems in the late 1950s. She had addictions to alcohol and medications. She struggled to be taken seriously as an actress and as a woman, and she also struggled to be respected. She was painfully shy, afraid and insecure. These are all aspects of Marilyn’s life in which many people around the world feel a connection because they experience one or more of these same issues.”

Despite everything, she remains a sex symbol with an aura that never fades. “For millions of people around the world, Marilyn Monroe is an iconic film star. At the same time she was also someone who struggled through life with many personal problems, and people can relate to that because they experience these same problems today personally,” says Fortner.

There are other women like Silk Smitha who in a much lesser way ended up somewhat like Marilyn, remembered for a while for the oozing sex symbols they were in modern cinema despite their own flawed personalities. Having been steeped in sensuality, their lives intertwined with scandals and talk of casting couches, these women clearly were no role models in their time. But today a sizeable number of young women salute their spirit.

Is it just their raw sex appeal and the ability to bare it all at a time when it was considered taboo that made them so desirable? “Slander has always been a kind of frill in any actor’s life, especially those who chose to be item girls or vamps,” says Dr Priya Selvaraj, a celebrity gynaecologist who is actor Gemini Ganesan’s granddaughter. She adds, “We are attracted to Marilyn or even a Silk Smitha or a Jaya Malini because they simply dared to celebrate themselves, respect their sexuality and chose to live life on their own terms. These by themselves are very appealing qualities.”

Like the tendrils of a beautiful dream which linger when we wake up, Marilyn Monroe remains in our minds as a person of ethereal beauty and a sex appeal far beyond the real.


Winnipeg Free Press

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

For Bombshell Aficionados, It’s Marilyn or Bust

David Sanderson

February 10, 2007

In 1999, People magazine voted Marilyn Monroe “Sexiest Woman of the Century.” That same year, the former Miss California Artichoke Queen was also named “Sexiest Female of all Time” by Empire magazine and “Number One Sex Star of the 20th Century” by the editors of Playboy.

Since her death in 1962, Monroe has evolved from Hollywood starlet into licensed commodity. Her name and image net her estate some $2 million annually. Items associated with Monroe continue to appreciate in value. Copies of the initial issue of Playboy magazine, featuring the one-time model as Hugh Hefner’s inaugural “Sweetheart of the Month,” command upwards of $40,000 (or $20,000 per staple).

“Stars like Marilyn Monroe or James Dean — people who only lived a short period of time — their fame transcends their life,” says Ron Boily, a local Monroe memorabilia collector. “I think that’s part of her attraction, that she’s never going to grow old. She’ll always be beautiful.”

Boily, 59, latched onto Monroe about 30 years ago after seeing her movies on late-night television.

Since then, he has become known as “the Marilyn guy.”

“I used to wear a different Marilyn tie to work each day. T-shirts — you name it. I’ve got all kinds of things,” he says, adjusting the collar of his one-of-a-kind leather jacket that boasts a silk-screened Monroe on its back.

Boily, now a professional photographer, once served as program director for the Manitoba Antiques Association. “A lot of the dealers knew I were into Marilyn, so they’d always tell me if they found something,” he says. “At the same time, I went to flea markets and garage sales. Nowadays, I mostly just shop on eBay.”

Boily devotes an entire room in his suburban split-level to the blond bombshell. That he’s been able to build his massive collection of plates, posters, pendants and candy dishes — he’s even got an officially sanctioned pocket knife — is a nod to his understanding better half.

“My wife only asks that I keep my things in my room, neat and tidy,” Boily says with a laugh. “There are a few Marilyn light-switch plates upstairs, but the rest of the house is off limits.”

Boily’s most cherished collectible is a “Happy Birthday, Mr. President Doll” produced by Franklin Mint. The porcelain likeness stands 46 centimetres tall and is draped with a replica of the gold lamé gown Monroe wowed JFK with in 1962.

“And listen to this — it’s her real voice,” Boily says, pressing a button near the toy’s base, initiating Monroe’s sultry rendition of Happy Birthday To You.

“I think that if Marilyn were alive today and were to see my collection, she would be pleased,” Boily says.

Scott Fortner is one of the world’s foremost Marilyn Monroe archivists. He has attended a number of high-profile auctions devoted to her personal effects.

“The first Christie’s auction was absolutely huge. It’s been called the Sale of the Century and was attended by hundreds, if not thousands,” Fortner says in reference to the October 1999 affair that raked in US $13.4 million. Among the memorabilia up for grabs were a used makeup case — which netted $266,000 — and Monroe’s childhood piano. The latter was scooped up by pop star Mariah Carey for $620,000. (The aforementioned gold presidential gown brought in the highest bid of the night: $1.3 million.)

Fortner’s own collection includes the fox-fur muff Monroe sported at the premiere of the 1953 movie How To Marry a Millionaire and a mink collar she wore while filming The Prince and the Showgirl in 1957.

To view Fortner’s collection, visit his website at



Monroe’s Personal Belongings Go Under Hammer

Tuesday, June 17th 2008

New York (ANI): Marilyn Monroe’s personal belongings will be going under the hammer for the first time in almost 46 years in two separate auctions. The screen legend’s clothing, furniture and previously unseen documents are all going under the hammer at Bonhams and Butterfields’ auction in L.A., while over 100 lots of vintage photographs, personal effects and never-before-seen film footage will be offered through Julien’s Auctions in Las Vegas this weekend.

According to experts, the double bill are the most significant bonanza of Monroe memorabilia since Christie’s New York sold off items from the blonde’s estate in 1999, raising a whopping 13.5 million dollars. Information about the actress’ troubled final months has surfaced in one of Bonhams’ most fascinating items, a collection of previously undiscovered chauffeur receipts from the Carey Cadillac Renting Co.

The documents throw new light on Monroe’s movements on and around her final birthday, just two months before her untimely death on Aug. 5, 1962. “Those receipts verify that she was driven home around 3 a.m., which is a little bit different than people in the past implying that she had spent that night home alone,” the New York Daily News quoted leading Monroe collector Scott Fortner, whose extensive collection of Monroe memorabilia is on display at the Hollywood Museum, as saying.

Darren Julien, head of Julien’s Auctions and an expert at ranking the salability of celebrities, said that no one beats Monroe. “She’s the top. Elvis is comparable, but there are some things of Marilyn’s that just go over the top. About a year ago, we had a Monroe umbrella that we estimated at 10,000 dollars to 20,000 dollars, and people said, ‘You’re never going to sell it; it’s just an umbrella.’ It went for 49,000 dollars,” he said.

Julien’s Auction expects that the 47 minutes of previously unveiled, behind-the-scenes footage of Monroe and Clark Gable filming The Misfits, would be the biggest attention-getter. “We’ve had huge interest already. It’s up-close and personal footage of them talking to the director and Marilyn reading her script and rehearsing scenes,” he said.

Fortner said: “There are some exciting items at these auctions that are drawing a real buzz amongst collectors. The pieces from Marilyn’s Brentwood home, like the footstool and pencil cup, are pretty rare. A lot of people focus on Marilyn’s celebrity and forget that she was a real person, so the personal documents give a unique insight into her life that isn’t common to the casual Marilyn fan.”


New York Daily News

Memorabilia Auctions Show Marilyn Monroe’s Still A Superstar


Monday, June 16th 2008

Almost 46 years after her death, Marilyn Monroe’s star is shining brighter than ever this week, thanks to two hotly anticipated auctions featuring a treasure trove of the screen legend’s personal belongings.

Clothing, furniture and previously unseen documents relating to the iconic blond are all going under the hammer at today’s Bonhams and Butterfields’ auction in L.A., while over 100 lots of vintage photographs, personal effects and never-before-seen film footage will be offered through Julien’s Auctions in Las Vegas this weekend.

Experts are calling the double bill the most significant bonanza of Monroe memorabilia since Christie’s New York sold off items from Monroe’s estate in 1999, raising a whopping $13.5 million.

Although she became one of the most written-about women in the world, information about her troubled final months has surfaced in one of Bonhams’ most fascinating items, a collection of previously undiscovered chauffeur receipts from the Carey Cadillac Renting Co. The papers shed new light on Monroe’s movements on and around her final birthday, just two months before her untimely death on Aug. 5, 1962.

“Those receipts verify that she was driven home around 3 a.m., which is a little bit different than people in the past implying that she had spent that night home alone,” says leading Monroe collector Scott Fortner, whose extensive collection of Monroe memorabilia is on display at the Hollywood Museum.

Darren Julien, head of Julien’s Auctions and an expert at ranking the salability of celebrities, says no one beats Monroe, who would have turned 82 on June 1.

“She’s the top. Elvis is comparable, but there are some things of Marilyn’s that just go over the top,” he says. “About a year ago, we had a Monroe umbrella that we estimated at $10,000 to $20,000, and people said, ‘You’re never going to sell it; it’s just an umbrella.’ It went for $49,000.” Explaining her appeal, he adds: “She’s larger than life, yet people identify with her. She seemed very human and had such a tragic life.”

Julien’s Auction expects the big attention-getter to be 47 minutes of previously unviewed, behind-the-scenes footage of Monroe and Clark Gable filming “The Misfits.” “We’ve had huge interest already,” he says. “It’s up-close and personal footage of them talking to the director and Marilyn reading her script and rehearsing scenes.”

“There are some exciting items at these auctions that are drawing a real buzz amongst collectors,” agrees Fortner. “The pieces from Marilyn’s Brentwood home, like the footstool and pencil cup, are pretty rare. A lot of people focus on Marilyn’s celebrity and forget that she was a real person, so the personal documents give a unique insight into her life that isn’t common to the casual Marilyn fan.” Julien believes the intense interest will cause final sale values to skyrocket.

“There’s a dramatic difference between the price that items sold for in 1999 and the price they’ll sell for today,” he says, estimating that the most-sought-after items may sell for 10 times what they sold for in 1999.

“The auctions are easier to access and the weakness of the dollar has encouraged collectors from Europe and Asia who weren’t that active in the past,” explains Julien, who expects 4,000 to 6,000 active bidders, thanks to the Internet.

Bidding began on this morning at 10, while Julien’s Auction goes live on Saturday at 10 a.m. at, though bidders must pre-register to participate.

“We have a lot more competition now. There’s a limited supply that’s getting smaller and smaller and more valuable,” says Greg Schreiner, who has one of the world’s most extensive Monroe collections.

“Often it’s the same old items coming up for auction, but the new items that are appearing this year are creating a lot of excitement,” he adds. “Items that she wore or that she touched are probably more valuable, but it always depends on the interests of the collector. When I was in New York for the 1999 auction, a Polaroid of her dog sold for $200,000 and it was estimated at about $50. Marilyn wasn’t even in the photo.”

Describing her lasting appeal, Schreiner says: “Marilyn is one of those unique people, like James Dean or Elvis, who is always going to be popular and become more of a legend every year. To own a Marilyn item 100 years from now, wow, can you imagine how special that would be?”

Though Schreiner is adamant that he won’t be unloading any items from his own collection anytime soon, he does have advice for fans willing to try their luck in the bidding frenzy.

“Personally, I’ve never regretted going a little higher than I should have,” he confides. “But, I would say, just be cautious, know how much you can spend, then go for it and have a ball.”

The Collectors Weekly

An Interview With Marilyn Monroe Memorabilia Collector Scott Fortner

Friday, August 15th, 2008

By Maribeth Keane, Collectors Weekly Staff (Copyright 2008)

Scott Fortner discusses collecting personally owned Marilyn Monroe memorabilia, and gives advice for movie and entertainment memorabilia collectors. Based in California, Scott can be reached via his website, Marilyn Monroe Collection, which is a member of our Hall of Fame.

I don’t actually remember exactly when I became a Marilyn Monroe fan, I’ve basically been collecting Marilyn items my entire life. I started collecting Marilyn Monroe personally owned items about nine years ago, which was when things started coming up on the market from her personal estate.

Initially I started collecting books on Marilyn, biographies, coffee table books, any book I could get my hands on. One was the catalogue from the 1999 Christie’s sale, The Personal Property of Marilyn Monroe, which showcased Marilyn’s personal property and objects she owned. I soon started seeing Marilyn’s items come up on the auction block, and I thought it would be amazing to own something Marilyn owned. It has taken off from there.

Collectors Weekly: What are some of your favorite items of Marilyn’s that you own?

Fortner: One of my favorites is a natural mink fur collar that Marilyn wore in New York City in the mid 1950s, and also wore when she was in England filming The Prince and The Showgirl. It’s really glamorous. She wore it often, and I feel it was one of her favorites. I have many photos of her wearing it in different settings and there’s video footage of her wearing it as well. Another favorite is a silk evening cape Marilyn wore to the premier of East of Eden, James Dean’s film made in 1955. She looked so glamorous and happy at that event, and I feel really lucky to own this cape. Its a real show stopper.

I’m also really interested in Marilyn’s more intimate and personal items. I have an item from her childhood, which is an album of film stars. In the late 30s and early 40s, packs of cigarettes included collectible trading cards, with photos and biographies of popular celebrities. You could buy an album to store and display the cards. So the album is just full of celebrity cards.

Marilyn’s album includes cards on Gene Harlow, who was Marilyn’s idol when she was little. And also on Clark Gable, who Marilyn had hoped was her father when she was young. It’s interesting that The Misfits was the final completed film for both Monroe and Gable. The album also includes cards on Joan Crawford, Bette Davis and Gary Cooper. This album is probably an early piece from Marilyn’s childhood, and was something very special to her. She kept it her whole life.

Collectors Weekly: How do you acquire these rare and personal possessions?

Fortner: Mostly at auction. There are big entertainment memorabilia auctions every year at Christie’s, Bonham’s, and Julien’s. Often I’m also approached by private sellers who have items that they’ve purchased at other auctions or that have been in their family. And believe it or not, some things are given to me.

Collectors Weekly: How do you know if an item is original?

Fortner: Lots of research. There are a lot of fake Monroe owned items on the market right now. Some pieces are obviously Marilyn’s because they’re from a past Monroe auction, and I like to focus on these items. I also have many documents, bank statements, and invoices with her name on them, checks that she signed, and so on.

The best way to ensure an item is authentic is if it’s actually pictured with Marilyn, as many of my pieces are. Some items in my collection are also written about in biographies, for example the white fox muff that Marilyn wore to the world premiere of How to Marry a Millionaire. The story behind this piece is an interesting one. The muff was part of a lot of furs that I purchased at a Christie’s auction a couple of years ago, and that lot was originally auctioned at the Christie’s 1999 sale.

Initially, I thought the muff might never have been used, that it was just an accessory she had. I was more focused on other pieces from that lot. Not long after purchasing the muff, I was reading “Marilyn Monroe,” a book by Maurice Zolotow. As I read the passage about Marilyn preparing to attend the world premiere of How To Marry A Millionaire, I was a bit taken aback to read about white fox furs that Marilyn wore to the premiere, including a white fox muff. According to Zolotow, these happened to be the very first fur pieces Marilyn actually purchased with her own money. I began to look for photos of Marilyn at this premiere, and sure enough…there she was wearing the same muff.

Interestingly, when Marilyn was a starlet she didn’t have a large wardrobe. She borrowed clothing from the studio. When she went to publicity events, they weren’t her clothes she was wearing, they were studio pieces. But, this particular fur was one she actually purchased herself

Collectors Weekly: Where do you keep and display your collection?

Fortner: I keep the clothing in acid free boxes with acid free tissue, out of the light. I don’t display it for long periods of time because this stuff is from the 50s and 60s and it stresses the material. I keep the documents in acid free boxes and out of the direct sunlight. I try to handle my items as little as possible.

My collection is currently on display at the Hollywood Museum in Hollywood, California, in an exhibit called Marilyn Monroe, American Icon. This is the second year in a row I’ve loaned my collection to the museum and it runs June 1 (Marilyn’s birthday), through the end of August. It’s a great opportunity for fans to come and see Marilyn’s personal items and experience her up close and personal.

Collectors Weekly: How many Marilyn Monroe memorabilia collectors are out there?

Fortner: There are countless collectors because she has such a huge fan base. People collect anything from trading cards to postcards to magazines to dolls to plates; there are many different ways that people can collect Marilyn. People collect what interests them most. I know people who have every single plate that’s ever been made or every single Marilyn Merlot ever produced. But there are fewer people who collect Marilyn Monroe personal items.

Personally I’m fascinated by being able to own something she herself owned, touched, or wore. But financial resources are a huge obstacle. I don’t have unlimited resources, I’m not extremely wealthy; I’m just lucky to have a professional position that affords me the opportunity to fulfill my passion. Marilyn is pretty expensive. Marilyn, Elvis, and James Dean are the three top celebrities for collectors.

Collectors Weekly: Have you noticed any changes in collecting entertainment memorabilia over the years?

Fortner: Obviously the Internet has made it much easier for dealers and collectors to connect. It’s interesting to see the same Monroe owned pieces come back up for sale and keep track of what they sell for over the years. Prices for Marilyn items definitely remain a constant, either the prices stay the same or go up, so it’s definitely a good investment. Prices at the 1999 Christie’s auction were very high, and some pieces have actually re-sold for more than what they originally sold for. Others have sold for less, but not many. There’s a huge demand for Marilyn.

Collectors Weekly: Tell us more about the Christie’s sale.

Fortner: It was called The Personal Property of Marilyn Monroe. On October 27th and 28th, 1999, Marilyn’s entire estate was put up for auction. Everything that had been in storage since 1962 when she died was auctioned off. Many referred to it as a time capsule. Her personal clothing, scripts, awards, furniture, kitchenware, glassware, all of her estate. It’s known as the sale of the century. Marilyn collectors and enthusiasts call the catalogue from that sale The Bible. The sale made over 13 million dollars. Then there was the big Julien’s sale in 2005, known as Property from the Estate of Marilyn Monroe. That auction consisted of the remainder of Marilyn’s estate that was not put up for auction in 1999.

Collectors Weekly: What else have you learned that’s really interesting about Marilyn Monroe?

Fortner: Marilyn was a huge celebrity, and a lot of people focus on the beauty, the glamour, and the sex symbol aspect of her persona. But she was also a real person. She received invoices and letters, paid bills, and wrote checks, so to me those are the personal items that show she lived a day to day life like everyone else.

Also, she was also a very shrewd business woman, very in touch with her public image. She was concerned about how she was perceived. A lot of people think Marilyn really was the dumb blonde and pinup that she portrayed. She was actually very smart and shrewd. She was careful about the decisions and choices she made when it came to what films she would be in, and even in statements she made in public.

Collectors Weekly: What advice would you have for someone just starting out collecting movie star or entertainment memorabilia?

Fortner: Number one, make sure the items are authentic. There are so many fake Monroe owned items on the market today. There just isn’t an unlimited supply of earrings, necklaces, and clothing that Marilyn herself owned or gifted to other people. It can’t all be authentic. It’s easy to forge letters of authenticity. Even buying from an auction house doesn’t necessarily mean an item is authentic. I’d recommend focusing on items that originally came from Marilyn Monroe’s estate.

If you can find something that’s pictured with Marilyn, that’s even better. Items that were allegedly gifted by Marilyn to someone else are more difficult to prove authentic.

Number two, stick with a celebrity or star you feel you have a real connection to, someone you’re really interested in, and will be long term. You don’t want to be spending money on a collection and then get bored. You’ll regret spending all that cash.

And number three, don’t get caught up in the emotion of buying, especially if you’re at an auction. Set your financial limits. If you can’t afford it, don’t buy it. Also, don’t forget about the buyer’s premium, the hammer price is never the final price because you still have to pay the auction house. In some cases, the buyer’s premium is 25%of the hammer price! The premium is the fee charged by the auction house for selling the item from the owner.

Collectors Weekly: Thanks, Scott


Ephemera: Exploring the World of Old Paper

Marilyn Monroe Ephemera Collector Scott Fortner

Entertainment memorabilia collector Scott Fortner turns a discerning eye toward the leading glamour queen and sex goddess of all time, Marilyn Monroe. His website and his blog are must reads for Marilyn fans. In the following interview, Scott talks about all things Marilyn.

ephemera: When did you become interested in collecting Marilyn Monroe memorabilia?

Fortner: I don’t remember specifically when I became a Marilyn Monroe fan. She’s been a source of interest and fascination for me since a very early age. I’ve been buying Marilyn related pieces my entire life, and my collection includes everything from items that were personally owned by Monroe, such as clothing and furs, makeup, personal items, cancelled bank checks and documents, to Monroe autographs, postcards, books, magazines, photos and other collectibles. I still have a Monroe poster that I purchased about 20 years ago. My collection aspirations focus primarily on Marilyn Monroe personally owned items, which I began acquiring in 2000.

EphemeraInterviewAlbumephemera: Did you begin consciously, knowing what you would collect, or did you just one day discover what you were doing?

Fortner: At first, I did not set out to consciously collect Monroe memorabilia. I just purchased items here and there. I would unthinkingly buy book about Marilyn or a magazine with an article about her whenever I saw one. While my goal wasn’t necessarily to have a large collection of books about Monroe, I realized after a few years that I was running out of room for places to store the books! Now, along with books and magazines on Monroe, I also collect auction catalogs. All totaled, I have a library of over 150 books, magazines, and auction catalogs primarily focused on Marilyn Monroe.

One of the catalogs I purchased was the auction catalog from the 1999 Christie’s sale, The Personal Property of Marilyn Monroe, which showcased Marilyn’s personal property and objects she owned. Not long after buying this catalog, I began to see Marilyn owned items originally sold in 1999 being resold at auction, and I thought it would be amazing to own something that Marilyn had owned and touched. The very first Monroe owned item in my collection was a script for a Broadway play, “Maiden Voyage,” which was written by Paul Osborne, who also wrote “East of Eden” and “South Pacific.” That first purchase in 2000 turned me into an avid “Monroe Owned” collector. Since then, my passion has been collecting Marilyn Monroe owned pieces.

EphemeraInterviewCollarephemera: What challenges or obstacles do you encounter as a collector? How do you overcome these challenges?

Fortner: The biggest obstacles or challenges I experience as a collector are simply that I cannot afford all of the pieces I’d like to add to my collection. Marilyn Monroe owned property is extremely desirable, and amazingly, some Monroe owned items sell for nearly double–or more–what they may have sold for in the past. For example, in December, 2008, a Monroe owned jacket with a fur collar sold at auction for over $58,000.00. When this same jacket was first sold in 1999, the hammer price was $27,600.00. Film costumes and other high profile clothing items traditionally sell for six figures or more, and the dress Monroe wore when she sang Happy Birthday to President Kennedy at Madison Square Garden in 1962 sold for an astonishing $1.3 million in 1999. Today, this dress holds a record as being the most expensive ever sold. Overcoming the financial resources challenge isn’t always easy. I simply focus on saving for that next big Monroe item that comes along.

ephemera: What are your favorite items in the collection?

Fortner: I have several items in my collection that I’d say are my favorite pieces. While to me they’re all important and special, some are just fascinating to behold:

One of these items would be a natural mink fur collar that Marilyn wore in New York City in the mid 1950s, and also when she was in England filming “The Prince and The Showgirl.” She wore this collar often, so I feel it was one of her favorites. I have many photos of her wearing it in different settings and there’s video footage of her wearing it as well.

EphemeraInterviewCheckAnother favorite item of mine is a silk evening cape that Marilyn wore to the premier of “East of Eden,” the 1955 James Dean film. Unfortunately, the dress that accompanied the cape is probably forever lost. I’ve never seen it up for auction. I think that Marilyn looked truly spectacular at this event, so I feel really lucky to own this piece.

Regarding ephemera pieces, I have several favorites: Marilyn Monroe’s personal Screen Actors Guild (SAG) membership card. This membership card covers 1959-60, around the time Marilyn received the Golden Globe Award as Best Actress in a Comedy for “Some Like It Hot.” An unsigned bank check from Monroe’s personal account, written on August 3, 1962. The check is made out to “Department of Water & Power” for $52.59, payment for service from 5/25 to 7/27, 1962. The check was awaiting her signature. On August 4, Marilyn retired to her bedroom around 8:00 p.m. and was found dead in her bed eight hours later. The check was never signed. A 1959 birthday card from half-sister Berniece, sent to Marilyn on her 33rd birthday. Monroe’s personal script for 1953’s smash hit, “How To Marry A Millionaire,” with Marilyn’s part of Pola circled throughout. Marilyn’s personal album of film stars. In the late 30s and early 40s, packs of cigarettes included collectible trading cards. You could buy an album to store and display the cards, and the album included biographies of popular celebrities from that era. Marilyn’s album is full, and it includes Gene Harlow, who was Marilyn’s idol when she was little. Also included is a card for Clark Gable, who Marilyn had hoped was her father when she was young. It’s interesting that “The Misfits” was the final completed film for both Monroe and Gable. The album also includes cards on Joan Crawford, Bette Davis and Gary Cooper. Most fans don’t know that Marilyn collected stamps and trading cards. This album is more than likely an early piece from Marilyn’s childhood, and was something very special to her. She kept it her entire life. EphemeraInterviewSAGMonroe’s personal magazine collection, consisting of seven gossip magazines. Marilyn is featured on three covers as well as in many articles. The Foto Parade magazine that’s part of this collection was the first ever issue, circa 1948. It features Marilyn on the cover, and it introduces her as a new Hollywood starlet. The 3D Movie magazine in the collection is actually pictured with Marilyn holding it!

ephemera: What advice do you have for anyone that might like to collect memorabilia?

Fortner: Primarily, when considering purchasing a celebrity owned item, one should look to see if it’s perhaps photographed with the celebrity, which of course helps to verify authenticity. For a film used or worn piece, one should ensure that it actually is the item allegedly used in the film. A collector should also look to verify the provenance on the items being offered for auction. Unfortunately, the celebrity and entertainment memorabilia field is saturated with fake collectibles. Ensuring authenticity is paramount when considering purchasing a celebrity owned or film used piece.

ephemera: Thank you, Scott.


The Carthage Press

I am not alone in my Marilyn Monroe addiction

Shortly after I wrote my column on my addiction, I mean hobby, of Marilyn Monroe memorabilia, I received several e-mails from fellow collectors explaining how they, too, have had to downsize their collections. Scott from California shared a story of having to downsize his display a few weekends ago.

I turned a room in my home from my Marilyn Museum back to a bedroom,” Scott said in the e-mail. “I went from seven display cabinets full of books and memorabilia down to a bookcase and just one cabinet.”

Scott also sent me a before and after photo of the room, which I will admit, looked much better before than after. He did say that luckily he had enough storage in his home to scatter the other six cabinets here and there.

Scott is also the owner of, which I highly recommend you spend a few minutes looking through, as there is great detail of each and every item he has in his possession. He has one of the most extensive collections of “personal” items that were owned by Marilyn that I have ever seen. I would love to have the Oct. 5, 1951, bank check that was signed by Marilyn herself.

Scott also has had the honor of his collection being exhibited in a museum in Hollywood in 2007 and 2008.

You have a great collection, Scott.

Melinda from Canada shared her passion for Marilyn as well.

“If I had my way my entire house would be filled with my Marilyn collectibles,” she said in the e-mail.

I couldn’t agree more. I wish I had the space to turn my house into a Marilyn shrine. Of course, this isn’t the case with Melinda. She has a spare room she calls her “office, which in reality is my Marilyn Monroe shrine,” wrote Melinda.

She also has a Web site — — that includes photos of her collection and many other Marilyn-related items. My favorite part of her Web site is the tattoo page, which features three tattoos that Kat Von D of LA Ink has produced, as well as many other images of Marilyn tattoos.

I wonder if I could talk my wife into letting me get a tattoo of Marilyn.

Al from Hollywood, Fla., admitted his addiction with Marilyn Monroe, too. “I have the same deal with my wife,” he wrote in an e-mail. “I can only have some collectibles in my computer room, and the great majority is in boxes too, just like yours.”

Al said it all started after he saw Marilyn in the film “Niagara” when he was 12 years old. He collected papers and magazines about her after that, but sadly a cleaning lady threw his collection away when he was a young boy. Little by little over the years, Al built his collection back up and now has a beautiful collection of Marilyn. He also sent me a photo of him and his wife at Westwood Chapel standing beside the Marilyn crypt where a memorial is held every year on Aug. 5. He also sent a picture of him standing near Marilyn’s last home, where she passed away in 1962. Al also represented the NJ2MM Yahoo fan club in 2006 at the Marilyn Memorial in Los Angeles.

Receiving these e-mails from other collectors brought to my attention many things that I didn’t know existed collection-wise as well as information about Marilyn I wasn’t aware of.

My advice to you is if you have a hobby, find others who share your passion and keep in contact with them. You may know a lot about it, but you can always learn so much more.

David Hoover is the design editor for The Carthage Press. He also has an addiction to Marilyn Monroe memorabilia. To contact David, email


The Irish Independent

Some Like It Hotter

She has been dead for nearly 50 years but the spectre of Marilyn Monroe continues to haunt bookshelves and best- seller lists across America. Ever since she died of a drug overdose in 1962, the iconic actress has been immortalised in pop culture mythology as America’s ultimate — but most tragic — beauty.

Since her lonely death at the age of 36, hundreds of books and articles have been penned about her life and loves. Scores of documentaries have dissected every detail of her three failed marriages and her chronic dependency on drugs. And an entire memorabilia empire worth millions of dollars has risen in her wake.

And yet, despite this deluge of information, the public still wants more.

A new book heralded as yet another “definitive biography” about the enigmatic actress has just hit bookshelves in America, promising readers “explosive” new details about Monroe’s life, particularly her alleged affair with slain president John F Kennedy.

Written by celebrity biographer J Randy Taraborrelli, The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe claims to uncover new details about Monroe’s tortured relationship with her mentally ill mother and her troubled childhood and adolescence.

The book also alleges that celebrated singer Frank Sinatra — who enjoyed an on-off romance with the Some Like It Hot actress in the early 1960s — could have saved Monroe’s life had he not thrown her out of his house less than two weeks before her death amid fears she might die in his company.

This week, Taraborrelli’s book was ranked eleventh on the New York Time’s prestigious bestseller list.

However, some of America’s most prominent book critics expressed disappointment with the biography, pointing out that Taraborrelli had failed — despite his claims — to reveal any previously hidden gems about Monroe’s life.

“One reads doggedly through more than 500 pages of text and appendices hoping for some flash of insight, something to justify all the hours Taraborrelli spent cobbling this together, but not once does such a moment arrive,” wrote veteran Washington Post book critic Jonathan Yardley in one withering attack.

“Someone who knows nothing about Monroe’s life and legend will find the essential facts here, but no pleasure is to be derived from Taraborrelli’s recital of them.”

But to millions of people across the world, it scarcely matters what salacious details each new book on Monroe brings. For those who celebrate the actress as the enduring epitome of feminine beauty, sexuality and vulnerability, her legacy has lost none of its appeal.

“Marilyn set the standard for beauty in the 1950s and early 1960s, and she still sets the standard today. We often hear about starlets and celebrities being compared to Marilyn. Her look and style are imitated in red-carpet fashions and photoshoots,” Scott Fortner, a recognised expert on Marilyn Monroe and one of the world’s leading collectors of Monroe memorabilia, told the Weekend Review.

“It’s amazing to think that this superstar from 50 years ago still reigns as one of the most beautiful women in history.”

Taraborrelli, who in the past has written biographies about Madonna, Jackie Kennedy and Elizabeth Taylor, based his research on extensive interviews with many close associates of Monroe, including some of the secret service agents assigned to protect JFK in the 1960s. In addition, he accessed previously unseen files, including unpublished interviews and notes from 1950s reporters.

For a public with a seemingly insatiable appetite for salacious details about the starlet’s life, the book offers alleged details about Monroe’s relationship with JFK.

In previous biographies it was said that Monroe and the late president enjoyed an intimate and lengthy affair that spanned several months but according to Taraborrelli, “what Marilyn really shared with JFK was either one or two nights of probable passion”.

In one of the book’s more revealing passages, Taraborrelli writes how the president asked Monroe for her telephone number at a dinner party thrown by his sister Patricia Kennedy Lawford, and her Hollywood actor husband, Peter Lawford, in New York in February 1962.

According to Taraborrelli, JFK called Marilyn the very next day and invited her to meet him at the home of Bing Crosby in Palm Springs a month later.

At that meeting in Palm Springs, “there was no question in my mind that Marilyn and the President were together. They were having a good time. She’d had a lot to drink. It was obvious they were intimate and that they were staying there together for the night,” said Philip Watson, a Los Angeles executive interviewed by Taraborrelli.

A secret service agent assigned to protect Kennedy that weekend confirmed the liaison to Taraborrelli but denied that the affair continued after Palm Springs.

“What we knew was that JFK and Marilyn had sex at Bing Crosby’s, and that’s it. We didn’t think it was a big deal. He had sex with a lot of women. She was just one of many and it wasn’t that noteworthy,” the agent said.

“If there was more to it between them, they somehow managed to keep it from us — and I don’t think you can keep something like that from the secret service.” But the affair was set to have terrible consequences. By this stage, Monroe was deeply unstable. Addicted to a cartload of potentially deadly narcotics, she had taken to injecting herself with barbiturates, a cocktail she laughingly referred to as her “vitamin shots”.

Obsessed with her weight, she was relying on colonic irrigation for weight loss, often enduring multiple enemas in order to fit into a favorite dress

Drugged and unresponsive in the mornings, her make-up artist Allan Snyder would begin applying her make-up while she lay groggily in bed. “There was no other way,” he said in the book. “It would take her so long to get up.”

While the President filed his tryst with Monroe as “another notch — albeit an impressive one — on his bed stand” says Taraborrelli, the actress sunk further into a deep depression.

Seventeen days after the Palm Springs weekend, Monroe was found semi naked and “almost dead” in a drug-induced coma in her Brentwood home in Los Angeles.

A close associate of Monroe told Taraborrelli exactly what had gone wrong. “JFK. That’s what was wrong. She’d just been jilted by the president of the United States. It was Kennedy. That’s why. Kennedy.”

Four months later, she was dead. Her housekeeper found Monroe lifeless and prone on her bed clutching her telephone in her right hand. Over 15 pill bottles stood on her night stand.

Over time, despite the ruling of death by drug overdose, countless conspiracy theories would abound about whether her death was suicide or murder.

Since that day, Monroe has been regularly listed as one of the top 10 earning celebrities who are no longer alive, earning more in death than during her life.

For Fortner, who has been collecting Monroe memorabilia all his life — and who now owns, among others, the silk cape she wore to James Dean’s East of Eden premiere in 1955 — the actress’s rags-to-riches struggle remains her enduring legacy.

Her touching vulnerability and tragic demise may explain, says Fortner, why so many people continue to be fascinated by Monroe and why they still line up to buy books about her life.

“She continues to hold such a fascination in the hearts and minds of the public worldwide because people are intrigued with the Marilyn Monroe legend,” said Fortner.

“She had a difficult childhood, and worked hard to become an actress. She was the biggest star of her lifetime. Her life ended tragically and too soon, and the mystery surrounding her death is still discussed and often hotly debated.

“We all want to know the truth, but probably never will. It keeps us interested.”


The Magic of Marilyn Monroe: One Man’s Collection and Hollywood Exhibit of Marilyn’s Personal Items

Scott Fortner is passionate about Marilyn Monroe.

And that’s just the beginning…

Fortner has one of the largest collections of Monroe’s personal belongings in the country, if not the world.

There are dresses, luxurious furs and evening wear, makeup with Monroe’s finger swipes still visible, movie scripts, personal correspondence, canceled checks–even a SAG card.

And while Fortner could lock away this priceless collection of Hollywood’s most adored and beloved screen actress, he instead chooses to share his Monroe memorabilia with the world–both online and in an upcoming Marilyn exhibit at the Hollywood Museum.

Fortner recently took some time to speak with me about his love for Marilyn, his memorabilia collection and the upcoming exhibit.

Tell me about yourself.

I currently live in Northern California’s Bay Area. I grew up in a small town in the mid-west. My philosophy of life is simply to try and live the best, most fulfilling and happy existence that you can. Also, try to make a difference in the lives of others.

When did you first discover Marilyn Monroe? Was it watching one of her movies? Did you read a biography?

I don’t remember exactly when I became a Marilyn Monroe fan. She’s been a source of interest and fascination for me since a very young age. The interesting part is that there were no influences in my life propelling me toward her. No one in my family was a fan, and I don’t remember anyone ever talking about her. She’s just a presence that’s somehow always been part of my life. I remember watching Some Like It Hot when I was very young, and I had the 1980s LIFE magazine reprint of the images from the Bert Stern shoot “The Last Sitting.” Both are some of my earliest memories of encountering Monroe.

What was it about Marilyn that made you fall in love with her?

It’s really hard to describe what exactly makes a person come to love Marilyn Monroe. I think we all relate to her struggles in one way or another. Countless people make these same connections. I find that I’m most attracted to the private Marilyn, not the sexy film screen goddess that she’s most associated with. While she was the woman who set the standard for beauty, she was also a warm and sensitive person, yearning for love and acceptance. I think sometimes people forget that there was a real person behind the image that was created by Hollywood. That is the person I find most compelling.

When and how did you start collecting MM memorabilia? Describe your collection…your favorite pieces, any funny or important stories with certain collectibles, the size of your individual collection, etc.

I’ve collected Marilyn related items nearly my entire life. I started with books mostly, and I began collecting Monroe owned items about ten years ago. Today, my collection comprises over 150 items formerly owned by Marilyn.

It’s really hard to have favorite collection pieces when it comes to Marilyn. I would say the top items are her mink fur collar, the cape she wore to the 1955 premiere of East of Eden, her white fox muff, her Screen Actors Guild card and her green Pucci blouse.

The history of Marilyn’s white fox muff is fascinating. It was part of a lot of furs that I purchased at a Christie’s auction in 2006. Initially, I thought the muff might never have been used, that it was just an accessory she owned but never wore. I was more focused on other pieces from that lot as they were pictured with Marilyn wearing them. Not long after purchasing the lot of furs at auction, I was reading “Marilyn Monroe” by Maurice Zolotow. As I read about Marilyn preparing to attend the world premiere of How To Marry A Millionaire, I was a bit taken aback to read about the white fox furs that Marilyn wore to the premiere, which included a white fox muff. According to Zolotow, these happened to be the very first fur pieces Marilyn actually purchased with her own money. I began to look for photos of Marilyn at this premiere, and sure enough…there she was wearing the same white fox muff I had just bought at auction. The white fox stole that she bought together with the muff sold at auction this year for $57,500.00.

Another very interesting item in my collection is Marilyn’s green Pucci blouse. Marilyn was captured on film wearing the blouse as she got into and out of a limousine at her apartment on East 57th Street in New York City in 1962. Also, she wore this blouse as she rehearsed her now famous rendition of “Happy Birthday Mr. President,” which she sang for President Kennedy at his birthday gala in May of 1962. There are photos of her wearing this blouse on stage at Madison Square Garden as she rehearsed. It’s my belief that this is the blouse Marilyn wore when the last ever photos of her alive were taken when she was at the Cal-Neva Lodge in Lake Tahoe, July 28 and 29, 1962. The photos are in black and white, and Marilyn was described as wearing a green blouse. She’s wearing a Pucci shirt in the pictures, and to my knowledge this is the only green Pucci blouse owned by Marilyn.

Trails from Marilyn’s fingertips can still be seen in the Erno Laszlo cream makeup that is in my collection. It’s truly a “Marilyn was here” moment when looking at the makeup.

If you had to choose ONE favorite piece from your collections, what would it be and why?

Probably the one favorite piece in my collection is Marilyn’s mink collar. I believe this to be her favorite fur, just due to how often she wore it. There are many different photos of Marilyn wearing the collar on different occasions, both in New York City and in London, England. Along with photographs, film footage exists also and Marilyn can be seen wearing the collar as she walks along the street with Milton Greene in New York in 1955.

How has Marilyn impacted your life overall? How would your life be different if she were still alive today?

Marilyn has impacted my life in many different ways. I’m always fascinated when I hear new stories about Marilyn from those who knew her. Also, because of Marilyn, I’ve met some amazing and wonderful friends that have truly enriched my life. Of course, I’d want to meet her if she were alive today.

Scott, tell me more about your website:

My website ( gives me a way to share my collection with Marilyn’s fans from all over the world. I receive email from people every day with questions about Marilyn or other fans just writing to say hello. I launched the site in August of 2003, and today the site receives several hundred thousand visitors each year.

Tell me more about your Marilyn blog.

My blog ( gives me a way to communicate current news and information about Marilyn, along with my own thoughts and opinions about her. I have a lot of fun with the blog because it’s really a great way to write and publish information about Marilyn.

If you could tell Marilyn one thing right now, what would it be and why?

I’d tell her that countless people all over the world are holding a good thought for her.

Marilyn Remembered: An Intimate Look at the Legend:

WHERE: The Hollywood Museum, 1660 N. Highland Avenue, Hollywood
WHEN: 10 am to 5 pm Thursday through Sunday
Begins June 1 and ends August 31, 2010
PRICE: $15 for adults; $12 for seniors and children under 12.
Public Info: (323) 464-7776

For more information, visit: or TheMarilynMonroeCollection.Blogspot.

***N. E. Francis is an established news journalist, specializing in arts and entertainment features and is a radio correspondent for the weekly LGBTQ radio program, Alternative Perspectives, every Tuesday on She also writes Tales from a California Blonde, a weekly column published every Saturday exclusively at

Ms. Francis is also a published poet, ghostwriter, film & theater critic and upcoming children’s author. She owns an online art gallery featuring women artists around the world. Contact her at***

(Copyright © 2010 N. E. Francis. All Rights Reserved. Article may not be reproduced, reprinted or shared in any manner, in any medium, without written consent of author.)


Happy birthday, Marilyn Monroe! Marilyn Remembered exhibit opens today, features 200 personal items

Happy Birthday to the original screen goddess, Marilyn Monroe!

Today marks what would have been the late actress’s 84th birthday, as well as a one-of-a-kind exhibit of Monroe’s personal and professional items at The Hollywood Museum in Hollywood, California, titled Marilyn Remembered: An Intimate Look at the Legend.

The over 200 Monroe personal items in the exhibit include numerous pieces from the Scott Fortner and Greg Schreiner collections. (Fortner, who lives in Northern California, was recently interviewed for my column–click here to read interview.)

Items being seen in public for the first time ever include:

***Marilyn Monroe’s personal shoes, worn when she married Joe DiMaggio and also when performing for the troops in Korea in 1954.

***The vibrant green Pucci blouse that Marilyn was wearing when the last ever photos of her were taken less than a week before she died.

***Marilyn’s beaver fur coat, gifted to her by Arthur Miller.

Other items on exhibit include:

***Marilyn Monroe film worn costumes from “Let’s Make Love” and “The Prince and The Showgirl.”

***Gowns created specifically for Marilyn Monroe by Academy Award winning designer William “Billy” Travilla for her roles in “How To Marry A Millionaire,” There’s No Business Like Show Business,” and perhaps one of her most famous films, “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.”

***Several gowns worn by Marilyn in numerous studio publicity photographs and publications.

***Clothing items from Marilyn Monroe’s personal wardrobe, including evening and cocktail attire, casual wear, and furs from her private collection, including the very first fur she ever owned.

***Marilyn Monroe’s personal film scripts for “Niagara,” “There’s No Business Like Show Business,” and “How To Marry A Millionaire” among others.

***Personal accessories, household goods, makeup & cosmetics, books from her home library and furniture from her final residence in Brentwood, California.

***Numerous personal documents, including a Screen Actors Guild membership card, bank statements and receipts, bills and invoices outlining in great detail the personal and very private life of Marilyn Monroe.

WHERE: The Hollywood Museum, 1660 N. Highland Avenue, Hollywood
WHEN: 10 am to 5 pm Thursday through Sunday
Begins June 1 and ends August 31, 2010
PRICE: $15 for adults; $12 for seniors and children under 12.
Public Info: (323) 464-7776


The New York Post

Marilyn Lives: Fifty Years After her Death, We Still Have an Itch for the Screen Siren

They’ve tried to manufacture other Marilyn Monroes, and they will undoubtedly keep trying,” director Billy Wilder once said. “But it won’t work. She was an original.”

And yet, nearly half a century after Monroe’s 1962 death, we still can’t stop trying to fill her size-7 shoes. The sorority of starlets who’ve channeled the ill-fated beauty includes Madonna, Lindsay Lohan, Scarlett Johansson, Ashley Judd, Mira Sorvino and now — with a Marilyn-inspired movie out Nov. 4, as well as a cover shoot in the October issue of Vogue — Michelle Williams. Meanwhile, in December, two auctions ofMonroe’s memorabilia are expected to fetch big bucks. An auction featuring Monroe’s 35-diamond wedding band from Joe DiMaggio and a 1948 nude oil painting by famed pinup artist Earl Moran, hosted by Profiles in History, will take place Dec. 15 to 17 at an as-yet undisclosed location, while an auction of rare 1946 photographs, hosted by Julien’s Auctions, will take place Dec. 2 to 4 in Beverly Hills.

So why the 50-year itch for more Marilyn?

“She is very relevant, even more so now than she was five or 10 years ago,” says Susan Bernard, author of the new book “Marilyn: Intimate Exposures,” which begins with a buzzed-about introduction by Lindsay Lohan and features 40 unique images of Monroe.

(Bernard’s father, Bruno Bernard, was the famous Hollywood photographer who “discovered” Monroe outside his dentist’s office in 1946 and subsequently snapped hundreds of photos of the star over the years, including an iconic shot of her white skirt billowing above a subway grate.)

“We want that optimism of a time and a place where anything is possible,” says Bernard, who notes that Monroe both satisfied the Puritanism of the 1950s and mocked it. “She dared to do what most women didn’t dare do at that time — like her skirt billowing up over the subway grate.”

It was a scandalous move, Bernard points out with a chuckle, that made it clear to those who saw the unedited prints that Monroe wasn’t a natural blonde.

“She’s obviously the greatest sex symbol of all time, and she still sets the standard for glamour, sexuality and beauty,” says Scott Fortner, who runs and authenticates Monroe memora-bilia for auction houses.

But he argues that Monroe’s contemporary appeal resonates in darker and more intimate ways.

“She’s our modern-day Cleopatra — but she was also someone who struggled through life with many personal problems,” he says, citing her troubled childhood, traumatic romances and battles with drugs and addiction. “People can relate to that.”

“We all have a child inside of us that’s looking for some kind of solace, and Marilyn personifies that,” adds Lois Banner, a professor of gender studies at the University of Southern California and author of the photo book “MM-Personal: From the Private Archive of Marilyn Monroe” and “Revelations: Passion and Paradox in the Life of Marilyn Monroe,” a scholarly biography to be released next spring.

“None of this was by accident. She was a genius in her mode of presentation.”

Banner says Monroe’s cultivation of mystery — wearing disguises, leading double lives, even dying enigmatically after a sleeping-pill overdose — plays in sharp relief against today’s 24/7, TMI celeb culture.

“You could track her month by month, but you couldn’t track her day by day,” Banner notes, arguing that this only fueled the public’s obsession with the breathy blond bombshell.

And despite Marilyn’s low self-esteem (“She did not think she was beautiful. She was always dieting. She was even thinking of breast implants,” says Banner) and risqué relations with the men in her life (“She was considered to be a slut — she would let men use her and then get very angry about it”), Banner views Monroe as a pioneering feminist.

“She formed her own production company. She fought those Hollywood moguls to an absolute standstill,” Banner says.

“She was a very proud woman, and she was one of the greatest actors of the 20th century.”

Bernard agrees it was Monroe’s revolutionary steps as a woman that make her so appealing to today’s aspiring young stars. “I don’t think they look at her as a victim — she was truly bright and curious about the world. So they’ve put a different spin on her, a very intelligent and accurate spin of what they believe she was,” Bernard notes.

The legendary Monroe also remains one of the great style icons. Many of the fall’s fashions take their cue from her Old Hollywood glamour — from satin dresses cut on hourglass silhouettes to white peep-toe pumps encrusted with rhinestones to figure-hugging pencil skirts to lips stained cherry red.

“Marilyn is the epitome of femininity, and people continue to pay homage to her look to this day — either in magazine editorials or personal style. I don’t ever see that stopping,” says Marie Lodi, beauty and style columnist for Rookie, an online magazine for teen girls. “I’m sure we will have some robots that look like Marilyn Monroe in 100 years!”

Yet while stylish young women may admire the curves of Monroe, Kim Kardashian and Christina Hendricks from afar, they frequently whittle their own bodies down to stick-thin skinny.

“I’ve never thought of Marilyn Monroe as a personal style icon,” admits 17-year-old Hazel Cills, a Rookie blogger who lives in Moorestown, NJ. “But I think teen girls recognize that Monroe had something special, and they want it, too.”

Don’t we all.