Picks and Pans Review: Marilyn Mon Amour
Many of the 186 photographs of Marilyn Monroe in this book have never before been published. They were taken by André de Dienes, a photographer who first met Norma Jean Dougherty in 1945 when she was 19 years old; a model agency had sent her to his studio. "There was no need," he writes, "to take off her clothes to know what she was like underneath." That is the most profound statement in the book. De Dienes, who was born in Transylvania and died last year, took Norma Jean to a highway and posed her barefoot in the middle of the road in a tight blouse and skirt. In the photos her brunette, kinky hair is braided. She wears a pinafore to pose with a baby lamb, jeans and bandanna for fence-sitting, shorts and sweater on the beach. "She danced in the sunshine, laughing, whirling round, prancing, sinking to the ground, getting to her feet again, supple as a cat, brimming over with the joy of living. I took shot after shot of her, happy to feel her blossoming with each succeeding photograph. All at once, I felt quite certain that this little ragamuffin in her schoolgirl skirt would go far." Years later de Dienes photographed a blond Marilyn, her baby fat gone, with bobbed nose and expert makeup. Also gone was the joy. In some of his last pictures of her, from 1953, she looks frightened and aging, and yet she had years of fame before her death in 1962. The text of this book, published two months after what would have been Monroe's 60th birthday, is gushing. But the pictures pointedly illustrate the touching combination of glamour and sadness she represented. (St. Martin's, $24.95)
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