A new exhibit of Marilyn Monroe photos, many previously unpublished, show the actress in some of her happiest, most off-guard moments — cuddling with playwright Arthur Miller, shopping in New York City, splashing at the beach.
Shot by Sam Shaw, Monroe’s favorite photographer and a lifelong confidant, the pictures span 1954 to 1958, a time when the screen goddess tried to shed her sexpot image and moved to New York to study acting. There she met Miller, who became her third husband in 1956.
“You see a very calm and relaxed Marilyn Monroe, almost merry — and very much in love,” Thomas Lardon, the show’s organizer, said. “That’s the special thing about it.”
Even Shaw rarely got unscripted glimpses of Monroe, who died of a drug overdose on Aug. 5, 1962, at 36. But tender spontaneity comes through in black-and-white photos of her and Miller strolling in New York, cruising in a convertible, rowing a boat in Central Park or lolling on the grass in a frilly white outfit.
Others show Monroe frolicking at a beach in Amagansett, N.Y., in 1957, just before shooting began for Billy Wilder’s comedy, “Some Like It Hot,” and radiant portraits.
Shaw died in 1999, leaving a huge archive of images of celebrities at his home in upstate New York. Lardon, a Berlin-based art-house publisher, had the idea for an exhibit and accompanying book on the Monroe collection and after months of dogged pursuit bought the rights from Shaw’s son, Larry.
About 50 pictures are on display through May 30 at a cafe and gallery a few blocks east of the Brandenburg Gate. Lardon says the exhibition shows Monroe at a time when she was “stable and strong” and in control of her life.
“She was not the Monroe who was being pushed back and forth by everybody,” he said. “It corrects our image of her a bit.”
Shaw met Monroe, who was born Norma Jean Baker, when she was an unknown aspiring actress between movie jobs at 20th Century Fox.
“A darling girl, a darling young woman,” he once said of the early Monroe. “She used to drive me to location.”
Later in New York, Shaw shot the most famous picture of Monroe — with her skirt billowing up from a gust of air from a street grate.
“I just want to show this fascinating woman, with her guard down, at work, at ease offstage, during joyous moments in her life and as she often was — alone,” Shaw once said.