Portfolio V

480 Lexington

February 1955 – 480 Lexington was the address of Milton’s famed New York studio. The tenants in this building were primarily photographers, architects, designers and engineers who were on the cutting edge of designing lighting equipment and camera accessories. Milton’s studio on the 14th floor had the higher ceilings and 10-foot French doors that opened onto a loggia, which was a balcony that wrapped around the entire exterior of the 14th floor. Milton used this as a location for many photos during his career. 

American Airlines

February 27, 1956 – One of Milton’s many unique skills was that he always brought an editorial viewpoint to commercial accounts – because of that, advertising agencies loved him. The highest paid editorial photographer in the world at that time, Milton came up with the concept of celebrities flying American Airlines. The agents to the era’s biggest stars were asked if they thought their clients would be willing to participate in the campaign, and the telephones rang off the wall. Everybody who was anybody wanted to be part of the campaign, not to mention the fact that for five years, first-class accommodation would be provided for participating celebrities and their families. A phenomenal campaign ensued with a superior cast, including, of course, Marilyn Monroe.

Beverly Glen Party

May 1956 – The Greene family, Marilyn and Inez “Kitty” Owens – who cooked and kept house for the Greene’s in addition to taking care of Joshua – lived in a house at 595 North Beverly Glen Blvd., a four bedroom home in Los Angeles that Milton rented while making Bus Stop. One night, they allowed reporters and press to come in for a cocktail party. Marilyn was wearing the infamous black spaghetti-strap dress, from the Prince press reception.

Bus Stop

March-May 1956 – Marilyn Monroe Productions began filming Bus Stop in March 1956. Although excited, Milton and Marilyn were also apprehensive heading into the project. Having won their battle with the studio and negotiated new terms, everything was riding on their first film together. Marilyn had one job: focusing on delivering the best performance of her life. Milton concentrated on all the other details, particularly aesthetics and how his collaborator was captured on film. 

Candids

September, 1953 – This series of candid photos was taken during that first collaboration. Notice the bandage around her left ankle from the River of No Return injury. Marilyn loved this cashmere coat by Dior and kept it for the rest of her life, making it a staple of her personal wardrobe.

Circus

March 30, 1955 – A fund-raiser held for the Arthritis & Rheumatism Foundation at the old Madison Square Garden was the event that re-introduced Marilyn to the world after a year in hiding. It was the ‘Show Of Shows’, a circus with Milton Berle (Uncle Miltie) as the ringmaster. 

Milton and Marilyn, inspired and excited by the whole idea, decided to use the evening’s festivities to make the formal announcement of Marilyn Monroe Productions to the world. It was Marilyn’s idea to ride a pink female elephant, complete with a pink bow on the tail, as well as a matching rhinestone harness and saddle. Her entrance and reappearance to the world on March 30 was pandemonium and caused a media frenzy, and the rest is history.

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Cocktail Party

January 1955 – After a year in self-imposed exile from her public, and living with the Greene family in New York while battling Fox, Marilyn and Milton were able to announce the formation of Marilyn Monroe Productions (MMP). On January 7, 1955 they held a press conference to announce the new company and had a reception that evening. Among the celebrities on Milton’s guest list was another Hollywood sex goddess from a bygone era, Marlene Dietrich.

Graduation

May 1956 – Marilyn, Milton and Amy went over to Sydney Guilaroff’s mansion. He was the preeminent hairdresser at MGM and there wasn’t a star who didn’t go through Sydney’s hands. Although still working on Bus Stop, they were beginning preproduction for The Prince and the Showgirl, which commenced filming months later in London. That day’s work was to try different hairstyles. This series got its name because Milton printed one of the pictures from this sitting as a 6x8 oval vignette, which looked like an old-fashioned graduation picture. Marilyn dubbed it the high school picture she never had.

Hotel Room

May 1956 – Marilyn, Milton and Amy went over to Sydney Guilaroff’s mansion. He was the preeminent hairdresser at MGM and there wasn’t a star who didn’t go through Sydney’s hands. Although still working on Bus Stop, they were beginning preproduction for The Prince and the Showgirl, which commenced filming months later in London. That day’s work was to try different hairstyles. This series got its name because Milton printed one of the pictures from this sitting as a 6x8 oval vignette, which looked like an old-fashioned graduation picture. Marilyn dubbed it the high school picture she never had.

Miller Wedding

June 1956 – On July 1, 1956, a hot summer’s day in Katonah, New York, a select group of family and friends gathered at the home of playwright Arthur Miller’s agent Kay Brown, to celebrate a traditional Jewish wedding. In attendance were Milton, Arthur’s family, Marilyn Monroe Production’s agent Jay Kanter and his wife Kit, the Strasbergs, the Rostens, scriptwriter George Axelrod and fashion designer John Moore. The ceremony took place in an internal room that was fairly crowded with other guests looking on through doorways and windows. Marilyn requested that Kitty prepare the meal, because she knew all of Marilyn’s favorite dishes: Corn Flake Chicken, Southern-style, some sides and a beautiful wedding cake. It was served alfresco, on two wooden tables. The informal gathering shows a happy time for the newlyweds. An optimistic Marilyn is known to have written a personal note that day stating, “Hope, Hope, Hope.” 

Marilyn and Marlon

November 1955 – In order to raise money for the Actors Studio, a performance of The Rose Tattoo was planned as a benefit gala. Amy was tasked with promoting and selling tickets, which up to that point had been slow going. To help spur sales, Milton called Jay Kanter, Marlon Brando’s closest friend and agent, telling him to bring Marilyn and Marlon to the studio for some publicity images to promote the gala. The two were having an affair at the time, which is obvious in the photos by how exuberant Marlon was, which was out of character for the intense and serious method actor. 

Prince and the Showgirl

July/August 1956 – The 30-year-old Marilyn Monroe and 34-year-old Milton H Greene embarked on their second film collaboration together. Marilyn Monroe Productions was the executive producer of record and the two of them were in control of all aspects of the production, including allowing Laurence Olivier to direct, and Milton hiring the great photographer/cinematographer Jack Cardiff. Milton and Jack shared an appreciation of aesthetics that guided them through costume design, lighting and camera angles. Newlyweds Marilyn and Arthur arrived in London on July 14, to the eagerly waiting British press. Filming took place at Pinewood studios, but when you look at the sets, the costumes and the lighting, you see the grand, old dramatic Hollywood style of the 1930s. The difficulties encountered during the four months of filming are well documented. However, when you see Marilyn’s performance of Elsie on the screen, all those troubles fade away.

Statue

May 1956 – Taken at Guilaroff’s mansion the same day as the Graduation pictures, Marilyn posed with his statue of the discus thrower, which Guilaroff had near the windows of his living room. The other task of the day’s work was for Milton to visualize a neckline that would be appropriate for her upcoming character in The Prince and the Showgirl. Milton draped fabrics on Marilyn and secured them with safety pins, discovering a neckline that would be used in the costume she wore in the film. Marilyn had a gift for exuding emotion, even when hugging an inanimate object.