Look Magazine Editor-in-Chief Fleur Cowles invited Milton to Los Angeles in September 1953 to meet Marilyn Monroe. The actress had recently sprained her ankle during filming for River of No Return, and while they could impact acting for a time, it left her schedule open to plenty of modeling and photography projects.  

Mandolin is the first collaboration to result from that meeting between Marilyn and Milton. After this series was completed, they continued working together over the next few days. The resulting work won over Cowles and started a creative partnership between the photographer and starlet that would endure until her untimely death. 

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