Marilyn Monroe’s Seven Year Itch may be the most iconic image of the 20th century.
Marilyn Monroe posters are framed and featured anywhere from dorm rooms to upscale hotel lobbies. But knowing the stories behind the most famous photos really brings these images to life. We did some digging and uncovered the backstories of some of the greatest photographs of Marilyn Monroe.
Marilyn Monroe Poster: The Seven Year Itch
It was September 15, 1954, and Marilyn Monroe filmed the movie The Seven Year Itch. Director Billy Wilder (who went on to become incredibly successful) had the actress in a white dress. Monroe stood over a New York subway grate just as a warm updraft of air caught her dress… and the rest is history. This image solidified Marilyn Monroe as a historical icon. The image caught what the actress represented: beauty, flirtation, and the intrigue of the womanly figure.
But even though Monroe appeared carefree and playful amidst the folds of her dress, her life was much less frivolous. At the time the photo was taken, Marilyn Monroe was married to baseball star Joe DiMaggio. In her memoir, Monroe remembers meeting DiMaggio for the first time: “I had thought I was going to meet a loud, sporty fellow. Instead, I found myself smiling at a reserved gentleman in a grey suit with a grey tie and a sprinkle of grey in his hair… if I hadn’t been told he was some sort of ballplayer, I would have guessed he was either a steel magnate or a congressman.”
Marilyn’s marriage to Joe was both of their second unions, and it wasn’t a harmonious one. DiMaggio was not on board with her career, and would rather have her stay at home as a classic 1950s housewife. The Seven Year Itch was the last straw. The actress’ husband was in the crowd while the iconic image was taken, and he stormed off… they were divorced just a month later, in October of 1954.
Marilyn Monroe Poster: The Ambassador Hotel
We find ourselves again in New York City, this time a year later, in 1955. Marilyn Monroe stands on the balcony of the Ambassador Hotel, between East 50th and 52st Streets. After her divorce from Joe DiMaggio, Monroe fled Hollywood and went back to New York. She went there to change her life.
In one of a series of photographs of Monroe on this balcony, she isn’t smiling or propping herself up boldly against the concrete. In the next moment, she was leaning on her elbows, looking wistfully down toward the street. The photograph was taken by Ed Feingersh, a New York-based photographer. Ed followed Marilyn Monroe through the streets of New York City for weeks. The photographs went on to be published in Redbook in an article titled “The Marilyn Monroe You’ve Never Seen” (July 1955).
At this time, Monroe took classes at the Actor’s Studio and taking time to relax. It was an important moment in her life. She focused on advancing her career, and released work through her own production company, “Marilyn Productions, Inc.” It was a way to take control over her own legacy, and to cast herself in roles that went further than the “dumb blonde.”
Marilyn Monroe Poster: Chanel No. 5
Another famous photo also taken by Ed Feingersh was Chanel No. 5.
In 1960, Marilyn Monroe filmed Let’s Make Love. She interviewed with Marie Claire during filming, and journalist Georges Belmont asked a leading question. He wanted to know, “What do you wear to bed?” Monroe famously answered, “Chanel No. 5.”
Her coy answer effortlessly made her the face of the company. Chanel’s famous fragrance is still sold. Anyone who is looking for a hint of Marilyn in their life can give themselves a spritz… maybe even before bedtime.