Marilyn Monroe didn't have a problem posing nude for magazines. She had done it before. Much before she graced the first cover of Playboy as the Sweetheart of the Month in 1953, the actress let photographer Tom Kelly capture her curves in exchange for $50.
That was in 1949 when she was still a struggling actress. But her career took off with Asphalt Jungle, and All About Eve in the 1950s and Monroe got a taste of fame and success. But she was still insecure, especially of her contemporary Elizabeth Taylor who earned a sizeable sum more than her.
According to photographer Lawrence Schiller, the starlet revealed to him that Fox Studios paid Taylor $1 million for movies like Cleopatra, while Monroe earned $125,000 for her last film, Something's Got to Give.
Monroe wanted to prove that she could rake in more magazine covers than Taylor and she had a plan. She would pose nude for Schiller, but the pictures couldn't be published in a magazine that featured the National Velvet actress.
Schiller agreed. Monroe jumped into a swimming pool on the sets of Something's Gotta Give and allowed him to take pictures of her emerging from it naked. She told Schiller, "There isn’t anybody that looks like me without clothes on," according to Daily Mail.
These iconic pictures are now being auctioned off at the Heritage Auctions in New York. Nigel Russell, director of photographs, said he expects $35,000 for the 12 pictures captured by Schiller. The photographer, who was only 25 when he clicked Monroe's pictures had the foresight to know it would make him famous.
In fact, he even said this to the actress. "Marilyn, you’re already famous and now you’re going to make me famous. And she looked at me with a stern face and said, 'Don’t be so cocky, Larry. I could fire you in a second'. And of course, she didn’t fire me,” he told the New York Daily Post.
It would be the last time that Monroe would pose nude. The actress was fired from her 1962 film, Something's Got to Give for lateness and committed suicide three months later.
More than 50 years later, Schiller still has fond memories of Monroe. He remembers her as a friend who gave him access to her life. He met her first in 1960 while she was filming Fox's Let's Make Love. Two years later, she wanted him to take nude pictures of her in a swimming pool.
"I had carte blanche because she liked my photographs. So one day, I was looking at the script with her, at her home in Brentwood. And we were talking about what scenes would be good for pictures. She said to me, ‘What would happen if I jumped into the pool with my bathing suit on and I climbed out with nothing on?'" the New York Post quoted him as saying. And that's what she did!
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