in bed with marilyn

August 26, 2015 in good reads, photo play by editor


Douglas Kirkland was a naive, but accomplished, 20-something photojournalist for Look magazine when he was given the assignment of a lifetime: photograph Marilyn Monroe for the publication’s 25th anniversary issue. The resulting photo spread, featuring Monroe in bed wearing nothing more than a white silk sheet, became one of superstar’s most iconic.

In With Marilyn: An Evening/1961 (Glitterati) Kirkland reminisces about the making of those legendary images, shot in a small Hollywood studio on the night of November 17th 1961. Accompanying the famous messy bed photos are outtakes and behind-the-scenes shots capturing moments that flow from highly animated to truly intimate. There’s Kirkland hanging high above the bed snapping away, and the duo taking a break to share a glass of champagne. Kirkland also details how at one point during the session, Monroe instructs the film and makeup crew to leave, announcing ‘I think I should be alone with this boy. I find it usually works better that way!’ Shooting together, just the two of them, Monroe invited the young photographer to join her in bed. But Kirkland (then married with three children) wisfully explains, ‘The photographer side of me, the reckless, cowboy side, was completely ready, no question! But I was restrained by my more honorable side.’ To this day, his friends think he’s certifiably insane.