Marilyn Monroe, with her guard down: Photographer’s gems


Sunday is the 50th anniversary of Marilyn Monroe’s death.

One of the many disappointments to befall the actress’ tragic life was her struggle to have a child, having suffered multiple miscarriages. Very few images of a pregnant Monroe exist but famed celebrity photograper Phil Stern found himself at the right place at the right time during her last pregnancy with third husband, playwright Arthur Miller.

In 1958, Look magazine assigned Stern to capture what studio mogul Sam Goldwyn saw through his office window. Perched high and out of sight from the people below, he spotted Monroe walking across the lot during a break from filming “Some Like it Hot,” and snapped the photo just as the wind blew open her kimono, revealing her pregnant belly.

PHOTOS: Marilyn Monroe photos by Phil Stern | Notable deaths

This photo is just one of many that Stern took of Monroe during an illustrious career that spanned six decades. Twenty-three images from his collection will be on view at The Phil Stern Gallery opening Sunday on the 50th anniversary of her untimely death. The exhibition continues through Nov 1.

Stern began his career in the late 1930s working for Look, Life and Colliers magazines. During World War II he was a member of the elite army unit, Darby’s Rangers, as a combat photographer.


He is well-known for his intimate photographs of James Dean, John Wayne, Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra and was the official photographer of JFK’s inauguration. But it is perhaps one particular image of the blond bombshell that he will be remembered for -- one that director Steven Spielberg purchased in the 1980s to hang in his office.

INTERACTIVE: Marilyn Monroe on the Hollywood Star Walk

It was at the Shrine Auditorium for a children’s benefit in December 1953 that he captured one of the most recognized photographs of the young movie star. Waiting patiently backstage he clicked his camera just as she let her guard down. Dressed in a dazzling white gown with a fur stole draped over her chair, the vulnerable yet glamorous starlet resembled a deer caught in the headlights.

Stern, 92, will be in attendance at the opening of the exhibit. Marilyn Monroe posters will be given away on first come, first served basis.