George Barris: The Last Photos
This year, we would like to shine the spotlight on one of our favorite collections: The Last Photos by George Barris. These raw and captivating photographs give us insight into the last days of Marilyn Monroe's life and legacy.
Taken just two weeks before her death, these photographs of Marilyn Monroe show us the true essence of who she was and what lies beneath the glitz and the glamour.
Marilyn was aware of the negative press surrounding her after being dismissed from the set of Something's Gotta Give, and she wanted to tell her side of the story and dispel any negative rumors about her mental stability. Her opportunity came when Cosmopolitan Magazinecommissioned photographer George Barris to create a photographic essay. Barris approached Marilyn Monroe about collaborating for a book project that would involve a series of photographs and press interviews. She was excited about the idea of being able to be heard through interviews, but she was even more delighted with the idea of being photographed.
At this point, Barris had already shot well-known celebrities such as John Wayne, Sophia Loren, and Marlon Brando so he understood artistic temperament. First, Barris found a location, the North Hollywood home of his close friend, that had perfect lighting and clean white walls. Marilyn had asked that Barris buy outfits for the sessions, so he shopped at her favorite stores, Saks Fifth Avenue and Jaks in Beverly Hills. He found Emilio Pucci sport shirts, a bulky sweater, a terry-cloth three-quarter hooded beach jacket, and even a beach towel.
The first session and interview went well so they continued onto the next session on Santa Monica Beach at sunset. Barris said of this shoot: "Marilyn was willing to show her public the real Marilyn Monroe, the real Norma Jeane. She would hide nothing in our photos. No magic, no makeup or retouching of our finished photographs."
The sessions were conducted in late June and early July. They yielded wonderful images and the interviews recorded a frank new Marilyn.
"She was wonderful to work with the entire time," said Barris. "She never looked more beautiful, nor was she ever so talkative. Our book project was more important than ever to her after all the lies the Fox studio had handed out to press."
As it turned out, Marilyn was all too human and all too mortal. Before the photographs or interviews could reach the public, Marilyn Monroe was gone. She died August 5, 1962.
These photographs are available in multiple sizes. Each photograph is hand signed by George Barris and bears the Edward Weston Collection copyright stamp.