By Mike Szymanski
Edited by Colleen Page
Lock of the Legend’s Hair, Rare Photos and a Song Never Before Heard by the Public
Author’s Note: I’ve known Jack Allen as a mutual Marilyn Monroe fan in the 1980s, and lost touch with him until I recently bumped into him at a book signing at the legendary Larry Edmund’s Bookstore in Hollywood, where the bookshop now touts him as a renown film historian. Jack pulled me aside and told me about the fascinating stories of his latest acquisitions, and I am telling them to you exclusively for The Art Of Monteque.
When Jack Allen first fell in love with Marilyn Monroe, it was while watching her in the 1953 movie“ Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” where she plays an ambitious showgirl along with Jane Russell. The film was supposed to be a starring vehicle for Jane, but it turned out to be Marilyn’s breakthrough role, and she stole every scene in the movie.
“Here was a girl full of naïve innocence and you could really tell that she loved performing and that she really wanted to make it,” says Jack. “In a lot of ways that is the story of Hollywood.”
Jack wanted to explore more about the starlet and he attended the Los Angeles meetings of the starlet’s longest-existing fan club, Marilyn Remembered, (http://www.marilynrememberedfanclub.com) which often hosted talks with people who actually worked with and knew Monroe. Jack learned more about her and was transfixed.
As a producer and development executive for big names such as Fries Entertainment, Papazian-Hirsch and Robert Greenwald Productions, Jack witnessed first hand a lot of the ups-and-downs of Hollywood while working on TV movies. He saw how Marilyn Monroe’s own tragic story epitomized the world he found himself working in as a career.
Jack authored and published one of the most celebrated Monroe books in 2002, “Marilyn by Moonlight: A Remembrance in Rare Photos” which remains a favorite collectible among the starlet’s fans, and is still considered a treasure trove of 140 fantastic previously unpublished photos.
Today, at a very young 60, Jack is involved with one of the most exciting Marilyn Monroe auctions ever put together, The Essentially Marilyn Auction by Profiles in History. (https://profilesinhistory.com/auctions/essentially-marilyn-the-auction/) Over the past year, museums have already displayed some of the drawings, artwork and costumes being auctioned off on December 11, 2018, but perhaps some of the most unusual items are being offered by Jack Allen.
Jack is selling:
- Original photographs from a psychic photographer who said Marilyn posed as if she were dead on a beach in what is dubbed “The End of Everything” photo session;
- A lock of hair that was cut by the mortician who handled her body before the burial;
- A rare recording of Marilyn singing “Down Boy” for a song that was cut from Jack’s favorite film “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.”
The auction is already making international news for including childhood photos, hand-noted scripts and iconic costumes available for sale, including a replica of the iconic “Seven Year Itch” white dress that blows up while she stands over a subway grate, her sequined dress from “How to Marry a Millionaire,” and her white chiffon and satin gown from “The Prince and the Showgirl,” among others.
“We know of no other private collection containing the breadth and scope presented here,” Profiles in History owner Joe Maddalena says of the auction. “Marilyn Monroe is Hollywood’s greatest and most enduring icon of American pop culture.”
Indeed, a drive down the ever-renewing Hollywood Boulevard still shows Marilyn in murals, on windows, in posters, all along the strip (along with James Dean and Charlie Chaplin in the top three, but far behind her). Every generation seems to continue to discover Marilyn, in much the same way Jack did.
Recreating Her Death Photos
Portrait photographer Andre de Dienes said he always had the feeling he was a bit psychic. He claims that he didn’t need to call people on the phone, if he thought about them hard enough, they would call him. And so, his last meeting with Marilyn, where she gave him a bouquet of photographs from her latest photo session, she was “smiling, radiant, utterly misleading” and he figured it was their final good-bye.
Jack worked on some of the photo displays and books with de Dienes’s widow after he died in 1985, and as a payment for his work, he received some of his original photos.
“I was most fascinated with the ‘End of Everything’ photo session that he took near Zuma Beach in Malibu,” Allen recalls. “She was troubled at the time, and it has an almost religious feeling to them.”
With no make-up and unkempt blonde hair, the model who then went by her real name of Norma Jeane Baker posed on a windy beach with an army blanket wrapped around her. She just broke up with her first husband, and dyed her hair blonde and seemed poised for super stardom.
De Dienes always said she thought her life would be cut short, and that on that day in 1945 when they shot on the beach, she had just divorced her first husband and read a poem, “Lines on the Death of Mary” that deeply moved her. In an autobiography, de Dienes recounted how the future superstar would show him what she would look like dead, when it was the “end of everything.”
Both of the photographs that Jack is selling are 9 x 10 original gelatin prints in black-and-white with her eyes closed and the setting sun bouncing off her luminescent skin. The photos are sad, yet whimsical, and overwhelming with their stillness.
The auction house priced each one of the photographs at $1,000 to $1,500.
What the auction house doesn’t explain in the description of the photographs is why they will have a faint scent of dirt or earthiness to them. After a terrible rainstorm in Los Angeles in the 1950s, a mudslide buried and destroyed many of the photographer’s collection in his house, and out of frustration he simply buried most of his collection in the backyard. A year later, LIFE magazine editors asked about some Monroe photos, and he literally dug them up from his backyard, and in the middle of the mess, salvaged a few of the gelatin silver prints.
Two 16 x 20 matted photos that Jack is selling from the Andre de Diennes collection show Marilyn with her hands clasped, one with her eyes closed, were shot across the country in 1949 on Tobey Beach on Long Island, New York. It was while she was in town shooting “Love Happy” with the Marx Brothers. She called the photographer and suggested they do a shoot as they did in years past, and he did it. That’s a famous shoot where she is also wearing a white bathing suit and photographed with a red umbrella with white polka dots dancing around like a nymph.
These two photographs, priced at $400 to $600 have surprising little wear for what they’ve been through.
“The photographs were in the ground for a nearly a year,” Jack notes.
He is also selling a glossy poster-sized inkjet print of nude Marilyn in her “Golden Dreams” sitting for photographer Tom Kelley with the red velvet background that was created personally for Playboy magazine mogul Hugh Hefner, who is now buried in the mausoleum next to her at the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery.
“Hugh Hefner bought a whole set of prints from me because they had an emotional impact on him, and he had them made personally for him,” Jack says. The prints were framed and placed in the Hefner Penthouse Suite at the Palms Hotel in Las Vegas that rented at one time for $40,000 a night and contained a sunken pool in the room.
Another photograph offered by Jack is a George Barris photograph taken in 1962 of her wearing a Pucci print blouse taken during the last photo session that was completed before her death. In the candid picture being offered, she’s on the phone laying back on her bed.
In another signed 8×10 photograph expected to fetch between $6,000 and $8,000, Marilyn signed it to former Heavyweight Champion of the World Max Baer, writing: “To Max, My body guard, Love Marilyn Monroe.” Baer was a fighter-turned-actor and longtime admirer of the starlet, and visited her on the set of “Some Like it Hot.”
Jack says he is trying to share photographs that show more of the true Marilyn, not the one tainted by the glare of the Hollywood spotlight.
“These are not the usual glamorous photographs that you usually see of Marilyn, and in a lot of ways, they tell more about her than any other photos every shot of her,” Jack explains. “They really capture an overwhelming sadness in her.”
A Voice Never Heard
When studios made movies, they often pressed a record — and it was usually one-sided — of each of the songs used in the film, so when dubbing or playback was necessary while they were filming, they could use the record. So, these records actually played while the stars recreated the scenes, or filmed the dance numbers or lip synced the songs
Jack found the heavy 78 acetate records on eBay as part of an estate of a 20th Century-Fox craft service worker who took the 12-inch records when they were abandoned by the studio after the filming of “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.” Jack bid on the records in 2005, thinking they would be a fun piece of Hollywood history to have to one of his favorite films. The records were stained and scratched, but kept in their vintage sleeves from the studio. One of them featured Jane Russell singing “Ain’t There Anyone Here for Love?” and another had the famous Marilyn duet with Jane, “When Love Goes Wrong,” both written by Hoagy Carmichael. Another record of “Bye, Bye Baby” written by Leo Robin and Jule Styne from the original stage musical features Marilyn and Jane singing.
But, Jack noticed a recording “Down Boy” also penned by the legendary Hoagy Carmichael that featured only Marilyn and a soft piano accompaniment.
“I realized that this was a song that was actually mentioned in the script, but it was never used in the movie,” Jack recalls. “It was like finding a treasure. No one had ever heard this recording of Marilyn before.”
Entertainment Weekly called it “one of the greatest cinematic finds in recent history.” Fans always knew about this lost song, but now the only recording of Marilyn singing it was found. In 1952 Carmichael wrote a total of seven additional songs for the movie — five of which were not used — and this song for Marilyn specifically, but the number ended up being cut because it bogged down the film.
The song is upbeat and whimsical and planned for when a diamond dealer played by Charles Coburn is getting fresh with Marilyn’s character Lorelei. She sings to the men like they are a pack of hungry dogs, saying “Down Boy” to them. Marilyn sang the song with a swing temp in the key of A and B-flat.
“It is really a find, this master recording is the only raw vocal of Marilyn Monroe know to exist,” says Jack. “I have been hoping to produce something with it, but everything has fallen through.”
At one point, the tabloids wrote that Britney Spears planned to record it, and producer Timbaland (who produced Michael Jackson’s posthumous album Xscape) wanted to record it. Jack even wrote intros to the song and imagined an elaborate music video to go with the song, and another performer could sing along with Marilyn like Natalie Cole did with her father for “Unforgettable.”
Jack owned the copyright to the sound recording, and for a while he tried to get it to activist women, whom he thought might want to utilize it as an anthem for the #MeToo movement. He ultimately decided to sell it at auction along with his other Marilyn rarities. So, this one-of-a-kind master record will be offered for sale to a new buyer, along with Jack’s copyright on the Monroe sound recording and his “chain of title” which documents the legal background of the song. The auction house is listing the item at between $100,000 and $150,000.
“I’m not guaranteeing the buyer the rights to distribute the song, but this is an original Marilyn vocal that has never been heard,” Jack explains. “I have had a hard time keeping this off-line and off the Internet so it doesn’t get exploited.”
The song did get some playtime when Betty Grable recorded it in 1955 for the movie “Three for the Show,” but the one with Marilyn’s voice remains unavailable to the general public.
The auction lists the “Down Boy” record as a “lost song” of Marilyn’s, recorded at the brink of her superstardom.
The quality of Marilyn’s voice is astounding as she admonishes her admirers, “You’ve got to stay down, down, down.” This is the only master recording of raw vocals by the starlet known to exist. Her other records are mixed with musical tracks that limit the remix possibilities, and Jack once envisioned a chance to re-imagine the song for today’s feminists.
“I could see this as an incredible vehicle for Beyonce, for example, it is really a song for this time, too,” he adds.
A Lock of Her Hair Can be Quite Sentimental
While Jack went on his book tour, he received a few emails from a woman who claimed she had some locks of Marilyn’s hair and figured that he should have it, and offered to sell it to him.
“At first I said, ‘No way,” because I thought it was kind of creepy and I didn’t want her hair,” Jack recalls. “She saw my book, and she really thought I should have it.”
Karen Myers is the women who contacted him in 2001, and she said she got it from famous detective and author Milo Speriglio, who was her boyfriend at the time. A friend urged him into getting the strands of hair held in a white frame.
“I didn’t know what to do with it, or even if it was for real, but then when a tabloid wrote that I had some of Marilyn’s hair, I got this call from the mortician who worked on Marilyn and told me that he could explain how that lock of hair came to be,” Jack says.
Allan Abbott, who was not only the mortician who tended to Marilyn’s body, but was one of her pallbearers, contacted Jack and explained that some of the starlet’s real hair had to be snipped off to make adjustments for the wig that the studio wigmaker Sydney Guillaroff was creating for her for the funeral.
Abbott’s family co-owned Abbott & Hast, the morticians to the stars, and Abbott wrote a book, “Pardon My Hearse” where he talks about the stars he met in life and death, including Natalie Wood, Karen Carpenter and Clark Gable.
Not only did Abbott cut some of Marilyn’s hair from the nape of her neck, but he kept a pair of falsies that she wore after he fished them out of the trash as a souvenir.
Abbott told Jack that he believes that Marilyn’s overdose was intentional to keep quite about her affairs with President John F. Kennedy and his brother Bobby Kennedy, and Jack believes it, too.
“I truly believe that Marilyn was murdered, and I have read and talked to many people about it,” Jack insists. “There is so much fiction about her out there, and I think a lot of it has been perpetuated to obscure the truth.”
Jack concludes, “Marilyn got caught up in a world that overwhelmed her, and unfortunately, her premonitions of her premature death came true.”
Essentially Marilyn: The Auction (https://profilesinhistory.com/auctions/hollywood-auction-96/) is scheduled for December 11, 2018, and is open for the general public to bid. [TAOM]