The Story Behind The Picture: Marilyn Monroe In New York

by Electric Gallery
Tuesday 22 June 2021

As part of Electric's exclusive new partnership with Getty Images Gallery, we reveal the hidden story behind some of the iconic photographs in the exhibition. Here we look at the tale behind a set of candid photographs of Hollywood star Marilyn Monroe in New York.

The year was 1955, and Marilyn Monroe was quite possibly the biggest movie star in the world. Not only had she starred in a handful of hit films, catapulting her to global stardom, she had also made the dramatic career decision to break contract with her studio, 20th Century Fox, and move east from Hollywood to New York. There she studied drama, aiming to transform herself into a more critically-acclaimed performer. Dressed down in casual clothes she could wander the city unnoticed which she loved.

For a week in March 1955 she allowed the photo-journalist Ed Feingerish to accompany her, photographing a more candid and less polished side of her. Whether shopping, dining or dressing up, Feingerish was in the background capturing it all. The resulting photographs were published in the US magazine Redbook in July 1955 and caused a sensation.

This shot of Marilyn applying Chanel No 5 was taken in the suite of The Ambassador Hotel on Park Lane that Monroe took for the few months she lived in New York. It is typical of the photographer’s style: perfectly lit, artfully composed and always with a sense of context. That open door in the background is no accident.

Ed Feingerish always stubbornly refused to have his photographs cropped by magazines. Either they used them exactly the way he presented them, he said, or they didn’t use them at all. The results are both beautiful and evocative.

Credit: Ed Feingerish/Michael Ochs Collection/Getty Images Gallery.

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