A Year in Books/Day 96: Marilyn Mon Amour

  • Title: Marilyn Mon Amour The Private Album of Andre de Dienes, her preferred photographer
  • Author: Andre de Dienes
  • Year Published: 1985 (St. Martin’s Press)
  • Year Purchased: 1991
  • Source: I bought this book in high school. I remember the mall (City Center) and who I was with (my mom and her best friend Debbie) but I cannot recall the name of the book store!
  • About: However slight the connection, men just love to claim that they had an affair with Marilyn. Usually in book form. Fancy that. It’s almost a sub-category of the cottage industry that is the Marilyn biography. And they were never simply lusty flings or misbegotten one-night-stands. They were all, pretty much to a man, life-altering, planet-shifting Love Affairs. According to the gents in question, that is. The reality must be very different. Out of all of these claimants, Transylvania-born photographer de Dienes stands out as one of the most believable. The hundreds of photographs he shot of Marilyn between the years 1945-1953 testify to the fact that they had a viable working relationship; there’s obviously a sense of trust and friendship between photographer and subject. Since I don’t want to turn this from a review into a treatise, we’ll leave the veracity of his story for another day and another form. Instead, we’ll hone in on the real focus of his book: the photographs. What photographs they are! The majority date from the earliest days of her modeling career; they are undoubtedly the best pre-stardom images ever taken of her. They’re lovely. That’s right. Lovely. No big, loftily descriptive words are necessary, not when one word is so wholly perfect and concise. Her wardrobe of all-American basics (she was broke and had to supply her own clothes for the road-trip shoot of 1945) remain fresh and alluring; they set off her glowing, innocent beauty without detraction. This is the definitive Marilyn Monroe book.
  • Motivation: I was a teenage girl, studying acting. This play world was extremely compelling to me at that time.
  • Times Read: Countless
  • Random Excerpt: “I was impatient to train the camera on her, to choose the right light to set off her skin and her hair, to capture her expression, to make her move, run, stand still, arch her back, stretch. I wanted to catch hold of whatever it was I sensed lay behind that candid smile, those blonde curls and the pink sweater. In one fell swoop I was intrigued, moved and attracted by her.”
  • Happiness Scale: 10+++

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