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Marilyn: The Exhibit @ The Hollywood Museum

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by Katie Thompson (subscribe)
University of York Graduate, aspiring to be a journalist with dreams of one day publishing my own novel. Blog: Published work can be seen at and
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Up close and personal with Marilyn
marilyn monroe 50 years exhibit hollywood museum
Marilyn: The Exhibit at the Hollywood Museum, Los Angeles

Hollywood is a place where they'll pay you a thousand dollars for a kiss and fifty cents for your soul.' It's also a place where Marilyn Monroe fans, or indeed, novices such as yours truly, can relive the buxom beauty's highest highs and lowest lows, all for a skimpy $15.

In honor of the 50th anniversary of Marilyn's death, the Hollywood Museum in Los Angeles has created Marilyn: The Exhibit, an intimate montage of the star's best and worst moments, covering everything from her childhood to her glittering career and untimely demise. For those whose knowledge of her doesn't extend beyond the image of a white dress and a subway grate, this exhibit is the perfect opportunity to get to know the controversial star a little better.

Counting myself into the latter category, I found I was entranced by the vast coverage of her life that the exhibit featured, all within a relatively small setting. Photographs of the angel-faced brunette child juxtaposed against the infamous 'Red Velvet' nude photos were enough to shock, let alone the sinister inclusion of the pill bottle found at her bedside table at the time of her death. The exhibit was laden with photographs of the voluptuous vixen at various moments of her life, displaying the star's myriad of looks, including iconic outfits such as the pink dress from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

marilyn monroe red velvet nude photographs
The infamous nude photos which Marilyn posed for early on in her career to keep up with payments on her car.

Said looks, by the way, were also immortalized in glass cabinets- some of the sex symbol's most famous outfits were on display, which could have been an exhibit in its own right. The controversial issue of Marilyn's measurements has been a hot topic amongst women on internet forums and the like over the years, so it was eye-opening to see just how little Miss Monroe actually was (not to mention disheartening to generously-portioned ladies such as myself who saw her as corporal inspiration!)

marilyn monroe outfits
Some of the (tiny!) outfits as worn by the star.

Amongst the glitz and glamour of magazine covers, movie posters and photo shoots, some of Marilyn's most memorable quotes were plastered about the place, such as 'sex is part of nature. I go along with nature.' The exhibit was also tinged with sadness as it recounted the history of Marilyn's loves and losses, such as her marriages to James Dougherty, Joe DiMaggio and Arthur Miller.

Upon leaving the exhibit, having foraged through Monroe's make-up bag, wardrobe, movie scripts, letters and even some never-before-seen photos of the blonde bombshell (taken by close friend George Barris), guests should leave feeling like they know the starlet for what she was. Marilyn: The Exhibit is as much a learning experience as it is a personal insight into the star's life; not only did it teach me much more about Marilyn, but also the shady, sinister undertones of life under the limelight. Marilyn may have appeared to be a camera-hungry diva who loved the spotlight, but underneath, as I learned, she was an unlucky-in-love, troubled star and a slave to the industry.

Marilyn: The Exhibit, included in the price of entry to the whole of the Hollywood Museum, was an excellent value for money attraction which I would have happily spent my whole afternoon in were it not for my limited schedule. I would implore any fan of Hollywood to visit this exhibit and then make their own judgment on the star: after all, as our lovely Marilyn says, 'if you can't handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don't deserve me at my best.'

Marilyn: The Exhibit is on display until September 22nd.
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Why? To get to know the shining star a little better.
When: June 1st-September 22nd
Phone: (323) 464-7776
Where: The Hollywood Museum
Cost: $15
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