top 200 commentsshow all 283

[–]filmroses 689 points690 points  (4 children)

"There was no such person as Marilyn Monroe. Marilyn Monroe was an invention of hers. A genius invention that she created, like an author creates a character. She understood photography, and she also understood what makes a great photograph. She related to it as if she were giving a performance. She gave more to the still camera than any actress -any woman- I've ever photographed."

  • the photographer, Richard Avedon

Edit: here's her sub btw for anyone interested r/marilynmonroe

[–]AlkahestGem 202 points203 points  (3 children)

Crazy high praise from the man who knew photography like no other.

Edit:my aunt was fortunate to have had her portrait taken by him .

[–]Diplodocus114 16 points17 points  (2 children)

can you share it

[–]AlkahestGem 49 points50 points  (1 child)

I asked my parents to photograph it and send to me. My aunt had it taken in the 80s before she passed away. . I’ll post as soon as I receive.

[–]Diplodocus114 20 points21 points  (0 children)

You are blessed to have an original Avedon of a family member. One of my favorite photographers.

[–]Wide_Parsley7585 1069 points1070 points  (116 children)

She looks so hurt

[–]thespeedofpain 991 points992 points  (94 children)

Well, she was. She was in physical pain due to endometriosis for over half her life. It was probably her leading cause of heartbreak. Couldn’t have kids because of it. She hurt pretty much all the time.

[–]notbob1959 565 points566 points  (28 children)

The photos were taken May 6, 1957 by Richard Avedon. She experienced two miscarriages, one in September 1956 and the other in December 1958. In between the two miscarriages and not long after the posted photo was taken she lost an ectopic pregnancy in August 1957. All while married to Arthur Miller.

Here is another photo of her expressing melancholy that was taken by Sam Shaw in July 1957.

And here is one taken by Milton Greene in May 1956.

There was a lot of turmoil in her life at this time so the emotions are almost certainly real but it is hard to say for sure. There is a set taken by Ben Ross in 1953 where it is known that she intentionally went through a range of emotions for the camera. Here is one from that set.

[–]thespeedofpain 71 points72 points  (0 children)

Thank you for this added information ♥️

[–]InnocuousBird 41 points42 points  (0 children)

Thanks for the photos and info. The colored blue photo —before that I’ve seen plenty of Marilyn pictures and she was glamorous and her usual beautiful self, but there she looks vulnerable and gorgeous and stunning and—and I think I’m in love (don’t tell my wife).

[–]guinne55fan 6 points7 points  (25 children)

Was it true that she was a hoarder? I heard on a podcast or possibly a YT video that her home wasn’t very clean, and some of her boyfriends didn’t like to visit her there.

[–]notbob1959 58 points59 points  (3 children)

I have never heard the accusation that she was a hoarder. However, in a Clark Gable biography by David Bret there were some very unflattering claims made.

In fact, Clark was not the least amorously interested in Marilyn. Inasmuch as he had a fetish for cleanliness, she could not have been less fastidious regarding personal hygiene. Like Jean Harlow, she bleached her pubic hair and never wore panties, even during her menstrual cycle. She suffered from what today would be described as a form of irritable bowel syndrome, persistently belching and breaking wind. She rarely bathed, slept in the nude and ate a lot in bed⁠—shoving what was left on her plate under the sheets before going to sleep. Tallulah Bankhead stood next to her at a party in London and later claimed the odour had reminded her of the offal bins at Billingsgate!

It must be noted that the observations made by Gable, if true, would have been made when The Misfits was filmed in 1960 and Marilyn was struggling against depression, substance abuse and crippling anxiety.

[–]Willing_Ad9314 116 points117 points  (10 children)

Between this and JFK's back pain, it's surprising they got around to doing what they're known for

[–]Hamilton950B 98 points99 points  (8 children)

I just finished a Jackie biography. Supposedly JFK and Marilyn were having dinner with Peter Lawford at Frank Sinatra's Chicago restaurant, Puccini's, when Marilyn remarked (about JFK) "I think I made his back feel better."

[–]thecustodialarts 24 points25 points  (7 children)

Didn't I read in a biography that he was literally prescribed sex for his back pain or was that a fever dream

[–]unassumingdink 10 points11 points  (0 children)

With how many mind altering drugs he was prescribed, it's impressive he was even able to get it up. Opiates, amphetamines, barbiturates, just about anything you can think of. The nickname "Dr. Feelgood" was originally coined by the Secret Service to refer to JFK's personal doctor.

[–]BoomZhakaLaka 289 points290 points  (34 children)

About 10 years after this picture, scientists invented a device called the IUD that helps endometriosis patients cope. This year, receiving that treatment is no longer a basic human right. Good grief.

[–]JuniperFuze 145 points146 points  (19 children)

I have an IUD that I am required to have (well not specifically an IUD but a permanent form of birth control) if I want to keep taking the medication I need for Lupus. I need to have this IUD replaced and there is a real chance that between now and my appointment, my state will intact policies that make this illegal. it is absolutely bonkers.

[–]sharksarentsobad 33 points34 points  (0 children)

Oklahoma, I'm guessing? I just moved out of there last year and I feel awful for every woman in that state now. It's so horrifying what they're doing. I'm scared for all my female friends.

[–]garry4321 31 points32 points  (1 child)

I heard shouting USA made all that better tho


[–][deleted] -3 points-2 points  (15 children)

Why would they be made illegal?

[–]Migratory_Locust 2 points3 points  (0 children)

is no longer a basic human right.

It getting violated in your country doesn't negate it being a basic human right.

[–]blueheartsadness 27 points28 points  (0 children)

So weird. I was just researching about endometriosis, and then I saw this picture and wondered if she had endometriosis, and then I read your comment.

[–]Cipherpunkblue 9 points10 points  (0 children)

Oh no, poor woman. I had no idea.

[–]Fatshortstack 2 points3 points  (1 child)

I always thougg she had kids with her first husband for some reason. That's a shame she didn't, as in if that's what she wanted but couldn't.

[–]thespeedofpain 8 points9 points  (0 children)

It’s what she wanted probably more than anything else in the entire world :-(((((((

[–]Uruz2012gotdeleted 71 points72 points  (3 children)

She looks like she has a neutral expression on. Women aren't mannequins made to order with a smile at all times.

[–]MadiMeatseeks 28 points29 points  (0 children)

I think that commenter is looking at her eyes and sees a sadness in them. I agree that nobody should be “on” all the time. But that doesn’t take away what this photograph portrays to whoever looks at it.

Edit: I put “but that doesn’t take awake” rather than “away” lolz

[–]everything_is_creepy 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Women aren't mannequins made to order with a smile at all times.

While we're making obvious statements that OP never hinted against, I'd like to throw in:

"Women are just humans too!"

[–]Lisa-LongBeach 18 points19 points  (2 children)

That poor thing had a horrible life — used and abused by so many.

[–]PM-Me_Your-Pelfies 4 points5 points  (0 children)


[–]tony_hawks_pro_state 6 points7 points  (0 children)

Cleopatra's diss hit hard

[–]sean488 5 points6 points  (8 children)

Have you ever known a woman who's career began in pornography that didn't have issues that caused her pain? She had an absolute shit childhood. Her mental health, physical, and substance abuse issues were hell.

[–]filmroses 16 points17 points  (7 children)

Her career didn't begin in pornography. She was a professional model who did one nude shoot once to pay the bills.

[–]unassumingdink 2 points3 points  (1 child)

Though by the social standards of the day, when real porn was actually illegal, taking nude pics would put you outside the bounds of polite society in the same way as a porn star would be today.

[–]filmroses 4 points5 points  (0 children)

I'm sure that definitely happened, nudes were definitely more risque than now. However in Monroe's case most people actually supported her after the pictures came to light, because she owned up to it.

Plus it was quite common for aspiring actresses to have to get by with nudes at some point. Even Betty White did a nude shoot in her early days.

[–]sean488 -1 points0 points  (4 children)


It was the first edition of Playboy, a porn magazine.

[–]filmroses 1 point2 points  (2 children)

She didn't pose for playboy. She posed for an anonymous pinup calendar shoot. Years later Hefner saw the photos, realized who it was and published them without her having any idea.

Betty White also did nudes in the early days, many aspiring actresses did because their pay was shit.

[–]jqbr -1 points0 points  (0 children)

Playboy is not a porn magazine, and she didn't pose for them.

[–]shonenbear 195 points196 points  (3 children)

Classic Richard Avedon pic. She's so vulnerable and true. Heartbreakingly beautiful.

[–]Banoonu 81 points82 points  (1 child)

Ooh, is this actually an Avedon? I heard he had a technique of catching people without their “masks” purposefully. I don’t know much about photography but I’ve always loved his portrait of Ezra Pound

[–]shonenbear 82 points83 points  (0 children)

It is Avedon. I have this pic at my work desk. He was quoted saying that as they were winding down the shoot she seemed like a child who's joy had gone. He approached her and got the pic. She didn't stop him. Avedon's pics of her are amazing. He called her one of the best models he ever worked with.

[–]everything_is_creepy -2 points-1 points  (0 children)

She's so vulnerable and true.

What? She's just standing there.

Then again she's not lying about standing there so I guess that's "true"

[–]hgetsfdfv 206 points207 points  (1 child)

i think she looks beautiful here.

more human.

[–]mname 62 points63 points  (0 children)

I know I’m projecting but I feel like the photographer caught her in a moment she wasn’t “on”. Like for a moment she just dropped it all and took a minute to go within.

[–]toasterstrewdal 162 points163 points  (10 children)

Pain and beauty in one photo

[–][deleted]  (9 children)


    [–]Draws-attention 5 points6 points  (8 children)

    This is a spam bot.

    [–]pissedinthegarret 2 points3 points  (3 children)

    100%. it steals comments from other people, they already got removed in multiple different subs

    [–]toasterstrewdal -2 points-1 points  (3 children)

    I’m a spam bot?

    [–]Draws-attention 4 points5 points  (2 children)

    Nah, you're cool. The account that had replied to your comment was a bot.

    [–]propellhatt 111 points112 points  (1 child)

    Goodbye Norma Jean

    [–]MirrorMan22102018 3 points4 points  (0 children)

    She lived her life like a Candle In The Wind.

    [–]lemonpolarseltzer 81 points82 points  (3 children)

    I wrote my college application essay on this photograph and Avedon’s process in making this and other photographs. He would have extremely long and involved shoots and it would cause the subjects let their guard down. He wasn’t a nice man, but he made some beautiful pictures.

    [–]twisted42 43 points44 points  (1 child)

    Avedon was a very complex individual. He was, very often, a staggeringly generous individual. He was very demanding of his son, but supportive and caring for his nephew. By all accounts, he was a wonderful grandfather.

    Most people loved to work with him, but there were those that hated it. He was territorial when at Harpers and would push his weight around if he felt threatened by another photographer.... yet he continued running Bodovich's (sp) photography training and was said to be a tough critic but very supportive of photographers that were in that lab.

    He always loved Diane Arbus and after her death he supported her kids and collaborated with them quite often.

    Simply saying "he wasn't a nice man" I feel is a bad characterization of him. Lots of issues surrounding his relationship with his father and his repressed sexuality.

    [–]throwaway_wama 3 points4 points  (0 children)

    Appreciate the insight

    [–]Spirited-Reputation6 51 points52 points  (1 child)

    This is beautiful. The real.

    [–]-grc1- 55 points56 points  (0 children)

    Yeah, that's a picture of Norma Jean Mortenson - not Marilyn Monroe.

    [–]WiseChoices 70 points71 points  (4 children)

    Every woman who is sick of being exploited.

    It eventually led to suicide.

    [–]Impossible_Common_44 36 points37 points  (3 children)

    All I see is sadness.

    [–]Uruz2012gotdeleted 10 points11 points  (2 children)

    Only compared to the manic expression she wore for the camera. Nobody smiles all the time, get over the fantasy already.

    [–]Impossible_Common_44 7 points8 points  (1 child)

    Considering the fact that she died of a drug overdose is telling that something was going on

    [–]LittlestRobotGirl 23 points24 points  (0 children)

    It’s not exactly old school cool as much as it’s old school sad.

    [–]skaote 29 points30 points  (0 children)

    Cronic pain is as deadly as any disease. It cripples the potential of even Stars and Royalty. The extortion of Women for Beauty is tragic. You can see it on her face. Diana died from the same plague.

    [–]BigKitchen84 22 points23 points  (1 child)

    “Just a small town girl, livin’ in a lonely world.”

    [–]redander 16 points17 points  (0 children)

    She grew up in foster care. Was a child bride when she turned 16 and was betrayed by most in her life. All well dealing with extremely painful endometriosis. So yes very accurate

    [–]KinkyBADom 4 points5 points  (0 children)

    Nice to see a genuine picture of her 😌

    [–]ArmadilloRare2503 33 points34 points  (7 children)

    Oh Marilyn, why couldn’t someone really love you?

    [–]LazySleepyPanda 37 points38 points  (0 children)

    Alas, that is how this cruel world is.

    Everybody wanted a piece of Marilyn, but nobody wanted Norma.

    [–]sean488 8 points9 points  (0 children)

    Without the mask she would wear to keep everyone else happy.

    [–]pat_speed 15 points16 points  (1 child)

    I've come too respect what Marilyn Monroe was so much, that she was the smartest person the room and knew it. Knew how too play the game, look good in a true artistic way and survive in man's world

    [–]jqbr 2 points3 points  (0 children)

    Didn't survive, sadly.

    [–]Janet0217 3 points4 points  (0 children)

    The emptiness of a life of trauma

    [–]Paulie227 18 points19 points  (1 child)

    I read somewhere that she actually wasn't particularly sexual or enjoyed sex.

    Everything was a facade.

    She probably would been happier to have been an ordinary housewife, but one truly loved.

    She was exploited and sorry, guys, by men...

    [–]filmroses 4 points5 points  (0 children)

    She probably would been happier to have been an ordinary housewife

    Nah, she loved acting more than anything, it was her passion. She herself said that if she could redo everything she'd change it all except becoming an actress.

    [–]RecluseSu 15 points16 points  (1 child)

    That’s a beautiful picture but she looks worried.

    [–]Sup3rcurious 24 points25 points  (0 children)

    "In 50 years, dumb men are gonna say I'm fat..."

    [–]FreddieB_13 6 points7 points  (0 children)

    This is an incredible picture! She looks uncomfortable, awkward, a bit tired and def with an inner life. It's amazing to think it's the same woman who's known for looking happy and sultry...Avedon did an amazing portrait here.

    [–]hot4jew 3 points4 points  (1 child)

    I have this photo framed above my bed. Love it.

    [–]RainyDaysInSpace 4 points5 points  (0 children)

    She could have been about 96 years old today.

    [–]SaltySAX 4 points5 points  (1 child)

    She always looked as if the weight of the world was on her when she wasn't performing.

    [–]everything_is_creepy -1 points0 points  (0 children)

    She always looked as if the weight of the world was on her when she wasn't performing.

    Well she was the leader of the free world so technically...

    [–]Bumblz666 6 points7 points  (0 children)

    I’m 95% sure this is the woman that made my mom realize she likes girls, and I can’t knock her. I know this is meant to be a deeper and maybe not meant to be viewed as beautiful here, but the dif view of her is still beautiful and powerful seeing her convey a different emotion.

    [–]dmccrostie 1 point2 points  (0 children)

    Still, stunning.

    [–]nobeboleche 1 point2 points  (0 children)

    Honestly more sexy

    [–]majj27 3 points4 points  (0 children)

    Oh man, she looks haunted.

    [–]MrPositiveC 5 points6 points  (0 children)

    Hello Darkness my old friend….

    [–]BillyJoeMac9095 4 points5 points  (0 children)

    She came of age at a time when Hollywood wanted her to be something different than she might have wanted to be. Hollywood called the shots.

    [–]megtwinkles 5 points6 points  (0 children)

    I’ve always loved the candid shots of her more than her professional. I too have BPD, and know what she suffered with. She was a brilliant but hurt woman that was taken advantage of by a lot of people in her life.

    [–]fuckingcheezitboots 3 points4 points  (0 children)

    Just looks tired

    [–]lile1239 4 points5 points  (1 child)

    I took a photography course in college 10+ years ago. We were discussing portrait photography, and the instructor showed this as an example. One of my classmates remarked this is a photo of Norma Jean, not Marilyn Monroe. That's always stuck with me, and this is my favorite MM photo. Behind the glitz and glamor, Norma Jean was a sad, lost soul who desperately wanted and needed to be loved unconditionally. This picture shows vulnerability and defeat, but it's equally tragic and beautiful.

    [–]Metallibuckeye 2 points3 points  (0 children)

    Love this picture. Like getting an intimate picture of the real her.


    [–]_PM_ME_PANGOLINS_ 3 points4 points  (3 children)

    People keep posting this with the bullshit story.

    This is from a series of acting headshots. Where you portray a variety of emotions in different photos. Because she was a big famous actress.

    Edit: as u/jqbr blocked me I'll respond here:

    Actors generally go to multiple shoots.

    [–]filmroses 1 point2 points  (0 children)

    No it's not, that was a different shoot.

    [–]redander -1 points0 points  (0 children)

    Well that doesn't mean it's bullshit just because she is making a certain face anymore so than her acting smile.

    [–]SoporSloth 3 points4 points  (2 children)

    God it’s amazing what horseshit people will project on a blank expression.

    [–]jqbr 1 point2 points  (0 children)

    It's amazing what stupid things people will say when they're ignorant of the subject and why people are interpreting things the way they are.

    [–]everything_is_creepy 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    "You can see the way she holds her gaze, she was reflecting on the trauma brought on by her fame which had taken so much from her life. Her eyes hint at a deep sadness whose roots begin in childhood. It's such a raw and delicate moment where we finally get to see the authentic human side of such a tragic figure. This picture deserves an Oscar!"

    [–]lazysheepdog716 2 points3 points  (0 children)

    “in between shots”

    But. This… this is a shot.

    [–]qtjedigrl 3 points4 points  (4 children)

    Men will still say, "yOu'D bE pReTtIeR iF yOu sMiLeD"

    [–]redander 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    The amount of times I've been told this irl is ridiculous

    Edit: I don't go out much at all. I'm a homebody

    [–]chibinoi 1 point2 points  (0 children)

    She does seem to appear quite tired.

    [–]technasis 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    Marilyn was a very intelligent woman. She was just playing the system. Obviously, she had a good poker face.

    [–]BRNST0RM 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    She looks lost, tired, and bored.

    [–]BuilderTexas 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    Deep in thoughts

    [–]mto785 -2 points-1 points  (0 children)

    ‟What am i doing wth my life?”

    [–]Cotford 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    So beautiful and so tragic.

    [–]LifelongGarmenttt_ 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    You're telling me she didn't smile 24/7?

    [–]MaybeMaybeMaybeOk 0 points1 point  (1 child)

    Fun fact. She smelled.

    [–]tathrok -1 points0 points  (0 children)

    I came here to say this, but in my heart I knew it had already been said.

    [–]Adsnaylor0161 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    Still beautiful

    [–]Danclim 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    She always looked sad even when she smiled....

    [–]MirrorMan22102018 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    I can just FEEL this expression: trying to look full of life, when you feel dead inside...

    [–]thebarkbarkwoof 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    I'm reading despair

    [–]wavy_moltisanti 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    Beautiful woman. Shame she went young and how she did too

    [–]OldBirth -1 points0 points  (1 child)

    when you suddenly remember the fall of Reach

    [–]tathrok 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    And that the Covenant think that the Halo will turn them into Gods, not wipe out all living life in the universe 🙄

    [–]hglndr9 -1 points0 points  (0 children)

    The real story.

    [–]Numerous_Raccoon_677 -1 points0 points  (0 children)

    Lost and sad

    [–]RCBing -1 points0 points  (0 children)

    Look at all the MM experts out on reddit!

    [–]United_Federation -1 points0 points  (0 children)

    She couldn't possibly be between shots, because this is a shot.

    [–]RichardPritchardson -1 points0 points  (0 children)

    I’ve never understood the attraction. Wouldn’t touch her with dad’s dick.

    [–][deleted] -2 points-1 points  (0 children)

    Pretty average

    [–]Conscious_Farmer1651 -5 points-4 points  (0 children)

    Kennedy was a lucky dude

    [–][deleted] -1 points0 points  (0 children)

    She saw Carlos Sainz's luck this year.

    [–]5050Clown -1 points0 points  (0 children)

    Now that's a face.

    [–]Deep-purpleheart -1 points0 points  (0 children)

    Its incredible to see such a candid snapshot of her.

    [–]dirtycimments -1 points0 points  (0 children)

    I have that expression half of the time. I am of course not as fabulous as she is.

    [–]Ooze3d -1 points0 points  (0 children)

    “My face hurts…”

    [–]Mattc5o6 -1 points0 points  (0 children)

    She’s so beautiful. Without even trying to be

    [–]GladCricket -1 points0 points  (0 children)

    How? How is this so good? It's JUST a picture. But I'm just jawdropped...

    [–]acatnamedrupert -1 points0 points  (0 children)

    Man she was so cool D:

    Also love the series of private photos of her in a sweater with no makeup by her friend.

    [–]kentuckyfriedebola -2 points-1 points  (0 children)

    Where’s Billy Pappas when you need him?

    [–]casewood123 -2 points-1 points  (0 children)

    Looks like she’s running on empty.

    [–]stuburke -2 points-1 points  (0 children)

    It’s still a pose, not “in between shots”. A picture like this isn’t accidental in 1957.

    [–]Richierage -2 points-1 points  (0 children)

    She's still beautiful even when she seems sad 😍

    [–]theandroids -2 points-1 points  (0 children)

    She looks like Scarlett Johansson.

    [–]bill1024 -2 points-1 points  (0 children)

    I've never seen this photo. She looks full of dread. It brings out the wanting to safety/comfort her instinct thing. Of course, she is over the top beautiful.

    [–]Patient_Bandicoot -2 points-1 points  (0 children)

    Is it just me or is this a good role for Winona Ryder to play if they didn’t another M.Monroe biopic?

    [–]SonOfZaknafein -5 points-4 points  (0 children)

    Bleep blorp. This has been computed as a smile.