Marilyn and Hugh Hefner NSFW

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With Hugh Hefner being interred last night next to Marilyn Monroe, controversy has erupted. The man who built an empire off of Marilyn’s poor decision 4 years before the launch of Playboy, unfairly making money off of her, is now going to be BURIED next to her?! How dare he!

Okay, let me start by saying the Hefner was a shrewd businessman. I am in no way denying that. He also pulled some low blows over the years, including infamously running Vanna White’s nude photo in the 80’s after she had asked him not to. I don’t agree with that at all. It was a horrible thing to do. Let that be the outrage after his death because that is most definitely 100% deserving of outrage.

But this isn’t about Vanna, this is about Marilyn. First, we need some backstory. In May of 1949 Marilyn was in a dire financial situation. Her rent was overdue or she was about to get her car repossessed (the story differs with each telling). Marilyn had had a chance encounter with a photographer named Tom Kelley after a fender-bender in 1948. They worked together on a Pabst Beer Ad because of this encounter and he offered to photograph her nude. She turned him down at the time but kept his card. As Marilyn got closer to her bills being due, she decided to finally take Kelley up on his offer on May 25, 1949.

The shoot was scheduled for two days later, May 27, 1949. Marilyn was photographed on a red velvet background. Kelley’s wife was in attendance and music was played in the background. Marilyn signed her release form as “Mona Monroe” and was paid $50 for a good days work. Afterwards, she went to the late night haunt Barney’s Beanery and ordered a bowl of chili.

Author Stacy Eubank has done unparalleled research on the events that happened afterwards. Kelley eventually sold the most famous photo of the set, “Golden Dreams,” to Baumgarth and Sons Calendar Company of Chicago for $500. “The Western Lithograph Company paid Kelley $250 for ‘A New Wrinkle.’ Baumgarth released ‘Golden Dreams’ on a calendar top for 1951 to lack luster business.”

The story goes that a secretary finally pieced it together that Marilyn was the girl in “Golden Dreams” and Baugmarth’s ramped up production.  By March of 1952, the calendar story had broke and Marilyn was forced to admit that she had posed nude to columnist Aline Mosby:

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Now, how much did Marilyn see of the $750 that Kelley had made? $0 because she had signed a release form. Those photos now belonged to Kelley. That practice continues to this day. Now many will have a clause saying that the photos cannot be sold to a men’s magazine like Playboy, but at the time this wasn’t a thought. Playboy didn’t exist. Marilyn did not attempt to buy the photographs back from either calendar company either.

Hugh Hefner was struggling in the early 1950’s. He eventually managed to scrape together $5,000 and set out to create a men’s magazine. News of Marilyn’s nude photos was still fresh in his mind and he brokered a deal to obtain the use of “Golden Dreams” for $500. He tirelessly worked on his magazine in his mother’s kitchen and eventually released roughly 54,000 copies. Marilyn was named “Sweetheart of the Month.” The magazine wasn’t numbered for fear that it wouldn’t be able to continue. Everything rested on Hef’s shoulders and he miraculously pulled it off. Playboy sold out of its December 1953 issue.

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Let’s get this out of the way. Marilyn WAS NOT adversely affected by Hefner’s release of these photos. She had already weathered it. Both calendar companies drastically increased their production and made millions. Hefner made roughly $15,000 off of it. It took a lot of hard work and determination for him to continue creating the magazine. Hefner wasn’t even the first person to release the photos in a nationwide magazine. A much bigger magazine had on April 7th of 1952.

Life had millions of readers. Do you think they paid Marilyn for each person who bought that issue because her nude picture was used? Of course not.

But what about Marilyn’s thoughts? Was she horrified? Most likely not. We have no record of any statement that she made during her lifetime with the exception of George Barris posthumously released “Marilyn: Her Life In Her Own Words.” The details of the quote are far from correct with what we can prove factually. Marilyn’s quote states that the cover used was her on a pink elephant. That is incorrect and describes the September 1955 cover where Marilyn was featured inside on top of an elephant.

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In fact, Marilyn was in talks to pose for Playboy’s December 1962 issue. By July 11, 1962 she had not made a final decision, which Pat Newcomb, her press agent, was asking her to make. According to “Something’s Got To Give” set photographer Larry Schiller, Marilyn had in fact decided to pose and the chosen photographs (from her nude pool scene in SGTG) were slipped under his apartment door on the day of her death.

Hugh Hefner never claimed a friendship with Marilyn. He said that they spoke on the phone once, likely to iron out details for her upcoming cover. The idea was for Marilyn to be photographed from both the front and behind, with her bum cheeks visible in a full length shot on the back cover while she would be wrapped in white fur on the front.

Hefner felt that he owed Marilyn a great debt. When the tomb beside hers was put for sale in 1992, Hefner bought it for $75,000. Joe DiMaggio supposedly showed no interest. He wanted to be buried with his family. The woman who helped start it all for a struggling young man in Chicago now will spend eternity beside him and there is nothing wrong with that. Hugh Hefner did an astounding amount for Old Hollywood, including saving the Hollywood sign twice. He was a genuine fan of Marilyn just like you or me. If any of us had the money we would be doing EXACTLY what Hugh Hefner did.

 

One thought on “Marilyn and Hugh Hefner NSFW

  1. I was born in 1949 so most of my life Playboy was an important part of our culture. I am a normal All-American man and of course I loved the pics of beautiful women in Playboy. More important was what Hugh Hefner did for changing society with racial equality, healthy sexual attitudes/health, freedom of speech/press and so much more. I am so glad he had a very long and incredible life. I think it is perfect that his final resting place is next to Marilyn, two legends side by side for ever!

    Liked by 1 person

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