Marilyn Monroe – Naked…

Most of you are well aware that I’m currently writing a “films of” Marilyn Monroe book for McFarland, and in doing my research, I came across the below photograph this afternoon. I’ve never seen it before. Though Monroe was known for some risque photos in her time (her bare breasts and behind were photographed often), this obvious early shot of her, with nipple and clear pubic exposure, is pretty darn raunchy. Thoughts?

Below photo: See the suspicious bulge on the inner leg.


Filed under Marilyn Monroe

47 responses to “Marilyn Monroe – Naked…

  1. PGreen

    She certainly had a nice body and was perfect for cheesecake shots. I don’t quite understand the context of this pose though. What is she reacting to? If anyone found the negatives to this photo shoot they’d be very rich quick. It’d be interesting to see the rejected poses. 🙂
    There’s no doubt if MM had lived into the 1960s she’d have had no problem with nudity in films.

  2. Betty

    Hi Michelle,
    I suppose for the times the photos would be considered raunchy but I don’t find them to be at all. In fact, looking at the photos encourages me to hit the tred mill harder.

  3. moderator

    Anything with full frontal nudity is pretty controversial for these times. We’re talking about an era where women weren’t allowed to show a hint of cleavage on film, a belly button was taboo, so pubic hair and a nipple slip in the same shot is stepping off the censorship cliff, so to speak.

  4. PGreen

    Yes even Playboy avoided showing full frontal nudity back in the 1950s. Makes you wonder what kind of publication this was published in.

  5. moderator

    That’s true, Paul. Marilyn’s calendar shot, and later Playboy spread shows her breasts and side view of her buttocks, but no frontal nudity. In this photo, she looks more like “Marilyn Monroe” than her calendar shot too. I think it’s been taken a couple of years later. I wonder who took the photo/s and why? What publication would possibly publish this image back then???

  6. PGreen

    Yes it’s stranger the more you think about it because she looks like Marilyn Monroe and not Norma Jean. If 2oth Century-Fox knew about this photo shoot they’d be livid because as you know they treated their contract players like their personal property.

  7. moderator

    That’s what I think, Paul. This is not a shot that was taken when she was struggling. I think it was taken while she was well on her way, not quite “there” but well on her way to becoming a star. The make up, the shade of her hair, she’s morphing into Marilyn Monroe here. The calendar shoot caused a storm of controversy. At first the studio wanted Marilyn to deny it was her. She refused to play that game and admitted it was her. She flat out said she needed the money. It was that honesty that only endeared her to the public more. But, that’s tame compared to this!

  8. Erika

    I’m wondering if it was done for one of the types of publications, that maybe printed the Betty Paige photos? That’s really the only kind I can think of that may have gotten away with this.

    Or could it have been done as a private shot with a photog friend of hers. Not meant for publicity but more for personal study?

  9. moderator

    It’s a mystery, Erika. I’ve never even seen a shot that I’d consider a part of this same shoot. I doubt it’s one of a kind. There has to be a series around somewhere. As Paul said, the price of the negatives would be astronomical!

    • PGreen

      This pose reminds me of the Coppertone girl. There’s even a clear bathing suit line to show where the skin is still white. Could this be the original shot before it’s retouched for an ad campaign? The setting makes no sense so it’s possible MM’s body could be placed into a different setting to advertise a product (with the naughty bits airbrushed). Just a thought.

  10. Erika

    Wasn’t Jodi Foster the Coppertone girl? But you are right Paul it is kinda that pose… Hmmmm

  11. moderator

    Yeah, as a kid, Jodie Foster was the Coppertone girl. But, the white panty line is strange. Makes me wonder if this was a pro shoot. If it was, and she was meant to be naked like this, surely body make up would have been applied…

  12. PGreen

    I think this is fake. Look at the shoulder. It’s delineated with a black line and the back is out of synch with the small of the back. It doesn’t join up if you follow an imaginary line. The tone is also too dark on the shoulder and top of the back compared to the rest of MM’s body.

  13. moderator

    Marilyn’s head on another woman’s body? You may be onto something there, Paul. I wonder…

  14. Andrew Ward

    Just a note from an elderly fan of this haunting woman. I don’t believe this is a fake, nor do I think she was already well on her way to stardom when she posed for it. The scenario in the image may be hard to surmise for someone not born in the 1940s, but this was clearly taken to advertise televisions with high fidelity — note the extra large speakers to either side of the screen. This was still at the stage in television’s development when they couldn’t do much about the tiny screens but they could garnish them with features like fancy cabinetry and large speakers. The point of the shot is that she has just run out of the shower to answer the phone, only to realize that the ringing was not from her phone (note the disconnected cable) but from her television. And I think it would have been an enormously stupid error on the TV company’s part not to employ this charming image. I suspect it may turn up somewhere in an extinct publication from that period. Even in her day it would have been a simple thing for the photographer to airbrush the errant portions of the image, as they often did. (Marilyn’s trust in her photographers was legendary, which accounts for the ease she evinces in so many of her images.) The original negative would indeed garner a tremendous price, and all for a little peek at this and that. But she was as tremendously gifted a model as she was a model. I’ve always wanted to read something about how she affected preadolescent boys like me. I don’t think it was only because she was a knockout but because we identified with the child-like joy, physical freedom, and occasional bewilderment she conveyed. I had to put on a few years before I could appreciate her rivals: Taylor, Gardner, Loren, because there was nothing remotely childish about them. But Miss Monroe? She had me from the start.

    • Moderator

      Thanks for posting your thoughts, Andrew. I found what you had to say fascinating. And, you’ve appeared to have solved the puzzle that was plaguing me and a few others. Thank you for taking the time to explain the ad and debunk our thoughts that the photo may have been a fake.

      • Andrew Ward

        You’re welcome. I of course meant to write “as gifted a model as she was an actress,” a mistake symptomatic of my age. Old Monroe fans do not die, they just lose their minds.

  15. Moderator

    Paul has enlarged portions of the photo today and found some suspicious findings. Paul, feel free to post what you found. I’ll add the enlargement of the left leg that you sent me via e-mail, Paul. See above everyone. There’s a strange bulge there…

  16. AW

    I don’t see the evidence that it’s a fake. That’s not a bulge, but the shadow from the telephone wire, cast by a light source somewhat in front of and to the left of Miss Monroe, as the shadow on the wall attests. The camera setup was such that it strongly illuminated her from one, possibly two angles, and then the camera itself was equipped with a flash and probably a yellow filter to bring out her flesh tones. This made for very sharp defining lines, like the lines along her arm, which enhanced its printability in newspapers. Body makeup at that time would have been unusual for a shoot like this. Models would sit around in a robe or take a bath for a while to get rid of panty and bra lines, but except for the great movie studio portraitists, all but a few photographers relied on air brushing. This seems to me to be a raw, unadulterated proof that the photographer would have “corrected” before submitting it to an advertiser. I’m prepared to be proven wrong, but I’ve been repairing old photographs with PhotoShop for nearly twenty years and everything about this image seems genuine. In any case, I wonder what Miss Monroe would make of our poring over this old image like forensic pathologists.

    • Moderator

      It’s interesting banter, isn’t it, Andrew? PhotoShop has made many people question what’s real and what’s not. Sometimes it’s hard to tell. I wish Marilyn could set the record straight for us 🙂

  17. If this is genuine then a person has got access to the original print and has simply scanned it and placed it online. Because this print wouldn’t have made it to publication without being retouched (pubic hair was off limits for advertising and even Playboy in the 1950s).

  18. Regarding the shadow from the phone line on MM’s leg. Why doesn’t the shadow curve across the knee or lower leg to reflect the phone line curving outward? I went to art college and studied photography and then worked as an artist for 25 years so I’m not exactly a novice.

  19. If you look closely at the bulge on the leg you will find there is no defining edge for that part of the leg. Only the curving shadow. This results in the bulge effect. The outline of MM’s leg has disappeared

    • AW

      Watching My Week with Marilyn and then seeking out images of her to restore the real Marilyn to me has led me down this bumpy path. I didn’t mean to question anyone’s expertise, nor to overstate mine.. My RISD years as a photography major are almost fifty years behind me. But this demonstrates to me why art experts differ so adamantly about forgeries versus authentic works of art. A matter of the eye of the beholder, compounded here by the poor resolution of the scanned image. • When I blow up Miss Monroe’s thigh (and there’s a phrase I never expected to write), I do see the outline of her left leg, though it is very faint, but then so is the differentiation between her feet. I dragged the image into PhotoShop and then selected both the phone line and the shadow and set them next to each other. The curve in the shadow precisely matches the curve of the wire. • Then I removed the shadow without disturbing the area between her legs and began to consider the shadow from a second, weaker light set on the floor somewhere between us and the right foreground. The shadow it casts along her right leg is just the same tone as the edge of the front of her right upper thigh, Why? Because the gentler the horizontal curve of her thigh, the fainter its outline, whereas the sharper edge of her shin creates a darker, defining outline. • The light coming at her from the upper left of the picture is much stronger, and though it creates a lot of tonal range along the back of Miss Monroe’s body, it has flattened out the tone along her front. My opinion, and that’s all it is, is that it’s the position of the wire’s shadow running between her upper thighs that raises an expectation that the line should continue down her leg and better define her right thigh, and that without the phone line’s shadow it wouldn’t look at all suspicious. • If it is a fake, it is masterly. Those are Miss Monroe’s legs with the dimpled knees and slightly attenuated calves and the sharp ankles and long feet. And I suspect that’s Miss Monroe’s pubis, too, though alas I can’t attest to it. If you suspect you’re dealing with an elderly man with the flu, you’d be right. More this deponent sayeth not.

  20. It is an interesting discussion Andrew. 😉 You definitely know your subject. I’ve been trying to trace the TV model to see if I can find a date for it.
    What was your exact source for this photo Michelle?

    • AW

      In my ongoing campaign to find something to do while recuperating I searched for and found the TV model. It’s an RCA 630TS, introduced in October 1946 and manufactured until 1949. I found it at
      You have to take the image from the pose and lighten it to reveal that the wood beneath the speakers isn’t black, but once you do, it matches, as do the upholstery nails along their perimeter. This means the photo was taken in late 1946 at the earliest, which means I was mistaken in saying it was taken before she was a starlet, as she was probably already Marilyn Monroe by then, appearing in bit parts before her breakthrough in The Asphalt Jungle and All About Eve in 1950. I wonder if the airbrushed version ever ran. I doubt it. Advertisers right after the war began to shrink away from pinup girl advertising for home appliances, favoring scenes of domestic tranquility instead, which a half naked Miss Monroe would have deeply disturbed. But then RCA’s David Sarnoff created RKO, where Marilyn’s mother worked as a film cutter, so there may have been a connection. Who knows?

  21. Great research Andrew.

    • Moderator

      Gee, I’ve been sleeping all night and you guys have turned into Sherlock and Watson…LOL! I had a lot of reading to do over my morning coffee. Fascinating stuff. Thanks to both you, and Andrew, for breaking the image down and taking the time to post your thoughts and opinions here.

      • AW

        Just came upon a more chaste version of the same image we were discussing at
        If one of them got used somewhere, it was probably this one, even though the towel makes her look pregnant.
        It was one of a number of images Earl Moran took of her in various costumes, nighties, and the like. He was mostly a calendar photographer, so this may have been intended merely as a pinup with a novelty scenario.

      • AW

        There are in fact four images of this pose, two with the same difficulty, two chaste versions, which establishes these are indeed of Marilyn Monroe. In any case, Moran was more of a painter than a photographer, basing his famous calendar nudes — right up there with Vargas — on the pictures he took in his rather seedy house. So what Miss Monroe was doing was posing for his paintings, in which he would have been able eliminate the overexposure problem. Now I need a drink, and maybe a life. But the flu hangs on.

  22. Moderator

    WOW! Looks like you’ve solved the mystery once and for all, Andrew. Thanks so much for following up on this for us all. It’s certainly been an interesting journey. Incidentally, how are you feeling? Better, I hope 🙂

  23. Moderator

    A well deserved drink too…only in your condition, it should consist of hot lemon, honey and a dash of cayenne pepper…okay, maybe a dash of whiskey too. Get rid of that flu! It’s really hanging on…Ugh! Thanks again for finding the source of this photo 🙂

  24. Great detective work Andrew. Case solved. The photo is genuine and all my theories about it being false were wrong. I am surprised these poses haven’t received more attention though.

    • AW

      Thanks, and thanks for the recipe. I guess we have Loren and Mansfield to blame for raising the bar, or bra, in this department. Also her arch rival, Elizabeth Taylor, I guess (but notably not Ava Gardner). On the other hand, though it’s odd to think of her as a late bloomer, she got a lot bustier later on, especially in her zoftig phase in the early 1950s. Her body never looked the same from shoot to shoot, but she always looked terrific. • I must come off as a complete Marilyn Monroe fetishist, but if asked if I have anything to say in my defense, I will remind the judge that Miss Monroe was the formative sexual icon of my boomer generation and made obsessives of us all. And better her, I might add, than, say, Britney Spears. • Now to brew some tea…

  25. Looking at the photos it’s amazing how nudity takes away the “mystery” of a person. MM’s breasts weren’t that large by today’s silicone standards. A lot of fuss over nothing really. If we all walked around in the nude what would the media look for to sell copy?

  26. My aunt has this poster framed. When me and my cousins were kids we went inside this old convienent store that had burned down and found this in okay condition. it was folded and there’s a small hole but when framed still looks good. how much do you think it’s worth?

    • Moderator

      It’s anyone’s guess as to how much it’s worth. Condition plays a huge part. There are a lot of poster appraiser’s online. Might be worth doing a Google search to find a reputable one.

      • My aunt has this poster framed. When me and my cousins were kids, we went inside this burned down convenience store and found this poster along with some old school playboys undamaged. The poster was folded up though and there is a small hole on the upper left side of the poster. still, it looks great framed up. how much do you think she can sell it for?

  27. I just found this site and just saw this. This photo of MM didn’t surprise me at all, she was always dropping towels and running around nude in front of people and whoever said she trusted photographers, yes, she did, but I also think she didn’t care. She knew the censors would catch it before releasing it, in fact she was always trying to test the limits herself (with the censors) just to have fun I think. She had no shame about nudity. To her it was like, ‘what is all the fuss about?’. What does surprise me is that this was posted on the internet. If I had this in a private collection I would have done something else with it. Not sure what. Just seems too valuable to throw up online. Someone commented on her body being not so different from most women and they are right. Her weight went up and down, just like most women, which is why sometimes she is bigger busted than other times. But she was ahead of her time in ways people don’t realize. She worked out in a time it was unheard of and jogged way before it was popular. In her last uncompleted film, in the pool scene, you can scene the muscles in her legs. In fact there was one she thought showed too much muscle, and did not want it released. She studied the hell out of her photos! The stills she never wanted released were destroyed, but I wonder sometimes if there aren’t still some more from that day when she let them film her nude in the pool and one day someone will come across them. They were taken right before she died. She looked so good in those pictures.And she also looked like she was having fun. And she was because she was in her element when she was posing. By the way, you guys who work in photography here and described all this stuff technically, I didn’t understand a word of it but I respect your knowledge and wish I did understand it. But when I saw the pictures, I felt at once they were probably the real thing because this was not unusual in a Monroe shoot for her to drop it all and let the other guys figure out. I have worked as a dresser on traveling Broadway shows and the first time I was back stage I had never seen so many bare male asses at one time in my whole life and was kind of shocked. But it was nothing to them. That’s the way I see her thinking here in these pictures. She was just working. It was what she did and it’s just part of show business. But it was more protective and different back then. She had to cover her navel in her two piece bathing suit in 1962 but she managed to wriggle herself out of that bathing suit anyway. In the movie “My Week With Marilyn” where Colin walks in on her accidentally and finds her naked- her non reaction, except enjoying his uncomfortable reaction, is probably one of the few true things in the movie.

    • Moderator

      She always pushed the censorship envelope. In many of her films, she let the towel or the sheet drop that little bit lower, just to see how far she could go. She was certainly way ahead of her time in that regard.

  28. Damianle

    I dont think it’s another woman’s body just y looking at the shape of the breasts and the length and shape of the legs!

  29. munich

    I have no reason to be in this conversation, being so late. I will say, fake or real, it is quite eveident we will remember HER. Still trying to figure out how I got here. Oh well, I truely enjoyed reading all of the posts. Hope AW got over the flu. MM will always be an ICONIC LADY, no matter what generation.

  30. Janet B

    This is not a fake. It was a pullout from a magazine, possibly Esquire. I have a copy of the pullout that had been framed for many years. My husband (who’s had it for almost 30 years) got it from a friend whose dad framed it.

  31. Tom

    Strange discussion here! I am sorry but as an author of a forthcoming Marilyn Monroe book you should know that this photo (and others of that same photo session) were made by pin up artist and illustrator Earl Moran
    who took those photograghs as a guidelines for his pastels ONLY (not for publishing). In 1983 Moran sold the photos to LIFE magazine and later the more risky ones were published in 1986/87in Playboy magazine around the world. The series of Marilyn with a telephone was photographed in 1949.

    A fan from Germany

  32. Janet Boileau

    Well I have a print of this image hanging on my wall in a frame. My copy is clearly from a magazine, as it has the distinct lines from being folded. My husband acquired the print from a friend over 30 years ago. Said friend said his dad took it out of a magazine and framed it when it was released. My copy does not have a bulge on the thigh.

  33. Hurrde

    Not just-posing-for-pinup ? Like other pictures

  34. Lumnije Bitici

    Wow, i just looked at the pictures and all i can see is a young naive MM that only wants to be famous, and the men took ( again) advantage of her & took all these puctures that i`m sure she didn`t want to get puplished.

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