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Finding Marilyn Monroe: A Fan’s Journey of Discovery with Anna Strasberg, Part II

Part II:  Assembly Anna Strasberg


I’d traveled from California to New York on a redeye flight to satisfy with Anna Strasberg.  It was 10:30 a.m. on March 8, and I was standing at her entrance door, considerably in a state of disbelief.  With a sense of nervousness combined with pleasure, I rang her doorbell and thought, “Here I go.”

Anna herself answered the door and welcomed me into her house. It was the same condominium she had shared with Lee. The identical residence Marilyn visited numerous occasions when visiting Lee and Paula. It was much the best way Susan Strasberg had described it in her guide Marilyn and Me. The house was giant with high ceilings, and home windows overlooking Central Park.  Numerous books lined the shelves of floor-to-ceiling bookcases in all of the primary rooms.

There have been pictures in all places all through the house. Footage of Anna with Lee, and photographs of her together with her sons and her grandchildren. There have been photographs of Lee together with great icons of films and television, including Sally Subject, Marlo Thomas, and Sophia Loren.

And, unexpectedly, there have been framed pictures of Marilyn in all places. There have been a number of photographs of her with Lee, together with this picture of them collectively on the Actors Studio profit in March 1961.

The photograph under of Marilyn and Lee having espresso at a café after attending the Broadway play, A Hatful Of Rain, November 1955 hung on a wall in the house.

This portrait of Marilyn, taken by Jack Cardiff in 1956, hung on a wall in the dining room. Anna informed me it had been Marilyn’s personal photograph.

Another wall of the eating room displayed this framed print by illustrator Jon Whitcomb, used for the duvet of Cosmopolitan magazine in March 1959.

On a bookcase shelf rested an unpublished photograph of Marilyn at the Actors Studio in 1955.

Once I requested Anna concerning the photographs of Marilyn, she stated, “This was Marilyn’s home also. She spent a lot of time with Lee in this house. I want her represented here too.”

There have been remembrances of Lee all over the place, together with his awards and recognition, such because the Il Michelangelo Award for Distinguished Service to Youngsters.  His Covenant of Peace Award from the Synagogue Council of America was displayed in a glass case in the primary front room. Lee’s nomination certificates from the Academy for Greatest Actor in a Supporting Position for The Godfather Part II in 1975 hung in the primary hallway.  Under is a clip from the 1975 broadcast of the Oscars saying this award.  The Oscar went to Robert De Niro, Lee’s scholar.

We sat at her eating room desk over the subsequent few hours and hung out getting to know one another. In very brief order I discovered that whenever you visit Anna Strasberg you’re fed, and also you eat. That first morning brought a do-it-yourself breakfast of huevos rancheros, and it was scrumptious. I had superb house cooked meals all through my whole keep.

We talked about Lee and Marilyn. We talked about Marilyn’s property and what it had been like for Anna by way of the years. I used to be stunned to find that Lee hadn’t even recognized he was mentioned in Marilyn’s will. He discovered of it only after she had died.  I had all the time assumed that Lee knew he would inherit Marilyn’s property and belongings. I was clearly incorrect.

I asked Anna what it had been like for him to discover that he was in her will, and the process of receiving her property. “I wasn’t there when Lee found out that he was in Marilyn’s will,” she stated. “Memorabilia wasn’t a big deal in those days. People looked at someone’s things and didn’t see them as important. Licensing became popular after Janis Joplin’s family responded to the requests of fans for some mementos of hers. Then it became apparent that people wanted to have a part of someone’s life to keep that person’s memory alive.”

She went on to say, “We didn’t receive Marilyn’s things right away. They came a few years later. When the boxes arrived, Lee was so moved by seeing the memories of her. Everything in the boxes was in a state of disarray. An assistant was hired to help catalog what we had received to ensure that her possessions would be protected. It was a process of discovery: A discovery of Marilyn’s writing and how beautifully she expressed herself in her poems. Discovering the books she read and her love of literature and intellectual curiosity.” Anna would later publish Marilyn’s writings and poems in a ebook entitled Fragments.

Anna mentioned that by means of her property she and Lee discovered that Marilyn did not hand over her humanity, although she was a movie star. The memorabilia only confirmed her humanity and her talent. “There are many people who admire Marilyn and love her,” Anna stated. “Whatever their reasons, all they want is to feel close to her with whichever memento they possess.”

Anna shared with me her efforts around distributing Marilyn’s personal possessions to folks that had been part of her life. For instance, the mirrored dining room table that was in Marilyn’s East 57th Road house had been chosen by good friend and designer John Moore. Marilyn had enlisted his assistance in redecorating the new house she was sharing with Arthur Miller.  Anna gave the desk to Moore considering his friendship with Marilyn and his connection to the item.

Anna gave the mirrored table in Marilyn’s dining room to John Moore, Marilyn’s good friend and the designer who had selected it as part of a rework undertaking.

In her dining room there was a large oil portray of Eleanor Roosevelt. I requested Anna about it and found that she’d truly worked for the previous First Woman. “I worked in the cultural department of the United Nations, which fostered closer ties among the world’s countries through the sharing of arts and cultural programs. Eleanor Roosevelt headed it.” Anna went on to say, “It was a wondrous place to work, with people greeting you in many different languages. Eleanor Roosevelt had a wonderful way of knowing who she was. She was a great lady who was approachable and kept everything simple.” Anna stated that Mrs. Roosevelt was all the time very sort, and to place individuals comfy upon assembly them, she would introduce herself by saying, “Hello…Eleanor Roosevelt,” and the impact was magical. “She brought excitement to people,” Anna stated. “They were talking to Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt.”

My first go to with Anna lasted four days, and we made a number of journeys to her storage facility. Throughout these visits we seen Lee’s in depth assortment of books. A lover of literature, his collection spanned many genres, in several totally different languages. Anna estimated his library contained near 10,000 books. I couldn’t assist but marvel how typically Marilyn and Lee had talked about books and literature throughout their many conversations. Contemplating the vastness of his library, he should have influenced Marilyn and inspired her to read and study.

Marilyn’s personal library contained over 400 books on a spread of subjects, reflecting each her intelligence and her wide-ranging pursuits. Her books coated works of literature, art, drama, biography, poetry, politics, historical past, theology, philosophy, and psychology. Her library additionally contained books on gardening, her bibles, and youngsters’s books, together with her personal copy of The Little Engine That Might which was probably marked with her own childish scrawl.

A true second of astonishment occurred as Anna and I have been reviewing Lee’s books. I randomly chosen a field of books to go through. As I sorted via the books inside, I instantly observed a title that was very acquainted to me: Of Stars and Men – Human Response to an Increasing Universe by Harlow Shapely. I recognized this specific e-book as a result of Marilyn, too, had owned a replica, which I now own.

It first bought at the 1999 Christie’s public sale, and I purchased it at a subsequent sale. I’m lucky enough to personal 5 volumes from Marilyn’s personal library, some of which are actually photographed with Marilyn in her residence.

A number of of the books I own have Marilyn’s handwriting inside, and in addition passages that she underlined.

Of Stars and Males was the very first of her books I had bought. To place this prevalence into perspective, this specific storage unit was full of nothing but Lee’s personal library. It held actually lots of of packing containers of books that have been saved on flooring to ceiling racks. I questioned if Lee had given Marilyn the ebook, or perhaps Marilyn gave it to Lee. Was it merely a coincidence that I chosen that one box out of lots of that included Lee’s copy of the same e-book Marilyn owned…that I now own?

We also appeared via Lee’s in depth assortment of data, which, like his books, numbered in the hundreds. He was a lover of classical music, and Anna nonetheless has his whole report assortment. Susan Strasberg wrote about how her mother and father’ condominium was all the time crammed with music, and here have been the data that they had listened to.  Anna additionally still has Lee’s Sonora Victrola upright phonograph. We powered it up and listened to at least one of Lee’s data. Had Marilyn and Lee listened to music collectively on this similar phonograph? A grouping of Marilyn’s data (proven under) bought at the 1999 Christie’s sale.  The estimate was $2,000-4,000, the ultimate worth was $14,950.00.

Anna had one other storage unit crammed with licensed collectibles and memorabilia, some of which I’d never seen earlier than. This storage unit contained unbelievable memorabilia: Watches, tins, purses, ties, clocks, shirts, vacation ornaments, magnets, puzzles, towels, studying glasses, sun shades, journals, coffee mugs, bed sheets, posters, buttons, stickers, ink stamps, pins, checkbook covers, postcards and postcard books, present luggage, gown patterns for Marilyn’s costumes, belt buckles, and even wrapping paper.  There have been numerous gadgets, and the power was overflowing with first-run and prototype memorabilia samples.  It was a collector’s dream to see all of these things (nonetheless in their unique packaging). Anna truly gave a number of gadgets to me as presents, including this enamel present box by Halcyon Days, featuring Andy Warhol’s “Marilyn Monroe” silkscreen from 1964. This was the primary present field produced, the original prototype. It’s unnumbered.

It was throughout my first trip to work with Anna that I lastly had a chance to visit Marilyn’s two flats in New York: 2 Sutton Place and 444 East 57th Road. I hadn’t realized previously that these two places have been literally right next to one another.

I visited Anna in her residence on my last day in New York to say goodbye and to make plans for my subsequent journey. When it got here time for me to go away, Anna stood up from the dining room desk with me, grabbed my hand and walked me to the entrance door. With a hug goodbye she sent me on my means. I’d return to New York two more occasions to finish my work on the venture.