Many of the images seen in the “Marilyn Monroe: The Lost Photos of a Hollywood Star” collection were, in fact, literally lost. Mischa Pelz’s photos, taken in 1953, were found by his former assistant after an earthquake damaged the storeroom where they were being kept. Cinematographer Thomas “Doc” Kaminski, who documented the filming of in 1960, shot candid photos of the actors on the set and mailed them home to his family, where they went unnoticed for 40 years.
Family members found photos taken by Allan “Whitey” Snyder, Monroe’s makeup artist and a close friend, in an attic. “They always knew they [existed],” says Pierre Vudrag, the founder of Limited Runs and curator for the exhibit, “but they didn’t know exactly where they were. “She and Allan were very, very close friends,” Vudrag tells us. “She met Allan when she did her very first screen test and he had just been hired as a makeup artist. They were both coming up together and they hit it off. He worked with her right up to her death. They were so close that she asked him, ‘If I die before you, I want you to do my makeup.’ In the end, he did her makeup and was a pallbearer at her funeral. They were very close friends, so I think you see a lot of her not in the typical Hollywood pose. You see her, who she was behind the persona. You see her just being with her friends, just being Norma Jean.
Taken during the 1950s at the beginning of her career, the images from “Lost Photos” show a younger, more innocent Monroe. “She wasn’t the big star we know today. She was just a young actress. Lani [Carlson] took photos on the set of and that was the first film that she had a starring part. When you look at Lani’s photos, you see that this is probably the first time that she’s the center of attention. She had worked for Fox [Studios] for six years, struggling. And you can see the joy in her face; it’s finally starting to come around for her.”
Vudrag first saw Snyder’s photos in 2012 during a news report about their upcoming auction and “fell in love with them.” Over the next two years, he acquired more photos previously unseen by the public from other photographers. The “Lost Photos” collection also includes images by Milton H. Greene, Monroe’s official photographer and close friend, and Lani Carlson, a sound engineer who posed as a press photographer to gain access to stars.
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6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, noon to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Bisong Art Gallery, 1305 Sterrett Street. For information, visit limitedruns.com. Free.
Thu., Nov. 6, 6-9 p.m.; Nov. 7-8, 12-5 p.m., 2014