I remember gazing at the original book in college. I happened to be drunk and my new college roomate had the room decked with pictures of Jackie O, Marilyn Monroe and Bremen Shipping Lines advertisements (!). One of the picture books was the shots of Marilyn Monroe’s last sittings.
So, when I was drunk, I looked through the collection of photos.
And when I finished, I was actually saddened. Here was a woman at the age of thirty-six, still trying to seduce the photographer. While she was glad at first that he didn’t take her up on her offer, after a while I’m sure it ate at her that she wasn’t able to get a man to “want” her. And it wouldn’t surprise me if she ended up killing herself from the pain of this refusal by the photographer; even though there was no way for him to understand that.
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Forty-plus years later, the photographer reshoots the pictures, this time with a modern “star” who’s burned through her stardom relatively quickly.
There’s a sadness in the pictures, the same sadness that shows through the Marilyn Monroe pictures. This sadness is actually greater, as Lindsay Lohan actually looks older than Marilyn Monroe did in hers. Ever the consummate star, Marilyn kept up the pose of attracted attention; Lindsay Lohan actually looks like she’d gone through ten years of prostituting herself and had actually gone past the “smile as defense/threat” phase to the “too sad to even smile” phase.
Some people will be tempted to think that Marilyn Monroe was a better star than Lindsay simply because she could pose at 36 in a way that Lindsay couldn’t at 19. I would consider, however, that both these stars are/were at the same point of their careers: Near the physical end, where both of them were about to be physically unable to continue.
Marilyn was better at hiding it, having had 17 more years to practice that.
And Disney had better figure out a better way of protecting their stars. They’ve developd an ugly reputation of making stars who cannot handle their starhood.
I hope Miley Cyrus is better protected. Billy Ray, I hope you’re doing what Disney has proven it can’t (or won’t) do.