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Photograph: Ambika Singh

Images from Marilyn Monroe's very last photo-shoot are now on display in NYC

By
Howard Halle
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Pop-ups of one variety or the next seem to be, well, popping up everywhere around NYC, but one may arguably stand out from the rest. That’s because it involves one of Hollywood's greatest legends: Marilyn Monroe. Her sultry presence graces “The Red Party,” an exhibition at boutique hostelry HGU New York Hotel that features the final photos of the superstar before her untimely passing in 1962.

Photograph: © The Bert Stern Trust

The work of Bert Stern, the images had been commissioned by Vogue and were taken over three sessions that became known as The Last Sitting®—the bookend, as it were, for a career which was set into high gear in 1953, thanks to a nude photo-spread and cover shot of Marilyn for the very first issue of Playboy. Nine years on, Stern captured an older Monroe whose sex appeal had not diminished one bit.

Photograph: © The Bert Stern Trust

Described as particularly relaxed during the shoot, Marilyn is pictured in the latest fashions, and also in her birthday suit, albeit with her body strategically veiled in places. This was during a period in her life when her career was in decline and she suffered from medical issues, including depression. But you wouldn't know it by looking at Bert's images, in which she’s seen playing coy for the camera. Six weeks later, however, she was found dead in the bedroom of her Los Angeles home. The coroner ruled her death a suicide, while the tabloids noted salaciously that she was naked under the sheets.

Photograph: © The Bert Stern Trust

This tragic turn of events has made The Last Sitting® iconic, of course, helping to perpetuate the memory of Monroe in pop culture. The show is up until April 13 and additionally, serves a good cause: Sale proceeds are going to Australian Wildfires Disaster Relief. 

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