Marilyn Monroe: Never-Published Photos

These photos are breathtaking, they are from a LIFE exclusive called MARILYN: Never-Published Photos. It included stories about the beautiful Marilyn and the photos show a playful, soft side of her.
Marilyn Monroe’s Day in the Park
August 1950: A 24-year-old Marilyn, wearing a simple button-down shirt monogrammed with her initials, leans against a tree in Los Angeles’ Griffith Park for LIFE photographer Ed Clark. The negatives for these photos were recently discovered during our ongoing effort to digitize LIFE’s immense and storied photo archive, including outtakes and entire shoots that never saw the light of day. Click through to see more stunning shots of Marilyn, plus the reason why they may never have been published…
Wonder Woman
A barefoot Monroe balances on rocks over a tiny brook. In a 1999 interview with Digital Journalist, photographer Clark described how in 1950 he received a call from a friend at 20th Century Fox about “a hot tomato” the studio had just signed: Marilyn.
Marilyn Lies Down
Monroe, changed into a bikini top, relaxes with a script. Why LIFE never published this gold mine of photos after Marilyn became a superstar remains a mystery. The only clue: a brief note about the shoot we found in our archives, addressed to LIFE’s photo editor and saying that “this take was over-developed and poorly printed.”
Marilyn Reads a Script
Lounging in the shade, Monroe studies lines of an unknown script. It was still early in her career, and she’d just begun to grab attention: Three months before this shoot, she appeared as a crooked lawyer’s girlfriend in “The Asphalt Jungle,” and two months after, she had a small role as an aspiring starlet in “All About Eve.”
Bright Eyes
Marilyn flashes a brilliant smile. It’s hard to believe that just four years earlier, she was Norma Jeane Dougherty, the wife of a Merchant Marine and a worker in a munitions factory.
Making a Point
Monroe appears to be acting out a scene. At the time, she was under the instruction of legendary acting coach Natasha Lytess.
Natural Woman
Marilyn gets her feet wet. Though it looks like a beautiful day here, the note LIFE found in its archives about this shoot reads, “The weather has been poor, which has held up our outdoor shooting on her.”
Marilyn Gets Serious
Monroe, beautifully framed by the foliage. She was discovered in 1946, after 20th Century Fox exec Ben Lyon noticed the modeling Marilyn on magazine covers and arranged a screen test for her. “It’s Jean Harlow all over again,” he is reported to have said.
Fixing Her Hair
Marilyn pats her curls. Naturally a brunette, Monroe reportedly dyed her hair blonde during her modeling days, after hearing that’s the look agencies wanted.
Casual Marilyn
Today, of course, Monroe is remembered as the ultimate sex symbol — but Ed Clark’s camera captures something else here: a not-yet-packaged young woman unaware of what lies in store for her.
Innocently Sexy
Monroe leans over a railing, her short-shorts riding up. Four years later, she’d famously show off those legs again during the subway-grate scene of “The Seven Year Itch.”
Marilyn Walks Away
A glimpse of the future superstar as she walks — in adorable saddle shoes — down a trail. (Want more Marilyn? Follow her life, her loves, and her career in photos.)
The Relationship Continues
In 1953, three years after the Griffith Park shoot, Ed Clark visited the set of “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,” where he captured many of the iconic moments from the film. Here, Marilyn performs “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend,” the number that later inspired Madonna’s “Material Girl” video.
Photo: Ed Clark/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images
ago 01, 1950.


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