Saturday, October 15, 2011
Screen Gem Saturdays: Andre, Marilyn, & Shirley
Andre de Dienes may not be one of the best known names today, but he is definitely one of the contributing factors to the fame and discovery of Marilyn Monroe. A very talented photographer, he studied art in Paris and learned photography on a Rolleiflex camera. Moving to Hollywood in 1944, de Dienes was able to combine two of his passions: the female nude and nature. He freelanced for the movie studios and specialized in glamour photography.
I have included a few shots from 1945 that showcase a fresh faced Marilyn Monroe (still Norma Jeane at the time), free of the artifice that the studios slapped onto her. These are definitely some of my favorite photos of Monroe because she seems so full of promise and happiness. Even without nudity, de Dienes was able to capture an inner sexuality and beauty.
Marilyn and de Dienes went on a five week photo tour, where he snapped the young beauty in a variety of natural settings.
Here is a shot of de Dienes himself that was supposedly shot by Marilyn.
Surprisingly enough, de Dienes also photographed Shirley Temple, just a few years earlier in 1943. The physical similarities between both young ladies at the same time makes one ponder what direction Shirley's career could have taken had the studios not felt constrained by her curly-top moppet image. I have also wondered if Shirley's ever-present mother had her watchful eye nearby during the shoot with de Dienes.
From Shirley's well-written and frank autobiography, "Child Star," Shirley recalled the photo shoot:
While Selznick was concentrating on making me look younger, Vanguard publicists were embarked on a patently uncoordinated program to make me older and overtly sexy. Photographer Andre de Dienes was assigned to pose me on a haystack at the nearby Arden Dairy Farm, coincidentally the home of Tillie Temple from Tillamook, my gift cow from a distant birthday. Dressed in cowboy boots, blue jeans, blouse, and a bulky cable-knit sweater, I fluffed out my hair and stretched out in what I assumed were seductive poses most lying back in the hay sucking on a piece of straw. After a few rolls of film de Dienes complained that my outfit was shapeless, and maybe too much. Rolling my jeans to the knee, I exposed both calves. Not just what he had in mind, he said. Let's take off the boots, for starters. Then, how about a little more off-the-shoulder with the blouse? For a third time, I rebelled. Pin-up photos were perfectly okay, particularly if the legs were like Betty Grable's. Contrived cheesecake was for starlets, and I wanted no part of it.
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