Old Hollywood Post

The upcoming sale of Marilyn’s medical files (at Julien’s in November) has spawned many sensationalist headlines (probably to up the bids). As I said in a previous post, I don’t approve of this sale. However, the files have raised some important points which have largely been overlooked – so I’m going to briefly address some of these issues here.

Most of these stories pertain to plastic surgery, but the files (from the collection of Dr Michael Gurdin) actually prove what sites like Danamo’s MM Pages have been saying all along – that Marilyn had very few surgical enhancements:

“1. Prior to the shooting of Ladies of the Chorus, (1948) Dr. Walter Taylor, an orthodontist specializing in cosmetic surgery, fixed her front teeth, which protruded slightly.
2. In 1950, Johnny Hyde arranged for her to have her nose and chin surgically perfected. The details are unknown. Rumor has it that they removed a piece of dead cartilage from her nose and added cartilage to her chin.”

The sale of the files was originally reported in an interesting article by Eric Kelsey and Sharon Reich for Reuters:

“The set of six X-rays and a file of doctors’ notes that offer a partial medical history of the Gentlemen Prefer Blondes actress from 1950 to 1962, are expected to fetch between $15,000 and $30,000 at auction on November 9-10, said Julien’s Auctions in Beverly Hills, California.

The notes written by Hollywood plastic surgeon Michael Gurdin appear to confirm speculation that Monroe, who epitomized glamour and set a standard of movie star beauty during the latter part of Hollywood’s golden era, went under the knife for cosmetic reasons.

The seller, who is so far unnamed, received the items as a gift from Gurdin.

Gurdin’s notes include references to a 1950 cartilage implant in Monroe’s chin, which he observed to have slowly begun to dissolve.”

What intrigues me most about the files is that they also mention the mysterious injury to her nose that Marilyn suffered in June 1962. It was attributed to a fall in the shower, although some biographers have disputed this.

Following the incident, Marilyn visited Gurdin’s office with her psychiatrist, Dr Ralph Greenson. These files are under the pseudonym ‘Joan Newman‘ – probably after Greenson’s daughter, Joan, and Leo Rosten’s novel, Captain Newman M.D., which was based on Greenson’s wartime experiences. Marilyn was reading the book in the weeks before her death. It was filmed in 1963, with Gregory Peck in the lead role.

At the time of her visit to Gurdin, Marilyn weighed 115 lb. And at 5 ft 6, this makes her quite slim – certainly not the plus-size beauty that some have claimed. Like all women, MM’s weight fluctuated at times – but even at her heaviest, she was still only 140 lb.

Finally, the files also reveal that Marilyn suffered from neutropenia – a low level of a white blood cell type, which can make patients vulnerable to bacterial infections.

Maybe this could help to explain why Marilyn was so susceptible to viruses throughout her short life. Also during filming of Something’s Got to Give, she caught a cold which quickly developed into acute sinusitis. Unfortunately, her bosses at Fox were unsympathetic, and her repeated absences from the set led to her being fired.

“The X-rays are dated June 7, 1962, after Monroe saw Gurdin following a late night fall and two months before the actress would die at age 36 from an overdose of barbiturates. The death was ruled a probable suicide.

The X-rays include Monroe’s frontal facial bones, a composite right and left X-ray of the sides of her nasal bones and dental X-rays of the roof of her mouth.

A set of three chest X-rays of Monroe from 1954 sold for $45,000 at a 2010 auction.

A self-published memoir by Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Norman Leaf in 2010 claimed that Monroe underwent cosmetic surgery on her chin in 1950, citing the same notes made by Gurdin, Leaf’s medical partner.

Leaf also states in his memoir that Monroe underwent a slight rhinoplasty procedure on the tip of her nose.

A radiologist’s notes included in the lot determined that there was no damage to Monroe’s nose from the fall, but a recent evaluation of the X-rays found a minute fracture, the auction house said.

Doctors used the name ‘Joan Newman‘ as Monroe’s alias on the X-rays which list her height as 5 feet, 6 inches (1.68 m) and her weight as 115 lb (52 kg).

Gurdin’s notes were first drawn up in 1958 when the actress complained about a ‘chin deformity’ and the note listed her married name, Marilyn Miller. She was married to playwright Arthur Miller from 1956 to 1961.

The notes also indicate that Monroe suffered from neutropenia, a low level of a white blood cell type, in 1956 while in England and had an ectopic pregnancy in 1957.”


I’ve (Roger Friedman of Showbiz411) held off writing about an indie film called “Jayne Mansfield’s Car” which opened this weekend and didn’t do very well. I thought using Mansfield’s name in the title was exploitative and insensitive. The movie is written and directed by Billy Bob Thornton. If you’re too young to know, Jayne Mansfield was the beautiful mother of “Law & Order SVU” star Mariska Hargitay. Mansfield died in a car crash in 1967. She was 34 and left five children.

The new movie has nothing to do with Mansfield, but it has a title which seems excessively in poor taste. Jayne Mansfield was a human being and she has a family. Her name may be in the public domain, but the movie is using it and her accident to exploit itself.

Hargitay hasn’t done anything about it but she’s not happy. “I mean, come on, it’s horrible,” she told me the other night at the season premiere screening for “Law & Order: SVU.” She told me: “I don’t want to make a whole thing out of it. But they didn’t even ask me if it was alright.” Hargitay is too classy to make a scene. But it was a bad idea. And the result is bad karma for a film that will be on Netflix and DVD very quickly.


There's a really interesting piece over at the Literate Lens website about the apparently dying art of darkroom printing. In it the author talks about spending time with Magnum Photos dark room printer Pablo Inirio - the man who made all those Cartier-Bresson, Dennis Stock and René Burri photographs look so good.

Inirio was born in the Dominican Republic in 1961 and worked as a photographer's assistant in New York (including six years with fashion photographer Hal Oringer). He joined Magnum in 1992 as the New York office's dark room printer.

The Literate Lens story recounts a day spent in his dark room and studio some three years ago where the "prints lying casually around included Dennis Stock's famous portrait of James Dean in Times Square and a cigar chewing Che Guevara shot by René Burri." As the writer recounts, "Intricate squiggles and numbers" were "scrawled all over the prints, showing Inirio's complex formulas for printing them. A few seconds of dodging here , some burning-in there. Will six seconds be enough to bring out some definition in the building behind Dean? Perhaps, depending on the temperature of the chemicals."

The author of the piece points out that, "over the last 15 years, almost every photographer I've interviewed has waxed poetic about the magical experience of seeing an image develop in chemicals for the first time." It's a story phaidon.com can relate to as many of the photographers we work with, among them Burri, Roger Ballen and Danny Lyon have told us the same tale.

Although you'd expect the fine art of the dark room printer to be a disappearing one (will today's young photographers rhapsodise over the first time they colour-calibrated their computer monitors?) there is a silver lining of sorts. The writer catches up with Inirio some years later and, somewhat unexpectedly, learns he's busier than ever.

"Collectors and galleries still want prints on fiber paper - they just like the way it looks," he tells the writer. Many of his prints it seems go to exhibitions, book publishers and private collectors. "I'm still pretty busy - in fact I'm backed up," Inirio admits. Read the full fascinating story here.


Burt Lancaster reportedly was a great secret keeper and aided in keeping one of the biggest Hollywood secrets of all times when it came to the real sexual orientation of his close pal Rock Hudson.

Reports reveal that Lancaster was spotted often attending the all male parties held on a regular basis by Rock Hudson during the 50s.

Burt Lancaster was well known for speaking his mind honestly and freely as an outspoken proponent of equality and freedom for everyone. during the height of both Hudson and Lancaster’s Hollywood careers, movie studio execs made sure that Rock Hudson’s sexual orientation was kept a secret from his thousands of fans.
A close friend of Burt Lancaster recently revealed that Burt had no problems at all attending his friend Rock Hudson’s all male pool parties showing off his well toned physique to all his gay admirers and friends of Hudson’s, revealing that Burt Lancaster was secure enough with himself not to care about those issues back then.
Lancaster was once asked later in life if he had participated in Rock Hudson’s alleged gay orgies denying his participation and saying:

“I go to the opera too, but I don’t sing.”