Marilyn – Hollywood Icon

Marilyn Monroe exhibition

Past exhibition: 12 March to 31 October 2011

“I am not interested in money. I just want to be wonderful.”

Marilyn Monroe (1926 – 1962)

The life lived by Marilyn Monroe is a tale of triumph and tragedy. Marilyn – Hollywood Icon was a celebration of the enduring legacy of the fabulous blonde, which gentlemen (and the rest of us) continue to prefer above all others. Unlike other ‘Marilyn’ exhibitions of recent years, the American Museum’s 50th anniversary extravaganza was packed full of costumes actually worn by Monroe. The twenty costumes on display were not replicas, but the real thing – just like the lady herself. These included:

  • The pink ‘wiggle’ dress from Niagara (1952) – Marilyn’s first major role that established her ‘blonde bombshell’ image.
  • The red sequined gown she wore in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), pictured nearby.
  • The green show costume Marilyn wore in Bus Stop (1956) – a performance which won her a Golden Globe.
  • The iconic cocktail dress from Some Like It Hot (1959) in which Marilyn crooned ‘I’m Through With Love’.
  • The bikini she wore in The Misfits (1961), her last completed film.

Personal items owned by Monroe were also exhibited here for the first time in the UK. Poignantly, these included the silver ring given to the star by her disturbed mother, Gladys, who spent most of her life in mental institutions – as did Marilyn’s grandparents. All of the costumes and objects displayed at the American Museum are part of the David Gainsborough Roberts Collection, an extraordinary gathering of celebrity memorabilia created during the past twenty years.


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