Very Rare Photos Of Marilyn Monroe: An Icon's Most Underrated Pictures

Icons | May 9, 2019

LOS ANGELES - 1951: Rising star Marilyn Monroe poses for a portrait in a dress made out of an Idaho potato sack in 1951 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Earl Theisen/Getty Images)

In rare photos, the Marilyn Monroe we all know and recognize takes on a new dimension, even though her untimely death is over 50 years in the past. Her sense of humor shines through when she wears a potato-sack dress, and her humanity is touching in the last-ever photo taken of her. How well did you -- did any of us -- know the real Marilyn Monroe? 

It’s hardly controversial to say that Marilyn Monroe was one of the most beautiful women of the 20th century. There are famous photos and film stills that prove as much. However, these underrated and little-seen photos of the blonde bombshell show another side of the actress. You’ll see how she did her makeup for an ID and the natural beauty that’s apparent while she’s going for a swim.

Monroe passed away from a barbiturate overdose in 1962, and these photos cover her entire career from when she was a burgeoning model to the wife of Joe DiMaggio, and finally to when she was on top of the world.

Marilyn Monroe Showing Off In A Potato Sack, 1951

LOS ANGELES - 1951: Rising star Marilyn Monroe poses for a portrait in a dress made out of an Idaho potato sack in 1951 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Earl Theisen/Getty Images)

If you needed any more proof that Marilyn Monroe looked great no matter what she was wearing, look no further than this photo of her wearing a potato sack. But why was she so committed to this grocery store outfit? Hollywood legend has it that after a reporter chastised her for looking “cheap and vulgar” in a low-cut red dress they said that she would look more decent in a potato sack.

Twentieth Century Fox capitalized on this publicity by taking a series of photos with Monroe wearing a form-fitting burlap sack. The photos were published across the country, which had to drive that reporter up a wall. 

Monroe Lounges In A Potato Sack

LOS ANGELES - 1951: Rising star Marilyn Monroe poses for a portrait in a dress made out of an Idaho potato sack in 1951 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Earl Theisen/Getty Images)

You know you wanted another angle on Monroe’s potato sack outfit. The original article that ran with the photos the actress in the potato sack is kind of amazing. Not only does it state that “Monroe doesn’t care too much for potatoes because it tends to put on weight,” but the press release also says that she jumpstarted the “biggest spud-growing binge in many a year” when she wore the potato sack dress.

The press release ends with a poem (seriously) comparing Monroe to an apple, and once again saying that potatoes will make you gain weight. It strange, but was anyone really paying attention to a strange press release while Monroe posed in a sack? 

The Last Professional Photo Of Monroe, Santa Monica Beach, July 13th, 1962

Source: (reddit.com)

Monroe’s snapshots normally feature her made up and shoved into form-fitting outfits, but the final photos taken of her were snapped by George Barris, one of her favorite photographers. This photo was taken a few weeks before she passed away in her Los Angeles home, and they capture her fervor while showing how effortlessly beautiful she was.

Barris, who passed away in 2016, told CBS about the final photos he took of the actress:

She said, 'Are we finished?' and I said, 'No, let's just take this last one.' So, she puckered up her lips and she sort of blew a kiss to me and she said, 'This is for you and the world,' and we walked off that beach and I never saw her again. 

Marilyn Monroe’s Pentagon ID, 1954

Source: (reddit.com)

Before visiting US troops during a goodwill mission to Korea, Monroe and her husband, baseball player Joe DiMaggio, picked up IDs from the Department of Defense. Monroe - who had to use her real name “Norma Jeannie DiMaggio” for the card - is dolled up to the nines in her photo, which shows that she knew how much she always had to be on.

Monroe and DiMaggio were only married for a short period of time. They were married in January 1954 and divorced in 1955. No other Department of Defense IDs have shown up, so she may have been able to continue using this one for her further USO tours.  

Marilyn Monroe and Queen Elizabeth, 1956

Source: (reddit.com)

In 1956 both Monroe and Queen Elizabeth were 30 years old at the London premiere of The Battle of the River Plate in Leicester Square on October 29, 1956. Monroe’s outfit is a form-fitting metallic dress, which is a fairly shocking thing to wear to meet the Queen even today. Monroe wasn’t just in town for the premiere, she was also filming The Prince and the Showgirl.

According to Good Housekeeping, Monroe brought 27 pieces of excess luggage which ended up costing her $1,500 in fines. That sounds like overkill, but are you going to tell Marilyn Monroe that she can’t bring all her stuff to England? 

Marilyn Monroe on her first photo shoot as a model, 1946

Source: (reddit.com)

Before she was Marilyn Monroe, Norma Jeane Dougherty was just a young woman with stars in her eyes. In 1946 she stopped by photographer Joseph Jasgur’s studio with nothing but her charm. Jasgur must have seen something in the young woman because he took a series of photos of her across the following weeks, including this photo of the young actress on the beach.

The most famous photos from the shoot show Monroe lounging on the beach and putting on makeup, and Monroe even liked some of the portraits enough to use them in her portfolio for her 20th Century Fox interview

Marilyn And Ella Fitzgerald

Source: (reddit.com)

Marilyn Monroe and Ella Fitzgerald were incredibly good friends throughout their life. The two met when Monroe when to see Fitzgerald perform in Los Angeles, the two were toon fast friends, with Monroe even helping Fitzgerald get a gig at the Mocambo. 

The gigs went over so well that Fitzgerald never had to play another small club again. When Monroe was asked about who her favorite singers were she said:

Well, my very favorite person, and I love her as a person as well as a singer, I think she's the greatest, and that's Ella Fitzgerald.

Marilyn Monroe in Korea, 1954

Source: (reddit.com)

After marrying Joe DiMaggio, Monroe went off for a four day, whiplash-inducing tour of American military bases in Korea. In that short amount of time, she performed 10 shows for close to 100,000 troops. Over the course of four days Monroe sang, she joked, and she hung out with as many servicemen as she could.

Of her time performing for the troops Monroe said:

[The trip] was the best thing that ever happened to me. I never felt like a star before in my heart. It was so wonderful to look down and see a fellow smiling at me.

Marilyn Monroe Photographed At Home In A Pink Dress, 1952

Source: (reddit.com)

In 1952 Monroe was still a star on the rise. Her biggest role to date was in The Asphalt Jungle, and she was being advertised as nothing more than a blonde bombshell. When photographer Philippe Halsman discussed visiting Monroe’s apartment, he said that he was surprised to find that Monroe was far more of an intellectual than the studios led people to believe. He said:

I drove to the outskirts of Los Angeles, where she lived in a two-room apartment. What impressed me in the living room was the obvious striving for self-improvement. I saw a photograph of Eleanora Duse and a multitude of books that I did not expect to find there, like the works of Dostoevsky, Freud, the history of Fabian socialism, etc. On the floor were two barbells.

Marilyn Monroe, wearing no makeup, chilling in a pool, 1960

Source: (reddit.com)

It’s rare to see a photo of Monroe without any makeup. She’s even dolled up in her Department of Defense ID. The fact that a photo of Monroe sans makeup exists is fascinating. In this photo from a couple of years before her death, she looks happy, especially while she drinks a beer in a pool.

With her platinum blonde hair soaked and stripped of product, it’s never been more clear that she was a natural beauty. There’s no word on who took this photo of Monroe in the pool, but it was probably someone she was comfortable with. After all, Monroe didn’t let her guard down for just anyone. 

Tags: Ladies | Marilyn Monroe | Rare Photos From...

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Jacob Shelton


Jacob Shelton is a Los Angeles based writer. For some reason this was the most difficult thing he’s written all day, and here’s the kicker – his girlfriend wrote the funny part of that last sentence. As for the rest of the bio? That’s pure Jacob, baby. He’s obsessed with the ways in which singular, transgressive acts have shaped the broader strokes of history, and he believes in alternate dimensions, which means that he’s great at a dinner party. When he’s not writing about culture, pop or otherwise, he’s adding to his found photograph collection and eavesdropping on strangers in public.