Le vendredi 17 novembre 1961, dans un studio loué à Hollywood (le studio John Engstead sur Santa Monica Boulevard), le photographe Douglas Kirkland et ses assistants préparent la venue de Marilyn Monroe: du champagne Dom Perignon au frais, et des disques de Frank Sinatra.

On Friday, November, 17, 1961, in a studio rented in Hollywood (the John Engstead Studio on Santa Monica Boulevard), the photographer Douglas Kirkland and his assistants prepare the arrival of Marilyn Monroe: champagne Dom Perignon in the fridge, and records by Frank Sinatra.

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Le rendez-vous est fixé à 19h, mais Marilyn arrive à 21h30. D'ailleurs, l'agent de Marilyn, John Springer, avait prévenu Kirkland et son associé, l'écrivain Jack Hamilton: "Elle arrive parfois en retard mais elle finit toujours par arriver."
Marilyn est accompagnée de deux assistantes: l'une s'occupe de la coiffure et du maquillage (Agnes Flanagan), l'autre est son habilleuse, portant un sac de vêtements.
Parmi les autres personnes présentes: John Springer, Jack Hamilton, un assistant et le responsable du studio.
Kirkland a installé un appareil photo sur le petit balcon pour photographier le lit en plongée. Mais il ne sait pas encore comment il veut la photographier: il a l'idée d'utiliser d'abord une grande étoffe blanche. Marilyn n'est pas emballée mais se prête au jeu en enfilant l'une des robes qu'elle a apportée. La séance se révèle inefficace. Marilyn et Kirkland trouvent le tissu trop ordinaire: "Je ne suis pas du genre à porter de la toile au rabais !" Ils font alors une pause pour réorganiser la séance.

The appointment is fixed at 7 pm, but Marilyn arrives at 9:30 pm. Anyway, Marilyn's agent, John Springer, had informed Kirkland and his associate, writer Jack Hamilton: "She sometimes arrives late but she always ends up arriving."
Marilyn is accompanied by two assistants: one is in charge of hair and make-up (Agnes Flanagan), the other is her dressmaker, carrying a bag of clothes.
The other persons are John Springer, Jack Hamilton, an assistant, and the studio manager.
Kirkland installed a camera on the small balcony to photograph the bed. But he doesn't know yet how he wants to photograph her: he has the idea of ​​using first a large white fabric. Marilyn is not excited but she is ready to try and by putting on one of the dresses she has brought. The setting is ineffective. Marilyn and Kirkland find the fabric too ordinary: "I'm not the one to wear cheap clothes !" They then make a break to reorganize the session.

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> avec le journaliste de Look, Jack Hamilton


Douglas Kirkland amène Marilyn vers le lit défait de draps de soie blanche en lui demandant d'imaginer comment elle aimerait qu'on se souvienne d'elle dans 25 ans, puisque la photo devait fêtait le 25ème anniversaire du magazine Look. Marilyn retourne dans sa loge et y ressort en peignoir blanc qu'elle retire pour se glisser dans les draps de soie. Pendant que Kirkland la photographie, perché du balcon, elle boit quelques gorgées de champagne. Parfois Kirkland s'arrête et boit avec elle.
En pleine séance, elle demande au reste de l'équipe de la laisser seule avec le photographe: "D'habitude, ça marche mieux comme ça !" Pour Kirkland, ce fut alors "Une expérience très intime (...) Tout se jouait désormais entre Marilyn, mon appareil et moi. (...) L'ambiance était calme, douce et séduisante."
D'après Kirkland, Marilyn lui demande en pleine séance qu'il la rejoigne dans le lit; il explique que bien qu'il en avait très envie, il était alors marié et père de trois enfants et sa bonne conscience lui fait refuser la proposition. Selon Kirkland, toute cette tension sexuelle a permis de livrer de bonnes photos.

Douglas Kirkland takes Marilyn to the unmade bed of white silk sheets and asks her to imagine how she would like to be remembered in 25 years, because the photo was to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Look magazine. Marilyn goes back to her dressing room and comes out in a white bathrobe, which she pulls out to slip into the silk sheets. While Kirkland photographs her, perched on the balcony, she drinks a few cups of champagne. Sometimes Kirkland stops and drinks with her.
In the middle of the session, she asks the rest of the team to leave her alone with the photographer: "Usually, it works better like that !" For Kirkland, it was then "A very intimate experience (...) Everything was now played between Marilyn, my camera and me (...) The atmosphere was calm, sweet and seductive."
According to Kirkland, Marilyn asks him to join her in the bed; he explains that although he wanted to do it, he was married with three children and his good conscience made him refuse the offer. According to Kirkland, all this sexual tension allowed to deliver good photos.


- The Bed Sitting -

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- Backstage of The Bed Sitting -
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Quand il a terminé, il la rejoint et s'allonge par terre à côté du lit pour discuter seuls une vingtaine de minutes avant de refaire entrer les autres. Son assistant a pris quelques photos. Puis Marilyn remet son peignoir et retourne dans sa loge.
Elle part peu après minuit. Elle prend rendez-vous avec Kirkland le lendemain après midi chez elle pour visionner les photos.

When he has finished, he joins her and lies on the floor next to the bed to discuss about twenty minutes before the others enter. His assistant took some photos. Then Marilyn puts on her bathrobe and goes back to her dressing room.
She leaves the studio shortly after midnight. She makes an appointment with Kirkland the next day afternoon at home to view the photos.

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Marilyn Monroe quitte le studio photo
Instantanés pris par James Haspiel
Marilyn Monroe leaves the studio
Snapshots taken by James Haspiel

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> source: livre Douglas Kirkland, Une nuit avec Marilyn


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