Struth! with David Ellis: Playboy exploits Marilyn to the grave

HUGH Hefner, the founder and publisher of Playboy magazine who died late last month at 91 years of age, will be buried in a Los Angeles crypt that he bought in 1992 next to that of Marilyn Monroe – once confiding he’d paid US$75,000 for the crypt because “spending eternity next to Marilyn is too sweet to pass up.”

FIRST EDITION: Marilyn Monroe on the cover of the first edition of Hugh Hefner’s Playboy magazine in 1953. She was also the first nude centrefold in the same edition.

FIRST EDITION: Marilyn Monroe on the cover of the first edition of Hugh Hefner’s Playboy magazine in 1953. She was also the first nude centrefold in the same edition.

And ironically, although each helped the other become famous – she was on the cover of the first edition of Hefner’s Playboy in 1953 and was the magazine’s first nude centre-fold – the two never met.

Further, what few know is that the Monroe photos were in fact four years old when published, Marilyn having been paid all of US$50 in 1949 by pin-up photographer Tom Kelley who on-sold them to a Chicago calendar company, that in turn sold some to Hefner four years later for US$500 (around US$4,500 in today’s money.)

Nothing beyond the original $50 ever went to Marilyn, who is quoted in her biography as saying she was “embarrassed, even ashamed” of the photos, but was a struggling young actress desperate for the money at the time.

Marilyn Monroe is buried in Crypt Number 24 at the Westwood Village Memorial Park in Los Angeles, having died of a drug overdose in August 1962 at just 36 years of age, and Hugh Hefner who died on the 27th of last month will be buried this month in his long- reserved crypt beside her.

And somewhat bizarrely to show how things change, a pair of blue jeans worn by Marilyn Monroe in Hollywood’s 1954 movie River of No Return, will go to auction in Los Angeles on October 21 as part of what is listed as the Tommy Hilfiger Collection, and its anticipated could fetch up to US$40,000.

A bit different to that $50 she was paid for those photos just a year earlier. Check outwww.juliensauctions.com.

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