As a skinny 14-year old from the Bronx, Peter Mangone was, like most teen boys of his generation, obsessed with Marilyn Monroe. Unlike most, however, he actually got to spend time with her. For several months during 1955, he ditched school to stake out the Gladstone Hotel on Manhattan's East 52nd Street, where the 29-year-old star was staying following her unhappy divorce from Joe DiMaggio & dismissal from the Twentieth-Century Fox studios.
And one morning, borrowed Kodak 8-millimeter camera in hand, he encountered Monroe and her friend Milton Greene heading out to go shopping. She waved at her young admirer, winked & invited him along. And over the course of the afternoon, he filmed her intermittently and without sound and developed the film later at home. When Mangone left home, it went missing, thought lost until 2002 when his brother happened to discover it in their father's possessions. "It was like refinding my high school sweetheart," he observed about the mint-condition footage. "She was just the way I remembered her."
This new book of stills from the five-minute movie is grainy and the lighting erratic, but showcases the great screen siren against a backdrop of the era's Chevys and Checker cabs in a playful and unguarded mood.
Marilyn Monroe: NYC, 1955 (Danziger Gallery/T.Adler Books) is available at Artbook.com.
- Lesley Scott