The ever fascinating life of the iconic actress about whom several hundred books have been written and untold stories still to be heard, was further enhanced by the first time solo museum showing of “The Magic of Marilyn,” a rare collection of 27 photos of Marilyn Monroe by Bruno Bernard, internationally known as “Bernard of Hollywood,” which opened Wednesday, September 12 and will run through the end of November at theWorld Erotic Art Museum. Appearing at the opening reception was author Susan Bernard whose book “Marilyn: Intimate Exposures,” a lavishly illustrated volume celebrating Monroe’s enduring beauty through photographs by her legendary father, follows six previous books including the best-selling Bernard of Hollywood’s Ultimate Pin-Up Book published by Taschen.
Bernard read from her new book and was joined by WEAM Artistic Director Helmut Schuster in a conversation revisiting the 50th anniversary year of Monroe’s passing.
Best known for having “discovered” Monroe after they met in 1946 when Bernard invited her to a photo shoot, the enduring professional relationship transformed the then unknown Norma Jean to the iconic sex symbol the world has come to know as Marilyn Monroe. For the first time seen in a museum, the exhibit at WEAM follows the evolution of Monroe’s career through 27 photos, three of which will remain in the museum’s permanent collection.
The Magic of Marilyn
Born in Berlin in 1912, Bruno Bernard was a student of law and criminal psychology winning his PH D in law and later obtaining an international fellowship to California’s University of Berkley. He had escaped Nazi Germany and came to America alone and penniless. It was in Hollywood when theatrical giant Max Reinhardt opened his theater workshop that Bernard switched professions to study stage and motion picture direction under the tutelage of prominent directorWilliam Dieterle.
Bernard discoveredMarilyn in 1946 when she was still Norma Jean. He gave Norma Jean’s first professional sitting to his good friend Ben Lyons, the head of talent at 20th Century Fox which secured her first screen test and her first motion picture contract. When she appeared on the set of the “Seven Year Itch” in 1954, he took the now unforgettable photo of Marilyn standing over the subway grate in a billowing white dress. Marilyn stopped everything and in front if the entire cast ran up to him and said “Remember Bernie everything started with you.”
An image that remains internationally synonymous with Hollywood and the star who was undisputedly the sex symbol of her time, a 60 ft. high version of this iconic photograph was hung on the exterior of the New York Museum of Modern Art during the “Fame After Photography” exhibit in 1999. That same year, the International Center of Photography listed Bruno’s photo ofMarilyn as one of the twenty most unforgettable images in photography.
Bernard’s future folio would also include such all time glamour subjects as Elizabeth Taylor, Anita Ekberg, Lili Ct. Cyr, Mara Corday, Jeanne Crain, Brigitte Bardot, Lucille Ball, Marlene Dietrich, Gene Tierney, Janet Leigh, Jayne Mansfield and Julie Newmar. Bruno Bernard died in June, 1987 at the age of 78.
Curators of the exhibit are Susan Bernard and Helmut Schuster. The World Erotic Art Museum is located at 1205 Washington Avenue with its adjoining new space located at 235 12th Street. Open Monday through Thursday, 11 A.M. to 10 P.M.; Friday and Saturday, 11 A.M. to Midnight. Tickets are $15. No one under 18 admitted. Further information is available by calling 305-532- 9336, or via www.weam.com and www.facebook.com/marilyintimateexposures.