When Eve Arnold met Marilyn Monroe

A look at the relationship between the actress and the Magnum photographer who died this week aged 99
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Eve Arnold and Marilyn Monroe on the set of The Misfits in 1960

1 / 10 Eve Arnold and Marilyn Monroe on the set of The Misfits in 1960

"I tell an actor as little as I possibly can. When I have to step in I feel defeated," John Huston

2 / 10 "I tell an actor as little as I possibly can. When I have to step in I feel defeated," John Huston

3 / 10

While on location in Nevada, John Huston spent long hours, sometimes whole nights, at the gaming

4 / 10 While on location in Nevada, John Huston spent long hours, sometimes whole nights, at the gaming

Marilyn went with John Huston to the casino in Reno once, toward the end of filming.

5 / 10 Marilyn went with John Huston to the casino in Reno once, toward the end of filming.

Clark Gable was exhausted as the heat was so unbearable and he had to wear heavy clothes to protect

6 / 10 Clark Gable was exhausted as the heat was so unbearable and he had to wear heavy clothes to protect

Marilyn Monroe, with her back turned, and John Huston (left) and Monroe with Clark Gable (right)

7 / 10 Marilyn Monroe, with her back turned, and John Huston (left) and Monroe with Clark Gable (right)

A scene from the film: Roslyn abandons herself in the arms of Gay Langland

8 / 10 A scene from the film: Roslyn abandons herself in the arms of Gay Langland

Roslyn (Monroe) tries to prevent the capture of the wild horses (right) and although much footage

9 / 10 Roslyn (Monroe) tries to prevent the capture of the wild horses (right) and although much footage

 Marilyn prepares herself for the important sequences at the end of the film

10 / 10 Marilyn prepares herself for the important sequences at the end of the film


Like so many others we were sad to hear of the death of Eve Arnold, the first woman to be admitted into esteemed photo agency Magnum, in London this week at the grand age of 99 years. Arnold's interest in photography began in 1946 when she was given a Rolleicord camera by a boyfriend. While working at a photo-finishing plant in New York she began to document daily life in Manhattan. In 1948 she signed up for formal training in photography (alongside Richard Avedon) at the New School for Social Research under Harper's Bazaar art director Alexey Brodovitch.

In an age which had seen a rise in humanitarian documentary photography she decided to construct the set of a fashion show in a deconsecrated Harlem church and document the catwalk. The project which she extended over the next year-and-a-half - at the encouragement of Brodovitch who told her "you go back to Harlem and stay with it" - was published in the Picture Post in 1951 and earned her immediate recognition.

 

Eve Arnold in 1996Eve Arnold in 1996

 

Perhaps Arnold's most well known images are those of Marilyn Monroe, whom she first photographed in the early 1950s. The images of Monroe from the set of the film The Misfits over the summer of 1960 perhaps are among the most revealing and poignant captured of the doomed star. The film was in production throughout a turbulent time in Monroe's life as she experienced the unravelling of her marriage to playwright Arthur Miller.

Magnum was given exclusive access to photograph the production of The Misfits directed by John Huston and starring Clark Gable and Montgomery Clift alongside Monroe. Arnold joined the rest of the members of the agency at the time - Cornel Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Bruce Davidson, Elliott Erwitt, Ernst Haas, Erich Hartman, Inge Morath and Dennis Stock - in the Nevada desert for the four month shoot.

Monroe was the star attraction on set and Arnold seemed to have the most privileged relationship with her. "At photo sessions, she was in total control," the photographer later recalled. "She manipulated everything - me, the camera. She knew a lot about cameras and I had never met anyone who could make them respond the way she did. So she got what she wanted, because she wasn't under all the kinds of pressure she felt during a film-shoot: remembering her lines, enduring hours of preparation. With me, she was in charge of the situations."

On the set of The Misfits, there was a lot of hurry up and wait - not unusual for any film production - but this time everyone had to wait for Marilyn. "The big gossip was always, Would Marilyn work that day?" said Arnold, adding that Monroe, who'd just finished filming Let's Make Love, had admitted to her, "I'm 34 years old. I've been dancing for six months. I've had no rest, I'm exhausted."

 

Robert Penn photographs Eve Arnold on the set of Becket (1964)Robert Penn photographs Eve Arnold on the set of the film Becket (1964)

 

Eve Arnold's photos bear witness to a unique experience. "If a photographer cares about the people before the lens and is compassionate, much is given. It is the photographer, not the camera, that is the instrument," she later said.


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