This is one of my all time favourite books; the first version released in 1985, the year Andre passed away. It
tells the story of their friendship and his love affair with Marilyn from the time she was Norma Jeane.
After David Conover's initial discovery of the young Norma Jeane, André de Dienes is the first photographer
hired for a modelling job with her and is immediately fascinated by her youthful freshness and her
photogenic sex appeal. A five-week photo tour with the young Norma Jeane Dougherty to California,
Nevada and New Mexico ends with a love affair.
It was André de Dienes' 1945 pictures that would help establish her career as a model; his photos would push
her ahead and she would soon gain her first appearances on magazine covers with 'Leader' in the UK in the
spring of 1946 followed by 'Family Circle' in the US a few weeks later. Many of his photos with Norma Jeane
would be used over the next few years on covers around the world and indeed up to the late 50's on books
and magazines. These magazines now command lucrative prices and are highly sought after by collectors.
They worked on assignments for about eight years until Norma Jeane's career sky rocketed to international
acclaim as Marilyn Monroe in 1953. The pictures are amazing as we see Norma Jeane metamorphosis herself
into Marilyn before our eyes over this period of time, from an early study of a sweet wholesome peasant girl
to the sexual icon renowned around the globe.
André fell in love with her; intoxicated by her beauty and had an inclination from the time they first met that
she was a girl who would achieve mass stardom. He got to know her well. They remained friends until she
died although they weren't always in contact but he recounts his times shared with her from an insiders
viewpoint up to the 'Misfits' Marilyn (where we read she spurned his sexual advances) and the mature woman
she was becoming. What I like about his stories is he writes about Norma Jeane but he doesn't try to separate
her too much from Marilyn ... just the sweet girl she was; with troubles and worries even as a teenager that
continued into womanhood.
His photos are stunning, there's not a bad one among them and each session they had together was a little
different from the previous. His works are as important as those she achieved with Milton Greene in the
mid-50's and rank alongside the best studies that exist of Marilyn Monroe.
It's a great read and easy on the eye. The pictures are all black and white and there is a more recent
"complete" version in colour but this is a review of the original book which I still love to this day. It has a lot
of charm to it. The book was a best seller and reprinted several times into the 1990's. At one point a
collection of ten porcelain wall plates were released based on some of the images.