"She had a talent to make people feel sorry for her, and she exploited it to the best of her
ability - even people who had been around and knew models fell for this 'Help Me' pose."
- Laszlo Willinger
Laszlo Willinger was born in Budapest, Hungry, in April of 1909. He became a photographer, most noted for
his portrait photography of movie starts and celebrities of the 1930s and 1940s. Taught photography by his
mother, also a photographer, Willinger established photographic studios in Paris and Berlin in 1929 and 1931.
During this time he submitted his photographs to various newspapers as a freelance contributor. He left Berlin
in 1933 when Adolf Hitler became Chancellor, and settled in Vienna where he began to photograph celebrities
such as Marlene Dietrich, Hedy Lamarr, Max Reinhardt, and Sigmund Freud, among others. After establishing
a studio in Hollywood, California, Willinger became a frequent contributor to magazines and periodicals,
providing magazine cover portraits of some of the most popular stars. Willinger was one of the first
Hollywood photographers to experiment in the use of color.
Laszlo Willinger was also a photographer in Norma Jeane's early modeling career. Willinger was not the most
complimentary person, as even after Norma Jeane became famous, as Marilyn Monroe, he said of her
"Marilyn Monroe is not a raving beauty, and her legs are too short for the rest of her."
Perhaps his best known Marilyn shot is a calendar photo of Norma Jeane as she was still known, in a gold
bathing suit. He was responsible for many of her early magazine covers. In 1986 he told LA Style magazine
that Marilyn responded to his inquiry as to why she had such chemistry with the camera, by answering, "It's
like being screwed by a thousand guys and you can't get pregnant."
As another testament to the personality of Mr. Willinger, in later years, shortly before his death, Willinger
had been accused of stalking some celebrities of the time, including Charlie Chaplin. An investigation into the
matter led to the uncovering of thousands of personal pictures of the male comedy star. He committed suicide
shortly after the accusations. However, his portraits have become collectible and are appreciated as fine art.
His 1940 series of portraits of actors Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh are housed in London’s National
**Text and info from the Marilyn encyclopedia and online searches.