The unexpected death of Hollywood actress Marilyn Monroe (born Norma Jeane Mortenson in Los Angeles, California, June 1st, 1926 – August 5th, 1962) at just 36 years of age in 1962 shocked the world but froze this classic beauty in time forever more. One of the most iconic memories for most people of Marilyn, is that moment over 60 years ago in the 1955 Billy Wilder comedy Seven Year Itch, when her character The Girl, stands over a New York City subway grate in a little white dress billowing in the inevitable upward breeze from the trains below (the dress sold at auction in 2011 for $4.6 million!).
The scene was filmed at 1am on September 15th, 1954 on the corner of Lexington Ave and 52nd Street in front of 100 photographers and thousands of spectators who cheered loudly the 14 times it took to get the scene right (apparently the noise caused lots of problems and the final scene shown in the movie was actually redone in a studio but the outdoor scene shots were used for promotional material)! This moment is now immortalised in a massive 8 metre tall sculpture titled Forever Marilyn which I saw in person recently in Bendigo, Victoria in Australia.
The massive sculpture by American artist Seward Johnson weighs in at 15 tonnes and is made from stainless steel and aluminium. In February 2016 it was installed in Rosalind Park in Bendigo for an upcoming Twentieth Century Fox Marilyn Monroe exhibition at the art gallery (the travelling exhibition features more than 20 movie costumes, photographs, artefacts and personal items owned by Monroe that are on loan from private collections around the world).
So the obvious question on everyone’s mind and those walking around the sculpture is what is under the billowing dress? Now in the filming of the scene Marilyn apparently wore two pairs of white underwear to protect her modesty from any possible wardrobe malfunctions and the Forever Marilyn sculpture seems to be pretty accurate in its level of detail right down to the underwear!
This is the first time the Forever Marilyn sculpture has left the United States and apparently was quite a project to install. A crane and numerous workmen were on hand for a few days to put together the various components including the base, legs, skirt and torso. It certainly looks impressive in the garden setting with a backdrop of the historic Victorian era buildings of Bendigo and is very popular with tourists and locals alike!