Updated: Jun 3
The year is 1953. In the newspaper is a small inconspicuous article about Marilyn Monroe.
"Those pictures of Marilyn Monroe are in circulation again.
They, are appearing on ash-trays, cocktail trays and glassware. And blonde Marilyn isn't very happy about it all.
The nude pictures were taken over 3 years ago by photographer Tom Kelly for calendars. Marilyn was broke at the time. Since then she has
rocketed into the big time in Hollywood — notably since she was subpoened to appear as a witness at the obscenity trial of Kerry Karpman and Morey Kapaln, who were alleged to have been making about £450 a day from the sale of pictures of nude women.
Marilyn hoped she would never be identified as the girl in the pictures but now the whole world knows about it. And she's prepared to wage legal battle to ensure that they aren't perpetuated on virtually indestructible bar wear. "It's very embarrassing,"she confesses, "it makes me feel as if I'm in a dressing room with no clothes on and the shades open."
Digging a little further into the interesting trial that took place in Los Angeles, California. It's discovered that two men, photographer, Jerry Karpman and salesman, Morrie Kaplan, were accused of forging Marilyn’s handwriting.
The forged letters requested large amounts of money in return for "indecent" photos of young women. Shocking...scandalous.
The trial took place on June 26, 1952. Marilyn Monroe was 26 years old at the time and was filming her first blockbuster film “Niagara”. She was issued a subpoena and ordered to testify in a Los Angeles courtroom.
Traveling from Niagara Falls she glamorously appeared in court wearing a two piece outfit from the movie set.
Marilyn took the stand and testified that the handwriting in the letters entered as evidence was not hers. One of the letters read in part as follows:
"A short time ago two friends of mine and myself got together and took some pictures in almost every pose imaginable…I feel that these pictures…are worth more than the price I have found ordinary pictures are selling for.”
The defendants were, according to a Los Angeles Times article, “convicted on charges of sending come-on letters in efforts to sell lewd photographs purportedly made of Miss Monroe, Marilyn Miller and Marilyn Martin; of unlawfully using Miss Monroe's name "for the purpose of selling nude and indecent pictures represented to have been posed by Marilyn Monroe" and of selling without a State license.”
The men were found guilty on five of nine misdemeanor charges and sentenced. Karpman received 30 days and Kaplan received 60 days. Each were put on probation for two years. Case closed, it seemed.
However, there were indeed some indecent photos taken of Marilyn. Just not by the sentenced duo.
Back in 1949, while the actress was struggling to make her break in movies, she posed nude for photographer Tom Kelly at his Hollywood studio. Under the fictitious name Mona Monroe she was paid fifty dollars for the photo shoot.
Eventually the pictures were sold off to a printing company. A few years later the company used the images in a calendar series called “Golden Dream” . It was so successful that approximately 9 million copies were sold.
Apparently, they were unaware it was the actress Marilyn Monroe at the time.
By late 1952, the secret was out and the press discovered the nude beauty in the naughty best selling calendar was the starlet.
In an exclusive interview with the press, Marilyn apologetically admitted to posing for the photos taken all those years ago. She explained what led her to make the dreaded decision at the time and the public forgave her.
Her film studio was hoping she would just deny the whole thing at first. But Marilyn’s decision to honestly confront the press about her indiscretion helped catapult her to even further stardom and the rest they say is history.
You can read more about the "Golden Dream" calendar photos and Hugh Hefners eventual acquisition here https://www.limitedruns.com/blog/movie/marilyn-monroe-red-velvet-tour/
Looking for a Marilyn inspired gift? Check out our artwork here
Video footage at LA courthouse
Photos at LA courthouse
Niagara Photos of Marilyn
GIFs of film footage