These rarely seen photographs of history's most famous actress capture a side of Marilyn not often revealed amidst the controversies of her life and death.

1. Front row with Ella Fitzgerald 

When interviewed about her friendship with Monroe, Ella Fitzgerald said: “I owe Marilyn Monroe a real debt … she personally called the owner of the Mocambo, and told him she wanted me booked immediately, and if he would do it, she would take a front table every night. She told him – and it was true, due to Marilyn’s superstar status – that the press would go wild.

“The owner said yes, and Marilyn was there, front table, every night. The press went overboard. After that, I never had to play a small jazz club again. She was an unusual woman – a little ahead of her times. And she didn’t know it." Read more about the pair's friendship here

Marilyn and Aretha
Image via Bustle

 

2. Posing with bears 

Whilst filming River of No Return Marilyn and her lifelong friend and make-up artist Allan Snyder came across some baby bears. Monroe usually refused to be photographed without make up on, making this an incredibly rare shot. 

With bears
Image via Allan Snyder

 

3. Proving that she'd look good even in a potato sack

There are various stories about how this photo came about, but the most likely is that it was a response to a rude journalist who called the actress "cheap" and "vulgar" and said she would be better suited to a potato sack. 

Inspired by the shoot, one Idaho farmer sent the actress an entire sack of spuds to express his admiration. 

 M in sack
Image via Earl Theisen

 

4. Meeting Queen Elizabeth 

Marilyn Monroe met the Queen at a movie premiere in 1956. They were both 30 years old at the time. 

Marilyn Monroe meets the Queen
Image via Histografy

Watch a clip of the occasion below:

 

5. Fooling around on the set of The Misfits

Some down time behind the scenes with Clark Gable and Montgomery Clift. Two reels of film footage depicting the cast of The Misfits relaxing backstage was auctioned in 2008 with a starting price of $20,000. 

Marilyn Monroe Montgomery Cliff
Image via The Misfits 

 

6. At home with husband Arthur Miller

Monroe and Miller lived in Roxbury, Connecticut, here captured in 1957. The couple were married for five years but divorced in 1961, shortly before Monroe's death the following year. She converted to Judaism in order to be closer to his parents and on their wedding day one headline proclaimed; "Egghead Weds Hourglass."

With arthur miller
Image via Sam Shaw/Rex Features

Watch Arthur Miller discussing his life with Marilyn Monroe below. 

 

7. Reading in the woods

Monroe was a notoriously hardworker, as published collections of her notes and letters attest. One career note recently published sees the actress instruct herself to "Go to class – my own always – without fail" and "try to enjoy myself when I can – I'll be miserable enough as it is." Read the full note here. 

Monroe Reading
Image via Time and Life Pictures 

 

8. On the other side of the camera

A still from a batch of photographs that remained unpublished until recent years, depicting Marilyn in Alberta in the summer of 1953.

Monroe with camera
Image via Reuteurs/The Estate of John Vachon/Dover Publications, Inc

 

9. Being silly with Joe Dimaggio

In 1952 baseball player, who was at the time far more famous than Monroe, saw some of her publicity images and asked the budding actress on a date. Arguments related to Dimaggio's cruelty and jealousy ended their marriage within a year. 

monroe tonhgue
Image via the Estate of John Vachon/Dover Publications, Inc

 

10. A candid shot with photographer Bert Stern

The photographer later composed a book filled with his photos of the actress entitled The Last Sitting including contact sheets featuring images Monroe had disliked and subsequently crossed out.

Mm candid
Image via Bert Stern 

 

11. Enjoying one of several beach shoots 

This shot was taken by George Barris in late June 1962 on Santa Monica Beach. The set of photos that emerged from this shoot were some of the last publicity shots she ever posed for, taken shortly before her death in August 1962.

On the Beach
Image via BNPS

Browse the Marilyn Monroe collection at the Reader's Digest Shop 

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