16 Never Before Published Photos Of Marilyn Monroe

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These beautiful black and white photos of a young Marilyn Monroe, taken in 1950, had never before been released until today, June 1st, 2009. Marilyn was only 24 at the time when she was shot by Life Magazine photographer Ed Clark. The photo shoot is believed to have taken place in Los Angeles’ Griffith Park.

The negatives for these photos were recently discovered during the ongoing effort to digitize LIFE’s immense and storied photo archive, including outtakes and entire shoots that never saw the light of day. Read on to see 16 stunning black and white shots of Marilyn, plus the reason why they may never have been published.

Marilyn Monroe’s Day in the Park
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August 1950: A 24-year-old Marilyn, wearing a simple button-down shirt monogrammed with her initials, leans against a tree in Los Angeles’ Griffith Park for LIFE photographer Ed Clark.
Photo: Ed Clark/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images, Aug 01 1950

Marilyn Reads a Script
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Lounging in the shade, Monroe studies lines of an unknown script. It was still early in her career, and she’d just begun to grab attention: Three months before this shoot, she appeared as a crooked lawyer’s girlfriend in “The Asphalt Jungle,” and two months after, she had a small role as an aspiring starlet in “All About Eve.”
Photo: Ed Clark/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images Aug 01, 1950

Wonder Woman
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A barefoot Monroe balances on rocks over a tiny brook. In a 1999 interview with Digital Journalist, photographer Clark described how in 1950 he received a call from a friend at 20th Century Fox about “a hot tomato” the studio had just signed: Marilyn.
Photo: Ed Clark/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images August 01, 1950

That Gorgeous Face
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Marilyn turns to the camera. “She was unknown then, so I was able to spend a lot of time shooting her,” photographer Clark recalled in the 1999 interview. “We’d go out to Griffith Park and she’d read poetry. I sent several rolls to LIFE in New York, but they wired back, ‘Who the hell is Marilyn Monroe?’ Later, though, they did a cover of my shot of Marilyn and Jane Russell in ‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.’ ”
Photo: Ed Clark/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images August 01, 1950

Marilyn Lies Down
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Monroe, changed into a bikini top, relaxes with a script. Why LIFE never published this gold mine of photos after Marilyn became a superstar remains a mystery. The only clue: a brief note about the shoot we found in our archives, addressed to LIFE’s photo editor and saying that “this take was over-developed and poorly printed.”
Photo: Ed Clark/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images August 01, 1950

Bright Eyes
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Marilyn flashes a brilliant smile. It’s hard to believe that just four years earlier, she was Norma Jeane Dougherty, the wife of a Merchant Marine and a worker in a munitions factory.
Photo: Ed Clark/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images August 01, 1950

Making a Point
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Monroe appears to be acting out a scene. At the time, she was under the instruction of legendary acting coach Natasha Lytess.
Photo: Ed Clark/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images Aug 01, 1950

Natural Woman
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Marilyn gets her feet wet. Though it looks like a beautiful day here, the note LIFE found in its archives about this shoot reads, “The weather has been poor, which has held up our outdoor shooting on her.”
Photo: Ed Clark/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images, Aug 01, 1950

Marilyn, in Dappled Sunlight
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Photo: Ed Clark/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images, August 01, 1950

Marilyn Gets Serious
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Monroe, beautifully framed by the foliage. She was discovered in 1946, after 20th Century Fox exec Ben Lyon noticed the modeling Marilyn on magazine covers and arranged a screen test for her. “It’s Jean Harlow all over again,” he is reported to have said.
Photo: Ed Clark/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images Aug 01, 1950

Casual Marilyn
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Today, of course, Monroe is remembered as the ultimate sex symbol — but Ed Clark’s camera captures something else here: a not-yet-packaged young woman unaware of what lies in store for her.
Photo: Ed Clark/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images Aug 01, 1950

Fixing Her Hair
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Marilyn pats her curls. Naturally a brunette, Monroe reportedly dyed her hair blonde during her modeling days, after hearing that’s the look agencies wanted.
Photo: Ed Clark/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images Aug 01, 1950

Innocently Sexy
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Monroe leans over a railing, her short-shorts riding up. Four years later, she’d famously show off those legs again during the subway-grate scene of “The Seven Year Itch.”
Photo: Ed Clark/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images Aug. 01, 1950

Straight-On Marilyn
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Photo: Ed Clark/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images Aug 01, 1950

Marilyn Walks Away
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A glimpse of the future superstar as she walks — in adorable saddle shoes — down a trail.
Photo: Ed Clark/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images Aug 01, 1950

All images and captions are courtesy of LIFE magazine Time & Life Pictures.

Less Than Two Years Later… Marilyn is “The Talk of Hollywood” and she makes the cover of LIFE magazine on April 7, 1952.
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Photo: Philippe Halsman/Time & Life Pictures Jan 01, 1952

More Marilyn posts:
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• See my post comparing Bert Sterns’ stunning last photo shoot of Marilyn Monroe with his recent recreation with Lindsay Lohan, here.

Lilo vs Marilyn
• And make sure to see Playboy’s cover and editorial featuring Lindsay Lohan as Marilyn Monroe by photographer Yu Tsang, along with original Marilyn Monroe Playboy Photos here.

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