Monday, March 19th, 2012
Among the enormous quantities of movie and television memorabilia that will be sold at Julien’s Auctions’ Hollywood Legends sale on March 31st and April 1st will be a collection of Marilyn Monroe pictures, letters and objects from the estate of Allan “Whitey” Snyder, Marilyn’s long-time makeup artist.
Whitey met Marilyn, then still Norma Jeane Baker, when he was assigned to do Marilyn’s makeup for her first screen test for 20th Century Fox in 1946. They formed an immediate bond which would become a lifelong working and personal relationship. From 1952′s Monkey Business on, Snyder was Marilyn’s dedicated makeup artist for all of her movies and personal appearances. He took many pictures of her on set; apparently having her picture taken calmed her stage fright.
The photographs are getting a great deal of the press because most of them have never been published before and because not just the pictures themselves are for sale, but also the publishing rights to them. Marilyn’s estate makes $2 million a year just from the licensing fees for use of her name and image, so there’s big money at stake in publishing never-before-seen pictures of Marilyn on her most famous movie sets.
It’s Lot 521 that really caught my attention. Years before her death, Marilyn asked Whitey to promise her that he’d do her makeup for her funeral should she predecease him. He jokingly replied, “Sure, drop off the body while it’s still warm and I’ll do it.” Amused, Marilyn bought him a gold Tiffany money clip engraved: “Whitey Dear, While I’m still warm, Marilyn.”
Matt Lauer called it “gross” but I find it terribly sweet and sad. I hope against hope that someone not too creepy buys it.
When Marilyn died in 1962, her ex-husband Joe DiMaggio took care of the funeral arrangements. He reminded Whitey of his promise and Whitey, fortified with a flask of gin, kept it. He did her makeup one last time and was one of the pallbearers.