Lost footage of Marilyn Monroe discovered 60 years after her death

Sandy Kenyon Image
Tuesday, February 28, 2023
Long-lost footage of Marilyn Monroe
Long-lost footage of Marilyn Monroe was first revealed in 2017 when a very brief excerpt went viral proving interest in her career remains high. Sandy Kenyon has the story.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Long lost footage of Marilyn Monroe was first revealed in 2017 when a very brief excerpt went viral proving interest in her career remains high more than 60 years after her premature death. It's been almost 70 years since scenes in "The Seven Year Itch," were shot in Manhattan.

It was 1954 when one of the most memorable images in movie history was first photographed on Lexington Avenue in Midtown. Marilyn in a white dress with her skirt blowing up remains the most iconic image of her. The filming of it can only be described as chaotic with the star standing on a subway grate while a fan blew her skirt up from underneath. "There were tons of people, mostly men, and they were all screaming at her," says Bonnie Siegler. She is the granddaughter of Jules Schulback, who shot 16mm home movies of the chaotic scene.

The footage was buried for decades within a tangle of loose movie film in a grocery store bag. Ms. Siegler was moving her grandfather into new quarters when she discovered 3 minutes and 16 seconds of footage and realized immediately what she had. "You see her being herself," Siegler notes about Monroe. The first shots are from the day before at the house used in the movie as the home of her character. Turns out the location was diagonal across from Schulback's residence. While shooting the star at a window with his movie camera, he learned about the night shoot.

When he got there, "People were on top of taxis, at windows, on roofs, just anything to get to get a glimpse of Marilyn." Director Billy Wilder was worried, but his leading lady had even bigger concerns. "She was married to Joe DiMaggio at the time," says journalist Helene Stapinski, who has collaborated with Siegler to write a new book about Schulback. DiMaggio was present on location. "He wasn't thrilled about the scene that her dress was blowing up over her ears," Stapinski continues. "He was less thrilled about all the men screaming on the street: 'higher, higher, higher.' Things like that and other things-worse things."

The ex-baseball player, one of the greatest Yankees who ever lived, flew into a rage and left the set. Incredibly, Monroe's reaction is captured in Schulman's movie, "She looks really upset," notes Stapinski, "and I think that's when he's leaving." Siegler adds that "she looks like her heart just broke...she looks like the world is ending." The couple divorced a few months later.

The discovery of the long-lost film prompted a story in the New York Times written by Stapinski, who came to learn there was more to this story. "The thing that kinda blew me away much more than the Marilyn footage was his story about escaping Nazi Germany." Jules Schulback was a man of many adventures. "The American Way" begins with the Monroe story but tells a wide-ranging story of an immigrant who made good.

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