Marilyn Monroe’s Most Trusted Photographer

Marilyn Monroe in Milton Greene’s New York studio, March 1955. She wears a jacket and trousers designed by Jax of Hollywood. Photo: Milton H. Greene © 2017 Joshua Greene. From The Essential Marilyn Monroe; published by ACC Editions.

By the time Joshua Greene was 11 years old, his father Milton Greene, a close friend and longtime photographer of Marilyn Monroe, had enlisted him in his darkroom. Growing up, he helped develop prints of Monroe and other icons who posed for his father’s camera for decades — including Frank Sinatra, Elizabeth Taylor, and Sammy Davis, Jr. After his father died, Joshua dedicated his own photography career to restoring the archive he left behind. He selected more than 100 never-before-seen images of Monroe for the new book The Essential Marilyn Monroe, published by ACC Art Books.

“They were like two kids in a sandbox,” Joshua says of Greene and Monroe. “They’d go to the 20th Century back lots, raid the costume department’s closing, and then go out and shoot something.” The book’s rare collection of photos dates back to September of 1953, when they met on their first shoot together for Life magazine. Greene became a confidante and business partner to Monroe, supporting her as a friend throughout the termination of her contract with 20th Century Fox — he validated her choice to do it, helped fund her lawsuit, and invited her to escape Hollywood and stay at his apartment in New York. As an artist, he focused on capturing Monroe’s ability to break the hyper-sexualized mold she faced, Joshua says, and she trusted Milton to help her do so.

They started their own production company, Marilyn Monroe Productions, and for the next two years produced Bus Stop and The Prince and the Show Girl, all while staging dozens of photo shoots in L.A. and New York. They dissolved operations in 1957, after Monroe married Arthur Miller. “My father’s eye was always going 100 miles an hour, making sure that Marilyn looked the best that she could look,” Joshua says. “He would never let anybody see a bad picture of her.”

The Essential Marilyn Monroe by Milton H. Greene: 50 Sessions
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Marilyn Monroe’s Most Trusted Photographer