Tom Kelley’s Golden Dreams Calender
The following excerpt is from “The Marilyn Encyclopedia” :
Before posing for her famous calendar shots taken by photographer Tom Kelley, Marilyn had turned down many offers to pose nude. It seems she accepted only when her need was dire and immediate; her contracts with 20th Century Fox and Columbia had not been renewed, she was out of work, and had a certain level of lifestyle to maintain. The $50 she was paid was exactly what she needed to get back her car which had been impounded.
The photographs that became the infamous “Golden Dreams” calendar were taken on May 27, 1949. Kelley’s wife Natalie helped to prepare the red velvet backdrop and the cameras. The shoot lasted two hours while Kelley shot a sequence of photographs from a ten-foot ladder. Only two of the twenty-four shots Kelley took actually made it to print. “A New Wrinkle” graced one Braugarth Company calendar, but the picture that captured a nation’s imagination was “Golden Dreams”.
The story that Hollywood’s hottest new property Marilyn Monroe was in fact the girl in the nude calendar was broken by wire journalist Aline Mosby in March 1952.
The studio’s initial reaction was to deny everything. No Hollywood star had ever been proven to have done such a thing; the early fifties was a time of strait-laced public morals. Biographers agree that Marilyn was instrumental in persuading the studio that their natural inclination to deny the whole thing was the wrong way to handle it. An exclusive interview was arranged and the following confession ran in U.S. newspapers on March 13, 1952.
MARILYN MONROE ADMITS SHE’S NUDE BLONDE OF CALENDAR
A photograph of a beautiful nude blonde on a 1952 calendar is hanging in garages and barbershops all over the nation today. Marilyn Monroe admited today that the beauty is she. She posed, stretched out on rumpled red velvet for the artistic photo 3 years ago because “I was broke and needed the money”.
“Oh, the calendar’s hanging in garages all over town,” said Marilyn. “Why deny it? You can get one any place. Besides, I’m not ashamed of it. I’ve done nothing wrong.”
The beautiful blonde now gets a fat paycheck every week from an excited Twentieth Century-Fox studio. She’s rated the most sensational sweater girl since Lana Turner….she lives in an expensive hotel room…She dines at Romanoff’s. But in 1949 she was just another scared young blonde, struggling to find fame in the magic city, and all alone. As a child she lived in a Hollywood orphange. She was pushed around among twelve sets of foster parents before she turned an insecure sixteen.
“I was a week behind on my rent,” she explained. “I had to have the money. A photographer, Tom Kelley, had asked me before to pose but I’d never do it. This time I called him and said I would. Tom didn’t think anyone would recognize me. My hair was long then. But when the picture came out, everybody knew me. I’d never have done it if I’d known things would happen in Hollywood so fast for me.”
In the aftermath of the calendar confession, Marilyn was harangued by journalists. In typical fashion, when asked if it was true she had nothing on when she posed, she replied “Oh no, I the radio on.”
In December 1953 an asute man named Hugh Hefner bought the rights to reproduce the “Golden Dreams” photograph as the first centerfold in the first ever issue of Playboy magazine.