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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."

The Cutfrom The Cut

Exclusive First Look: ‘Picturing Marilyn,’ Including Never-Before-Seen Photographs of Marilyn Monroe

marilyn monroe


Flutesong, Marilyn Monroe and James Dean

Marilyn Monroe and James Dean. Love this pic. So want one of me and my guy

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. Read more:


The TIME Vault: July 11, 1977

Marilyn Monroe

"This life is what you make it. No matter what, you're going to mess up sometimes, it's a universal truth. But the good part is you get to decide how you're going to mess it up."

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."


Is God Coming Back to Life?

Marilyn Monroe: Early, Unpublished Photos by LIFE Magazine Photographer Ed Clark - LIFE

Marilyn - always fabulous. Here is an early photo! "She was unknown then, so I was able to spend a lot of time shooting her," Clark recalled. "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.

Marilyn - spotlight

Marilyn Monroe


Obsessed with Marilyn

What a great, candid shot of Marilyn | Photographer: TBD