Lawrence Schiller: Marilyn Monroe and Great Moments from the 60s
Lawrence Schiller only remembers the 60s in this way: Fast. As in: Blur. Which is, for those who lived through it, as accurate a description as one is likely to find about the decade that began with optimism and ended in chaos. It was ten years of turmoil and exploration. And through this turbulent and tumultuous decade, it often seemed that whenever a headline-making news event occurred, Lawrence Schiller was there. Schiller was not just lucky to be in the right place at the right time; he was prescient. He was there to cover the event, to add to it, to help us see it, to aid its meaning and its depth. “It was a time in which things happened awfully fast,” Schiller says of the decade. “It was a wild, wild period; an uncontrolled period. I don’t think you had any sense of perspective in the 60s. You had to wait and look back at it, because it was a period in which things were happening that had no rhyme or reason to it. But by the end of the ‘60s I had covered so many stories, had so many magazine covers, I had somehow become part of that decade’s history. And I already had my eye on the future.”
When Lawrence Schiller got the assignment from the French magazine Paris Match to photograph Marilyn Monroe on the 20th Century Fox set of “Something’s Got to Give”, he thought nothing of it. Monroe by then was firmly established as a figment in the imagination of most young men. She’d appeared in twenty nine films by the time Schiller photographed her in black and white and color in May 1962. The world was unprepared for the moment when Marilyn jumped in the swimming pool in a flesh-colored bikini and came up out of the water au natural. She was all smiles and in her element: the sex goddess posing for eternity. Just months after the late spring shoot, Monroe was dead and Schiller’s photos of the star were used on the cover and throughout the story that Life Magazine published as a last look at the troubled star. Additionally, photos on exhibit showcase Schiller’s timely photographs of great moments from the 1960s, from movie stars to politicians, providing an all encompassing snapshot of this defining decade in history.