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Peter Mangone

The pictures in our Marilyn Monroe in NYC edition are based on a long-lost 8mm film footage of Marilyn shot by Peter Mangone in the streets of New York City in 1955 when Monroe was 29 and Mangone was 14.

The back story to the nearly 6 minute film is that in 1955, Mangone would stake out the Gladstone Hotel on East 52nd Street, hoping to catch a glimpse of the star and get an autograph. One morning, he borrowed his brother’s 8 mm camera and ran into Monroe as she was leaving the hotel to go shopping with her business partner Milton Greene and fashion designer George Nardiello. Recognizing her young fan, the actress blew him a kiss and invited him to follow.

Mangone shot Monroe in fits and starts over the afternoon, and developed the film right away. Several years later, Mangone threw out all his movie memorabilia. The film was lost, presumed destroyed, and for the next 50 years, Mangone increasingly regretted discarding it. Then in 2002, while cleaning out their father’s house, Mangone’s brother found the film, stored in a beat-up cardboard box and in almost mint condition.

Shot from four or five feet away, the film records a series of interactions between Monroe and the camera. The film is grainy due to Mangone’s inexperience with the camera, but the color is vivid. Walking backward, Mangone captured a glowing Monroe strolling down Fifth Avenue with Greene and Nardiello. The background is filled with images emblematic of the 50’s: Checker cabs, ’55 Chevys, men in fedoras and women in crinolines. Monroe wore a black cashmere suit and is at her happiest and most radiant as she connects with her teenage admirer.

It was the last time Mangone saw Monroe in person. The rediscovery of the film presents an illuminating snapshot of this transitional moment in Monroe’s life. For Mangone, “It was a gift, like refinding my high school sweetheart. And you know what? She was just the way I remembered her.”