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Morath show offers Monroe, Gable photos

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Mia Knight
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« on: April 08, 2007, 12:02:44 am »

Morath show offers Monroe, Gable photos
By MARTIN GRIFFITH, Associated Press Writer
Sat Apr 7, 2:16 PM ET

RENO, Nev. - Like the rest of her work, Inge Morath's photographs of Marilyn Monroe, shot in 1960, go right to the heart of her subject. Monroe may be smiling on the outside, but her vulnerability is also revealed.

Rare photos of Monroe, Clark Gable, Montgomery Clift and other stars of the film "The Misfits" are featured in the exhibit "Inge Morath: road to reno," on view through July 15 at the Nevada Museum of Art.

Morath also photographed the man she later married playwright Arthur Miller, who wrote "The Misfits" and was in the final stages of his marriage to Monroe at the time.

About 70 photos on display mostly black and whites record Morath's 18-day road trip to Reno from New York City and her time on the set for the photography agency Magnum Photos, which was hired to document the shooting of the offbeat movie about a group of Nevada loners.

"The Misfits," filmed almost exclusively around Reno from July to November 1960, was the only movie Monroe and Gable appeared in together, and was the last completed film for both.

"(Morath) is not interested in simply capturing the star power and the legends," said Ann Wolfe, the museum's curator. "She was looking for a greater truth behind the surface. It was a bittersweet melancholy encapsulated in some of her photos."

The Austrian-born photographer's Reno assignment was among the highlights of a prolific career that spanned more than 50 years, said John Jacob, director of The Inge Morath Foundation based in New York City. Morath, who won international awards, was involved as a photographer, writer or both in the publication of more than two dozen books. Her interests ranged from celebrities to the Soviet Union.

The charming, witty Morath had a knack for capturing the essence of her subjects, Jacob said.

"Most people put up a wall when they have their picture taken," he said. "She seemed to be able to allow people to let down their guard. Her time in Reno has to be one of the highlights of her career because that's where she met her husband. They certainly became friendly then, but not involved then."

One of Morath's more captivating photos shows Monroe and Miller alone in their suite at Reno's Mapes Hotel after a day's shooting. Miller, with a cigarette dangling from his mouth, gazes at Monroe as she peers out a window, her back to him.

Monroe and Miller took separate rooms during the filming, and divorced in 1961. A year later, Morath became Miller's third wife and remained married to him until her death in 2002 at age 77. Miller, who wrote the Pulitzer and Tony Award winning play "Death of a Salesman," died in 2005 at age 89.

"I think there's a real melancholic sense in that photo. I think she was able to capture (the Monroe-Miller) relationship. ... A very ephemeral moment," Wolfe said. "It's quite fascinating that Morath is documenting this relationship and only two years later finds herself married to him."

Also revealing are a portrait of a smiling Monroe in a bathrobe and a color photo of her in a black dress and high heels preparing for a sidewalk scene near a group of gawking bystanders.

"(The latter photo) captures her in an in-between state. She's focused on her job, but forced to reckon with her stardom and fishbowl existence. She seems to be caught in the headlights," Wolfe said.

"The portrait of Monroe in the bathrobe is not as simple as it appears. If you look closely, you can see this distant gaze kind of an emptiness."

Among other photos, Gable is shown leaning over next to Monroe as she sits in bed with only a sheet draped over her. Another captures Gable relaxing with director John Huston during a break in shooting.

The photos reflect little of the tension that plagued the set, and for good reason: Morath worked during the early weeks of the filming before major problems surfaced, Jacob said.

She was among nine Magnum photographers assigned to record the filming, and her colleagues captured more of the tension later, Jacob said.

Monroe's frequent tardiness, blamed on pill-popping, caused annoying delays for her co-stars and Huston. Late-night drinking and gambling by others also caused problems. Twelve days after the movie wrapped, Gable died of a heart attack at age 59. Less than 21 months later, Monroe died at age 36 of a drug overdose that was ruled a suicide.

Though she enjoyed hearing a "wonderful" Gable tell stories about his movies, Morath seemed intrigued more by Monroe. She found the screen idol to be "marvelous to look at" but very insecure.

"Actually, Marilyn was fascinating to watch. The way she moved, her expressions; she was just extraordinary," Morath wrote in the book "The Road to Reno."

"There was such strength and energy combined with this fragility. What I wanted to do was the unposed person. ... You might see in some of the close-ups, behind the smile there was a tragic undertone."

Morath had a great talent for drawing people in, even without a camera, according to Miller.

"Her pictures of Marilyn are particularly empathic and touching as she caught Marilyn's anguish beneath her celebrity, the pain as well as her joy in life," Miller wrote.


On the Net:

Inge Morath Foundation,

Nevada Museum of Art,

"The Road to Reno," eno.html

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