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Stunning Photos of Marilyn Monroe as 5 Different Celebrated Actresses, 1958

In 1958, Life Magazine invited Marilyn Monroe and photographer Richard Avedon to recreate images of five celebrated actresses of different eras. Entitled “Fabled Enchantresses,” the piece was part of the magazine’s December 22 “Christmas” issue and included an article by Marilyn’s playwright husband, Arthur Miller, entitled “My Wife, Marilyn.”

Avedon found in Marilyn an easy subject to work with, “She gave more to the still camera than every other actress – every other woman – I had the opportunity to photograph…” He added that she was more patient with him and more demanding of herself than others and that she was more comfortable in front of the camera than when not posing.

Marilyn as Lillian Russell, turn-of-the-century American actress

marilyn monroe lillian russell

marilyn monroe lillian russell

Marilyn as Theda Bara, silent film star from 1914 – 1926

marilyn monroe theda bara

marilyn monroe theda bara

marilyn monroe theda bara

Marilyn as Clara Bow, the silent screen’s “It Girl”

marilyn monroe clara bow

marilyn monroe clara bow

marilyn monroe clara bow

marilyn monroe clara bow

marilyn monroe clara bow

Marilyn as blonde bombshell Jean Harlow

marilyn monroe jean harlow

marilyn monroe jean harlow

marilyn monroe jean harlow

marilyn monroe jean harlow

Marilyn as Marlene Dietrich

marilyn monroe marlene dietrich