Interviewer: What was the first encounter, the first time that you actually encountered Marilyn Monroe and and shot with her?

Elliott Erwitt: I don't remember.

Interviewer: Could you why was it the seven year itch or was it prior to that? Did you. I don't need a date. I just sort of trying to get to a mood.

Elliott Erwitt: Do you know what year seven year itch was.

Interviewer: 55.

Elliott Erwitt: That I must spend first, because the other one was in 1960.

Interviewer: Which is. So seven year itch, you were what you was, was the first time the whole over the great chute, or had you been around the ship?

Elliott Erwitt: I've been around the set, I think, for a day or two before. And actually, I was taking pictures of the director was named Billy Wilder and the set designer. Very interesting man called trainer or trainer or something like that. I must friend who's worked with him and the Marilyn Monroe shooting incident to that.

Interviewer: How do you feel about shooting with her? And you were I mean, this is 50 years ago. This was she was pretty hot for her life.

Elliott Erwitt: She was.

Interviewer: Was he here?.

Elliott Erwitt: She's here. Take pictures in a lot of people. I mean, you don't get impressed by you get impressed by people who are nasty when you get impressed by people who are uncooperative. But she was charming, pleasant, uncooperative.

Interviewer: So can you remember that night? Can you describe the night with all those millions of people there and DiMaggio there in that whole scene of the.

Elliott Erwitt: I was not aware of the Marjoe I was aware of. A lot of stuff was getting in the way. It was one of those New York things, and I think a lot of. Sought to characterize it. There's just a mob scene. And very pleasant. And chaos. Controlled chaos. As movie shootings are when they're in the middle of the city with all kinds of things going on. There's just a very pleasant experience.

Interviewer: You also have those other great chats with her and the white terry cloth robe from the very window, stopping sort of with her script. There are lovely, lovely moments. You are clearly much closer to her and there are clearly fewer guys around in the way.

Elliott Erwitt: Well, the pictures of her in the room, there was nobody else around except her, obviously. So it was just sitting down, taking pictures of how someone could be anyone. Did you talk to Shaw?

Interviewer: How was it?

Elliott Erwitt: Well, we talked about quantum physics, of course.

Interviewer: She was a smart girl.

Elliott Erwitt: Very smart.

Interviewer: You read here five years later. I think she was a different woman. Five years later, a different husband, entirely different movie. And I think an entirely different.

Elliott Erwitt: Well, all those differences have nothing to do with me. I'm just started taking pictures again. It was a very pleasant, really quite charming person, easily accessible. A little bit difficult about appointments. But apart from that, I suppose a star is allowed some eccentricities and some kind of odd behavior. But I wasn't making that movie, so I wasn't losing zillions of dollars a day when every show isn't disposal. It's OK with me.

Interviewer: And you do have and you did the very emblematic Misfits job, which is just memorable and great. One of the ones we absolutely love. Do you have. Just thinking back then, there will be no really being a young guy. Did you or did you were you among the young guys? This is a guy who just was entranced with hair and thought that this was just an extraordinary creature. Was it or was it just as you say?

Elliott Erwitt: It's really not my nature to be entrenched. Sorry, I can't say that I was impressed. I was interested. I was not impressed.

Interviewer: Anything else you'd like to add?

Elliott Erwitt: I'd love to be in France for your benefit, but what can I say?

Interviewer: This is it. I've got the comments. Perfect. Thank you.

Elliott Erwitt: It.

Interviewer: I think so. Do you have something else more you to say to me? I can't. I can't.

Elliott Erwitt: You can't.

Interviewer: I mean. I mean, what I really want is just a couple of remarks about being around you. Then.

Elliott Erwitt: Yeah.

Interviewer: And I guess meaning if you do you have anything to say about sort of the the mood she created, especially that night with so talk?

Elliott Erwitt: Well, the thing is kind of amusing as her at the balcony because there she was grandstanding for for her audience on the street. So that was kind of I was kind of cute. Mussolini used to do that. It was a different kind of thing.

Interviewer: And she was kind of masterful. You know those guys.

Elliott Erwitt: Right. So listen.

Interviewer: So what we said. Yeah, it is. Do your.

Elliott Erwitt: If not benevolent, sweet person who was enjoying her popularity and playing to the crowd.

Interviewer: Did she have an effect? I really have an effect, especially in the shop for the Misfits. Chat with all the guys and and wrangling that and trying to get that to work. She was really was she really sort of translucent and transcendent and she really had that incredible connection with the camera.

Elliott Erwitt: She was one of those people that looks better in the camera than in person. I mean, she didn't look bad in person, but she certainly looked better. And the camera, especially in those days, I think those days, as we all know now, she was under great pressure, the pressure pills and all that kind of stuff. How much more time.

Interviewer: In her work in the camera?

Elliott Erwitt: Oh, yeah. And therefore, she didn't physically look that as good as she normally would. But it didn't matter in the photograph and the photograph some. That's that's what star quality is all about. There is some transformation that happens between the person and the camera that you can have beautiful people photographed and they look okay. You can have people that are very beautiful, that look fantastic. And a camera. She was one of those people that always looked at the camera.

Interviewer: The stuff that you have just a little with her in the room in the seven year itch stuff, she's quite. She looks healthier and happier. And she was it was it at that point. But those are very nice photographs. They're very relaxed. She looks very she does look just quite lovely in those photographs. And the mood is quite different than it was at misfits time.

Elliott Erwitt: Obviously, I would suggest that the movie was also quite different. It was a very funny movie. And Misfits. Wasn't that funny?

Interviewer: No, it wasn't. What was Wylder like with her? And I mean, did you did you it. Was that an interesting encounter?

Elliott Erwitt: Well, there was the person I really was interested in. I mean, I must be honest, a funny man, just hilarious, slightly cynical. He was absolute. These are my favorite people. Being a movie buff. I thought he was extraordinary. And of course, I was interested in him. And his set designer worked together with him very closely.

Interviewer: Well, speaking of being a movie buff, then, what did you think of her as an actress? And where did you think about her films? She did two great ones with Wylder. Some like it. Hot.

Elliott Erwitt: Is something that is a wonderful moment. Yeah. Yeah. Sorry I wasn't there.

Interviewer: Yeah, you weren't here. That was. I mean it. She's quite spectacular.

Elliott Erwitt: She is. But it's it's the writing and the direction. No. She is what she is. She's always a personality. Even in the I think her first film was a bit part in a John Houston movie. A tiny little bit part. You noticed her even though it was a nothing part. Well, that's that's her quality.

Interviewer: I think that's good. I truly do.

Elliott Erwitt: Okay.

Interviewer: Thank you. Alice, just for that. But it will be worth it. Okay. So the reason that we're doing this is, is that she would have been 80 and.

Elliott Erwitt: Too easy. Oh, you're joking. She could be my grandmother. I can't imagine Marilyn Monroe being anybody's grandmother. That's sweet. You know, there's one thing. It's a cynical thing to say, but a great career move is made by people dying young.

Interviewer: It sure is, and certainly it hurts. This was a great.

Elliott Erwitt
Interview Date:
American Archive of Public Broadcasting GUID:
"Elliott Erwitt, Marilyn Monroe: Still Life." American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). 04 Apr. 2006,
(2006, April 04). Elliott Erwitt, Marilyn Monroe: Still Life. [Video]. American Masters Digital Archive (WNET).
"Elliott Erwitt, Marilyn Monroe: Still Life." American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). April 04, 2006. Accessed June 30, 2022


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