In 1962, Marilyn Monroe was shooting what was to be her last movie. Photographers Billy Woodfield and Lawrence Schiller received the assignment to cover the shoot and had obtained Monroe’s confidence, at least enough to allow them to photograph Monroe nude and semi-nude during a swimming pool scene. Playboy Magazine – which was launched with a photo of Marilyn Monroe on the cover – would be celebrating its 10th anniversary in 1963. Schiller, who shot his first playmate centerfold in 1958, approached Monroe about posing for the cover of the Anniversary Edition of the magazine and she was receptive to the idea. The following (previously unreleased) letter was written by Hugh Hefner to the photographers describing his vision for the cover.
Marilyn Monroe died less than a month later; the Playboy shoot never happened.
HUGH M. HEFNER editor-publisher
Larry and Bill —
If this letter doesn’t do it – nothing will.
When I got to thinking about the whole idea, after we finished talking on the phone, it occurred to me that getting Marilyn actually interested in posing for this cover was the greatest gimmick in the world, and would tremendously enhance everything else that we are doing. Nor does the back-view shot have to be nude, as we originally planned. All we need is nudity under a very transparent nightie, or else perhaps a shortie nightgown, with little ruffled panties that are sufficiently pulled up around the rear to make it enticing. Let’s try for the pure nudity under the negligee, of course, but if that can’t be swung, then the shortie nightie – it if is properly posed – can do the trick. The important gimmick is that the cover must have a peekaboo bareness and provocativeness about it, when we see it from behind – otherwise it has lost its point. But we can achieve this either with a quite transparent nightie, or else with a shortie nightgown that breaks just above the cheeks of the derriere, and tightly pulled-up ruffled panties that break high on the cheeks, like a ballerina’s (or one of our Bunny’s) costumes, if Marilyn will then give us the slightest little bend at the hips, so that the derriere is thrust back ever so slightly, and provocatively.
I wasn’t kidding when I said that this cover can really be sensational and the talk of all industries – magazine, movie, and all the rest. Let’s see how they react to it.