Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Marilyn Monroe photo scam

In the fifties the United States Post Office was charged with protecting the morals of the nation by prosecuting pornographers who sent their wares through the U.S. Mail.

Seems strange today in an era when, with a few clicks of a mouse and an Internet connection, anyone can access more porn that anyone in the fifties could see in their lifetime. But it was a serious offense to be sending dirty pictures through the mail. Even advertising sexy pictures for sale, and then sending non-porno pics to someone who paid for them was a crime. It was fraud and misrepresentation. A good porn producer was stymied at every turn.

At one time in this country it could cost an actress her career to be photographed in the nude and have the pictures distributed. That is what made the famous Marilyn Monroe calendar so unique. The picture was taken before Monroe became a movie star. What it did was enhance her as being a sexual person. Quoting Marilyn when asked if she had anything on during the photo session she is reported to have said, "I had the radio on." Or how she also (allegedly) said she liked to avoid the sun because she "wanted to feel blonde all over." Wow. Hot stuff! Just bound to corrupt a young person’s morals, no doubt.

 Feel corrupted by looking at this famous calendar picture? It is so corrupting that this particular 1954 calendar went for £298 in an auction by Bonham’s.

Exposed magazine was another of the fifties rags (begun by Confidential) that exploited the public desire to read about scandals and the ongoing peccadillos and dalliances of their favorite movie stars. Nowadays with the Internet and cable television we can check up 24/7 on what stars are doing what with whom. But in those days it was necessary to put it in print and put it on the newsstand for the public to see.

Things are so wide open right now it is smart for a young actress to show it all in order to get attention. Want to see Lindsay Lohan nude, from a Playboy photo shoot impersonating Marilyn? Go here.* What was once scandalous behavior that could have scuttled a career is now de rigueur.

The article, reproduced below from Exposed Vol. 1 No. 1, from 1955, uses the famous Marilyn calendar as a hook for a story about a couple of con men who were soliciting suckers to send them money for hot photos of Marilyn. Their approach, sending a handwritten letter purportedly from Marilyn, offering a variety of photos for only $7.00, is incredible on its face. Marilyn Monroe was a top movie star. Why would she need $7.00 for a handful of photos of herself, and why did she write to you to offer them for sale? But the suckers, as suckers do, lined up and sent their 7 bucks. It was up to the Postal authorities to run down the crooks.

In reminds me of a very low-tech version of those infamous e-mails from Nigeria, people unknown to you who want you to share in a $5,000,000 fortune, and all you have to do is send the e-mailer $5,000. I don’t know why anyone would be dumb enough to bite on such an obvious fraud, but they did, and still do. As con men like the ones described in this story well know, the world is full of suckers.

*Just a note to explain that the blog I am directing you to may be gone by the time you go to access it. It was posted on December 14, 2011, and is still up as I write this (May 18, 2014), but if you click on the link and draw a blank, well, sorry about that. It has been removed through none of my doing. You really missed out!

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