April 3rd, 2014

This is not photoshopped: Marilyn Monroe the bodybuilder

Taken for a 1952 photo essay in Life, this picture was one of a series that never got published in the original article:


19 Responses to “This is not photoshopped: Marilyn Monroe the bodybuilder”

  1. Gregorio Says:

    Too risqué for Life magazine in the early 50s?

  2. Ray Says:

    Those are dinky little weights and she doesn’t have much muscle. Years ago I went out with a dance instructor who had a better physique than that. That woman had muscles and a gorgeous figure.

  3. neo-neocon Says:


    Dinky, schminky.

    I don’t think it’s about the weights.

  4. Ann Says:

    Too risqué for Life magazine in the early 50s?

    Maybe not — the article did include a photo of her nude calendar pose from a few years earlier.

  5. OdTexan Says:

    Marilyn had an incredible body that appeared perfect to all us young boys in the 50′s. Of course the camera loved her cheekbones and face and add to that curves in the right places and I think all of us guys thought Joe DiMaggio was the luckiest man in the world. I was young enough that I was not exactly sure what happened when grown ups did it but I sure knew that Marilyn would be my choice if I were old enough.

    Marilyn was a unique sexy lady in the 50′s and while she had a lot of issues and problems up to the time of her death I think a lot of us old guys still have a bit of a schoolboy crush on her.

  6. Oldflyer Says:

    I think the picture is very telling. No, there isn’t much in the way of weights or muscles. But, everything there is is very feminine, and looks to be very natural. Very proportional.

    Compared to what you would see in a posed PR shot of today’s artificially endowed women, I really like what I see.

    Wonder how old she was, and at what stage in her career. There is a charming innocence in her face, that didn’t show up in the sex symbol and star.

  7. Ymarsakar Says:

    Weight lifting is getting more and more obsolete.


    More modern research and development is more efficient. Bruce Lee type problems should be avoided.

  8. 29Victor Says:

    Marilyn wouldn’t have wanted muscles – that would have been bad. She just would have wanted to keep anything from dangling or bulging. The small weights were perfect for what she was attempting to achieve.

  9. Ymarsakar Says:

    Because the squat is more about form than huge muscles, it’s good training to work only on the form with that level of weight, especially for a woman that has less mass to absorb shocks.

  10. parker Says:

    I do not assume to know what other males may find attractive but I was never attracted to women with a hard body. I was born in 48 and I agree with OdTexan, MM was the dream woman of my pubescent years…. and then in my late teens along came Racquel Welch. However, I ended up with a petite red head. Lucky me.

  11. neo-neocon Says:


    The article was in 1952, when she would have been 26. She had not yet become a star, but in 1953 “Niagara” came out and her fame began to rise.

  12. southpaw Says:

    Well the picture was taken before I was born, but I want to thank you Neo for the post. A beautiful woman wearing a bikini top is always a welcome sight.

  13. Ann Says:

    Neo, there was also her appearance in All About Eve in 1950, about which Roger Ebert said:

    Glittering in the center of “All About Eve” is a brief supporting appearance by Marilyn Monroe. This film, and John Huston’s “The Asphalt Jungle” earlier the same year, put her on the map; she was already “Marilyn Monroe,” in every detail. She appears at Margo’s party as DeWitt’s date, and he steers her toward the ugly but powerful producer Max Fabian (Gregory Ratoff), advising her, “Now go and do yourself some good.” Monroe sighs, “Why do they always look like unhappy rabbits?”

    It has been observed that no matter how a scene was lighted, Monroe had the quality of drawing all the light to herself. In her brief scenes here, surrounded by actors much more experienced, she is all we can look at. Do we see her through the prism of her legend? Perhaps not; those who saw the movie in 1950, when she was unknown, also singled her out.

  14. Ann Says:

    Here’s that “why do they always look like unhappy rabbits” scene in All About Eve.

  15. Conrad Says:

    BTW, to anyone who is interested in such things, if you take a close look at the facts concerning MM’s death, it’s very clear that she was murdered — or at least that someone killed her, perhaps accidently.

  16. Gringo Says:

    An aunt of mine, who was about the same age as Marilyn, got married in 1948, which is why I am familiar with how she looked then, even though I wasn’t born yet: wedding photos. Years later, I saw a photo of Marilyn taken in 1948- before she was a blonde. The resemblance to my aunt in the same year was uncanny.

    Like Marilyn, my aunt died an early, tragic death.

    I vaguely remember being about 3 years old and going to a drive in movie with my parents to see a Marilyn Monroe movie. I fell asleep early on.

    I have seen some Marilyn Monroe movies in my adulthood. She wasn’t just a dumb blonde. She definitely had some talent as a comic actress.

    From RB Cramer’s The Dimaggio Nobody Knew:

    Joe never said how he thought she died. But he made it apparent whom he blamed: the Kennedy boys (yeah, he knew about that), Sinatra (his former friend!), that snake Peter Lawford and all the rest of the rat-pack scum. He wouldn’t let them near her funeral–none of them. Producers, directors, flacks and stars–all equally unwelcome. The studio brass tried to reason with Joe: These are very big people! What can we tell them? “Tell them,” said DiMaggio, “if it wasn’t for them, she’d still be here.”

    Argentina has Carlos Gardel. We have Buddy Holly and Marilyn Monroe. In Argentina, it is said that every day Carlos Gardel sings better. And every day Marilyn Monroe looks better.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I5JQ1m3mxKw Carlos Gardel- Volver

  17. effinayright Says:

    First time I ever “did it” with the young lady who wound up as my wife the last thirty years, I kept noticing her ..arms, which were beautifully developed—not from lifting weights, but from being a dancer.

    (I also knew a woman who got her beautiful arms from using a pole to snag salmon out of rivers in Alaska–a different story altogether.)

  18. Musings from Brian J. Noggle » Blog Archive » Marilyn Monroe Was Stronger Than I Was As A Freshman Says:

    [...] has a lost picture of Marilyn Monroe lifting weights, and I feel like less of a [...]

  19. formwiz Says:

    By the end of the 50s, Marilyn was doing weights fairly regularly, as another spread in Life attested.

    This isn’t as big a deal as it otherwise might be.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.


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