On Saturday Playboy publisher Hugh Hefner was laid to rest in a private funeral surrounded by family and friends.
“I feel a double connection to her, because she was the launching key to the beginning of Playboy,” Hefner told CBS Los Angeles in 2012. “We were born the same year.”
Sounds kind of sweet, right? The Playboy founder wanting to be buried next to his magazine’s very first cover girl.
Except, the truth is that Hefner and Monroe never met. In fact, he almost ruined her career by publishing nude photos of her without her consent.
Not so sweet now, is it?
This fact was highlighted in a post by Sarah Vaughn Patzel on New Wave Feminist at the weekend that quickly went viral and was shared more than 42,000 times.
Today, Monroe is an icon that long ago reached legendary status – helped in part by her untimely death at the age of 36. But back in 1949, she was an inexperienced actress who was modelling to keep herself afloat.
It was then that she accepted a $50 modelling job and was photographed nude by pin-up photographer Tom Kelley, creating images that were printed in a calendar. She told biographer George Barris that she had used the fake name Mono Monroe when signing the release.
“I don’t know why, except I may have wanted to protect myself. I was nervous, embarrassed, even ashamed of what I had done, and I did not want my name to appear on that model release.”
Just a few years later, her star was on the rise and it was at this point that Hefner decided to cash in.
He paid $500 for the photos of Monroe so they could be reprinted within the very first copy of his men's magazine in December 1953, with the cover advertising: "First time in any magazine, Full Color, The famous Marilyn Monroe nude."
Keep in mind that this was long before the power of the internet. The photos might never have been seen by the thousands and thousands of people that they were if not for Playboy.
In: 'Marilyn: Her Life in Her Own Words', Monroe told Barris that these nude photos almost destroyed her still fledgeling career. It was only her own bravery to own up to the images that got the movie-going public on-side and not against her and ensured her career flourished thanks in part to the publicity.
"I never even received a thank-you from all those who made millions off a nude Marilyn photograph. I even had to buy a copy of the magazine to see myself in it..."
In 1992, decades after Monroe's death, Hefner bought the crypt next to hers for US$75,000.
Again, the actress did not and could not consent to this.
"I’m a believer in things symbolic," he told the Los Angeles Times. "Spending eternity next to Marilyn is too sweet to pass up."
And now, Norma Jeane will forever lie next to a man who she never met, but who managed to exploit her nonetheless.
Listen: The Mamamia Out Loud team talk about that time Playboy decided to stop all its nudes.