Rare Snapshots of Marilyn Monroe Reveal the Star’s Lighter Side

Marilyn Monroe in front of the Sherry Netherland Hotel in New York City, 1952.

An upcoming auction offers a chance to see a different side of the star.

As far as Hollywood stories go, Marilyn Monroe‘s is generally seen as a tragic one. The iconic star had one of the most famous faces in the world, even as she struggled to be taken seriously by audiences and colleagues. She overcame a rough childhood to reach fame and fortune, but died young, in 1962, troubled and alone.

Knowing what would come later, it’s easy for her fans today to look at images of the actress and add their own overlay of sadness to the pictures. But, as these candid photos suggest, the tragedy of her story does not mean that she lacked for moments of happiness—or at least moments when she appeared to be happy.

These images are part of a massive haul of Monroe material being sold this week by Julien’s Auctions, beginning on Thursday. Many of them were owned by Frieda Hull, one of the so-called “Monroe Six”—a group of young superfans who followed her every move, and who eventually got to know Monroe well. The fans often snapped amateur photos of the star, which offer a contrast to the famous pictures that often spring to mind when one thinks of Monroe. Some of Hull’s collection of Monroe images have never before been seen publicly.

The auction also includes items ranging from costumes worn by the star to pieces from her personal correspondence. Perhaps most notably, the several days of auctions will also include the sale of the actual dress that Monroe wore—in fact, she was was sewn into it—for the night she famously sang “Happy Birthday” to President John F. Kennedy in 1962.