Marilyn Monroe? Sheilah Graham? Apocryphal?
Dear Quote Investigator: Beauty icon Marilyn Monroe’s film career was jeopardized in the 1950s when scandal-mongers reported on her past as a risqué calendar model. Interestingly, her popularity and fame actually grew. When she was questioned about the calendar she responded with a clever and hilarious remark about a radio. Is this tale authentic or apocryphal?
Quote Investigator: The earliest evidence known to QI appeared in the gossip column of Sheilah Graham in June 1952. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1
A pompous visitor asked Marilyn Monroe at Niagara—”Is it true that when you posed for that famous calendar photograph, Miss Monroe, you had nothing on?” “No,” said our Marilyn, “I had the radio on.”
Monroe was one of the stars of the film “Niagara” which was filmed in 1952 and released in 1953. It is conceivable that this tale was crafted by a humorist on behalf of Monroe and her studio; the zinger was then given to Graham for publication. Nevertheless, Monroe definitely employed the quip when she was interviewed for a 1953 profile published in “Esquire” magazine as shown further below.
Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.
- 1952 June 23, The Evening Star, Hollywood Diary by Sheilah Graham (North American Newspaper Alliance), Quote Page A13, Column 4, Washington D.C. (GenealogyBank) ↩