Never-Before-Seen Footage of Marilyn Monroe Uncovered

Iconic Marilyn Monroe Subway Scene Captured
Photo by SNAP/REX/Shutterstock

The scene from “Seven Year Itch” in which Marilyn Monroe’s white cocktail dress gets buffeted up to her waist is one of the most iconic in film history, but now, thanks to some old home-shot footage of the scene being filmed, you can see the moment and the events surrounding it in a different light.

On Sept. 15, 1954, director Billy Wilder and Monroe were scheduled to shoot the scene on a New York sidewalk, however, the crowd of journalists and onlookers, including Monroe’s then husband Joe DiMaggio who famously hated the dress and rowed with the actress after shooting, grew so great and rowdy, that they were forced to re-shoot the actual scene on the 20th Century Fox lot. Also among the crowd that day was a man named Jules Schulback who followed Monroe and captured the scene on film. Schulback’s illuminating footage has been edited down to a 12-second video on the New York Times website.

20th Century Fox/REX/Shutterstock

The footage was discovered by his granddaughter Bonnie Siegler and her husband Jeff Scher in a plastic bag filled with old films Schulback had made of family trips, bar mitzvahs and, so it happened, the famous subway grate incident with Marilyn Monroe.

In an interview with the New York Times, Siegler’s older sister Rayna Dineen revealed that Schulback always told his family stories of the moments he had captured on film, but that they had never truly believed him until they found the footage in 2004. Siegler and Scher proceeded to screen the film for the family, and then for a group of around 100 people. Now, a short clip from the film is available for people outside the family to see for the first time, however, it is unclear when the full, unedited footage will be made available.

The original short film lasts 3 minutes and 17 seconds, features humorous title cards which Schulback had spliced in, and captures Monroe in a second-floor window blow-drying her hair. It then cuts to the iconic star standing on the subway grate preparing to film the scene. Schulback must have been remarkably close to the action, as in some of the shots you can even make out Wilder’s arm as he gives out instructions, while in another the director walks in front of the camera before Monroe’s dress starts to flutter a bit too high for her liking, and with her co-star Tom Ewell looking on, the actress smiles her pearly white smile as she tries to pin it down.

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  1. JohnnyD says:

    Such a beautiful lady.

  2. behroz says:

    movie making at good old days.

  3. No one since the formation of what we know as the “entertainment industry” equals The Icon that is Marilyn Monroe. No one ever will.

  4. Mike M says:

    What is not mentioned anywhere is that Schulback actually got to ALL the NY shooting locations for The Seven Year Itch – because there were ONLY two. So this actually makes this footage incredibly more rare than anyone (at least publicly) is saying. These were not just random “I might go check it out” moments. As far as cinema film history is concerned – this is some of the most important footage ever shot in my opinion.

    Also, this is just HIS footage, Wilder was most definitely shooting as well, and THAT footage has never been seen publicly either, as it was never finally used in the film.

    Only two scenes were actually filmed in New York, mostly as publicity stunts. The first location was a town house at 164 East 61st Street, and during filming Monroe could be seen, “clad in lingerie,” at a second-story window. “Barricades blocked off the street, between Third and Lexington Avenues, for four hours,” as reported by The New York Times.

    The second (this) Manhattan location in “The Seven Year Itch” — for “the shot seen around the world” — was at Lexington and 52nd Street (590 Lexington Avenue – now Le Relais de Venise L’Entrecôte). Thanks to the 20th Century Fox publicity department, the details were released in advance.

    Estimates vary, but 2000 to 5000 fans and photographers lined up on Sept. 15, 1954, and witnessed the billowing-dress sequence. Monroe, wearing an ecru Travilla halter dress with accordion pleats (and two pairs of white panties, she notes in “Marilyn: Her Life in Her Own Words,” by George Barris, Citadel Press, 2001), stepped onto a subway grate in front of the Trans-Lux Theater. Klieg lights and cameras hit her; the special-effects man underground started the huge fan; and Wilder shot the scene over and over again as the crowd roared for more.

    As planned, a large part of the skirt scene was later re-shot, less revealingly, on the Fox lot in Los Angeles; the original location shots were used for the ads. The movie’s premiere was here on June 1, 1955, Monroe’s 29th birthday.

  5. Lori grubb says:

    You would think that a major popular magazine would proof-read its articles before sending them to print. You have a spelling/grammar error in paragraph 2

  6. eddie willers says:

    What can you say but….hubba hubba!

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