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Richard Avedon, Marilyn Monroe, and Hollywood’s Blond Mania

In 1954, Marilyn Monroe was already a Hollywood phenomenon. In her earliest cameo in the 1950 film All About Eve, Monroe’s character is briefly introduced to Margo Channing, a grand diva of the stage played by Bette Davis, as Miss Claudia Casswell, a graduate, as her chaperone condescendingly quips, of “the Copacabana School of Dramatic Art.” Miss Casswell is then summarily dismissed, sent off in the direction of a big producer in the other room on whom she is expected to level her feminine wiles. In a ten-second cut, we watch the bit-part character becoming the outsize star who plays her. Monroe employs an arsenal of subtle optical adjustments, turning on an inner glow and flashing her most mesmerizing smile....

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