X-Rays from Marilyn Monroe’s Doctor’s Visit, Taken Two Months Before Her Death

Julie Miller

Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe

Even 50 years after her death, the world is still fascinated by Marilyn Monroe and transfixed by previously unknown details of her life-however unsubstantial and un-sexy they may seem. This was proven on Monday when the Beverly Hills auction house Julien's announced that it would be selling off intimate photos of the star-yes, more previously unseen, intimate Marilyn photos-only these were of the medically intrusive variety.

The lot includes six facial X-rays apparently taken of Monroe, which are dated June 7, 1962-one week after her 36th birthday, two months before her sudden death, and the day before 20th Century Fox would fire her from George Cukor's Something's Gotta Give.

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According to Martin Nolan, executive director of Julien's Auctions, Monroe was escorted to a visit with Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Michael Gurdin by her psychoanalyst, Dr. Greenson-whom, Nolan says, cut short a trip in Europe to tend to Monroe, and two months later would be the one to find her dead in her home in Brentwood.

Gurdin would note in his records that Monroe complained of tenderness on her nose, possibly related to a fall she had suffered early that morning between two and three a.m. He referred her to the X-ray office of Drs. Steinberg and Conti, who marked Monroe's X-rays with the alias "Joan Newman." Although Steinberg and Conti wrote in their report that were no visual fractures or breakages, a medical professional whom Julien's recently consulted says that the X-rays show a possible a hairline fracture on the tip of Marilyn's nose-where some Monroe historians have said she had a slight rhinoplasty early in her career.

During another visit to Gurdin, the actress complained of "a chin deformity." Gurdin's records suggests that her cartilage implant, dating back 1950, was beginning to dissolve.

Also included in the Julien's lot is an abbreviated medical history for Monroe, which shows that she suffered from neutropenia, a low level of a white-blood-cell type, while during a stay in London in 1956. The records also cite an ectopic pregnancy that Monroe was treated for in 1957 in New York, while she was still married to Arthur Miller.

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While it may seem strange to auction off personal medical records, Nolan tells us that his auction house has previously handled similar lots, including X-rays of President Kennedy, Elvis Presley, and Orson Welles. "Keep in mind, this is pop-culture history," Nolan says of the files. "[Marilyn's] date back to the 1950s. Today there are laws preventing the release of such information, but this is prior to that law." Within hours of announcing the lot, which is estimated to sell between $20,000 and $30,000, Martin says that he was contacted by interested buyers as far flung as Ireland, England, and Australia.

"Even though X-rays are not tangible like a musical instrument or clothing," Nolan says, "it's part of the story of Marilyn that people are buying. There is such a demand for her worldwide even though it is 50 years since she passed away. Honestly, I could have an auction every day for Marilyn Monroe and the items would be sought after."

See the X-rays, exclusively on VanityFair.com

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