Bruno Bernard, better known as Bernard of Hollywood, was the most sought-after photographer during cinema's golden age. He's known for pin-up style photographs, particularly the ones that helped to make Marilyn Monroe a Hollywood icon. And next week, you can see those photos firsthand, when his work is celebrated in an exhibit at the World Erotic Art Museum in conjunction with his daughter, Susan Bernard's, latest book.
Marilyn: Intimate Exposures commemorates Monroe's beauty and transformation from Norma Jean to Marilyn, as told through the lens and personal relationship Bernard had with Monroe as her photographer and confidant throughout her tumultuous career and tragic demise.
Susan Bernard grew up in the realm of Hollywood, eventually pursuing a career in celebrity on and off screen. At 16, she starred in the cult classic Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! And in December 1966, she was Playboy's Playmate of the Month, complete with a centerfold shot by her father's own apprentice. She has starred along side cinematic legends Orson Welles and Henry Fonda, and appeared in multiple television series, including General Hospital.
After a year's worth of work going through memorabilia and keepsakes of her father and Monroe, Bernard is sharing her discoveries in her book, Intimate Exposures -- and bringing some of her father's Hollywood history to the WEAM.
"I was sifting through boxes and luggage that my father had collected over many years about Marilyn. It was really very painful. It was hard to choose, because you can do so much in this kind of book. It was a multi-layered project," Bernard said of the book, which features hand-written notes, letters, and journal entries to Marilyn.
There is also a foreword by Lindsay Lohan and the late Jane Russell. "I thought Lindsay would be ideal.... She really feels possessed by [Marilyn] in a sense, and I wanted someone of a new generation of Hollywood who was somewhat controversial and had an edge to her and had to deal with issues similar to the way Marilyn had to. My father had photographed Jane Russell.... Marilyn really looked up to Jane and Jane really cared for Marilyn," Bernard said.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of Monroe's passing, and Bernard felt it was time to document and share her father's views on the truth about the actress's death. Bernard believes her research could set the record straight about circumstances surrounding the life and death of the Hollywood sex symbol. Particularly, disproving the presidential conspiracy theories linked to President John F. Kennedy, who is said to have been on a ranch up in Gilroy at the time of her death.
"My father was in Berlin at the time. He was having coffee when he heard it over the loud speaker. A lot of people didn't see the issue [the shock of her death] the way I [did]. I was mostly concerned about my father," Bernard said.
The book tour, which includes live reading performances and photographs, has taken Bernard from her native California to the Cannes Film Festival, the Olympics in London, and now Israel, Berlin, Russia, and Istanbul this coming year. Actors Thomas Jane, Rose McGowan, Don Murray, and author Jerry Stahl staged a theatrical performance of Intimate Exposures at The Largo at The Coronet in Los Angeles.
"I've combined my knowledge of Marilyn, my dad, and my love of his photography with my writing and performing," Bernard said.
One part of the book that is particularly special to Bernard is the chapter "The Discovery of Norma Jean," which details her father's discovery of Marilyn in a chance encounter as he was leaving a dentist appointment. "He gave her his card and he just knew she was right for modeling, and those photos got her her first job," Bernard said.
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Bernard said, "[Marilyn's] kind of like a god-sister. Like an angel that hovers above me, in death she's still close to me."
"Marilyn: Intimate Exposures" ;premieres at the World Erotic Art Museum, 1205 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach, with a reception Wednesday, September 12 from 7 to 10 p.m. The show runs through Friday, November 30.