MARILYN MONROE: Red Velvet Collection
Summer 2015 Tour

by Pierre Vudrag on Monday, July 27, 2015

The HISTORIC PHOTO That Almost Ended A Career

But instead Made An American ICON & Launched a MEDIA EMPIRE

Limited Runs, vintage poster and art retailer announces its partnership with the Messenger Art Collection to tour the historic, original one-of-kind large-format color separations used to produce the iconic Marilyn Monroe “Golden Dreams” calendars from the 1949 nude “Red Velvet” photo shoot. The Kodachrome photograph and 21 large format separations (24” x 20”), will be made available for limited public viewing in five U.S. cities: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Chicago and New York. This historic image, rather than end, catapulted Marilyn Monroe’s career into the stratosphere, graced the inaugural issue of Playboy magazine, propelling Hugh Hefner into the publishing spotlight, launching his popular mega-empire.   The purpose of the tour is not only to bring this previously unseen masterpiece of art and photography to the public, but to identify the appropriate museum or private collection for permanent placement of the 21 large format color separations. Those interested in acquisition details may direct their inquiries to Limited Runs at

If you’re not sure what Color Separations are check out this video

Hefner, in an interview clip that is a part of the soon-to-be released documentary, Marilyn Monroe Declassified, produced by Paul Davids Films, admits without hesitation, that this stunning photo of the unknown starlet played a major role in the success of his Playboy empire. Hefner, in an interview clip that is a part of the soon-to-be released

 Unpublished Photos to be Included in the Exhibit and Available for Sale Also included as part of the tour and available for sale on Limited Runs are a number of previously unseen photographs of Marilyn Monroe.  These uncovered images are offered for the first time as fine art prints. The photographers featured include Tom Kelley, Gene Lester and fashion photographer and artist Len Steckler (see below for more information about Len Steckler’s photographs).  Click here to see the additional poses of Marilyn Monroe taken by Tom Kelley which are available on Limited Runs in limited quantanties.


Marilyn Monroe: Fun!
Date of Photograph: 1954
Photographer: Gene Lester

This previously unseen photograph was taken outside the sound stage while Marilyn was taking a cigarette break during the filming of “There’s No Business Like Show Business,” available as fine art prints in three sizes.  See all fine art prints that are included as part of the Red Velvet Collection.


The History of the Red Velvet Photo Shoot

On May 27, 1949, an out of work and broke, Monroe posed nude for photographer Tom Kelley at his studio in Hollywood, California. Agreeing to the session under the condition that Kelley’s wife, Natalie, attend the shoot, Monroe signed the model release as “Mona Monroe” and earned a paltry $50. Neither the photographer, nor 22-year old Monroe realized the historic moment they were creating. Chicago-based printing company John Baumgarth Company acquired the prized “Red Velvet” Kodachrome photograph in 1951. Baumgarth used them to create three iconic images of the bombshell that were then printed and sold in an estimated 9 million “Golden Dream” calendars. Reproducing Monroe’s refined features, supple texture and luxurious tones was no small feat – print artisans painstakingly created and corrected the many layers of film for the full color printing process to make the original Chromalin color proof separations – a masterpiece of printer’s art. In late winter 1952, the press discovered that the nude model in these best-selling calendars was none other than 20th Century Fox’s biggest star. The Studio’s initial reaction was to deny everything. No major Hollywood celebrity had ever done such a thing. As legend has it, Monroe was instrumental in persuading 20th Century that their inclination to deny the whole thing was the wrong way to address the scandal. Monroe was right. In an exclusive interview with United Press International, Monroe admitted to posing for the photo and explained how difficult her life was at the time. The story “Marilyn Monroe Admits She’s Nude Blonde of Calendar” hit the Wire on March 13, 1952, and was picked up globally. Public forgiveness was swift, and Monroe was further catapulted into international superstardom.

Astute young magazine publisher Hugh Hefner purchased the rights to reproduce the “Golden Dreams” photograph for the inaugural issue of Playboy Magazine in December 1953. In its first printing, Playboy sold over 50,000 copies of Monroe’s issue, allowing Hefner to continue production of the popular gentlemen’s publication and ultimately, grow his brand into Playboy Enterprises, Inc. Believed to have been lost forever, the Kodachrome and color Separations actually remained amidst Baumgarth’s massive print archives. Narrowly escaping destruction on multiple occasions, the separations changed hands several times through a series of corporate asset acquisitions until acquired as part of a corporate art collection purchased by the Messenger Art Collection in 2010. These are the only known surviving examples of the original separations used to produce Golden Dreams calendars. The framed Kodachrome photograph and the color Separations are now mounted and protected in OP3 museum-quality acrylic frames (29” x 24”) and will be suspended from gallery ceilings across America.

Click here
for a timeline of the history of the calendar and Marilyn.
Also included as part of the tour are rare photos of Marilyn Monroe with writer and poet Carl Sandburg taken by artist and photographer Len Steckler called THE VISIT SERIES.  Click here for more information about THE VISIT SERIES. Also make sure to check back on June 30, 2015 as Limited Runs will announce the release of newly discovered and previously unpublished photographs of Marilyn Monroe which will be included as part of the touring collection and made available for sale exclusively on Limited Runs.
Here is the complete list of Red Velvet Summer 2015 Tour dates and locations:


July 29 through Saturday, August 1st | Strauss Studios
6442 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90038
July 29th – Opening Night Premiere 6 – 9PM
July 30th – August 1st 11AM – 6PM

August 5th through Saturday, August 8th | Sarah Stocking Gallery
368 Jackson Street, San Francisco, CA 94111
August 5th – Opening Night Premiere 6 – 9PM
August 6th – August 8th 10AM – 6PM

August 13th through Saturday, August 15th | Caesars Palace
3570 Las Vegas Boulevard South, Las Vegas, Nevada 89109
August 13th – Opening Night Premiere 6 – 9PM
August 14th – August 15th 11AM – 7PM

September 17th through Saturday, September 19th | The Study Chicago
1837 W. Fulton Street, Chicago, Illinois 60612
September 17th – Opening Night Premiere 6 – 9PM
September 18th – September 19th 11AM – 6PM

September 24th through Saturday, September 26th | 360 Design Gallery
104 Charlton Street, New York, NY 10014
September 24th – Opening Night Premiere 6 – 9PM
September 25th – September 26th 11AM – 6PM

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