Marilyn Monroe: A Blonde Bombshell Helps Protect The Secret of The Atomic Bomb

by Pierre Vudrag on Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Until 2018, it was believed that there was no significance to the photos of Marilyn Monroe taken by the film legend Harold Lloyd in 1953. These light-hearted poolside photos were captured at Lloyd’s fifteen-acre estate in Beverly Hills. Except in limited exhibits and as part of a book released by Lloyd’s granddaughter, these photographs have rarely been seen by the public.

Harold Lloyd and Marilyn Monroe had met through a mutual acquaintance, Philippe Halsman at a Life magazine cover shoot of Monroe. There seemed to be nothing more to the story than two Hollywood legends meeting, becoming friends, and working together. For sixty-five years, this is what everyone believed to be true.

What wasn’t known at the time was that this seemingly carefree photo shoot was a cover for the top-secret production of a propaganda film. The film encouraged U.S. servicemen to keep nuclear bomb operations confidential. A book written by Kevin Hamilton and Ned O’Gorman revealed this secret several decades later in December 2018. The book “Lookout America!: The Secret Hollywood Studio at the Heart of the Cold War” was the first publication about the studio behind the film.

Lookout Mountain Laboratory operated from 1947 to 1969. It was known in the 1960s as the 1532nd Photographic Group of the United States Air Force. The studio created hundreds of movies and stored many volumes of Cold War imagery. It also served as a meeting location for atomic scientists, military brass, and Hollywood professionals. Despite war bond drives and public service announcements, the public had never been made aware of the propaganda films.

Harold Lloyd’s son Harold Jr., also known as “Dukie,” was stationed in the photo lab at Lookout Mountain. This along with the Lloyd Sr.’s previous political work made him a viable option for this project. The many Hollywood veterans employed at the studio were able to easily procure luminaries like Marilyn Monroe and Harold Lloyd.

On the day of the shoot, the production crew set up light and sound under a shield of privacy at Lloyd’s Greenacres Estate. Marilyn slipped on her red swimsuit and sprawled out on a lawn chair where she delivered the single line “I hate a careless man.” The footage was assembled into ten propaganda films. Each film included a message to keep information about the nuclear bomb tests conducted in the South Pacific confidential. We are only aware of the release of one film, called “Security is Common Sense” (

The photos taken of Marilyn by Harold Lloyd are breathtaking. They capture pure joy in her expression as her hard work in Hollywood was about to pay off. She had just earned her first starring role in the film, “Niagara” and 20th Century Fox was about to release “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” which would catapult Marilyn into international stardom. The photos show no hint of the troubles which would soon plague Marilyn until her death on August 5, 1962.

We have gathered a selection of Harold Lloyd’s great 3D photographs in our Harold Lloyd Collection which we encourage you to check out today!  Click To See The Collection

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