The famous picture of Marilyn Monroe, laughing as her dress is blown up by the blast from a subway vent, was shot during the filming of The Seven Year Itch in 1954 by Photographer Sam Shaw who created movie magic through this image of the star.
61 years on, we take you down memory lane to give you a sneak-peak into the behind-the-scenes of this famous photograph which was part of the script in which Marilyn Monroe and co-star Tom Ewell exit a movie theater and a breeze from the subway passing below lifts Marilyn’s dress. Instead of rushing to cover her legs, as any decent woman of that era would have, Marilyn exclaims, “Isn’t it delicious?”
The epic scene that created cinematic history allegedly played a vital role in Monroe’s divorce from Joe DiMaggio
Despite the roar of approval from cine-goers, this scene infuriated her husband, Joe DiMaggio, who felt it was ‘exhibitionist’. He even stormed out of the set leaving everyone in an umcomfortable situation. This ended up with Monroe and the disapproving husband having a violent fight at their hotel. Shortly after on returning to California Monroe filed for divorce on grounds of ‘mental cruelty’.
Thousands of fans loudly reacted every-time Monroe’s dress blew up
New York’s Lexington Ave was crowded with droves of fans on set watching heart-throb Monroe shoot for ‘The seven Year Itch’. Little did they know they were watching a scene from the film that would be imprinted in minds forever. Monroe stood atop a subway grate and created movie magic, not just once but 14 times. This particular shot took around three hours to film, the scene took 14 takes to to be approved, while 100 male photographers and between 2,000 and 5,000 spectators for whom this scene was audibly pleasing. You bet they were hoping for more than just 14 takes!
Marilyn wore 2 pairs of underwear so as not to reveal too much
While Marilyn made sure she caught the dress before it blew up over her head, she took further precautions to make sure anyone watching didn’t see more than what was necessary: She actually wore two white underwears!
Designer William Travilla created The Seven Year Itch’s white dress. He has created other beautiful dresses for the actress and merely dismissed this epic dress as just a ‘ silly little dress’. This same silly little dress was sold at an auction in 2011 for $4.6m.
But the final version used was actually filmed in California
Inspite of 14 takes the director decided to shoot the scene again in California on set. They didn’t feel like it was ‘perfect enough’ and needed to do it without enthusiastic fans cheering on. While the earlier shot image was used for promos and posters, the final version shot in California was used in the film.