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Marilyn: The Woman Behind the Icon

A massive Marilyn Monroe exhibition featuring more than 200 artefacts is taking over Sydney Town Hall for three months.
By Sarah Ward
June 19, 2023
By Sarah Ward
June 19, 2023

Elton John summed it up perfectly: when Marilyn Monroe died in 1962, her candle burned out long before her legend ever would. Six decades since her passing, the actor remains a Hollywood icon. Like Elvis, she may as well be mononymic. Her face is instantly recognisable, and still everywhere. Ana de Armas just received an Oscar nomination for playing her, after Michelle Williams earned one back in 2012 for also stepping into her shoes. And, the Some Like It Hot, Gentleman Prefer Blondes and How to Marry a Millionaire star is also the subject of a sizeable exhibition heading to Australia for the first time: Marilyn: The Woman Behind the Icon.

This Marilyn celebration will make its Aussie premiere at Sydney Town Hall, in the Lower Town Hall, from Saturday, July 1–Sunday, September 24. On display: more than 200 artefacts spanning Monroe's life, including handwritten notes, personal letters and other possessions.

This is the largest Marilyn collection of its kind. Indeed, the objects set to grace the showcase stem from Ted Stampfer, owner the world's largest range of Marilyn items. With Marilyn: The Woman Behind the Icon, he's aiming to share insights into Monroe as a person, not just a celebrity — spanning her time in the spotlight, of course, but also back when she was Norma Jeane Mortenson.

Joseph Jasgur, Ted Stampfer

Stampfer will be on hand on opening day providing a curator's tour, as part of an events program accompanying the three-month memorabilia exhibition. Friday-night sessions will feature music and entertainment, and film screenings will also be part of the lineup, letting attendees experience Marilyn's movie magic for themselves.

As it celebrates the woman who scaled the heights of fame, became a household name, but received horrific scrutiny for her sex-symbol status and her love life — focusing on her hard work, not the stories spun about her — this'll be the only time that Marilyn: The Woman Behind the Icon will open to the public in this form.

Ted Stampfer

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