Bert Stern Imaginary Interview

Bert Stern is the photographer who did the last official photo shoot of Marilyn Monroe six weeks before she died in 1962. In the 45 or 46 years since the shoot, he may have changed. I had an imaginary interview with him, asking him some questions one day he may answer.

Me: Whose idea was it to bring Champagne into the photo shoot for a woman six weeks after she had surgery?

Stern: Vogue?

Me: Did you become a fan of Frank Sinatra after this shoot with Marilyn and she asked you about him?

Stern: Things might have been different if I had only played Sinatra during the shoot.

Me: If you could go back in time, which shoot would you want to change more, the Monroe or the Lohan? What would you do differently for each?

Stern: Less people there for Lohan, less drugs for me with Monroe.

Me: When you left Monroe, did you want to call her?

Stern: I mentioned in the Salon interview that I would have left my wife for her, but I didn’t think about calling her? (Remember, this is imaginary.)

Me: She did call you, so do you know if it was after she put lipstick and puncture marks in some of the shots you sent her, or before? Maybe that was why she called, to talk about those shots? What was Monroe like when she was cranky at the end of the shoot and so tired?

Stern: Good questions about calling about the pictures she had received but no one will ever know why she called. The shoot lasted quite a long time, and she and I were taking different things. . . .

Me: Switching now for a little while to Lohan, monroe roof repair with all the notorious women who are struggling with drugs and alcohol, why Lohan? Spears is already blond, so why not choose her to shoot instead?

Stern: There is a certain quality to Lohan.

Me: You were attracted to Monroe, but the age difference with Lohan makes the relationship different, and getting the shots from Lohan at your age, without alcohol, and without the same setting and privacy that you had before was impossible. Yet did Lohan ever remind you of Monroe?

Stern: Different day, and a different woman. Both interesting people, but the connection is different for each woman. The feelings they bring to the poses are not the same, but not because of anything less in Lohan. She was looking at an old man photograph her, or maybe she saw me as I was with Monroe.

Me: The emotional content you brought to the shoot had to involve courage to face your past. You said that when you heard she was dead, you didn’t break down. When Monroe died, did you ever connect to the loss, did you ever connect to what could have been?

Stern: Because I have talked about this shoot many times, the threads are falling into place. My connection to Monroe is there. Now I am connected to Lohan, but I hope it helps her.


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