Ben Lyon was quick to offer Marilyn a contract as he wanted to get her signed before RKO had the chance to screen her. Cinematographer Leon Shamroy filmed her screen test for Fox. The cinematographer was dumbfounded. He said he had not seen film capture a woman so stunningly since the silent pictures.
He even said that her presence gave him a cold chill. Her mystique radiated effects visually, he explained, and she did not need a soundtrack to create special effects. She could “sell emotions in pictures,” like a new filmmaking invention.
Sitting for Earl Moran
Photographer and illustrator Earl Moran’s work was a big hit in the forties and fifties. He photographed women and then put their images on canvas. Marilyn talked about one in which she is wearing a pinafore and petting a little lamb.
She worked for him from 1946 to 1950. Hiring her through the Blue Book modeling company, Moran paid his models $10 per hour. As a struggling actress, she willingly took the pay. One of the most famous works he did of her is titled “Bus Stop.”
Catching the Eye of Howard Hughes
In her short time with the agency, Marilyn appeared on over 30 magazine covers. But it was her cover shot on “Laff” magazine in 1946 that turned the head of a very influential man. Wealthy aircraft maven Howard Hughes was head of the film company RKO at the time and asked Blue Book modeling for a screen test with the new face. Blue Book was quick to act on such attention.
The agency promptly called up 20th Century Fox. By using Hughes’ call as leverage to pique the interest of the movie company, they secured the attention of movie executive Ben Lyon who served as 20th Century Fox’s casting director.
20th Century Fox Did Not Renew Her Contract
After six months with Fox, Marilyn’s contract was not renewed. The experience was good, she received lessons and learned to sing, dance, and act to industry norms, yet she missed getting a film role. Top executives failed to see her potential and the future pop culture icon went back to modeling to pay rent.
Marilyn later complained that Fox was the one that forced her to change her name. She often complained about the industry taking advantage of people because of their power, and laughed by saying that she misspelled her name on her first autograph signing.
Scudda Hoo! Scudda Hay!
Marilyn Monroe’s very first film appearance is found in a 1948 movie called “Scudda Hoo! Scudda Hay!” She was basically an extra in the 20th Century Fox comedy and supposedly had only one line, which was “hello,” as she tells it. But then she laughed, saying the line was cut.
She was filmed canoeing and frolicking on the dock with some girls and boys her age. In fact, Natalie Wood appeared in this movie as an inconnu as well! During the production, Marilyn met Joe Schenck who would be very influential in forming her career.