Collection Close-up: Marilyn Monroe in Banff


The photograph of Marilyn Monroe at the top of this page was donated to Glenbow in 2008 by a private collector. The moment was captured by Vancouver-based artist Glenn Lewis in 1953, when he was in his late teens. He was working in the kitchen at the Banff Springs Hotel and Monroe was in town filming the Otto Preminger film The River of No Return. Lewis photographed Monroe with his Brownie camera while she was being helped into a canoe by a Mountie. The resultant image links the spectacle and mythology of celebrity with romanticized notions of the Canadian landscape. You can see the photograph in person at Glenbow as part of the exhibition On Location: Artists Explore a Sense of Place.

Monroe and Robert Mitchum at the Jasper Train Station. Courtesy Glenbow Archives.

Incidentally, despite the idllyic setting, the film production was not the smoothest of rides. Preminger reportedly clashed with Monroe’s acting coach, hard-living co-star Robert Mitchum’s love of libations became a cause of concern and Monroe sprained her ankle while shooting a scene.

Nonetheless, the film was generally well-received, with more than one reviewer musing as to which was the bigger attraction, the spectular Alberta scenery or Monroe herself.

So with that, we’ll leave you with one of Monroe’s musical numbers from The River of No Return.

Further Reading

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