Whoopi Goldberg Is Curating a Marilyn Monroe-Themed Show for Mana Contemporary

Goldberg wants to show the woman behind the icon.

Whoopi Goldberg ©Patrick McMullan. Photo by DANIEL TOROK / PMC
Whoopi Goldberg ©Patrick McMullan. Photo by DANIEL TOROK / PMC

It’s not every day that you read the names Whoopi Goldberg, Marilyn Monroe, and John F. Kennedy in one sentence.

So we sat up and took notice when Mana Contemporary, in Jersey City, issued a release about an upcoming show, “Marilyn: Character Not Image,” described as “an exclusive, capsule exhibition,” featuring the silver screen star’s poems, drawings, and the iconic dress in which she serenaded then US president JFK on his birthday.

The show, which opens to the public on September 25, purports to show the hidden side of the legendary actress’s fame, noting that “behind the glamour was a vulnerable, sensitive, and ambitious young woman who spent time writing poems and diary entries to self-analyze, understand, and reassure herself.”

The iconic dress designed by Jean-Paul and worn by Marilyn Monroe on Saturday, May 19, 1962, at a Democratic fundraiser and early 45th birthday celebration for President John F. Kennedy at Madison Square Garden. Courtesy of Mana, Jersey City.

The iconic dress designed by Jean-Paul and worn by Marilyn Monroe on Saturday, May 19, 1962, at a Democratic fundraiser and early 45th birthday celebration for President John F. Kennedy at Madison Square Garden. Courtesy of Mana, Jersey City.

The show will also feature photographs of Monroe by street photographer Weegee.

Goldberg, who reportedly has “a strong connection” to Monroe, will reveal the whole story behind her involvement at a press conference scheduled for September 22.

Weegee, Marilyn Monroe (ca. 1957). ©Weegee/International Center of Photography.

Weegee, Marilyn Monroe (ca. 1957). ©Weegee/International Center of Photography.

Meanwhile, in a release announcing the show, the actress and talk show host said “the image of Marilyn Monroe the icon endures and strengthens as time goes by, but her personal life remains a mystery. With this exhibition I wanted to show a glimpse of the woman behind the icon, using, before now, never-before-seen images, some of her personal writings, and some pieces of her artwork.”

The dress will be auctioned at Los Angeles’s Julien’s Auctions—which bills itself as the “auction house to the stars”—in mid-November as part of a larger, three-day sale devoted to Monroe.


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