In April 1949, photographer Philippe Halsman was assigned to write a story for Life magazine, to find out how good eight Hollywood starlets were at acting. The starlets were found by editor Gene Cook, and Halsman photographed them in his room at the Beverly Hills Hotel, asking each girl to act out four basic situations: listening to a good joke, enjoying an invisible delicious drink, being frightened by a monster and kissing a fabulous lover.
When Marilyn walked into the room Halsman discovered a painfully shy girl who was wooden in her actions, and he was not impressed. But when she embarked on the kissing part of the exercise, his opinion changed and he discovered that she was an intense and hard-working starlet. He wanted to encourage her and told her that while most models couldn’t act, she showed great promis and thought she should move to New York to continue her acting career. ‘I didn’t go,’ she later said, ‘but I was thrilled by his encouragement.’
-Philippe Halsman;Marilyn’s Photographers