I still have to pinch myself whenever I look at this hanging on my wall.  It is a cancelled bank check from Dec. 19, 1950 completely filled out in Marilyn's own hand.  I purchased it off of Ebay and had it framed.  The framer did an amazing job and was able to cut out a window in the back so you can still see the bank stamps.  It took me awhile to decide on the photo to frame with it.  I went with this publicity shot from "The Asphalt Jungle" because the timeframe matches up with the date of the check and I love how Marilyn looks in it.

I did a lot of research to determine the check was authentic before I bid.  When I realized the story behind it I just had to have it.  It also helped that the seller was located in Toronto so I could drive and pick it up in person.  It is the pride and joy of my collection!

Back of framed check

Here a couple of scans I did before I had it framed.  

The first item I researched was the payee on the check "I. MAGNIN & CO.".  According to "The Unabridged Marilyn Her Life from A to Z"  I. Magnin was a Beverly Hills clothing store where starlet Marilyn Monroe opened up one of her first charge accounts.  This definitely fits with the timeframe of the check.

The address Marilyn wrote on this check was "1309 N. Harper Ave.".  According to "Marilyn's Addresses: A Fan's Guide to the Places She Knew"  this was the address of Marilyn's acting coach Natasha Lytess (1950-1951).  It goes on to say that Marilyn lived here from time to time during her relationship with Johnny Hyde and then returned here after being asked to leave Hyde's Palm Drive home.  Natasha later claimed that Marilyn tried to commit suicide at the house, shortly after Hyde's death.  Again, the timeframe matches the date on the check.

UPDATE:  During my trip to Hollywood I went on a Marilyn tour with a great club.  I was absolutely thrilled that one of the scheduled stops was the Lytess apartment!  So here is a photo of me at the address where Marilyn lived when she wrote the check!  

Los Angeles, California August 4, 2007

The most amazing find is the date of the check itself December 19, 1950.  According to "Hometown Girl" Johnny Hyde suffers a major heart attack and dies on December 18, 1950.  She is evicted from his home by the ex-wife's lawyer the same day and told not to be at his memorial service.  Defying these instructions, a grief-stricken Marilyn attends Johnny's funeral on December 20, 1950.

Can you believe that my check was written the day after Johnny Hyde died when Marilyn was forced to move in with Natasha and prepare for Johnny's funeral???????

I took the story of the check one step further....what would Marilyn have purchased for $146.61 at a clothing store during this difficult time?  I would venture a guess that she purchased the outfit she wore to Johnny's funeral.  I pulled out my Christies catalogue "The Personal Property of Marilyn Monroe" and examined all of the clothing listed in it to see if I could find anything from I. Magnin.  There was ONE item on page 104....

A conservative day dress and tailored suit (only the dress is shown) both in black.  I could totally see Marilyn wearing this to Johnny's funeral.  I don't believe there are any photos of Marilyn from this event but if anyone ever comes across any, please send them my way.

**Thank you Pauline for giving me some more evidence in this story.  She pointed me to Donald Spoto's biography "Marilyn Monroe" on page 223.  It says,

"Then, for a few scenes in Niagara, Hathaway asked her to wear her own clothes, but she replied without embarrassment that she possessed only slacks, sweaters and one black suit, which she bought for Johnny Hyde's funeral." 

So there is actual evidence that Marilyn did buy a black suit for Johnny's funeral which means that could be what she bought from I.Magnin on Dec. 19.


The following excerpt is from "The Marilyn Encyclopedia" :

When he first met Norma Jeane, Hyde, fifty-three, was vice president of William Morris, one of the top agencies in Hollywood; he was married with four sons, and he was seriously ill with a heart condition.  Where they met is not clear.  One version of how it happened was that John Carroll introduced Marilyn to him at a Palm Springs Racquet club party thrown by Joseph Schenck in January 1949.  Another is that they met at a New Years Eve party thrown by producer Sam Spiegel.

Like so many of the people that mattered in Hollywood, Hyde had been born in Europe.  Hyde spent the first ten years of his life in Russia, son of a family of acrobats who brought him to America in 1906.  Since 1935 he had been building up quite a portfolio of top names: Betty Hutton, Bob Hope, Rita Hayworth and Lana Turner.  Over the course of 1949, during meetings and evenings spent together, Hyde fell head over heels in love with his final discovery.  Marilyn found in Johnny the archetypal sugar daddy, a man with the best connections keen to give some much-needed direction to her fledging career.  They made quite the comic pair: Hyde was not only more than twice her age, he was close to a foot shorter than her.

Within a few months Hyde had left his wife, Mozelle Cravens Hyde, who later told biographer Fred Lawrence Guiles, "I tried to take it for a long time, but in the end, it was impossible.  I'm a tolerant person, but there is always a limit."

Hyde took Marilyn to live in a rented house at 718 North Palm Drive in Beverley Hills.  To fend off prying eyes, Marilyn kept on a room at the Beverly Carlton Hotel.

On the business side, Hyde bought out Marilyn's contract from her first agent Harry Lipton, allowing him a small percentage retainer, and dedicated himself body and soul to making her the star she became.  Most importantly, Hyde called in favors from long-time pals to get Marilyn the exposure she needed.  He persuaded producer Lester Cowan to add her to this Marx brothers movie Love Happy; he arranged a new audition at Fox that won her a chorus line part in musical western A Ticket to Tomahawk, and then he got what he wanted: a small but perfect part for Marilyn in John Huston's high-profile The Asphalt Jungle.  

He did all of this for love.  Yet no matter how many times he proposed to her, Marilyn said no.  She didn't love him and she would not marry without love, even though saying yes would have made her an extremely wealthy woman. 

Hyde continued to call in favors until his weak heart began to give out.  He arranged a screen test at Fox for a movie called Cold Shoulder.  He smoothed her path into minor exposure in Right Cross and Hometown Story.  He also guided her into a role in Academy Award-winning movie, All About Eve, and promise of that all-important seven year option at 20th Century Fox.

When Hyde had the first of a series of heart attacks, Marilyn was not with him.  Depending on the source, she was nearby having costume fitting for As Young As You Feel or on a trip to Tijuana with Natasha Lytess.  Hyde died on December 18, 1950.  Marilyn told Ella Kazan that she had been at the hospital when he died, outside his room; she could hear him calling her name but Hyde's family would not let her in.

Hyde's last words to secretary Dona Holloway were reputedly, "Be sure that Marilyn is treated as one of the family." Holloway did not have the power to carry out his wishes.  After his death the family threw Marilyn out of the home she had lived with Hyde, and repossessed all of the jewelry and clothes he had given her.  Although Hyde had instructed his lawyers that he wished to leave a third of his estate to Marilyn, he had not actually revised his will, so Marilyn received nothing.

The family also forbade Marilyn from attending the funeral; Marilyn, however, veiled and dressed in black, went with Lytess at the appointed time.  Even here, versions diverge: she either threw herself, sobbing, onto the coffin, or with more self-possession plucked a single white rose from the spray on the coffin, to preserve for years between the pages of a Bible.

After Hyde's death Marilyn was extremely upset.  She was overcome by sudden bouts of tears, and for many months was withdrawn and reserved.  She reputedly made a suicide attempt at this time, but Lytess, with whom she was staying, discovered her in time.