Norma Jean | Penthouse

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A Spire of Lifestyle Aspiration
Norma Jean

Penthouse Retrospective

by Ted Jordan

September, 1985

Norma Jean

Her former lover and lifelong friend remembers America’s sex goddess as a beautiful, doomed teenager.

Norma Jean The Real Marilyn Monroe

Norma Jean ArtI spotted her instantly from my vantage point atop the Lido Club’s high diving board. She stood among a line of beautiful young women just outside the fence around the club’s swimming pool.

She was impossible to miss, even in that group of typically stunning young women, the kind of beauties that flocked by the battalion to Hollywood in that golden summer of 1943. As lifeguard at the pool — part of Hollywood’s then-most famous hotel, the Ambassador — one of the job’s fringe benefits was girl watching.

For me, 19 years old at the time, no better benefit existed than the seemingly endless groups of young beauties who were ushered in and out of the pool area to model the latest fashion swimsuits.

But one woman I had spotted that morning struck me, even from my lofty vantage point. I dove into the pool and swam to the other end. Emerging, I began to dry myself while staring at one of the most extraordinary creatures I had ever seen.

She stood among a group of 20 young models, all dressed in what was then a daring new swimsuit style — a French two piece model, which left exposed a section of midriff. The young woman I had noticed was wearing a blue version of the swimsuit. She was stunning: With remarkably firm, large breasts and an hourglass shape, she looked as though the swimsuit had been expressly designed for her.

Aside from her breathtaking figure, there seemed nothing else that distinguished her physically. She had light, mousy brown hair down to her shoulders; very curly, it looked somewhat frizzy. Her face, while pretty enough, was not especially beautiful. In fact, many of the other young women that morning waiting their turn to model had more striking faces.

And yet, there was something about this woman, something so intriguing and vibrant, that I had to meet her right away. That would not be too difficult, for I already had entree in the person of a lady with the unlikely name of Miss Emmeline Snively. Miss Snively, who ran the Blue Book Modelling Agency, had her headquarters at the hotel. She used the Lido Club’s pool and a golf course adjacent to the hotel as backdrops for the photographers who shot fashion layouts using her models.

As a Lido employee, I stopped in every morning to say hello to Miss Snively, a brisk, no-nonsense businesswoman. My interest, of course, was not Miss Snively; actually, I established friendly relations for the sole purpose of meeting some of the lovely models she was parading daily around the pool.

And there was one model in particular I was dying to meet that morning. I asked Miss Snively the model’s name, and while I was very much smitten with the young lady’s charms, apparently Miss Snively was not.

“She’s one of the new girls,” she said, her voice trailing off as she tried to remember the new model’s name. She could not, but added, “It’s her first modeling job; she’s quite nervous. Why don’t you wait until they’re finished taking pictures, then go over and introduce yourself?”

So I waited as the photographer posed the models in those typical 1940s-era poses, all innocent sex and dramatic backdrops. It gave me the opportunity to study the model whose name Miss Snively could not remember. I was struck by a number of interesting aspects of this shapely woman — among them a glorious rear end. For the life of me, I could not understand why Miss Snively was not as awestruck by this woman as I was.

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