Photographer Joseph Jasgur has died

joeJOSEPH JASGUR, the photographer who helped launch MARILYN MONROE’s career, has died two days before his 90th birthday.  Jasgur, who passed away at a Florida nursing home on Saturday (21Mar09), took the first professional shots of the actress, who was 19 when she posed for him in 1946.
Back then, the snapper described her as a “plain, ordinary girl” who was hoping to break into modelling.  His shots of Monroe made up part of the portfolio that won the actress a deal with 20th Century Fox.  Jasgur spent the final years of his life trying to win back the legal rights to the photos he took of Monroe. The photographer was also one of Hollywood’s first paparazzi, and also made a living by beating the police to crime scenes and taking photos.

He is most famous for his assertion in his book, “The Birth of Marilyn” that Marilyn had six toes on her left foot.  His proof was a photo of Norma Jeane standing in the sand with what appeared to be an extra toe.  Of course, this whole story was concieved in order to sell more books and gain interest in his photos.  There are many photos of Marilyn’s feet taken before and after this photo which show her with the normal set of 5 toes. 

I met Jasgur in 2001 during a Marilyn trip to LA.  He was gracious to fans and would glady sign books and he had posters he was giving away.  I was impressed by how he treated fans as I have had bad experiences with another famous Marilyn photographer (who shall remain nameless).   He was taken advantage of in his later years;  he lost the rights to his photos and married a woman less than half his age.  It is sad that he ended up penniless in a nursing home.


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5 responses to “Photographer Joseph Jasgur has died

  1. viktoryian

    And I learnt smth new today!

  2. Tim

    I met Joe at a party back in late 1980s here in Los Angeles. I distinctly remember him describing Marilyn as a “user”. But aside from that, he was friendly enough. And he did give me an 8 x10 glossy of one of his photos, which I still have.

  3. Denny

    I was sad to hear of his passing…he was a nice guy with a lot of Hollywood history. I met him 1988 when I was managing a hotel in Hollywood and he came in with the idea of displaying his photographs of Marilyn in the lobby. He would come in every couple of weeks and we’d talk for hours at a time. I never got a sense he had any commercial interest in the photo’s. In fact, I’d suggested numerous times he should get an agent and do something to market them and he always just poohooed the idea. He’d come in with boxes of photographs with any big name star you could imagine from 40’s and 50’s especially. He told me a hundred different stories of Marilyn, some of which I’ve seen where he’s quoted the story differently. While I remember them all, the one that casts doubts in my mind as to their veracity is in all his anecdotes to me, the suggestion was that he and she remained good friends for some time after the photos were taken. Yet, I see in interviews where he’s quoted as saying she completely ignored him after becoming a star. I don’t know which is more true, maybe both. It could be he just felt ignored as her career flourished it would stand to reason she would have much less free time. In all his conversations with me, he never said an ill word towards her, other than to say one day when I asked what she’d be like today had she lived; his response was, she’d be an old, fat alcoholic. He did feel her career was over and felt the same of James Dean’s career. He said the studios were tired of having to deal with their personalities. RIP Joe

  4. Bubba

    I never met the man, but I used to work with the ” woman less than half his age” that he married, Debbie. She was quite an interesting character. She was always talking about him and his Marilyn photos.

  5. edeen

    Joe Jasgur was my friend for over 22 years. I lost touch with him shortly after a girl who was in her 20’s took advantage of his lonelyness and moved him to Florida. He had lived in LA for most of his life. He had 100’s and 100’s of negatives of stars, crime scenes, sporting events, and places he visited. I have often wondered where those all disapeared to. These Marilyn photos are the tip of the iceberge of the photo’s this fantastic man had. Joe had told me the girl he married was abusing him and we tried to get him to move back to LA but he felt she would not give him his things back if he did. Joe’s mind was already getting cloudy and one day the phone number was disconected and we could not find him. I really feel that people took advantage of this man for the last 30 years of his life. He was lonely and just looking for people to see his photos and share young Hollywood. The black dalia muder photos were gruesome, some of his sporting events were fantastic. I feel blessed to have purchased and been given 100’s of his photos. I am so sorry he was alone in the end. I wish I could of been there

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