JOSEPH 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.