Lensman still dines out on nude Marilyn shot

PUBLISHED : Monday, 24 May, 1993, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 24 May, 1993, 12:00am

CHATTING in an empty auditorium at the Hongkong Convention and Exhibition Centre yesterday with renowned Hollywood photographer Douglas Kirkland one thing needs to be got out of the way fast. Kirkland is not, heaven forbid, a paparazzo.

The paps, as he points out, snap the stars by hanging around street corners. But with Kirkland it's either at his studio, their home, a film location or, as in the case of Marilyn Monroe, in her bedroom, where she posed for him wearing nothing but a flirtatious smile.

LA-based Kirkland took that picture 32 years ago, and he's been dining out on the story ever since.

''Of all the pictures I've taken, that was the most exciting - and the one I still get asked about the most,'' he enthuses.

''I was in my mid-20s. But, having recently arrived in New York from a small town in Canada, mentally I was in my mid-teens. I was, however, determined to succeed and had some extraordinary luck when I got a staff job on Look magazine which was the magazine in those days.'' With the blonde sex symbol of the age naked under the silk bed sheets, the Marilyn Monroe shoot provided the young Kirkland with his greatest challenge.

He recalls: '' It was all so unimaginably stimulating, and I had to use all the powers of self-restraint to concentrate wholly on my work.'' If Marilyn was one of the earliest big Hollywood stars he captured for posterity, his latest subject - Arnold Schwarzenegger - is currently considered Tinseltown's most bankable property.

Kirkland met up with Arnold two weeks ago on location in New York where he is making his latest movie, Last Action Hero. And unlike some of the younger egos he's had to deal with, Arnold, he says, is a sheer delight.

Others who've passed before Kirkland's critical lens include Dustin Hoffman, Elizabeth Taylor, Jodie Foster, Jack Nicholson, Sophia Loren, Mick Jagger, Kathleen Turner, Barbra Streisand and Tom Cruise - to name but a few of the cast that appear in his twobooks, Light Years and the forthcoming Icons.

Last night, he was displaying his craft at a Kodak-sponsored seminar which included him demonstrating the use of a new-fangled digital camera that doesn't use film but transfers the image straight into a computer.

Explains Kirkland: ''With this new technology you can re-touch the picture, add colour, manipulate it - in fact do almost anything you like to produce the final image.'' Who said the camera never lies?