Marilyn's Collectibles

In The News

Clark Kidder's books on Marilyn Monroe were mentioned in the New York Post by nationally syndicated columnist Liz Smith. The item appeared in Smith's March 17, 2003 column, and read:

"SHE'S BACK! She's never really gone away. There are two new books by Clark Kidder: "Marilyn Monroe, Cover to Cover, 2nd Edition" (devoted to MM's magazine covers) and "Marilyn Memorabilia," which speaks for itself. Forty-one years at rest and still going strong."

He's got Marilyn covered
By Carla McCann
Janesville Gazette Staff

Clark KidderMILTON - Clark Kidder had a lot in common with his grandfather, Earl.

They both enjoyed fishing, hunting and watching old Marilyn Monroe movies.

Earl's attraction for Hollywood's premier sex symbol was unwavering.

"At 90, he still would sit and reminisce about her tragic death and wonder why such a beautiful woman, who seemed to have everything, would kill herself," Clark said.

Earl even had a framed cover photo of Marilyn hanging on his bedroom wall.

"I don't think my grandmother had much to say about it one way or the other," Clark said.

The treasured picture was a gift from Clark and the most famous photo of all. It showed Marilyn standing on a subway grate, wearing a billowing white dress.

"My grandfather was a great influence in my life," Clark said.

"We had a very special friendship."

Earl was 93 when he died in 1986.   His attraction for Marilyn became a legacy embraced by Clark.

Now, it is Clark who has a steadfast attraction for Marilyn.

The 36-year-old Milton man has collected photos and other memorabilia of Marilyn for the past 15 years.  He also has become an appraiser and a broker for others wanting to buy or sell Marilyn Monroe collectibles.

In addition, Clark is sharing his treasured collection of more than 300 cover photos of Marilyn in a book published by Krause Publications in Iola.

The book, "Marilyn Monroe: Cover to Cover," received a rave review from actress Mamie VanDoren, who starred in many films during the 1950s and 1960s.

"In looking at what was the most complete collection of magazine covers on any single subject ever, you will see so clearly and beautifully Marilyn's soul," she wrote.

Krause Publications is billing Clark's book as "not just a collector's guide," but a "great addition to any coffee table or library.

The book includes prices or estimated values of the featured cover photos, insightful quotes, anecdotes and background information about Marilyn.

Clark also has authored a large price guide, "Marilyn Monroe Collectibles: A guide to the Memorabilia of an American Legend."  It covers everything ever produced in memory of Marilyn, he said.

She was the first centerfold and cover model for Playboy magazine.  That issue, which was published in December 1953 now sells for about $2,000, Clark said.

The most valuable cover photos are those taken of Marilyn when she first started in show business as a brunette and under the name of Norma Jean Baker.

"Many of those covers will fetch between $400 and $500 a piece," Clark said.

Marilyn also was a brilliant comedian, Clark said.

"Unfortunately, that was never recognized or taken seriously by the studios," Clark said. "Still, the public adored her."

If Earl had a theory about why such a beautiful woman would commit suicide, he never shared it with Clark.

But Clark has his own theory.

"It probably was an accidental overdose," Clark said. "It was common practice then for doctors to prescribe pills to make you sleep and pills to wake up with.  They often didn't know about all of the side effects."

Marilyn was 36 when she was found dead in her bedroom on August 5, 1962.

"She definitely was one of the most beautiful women in the world," Clark said. "She represented near perfection in a woman."

Although Clark readily professes to being enamored with the memory of Marilyn, he is also a businessman.  He mostly buys and sells the memorabilia relating to Marilyn over the Internet or through mail orders.

His dealings with Marilyn memorabilia have helped supplement the family's farm income.

"That's how I justify it," Clark said.  "I've made a business out of it.  Someone would have to be dead not to have a few fantasies about Marilyn.  But I definitely don't have a shrine set up for her.  I only have two photos of her hanging in the house."

And one of the two is hanging in the bedroom.

"It's a tasteful photo.   Nothing too risqué," Clark said.

After all, having a photo of Marilyn in the bedroom is part of the legacy.

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