Q. Before we get on to her bra and its famous contents, could we have some more vital statistics please
A. Certainly. Her real name was Norma Jeane Baker. She was born as Norma Jeane Mortenson in Los Angeles on 1 June, 1926 and was educated at Emerson Junior High, Los Angeles, and Van Nuys High, also in California. She was a blue-eyed brunette, dyed blonde. She was 5ft, 5.5in tall and her average weight was 8st 6lb. Marilyn Monroe died at her home in Brentwood, California, on the night of 4 August, 1962.
Q. And still she's the endless subject of fascination. Now about those other vital statistics ...
A. OK. She was a dress size 12, not the size 16 as popularly rumoured (more of that later). Marilyn took an American shoe size 7AA and her bust-waist-hips measurements fluctuated over the years.
Q. Oh yes
A. In 1945 she was 36-24-34, rising to a voluptuous 38-23-36 about 1955 and flattening slightly to 37-23-37 the next year. She was, for the most part of her career, a 36D bra size.
Q. What's this about the size 16 dresses, then
A. A modern myth, it would seem. Dress sizes in America have changed in the past 40 years since poor Marilyn died. If she did wear a size 16 then - and the only evidence is from hand-made gowns that wouldn't have been a uniform size - it would have corresponded to today's size 12.
Q. Now we all know. Is there no end to the post-mortem indignity that Marilyn must suffer
A. No end, indeed. A couple of years ago, it was revealed that she might have even used a little padding to boost her curves.
Q. Hardly necessary, was it
A. No, but Marilyn liked to give the impression that she wasn't wearing a bra under tight-fitting jumpers, so she had a pair of flesh-coloured breast pads made especially. They even had nipple-shaped tips.
Q. So how did this piece of undercover underwear become public knowledge
A. From an undertaker, of course.
Allan Abbott, who prepared Marilyn's body for burial, was given Marilyn's foam pads too make sure she looked her best. He said: 'I wondered why on earth Marilyn wore them, but her make-up man said she felt it gave her the provocative look that she liked. You could still smell the perfume on them.'
Q. So she went to her grave with an enhanced bust
A. Yes, but not from these falsies. Abbott couldn't make them fit, so he stuffed Marilyn's bra with cotton wool instead. He kept the pads in his safe for years, before selling them for 3,450 at auction. Yuk! Tacky.
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