In 1955, a 14-year-old teen named Peter Mangone stood outside the Gladstone Hotel on East 52nd Street holding a video camera in hopes of catching a glimpse of Marilyn Monroe. His efforts definitely paid off! Mangone left that day with a rare piece of 8mm footage that shows 29-year-old Monroe smile, wave, and even blow a kiss to the Bronx teenager.
“I used to get up every morning, dress up, go on the train, cut school, and wait for hours,” Mangone told Katie Couric during an interview in 2002. “Some days I’d never see her, some days I’d get a glimpse of her.”
Eventually, the two formed an unlikely friendship. “I went in front of the hotel with a piece of paper and she signed it,” he revealed. “And she said, ‘You were here yesterday. You had a red tie on… weren’t you cold?” because it was freezing. She noticed, she cared. She befriended me over the months that I’d seen her.”
Then one day Mangone decided to “borrow” his brother’s camera to try record the iconic blonde bombshell. In the footage, Monroe exits the Gladstone and walks straight towards the boy’s camera. “She comes over to me and she tells me to come [along],” Mangone recalled. The teen then joined Monroe for a shopping trip, where he captured the actress walking down the streets of NYC.
Several years later, Mangone was cleaning out his room and threw the film away — or so he thought. Fifty years later, Mangone’s brother found the footage at their father’s house. “I thought it was a dream, because in my mind, it was never to be seen again,” he said.
The footage has since been digitized and displayed in galleries throughout the world. Prints from the five-and-a-half minute film are now on display until Feb. 9th at the Danziger Gallery located on 23rd Street in Manhattan.