You’ve seen the Seven Year Itch, right? Well, if not, you know the famous scene with Marilyn Monroe standing over the subway grate with her dress blowing up. It was a sensation at the time and the press was even alerted to the scene, so there are tons of photos, besides the film stills.
But one story I’ll bet you don’t know, unless you happen to be related to Jules Schulback. The New York Times just ran this fascinating story about the night Shulback shot footage with his camera. His granddaughter Bonnie Siegler said he bragged from time to time about his “personal film shoot” with the star,
“He was a real raconteur. I didn’t know if the story was real.”
It was one of dozens of tales Mr. Schulback told. He had a long, colorful life. In 1938, Mr. Schulback told his family in Germany that Hitler was much more dangerous than anyone thought, so he sold everything, booked passage on the Queen Mary, reserved a room at the Plaza and headed to America.
Schulback and his family consequently lived a happy, successful life in New York, much of it preserved in his home movies. After 35 years in the same apartment, Mr. Schulback was forced to leave, so Ms. Siegler and her husband, Jeff Scher, helped move her 92-year-old grandfather to a new place.In the packing, the couple came across a stash of film. Ms. Siegler said,
“But when we went in, we found this plastic bag filled with just tons of film, home movies, bought movies and everything mixed together.”
There, amid the mundane scenes of everyday life, was Marilyn. Mr. Scher said,
“This stuff just popped out. It was real! Preserved like the home movies are, too. Just these moments in time. It’s really here!”
They watched all 3 minutes 17 seconds in awe. Ms. Siegler said,
“There was something so magical about it. For years I didn’t know if it was real. I certainly didn’t believe it wholeheartedly. And there it was. It was like the end of the story.”
There’s Marilyn Monroe, in a white terry robe. It was the earlier scene — before the subway grate footage — that Mr. Schulback had shot. After screening the film with her husband, Ms. Siegler told her grandfather that she had found the footage.
“I was so excited about it — more for the reason that his story was true. But he never had any doubts.”
Mr. Schulback died six months later.
In 2004, Siegler and her husband made a print and screened it for about 100 people at the upstate home of their friend Kurt Andersen, author and former editor of Spy magazine. Anderson said,
“That scene is one of the most iconic scenes in American cinema. So to have film of it actually being shot, it’s like watching the Zapruder film. It’s just extraordinary.
People were gob-smacked. They were like, ‘What did I just see?’”
That was the only time anyone outside the family had ever seen the film. Until now.
(Photos, Jules Schulback; via New York Times)