Milton H. Greene


Milton H. Greene Biography

American, 1922-1985

Milton H. Greene was a fashion and celebrity photographer. He is best known for the photoshoots he did with Marilyn Monroe. For over four decades, Milton H. Greene made his mark as one of the most celebrated photographers in the world.

Born in New York on March 14, 1922, Milton Greene began taking pictures at the early age of 14. Although he was the recipient of a scholarship to the renowned Pratt Institute, a heightened awareness of the photographic image diverted his attention to the camera and its versatility. He soon apprenticed himself to the famous photojournalist and wizard of composition, Elliot Elisofen. Before long, his keen regard for fashion and the camera found him assisting Louise Dahl-Wolfe, the distinguished fashion photographer known for her unique covers and fashion pages for Harper's Bazaar. At the age of twenty-three, Milton was referred to as “Color Photography’s Wonder Boy.”

The majority of Milton’s work in the fifties and sixties appeared in major national publications including Life, Look, Harper's Bazaar, Town & Country and Vogue. In fact, Milton Greene, along with other eminent photographers such as Richard Avedon, Cecil Beaton, Irving Penn, and Norman Parkinson, are credited for bringing fashion photography into the realm of fine art.

Although Greene was initially renowned for his high-fashion photography, it is his remarkable portraits of our most beloved artists, musicians, film, and television and theatrical celebrities, which have become legendary. It was Milton’s ability as a director that enabled him to capture the qualities that best personified the real person, making each of his pictures an eloquent, unique statement as he converted his remarkable vision into compelling photographic art. Milton believed that as an artist/photographer he wanted to capture people’s beauty, which was in the heart and to show people in an elegant and natural way. His gifts were his flawless timing as well as creating rapport in which to allow yourself to be seen.

The range of Milton Greene’s subjects include such people as Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra, Grace Kelly, Marlene Dietrich, Sammy Davis, Jr., Elizabeth Taylor, Cary Grant, Sophia Loren, Groucho Marx, Audrey Hepburn, Andy Warhol, Judy Garland, Giacometti, Lauren Hutton, Alfred Hitchcock, Romy Schneider, Sir Lawrence Olivier, Ava Gardner, Steve McQueen, Claudia Cardinale, Paul Newman, Lauren Bacall, Dizzy Gillespie, Catherine Deneuve and Norman Mailer as well as many others. But it was his unique friendship, business relationship and ensuing photographs of Marilyn Monroe for which he is most fondly remembered.

Milton first encountered Marilyn Monroe on assignment for Look Magazine. They quickly became close friends and ultimately formed their own film production company, which produced Bus Stop and The Prince and the Showgirl. Before marrying Arthur Miller, Monroe lived with Milton and his family in their Connecticut farmhouse. It was during this period that Greene was able to capture some of the most beautiful photographs ever taken of Marilyn Monroe, recording her moods, beauty, talent and spirits. During their four years together, Greene photographed Monroe in 52 photographic sessions including the famous “Black” sitting.

It was also at this time that Marilyn entrusted Greene with her autobiography, simply called My Story. It is the combination of the book and Greene’s rare and vivid photographs of Marilyn, which evoke the legendary spirit of Marilyn Monroe. Milton also collaborated with Norman Mailer on a fictional auto-biography of Marilyn Monroe, entitled Of Women and Their Elegance.

His photography won him many national and international honors, medals and awards; among them the American Institute of Graphic Arts and the Art Director’s Club of New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Detroit. One of his last awards was from the Art Director’s Club of New York for his work in Harpers Bazaar.

In recent years, Milton Greene’s photographs, prints and posters have been exhibited in major museums and galleries throughout the world, as well as represented in many private collections. Milton H. Greene’s work will continue to be regarded as representative of an era in time, which may be gone, but will always be reflected in pictures.

Later in 1994 his eldest son, Joshua started the Milton H. Greene Archives, inc. company dedicated to marketing the works of his father. Joshua digitally re-mastered the first group of 300 images and released them in a book Milton's Marilyn. Which is an autobiographical book telling the story of their friendship from Milton’s point of view. Joshua's current responsibility is working on the restoration and marketing of a 300,000-image collection created by his father, Milton H. Greene.

Selected Solo Exhibitions
2015 17 Years, Marilyn: The Making of a Legend, Andrew Weiss Gallery, Santa Monica
Selected Group Exhibitions