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A Shot in the Dark

Claim:   Photograph shows John F. Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe sharing an intimate moment.

FALSE

Example:   [Collected via e-mail, February 2010]

I received this alleged photo of JFK and Marilyn Monroe as part of a larger email containing relatively unknown celebrity photos. This was the only one which I thought extremely unlikely, and was wondering if you might be able to shed any light on it.

 

Origins:   The nature of the relationship between President John F. Kennedy and actress Marilyn Monroe (that, depending upon which sources one believes, ranged
anywhere from a nodding acquaintance to an ongoing sexual affair) has long intrigued the public and historians alike. A candid, through-the-shutters photograph like the one displayed above, seemingly capturing the famous (and unaware) couple sharing an unguarded, intimate moment, would therefore be an object of considerable fascination and interest.

If it were real, that is. This picture is the work of artist Alison Jackson, whose métier is creating images of famous figures from the worlds of entertainment and politics, apparently caught in revealing private moments, by posing look-alikes in place of the celebrities:
Alison Jackson has photographed the Queen of England on the toilet, George Bush and Tony Blair chatting in the sauna, Paris Hilton bribing her fellow inmates and Monica Lewinsky lighting Bill Clinton's cigar. Or has she? The likenesses are uncanny, but of course, her subjects are look-alikes.

Her photos demonstrate that while seeing is believing, the truth is another story entirely. In her work, Jackson says, "Likeness becomes real and fantasy touches on the believable. The viewer is suspended in disbelief. I try to highlight the psychological relationship between what we see and what we imagine. This is bound up in our need to look — our voyeurism — and our need to believe." Indeed, by showing "celebrities" ostensibly caught unawares, Jackson's pictures show us what we imagine might go on behind closed doors. Her work has caused controversy, not least because it treads in a very gray area between parody and realism by seeming to break down the carefully fortified private lives of public figures.
Additional examples of Ms. Jackson's work in this genre can be viewed here.

Last updated:   22 November 2013

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