Did John Steinbeck Send This Letter to Marilyn Monroe?

Sometimes the people who ask celebrities for special favors are themselves celebrities in their own right.

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Marilyn Monroe
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An image shows a 1955 letter from author John Steinbeck to Marilyn Monroe.


A widely circulated image purports to show a letter sent to actress Marilyn Monroe on April 28, 1955, by John Steinbeck, the Nobel Prize-winning author of works such as “The Grapes of Wrath” and “Of Mice and Men.” In the letter, Steinbeck alternates between being flattering and groveling in requesting that Monroe send his besotted “nephew-in-law” (Jon Atkinson) an inscribed picture of herself posing in a “pensive, girlish mood”:

john steinbeck letter to marilyn monroe

Although we can’t say whether Steinbeck’s young relative ever received the asked-for photograph, we can verify that the letter is genuine. It was part of Monroe’s personal archive, which she left with the bulk of her estate to her acting coach, Lee Strasberg upon her death in 1962. Strasberg’s second wife, Anna, subsequently inherited the letter and auctioned it off in 2016 for a winning bid of $3,520.