False Images = Faulty Facts


JAMES DEAN ON LOCATION FOR THE FILM "GIANT" IN MARFA, TEXAS. 1955The information highway can and does contain a lot a detours. For researchers it can be a slippery road to travel. In writing this blog, I have done my share of research and have come across much misinformation and even some outright attempts to deceive. You can’t always believe what you read or see.

Richard C. Miller began his career as a photographer when he submitted a photograph of his baby daughter to The Saturday Evening Post and it was not only accepted, but made the cover of the magazine. His met Brett Weston, son of Edward Weston, during the war and they became friends and photographed together. After the war, Miller worked for various magazines and around 1946 photographed a young model named Norma Jean Dougherty, soon to change her named to Marilyn Monroe, selling the photo to True Romance magazine. Miller went on to photograph a wide variety of subjects including some Hollywood work in the 1950’s and early 1960’s. During the making of Giant, Miller shot the above photo of James Dean and Elizabeth Taylor in Dallas, relaxing during the making of George Stevens’ epic modern day western.

The photograph is all over the web and many are probably familiar with it though few know the name of the artist behind the lens. Recently, on one of the photo sharing sites, I came across an alternate version of Miller’s photo (below). Someone doctored, photo shopped, altered, call it what you will, adding Marilyn Monroe into the shot. At first, I was wowed. I then realized this photo looked familiar and there was something strange about it. I have seen it before, but without Marilyn in the photo.

tumblr_lpd8khrLxO1qk4xb6o1_500Once getting over the wow factor, and looking more carefully, you can tell the inclusion of Marilyn’s image is not very well done. The perspective is all wrong. She looks way too small. Her legs especially don’t look right and the black shadow on MM’s shoulder and Dean’s leg is not natural. Additionally, compare her image to Taylor’s, who the more you look at her looks like a giant compared to Monroe.

Like wildfire, the photo shopped image, this and others, spread across the internet showing up on Blogs, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and elsewhere with “fans” pledging their undying admiration. The lie become a fact in the minds of many. And in today’s world, it spreads just as quickly as that wildfire.

The point of this is, when writing or posting pictures, be sure your sources are accurate as possible. We all make mistakes, and we have all been taken in by false information. Part of your research is verification of what you see or read. I have read books, biographies, where the same so called facts have differed between authors. When I find myself in this situation, I generally try to mention it in my article in some way that sources differ on what really happened. It can be a slippery slope that can back and haunt you.

If you are interested in seeing more of Richard C. Miller’s work. Here is a link.


9 comments on “False Images = Faulty Facts

  1. doriantb says:

    John, thanks for this thoughtful post and your sharp eye! It’s kind of like being a bit of a detective, when you think about it. Warmest wishes to you and Dorothy, and enjoy your weekend!


    • John Greco says:

      It is Dorian. you just cannot take anything at face value without some kind of verification. Thanks for he warm wishes and right back at you and the family.


  2. saucermcfly says:

    As a huge fan of classic film, and especially specifically Marilyn, I love this! Between false quotes and doctored photos, many like myself cringe and squirm several times a day as we spot these falsehoods on groups, sites, and on our social media timelines. I can understand the creative aspect of it, but sadly, people who do not know better, will fall for these things, too excited about the photo itself to notice the clues that it can’t possibly be real. In fact, in the case of Marilyn, practically every vintage-looking blonde can be identified as her, as well, which is equally annoying. If only things could be more accurately documented online. But it’s so hard to enforce. Not that the knowledgeable fans don’t try to get the truth out there! But it’s an ongoing battle.


    • John Greco says:

      So true what you say. I think it’s okay to creatively photoshop as long the creator notes that the picture has been doctored for creative purposes. A problem that still arises is as others copy the photo and it gets passed along the various social media sites the truth gets lost. Thanks for your comment!!!


  3. […] ‘False Images = Faulty Facts‘, an article posted by John Greco on his excellent Twenty-Four Frames blog today, takes a look at the problem of Photoshopped images. This photo of Marilyn alone, taken by Ed Clark at Griffith Park in 1950, was interpolated into a Richard C. Miller picture of James Dean and Elizabeth Taylor relaxing during filming of Giant in 1955. […]


  4. The Lady Eve says:

    I hadn’t seen this “photo” before. You’re right, on first glance, “wow.” Then the anomalies begin to leap off the screen. An interesting idea, though.

    I recently read two somewhat different versions of how the “car scene” in “The Bad and the Beautiful” was staged and filmed. I chose to go with Lana Turner’s recollection – since she was actually there – rather than that of a Vincente Minnelli biographer – who wasn’t.


  5. John Greco says:

    Eve, research even in books can be tricky. Conflicting facts pose a situation that can be hard to resolve.


  6. Brailliant says:

    original source: http://brailliantart.deviantart.com/art/Three-s-Company-by-Brailliant-202101348

    This was created while an art student in 2011. It was originally posted on an artist critique website and quickly went viral on social media with no personal intent on my part to fool anyone. As an artist my attempt was to invite the viewer to create their own interpretation by exploring the juxtaposition between subjects. Exploring ways to portray old Hollywood glamour with a new attitude is the result of my creative experimentation.

    A fictional portrayal of celebrities allow things to manifest themselves. So much so that to most, these images appear to be real. I welcome the challenge to reimagine within the framework of ‘what if’s’ and ‘wishful thinking’ for the purpose of discovering that what is real isn’t the same as getting it right. We know just enough to know that we want to know more; there is something here, we just don’t know what. To be brilliant is to be misunderstood and much like curiosity, it is a motivational force. My personal website http://www.brailliant.com represents my emotional reaction to this principle.

    Hope this sufficiently explains any questions or concerns regarding subject matter.


  7. John Greco says:

    Thanks for your detailed post. Knowing your original intent does change my thoughts on it. I’m sure there was no plan to deceive. Unfortunately, too many people believe everything they see taking it all at face value without knowing the background. As you point out, your work quickly went viral and simply was out of your control.

    So much of what is out there on social media takes on a life of it own due to misinformation or lack of background information.My own lack of background on your work led me to be a bit callous and for that I apologize. Social media is a slippery road for all.

    As a photographer, I welcome any artist creative experimentation. Will be checking out your work.


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