Friday, March 13, 2015

The Link Between Marilyn and Frida

The women's ski clinic is over but I'm staying on until Sunday. Chance to forage through the library at Alta Lodge. Found the last thing you'd expect: previously unpublished photos of Hollywood stars like Marilyn Monroe, Liz Taylor and Crawford. Why are they here? The matriarch of this family-run lodge, Mimi, is the daughter of Nickolas Muray, one if the most prolific and admired celebrity photographers of the 30's, 40's and 50's, now hardly known. 

Mimi in the lobby of Alta Lodge. Nickolas Muray was her father.

Nickolas Muray

Mimi's father was a dashing champion fencer and artist friends reported that women were incredibly attracted to him. He was married four times. Mimi says he was a man of few words, though it's now fairly certain he had an affair with Marilyn. 

Mimi once asked her father if he had loved many others before her mother. He answered "Yes." He added: "But only one at a time. " 

Her father took the many iconic photos of artist Frida Kahlo. He and Frida had an affair for 10 years. You can read the many  passionate letters Frida wrote to him. After Diego Rivera finally left Frida, her father hoped Frida would commit to hiim. But Frida remained obsessed with Diego. 

More of his portraits:
Liz Taylor
Can't remember her name- anyone know it?
Joan Crawford ( what an outfit!)
Martha Graham

Her father took the first color fashion magazine photos in 1931.

1931: Can you believe how fresh and modern these outfits still look?

And one of my favorite images of his: 

The photos are currently touring Germany, I hope they tour here and print a book in English. 

Mimi is an intriguing person too. She grew up with all the legends of art and screen coming to the house. And yet she chose a life in the mountains. Mimi arrived at the Alta Lodge at the age of 22 as a seasonal worker and ended up marrying the owner, Bill Levitt, who was divorced with five children. Bill was Mayor of Alta for 34 years and died in 2009 at the age of 92.

I asked Mimi: wasn't it strange to come to the mountains after a life filled with famous family friends?

She says not really. "My life growing up was mostly at the North Country School, a boarding school where I went from 2nd grade until 8th grade (ages 7 to 14) outside of Lake Placid, N.Y.  They have their own ski hill with rope tow, and that is where I learned to ski.  After graduating, it was 4 years High School & 4 years College in NYC and I couldn’t wait to get back to the outdoors and skiing, and happily ended up in Alta for a year or 2 – but that has turned into 49 years!!"

Mimi, a very quietly spoken person, is herself a beautiful photographer and her photos of the local wildlife are dotted around the Lodge. She's very involved in the local preservation and historical groups

So a very different life from her father's. But both quite magical. 




  1. It always amazes me that when we just take a moment to slow down, talk, listen, the stories people have.

  2. What fabulous pics none of which I've ever seen! Mimi and her father are great photographers and I suspect are/were fascinating people.

  3. That's amazing. Thanks for showing the photos. It's amazing how many people have fascinating stories.


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