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Marilyn Subway Grate

Marilyn Subway Grate (72)

On this stretch of Lexington Avenue, once you have admired the great skyscrapers and monuments, lower your gaze to the ground in search of a subway grate. What is so important about the metro grids? The truth is nothing; it really was all about skirts being lifted in the air. Do you remember?

It was in 1955 when "The Seven Year Itch" by Billy Wilder premiered. Richard Sherman, played by Tom Ewell, had been working in New York while his wife and children were on summer holiday, but his routine was soon disrupted by a beautiful temptation: his neighbour upstairs, starring the innocent and sensual Marilyn Monroe.

At 586 Lexington Avenue was the Trans Lux Theatre, where the couple went out after seeing "The Creature from the Black Lagoon" and were discussing it when Marilyn realised she was on a grid and says "Ooo, do you feel the breeze from the subway?" What follows is one of the most famous takes of the film, where a gust of underground air lifts the actresses’ skirts to show off her fantastic legs. 

Undoubtedly, it is one of the most repeated takes in film history. What you may not know is that even if the first shots were made right here, the final shot had to be redone because the shouting of hundreds of onlookers and fans who had gathered to see Marilyn was so scandalous that it made the take unusable. Also, that take was censored for being too spicy for the period and was replaced by Marilyn with a knowing smile. And even the original script was modified. It was too provocative for the 1950s.

Interestingly enough, one of those attending the shoot was baseball player Joe DiMaggio, former husband of the actress, who was furious that his wife lifted her skirt over and again to the public; it was the trigger for their already deteriorating relationship. In fact, two weeks later he announced their divorce.

Today many tourists continue to visit this place to commemorate the sexual myth that was Marilyn and take photographs posing like she did in 1954, right on this grid. And you, do you notice the breeze from the subway?

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