Cars & Stars

Marilyn Monroe

Blondes prefer Thunderbirds

Photo Credit: Julien’s Auctions

This black Ford Thunderbird is the only car owned by America’s greatest female icon ever to be located, documented, and brought to auction. It was purchased brand new on December 20, 1955, a few months before Marilyn Monroe married playwright Arthur Miller. It was registered to “Marilyn Monroe Productions Inc.”, the star’s own production company, which she co-founded with photographer Milton Greene in 1955. The Ford Thunderbird was first marketed by Ford Motor Company in late 1954 as a 1955 model.

Marilyn Monroe in the Ford Thunderbird with her husband, the famous dramatist Arthur Miller

It was a two-seater response to GM’s Corvette. Although initially considered a “sports car” by enthusiasts, Ford had no wish to compete in that market, which mainly consisted of small, low-powered European models with no power equipment and few creature comforts. Some claim to have detected a whiff of Marilyn’s signature perfume, Chanel No. 5, in the car’s glove box.

Marilyn Monroe waves as she sets off in the Thunderbird for a picnic with her new husband the day after their 1956 wedding

Monroe owned this gorgeous car for more than six years until it was re-registered to her friend and acting coach Lee Strasberg’s wife, Paula, likely in the spring of 1962. This was only a few months before Marilyn’s tragic death on August 5, 1962. She had gifted the car to Lee and Paula’s son, John “Johnny” Strasberg, on his 18th birthday, May 20, 1959. The car was sold in November 2018 at an auction called “Icons and idols” organized by Julien’s Auctions. It fetched $ 490,000.

Marilyn Monroe loved driving with the top down, according to the wife of her business partner, Milton Greene
The Thunderbird was one of the fastest cars of its time. Powered by a V8 engine delivering 225 HP, it could reach top speeds in excess of 180 km per hour
A 1960 document made out to “Marilyn Monroe Productions Inc.” indicating the expiry date of the vehicle’s insurance policy