Marilyn Monroe's Iconic Seven Year Itch Dress Sold For A Staggering Sum

She was only ever known as "The Girl" in the classic 1955 movie "The Seven Year Itch," but Marilyn Monroe made quite the impression. Directed by Billy Wilder and co-starring actor Tom Ewell, the movie gave Monroe a nomination for Best Foreign Actress at the BAFTA Awards (per IMDb).

As noted in Britannica, the plot of the movie centers around Ewell's character, Richard Sherman, and his summer of freedom with the wife and son away. Monroe's The Girl moves into the apartment above Sherman's, and temptation ensues.

An article on TCM about "The Seven Year Itch" describes Monroe's performance as "one of her most engaging." The review goes on to describe Monroe's The Girl as "exceptionally sexy" with the actress' comedic timing as "nearly flawless." The film is even ranked in the top 10 of Monroe's films, according to Vulture, and features one of her most iconic outfits of all time. 

'The Seven Year Itch' white dress sold for millions

One of the most famous scenes in the movie "The Seven Year Itch" (as seen on TCM), is when Marilyn Monroe's character pauses outside a movie theater on a New York sidewalk. Standing just over a subway grate, she exclaims, "Oh, do you feel the breeze from the subway? Isn't it delicious?" When the subway passes underground (twice!), the skirt of Monroe's billowy white dress floats up, exposing her legs from ankle to thigh.

Photographer Sam Shaw, a friend of Monroe, was the still photographer on the film "The Seven Year Itch." On Biography, Shaw's granddaughter, Melissa Stevens, shared, "It was his idea to use a picture from the movie theater scene as the logo to promote the film."

Both the movie and photographs led to just about everyone becoming familiar with the white dress, and its popularity continued well beyond the film's era. Sculptor Seward Johnson created a travelling 26-foot statue titled "Forever Marilyn," with the star wearing the white dress; it was displayed in an outdoor plaza in Chicago in 2012, as reported by NBC 5 Chicago. And, according to The Hollywood Reporter, in 2011, the actual dress worn by Monroe in the movie sold at auction for $4.6 million dollars — plus an additional $1 million commission fee.

The story behind the iconic dress

The famous Marilyn Monroe outfit was created by costume designer William "Billy" Travilla, shares Vanguard Of Hollywood. The designer worked with Monroe on several of her movies, and in her personal life. You may recognize another of Travilla's creations for Monroe — her famous pink dress in "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes."

"My clothes for Marilyn were an act of love," Vanguard Hollywood quotes Travilla as saying. "Because I adored her, I couldn't help but do my best for her." Monroe reportedly returned the sentiment, per CNN, with her writing the note, "Billy Dear, please dress me forever. I love you."

The white dress was eventually purchased by actress Debbie Reynolds, who bought it from Travilla's private collection after his death; she paid only $200 for the gown, per CNN. On Debbie Reynolds, it was explained the actress was a collector of Golden Age costumes, and hoped to create a permanent exhibit somewhere. She expressed, "These pieces are cultural touchstones that still carry the energy of the stars who performed in them."