The other night in my acting class we were talking about Marilyn Monroe and the movie The Seven Year Itch. One of my classmates asked me if I had ever seen the famous scene of Marilyn standing on top of a subway grate from the movie. I told him that not only had I seen it, I’ve stood on that very subway grate! So, I thought I’d do a little post about it. 🙂 In that famous scene, Marilyn and her downstairs neighbor, played by Tom Ewell, exit the Trans Lux Theatre, which once stood at 586 Lexington Avenue, and walk onto a subway grate. Marilyn is standing atop the grate as a subway passes making her white skirt billow high above her waist as she exclaims “Oh, can you feel the breeze from the subway? Isn’t it delicious?”
The scene was originally shot on location in Manhattan on September 15, 1954 at 1 O’clock in the morning, with over 5000 spectators and media men watching. The crowd went wild as Marilyn’s skirt flew higher and higher, making the footage being shot completely unusable due to the noise. Director Billy WIlder ended up having to re-shoot the entire sequence at 20th Century Fox Studios in Los Angeles.
The footage that ended up making it to the final cut of the movie was significantly edited down as the scene was considered far too racy for its time. But everyone remembers those black and white photographs taken of Marilyn that September night in Manhattan with her skirt billowing high above her waist, showing off her panties and her long gams. In the actual movie, you barely see Marilyn’s skirt fly up at all, most of what is shown is her face reacting to the subway breeze. You can watch the subway grate scene here.
On a side note – One of the many people in attendance that September night in New York was Marilyn’s husband at the time, Joe DiMaggio. Supposedly, Joe became enraged that the gleeful onlookers were viewing his wife’s panties over and over again during the filming of the scene. The marriage was already on the rocks at the time and this experience put Joe over the edge. Just a few weeks later he filed for divorce from the starlet, long before the movie ever premiered.
Until next time, Happy Stalking! 🙂
Stalk It: The Seven Year Itch subway grate is located at the northwest corner of Lexington Avenue and 52nd Street. The Trans Lux Theatre is no longer there and a large office building now stands in its place.