For the love of Marilyn at Bel Air Library

Inside the three-level glass display case on the second floor of the Bel Air Library, papered with red tissue paper with hearts and illuminated with a soft yellow light, Marilyn Monroe smiles.

She looks up, through her long eyelashes and the glass of the picture frame. And around her, as if her smile was reflected off the glass and refracted into different shapes, are a dozen other Marilyns, their bright red lips curving coyly upward into a smile.

They are figurines and Christmas ornaments, pillows and a mug. And photographs, book covers and memoirs, pens and postage stamps, a wristwatch and a dollar bill.

Marilyn in a sleeveless red swimsuit. Marilyn in a little black dress. Marilyn in pink satin. And, over and over again, Marilyn dressed in virginal white, smiling with her mouth open as the skirts of her dress billow up around her in the iconic frame from "The Seven-Year Itch."

The collection at the Bel Air Library is on display courtesy of Jen Whitescarver, a library patron from Hydes, who responded to the library's rolling call for unique collections to display at the library for one month at a time.

Whitescarver's Marilyn Monroe collection has been at the Bel Air Library since the beginning of May and will be there for one more week.

Whitescarver says that the display at the library is only part of her collection. She has a room in her home dedicated to Marilyn, where she keeps even more books and photographs, as well as vintage copies of Playboy and Life featuring the blonde film star.

Whitescarver has been passionate about Marilyn since she was in college.

"One of my friends lent me her book about Marilyn Monroe," Whitescarver said. "And I read it and I was like, 'oh my gosh, this is the best ever.' I just loved Marilyn. She was just so iconic and yet she was still a person."

At the library, the adoration is continued on a series of shelves around the corner from the case of Marilyn memorabilia. Books and films about Marilyn, her life, her influence on society and her fictional adventures are displayed against a background of shiny black and pink fabrics.

Coy captions accompanied by clip-art kisses are placed along the shelves.

"Pick me up." "Take me home. "Check me out." "I'm available."

This year is the 50th anniversary of Monroe's death on Aug. 5, 1962. The day after Whitescarver's exhibit leaves the library, June 1, would have been the icon's 86th birthday.

Marilyn is no longer with us, but it's clear that her status as the ultimate sex symbol has yet to be usurped.

Or, as Whitescarver says, "because she has passed, she'll be forever beautiful."

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