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That's why the lady is a stamp!


An article in yesterday's Today section incorrectly stated which local TV station employs Donna Hamilton. She works for WBAL-TV.

The Sun regrets the errors.

Dan Marcus collects stamps, which is why he lit out for the Senator Theatre yesterday as soon as he heard that postal officials were there unveiling a stamp honoring Marilyn Monroe.

Standing in line with dozens of Marilyn fans, among them a woman who dressed like the '50s sex goddess and concealed one of the actress' handkerchiefs in her cleavage, Mr. Marcus was practically alone in claiming he was more a stamp collector than a star worshiper.

But isn't he a Marilyn fan?

"Well, um, yeah," said Mr. Marcus, 44. "Everybody's a Marilyn fan."

At least everybody who was at the Senator, where a few hundred people gathered for the noon ceremonies -- one of an estimated 500 similar unveilings held throughout the country. The stamp, first in a series the postal service is calling "Legends of Hollywood," features a pastel portrait of Marilyn in a glittering gold top, set against a bright blue background.

Festivities included the dedication of a new block on the Senator's Walk of Fame, a free screening of 1953's "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" and an opportunity to be among the first to purchase the new 32-cent stamp, issued on what would have been Marilyn's 69th birthday.

The official first-day ceremony was held at Universal Studios in Hollywood, with columnist Army Archerd at the helm of a bash where guests included former Marilyn co-stars Eli Wallach, Don Murray, Hope Lange and Zsa Zsa Gabor.

That sort of media glitz was absent at the Senator -- unless you count WMAR-TV personality Donna Hamilton, who was the target of more than a few amateur shutterbugs. And the "official" unveiling of the sidewalk block was repeated after not all the assembled media caught it the first time. Proving that practice makes perfect, the crowd did a much better job of applauding the second time.

None of that mattered to the Marilyn faithful, however.

"She is the epitome of woman to me," said Cassandra Crist, 18, who had bought a T-shirt depicting the Marilyn stamp. "She's funny. She's sexy. All the men want her. She's just got it."

Postal officials, who struck an enormously profitable chord with 1993's Elvis stamp, hope Marilyn's will prove just as popular. The King's stamp was the most profitable in the post office's history, with sales of $36 million. Of those, a record 124 million stayed in collections.

Marilyn's portrait is being printed on 400 million stamps. And if the Senator is any indication, the post office should do just fine. People waited in line up to half an hour to purchase $6.40 blocks of the stamps (complete with star-shaped perforations on the corners), and postcards with the Senator Theatre logo for $1.25.

Friends snapped Polaroids of each other standing next to a life-size cardboard Marilyn. In fact, cameras were snapping away all afternoon, with more than a few focused on Cindy Brooks, who dolled herself up to look like Marilyn and repeatedly pulled out the handkerchief she bought from a Washington collectibles dealer for $500.

"It was the only thing he had I could afford," said Ms. Brooks, holding the piece of slightly browning cloth by one of its pink edges, being careful not to damage the tiny roses attached to each.

For a woman who has been dead more than three decades, Marilyn is doing pretty well.

Her fans yesterday ran the gamut from teen-agers still wearing their cheerleading costumes to senior citizens who leaned on their canes to gaze at a display window of Monroe memorabilia.

His hair in a ponytail, a golden earring in his left ear, Robert Anderson, 27, had come to watch the movie and pick up a few stamps to frame and hang in his living room.

"I'd always heard about her, and then when I saw one of her movies for the first time, I thought, 'Wow, she's fabulous,' " he said.

Milt Levitt was visiting with his wife, Suzanne, from their Reisterstown home. Born five years to the day after Marilyn (who began life as Norma Jean Baker), Mr. Levitt was delighted to share their birthday with a theater full of kindred spirits.

"A lot of people debunk her, but she was a competent actress," said Mr. Levitt, who turned 64 yesterday. "She may not have been Greer Garson, but she was very good."

Mrs. Levitt, however, couldn't resist putting things in perspective.

"He's saying all those things because he has just one more year to be a boy, then he has to grow up," she said, smiling at the thought of her husband's qualifying for Social Security.

"That's OK," Mr. Levitt shot back, motioning toward his wife. "I have my own blonde."

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