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July 2, 2024

That Time Debbie Harry Wore Marilyn Monroe’s Dress to Burn Down Her Kitchen, and Also Burnt Monroe’s Dress

Debbie Harry’s famous “cooking” photoshoot by Chris Stein in their 17th Street kitchen after they’d returned from tour with Blondie in 1977, only to discover their NY apartment had burned down, after an electrical fire. Rather than despair, Stein looked at all that sooty ruin and thrilled to its aesthetic potential.

“We were on tour when Chris and I received a call from Chris’ mother, Stel,” Harry recalled. “She said something along the lines of ‘Now, don’t be concerned but your house just burned down.’ The small loft that we lived in was on 17th Street off Sixth Avenue. We never knew if the fire was the result of electrical failure or somehow the out-come of ‘human intervention.’ Anyway, we were friends with the woman who lived downstairs and she had loaned us this dress that was ‘allegedly’ worn by Marilyn Monroe on-screen. When we finally got back to the place, the kitchen, which had received the brunt of the fire department’s attention, was piled with debris.”

Debbie then put on an old gown supposedly of Marilyn Monroe’s which appeared to have melted, and set a frying pan on fire for the photoshoot. “I was so chuffed to be able to wear it... and it got cooked in the fire.” Harry said. “The material was some early form of synthetic and it became hard, so it was hard to actually get it on. It crystallized the fabric. We all felt very badly that Marilyn’s dress also got cooked.”

That blue dress was allegedly worn by Marilyn Monroe in The Seven Year Itch (1955).


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