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Was Marilyn Monroe Really a Savvy Businesswoman?

AP

Marilyn Monroe has been dead for more than 50 years, but her image lives on and her estate made $27 million last year, according to Forbes which placed her at number 3 on its 'Dead Celebrities Rich List in 2011, right behind Michael Jackson and Elvis Presley.

Marilyn's continued success is no fluke — the screen legend was a savvy businesswoman in her own right, according to Academy Award-nominated director Liz Garbus.

Her new documentary "Love, Marilyn" which is screening at the BFI London Film Festival is based on two boxes of newly found documents that Marilyn Monroe left to her acting coach Lee Strasberg.

'Love Marilyn' crafts a picture of Marilyn Monroe as a woman in control of her image.

"You don't create a figure that is that enduring if you are stupid — she was a very well crafted… In the movie we show a lot of her press conferences and you see the way that she talks to the press — she is so clever and she handles the press so well. They all try to ask her these little zingers and she deflects them very gracefully like a great politician. Her public persona was incredibly well calibrated and she was a master at it, " Garbus said.

One of the ways Marilyn Monroe created her brand was taking control of her sexuality, according to Garbus.

"There were these nude photos that emerged of her, we are all familiar with the nude photo scandals today, but instead of doing what the studio wanted her to do which was deny them she decides to go out and do an interview and say 'yes, it was me. I did it because I needed the money.' She dealt with sexuality in a very frank way and I think that it had an indelible mark on our culture."

The BFI London Film Festival runs through October 21.

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