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EXCLUSIVE: Inside Playboy's special edition showing Marilyn Monroe's nude photos on 50th anniversary of her death

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By John Clarke

PUBLISHED: 12:57 EST, 18 November 2012 | UPDATED: 17:14 EST, 18 November 2012

This stunning collection of Marilyn Monroe in the nude has been released to mark the 50th anniversary of the tragic starlet's death.

Playboy magazine has dug deep into its exclusive archive of 10 million photos to publish rare shots of the iconic beauty throughout her career.

'It's really all about the collection and the way its composed,' said Jimmy Jellinek, Playboy's editorial director.

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Stay Gold: One of Hugh Hefner's favorite things about the December issue (pictured), besides his favorite Playboy Bunny Marilyn Monroe, is the magazine's gold foil cover

'This is the first time we've shown the totality of our collection, from the beginning to almost days before the end of her life. it showcases the arc of her life.'

Fifty years after her death, the world is still entranced by Miss Monroe. Playboy’s special package includes the features The Nude Marilyn, a carefully selected portfolio of photographs.

The package also features editorials by Roger Ebert and Kim Morgan, recollections from Playboy Publisher Hugh Hefner and an excerpt by novelist John Updike.

Playboy had a long relationship with Ms Monroe. The very first issue of Playboy featured Ms Monroe as the cover girl.

That famous photograph by Tom Kelley, with Monroe on red velvet cloth, was purchased by Hefner, and says Ebert, it would not be going too far to say it was the making of Hef’s new magazine.

'It legitimized nudity by embodying it in arguably the most famous woman in America,' Mr Ebert writes.

Bedtime: This was the last nude photo taken of Ms Monroe before she died in 1952

Bedtime: This was the last nude photo taken of Ms Monroe before she died in 1952

Close-up: 'Some were taken at midnight in Beverly Hills with only a headlight used for lighting,' said Mr Jellinek. 'It all depended on her mood'

Close-up: 'Some were taken at midnight in Beverly Hills with only a headlight used for lighting,' said Mr Jellinek. 'It all depended on her mood'

Playboy promises the December cover feature 'highlights the full spectrum of her beauty and power'. The classic nude photos range from her first days as a pin-up girl to her final pictorials with the world’s leading photographers.

One of the photos by Lawrence Schiller is the last nude photo ever taken of Ms Monroe, taken just two days before her death.

Many of the photos were taken on the fly. Some of her were taken on movie sets, and some in bed at her home or by her pool.

'Some were taken at midnight in Beverly Hills with only a headlight used for lighting,' said Mr Jellinek. 'It all depended on her mood.

She was really two people - Marilyn Monroe, the glamorous actress, and Norma Jean, the fragile, damaged little girl.

The original: Playboy has paid tribute to their first ever cover girl Marilyn Monroe on the 50th anniversary of her death

Hef's favorite girl: Playboy publisher Hugh Hefner holds a copy of the magazine's first issue, featuring Marilyn Monroe

Hef's favorite girl: Playboy publisher Hugh Hefner holds a copy of the magazine's first issue, featuring Marilyn Monroe

'There were two people fighting inside of her and that conflict was appealing to people and the pictures show that.'

Mr Ebert writes that Ms Monroe had a special connection with her fans.

'By exuding that sense of control, she gave us permission to be invulnerable too,' writes Mr Ebert. 'We could admire her and not be made to feel complicit in something shameful or sinful. Nudity was natural and beautiful.

'That was true from the red velvet shot to the swimming pool photos near the end of her life from Something’s Got to Give, when she told photographer Mr Schiller to send the nudes to Playboy.'

Risque: Hugh Hefner said that his favorite pin-up Marilyn was at her most powerful in the nude

Blonde ambition: The December issue of Playboy pays tribute to Marilyn Monroe with a series that captures the light and darker sides of her personality

Blonde ambition: The December issue of Playboy pays tribute to Marilyn Monroe with a series that captures the light and darker sides of her personality

'She had the God-given talent and charisma to turn on that inner light, and she had the intelligence to dim that light as well, to create darker erotic images, sad images, vulnerable images,' Ms Morgan noted. 'That’s strong. That’s brave. That’s art. Marilyn’s art.'

So is the big man with the pipe and robe happy with the spread?

'Hef is very happy,' Mr Jellinek said. 'She was his favorite, of course. And he especially loves the gold foil cover.'

But let Mr Hefner speak for himself.

'She was most in control when she was in the nude,” Mr Hefner recalled in a statement released to the Daily Mail. 'What would be a position of vulnerability for others was a position of power for her.'

The December issue hits newsstands November 20.

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Triple Shot: Marilyn covered the first issue of Playboy in December of 1953. Here she is shown by a pool on a movie set

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All Wet: 'She was most in control when she was in the nude,' said Playboy publisher Hugh Hefner. 'What would be a position of vulnerability for others was a position of power for her.'

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