David Beals Conover.
Date of birth : June 26, 1919, Missouri.
Date of death : December 21, 1983, British Columbia, Canada.
During Fall 1944 (or Spring 1945 according to his own memories), he was detached from the Hal Roach Studio in Culver City to a mission at the Army First Motion Picture Unit, headed at that time by the actor Ronald Reagan.The instructions were to go to the Radio Plane Munitions Factory, in order to galvanize the troops on the battlefront and to prove them that their efforts were supported by the most beautiful girls.
Conover testified that he had been fascinated by "something radiant coming from her face, an amazing vibrant fragility".
Norma Jeane wrote to her guardian Grace McKee on June 4, 1945 :
"The first thing I knew, the leadlady and leadman had me out there having the Army taking pictures of me.They all asked where in the h...I had been hiding... They took a lot of moving pictures of me and some of them asked me for dates etc (naturaly I refused!).
(...) After they finished with some of the pictures, an Army corporal with the name of David Conover told me he would be very interested in getting some color still shots on me. He use to have a studio on "the strip" on Sunset. He said he would make arrangements with the Plant superintendant if I would agree. So I said okay. He told me what to wear and what shade lipstick etc. So the next couple of weeks I posed for him at different times (...) He said that all the pictures came out perfect also he said that I should by all means go into the modeling prof. He also said that I photographed very well and that he wants to take a lot more. Also he said he had a lot of contacts in which he wanted me to look into.
I told him I would rather not work when Jimmie was here so he said he would wait so I'm expecting to hear from him most any time again.
He is awfully nice and is married and is strictly business which is the way I take it. Jimmie seems to like the idea of me modeling so I'm glad about that. (...)".
The first Norma Jeane's covers in Yank magazine in 1945 (or the Douglas Air Review in 1946, according the versions) had been taken by David Conover at the beginning of summer 1945, during their trip in California, searching grandiose environments (Furnace Creek).
Blue striped top
Conover and Marilyn met again during the shooting of "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" in 1952
"Finding Marilyn : a Romance", New York, Grosset & Dunlap, 1981.
"The Discovery Photos, Summer 1945", Ontario, Norma Jeane Enterprises, 1990.