Susan Bernard, the 1960s cult movie actress who would go on to oversee her father’s iconic archive of Marilyn Monroe photographs and see the son she had with actor Jason Miller, Joshua John Miller, become a successful TV producer in his own right, died unexpectedly at her home in L.A.’s Hancock Park neighborhood Friday. She was 71.
According to family spokesperson Siri Garber, Bernard died suddenly of an apparent heart attack.
Best remembered for her role in Russ Meyer’s 1965 cult epic Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!, Bernard had a rangy Hollywood career than spanned such 1960s-’70s pop culture touchstones as General Hospital, The Beverly Hillbillies, Room 222, The Witchmaker, The Smith Family with Henry Fonda and the 1969 pulp lesbian classic That Tender Touch (since preserved by Outfest’s Legacy Project).
Once voted one of the 100 most beautiful women of the century by Playboy magazine, Bernard was the daughter of Bruno Bernard, whose Hollywood photographs, particularly of Monroe, have become instantly recognizable. Published under his “Bernard of Hollywood” moniker, the photos have been preserved, exhibited and licensed under Susan Bernard’s oversight. She was the founder and president of Bernard of Hollywood Publishing and is the author of seven books, all translated into dozens of languages, including the bestselling Marilyn: Intimate Exposures and Taschen’s Bernard of Hollywood’s Ultimate Pin Up Book.
Susan Bernard built Bernard of Hollywood into an international brand incorporating Bruno Bernard’s original work across multiple platforms. In 2011, she entered a partnership with Authentic Brands Group, who had acquired the estates of Monroe, Elvis Presley, Mohammed Ali and others.
In 2013, Bernard was invited by the National Portrait Gallery Museum in London to give a staged reading of Marilyn: Intimate Exposures to a standing-room-only crowd.
According to the spokesperson, Bernard had plans to return to television as an executive producer for an upcoming FX series. Details were not available.
Bernard’s son with Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and actor Jason Miller (That Championship Season, The Exorcist), author and actor Joshua John Miller, is the co-creator, with his partner M.A. Fortin, of the USA Network series Queen of the South. They survive her as, does her sister Celeste Bendel.