An iconic movie star of the 1950s.
In her short life, she captured the American dream when transformed her life from an illegitimate child into a movie star and a national sensation.
Her mother named her Norma Jean, and soon after the birth suffered from a nervous breakdown and was admitted into a mental institution. The newborn girl was shuffled between 12 foster homes, marrying at 16 to avoid going to an orphanage.
When she worked in a war factory at 19, a photographer captured her while shooting an article about working women. That image surfaced and opened the doors for her modeling and acting career, which she dreamed of since age 5.
Her success wasn’t immediate, but she kept on pushing – as she is said to have been “raised on a steady diet of rejections”. In an early stage of her career, she took on the stage name Marilyn and her mother’s maiden name Monroe.
At 22 she got her first film role in a musical. When she “made it” to a movie star status – the fame was extreme. Some of the indicators of her popularity were a crowd of 4,000 people who came at 3 am to see her shoot a scene in New York, or being invited to sing for the president’s birthday rally in Madison Square Garden. Her film career lasted about a decade and included 33 credited films, some of the most popular are “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes”, “The Seven Year Itch”, “Some Like It Hot”, and “Don’t Bother to Knock”.
She married two more times, both to famous men, both ending in divorce: baseball star Joe DiMaggio and play-writer Arthur Miller.
Shortly after her 36 birthday, she was found dead in her bedroom with an empty bottle of sleeping pills next to her.
She is still celebrated in the global culture as an icon of sexuality, beauty, and fame. Even though she capitalized on her image, she was critical of being treated as a commodity: “The trouble is, a sex symbol becomes a thing. I just hate being a thing”.
“I was never kept, to be blunt about it; I always kept myself. I have always had a pride in the fact that I was my own”
More Interesting Anecdotes:
- During her honeymoon with Joe DiMaggio, she left her husband in Japan and accepted US army invitation to go entertain the soldiers in Korea.
- Her mother worked as a movie-cutter, behind the scenes in Hollywood, before giving birth.
- In 1955 she left Fox studios to establish her own film company Marilyn Monroe Productions, but she shortly returned to the studios with a better contract.
- Despite her popularity, she has been severely underpaid compared to her co-stars.
- In a survey of a haircare company she was selected as “the greatest blonde of all time”.
- She supported singer Ella Fitzgerald when she was denied the stage at a famous club due to racist policies: Monroe called the owner and negotiated to secure Fitzgerald a booking.