Marilyn Monroe: Life, Movies & Legacy

Marilyn Monroe is one of the most iconic and legendary actresses in Hollywood history. She was known for her beauty, sex appeal, and glamorous lifestyle. Despite her tragic death at a young age, Monroe’s legacy continues to live on.

Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn Monroe’s early life

Marilyn Monroe was born as Norma Jeane Mortenson on June 1, 1926, in Los Angeles, California. According to Monroe’s biographer Donald Spoto, Monroe’s mother Gladys Pearl Baker was “mentally disturbed” and had a “history of paranoid delusions.” Monroe’s father, Edward Mortenson, was identified as the possible father on her birth certificate, but Gladys always insisted that he was not the biological father.

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Marilyn Monroe at 6 months old, circa 1927. Hulton Archive/Getty Images

When Monroe was seven years old, Gladys married a man named John Newton Baker. Baker was a strict disciplinarian and Monroe often felt scared and uncomfortable around him. She later stated that she first developed her famous “sexually attractive” persona as a way to get attention from her stepfather.

At the age of eight, Monroe began modeling children’s clothes for a local department store. She quickly became popular with the customers and was soon modeling for other stores in the area. In 1933, Monroe’s mother was hospitalized after she attempted suicide; Monroe was placed in a foster home. The following year, Gladys was diagnosed with schizophrenia and Baker had her committed to an asylum.

Monroe spent several years in a series of foster homes. In 1935, she was placed with Grace McKee, a family friend who Monroe would later describe as being like a mother to her. Monroe attended grade school in Van Nuys and later dropped out of high school. In 1942, at the age of 16, she married James Dougherty, a 21-year-old merchant marine, but they divorced soon after World War II.

Marilyn Monroe and James Dougherty
Marilyn Monroe and James Dougherty Credit: Getty Images – Getty

Monroe began working in a defense plant during World War II. It was there that she was first discovered by a photographer from the First Motion Picture Unit. Impressed by her “photogenic face,” he encouraged her to pursue a career in modeling or acting. In 1946, Monroe signed a contract with 20th Century Fox. She was given a new name, Marilyn Monroe, and began taking acting classes.

During the next few years, Monroe appeared in several small roles in films. In 1947, she had a small but memorable part in the film “The Shocking Miss Pilgrim.” The following year, she appeared in “Scudda Hoo! Scudda Hay! ” and “Ladies of the Chorus.” In 1949, Monroe had a supporting role in the film “Love Happy.” The same year, she also posed for nude photos that were published in a calendar and later in Playboy magazine.

In 1950, Monroe’s career began to take off. She appeared in several hit films including “All About Eve,” “The Asphalt Jungle,” and “Niagara.” She also began a highly publicized affair with baseball star Joe DiMaggio. The two married in January 1954, but the marriage was short-lived and ended in divorce less than a year later.

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Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe visiting U.S. troops in South Korea, 1954.
NARA

Monroe’s career continued to thrive in the early 1950s. In 1953, she starred in the film “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” opposite Jane Russell. The following year, she appeared in “How to Marry a Millionaire” with Lauren Bacall and Betty Grable. In 1955, Monroe starred in “The Seven Year Itch” opposite Tom Ewell. The film was a huge success and made Monroe a household name.

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A publicity photo for The Seven Year Itch (1955)

Monroe’s private life was often tumultuous. In addition to her marriage to Joe DiMaggio, she also had relationships with several other high-profile men including John F. Kennedy and Arthur Miller. Monroe was married to Miller from 1956 until 1961.

In 1962, Monroe starred in the film “Something’s Got to Give” opposite Dean Martin. However, production on the film was tormented with problems, and Monroe was eventually fired.

What made her so iconic?

Marilyn-Monroe

Marilyn Monroe was one of the world’s most iconic sex symbols. Her curvaceous figure, blonde hair, and sultry voice made her impossible to ignore. Monroe also had a knack for playing “dumb blonde” characters who were nevertheless lovable and relatable. This endeared her to millions of fans who saw her as the girl next door. In addition to her physical attributes, Monroe was also a talented actress and singer.

How did she die?

Marilyn Monroe died of an apparent drug overdose on August 5, 1962. She was 36 years old. Monroe’s death was ruled a “probable suicide,” but many theories abound about the circumstances surrounding her death. Some believe she was murdered, while others believe she accidentally overdosed. Regardless of the cause, Monroe’s death was a tragedy that shocked the world.


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What is her legacy?

Marilyn-Monroe
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Monroe’s legacy extends far beyond her status as a sex symbol. She was also an accomplished actress and singer. Her films are still popular today, and her image has been appropriated by countless artists and fashion designers. Monroe remains one of the most iconic figures in Hollywood history.

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