Marilyn Monroe

by Mackenzie Boltz

Early Life

Marilyn was born Norma Jean Mortensen on June 1, 1926 in Los Angeles, California. Marilyn did not have an easy childhood. She never knew her father, and although there were rumors and speculations as to who her father was, she never was confirmed the identity of her birth father. Marilyn's mother, Gladys, developed psychiatric problems (she even tried to smother Marilyn with a pillow as a child) was institutionalized, causing Marilyn to spend a lot of time in an orphanage or in and out of foster care. Here, she was sexually assaulted on several occasions, including being raped. She dropped out of high school at age 15. To get out of foster care, she got married to her boyfriend on June 19, 1942 at age 16. While her husband was in the South Pacific, she was discovered by a photographer, which inspired her acting career.

Monroe's Famed Career

After Monroe and her husband divorced in 1946, she changed officially changed her name to Marilyn Monroe and signed her first movie contract (that same year). She dyed her hair blonde and created a new image for herself. The first role to bring her attention was the small part in the movie The Asphalt Jungle in 1950. She then had a role in All About Eve as Claudia Caswell, which heavily impressed audiences and critics. Her star-making turn was in the film Niagra (1953), and was also paired with Jane Russell in the musical comedy Gentlemen Prefer Blondes that same year. She continued to star in musicals and comedies.

Marilyn was a beautiful woman with a beautiful voice, bringing her a lot of attention. Despite being an international star, she often got pre-performance anxiety that could cause her to become physically ill. Because of this, she was often tardy, which was so extreme that it often infuriated her co-stars and crew. She was once dismissed from a role in a movie (Something's Got to Give) for missing so many days of filming. Her final completed film was The Misfits in 1961.

Monroe's Personal Life

Despite Monroe's aspiring career, her personal life did not reflect the same success. Monroe was married three times, and divorced three. She was married to James "Jimmy" Dougherty, her teenaged boyfriend (1942-1946), Joe DiMaggio, a New York Yankees player (1954-- the marriage only lasted 9 months), and Arthur Miller, a playwright (1956-1961). She was also known for her relationships with Marlon Brando, Frank Sinatra, Yves Montand, Elia Kazan, and Sir Laurence Olivier.

On May 19, 1962, Monroe attended John F. Kennedy's birthday celebration, singing "Happy Birthday, Mr. President." Later, there were accusations of an affair between Monroe and the president. Pictures of the two together surfaced, causing problems, tension, and questions. Although most believe JFK cheated on his wife, Jackie, with Monroe, much of the affair had been kept secret and covered up. There were also rumors that Monroe had been involved with JFK's brother, Robert, as well.

The Death of Monroe

On August 5, 1962, Marilyn Monroe died in her Los Angeles home. The death was ruled a drug overdose; there was an empty bottle of sleeping pills by her bed. Over the years, it has been speculated that Monroe was murdered, but the official COD remained an overdose. She was 36 hears old.

Monroe's Legacy

Marilyn Monroe's films grossed more than $200 million throughout her career. She was the biggest sex symbol of her time, and is "still considered the world's most popular icon of sex appeal and beauty, and is remembered for her idiosyncratic sense of humor and sly wit.." She continues to be an icon today, and is still imitated and looked at as an influence around the world.