Marilyn Monroe

50s Decade Project

Early Life

Marilyn Monroe was born as Norma Jeane Mortenson on June 1, 1926. During her all-too-brief life, she overcame a difficult childhood to become one of the most enduring symbols of the 50s. Marilyn never knew her father and would still maintain in her adulthood that her earliest memories of her mother was her trying to smother Marilyn in her crib with a pillow. Monroe also had a half-sister who she was not close with; they only met about 6 times. Growing up, she spent a lot of time in foster care and in an orphanage. In 1937, a family friend and her husband were paid $25 a week by Marilyn's mother to take care of her. But when the husband had to transfer for his job they could not afford to take her with them. When Marilyn was 7 she returned to the foster homes where it was a rough life. Marilyn was sexually assaulted and reported that when she 11 years old she was raped. The only way to get out of the system was to get married, so she married at 16 years old and dropped out of high school at age 15. She married Jimmy Dougherty who was a merchant marine. When he was sent to the South Pacific she was discovered by a photographer and when he returned in 1946 she had a successful career as a model. She then legally changed her name to Marilyn Monroe to pursue an acting career.

Famous Career

In 1946, Monroe's marriage with Dougherty faded out as she started to focus more on her career. in this same year she signed her first movie contract, along with her new name and dying her hair blonde. Although her acting career didn't exactly take off until the 1950s the few movies she was in before her big ones definitely caught people's attention. Monroe was not initially star acting material but she proved her skill by winning several honors and and attracting large crowds to her films. Marilyn Monroe with her for hourglass figure became a much-admired international star but had chronic insecurities regarding her acting abilities. Marilyn had a string of unsuccessful marriages and relationships including her 1954 marriage with baseball player Joe DiMaggio, which only lasted nine months. Marilyn also married Arthur Miller from 1956 to 1961.

Death and Impact on the 1950s

Marilyn Monroe died on August 5, 1962, at only 36 years old in her Los Angeles home. The cause of her death was an overdose of sleeping pills, the empty bottle found by her bed. Monroe was buried in her favorite dress in the most high-end casket available. Her ex-husband Joe DiMaggio famously had roses delivered to her crypt for the next 20 years. Marilyn's impact on the 50s was very large I would say. This is because during this time most women were very modest and didn't really think it was okay to dress or act like that. Marilyn won several awards for her movies in her acting career and was highly praised for her beauty while she had her modeling career. Overall Marilyn had a very rough start in life but I feel that it's significant that she rose above all of that and became one of the most well known symbols of the 1950s.


"Biography." IMDb., n.d. Web. 04 Feb. 2016. A&E Networks Television, n.d. Web. 04 Feb. 2016.

"Marilyn and Her Monsters." Vanity Fair. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Feb. 2016.