Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn Monroe books and biography

Marilyn Monroe

Monroe in the Gentlemen Prefer Blondes film trailer (1953)
Birth name Norma Jeane Mortenson
Born June 1, 1926
Los Angeles, California
Died August 5, 1962, age 36
Los Angeles, California
Height 5' 5 1/2
Other name(s) Norma Jeane Baker
Spouse(s) James Dougherty (1942-1946)
Joe DiMaggio (1956-1956)
Arthur Miller (1958-1961)
Official site Marilyn Monroe
Notable roles Lorelei Lee
(Gentlemen Prefer Blondes)
The Girl
(The Seven Year Itch)
(Bus Stop)
Sugar Kane
(Some Like It Hot)
Roslyn Taber
(The Misfits)

Marilyn Monroe (June 1, 1926 – August 5, 1962) was an American actress, singer and model. After acting in small roles for several years, she gradually became known for her comedic skills, sex appeal and screen presence, going on to become one of the most popular movie stars of the 1950s. She is idolized throughout the world as a sex goddess. Later in her career, she worked towards serious roles with a measure of success. However, long-standing problems were exacerbated by disappointments in both career and personal life during her later years.


Early life

[1][2] Marilyn Monroe was born under the name of Norma Jeane Mortenson in the charity ward of the Los Angeles County Hospital. According to biographer Fred Lawrence Guiles, her grandmother, Della Monroe Grainger, had her baptized Norma Jeane Baker by Aimee Semple McPherson.[3] She obtained an order from the City Court of the State of New York and legally changed her name to Marilyn Monroe on February 23, 1956.

Her mother, Gladys Pearl Monroe, had returned from Kentucky where her ex-husband Jasper Baker had kidnapped their children, Robert and Berniece. Some of Monroe's biographers portray Jasper as a vicious brute. Berniece Baker Miracle recounted in My Sister Marilyn that when Robert suffered a series of physical ailments, Baker refused to seek proper medical attention for him; the boy died in 1933.

Many biographers believe Norma Jeane's biological father was Charles Stanley Gifford, a salesman for the RKO studios where Gladys worked as a film-cutter. Monroe's birth certificate lists Gladys's second husband, Norwegian immigrant Martin Edward Mortenson, as the father. While Mortenson left Gladys before Norma Jeane's birth, some biographers think he may have been the father.[4] In an interview with Lifetime, James Dougherty, her first husband, said Norma Jeane believed that Gifford was her father. Yet, when asked about her ethnic heritage, Monroe claimed to have been part Irish, part Scottish and part Norwegian which can only be true if Mortenson was the father. Whoever he was, he played no part in Monroe's life.

Unable to persuade Della to take Norma Jeane, Gladys placed her with foster parents Albert and Ida Bolender of Hawthorne, where she lived until she was seven. In her autobiography My Story, Monroe states she thought Albert was a girl. However, some do not consider My Story trustworthy, as the book was a collaboration between Monroe and ghost-writer Ben Hecht and it was assumed Monroe was keen on dramatizing and colouring her past in order to make her public image more vulnerable. Hecht divulged to his agent: "It is easy to know when she is telling the truth. The moment a true thing comes out of her mouth, her eyes shed tears. She's like her own lie detector."[5] In 2001, the book was reissued and Hecht was given credit.[6]

Gladys visited Norma Jeane every Saturday. One day, she announced that she had bought a house. A few months after they had moved in, Gladys suffered a breakdown. In My Story, Monroe recalls her mother "screaming and laughing" as she was forcibly removed to the State Hospital in Norwalk. Gladys's father, Otis, died in an asylum near San Bernardino from syphilis. According to My Sister Marilyn, Gladys's brother, Marion, hanged himself upon his release from an asylum, and Della's father did the same in a fit of depression.

Norma Jeane was declared a ward of state, and Gladys's best friend, Grace McKee (later Goddard) became her guardian. After McKee married in 1935, Norma Jeane was sent to the Los Angeles Orphans Home (later renamed Hollygrove), and then to a succession of foster homes.

The Goddards moved to the east and could not take her along. Grace Goddard worried about Norma Jeane having to return to the orphanage, so she spoke to the mother of James Dougherty. Mrs. Dougherty approached her son, who agreed to take Norma Jeane out on dates. They married two weeks after she turned 16, so that Norma Jeane would not have to return to any orphanages or foster care.


Early years

While her husband served in the Merchant Marine during World War II, Norma Jeane Dougherty moved in with her mother-in-law, and started to work in the Radioplane Company factory (owned by Hollywood actor Reginald Denny), spraying airplane parts with fire retardant and inspecting parachutes. Army photographer David Conover scouted local factories taking photos for a YANK magazine article about women contributing to the war effort. He saw her potential as a model and she was soon signed by The Blue Book modelling agency. In his book Finding Marilyn, Conover claimed the two had an affair that lasted years. Shortly after signing with the agency Monroe began the eight-month process of having her long, curly dark blond-light brown hair cut, straightened and lightened to a golden blonde by hairstylist Sylvia Barnhart, who continued to work on Monroe's hair until 1953.

She became one of their most successful models, appearing on dozens of magazine covers. In 1946 she came to the attention of talent scout Ben Lyon. He arranged a screen test for her with 20th Century Fox. She passed and was offered a standard six-month contract with a starting salary of $125 per week.[7]

Lyon suggested "Marilyn" (after Marilyn Miller) to be her stage name, since Norma Jeane wasn't considered commercial enough. She came up with her mother's maiden name "Monroe". Thus, the twenty-year old Norma Jeane Baker became "Marilyn Monroe". During her first half a year at Fox, Monroe was given no work. However, after six months, Fox renewed her contract and she was given minor appearances in Scudda Hoo! Scudda Hay! and Dangerous Years, both released in 1947. In Scudda Hoo!, her part was edited out of the film except for a quick glimpse of her face when she speaks two words. Fox decided not to renew her contract again. Monroe returned to modelling and began to network and make contacts in Hollywood.

In 1948, a six-month stint at Columbia Pictures saw her star in Ladies of the Chorus, but the low-budget musical was not a success and Monroe was dropped yet again. She then met one of Hollywood's top agents, Johnny Hyde, who had Fox re-sign her after MGM had turned her down. Fox Vice-President Darryl F. Zanuck was not convinced of Monroe's potential. However, due to Hyde's persistence, she gained supporting parts in Fox's All About Eve and MGM's The Asphalt Jungle. Even though the roles were small, movie-goers as well as critics took notice. Hyde also arranged for her to have plastic surgery on her nose and chin, adding that to prior-made teeth surgery.[8][9][10][11]

The next two years were filled with inconsequential roles in standard fare such as We're Not Married! and Love Nest. However, RKO executives used her to boost box office potential of the Fritz Lang production Clash by Night. After the film performed well, Fox employed a similar tactic and she was cast as the ditzy receptionist in the Cary Grant/Ginger Rogers comedy Monkey Business. Critics no longer ignored her, and both films' success at the box office was partly attributed to Monroe's growing popularity.

Fox finally gave her a starring role in 1952 with Don't Bother to Knock, in which she portrayed a deranged babysitter who attacks the little girl in her care. It was a cheaply made B-movie, and although the reviews were mixed, many claimed that it demonstrated Monroe's ability and confirmed that she was ready for more leading roles. Her performance in the film has since been noted as one of the finest of her career by many critics.[12]


Marilyn Monroe
Playboy centerfold
December 1953
Birthplace Los Angeles, California
Birthdate June 1, 1926
Measurements 37"C - 23" - 36"
Height 5 ft 5½ in
Weight 118 lb
Preceded by None
Succeeded by Margie Harrison
Monroe's role in the thriller Niagara gave her credibility as a dramatic actress, but her career would follow a comedy-oriented path.
Monroe's role in the thriller Niagara gave her credibility as a dramatic actress, but her career would follow a comedy-oriented path.

Monroe proved she could carry a big-budget film when she received star billing for Niagara in 1953. Movie critics focused on Monroe's connection with the camera as much as on the sinister plot.[13] She played the part of an unbalanced woman of easy virtue who is planning to murder her husband.

Around this time, nude photos of Monroe began to surface, taken by photographer Tom Kelley when she had been struggling for work. Prints were bought by Hugh Hefner and in December 1953 appeared in the first edition of Playboy. To the dismay of Fox, Monroe decided to publicly admit it was indeed her posing in the pictures. To a journalist asking what she had on during the photoshoot, she replied: "The radio." When asked what she wore in bed, she said: "Chanel No. 5."

Over the following months, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and How to Marry a Millionaire cemented Monroe's status as an A-list actress and she became one of the world's biggest movie stars. The lavish Technicolor comedy films established Monroe's "dumb blonde" on-screen persona.

In Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Monroe's turn as the gold-digging showgirl Lorelei Lee won her rave reviews, [14] and the scene where she sang Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend has inspired the likes of Madonna [15] and Kylie Minogue [15]. In the Los Angeles premiere of the film, Monroe and co-star Jane Russell pressed their foot- and handprints in the cemented forecourt of Grauman's Chinese Theatre.

A much parodied scene from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes that defined pop culture.
A much parodied scene from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes that defined pop culture.

In How to Marry a Millionaire, Monroe was teamed up with Lauren Bacall and Betty Grable. She played a short-sighted dumb blonde, and even though the role was stereotypical, critics took note of her comedic timing.[16]

Her next two films, the western River of No Return and the musical There's No Business Like Show Business, were not successful. Monroe got tired of the roles that Zanuck assigned her. After completing work on The Seven Year Itch in early 1955, she broke her contract and fled Hollywood to study acting at The Actors Studio in New York. Fox would not accede to her contract demands and insisted she return to start work on productions she considered inappropriate, such as The Girl in Pink Tights (which was never filmed), The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing, and How to Be Very, Very Popular.

The Seven Year Itch: Monroe's character has her dress blown upwards revealing her underwear. On the left is Tom Ewell.  Photograph taken by Sam Shaw, copyright Sam Shaw
The Seven Year Itch: Monroe's character has her dress blown upwards revealing her underwear. On the left is Tom Ewell. Photograph taken by Sam Shaw, copyright Sam Shaw

Monroe refused to appear in these films and stayed in New York. As The Seven Year Itch raced to the top of the box office in the summer of 1955, and with Fox starlets Jayne Mansfield and Sheree North failing to click with audiences, Zanuck admitted defeat and Monroe triumphantly returned to Hollywood. A new contract was drawn up, giving Monroe an approval of the director as well as the option to act in other studios' projects.

The first film to be made under the contract was Bus Stop, directed by Joshua Logan. She performed the role of Chérie,[17] a saloon bar singer who falls in love with a cowboy. Monroe deliberately appeared badly made-up and non-glamorous.

She was nominated for a Golden Globe for the performance and praised by critics. Bosley Crowther of The New York Times proclaimed: "Hold on to your chairs, everybody, and get set for a rattling surprise. Marilyn Monroe has finally proved herself an actress." In his autobiography, Movie Stars, Real People and Me, director Joshua Logan wrote: "I found Marilyn to be one of the great talents of all time....She struck me as being a much brighter person than I had ever imagined, and I think that was the first time I learned that intelligence and, yes brilliance have nothing to do with education."

Monroe formed her own production company with friend and photographer Milton H. Greene. Marilyn Monroe Productions released its first and only film The Prince and the Showgirl in 1957 to mixed reviews. Along with executive-producing the film, she starred opposite the acclaimed British actor Laurence Olivier, who directed it.

Olivier got furious at her habit of being late to the set, as well as her dependency on her drama coach, Paula Strasberg. Monroe's performance was hailed by critics, especially in Europe, where she was handed the David di Donatello, the Italian equivalent of the Academy Award, as well as the French Crystal Star Award. She was also nominated for the British BAFTA award.

Later years

In 1959 she scored the biggest hit of her career starring alongside Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon in Billy Wilder's comedy Some Like It Hot. After shooting finished, Wilder publicly blasted Monroe for her difficult on-set behavior. Soon, however, Wilder's attitude softened, and he hailed her a great comedienne. Some Like It Hot is consistently rated as one of the best films ever made.[18] Monroe's performance earned her a Golden Globe for best actress in musical or comedy. The New York Times proclaimed Monroe a "talented comedienne."

Screen tests for Something's Got To Give, Monroe's last picture. It quickly descended into a costly debacle for Fox and was never completed.
Screen tests for Something's Got To Give, Monroe's last picture. It quickly descended into a costly debacle for Fox and was never completed.

After Some Like It Hot, Monroe shot Let's Make Love directed by George Cukor and co-starring Yves Montand. Monroe, Montand and Cukor all considered the script subpar, yet Monroe was forced to shoot the picture because of her obligations to Twentieth Century-Fox. While the film was not a commercial or critical success, it included one of Monroe's legendary musical numbers, Cole Porter's "My Heart Belongs to Daddy".

Arthur Miller wrote what became her and her co-star Clark Gable's last completed film, The Misfits. The exhausting shoot took place in the hot Nevada desert. Monroe's tardiness became chronic and the shoot was troublesome. Despite this, Monroe, Gable and Montgomery Clift delivered performances that are considered excellent by contemporary movie critics.[19] Monroe became friends with Clift, with whom she felt a deep connection. Some blamed Gable's death of a heart attack on Monroe, claiming she had given him a hard time on the set. Gable, however, insisted on doing his own stunts and was a heavy smoker. After Gable's death, Monroe attended the baptism of his son.

Some of the most famous photographs of her were taken by Douglas Kirkland in 1961 as a feature for the 25th anniversary issue of LOOK magazine.

Monroe returned to Hollywood to resume filming on the George Cukor comedy Something's Got to Give, a never-finished film that has become legendary for problems on the set. In May 1962, she made her last significant public appearance, singing Happy Birthday, Mr. President at a televised birthday party for President John F. Kennedy. After shooting what was claimed to have been the first ever nude scene by a major motion picture actress, Monroe's attendance on the set became even more erratic. On June 1, her thirty-sixth birthday, she attended a charity event at Dodger Stadium.

Happy Birthday, Mr. President May 1962
Happy Birthday, Mr. President May 1962

Already in a financial strain due to production costs of Cleopatra, starring Elizabeth Taylor, Fox dropped Monroe from the film and replaced her with Lee Remick. However, co-star Dean Martin was unwilling to work with anyone else but Monroe. She was rehired.

Monroe conducted a lengthy interview with Life, in which she expressed how bitter she was about Hollywood labeling her as a dumb blonde and how much she loved her audience.[20] She also did a photo shoot for Vogue, and began discussing a future film project with Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra, as stated in the Donald Spoto biography. Furthermore, she was planning to star in a biopic as Jean Harlow. Other projects being considered for her were What a Way to Go! and a musical version of A Tree Grows In Brooklyn.

Before the shooting of Something's Got to Give resumed, Monroe was found dead in her Los Angeles home, on the morning of August 5, 1962. She remains one of the 20th century's most legendary public figures and archetypal Hollywood movie stars.


James Dougherty

Monroe married James Dougherty on June 19, 1942. In The Secret Happiness of Marilyn Monroe and To Norma Jeane with Love, Jimmie, he claimed they were in love but dreams of stardom lured her away. She always maintained theirs was a marriage of convenience arranged by Grace Goddard. She was reportedly furious when he wrote in a 1953 Photoplay piece called "Marilyn Monroe Was My Wife" that she threatened to jump off the Santa Monica Pier if he left her. He appeared on To Tell the Truth in April 7, 1967 as "Marilyn Monroe's real first husband".

In the 2004 documentary Marilyn's Man, Dougherty made three new claims: he was her Svengali and invented the "Marilyn Monroe" persona, studio executives forced her to divorce him, and that he was her true love. The evidence does not support this. He remarried in 1947. When informed of her death, the August 6, 1962 New York Times reported he replied "I'm sorry," and continued his LAPD patrol; he did not attend her funeral. Contrary to his later claims that he did not mind that she modeled, his sister wrote in the 12/1952 Modern Screen Magazine that Dougherty left Norma Jeane because she wanted to pursue modeling. He admitted to A&E Network that his mother asked him to marry her, and told Lifetime in 1996 he cut off her allotment after being served with divorce papers. Perhaps more telling, the 1999 Christie's auction of Monroe's estate revealed she kept nothing from Dougherty except their divorce decree. He died from leukemia complications on August 15, 2005.

Joe DiMaggio

In 1951 Joe DiMaggio saw a picture of Monroe with two Chicago White Sox players, but did not ask the man who arranged the stunt to set up a date until 1952. She wrote in My Story that she did not want to meet him, fearing a stereotypical jock. They eloped at San Francisco's City Hall on January 14, 1954. During the honeymoon, they visited Japan, and she was asked to visit Korea. She performed ten shows over four days in freezing temperatures for over 100,000 servicemen. Biographers have noted that DiMaggio, who stayed in Japan, was not pleased with his wife's decision during what he wanted to be an intimate trip.

Back home, she wrote him a letter about her dreams for their future, dated February 28, 1954:

"My Dad, I don't know how to tell you just how much I miss you. I love you till my heart could burst... I want to just be where you are and be just what you want me to be... I want someday for you to be proud of me as a person and as your wife and as the mother of the rest of your children (two at least! I've decided)..."[21]

DiMaggio biographer Maury Allen quoted New York Yankees PR man Arthur Richman that Joe told him everything went wrong from the trip to Japan on. Fred Lawrence Guiles speculated that Joe, knowing the power and hollowness of fame, wanted desperately to head off what he was convinced was her "collision-course with disaster." Friends claimed that DiMaggio became more controlling as Monroe grew more defiant [citation needed]. On September 14, 1954, she filmed the now-iconic skirt-blowing scene for The Seven Year Itch in front of New York's Trans-Lux Theater. Bill Kobrin, then-Fox's east coast correspondent, told the June 26, 2006 Palm Springs Desert Sun that it was Billy Wilder's idea to turn it into a media circus: "... every time her dress came up and the crowd started to get excited, DiMaggio just blew up." The couple later had a "yelling battle" in the theater lobby.[22] Her makeup man Allan Snyder recalled Monroe later appeared on set with bruises on her upper arms.[citation needed] She filed for divorce on grounds of mental cruelty 274 days after the wedding.

Years later, she turned to him for help. In February 1961, her psychiatrist arranged for her to be admitted to the Payne Whitney Psychiatric Clinic, where, according to Donald Spoto, she was placed in the ward for the most seriously disturbed. Unable to check herself out, she called DiMaggio, who secured her release. She later joined him in Florida. Their "just good friends" claim did not stop rumors of remarriage. Archive footage shows Bob Hope jokingly dedicated Best Song nominee The Second Time Around to them at the 1960 Academy Awards telecast.

According to Maury Allen, on August 1, 1962 DiMaggio - alarmed by how his ex-wife had fallen in with people he felt detrimental to her, such as Frank Sinatra and his "Rat Pack" - quit his job with a PX supplier to ask her to remarry him. He claimed her body and arranged her funeral, barring Hollywood's elite. For 20 years, he had a dozen red roses delivered to her crypt three times a week. Unlike her other two husbands, he never talked about her publicly, wrote a tell-all, nor remarried. He died on March 8, 1999, of lung cancer.

Arthur Miller

On June 29, 1956, Monroe married playwright Arthur Miller, whom she had first met in 1951, in a civil ceremony in White Plains, New York. City Court Judge Seymour Robinowitz presided over the hushed ceremony in the law office of Sam Slavitt (the wedding had been kept secret from both the press and the public). Nominally raised as a Christian, she converted to Judaism before marrying Miller. After she finished shooting The Prince and the Showgirl, the couple returned to the States from England and discovered she was pregnant. However, she suffered from endometriosis and the pregnancy was found to be ectopic. A subsequent pregnancy ended in miscarriage, as noted in the Monroe biographies written by Anthony Summers, Fred Lawrence Guiles, and Donald Spoto.

By 1958, she was the couple's main breadwinner. While paying alimony to Miller's first wife, her husband reportedly charged her production company for buying and shipping a Jaguar to the United States[citation needed].

Miller's screenplay for The Misfits was meant to be a Valentine gift for his wife, but by the time filming started in 1960 their marriage was broken beyond repair. A Mexican divorce was granted on January 24, 1961. On February 17, 1962, Miller married Inge Morath, one of the Magnum photographers recording the making of The Misfits.

In January 1964, Miller's play After the Fall opened, featuring a beautiful and devouring shrew named Maggie. The similarities between Maggie and Monroe did not go unnoticed by audiences and critics (including Helen Hayes), many of whom sympathized with the fact that she was no longer alive and could not defend herself [citation needed].

Simone Signoret noted in her autobiography the morbidity of Miller and Elia Kazan resuming their professional association "over a casket". In interviews and in his autobiography, Miller insisted that Maggie was not based on Monroe. However, he never pretended that his last Broadway-bound work, Finishing the Picture, was not based on the making of The Misfits. He told Vanity Fair the she was "highly self-destructive" and what "killed" her was not some conspiracy, but the fact that she was Marilyn Monroe.[citation needed] He died on February 10, 2005, at the age of 89.

Death and aftermath

Monroe's last home was in Brentwood, California, at 12305 5th Helena Drive. She was in the process of renovating the hacienda at the time of her death.[23]

Monroe was found dead by her housekeeper Eunice Murray, in the middle of the night, on August 5, 1962. Murray said she noticed the phone cord under Marilyn's door, which was unusual because she never slept with her phone in her room. This worried Murray, so she called Marilyn's psychiatrist, Dr. Ralph Greenson. Greenson broke a window to get into Marilyn's home, and then upon discovering her sprawled on her bed with a phone clutched in her right hand, called Marilyn's internist Dr. Engelberg. Engelberg listened for a heartbeat, and when there was not one, called the police.

Murray and doctors Greenson and Engelberg claim that Marilyn was found at 3:30 a.m. However Natalie Jacobs, wife of Marilyn's spokesman Arthur Jacobs, said she found out about Marilyn's death while at a concert well before 11:00 p.m. that same day. She also says that her husband had to "fudge the press."

She was 36 years old. Her death was ruled as an overdose from the sleeping pill Nembutal. Several conspiracy theories have surfaced in the decades after her death, some involving President John F. Kennedy and/or Robert Kennedy. There is also speculation that her death was accidental, but the official cause of death was "probable suicide" by acute barbiturate poisoning.

On August 8, 1962, Monroe was interred in a crypt at Corridor of Memories, #24, at the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles, California. Lee Strasberg delivered the eulogy.

Administration of estate

In her will, Monroe left Lee Strasberg control of 75% of her estate. She expressed her desire that Strasberg, or, if he predeceased her, her executor, "distribute (her personal effects) among my friends, colleagues and those to whom I am devoted."[24]

Strasberg willed his portion to his widow, Anna. She declared she would never sell Monroe's personal items after successfully suing Odyssey Auctions in 1994 to prevent the sale of items which were withheld by Monroe's former business manager, Inez Melson. However, in October 1999 Christie's auctioned the bulk of the items Monroe willed to Lee Strasberg, netting $12.3 million USD.

Anna Strasberg is currently in litigation against the children of four photographers to determine rights of publicity, which permits the licensing of images of deceased personages for commercial purposes. The decision as to whether Monroe was a resident of California, where she died, or New York, where her will was probated, is worth millions.[25]

Miscellaneous facts

  • Ella Fitzgerald credited Monroe with helping her break the colour barrier and launching her career into the mainstream. "It was because of [Marilyn Monroe] that I played the [heretofore segregated] Mocambo. She personally called the owner ... and told him she wanted me booked immediately, and if he would do it, she would take a front table every night. She told him – and it was true, due to Marilyn’s superstar status – that the press would go wild. The owner said yes, and Marilyn was there, front table, every night. The press went overboard… After that, I never had to play a small jazz club again. She was an unusual woman – a little ahead of her time. And didn’t she know it." [16]
  • Monroe's personal library contained hundreds of books. Many of the volumes, auctioned in 1999, bore her pencil notations in the margins.


  • „I think that when you are famous every weakness is exaggerated."
  • „Goethe said, "Talent is developed in privacy," you know? And it's really true."
  • „Creativity has got to start with humanity and when you're a human being, you feel, you suffer. You're gay, you're sick, you're nervous or whatever."
  • „So long I've had you fame! See I told you it was fickle (laughs)


Film Year Salary
Scudda Hoo! Scudda Hay! 1948 $125/week
The Asphalt Jungle 1950 $1,050
All About Eve 1950 $500/week, with one-week guarantee
We're Not Married! 1952 $750/week
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes 1953 $1,250/week
The Seven Year Itch 1955 $1,500/week
Some Like It Hot 1959 $200,000 plus 10% gross over $4 million
The Misfits 1961 $250,000
Something's Got to Give 1962 $100,000
 v  d  e 
Main Filmography
The Asphalt Jungle (1950) | All About Eve (1950) | Niagara (1953) | Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) | How to Marry a Millionaire (1953) | River of No Return (1954)  | There's No Business Like Show Business (1954)  | The Seven Year Itch (1955) | Bus Stop (1956) | The Prince and the Showgirl (1957) | Some Like it Hot (1959) | Let's Make Love (1960) | The Misfits (1961

Awards and nominations

  • 1952 Photoplay Award: Special Award
  • 1953 Golden Globe Henrietta Award: World Film Favorite Female.
  • 1953 Photoplay Award: Most Popular Female Star
  • 1956 BAFTA Film Award nomination: Best Foreign Actress for The Seven Year Itch
  • 1956 Golden Globe nomination: Best Motion Picture Actress in Comedy or Musical for Bus Stop
  • 1958 BAFTA Film Award nomination: Best Foreign Actress for The Prince and the Showgirl
  • 1958 David di Donatello Award (Italian): Best Foreign Actress for The Prince and the Showgirl
  • 1959 Crystal Star Award (French): Best Foreign Actress for The Prince and the Showgirl
  • 1960 Golden Globe, Best Motion Picture Actress in Comedy or Musical for Some Like It Hot
  • 1962 Golden Globe, World Film Favorite: Female
  • Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame 6104 Hollywood Blvd.

In popular culture

  • 1999: E! Online's Sex Symbol of the Century;
  • 1995: Empire's Sexiest Female Movie Star;
  • Marian McKnight won the 1957 Miss America crown with a Marilyn act;
  • 1999: People magazine's Sexiest Woman of the Century;
  • 1998: Playboy's #1 Sex Star of the Century;
  • The Seven Year Itch "subway grate" scene has been mimicked several times. These include Absolut vodka advertisements, Betty Boop, Donna Summer, Anna Kournikova, Perrier, Anna Nicole Smith, The Simpsons, and the musical Tommy.


Music by Monroe

  • In Ladies of the Chorus (1947), Monroe sang "Anyone Can See I Love You" and "Every Baby Needs a Da-Da-Daddy".
  • In Ticket to Tomahawk (1950), she performed "Oh! What a Forward Young Man You Are" with a choir.
  • In Niagara (1953), Monroe sang "Kiss."
  • In Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), Monroe sang "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend," "Two Little Girls from Little Rock," "When Love Goes Wrong," and "Bye Bye Baby."
  • In River of No Return (1954), she sang "Down in the Meadow," "I'm Gonna File My Claim," "One Silver Dollar," and "River of No Return."
  • In There's No Business Like Show Business (1954), she sang Irving Berlin's "Heat Wave," "Lazy," and "After You Get What You Want You Don't Want It."
  • In 1954, Monroe recorded "A Fine Romance," "She Acts Like a Woman Should," and "You'd Be Surprised" on the RCA label.
  • In The Seven Year Itch (1955), she sang "Chopsticks".
  • In Bus Stop (1956), she sang "That Old Black Magic."
  • In The Prince and the Showgirl (1957), she sang "I Found a Dream."
  • In Some Like It Hot (1959), Monroe sang popular songs from the 1920s: "I Wanna Be Loved by You," "I'm Through with Love" and "Running Wild". She also recorded a title song for the movie (later leleased on compilation albums), but the producers ended up using an instrumental version over the opening credits.
  • In Let's Make Love (1960), she sang "My Heart Belongs to Daddy", "Incurably Romantic," "Specialization" and "Let's Make Love."

Music on Monroe

  • "Hey Marilyn", a musical biography written and composed by Cliff Jones and starring Beverly d'Angelo, was broadcast on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's national radio network. It also enjoyed a highly successful stage version at Edmonton, Alberta's Citadel Theater. A Broadway production is currently in the planning stages. For more information, go to
  • Band leader Ray Anthony composed "My Marilyn" and performed it for Monroe at a special event following the production of Niagara in 1952.
  • "Marilyn Monroe Mambo" was a song and variation on the Mambo dance in the 1950s.
  • In 1973, Sir Elton John recorded "Candle in the Wind" on his Goodbye Yellow Brick Road album as a tribute to Monroe. It remains a definitive lyrical homage.
  • In 1981 Horror Punk band The Misfits wrote Who Killed Marilyn? about Marilyn Monroe's death.
  • Billy Joel's 1989 hit single "We Didn't Start the Fire" features the actress in its second verse chronicling the events of 1950.
  • She is mentioned among other Hollywood icons (such as Lauren Bacall, Marlene Dietrich and James Dean) in the spoken passage of Madonna's 1990 hit single "Vogue".
  • The British alternative rock band Suede recorded the song "Heroine" as an homage to Monroe. The track is included in Suede's Dog Man Star album (1994).
  • Spice Girls in their song "The lady is a vamp" (from album Spiceworld, 1997).
  • Robbie Williams mentions her name among other film stars in the song "The Actor" (2006).
  • The Douglasville metalcore band Norma Jean is named after her.


  • Insignificance (the character called simply The Actress, played by Theresa Russell is obviously based on her).
  • The Apartment (one of the characters meets a girl at a bar who "looks like Marilyn Monroe", played by Joyce Jameson)
  • Fade to Black (disturbed young man with a Monroe obsession stalks a girl who looks like her)
  • Pulp Fiction (Monroe look-a-like is a waitress in a 50s-themed restaurant)
  • The Shawshank Redemption (Tim Robbins's character has a poster of her in his jail cell)
  • The Woman in Red (Kelly LeBrock apes the subway grate scene from The Seven Year Itch)
  • Wonder Boys (Richard Thomas (actor)|Richard Thomas's character is obsessed by the Monroe/DiMaggio marriage)
  • Moulin Rouge! (Nicole Kidman performs the musical number "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" in an obvious homage to Monroe)

Portrayed in:

  • Goodbye, Norma Jean (1976) (Misty Rowe)
  • Insignificance (1985) (as "The Actress") (Theresa Russell)
  • Goodnight, Sweet Marilyn (1989) (Paula Lane and Misty Rowe)
  • Calendar Girl (1993) (Stéphanie Anderson)
  • Death Becomes Her (1992) (Stéphanie Anderson)
  • The Island (1998) (Sally Kirkland)
  • My Fellow Americans (1996) (Jennifer Austin)
  • L.A. Confidential (1997) (Nectar Rose)
  • Mister Lonely (2006) (Samantha Morton)

Based on her:

  • Paddy Chayefsky's The Goddess (1958) played by Kim Stanley


  • In 1953, Marilyn appeared on "The Jack Benny Show" and sang "Bye Bye Baby" live.
  • In 1950 Marilyn appeared in a television commercial for Royal Triton Oil.
  • The Beverly Hillbillies: "Jed Buys A Movie Studio," Elly May impersonates Monroe;
  • The Ernie Kovacs Show: Edie Adams regularly impersonated Monroe;
  • Futurama: I Dated a Robot, Monroe is a robot, known as a Marilyn Monrobot;
  • Gilligan's Island: "The Producer," Ginger impersonates Monroe;
  • I Love Lucy: "Ricky's Movie Offer," Lucy glams up as Monroe;
  • Lizzie McGuire and Miranda watch Some Like It Hot at their cinema club (season 2);
  • Married... with Children: "Desperately Seeking Miss October," Al asks the ghost of his father also played by Ed O'Neil if Monroe is laughing at him because he gave in to Peg's demand to toss out his Playboys, his father's response "She doesn't even know you're alive!";
  • M*A*S*H: "Bombshells," Hawkeye and Charles start a rumor that Monroe is coming to thank the staff for caring for her cousin;
  • The Name's the Same: November 19, 1952 and January 12, 1954 had a contestant whose actual name was Marilyn Monroe; June 22, 1954 guest Van Johnson's "secret wish" was for Marilyn to sit on his lap; August 31, 1954 guest Charles Coburn's "secret wish" was to dance the rumba with her again as he did in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes;
  • The Price of Heaven, 1995, Grant Show is a G.I. who returns home famous after being photographed with Monroe during her Korea trip;
  • Saturday Night Live: Charlize Theron played Monroe in a spoof of the Seven Year Itch; Mary Gross played Monroe as a recurring SNL character; Madonna recreated 'Happy Birthday, Mr. President';
  • The Simpsons: multiple references
  • What's My Line?: August 21, 1960, Buddy Hackett signed in as Monroe;
  • NCIS: Witch Hunt, Abby Sciuto (played by Pauley Perrette), dresses as Marilyn Monroe for Halloween.
  • Zoey 101: Zoey (played by Jamie Lynn Spears) dresses up as Marilyn Monroe for Halloween (season 2)

Portrayed in:

  • Blonde 2001 CBS miniseries (Poppy Montgomery)
  • Curb Your Enthusiasm episode "The End"
  • Dark Skies episode "The Warren Omission"
  • Growing Pains episode "Happy Halloween: Part 2"
  • Hoover vs. the Kennedys: The Second Civil War 1987 (Heather Thomas)
  • Introducing Dorothy Dandridge 1999 HBO (Kerri Randles)
  • Marilyn: The Untold Story 1980 ABC (Catherine Hicks)
  • Norma Jean & Marilyn 1996, HBO (Ashley Judd and Mira Sorvino)
  • Quantum Leap episode "Goodbye Norma Jean: April 4, 1960"
  • The Rat Pack 1998 HBO (Barbara Niven)
  • Marilyn & Bobby: Her Final Affair 1993 USA (Melody Anderson)
  • This Year's Blonde 1980 NBC, (Constance Forslund)
  • James Dean 2001 TNT (Holly Beavon)
  • The Mystery of Natalie Wood 2004 ABC (Sophie Monk)

Based on her:

  • Alvah Bessie's The Sex Symbol 1974 ABC with Connie Stevens and Shelley Winters


Artists who have used Monroe as a basis of their work:

  • Peter Blake's Marilyn Monroe Over a Painting No 1 1989-1990; Marilyn Monroe Wall No 2 and MM Red Yellow 1990; M for Marilyn Monroe and H.O.M.A.G.E. – JJ MM RR KS 1991
  • Bruce Conner's Marilyn Times Five
  • Douglas Gordon's As Kurt Cobain, as Andy Warhol, as Myra Hindley, as Marilyn Monroe 1996
  • Richard Hamilton's My Marilyn 1966
  • Ray Johnson's Dear Marilyn Monroe
  • Willem de Kooning's Marilyn Monroe 1954
  • Barbara Kruger's Not Stupid Enough 1997
  • Gina Lollobrigida's My Friend Marilyn Monroe
  • Yasumasa Morimura's After Marilyn Monroe 1996
  • LeRoy Neiman's The President's Birthday 1962
  • Mel Ramos's Peek-a-boo Marilyn 2002
  • Faith Ringgold's Marilyn Monroe 1997
  • James Rosenquist's Marilyn Monroe I 1962
  • George Segal's The Film Poster 1967
  • Richard Serra's Marilyn Monroe-Greta Garbo 1981
  • Andy Warhol's Marilyn Monroe Diptych 1962


  • American Photo devoted its May/June 1997 issue to her.
  • Eve Arnold, Richard Avedon, George Barris, Peter Basch, Cecil Beaton, Henri Cartier-Bresson, John Bryson, Cornell Capa, Jock Carroll, Alfred Eisenstaedt, Elliott Erwitt, Robert Frank, Milton H. Greene, Ernst Haas, Philippe Halsman, Douglas Kirkland, Harold Lloyd, Inge Morath, Arnold Newman, Gordon Parks, Bert Stern, Weegee and Garry Winogrand are among those who shot Monroe. The American Masters "Marilyn Monroe: Still Life" claims she was the most photographed person in history. [17]
  • Marie Claire (September 2002) of Marilyn visiting the troops in Korea: she "made even military-issue jackets sexy."


According to The Guardian, there are nearly 300 biographies on Monroe in English alone. The first and only volume published while she was living was Marilyn Monroe (1961), by biographer Maurice Zolotow. the following are fictional takes.

  • Candle in the Wind by George Bernau
  • The Symbol by Alvah Bessie
  • The Possibility of Dreaming on a Night Without Stars by Michael Kaufman
  • The Immortals by Michael Korda
  • Of Women and Their Elegance by Norman Mailer
  • Blonde by Joyce Carol Oates
  • Marilyn's Daughter by John Rechy
  • Queen of Desire by Sam Toperoff

See also

  • Haunted Hollywood


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ [2]
  3. ^ [3]
  4. ^ [4]
  5. ^ Marilyn Monroe & Ben Hecht. Snickersnee Press (2001-11-01). Retrieved on 2006-08-01.
  6. ^ [5]
  7. ^ [6]
  8. ^ [7]
  9. ^ ^ [9]
  10. ^ [10]
  11. ^ [11]
  12. ^ Niagara (1953). Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved on 2006-08-01.
  13. ^ [12]
  14. ^ [13]
  15. ^ How to Marry a Millionaire (1953). Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved on 2006-08-01.
  16. ^ [14]
  17. ^ Some Like It Hot (1959). Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved on 2006-08-01.
  18. ^ The Misfits (1961). Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved on 2006-08-01.
  19. ^ Meryman, Richard. "Marilyn Monroe's Last Interview", 1962. Retrieved on 2006-08-01.
  20. ^ Shea, John. "JOE'S BID-NESS: DiMaggio's granddaughters are selling off their memorabilia", San Francisco Chronicle, 2006-05-17. Retrieved on 2006-08-01.
  21. ^ Goolsby, Denise. "Meet Marilyn Monroe photographer Saturday", The Desert Sun, 2006-06-26. Retrieved on 2006-08-01.
  22. ^ Cursum Perficio: Marilyn Monroe's Brentwood Hacienda/The Story of Her Final Months" by Gary Vitacco-Robles, Iuniverse Press, 2003
  23. ^ The Will of Marilyn Monroe. Court TV. Retrieved on 2006-08-01.
  24. ^ Koppel, Nathan. "A battle erupts over the right to market Monroe", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 2006-04-10. Retrieved on 2006-08-01.

Further reading

  • Baty, S. Paige (1995). American Monroe: The Making of a Body Politic. University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-08806-9. Examines Monroe's stature as an icon.
  • Belmont, Georges (2000). Marilyn Monroe and the Camera. Te Neues Publishing Company. ISBN 3-8238-5467-4. Monroe's "love affair" with the camera.
  • Churchwell, Sarah (2004). The Many Lives of Marilyn Monroe. Metropolitan Books. ISBN 0-8050-7818-5. Explores Western Civilization's fixation with Monroe.
  • Guiles, Fred Lawrence (1993). Norma Jean: The Life of Marilyn Monroe. Paragon House Publishers. ISBN 1-55778-583-X. Reissue of a biography cited in this article.
  • Mailer, Norman (1973). Marilyn: A Biography. Grosset & Dunlap. ISBN 0-448-01029-1. His controversial take on Monroe.
  • Monroe, Marilyn (2000). My Story. Cooper Square Press. ISBN 0-8154-1102-2. Reprint of her memoirs, ghost-written by Ben Hecht; introduction by Andrea Dworkin.
  • Rollyson, Carl E. (1993). Marilyn Monroe: A Life of the Actress. Da Capo Press. ISBN 0-306-80542-1. Scholarly look at her films.
  • Spoto, Donald (2001). Marilyn Monroe: The Biography. Cooper Square Press. ISBN 0-8154-1183-9. Biography cited in this article.
  • Smith, Matthew (2004). Marilyn's Last Words: Her Secret Tapes and Mysterious Death. Carroll & Graf Publishers. ISBN 0-7867-1380-1. Alleged transcripts of Monroe's therapy sessions.
  • Taylor, Roger G. (2006). Marilyn in Art. Chaucer Press. ISBN 1-904957-02-1. Examines Monroe's influence on numerous artists.
  • Vitacco-Robles, Gary (2003). Cursum Perficio: Marilyn Monroe's Brentwood Hacienda: The Story of Her Final Months. IUniverse. ISBN 0-595-01082-2
  • Victor, Adam (1999). The Complete Marilyn Monroe. Thames and Hudson Ltd. ISBN 0-500-01978-9.

"Marilyn" by Gloria Steinem, photos by George Barris

This article might use material from a Wikipedia article, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

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