Marilyn Monroe had a beauty mark, curves, innocence, screen charisma, sex appeal, and platinum hair. She began her fame as a photographic model to become a worldwide sensation, movie star, archetype, and revered icon. Her life was full of tragedies and broken relationships, but she was optimistic, introspective, exuberant, sophisticated, and persevered through glamorous photographs and 30 films to become the most famous female in the twentieth-century.
Born in Los Angeles on June 1, 1926 as Norma Jeane Mortensen to an American mother Gladys Pearl Monroe Baker and father, Martin Edward Mortensen, she never knew but who was Norwegian. It is said that her fathers name, Mortensen, which was found on the birth certificate was Gladys’s first husband, but in actuality her real father was a coworker of hers, Stanley Gifford. Marilyn had an older step-brother and step sister from Gladys’s second marriage to Jasper Baker.
After her birth she was given up to a foster family, Albert and Ida Bolender. Every Sunday her mother would come and visit her but never smile, hug, or kiss her. After seven years of living with the foster family Gladys took her home, but it only lasted for a few months. Gladys suffered a mental breakdown called Schizophrenia and was admitted to a mental institution where spent the rest of her life until her passing in the 1980’s. Monroe was then left to the state, where she spent years in and out of orphanages and foster homes until a friend of her mother took her in, in 1941.
In 1942 at the age 16 she had the option of moving back to an orphanage or getting married because the family she was living in was being transferred to the East Coast. So she wed her neighbor Jimmy Dougherty who was 21 after a short courtship. Dougherty started serving in 1943 in the South Pacific as a Merchant Marine.
In 1944 while working at aircraft and parachute-inspecting plant she was discovered by Private David Conover an army photographer her for a piece he was doing on women at work for the war effort. She was paid $5 an hour to model and shortly thereafter she appeared on not one but on over 33 national magazine covers.
She enjoyed literature and wrote poetry.
In 1946 at the age of 20 and in the same month she divorced Dougherty she signed her first studio contract to begin work two months later for 20th Century Fox where she made $75 per week. Many years later 20th Century Fox was purchased by News Corp, whose founder is media mogul Rupurt Murdoch
In 1946 after her first studio job and at the request of the studio she created and changed her name to Marilyn Monroe and dyed her hair blonde.
She was known to admire Charlie Chaplin
, Will Rogers, Cary Grant
, Great Garbo
, Ginger Rogers, Albert Einstein
, Ayn Rand, Picasso, Michelangelo, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong, Beethoven and Mozart.
On January 14, 1954 in San Francisco she married Hall of Fame baseball player and Joe DiMaggio who is claimed by sportswriters to be the culmination of Babe Ruth, Shoeless Joe Jackson, and Ty Cobb. The marriage ended nine months later.
Off-stage she was known to stutter. Others who have stuttered include Charles Darwin, James Earl Jones, Carly Simon, King George VI, and Winston Churchill.
She had relationships with President John F. Kennedy, Frank Sinatra, Marlon Brando
, and Yves Montand, and Bobby Kennedy.
In 1953 in the movie Gentlemen Prefer Blondes she said, “I always love finding new places to wear diamonds.”
In 1955 in the film Seven Year Itch she is featured her famous scene, and most famous image, with her skirt blowing due to gusts of air as she stood above a subway grate.
In 1955 she moved to New York City for a year to refine and become a serious actor under the coaching and guidance of Lee Strasburg and his acting studio.
On June 29, 1956 in the same month as her birthday and her first marriage, she married the third time to literary playwright Arthur Miller. For that marriage she converted to Judaism, and others who have converted include Elizabeth Taylor and Sammy Davis Jr. The marriage only lasted four and half years.
In 1960 she won a Golden Globe for her performance in Some Like It Hot co-starring Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon.
In 1961 she and Clark Gable stared in their last completed films, the Misfits.
In May 19, 1962, three months before her death, she was recorded on television with 15,000 people at Madison Square Garden singing Happy Birthday to President John F. Kennedy. She wore a tight-fitting skin colored dress with 2500 rhinestones and it was designed by Jean Louis later to be was sold at auction by Christie's in 2006 for $1.26 million to Pete Siegel.
On June 1, 1967 the Beatles eighth album was released, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, and had 70 people selected by John Lennon and were featured on the album cover including Marilyn Monroe, W.C. Fields, Bob Dylan, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, Sigmund Freud, Edgar Allan Poe, Karl Marx, Oscar Wilde, and Marlon Brando
. However, Mohandas Gandhi’s image was removed before the release of the album.
In 1999 she was featured in Time’s 100 and still maintained her iconic status above and beyond Grace Kelly, Sophia Loren, Audrey Hepburn, and Madonna.
August 5, 1962: At the youthful age of 36 and after making 30 films she was found early in the morning in her residence nude and lying in her bed, dead. Her passing is still a mystery, with voids of time missing after her passing including facts that don’t add up and no glass found insight for her to supposedly aid her in taking all the sleeping pills that took her life in the middle of the night.
Due to the fact that her body could not be released to either her mother and brother who were institutionalized she was released to her ex-husband, Joe DiMaggio, who had spoken to Monroe several days before her death asking and getting her agreement to marry her, however, things didn’t turn out as expected.
On August 8, 1962 she was finally laid to rest in Corridor of Memories crypt, #24, in Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles, California and was attended by a small gathering with the eulogy delivered by Lee Strasberg. Several thousand were not allowed access and lined the streets during the funeral.
In her will she left $5,000 per year for the care of her mother Gladys Baker, $2,500 per year for the care, maintenance and support of the wife of her mentor, Mikhail Chekhov, who taught his acting method to her and others such as Gregory Peck, Ingrid Bergman, Anthony Quinn, and Clint Eastwood, $40,000 to her secretary and assistant, May Reis, 25% of her remaining estate to Dr. Marianne Kris for psychiatric institutions, and the remainder, approximately 75% of her estate, to her acting coach Lee Strasberg at the Actors' Studio who trained actors like Marlon Brando
’s mentor Stella Adler, Rod Steiger, Eli Wallach, Henry Fonda
, Patricia Neal, Dustin Hoffman and Robert DeNiro.
Joe DiMaggio never married again and visited Monroe's crypt once a month for 20 years delivering her flowers. Seventeen years later after last visiting Monroe's crypt and a bout of lung cancer he died with his last words being “I'll finally get to see Marilyn.”
Hugh Hefner, the founder and owner of playboy who’s first magazine featured none other than Marilyn Monroe, purchased the crypt next to hers for himself.
In her last movie, which went unfinished in 1962 co-starring Dean Martin, was finally remade some 41 years later and renamed Something's Gotta Give starring Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton
There have been and currently hundreds of biographies, books, prints, movies, images and products that are continued to be sold about and of Monroe.
In 2006, Monroe’s estate earned $8 million from licensing fees. Other income to the families and heirs of famous dead celebrities include Kurt Cobain ($50 million), Elvis Presley ($42 million), Charles M. Schulz ($35 million), John Lennon ($24 million), Albert Einstein
($20 million), Andy Warhol ($19 million), Theodor Giesel ($10 million), Ray Charles ($10 Million), and Johnny Cash ($8 million).