The following biography
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Marilyn Monroe ( /mɒnˈroʊ/
born Norma Jeane Mortenson but baptized and raised
as Norma Jeane Baker; June 1, 1926 – August 5,
1962) was an American actress, singer, model and
showgirl who became a major sex symbol, starring in
a number of commercially successful motion pictures
during the 1950s.
spending much of her childhood in foster homes,
Monroe began a career as a model, which led to a
film contract in 1946. Her early film appearances
were minor, but her performances in The Asphalt
Jungle and All About Eve (both 1950) drew attention
to her—by now her hair was dyed blonde. By 1953,
Monroe had progressed to a leading role in Niagara
(1953), a melodramatic film noir that dwelled on her
seductiveness. Her "dumb blonde" persona was used to
comic effect in subsequent films such as Gentlemen
Prefer Blondes (1953), How to Marry a Millionaire
(1953) and The Seven Year Itch (1955). Limited by
typecasting, Monroe studied at the Actors Studio to
broaden her range. Her dramatic performance in Bus
Stop (1956) was hailed by critics, and she received
a Golden Globe nomination. Her production company,
Marilyn Monroe Productions, released The Prince and
the Showgirl (1957), for which she received a BAFTA
Award nomination and won a David di Donatello award.
She received a Golden Globe Award for her
performance in Some Like It Hot (1959). Monroe's
final completed film was The Misfits, co-starring
Clark Gable with the screenplay written by her
then-husband, Arthur Miller.
final years of Monroe's life were marked by illness,
personal problems, and a reputation for being
unreliable and difficult to work with. The
circumstances of her death, from an overdose of
barbiturates, have been the subject of conjecture.
Though officially classified as a "probable
suicide", the possibility of an accidental overdose,
as well as the possibility of homicide, have not
been ruled out. In 1999, Monroe was ranked as the
sixth greatest female star of all time by the
American Film Institute. In the years and decades
following her death, Monroe has often been cited as
both a pop and a cultural icon as well as the
quintessential American female sex symbol.
Norma Jeane Mortenson
August 5, 1962(1962-08-05) (aged 36)
Brentwood, Los Angeles
of death Barbiturate overdose
place Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery,
Westwood, Los Angeles
names Norma Jeane Baker
Occupation Actress, model, film producer, singer,
Religion Christian (1926–1956),
James Dougherty (m. 1942–1946) «start: (1942)–end+1:
(1947)»"Marriage: James Dougherty to Marilyn Monroe"
DiMaggio (m. 1954–1954) «start: (1954)–end+1:
(1955)»"Marriage: Joe DiMaggio to Marilyn Monroe"
Miller (m. 1956–1961) «start: (1956)–end+1:
(1962)»"Marriage: Arthur Miller to Marilyn Monroe"
Family and early life
Monroe was born on June 1, 1926 in the Los Angeles
County Hospital as Norma Jeane Mortenson (soon
after changed to Baker), the third child born to
Gladys Pearl Baker (née Monroe) (May 27, 1902 –
March 11, 1984). Monroe's birth certificate names
the father as Martin Edward Mortensen with his
residence stated as "unknown". The name Mortenson
is listed as her surname on the birth certificate,
although Gladys immediately had it changed to Baker,
the surname of her first husband and which she still
used. Martin's surname was misspelled on the birth
certificate leading to more confusion on who her
actual father was. Gladys Baker had married a Martin
E. Mortensen in 1924, but they had separated before
Gladys' pregnancy. Several of Monroe's
biographers suggest that Gladys Baker used his name
to avoid the stigma of illegitimacy. Mortensen
died at the age of 85, and Monroe's birth
certificate, together with her parents' marriage and
divorce documents, were discovered. The documents
showed that Mortensen filed for divorce from Gladys
on March 5, 1927, and it was finalized on October
15, 1928. Throughout her life, Marilyn
Monroe denied that Mortensen was her father. She
said that, when she was a child, she had been shown
a photograph of a man that Gladys identified as her
father, Charles Stanley Gifford. She remembered that
he had a thin mustache and somewhat resembled Clark
Gable, and that she had amused herself by pretending
that Gable was her father.
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Gladys was mentally
unstable and financially unable to care for the
young Norma Jeane, so she placed her with foster
parents Albert and Ida Bolender of Hawthorne,
California, where she lived until she was seven. One
day, Gladys visited and demanded that the Bolenders
return Norma Jeane to her. Ida refused, she knew
Gladys was unstable and the situation would not
benefit her young daughter. Gladys pulled Ida into
the yard, then quickly ran back to the house and
locked herself in. Several minutes later, she walked
out with one of Albert Bolender's military duffel
bags. To Ida's horror, Gladys had stuffed a
screaming Norma Jeane into the bag, zipped it up,
and was carrying it right out with her. Ida charged
toward her, and their struggle split the bag apart,
dumping out Norma Jeane, who wept loudly as Ida
grabbed her and pulled her back inside the house,
away from Gladys. In 1933, Gladys bought a house
and brought Norma Jeane to live with her. A few
months later, Gladys began a series of mental
episodes that would plague her for the rest of her
life. In My Story, Monroe recalls her mother
"screaming and laughing" as she was forcibly removed
to the State Hospital in Norwalk.
Jeane was declared a ward of the state. Gladys' best
friend, Grace McKee, became her guardian. It was
Grace who told Monroe that someday she would become
a movie star. Grace was captivated by Jean Harlow,
and would let Norma Jeane wear makeup and take her
out to get her hair curled. They would go to the
movies together, forming the basis for Norma Jeane's
fascination with the cinema and the stars on screen.
When she was 9, McKee married Ervin Silliman "Doc"
Goddard in 1935, and subsequently sent Monroe to the
Los Angeles Orphans Home (later renamed Hollygrove),
followed by a succession of foster homes. While
at Hollygrove, several families were interested in
adopting her; however, reluctance on Gladys' part to
sign adoption papers thwarted those attempts. In
1937, Monroe moved back into Grace and Doc Goddard's
house, joining Doc's daughter from a previous
marriage. Due to Doc's frequent attempts to sexually
assault Norma Jeane, this arrangement did not last
sent Monroe to live with her great-aunt, Olive
Brunings in Compton, California; this was also a
brief stint ended by an assault (some reports say it
was sexual)--one of Olive's sons had attacked the
now middle-school-aged girl. Biographers and
psychologists have questioned whether at least some
of Norma Jeane's later behavior (i.e. hypersexuality,
sleep disturbances, substance abuse, disturbed
interpersonal relationships), was a manifestation of
the effects of childhood sexual abuse in the context
of her already problematic relationships with her
psychiatrically ill mother and subsequent
caregivers. In early 1938, Grace sent her to
live with yet another one of her aunts, Ana Lower,
who lived in Van Nuys, another city in Los Angeles
County. Years later, she would reflect fondly about
the time that she spent with Lower, whom she
affectionately called "Aunt Ana." She would explain
that it was one of the only times in her life when
she felt truly stable. As she aged, however, Lower
developed serious health problems.
1942, Monroe moved back to Grace and Doc Goddard's
house. While attending Van Nuys High School, she met
a neighbor's son, James Dougherty (more commonly
referred to as simply "Jim"), and began a
relationship with him. Several months
later, Grace and Doc Goddard decided to relocate to
Virginia, where Doc had received a lucrative job
offer. Although it was never explained why, they
decided not to take Monroe with them. An offer from
a neighborhood family to adopt her was proposed, but
Gladys rejected the offer. With few options left,
Grace approached Dougherty's mother and suggested
that Jim marry her so that she would not have to
return to an orphanage or foster care, as she was
two years below the California legal age. Jim was
initially reluctant, but he finally relented and
married her in a ceremony arranged by Ana Lower.
During this period, Monroe briefly supported her
family as a homemaker. In 1943, during World
War II, Dougherty enlisted in the Merchant Marine.
He was initially stationed on Santa Catalina Island
off California's west coast, and Monroe lived with
him there in the town of Avalon for several months
before he was shipped out to the Pacific. Frightened
that he might not come back alive, Monroe begged him
to try and get her pregnant before he left.
Dougherty disagreed, feeling that she was too young
to have a baby, but he promised that they would
revisit the subject when he returned home.
Subsequently, Monroe moved in with Dougherty's
Early work: 1945–47
Dougherty served in the Merchant Marine, Monroe
began working in the Radioplane Munitions Factory,
mainly spraying airplane parts with fire retardant
and inspecting parachutes. During that time, David
Conover of the US Army's 1st Motion Picture Unit
noticed her and snapped a series of photographs,
none of which appeared in Yank magazine,
although some still claim this to be the case. He
encouraged her to apply to The Blue Book Modeling
Agency. She signed with the agency and began
researching the work of Jean Harlow and Lana Turner.
She was told that they were looking for models with
lighter hair, so Norma Jeane bleached her brunette
hair to a golden blonde.
became one of Blue Book's most successful models;
she appeared on dozens of magazine covers. Her
successful modeling career brought her to the
attention of Ben Lyon, a 20th Century Fox executive,
who arranged a screen test for her. Lyon was
impressed and commented, "It's Jean Harlow all over
again." She was offered a standard six-month
contract with a starting salary of $125 per week.
Lyon did not like the name Norma Jeane and chose
"Carole Lind" as a stagename, after Carole Lombard
and Jenny Lind, but he soon decided it was not an
appropriate choice. Monroe was invited to spend the
weekend with Lyon and his wife Bebe Daniels at their
home. It was there that they decided to find her a
new name. Following her idol Jean Harlow, she
decided to choose her mother's maiden name of
Monroe. Several variations such as Norma Jeane
Monroe and Norma Monroe were tried and initially
"Jeane Monroe" was chosen. Eventually, Lyon decided
Jeane and variants were too common, and he decided
on a more alliterative sounding name. He suggested
"Marilyn", commenting that she reminded him of
Marilyn Miller. Monroe was initially hesitant
because Marilyn was the contraction of the name Mary
Lynn, a name she did not like.
Lyon, however, felt that the name "Marilyn Monroe"
was sexy, had a "nice flow", and would be "lucky"
due to the double "M" and thus Norma Jeane Baker
took the name Marilyn Monroe.
Monroe's first movie role was an uncredited role as
a telephone operator in The Shocking Miss Pilgrim in
1947. She won a brief role that same year in
Dangerous Years and extra appearances in Green Grass
of Wyoming and You Were Meant for Me. She also won a
three scene role as Betty in Scudda Hoo! Scudda
Hay!, but before the film's release her part was
said by the Twentieth Century-Fox publicity
department to have been cut down to a brief one-line
scene. Green Grass of Wyoming, You Were Meant
For Me, and Scudda Hoo! Scudda Hay!, wouldn't be
released until 1948, which was months after Monroe's
contract had ended in late 1947. She attempted to
find opportunities for film work, and while
unemployed, she posed for nude photographs. She was
paid $50 and signed the model release form as "Mona
Monroe". It would be the only time she would get
paid for the nude photos. That year, she was also
crowned the first "Miss California Artichoke Queen"
at the annual artichoke festival in Castroville.
1948, Monroe signed a six-month contract with
Columbia Pictures and was introduced to the studio's
head drama coach Natasha Lytess, who became her
acting coach for several years. She starred in
the low-budget musical Ladies of the Chorus (1948).
Monroe was capitalized as one of the film's bright
spots, but the movie didn't bring any success for
Monroe nor Columbia. During her short stint at
Columbia, studio head Harry Cohn softened her
appearance somewhat by correcting a slight overbite
a small role in the Marx Brothers film Love Happy
(1949). Monroe impressed the producers, who sent her
to New York to feature in the film's promotional
campaign. Love Happy brought Monroe to the
attention of the talent agent, Johnny Hyde, who
agreed to represent her. He arranged for her to
audition for John Huston, who cast her in the drama
The Asphalt Jungle as the young mistress of an aging
criminal. Her performance brought strong
reviews, and was seen by the writer and
director, Joseph Mankiewicz. He accepted Hyde's
suggestion to cast Monroe in a small comedic role in
All About Eve as Miss Caswell, an aspiring actress,
described by another character as a student of "The
Copacabana School of Dramatic Art". Mankiewicz later
commented that he had seen an innocence in her that
he found appealing, and that this had confirmed his
belief in her suitability for the role.
Following Monroe's success in these roles, Hyde
negotiated a seven-year contract for her with 20th
Century Fox, shortly before his death in December
1950. It was at some time during this 1949–50
period that Hyde arranged for her to have a slight
bump of cartilage removed from her somewhat bulbous
nose which further softened her appearance and
accounts for the slight variation in look she had in
films after 1950.
1951, Monroe enrolled at University of California,
Los Angeles, where she studied literature and art
appreciation, and appeared in several minor
films playing opposite such long-established
performers as Mickey Rooney, Constance Bennett, June
Allyson, Dick Powell and Claudette Colbert. In
March 1951, she appeared as a presenter at the 23rd
Academy Awards ceremony. In 1952, Monroe
appeared on the cover of Look magazine wearing a
Georgia Tech sweater as part of an article
celebrating female enrollment to the school's main
campus. In the early 1950s, Monroe unsuccessfully
auditioned for the role of Daisy Mae in a proposed
Li'l Abner television series based on the Al Capp
comic strip, but the effort never materialized.
Leading films: 1952–55
March 1952, Monroe faced a possible scandal when one
of her nude photos from a 1949 session with
photographer Tom Kelley was featured in a calendar.
The press speculated about the identity of the
anonymous model and commented that she closely
resembled Monroe. As the studio discussed how to
deal with the problem, Monroe suggested that she
should simply admit that she had posed for the
photograph but emphasize that she had done so only
because she had no money to pay her rent. She
gave an interview in which she discussed the
circumstances that led to her posing for the
photographs, and the resulting publicity elicited a
degree of sympathy for her plight as a struggling
made her first appearance on the cover of Life
magazine in April 1952, where she was described as
"The Talk of Hollywood". Stories of her
childhood and upbringing portrayed her in a
sympathetic light: a cover story for the May 1952
edition of True Experiences magazine showed a
smiling and wholesome Monroe beside a caption that
read, "Do I look happy? I should — for I was a child
nobody wanted. A lonely girl with a dream — who
awakened to find that dream come true. I am Marilyn
Monroe. Read my Cinderella story." It was also
during this time that she began dating baseball
player Joe DiMaggio. A photograph of DiMaggio
visiting Monroe at the 20th Century Fox studio was
printed in newspapers throughout the United States,
and reports of a developing romance between them
generated further interest in Monroe.
films in which Monroe featured were released
beginning in 1952. She had been lent to RKO Studios
to appear in a supporting role in Clash by Night, a
Barbara Stanwyck drama, directed by Fritz Lang.
Released in June 1952, the film was popular with
audiences, with much of its success credited to
curiosity about Monroe, who received generally
favorable reviews from critics.
was followed by two films released in July, the
comedy We're Not Married!, and the drama Don't
Bother to Knock. We're Not Married! featured Monroe
as a beauty pageant contestant. Variety described
the film as "lightweight". Its reviewer commented
that Monroe was featured to full advantage in a
bathing suit, and that some of her scenes suggested
a degree of exploitation. In Don't Bother to
Knock she played the starring role of a
babysitter who threatens to attack the child in her
care. The downbeat melodrama was poorly reviewed,
although Monroe commented that it contained some of
her strongest dramatic acting. Monkey Business,
a successful comedy directed by Howard Hawks
starring Cary Grant and Ginger Rogers, was released
in September and was the first movie in which Monroe
appeared with platinum blonde hair. In O.
Henry's Full House for 20th Century Fox, released in
August 1952, Monroe had a single one-minute scene
with Charles Laughton, yet she received top billing
alongside him and the film's other stars, including
Anne Baxter, Farley Granger, Jean Peters and Richard
F. Zanuck considered that Monroe's film potential
was worth developing and cast her in Niagara, as a
femme fatale scheming to murder her husband, played
by Joseph Cotten. During filming, Monroe's
make-up artist Whitey Snyder noticed her stage
fright (that would ultimately mark her behavior on
film sets throughout her career); the director
assigned him to spend hours gently coaxing and
comforting Monroe as she prepared to film her
scenes. Reviews of the film dwelled on her
sexuality, while noting that her acting was
the critical commentary following the release of the
film focused on Monroe's overtly sexual
performance, and a scene which shows Monroe
(from the back) making a long walk toward Niagara
Falls received frequent note in reviews. After
seeing the film, Constance Bennett reportedly
quipped, "There's a broad with her future behind
her." Whitey Snyder also commented that it was
during preparation for this film, after much
experimentation, that Monroe achieved "the look, and
we used that look for several pictures in a row ...
the look was established." While the film was a
success, and Monroe's performance had positive
reviews, her conduct at promotional events sometimes
drew negative comments. Her appearance at the
Photoplay awards dinner in a skin-tight gold lamé
dress was criticized. Louella Parsons' newspaper
column quoted Joan Crawford discussing Monroe's
"vulgarity" and describing her behavior as
"unbecoming an actress and a lady". Monroe had
previously received criticism for wearing a dress
with a neckline cut almost to her navel when she
acted as Grand Marshall at the Miss America Parade
in September 1952. A photograph from this event
was used on the cover of the first issue of Playboy
in December 1953, with a nude photograph of Monroe,
taken in 1949, inside the magazine.
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next film was Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)
co-starring Jane Russell and directed by Howard
Hawks. Her role as Lorelei Lee, a gold-digging
showgirl, required her to act, sing, and dance. The
two stars became friends, with Russell describing
Monroe as "very shy and very sweet and far more
intelligent than people gave her credit for".
She later recalled that Monroe showed her dedication
by rehearsing her dance routines each evening after
most of the crew had left, but she arrived
habitually late on set for filming. Realizing that
Monroe remained in her dressing room due to stage
fright, and that Hawks was growing impatient with
her tardiness, Russell started escorting her to the
Los Angeles premiere of the film, Monroe and Russell
pressed their hand- and footprints in the cement in
the forecourt of Grauman's Chinese Theatre. Monroe
received positive reviews and the film grossed more
than double its production costs. Her rendition
of "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" became
associated with her. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes also
marked one of the earliest films in which William
Travilla dressed Monroe. Travilla dressed Monroe in
eight of her films including Bus Stop, Don't Bother
to Knock, How to Marry a Millionaire, River of No
Return, There’s No Business Like Show Business,
Monkey Business, and The Seven Year Itch. How to
Marry a Millionaire was a comedy about three models
scheming to attract wealthy husbands. The film
teamed Monroe with Betty Grable and Lauren Bacall,
and was directed by Jean Negulesco. The producer
and scriptwriter, Nunnally Johnson, said that it was
the first film in which audiences "liked Marilyn for
herself [and that] she diagnosed the reason very
shrewdly. She said that it was the only picture
she'd been in, in which she had a measure of
modesty... about her own attractiveness."
Monroe's films of this period established her "dumb
blonde" persona and contributed to her popularity.
In 1953 and 1954, she was listed in the annual
"Quigley Poll of the Top Ten Money Making Stars",
which was compiled from the votes of movie
exhibitors throughout the United States for the
stars that had generated the most revenue in their
theaters over the previous year. "I want to grow
and develop and play serious dramatic parts. My
dramatic coach, Natasha Lytess, tells everybody that
I have a great soul, but so far nobody's interested
in it." Monroe told the New York Times. She saw
a possibility in 20th Century Fox's upcoming film,
The Egyptian, but was rebuffed by Darryl F. Zanuck
who refused to screen test her.
Instead, she was assigned to the western River of No
Return, opposite Robert Mitchum. Director Otto
Preminger resented Monroe's reliance on Natasha
Lytess, who coached Monroe and announced her verdict
at the end of each scene. Eventually Monroe refused
to speak to Preminger, and Mitchum had to
mediate. Of the finished product, she commented,
"I think I deserve a better deal than a grade Z
cowboy movie in which the acting finished second to
the scenery and the CinemaScope process." In
late 1953 Monroe was scheduled to begin filming The
Girl in Pink Tights with Frank Sinatra. When she
failed to appear for work, 20th Century Fox
and Joe DiMaggio were married in San Francisco on
January 14, 1954. They traveled to Japan soon after,
combining a honeymoon with a business trip
previously arranged by DiMaggio. For two weeks she
took a secondary role to DiMaggio as he conducted
his business, having told a reporter, "Marriage is
my main career from now on." Monroe then
traveled alone to Korea where she performed for
13,000 American Marines over a three-day period. She
later commented that the experience had helped her
overcome a fear of performing in front of large
crowds. Edward H. Comins (1932–2011) of Las
Vegas, Nevada, the winner of a Bronze Star medal in
the Korean War, reported having cooked for Monroe
during one of her engagements abroad.
Returning to Hollywood in March 1954, Monroe settled
her disagreement with 20th Century Fox and appeared
in the musical There's No Business Like Show
Business. The film failed to recover its production
costs and was poorly received. Ed Sullivan
described Monroe's performance of the song "Heat
Wave" as "one of the most flagrant violations of
good taste" he had witnessed. Time magazine
compared her unfavorably to co-star Ethel Merman,
while Bosley Crowther for The New York Times said
that Mitzi Gaynor had surpassed Monroe's
"embarrassing to behold" performance. The
reviews echoed Monroe's opinion of the film. She had
made it reluctantly, on the assurance that she would
be given the starring role in the film adaptation of
the Broadway hit The Seven Year Itch.
Monroe's most notable film roles was shot in
September 1954, a skirt-blowing key scene for The
Seven Year Itch on Lexington Avenue at 53rd Street
in New York City. In it, she stands with her
co-star, Tom Ewell, while the air from a subway
grating blows her skirt up. A large crowd watched as
director Billy Wilder ordered the scene to be
refilmed many times. Joe DiMaggio was reported to
have been present and infuriated by the
spectacle. After a quarrel, witnessed by
journalist Walter Winchell, the couple returned to
California where they avoided the press for two
weeks, until Monroe announced that they had
separated. Their divorce was granted in November
1954. The filming was completed in early 1955,
and after refusing what she considered to be
inferior parts in The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing
and How to Be Very, Very Popular, Monroe decided to
leave Hollywood on the advice of Milton Greene. The
role of Curly Flagg in How to Be Very, Very Popular
went to Sheree North, and Girl in the Red Velvet
Swing went to Joan Collins. The Seven Year Itch was
released and became a success, earning an estimated
$8 million. Monroe received positive reviews for
her performance and was in a strong position to
negotiate with 20th Century Fox. On New Year's
Eve 1955, they signed a new contract which required
Monroe to make four films over a seven-year period.
The newly formed Marilyn Monroe Productions would be
paid $100,000 plus a share of profits for each film.
In addition to being able to work for other studios,
Monroe had the right to reject any script, director
or cinematographer she did not approve of.
Greene had first met Monroe in 1953 when he was
assigned to photograph her for Look magazine. While
many photographers tried to emphasize her sexy
image, Greene presented her in more modest poses,
and she was pleased with his work. As a friendship
developed between them, she confided to him her
frustration with her 20th Century Fox contract and
the roles she was offered. Her salary for Gentlemen
Prefer Blondes amounted to $18,000, while freelancer
Jane Russell was paid more than $100,000. Greene
agreed that she could earn more by breaking away
from 20th Century Fox. He gave up his job in 1954,
mortgaged his home to finance Monroe, and allowed
her to live with his family as they determined the
future course of her career.
April 8, 1955, veteran journalist Edward R. Murrow
interviewed Greene and his wife Amy, as well as
Monroe, at the Greenes' home in Connecticut on a
live telecast of the CBS program Person to Person.
The kinescope of the telecast has been released on
Capote introduced Monroe to Constance Collier, who
gave her acting lessons. She felt that Monroe was
not suited to stage acting, but possessed a "lovely
talent" that was "so fragile and subtle, it can only
be caught by the camera". After only a few weeks of
lessons, Collier died. Monroe had met Paula
Strasberg and her daughter Susan on the set of
There's No Business Like Show Business, and had
previously said that she would like to study with
Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio. In March 1955,
Monroe met with Cheryl Crawford, one of the founders
of the Actors Studio, and convinced her to introduce
her to Lee Strasberg, who interviewed her the
following day and agreed to accept her as a
1955, Monroe started dating playwright Arthur
Miller; they had met in Hollywood in 1950 and when
Miller discovered she was in New York, he arranged
for a mutual friend to reintroduce them. On June
1, 1955, Monroe's birthday, Joe DiMaggio accompanied
Monroe to the premiere of The Seven Year Itch in New
York City. He later hosted a birthday party for her,
but the evening ended with a public quarrel, and
Monroe left the party without him. A lengthy period
of estrangement followed. Throughout that
year, Monroe studied with the Actors Studio, and
found that one of her biggest obstacles was her
severe stage fright. She was befriended by the
actors Kevin McCarthy and Eli Wallach who each
recalled her as studious and sincere in her approach
to her studies, and noted that she tried to avoid
attention by sitting quietly in the back of the
class. When Strasberg felt Monroe was ready to
give a performance in front of her peers, Monroe and
Maureen Stapleton chose the opening scene from
Eugene O'Neill's Anna Christie, and although she had
faltered during each rehearsal, she was able to
complete the performance without forgetting her
lines. Kim Stanley later recalled that students
were discouraged from applauding, but that Monroe's
performance had resulted in spontaneous applause
from the audience. While Monroe was a student,
Lee Strasberg commented, "I have worked with
hundreds and hundreds of actors and actresses, and
there are only two that stand out way above the
rest. Number one is Marlon Brando, and the second is
first film to be made under the contract and
production company was Bus Stop directed by Joshua
Logan. Logan had studied under Constantin
Stanislavski, approved of method acting, and was
supportive of Monroe. Monroe severed contact
with her drama coach, Natasha Lytess, replacing her
with Paula Strasberg, who became a constant presence
during the filming of Monroe's subsequent films.
Stop, Monroe played Chérie, a saloon singer with
little talent who falls in love with a cowboy,
Beauregard "Bo" Decker, played by Don Murray. Her
costumes, make-up and hair reflected a character who
lacked sophistication, and Monroe provided
deliberately mediocre singing and dancing. 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 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."
Logan championed Monroe for an Academy Award
nomination and complimented her professionalism
until the end of his life. Though not nominated
for an Academy Award, she received a Golden
Stop was followed by The Prince and the Showgirl
directed by Laurence Olivier, who also co-starred.
Prior to filming, Olivier praised Monroe as "a
brilliant comedienne, which to me means she is also
an extremely skilled actress". During filming in
England he resented Monroe's dependence on her drama
coach, Paula Strasberg, regarding Strasberg as a
fraud whose only talent was the ability to "butter
Marilyn up". He recalled his attempts at explaining
a scene to Monroe, only to hear Strasberg interject,
"Honey — just think of Coca-Cola and Frank
Sinatra." Olivier later commented that in the
film "Marilyn was quite wonderful, the best of
all." Monroe's performance was hailed by
critics, especially in Europe, where she won the
David di Donatello, the Italian equivalent of an
Academy Award, as well as the French Crystal Star
Award. She was also nominated for a BAFTA. It was
more than a year before Monroe began her next film.
During her hiatus, she summered with Miller in
Amagansett, New York. She suffered a miscarriage on
August 1, 1957.
Last films: 1958–62
Miller's encouragement she returned to Hollywood in
August 1958 to star in Some Like It Hot. The film
was directed by Billy Wilder and co-starred Jack
Lemmon and Tony Curtis. Wilder had experienced
Monroe's tardiness, stage fright, and inability to
remember lines during production of The Seven Year
Itch. However her behavior was now more hostile, and
was marked by refusals to participate in filming and
occasional outbursts of profanity. Monroe
consistently refused to take direction from Wilder,
or insisted on numerous retakes of simple scenes
until she was satisfied. She developed a
rapport with Lemmon, but she disliked Curtis after
hearing that he had described their love scenes as
"like kissing Hitler". Curtis later stated that
the comment was intended as a joke. During
filming, Monroe discovered that she was pregnant.
She suffered another miscarriage in December 1958,
as filming was completed.
Like it Hot became a resounding success, and was
nominated for six Academy Awards. Monroe was
acclaimed for her performance and won the Golden
Globe Award for Best Actress - Motion Picture
Musical or Comedy. Wilder commented that the film
was the biggest success he had ever been associated
with. He discussed the problems he encountered
during filming, saying "Marilyn was so difficult
because she was totally unpredictable. I never knew
what kind of day we were going to have... would she
be cooperative or obstructive?" He had little
patience with her method-acting technique and said
that instead of going to the Actors Studio "she
should have gone to a train-engineer's school ... to
learn something about arriving on schedule."
Wilder had become ill during filming, and explained,
"We were in mid-flight – and there was a nut on the
plane." In hindsight, he discussed Monroe's
"certain indefinable magic" and "absolute genius as
a comic actress."
time, Monroe had only completed one film, Bus Stop,
under her four-picture contract with 20th Century
Fox. She agreed to appear in Let's Make Love, which
was to be directed by George Cukor, but she was not
satisfied with the script, and Arthur Miller rewrote
it. Gregory Peck was originally cast in the
male lead role, but he refused the role after
Miller's rewrite; Cary Grant, Charlton Heston, Yul
Brynner and Rock Hudson also refused the role before
it was offered to Yves Montand. Monroe and
Miller befriended Montand and his wife, actress
Simone Signoret, and filming progressed well until
Miller was required to travel to Europe on business.
Monroe began to leave the film set early and on
several occasions failed to attend, but her attitude
improved after Montand confronted her. Signoret
returned to Europe to make a film, and Monroe and
Montand began a brief affair that ended when Montand
refused to leave Signoret. The film was not a
critical or commercial success.
Monroe's health deteriorated during this period, and
she began to see a Los Angeles psychiatrist, Dr.
Ralph Greenson. He later recalled that during this
time she frequently complained of insomnia, and told
Greenson that she visited several medical doctors to
obtain what Greenson considered an excessive variety
of drugs. He concluded that she was progressing to
the point of addiction, but also noted that she
could give up the drugs for extended periods without
suffering any withdrawal symptoms. According to
Greenson, the marriage between Miller and Monroe was
strained; he said that Miller appeared to genuinely
care for Monroe and was willing to help her, but
that Monroe rebuffed while also expressing
resentment towards him for not doing more to help
her. Greenson stated that his main objective at
the time was to enforce a drastic reduction in
Monroe's drug intake.
1956, Arthur Miller had briefly resided in Nevada
and wrote a short story about some of the local
people he had become acquainted with, a divorced
woman and some aging cowboys. By 1960 he had
developed the short story into a screenplay, and
envisaged it as containing a suitable role for
Monroe. It became her last completed film. The
Misfits, directed by John Huston and starring Clark
Gable, Montgomery Clift, Eli Wallach and Thelma
Ritter. Shooting commenced in July 1960, with most
taking place in the hot Northern Nevada desert.
Monroe was frequently ill and unable to perform, and
away from the influence of Dr. Greenson, she had
resumed her consumption of sleeping pills and
alcohol. A visitor to the set, Susan Strasberg,
later described Monroe as "mortally injured in some
way," and in August, Monroe was rushed to Los
Angeles where she was hospitalized for ten days.
Newspapers reported that she had been near death,
although the nature of her illness was not
disclosed. Louella Parsons wrote in her
newspaper column that Monroe was "a very sick girl,
much sicker than at first believed", and disclosed
that she was being treated by a psychiatrist.
Monroe returned to Nevada and completed the film,
but she became hostile towards Arthur Miller, and
public arguments were reported by the press.
Making the film had proved to be an arduous
experience for the actors; in addition to Monroe's
distress, Montgomery Clift had frequently been
unable to perform due to illness, and by the final
day of shooting, Thelma Ritter was in hospital
suffering from exhaustion. Gable, commenting that he
felt unwell, left the set without attending the wrap
party. Monroe and Miller returned to New York
on separate flights.
ten days Monroe had announced her separation from
Miller, and Gable had died from a heart attack.
Gable's widow, Kay, commented to Louella Parsons
that it had been the "eternal waiting" on the set of
The Misfits that had contributed to his death,
though she did not name Monroe. When reporters asked
Monroe if she felt guilty about Gable's death, she
refused to answer, but the journalist Sidney
Skolsky recalled that privately she expressed regret
for her poor treatment of Gable during filming and
described her as being in "a dark pit of
despair". Monroe later attended the christening
of the Gables' son, at the invitation of Kay
Gable. The Misfits received mixed reviews, and
was not a commercial success, though some praised
the performances of Monroe and Gable. Despite
on-set difficulties, Gable, Monroe, and Clift
delivered performances that modern movie critics
consider superb. Many critics regard Gable's
performance to be his finest, and Gable, after
seeing the rough cuts, agreed. Monroe received
the 1961 Golden Globe Award as "World Film Favorite"
in March, 1962, five months before her death.
Directors Guild of America nominated Huston as best
director. The film is now regarded as a classic.
Huston later commented that Monroe's performance was
not acting in the true sense, and that she had drawn
from her own experiences to show herself, rather
than a character. "She had no techniques. It was all
the truth. It was only Marilyn."
the following months, Monroe's dependence on alcohol
and prescription medications began to take a toll on
her health, and friends such as Susan Strasberg
later spoke of her illness. Her divorce from
Arthur Miller was finalized in January 1961, with
Monroe citing "incompatibility of character",
and in February she voluntarily entered the Payne
Whitney Psychiatric Clinic. Monroe later described
the experience as a "nightmare". She was able
to phone Joe DiMaggio from the clinic, and he
immediately traveled from Florida to New York to
facilitate her transfer to the Columbia Presbyterian
Medical Center. She remained there for three weeks.
Illness prevented her from working for the remainder
of the year; she underwent surgery to correct a
blockage in her Fallopian tubes in May, and the
following month underwent gallbladder surgery.
She returned to California and lived in a rented
apartment as she convalesced.
1962, Monroe began filming Something's Got to Give,
which was to be the third film of her four-film
contract with 20th Century Fox. It was to be
directed by George Cukor, and co-starred Dean Martin
and Cyd Charisse. She was ill with a virus as
filming commenced, and suffered from high
temperatures and recurrent sinusitis. On one
occasion she refused to perform with Martin as he
had a cold, and the producer Henry Weinstein
recalled seeing her on several occasions being
physically ill as she prepared to film her scenes,
and attributed it to her dread of performing. He
commented, "Very few people experience terror. We
all experience anxiety, unhappiness, heartbreaks,
but that was sheer primal terror."
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19, 1962, she attended the early birthday
celebration of President John F. Kennedy at Madison
Square Garden, at the suggestion of Kennedy's
brother-in-law, actor Peter Lawford. Monroe
performed "Happy Birthday" along with a specially
written verse based on Bob Hope's "Thanks for the
Memory". Kennedy responded to her performance with
the remark, "Thank you. I can now retire from
politics after having had 'Happy Birthday' sung to
me in such a sweet, wholesome way." (also see
entry Happy Birthday, Mr. President)
returned to the set of Something's Got to Give and
filmed a sequence in which she appeared nude in a
swimming pool. Commenting that she wanted to "push
Liz Taylor off the magazine covers", she gave
permission for several partially nude photographs to
be published by Life. Having only reported for work
on twelve occasions out of a total of 35 days of
production, Monroe was dismissed. The studio
20th Century Fox filed a lawsuit against her for
half a million dollars, and the studio's vice
president, Peter Levathes, issued a statement saying
"The star system has gotten way out of hand. We've
let the inmates run the asylum, and they've
practically destroyed it." Monroe was replaced
by Lee Remick, and when Dean Martin refused to work
with any other actress, he was also threatened with
a lawsuit. Following her dismissal, Monroe
engaged in several high-profile publicity ventures.
She gave an interview to Cosmopolitan and was
photographed at Peter Lawford's beach house sipping
champagne and walking on the beach. She next
posed for Bert Stern for Vogue in a series of
photographs that included several nudes.
Published after her death, they became known as 'The
Last Sitting'. Richard Meryman interviewed her for
Life, in which Monroe reflected upon her
relationship with her fans and her uncertainties in
identifying herself as a "star" and a "sex symbol".
She referred to the events surrounding Arthur
Miller's appearance before the House Un-American
Activities Committee in 1956, and her studio's
warning that she would be "finished" if she showed
public support for him, and commented, "You have to
start all over again. But I believe you're always as
good as your potential. I now live in my work and in
a few relationships with the few people I can really
count on. Fame will go by, and, so long, I've had
you fame. If it goes by, I've always known it was
fickle. So at least it's something I experienced,
but that's not where I live."
final weeks of her life, Monroe engaged in
discussions about future film projects, and firm
arrangements were made to continue negotiations on
Something's Got to Give. Among the projects was
a biography of Jean Harlow filmed two years later
unsuccessfully with Carroll Baker. Starring roles in
Billy Wilder's Irma la Douce and What a Way to
Go! were also discussed; Shirley MacLaine eventually
played the roles in both films. Kim Novak replaced
her in Kiss Me, Stupid, a comedy in which she was to
star opposite Dean Martin. A film version of the
Broadway musical, A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, and an
unnamed World War I–themed musical co-starring Gene
Kelly were also discussed, but the projects never
materialized due to her death. Her dispute with
20th Century Fox was resolved, and her contract
renewed into a $1 million two-picture deal, and
filming of Something's Got to Give was scheduled to
resume in early fall 1962. Marilyn, having fired her
own agent and MCA in 1961 managed her own
negoiations as President of Marilyn Monroe
Productions. Also on the table was an Italian four
film deal worth 10 million giving her script,
director, and co-star approval. Allan "Whitey"
Snyder who saw her during the last week of her life,
said Monroe was pleased by the opportunities
available to her, and that she "never looked better
[and] was in great spirits".
Death and aftermath
August 5, 1962, LAPD police sergeant Jack Clemmons
received a call at 4:25 am from Dr. Ralph Greenson,
Monroe's psychiatrist, proclaiming that Monroe was
found dead at her home in Brentwood, Los Angeles,
California. She was 36 years old. At the
subsequent autopsy, eight milligram per cent of
Chloral hydrate and 4.5 milligram percent of
Nembutal were found in her system, and Dr.
Thomas Noguchi of the Los Angeles County Coroners
office recorded cause of death as "acute barbiturate
poisoning," resulting from a "probable
suicide." Many theories, including murder,
circulated about the circumstances of her death and
the timeline after the body was found. Some
conspiracy theories involved John and Robert
Kennedy, while other theories suggested CIA or Mafia
complicity. It was reported that the last person
Monroe called was the President.
August 8, 1962, Monroe was interred in a crypt at
Corridor of Memories #24, at the Westwood Village
Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles. Lee Strasberg
delivered the eulogy. Joe DiMaggio took control of
the funeral arrangements which consisted of only 31
close family and friends. Police were also present
to keep the press away. Her casket was solid
bronze and was lined with champagne colored
silk. Allan “Whitey” Snyder did her make-up
which was supposedly a promise made in earlier years
if she were to die before him. She was wearing
her favorite green Emilio Pucci dress. In her
hands was a small bouquet of pink teacup roses.
For the next 20 years, red roses were placed in a
vase attached to the crypt, courtesy of
August 2009, the crypt space directly above that of
Monroe was placed for auction on eBay. Elsie
Poncher plans to exhume her husband and move him to
an adjacent plot. She advertised the crypt, hoping
"to make enough money to pay off the $1.6 million
mortgage" on her Beverly Hills mansion. The
winning bid was placed by an anonymous Japanese man
for $4.6 million, but the winning bidder later
backed out "because of the paying problem". In 1992,
Playboy magazine founder Hugh Hefner, who never met
Monroe, bought the crypt immediately to the left of
hers at the Westwood Village Memorial Park
Cemetery. He affirmed that the initial success
of his magazine directly correlated with
will, Monroe stated she would leave Lee Strasberg
her personal effects, which amounted to just over
half of her residuary estate, expressing her desire
that he "distribute [the effects] among my friends,
colleagues and those to whom I am devoted".
Instead, Strasberg stored them in a warehouse, and
willed them to his widow, Anna, who successfully
sued Los Angeles-based Odyssey Auctions in 1994 to
prevent the sale of items consigned by the nephew of
Monroe's business manager, Inez Melson. In October
1999, Christie's auctioned the bulk of Monroe's
effects, including those recovered from Melson's
nephew, netting an amount of $13,405,785.
Subsequently, Strasberg sued 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 and where her will was probated,
or New York, which she considered her primary
residence, was worth millions.
4, 2007, a New York judge ruled that Monroe's rights
of publicity ended at her death. In
October 2007, California Governor Arnold
Schwarzenegger signed Senate Bill 771. The
legislation, supported by Anna Strasberg and the
Screen Actors Guild, established that non-family
members may inherit rights of publicity through the
residuary clause of the deceased's will, provided
that the person was a resident of California at the
time of death. In March 2008, the United
States District Court in Los Angeles ruled that
Monroe was a resident of New York at the time of her
death, citing the statement of the executor of her
estate to California tax authorities, and a 1966
sworn affidavit by her housekeeper. The
decision was reaffirmed by the United States
District Court of New York in September 2008.
2010, Monroe's Brentwood home was put up for sale by
Prudential California Realty. The house was sold for
$3.6 million. Monroe left to Lee Strasberg an
archive of her own writing—diaries, poems, and
letters, which Anna discovered in October 1999. In
October 2010, the documents were published as a
had three marriages, all of which ended in divorce.
The first was to James Dougherty, the second to Joe
DiMaggio, and lastly to Arthur Miller. Allegedly,
she was briefly married to writer Robert "Bob"
Slatzer. She is alleged to have had affairs with
both John and Robert Kennedy. Marlon Brando, in his
autobiography Songs My Mother Taught Me, claimed
that he had had a relationship with her, and
enduring friendship lasting until her death. She
also suffered two miscarriages and an ectopic
pregnancy during her three marriages.
married James Dougherty on June 19, 1942, at the
home of Chester Howell in Los Angeles. As a result
of her modeling career, he began to lose interest in
her and stated that he did not approve of her new
job. Monroe then decided to divorce Dougherty. The
marriage ended when he returned from overseas in
1946. 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.
In 1953, he wrote a piece called "Marilyn Monroe Was
My Wife" for Photoplay, in which he claimed that she
threatened to jump off the Santa Monica Pier if he
left her. She was reported to have been furious and
explained in 1956 interview that she confessed to
having attempted suicide during the marriage and
stated that she felt trapped and bored by Dougherty,
even blaming their marriage on her foster
mother. In her autobiography, explaining the
sudden dissolution of their marriage, Monroe stated,
"My marriage didn't make me sad, but it didn't make
me happy either. My husband and I hardly spoke to
each other. This wasn't because we were angry. We
had nothing to say. I was dying of boredom."
Goddard had plans to publish extra details about the
marriage, citing that he hoped to clear up rumors
about an arranged marriage, but decided against the
publication at the last minute. In the 2004
documentary Marilyn's Man, Dougherty made three new
claims: that he invented the "Marilyn Monroe"
persona; studio executives forced her to divorce
him; and that he was her true love and her
"dedicated friend for life".
eloped with Joe DiMaggio at San Francisco City Hall
on January 14, 1954. In 1951, DiMaggio saw a
photograph of Monroe alongside Chicago White Sox
players Joe Dobson and Gus Zernial, prompting him to
request a date with her in 1952. Of their initial
meeting, Monroe wrote in My Story that she did not
have a desire to know him, as she had feared a
their honeymoon in Japan, she was asked to visit
Korea as part of the USO. She performed ten shows in
four days for over 100,000 servicemen. Maury Allen
quoted New York Yankees PR man Arthur Richman that
Joe told him that the marriage went wrong from then.
On September 14, 1954, Monroe filmed the famed
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 Palm
Springs Desert Sun in 1956 that it was Billy
Wilder's idea to turn the shoot into a media circus,
and that the couple had a "yelling battle" in the
theater lobby. She filed for divorce on grounds
of mental cruelty nine months after the wedding.
February 1961, Monroe was admitted to the Payne
Whitney Psychiatric Clinic. She contacted DiMaggio,
who secured her release. She later joined him in
Florida, where he was serving as a batting coach at
the New York Yankees' training camp. Bob Hope
jokingly dedicated Best Song nominee The Second Time
Around to them at the 1961 Academy Awards. According
to Allen, on August 1, 1962, DiMaggio – alarmed by
how Monroe had fallen in with people he considered
detrimental to her well-being – quit his job with a
PX supplier to ask her to remarry him. After
Monroe's death, DiMaggio claimed her body and
arranged her funeral. For 20 years, he had a
half-dozen red roses delivered to her crypt three
times a week. In 2006, DiMaggio's adopted
granddaughters auctioned the bulk of his estate,
which featured two letters Monroe penned to him and
a photograph signed "I love you, Joe, Marilyn."
29, 1956, Monroe married playwright Arthur Miller,
in a civil ceremony in White Plains, New York.
Monroe met Miller in 1950. During this filming of
Bus Stop, the relationship between Monroe and Miller
had developed, and although the couple were able to
maintain their privacy for almost a year, the press
began to write about them as a couple, often
referred to as "The Egghead and The Hourglass".
In reflecting on his courtship of Monroe, Miller
wrote, "She was a whirling light to me then, all
paradox and enticing mystery, street-tough one
moment, then lifted by a lyrical and poetic
sensitivity that few retain past early
reports of their romance were soon overtaken by news
that Miller had been called to testify before the
House Un-American Activities Committee to explain
his supposed communist affiliations. Called upon to
identify communists he was acquainted with, Miller
refused and was charged with contempt of Congress.
He was acquitted on appeal. During the
investigation, Monroe was urged by film executives
to abandon Miller, rather than risk her career but
she refused, later branding them as "born
press began to discuss an impending marriage, but
Monroe and Miller refused to confirm the rumor. In
June 1956, a reporter was following them by car, and
as they attempted to elude him, the reporter's car
crashed, killing a female passenger. Monroe became
hysterical upon hearing the news, and their
engagement was announced, partly in the expectation
that it would reduce the excessive media interest
they were being subjected to.
Court Judge Seymour D. 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.) Monroe and Miller wed again
two days later in a Jewish ceremony before a small
group of guests. Rabbi Robert E. Goldburg, a Reform
rabbi at Congregation Mishkan Israel, presided over
the ceremony. Their nuptials were celebrated at
the home of Miller's literary agent, Kay Brown, in
Westchester County, New York. Some 30 friends and
relatives attended the hastily arranged party.
Nominally raised as a Christian but before her 1956
conversion (to Judaism), Monroe laughingly
rejected Jane Russell's conversion attempts during
the 1953 filming of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,
saying, "Jane tried to convert me (to religion) and
I tried to introduce her to Freud". She did
convert to Judaism before marrying
than two weeks after the wedding, the Millers flew
to London, where they were greeted at Parkside House
by Laurence Olivier and wife Vivien Leigh. Monroe
created chaos among the normally staid British
press. After she finished shooting The Prince and
the Showgirl with Laurence Olivier, the couple
returned to the United States from England and
discovered she was pregnant. Tony Curtis, her
co-star from Some Like It Hot, claims he got Monroe
pregnant during their on-off affair that was
rekindled during the filming of Some Like It Hot in
1959, while she was still married to Arthur
Miller's screenplay for The Misfits, a story about a
despairing divorcée, was meant to be a Valentine
gift for his wife, but by the time filming started
in 1960 their marriage was beyond repair. A Mexican
divorce was granted on January 24, 1961 in Ciudad
Juarez by Francisco José Gómez Fraire. 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. 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 appeared in
the documentary The Century of the Self, lamenting
the psychological work being done on her before her
19, 1962, Monroe made her last significant public
appearance, singing "Happy Birthday, Mr. President"
at a birthday party for President John F. Kennedy at
Madison Square Garden. The dress that she wore to
the event, specially designed and made for her by
Jean Louis, sold at an auction in 1999 for $1.26
million. Monroe reportedly had an affair with
President John F. Kennedy. JFK's reputed mistress
Judith Exner, in her 1977 autobiography, also wrote
about an affair that she said the president and
Journalist Anthony Summers examines the issue of
Monroe's relationships with the Kennedy brothers at
length in two books: his 1993 biography of FBI
Director J. Edgar Hoover, entitled Official and
Confidential: The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover,
and his 1985 biography of Monroe, entitled Goddess.
In the Hoover book, Summers concludes that Monroe
was in love with President Kennedy and wanted to
marry him in the early 1960s; that she called the
White House frequently; and that, when the married
President had to break off their affair, Monroe
became even more depressed, and then turned to
Robert Kennedy, who visited Monroe in Los Angeles
the day that she died.
Patricia Seaton Lawford, the fourth wife of actor
Peter Lawford, also deals with the Monroe-Kennedy
matters in her 1988 biography of Peter Lawford,
entitled The Peter Lawford Story. Lawford's first
wife was Patricia Kennedy Lawford, a sister of John
and Robert; Lawford was very close to the Kennedy
family for over a decade, including the time of
Monroe's death. In 1997, documents purporting to
prove a coverup of a relationship between JFK and
Monroe were discovered to be fraudulent.
had a long experience with psychoanalysis. She was
in analysis with Margaret Herz Hohenberg, Anna
Freud, Marianne Rie Kris, Ralph S. Greenson (who
found Monroe dead), and Milton Wexler.
Monroe's last interview she pleaded with a reporter
to end the article with the following quote: "What I
really want to say: That what the world really needs
is a real feeling of kinship. Everybody: stars,
laborers, Negroes, Jews, Arabs. We are all brothers.
Please don’t make me a joke. End the interview with
what I believe."
was friends with Ella Fitzgerald and helped Ella in
her career. Ella Fitzgerald later recounted, "I owe
Marilyn Monroe a real debt...it was because of her
that I played the Mocambo, a very popular nightclub
in the ’50s. She personally called the owner of the
club, 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 times. And she didn’t know it."
Political discussions were recounted with Robert
Kennedy as to policy towards Cuba, and President
Kennedy. The latter said to have taken place at a
luncheon with the Peter Lawfords. She was very
pleased, as she had asked the President a lot of
socially significant questions concerning the
morality of atomic testing. Monroe supported
Peace Action, which was created from a merge of
Committee for a SANE Nuclear Policy and the Nuclear
Weapons Freeze Campaign.
in Mexico in 1962, she openly associated with
Americans who were identified by the FBI as
communists, such as Frederick Vanderbilt Field. The
daughter of Monroe's last psychiatrist, Joan
Greenson, said that Monroe was “passionate about
equal rights, rights for blacks, rights for the
poor. She identified strongly with the
has been portrayed by:
Catherine Hicks in Marilyn: The Untold Story (1980)
Griffiths in a fictionalized biopic Marilyn and Me
Anderson in Marilyn & Bobby: Her Final Affair (1993)
Ashley Judd as the younger Marilyn (who constantly
appears as an illusion to the older Marilyn
thorought the film), and by Mira Sorvino as the
older Marilyn in Norma Jean & Marilyn (1996)
Carey in her music video "I Still Believe" (1998)
Niven in The Rat Pack (1998)
Montgomery in Blonde (2001)
Beavon in James Dean (2001) (NOTE: This role was
Monk in The Mystery of Natalie Wood (2004)
Charlotte Sullivan in The Kennedys (2011)
Michelle Williams in My Week with Marilyn (2011)
Watts will portray Monroe in another adaptation of
Joyce Carol Oates' book in a film also called Blonde
(2012). It is unknown if it will premiere on TV or
be released to theaters.
Griffiths is a Marilyn Monroe impersonator who has
portrayed Monroe, or an intentional look-alike, in
several films and television series, including the
1994 film Pulp Fiction (a look-alike waitress),
Quantum Leap, Dark Skies, Curb Your Enthusiasm and
Kennedy impersonated Marilyn Monroe in the italian
movie Io & Marilyn (2009) and in the episode Who
Killed Marilyn Monroe? (2003) of the TV series
title Year Role Co-actors Director Producer Notes
Shocking Miss Pilgrim, TheThe Shocking Miss Pilgrim
1947 Telephone Operator Betty Grable and Dick Haymes
Seaton, GeorgeGeorge Seaton 20th Century Fox
Dangerous Years 1947 Evie Billy Halop and Ann E.
Todd Pierson, ArthurArthur Pierson 20th Century Fox
Grass of Wyoming 1948 Square Dance extra Peggy
Cummins and Charles Coburn King, LouisLouis King
20th Century Fox Uncredited
Were Meant for Me 1948 Lady in Waiting Cary Grant
and Jeanne Crain Bacon, LloydLloyd Bacon 20th
Century Fox Uncredited
Hoo! Scudda Hay! 1948 Betty June Haver and Natalie
Wood Herbert, HughHugh Herbert 20th Century Fox
of the Chorus 1948 Peggy Martin Adele Jergens and
Rand Brooks Karlson, PhilPhil Karlson Columbia
Pictures First major film appearance
Happy 1949 Grunion's Client Harpo Marx, Chico Marx,
and Groucho Marx Miller, DavidDavid Miller United
Ticket to Tomahawk 1950 Clara Dan Dailey, Anne
Baxter, and Rory Calhoun Sale, RichardRichard Sale
20th Century Fox Uncredited
Cross 1950 Dusky Ledoux June Allyson and Dick Powell
Sturges, JohnJohn Sturges Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Fireball, TheThe Fireball 1950 Polly Mickey Rooney
and Pat O'Brien Garnett, TayTay Garnett 20th Century
Fox Aka: The Challenge
Jungle, TheThe Asphalt Jungle 1950 Angela Phinlay
Sterling Hayden, Louis Calhern, and Jean Hagen
Huston, JohnJohn Huston Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
About Eve 1950 Miss Claudia Caswell Bette Davis,
Anne Baxter, and George Sanders Mankiewicz, Joseph
L.Joseph L. Mankiewicz 20th Century Fox
Town Story 1951 Iris Martin Jeffrey Lynn, Alan Hale,
Jr., and Donald Crisp Arthur Pierson
Young as You Feel 1951 Hariett Monty Woolley, Thelma
Ritter, and Jean Peters Harmen Jones 20th Century
Nest 1951 Roberta "Bobbie" Stevens June Haver,
William Lundigan, and Frank Fay Newman, Joseph
M.Joseph M. Newman 20th Century Fox
Make It Legal 1951 Joyce Mannering Claudette
Colbert, Macdonald Carey, and Barbara Bates Sale,
RichardRichard Sale 20th Century Fox
Henry's Full House 1952 Streetwalker Fred Allen,
Anne Baxter, and Richard Widmark Koster, HenryHenry
Koster 20th Century Fox Cameo appearance
Business 1952 Lois Laurel Cary Grant, Ginger Rogers,
and Charles Coburn Hawks, HowardHoward Hawks 20th
by Night 1952 Peggy Barbara Stanwyck, Keith Andes,
and Paul Douglas Lang, FritzFritz Lang RKO Radio
Not Married! 1952 Anabel Norris Ginger Rogers, Fred
Allen, Victor Moore, David Wayne, and Zsa Zsa Gabor
Goulding, EdmundEdmund Goulding 20th Century Fox
Bother to Knock 1952 Nell Forbes Richard Widmark and
Anne Bancroft Baker, Roy WardRoy Ward Baker 20th
Century Fox First starring role
1953 Rose Loomis Joseph Cotten and Jean Peters
Hathaway, HenryHenry Hathaway 20th Century Fox
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes 1953 Lorelei Lee Jane
Russell, Charles Coburn, and Elliot Reid Hawks,
HowardHoward Hawks 20th Century Fox Nominated for
Best Motion Picture Actress in Comedy or Musical
Marry a Millionaire 1953 Pola Debevoise Betty
Grable, Lauren Bacall, and William Powell Negulesco,
JeanJean Negulesco 20th Century Fox
of No Return 1954 Kay Weston Robert Mitchum, Tommy
Rettig, and Rory Calhoun Preminger, OttoOtto
Preminger 20th Century Fox
No Business Like Show Business 1954 Victoria "Vicky"
Hoffman Ethel Merman, Dan Dailey, Donald O'Connor,
and Mitzi Gaynor Lang, WalterWalter Lang 20th
Year Itch, TheThe Seven Year Itch 1955 The Girl Tom
Ewell and Evelyn Keyes Wilder, BillyBilly Wilder
20th Century Fox Contains the famous scene of
Monroe's skirt being blown up by a subway grating.
Stop 1956 Chérie Don Murray and Arthur O'Connell
Logan, JoshuaJoshua Logan 20th Century Fox Aka: The
Wrong Kind of Girl
and the Showgirl, TheThe Prince and the Showgirl
1957 Elsie Marina Laurence Olivier Olivier,
LaurenceLaurence Olivier Warner Brothers The only
film released under Marilyn Monroe Productions.
Like It Hot 1959 Sugar Kane Kowalczyk Tony Curtis
and Jack Lemmon Wilder, BillyBilly Wilder
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Monroe's most successful film.
Known as a comedy film classic.
Make Love 1960 Amanda Dell Yves Montand, Frankie
Vaughan, and Tony Randall Cukor, GeorgeGeorge Cukor
20th Century Fox
Misfits, TheThe Misfits 1961 Roslyn Taber Clark
Gable, Eli Wallach, Montgomery Clift Huston,
JohnJohn Huston United Artists Final film appearance
1963 Herself (archive footage) 20th Century Fox
Year Role Co-stars Director Producer
Something's Got to Give 1962 Ellen Wagstaff Arden
Dean Martin and Cyd Charisse George Cukor 20th
Program Year Notes
Jack Benny Program 1953 1 episode
to Person 1955 Television documentary
Khrushchev in the USA 1959 Television documentary
President Kennedy's Birthday Salute 1962 Television
og krone 1962 Television documentary
Film title Song title
Ladies of the Chorus "Every Baby Needs a
Can See I Love You"
Of The Chorus"
Ticket to Tomahawk "Oh, What a Forward Young Man You
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes "Two Little Girls from
Love Goes Wrong"
"Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend"
French Dances – Sur le balcon, La Tentateur, Sol
taire, Parle d'affair"
The Wild Wild Women Go Swimmin' Down In the Bimini
Recordings for RCA "She Acts Like A Woman Should"
River of No Return "I'm Gonna File My Claim"
In The Meadow"
Of No Return"
There's No Business Like Show Business "Heat Wave"
You Get What You Want"
Chases a Girl"
Bus Stop "That Old Black Magic"
The Prince and the Showgirl "I Found a Dream"
Some Like It Hot "Runnin' Wild"
Wanna Be Loved By You"
Through With Love"
Like It Hot"
Let's Make Love "My Heart Belongs to Daddy"
"Happy Birthday, Mr. President"
Awards and nominations
Henrietta Award: The Best Young Box Office
Photoplay Award: Fastest Rising Star of 1952
Photoplay Award: Special Award
Look American Magazine Achievement Award: Most
Promising Female Newcomer of 1952
Golden Globe Henrietta Award: World Film Favorite
Sweetheart of The Month (Playboy)
Photoplay Award: Most Popular Female Star
Photoplay Award for Best Actress: for Gentlemen
Prefer Blondes and How to Marry a Millionaire
BAFTA Film Award nomination: Best Foreign Actress
for The Seven Year Itch
Golden Globe nomination: Best Motion Picture Actress
in Comedy or Musical for Bus Stop
BAFTA Film Award nomination: Best Foreign Actress
for The Prince and the Showgirl
David di Donatello Award (Italian): Best Foreign
Actress for The Prince and the Showgirl
Crystal Star Award (French): Best Foreign Actress
for The Prince and the Showgirl
Golden Globe, Best Motion Picture Actress in Comedy
or Musical for Some Like It Hot
Golden Globe, World Film Favorite: Female
the Hollywood Walk of Fame 6104 Hollywood Blvd.
she was ranked as the sixth greatest female star of
all time by the American Film Institute in their
list AFI's 100 Years...100 Stars.
Marilyn Monroe Biography
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