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Overcoming a rough childhood, and fighting her way to the top was the only way for Norma Jeane Mortenson, better known as Marilyn Monroe, to succeed. Becoming the world’s biggest and most enduring sex symbol sounds like a fun and easy life, but it is much more than that for Marilyn. Starring in multiple motion-pictures and modeling lead to a life of luxury; or a life of hidden pain. The life of Marilyn Monroe ended at the young age of thirty-six in an overdoes of sleeping pills.
Marilyn Monroe was born June 1, 1926, in Los Angles, California. Marilyn’s birth name was Norma Jeane Mortenson, later baptized as Norma Jeane Baker. During Monroe’s childhood her mother, Glady, had developed psychiatric problems and eventually was placed in a mental institution. One of Marilyn’s earliest memories was of her mother trying to smother her in her crib with a pillow. Marilyn also had a half-sister who she was not close with, and only met a few times. Monroe had no idea who her birth father was, although there were rumors that Clark Gable could be her father. There was no evidence that Glady ever met or even knew Gable. (Marilyn Monroe 1)
Marilyn was in and out of different foster care and orphanages as a child. This was where she spent most of her time growing up. She also bounced from school to school. The Goddards were parents to Marilyn for just a few years. They were paid twenty-five dollars a week by Marilyn’s mom to raise her. After Mr. Goddard was offered a job on the East Coast, that he could not pass up, Marilyn was forced to stay back due to money issues.
Monroe then got married, at the young age of just sixteen, to Jim Dougherty, her boyfriend and neighbor. It was better than being tossed into another family or foster home, and she also saw it as a way out. Dougherty was sent to the South Pacific shortly after they had gotten married. Monroe went to work in California for a little extra money. This is where she was discovered by photographer, David Conover, and received a small modeling job. By the time Dougherty had returned in 1944, Marilyn had successfully made a career as a model. Her new-found fame as a model resulted in a divorce to her husband, and the start of a new life. (Marilyn Monroe 1)
After the divorce was final in 1946, Norma then changed her name to Marilyn Monroe. With hopes of becoming a famous actress she thought Marilyn Monroe was a more fitting name. Along with the new name came a new image, she would no longer have the brown hair she was born with, but a beautiful blonde color. Shortly after Marilyn’s modeling career launched, around 1946, she had signed her first studio contract with 20th Century Fox. (Fox par 5) This was her first big break-out, and it promised twenty-five dollars a week for a year. She was starting to be noticed. Her first movie, Scudda Doo, Scudda Hay never actually made it into theaters.(Kashner 1) Marilyn went back to modeling after her acting career left her jobless. Marilyn did not give up on her dreams though. Eventually, in 1950 Marilyn was offered a small part in The Asphalt Jungle(1950). This assured her more attention, and her acting her and re- launched. She had the fan mail to prove it. (McHenry 1)
Her success began to escalate. Next thing she knew she had another contract with Fox. All About Eve was the film that got her this contract. Soon enough Marilyn Monroe was known world wide. Acting was not the only thing Monroe was doing in films now, she was also singing. In 1951, she starred in Let’s Make It Legal and Love Nest. Marilyn’s career had skyrocketed, she was thee rising star. Just two years later, in 1953, Monroe made a star-making turn in Niagara. This is when Marilyn was starting to be seen as a sex goddess, a sex symbol. (Matthews 1)
Initially when Marilyn had started her acting career she wasn’t considered to be star acting material, but now she was proving her skill by winning various honors, and attracting large audiences to her films. (Marilyn Monroe par 5) Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) started a new type of film for Monroe, it was a hit musical comedy. She was on a comedic movie train, later starring in How to Marry a Millionaire (1954), There’s No Business like Show Business (1954), and The Seven Year Itch (1955). (Marilyn Monroe 1).
Marilyn suffered from pre performance anxiety, which sometimes would physically make her ill, and would also be one of the main causes to Monroe’s legendary tardiness on film sets. Her tardiness would peeve her co-stars and producers. Monroe had become an international star. Her hourglass figure and breathy voice made her much-admired. Monroe’s tardiness started to become a problem when trying to produce films; resulting in her being signed and released from several contracts with film studios. (Marilyn Monroe 2) As Marilyn grew tired of the same typical “dumb blonde” rolls, she moved to New York City to study acting at the Actors‘ Studio. This was something most experienced actors and actresses would not have done. They would not have wanted to listen to someone of less knowledge, but Marilyn wanted to expand her acting horizons. When Monroe starred in her next film, Bus Stop (1956); a dramatic comedy where she played a saloon singer kidnapped by a rancher who has fallen in love with her. Monroe had received mixed reviews about the film, but mostly praise. Shortly after that Monroe had returned to a more familiar state of acting. In Some Like It Hot (1959), a humorous film, she played a singer who had hopes to marry a millionaire. Monroe received “Best Actress in a Comedy” in 1959, at the Golden Globe Awards for her part in Some Like It Hot. (Marilyn Monroe 2). Marilyn’s last completed film would be The Misfits (1961). In 1962, Monroe was excused from the film due to consecutive absences. Monroe had claimed the absences were due to illness, according to an article in The New York Times.
Monroe’s professional and personal life seemed to be in trouble at this time. The last two films Monroe was in, Let’s Make Love (1960 )and The Misfits (1961) turned out to be disappointments at the box office. Marilyn’s personally life was also crumbling, she had a sequence of unsuccessful relationships and marriages. She married Yankees baseball phenomenon, Joe DiMaggio, in January of 1954 and divorced in October of 1954; a short nine month marriage. Two years later she wed to playwright Arthur Miller from 1956 to 1961. Also in 1962 Monroe made her now-famous “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” performance on May 19th. (Marilyn Monroe 3)
At the young of just thirty-six, Monroe was found dead in her Los Angles home on August 5th, 1962. An empty bottle of sleeping pills were found at her bedside. Speculation over the years has resulted in thinking she may have been murdered, but the cause of Marilyn’s death was ruled as a drug overdoes. (Marilyn Monroe 3) Some rumors state that Monroe was involved with President John F. Kennedy and/or his brother Robert around the time of her death, but there is no actually evidence of this.
“Marilyn Monroe was buried in her favorite Emilio Pucci dress, in what was known as a “Cadillac casket”- the most high-end casket available, made of heavy-gauge solid bronze and lined with champagne-colored silk.” (Marilyn Monroe 3) For the next twenty years Joe DiMaggio, Monroe’s ex-husband, had red roses delivered to her crypt, and Hugh Hefner, bought the crypt directly next to Monroe’s. Marilyn had never owned a house until the last year of her life. She had surprisingly few possessions. Albert Einstein had autographed a photo for her with the inscription; “To Marilyn, with respect and love and thanks.” During her career, Marilyn’s films grossed more than two-hundred million dollars which was more that any other entertainer of her time. Even today she is considered to be one of the world’s most popular icons of sex appeal and beauty. On one occasion she was asked what she thought of Hollywood she replied, “If I close my eyes and think of Hollywood, all I see is one big varicose vein.” Monroe is also remembered for her romantic relationships with Marlon Brando, Frank Sinatra, Yves Montand, director Elia Kazan, and rumors of romantic relations with John F. Kennedy, in addition to her three marriages.
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