(June 1, 1926 – August 5, 1962), born Norma Jeane Mortenson, but baptized Norma Jeane Baker, was an American actress, singer and model. After 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) were well received. By 1953, Monroe had progressed to leading roles. Her "dumb blonde" persona was used to comedic effect in such films 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, and 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).
The 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 a pop and cultural icon.
Family and early lifeMonroe was born in the Los Angeles County Hospital on June 1, 1926, as Norma Jeane Mortenson (soon after changed to Baker), the third child born to Gladys Pearl Baker, née Monroe (1902–1984)
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.
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.
While living with the Bolenders, an unusual incident occurred. One day, Gladys came to the Bolenders and demanded that Norma Jeane be released back into her care. Ida knew that Gladys was unstable at the time and insisted that this situation would not benefit Norma Jeane. Unwilling to cooperate, Gladys managed to pull Ida into the yard while she ran inside the house, locking the door behind her. After several minutes, Gladys walked out of the front door with one of Albert Bolender's military duffel bags. To Ida's horror, Gladys had stuffed the now screaming Norma Jeane inside the bag, zipped it up, and proceeded to leave the house. Ida charged towards Gladys and the quarrel resulted in the bag splitting open. Norma Jeane fell out and began weeping loudly as Ida grabbed her and pulled her back inside the house, away from Gladys. This was just one of the many bizarre exchanges between young Norma Jeane and her disturbed mother.
In 1933, Gladys bought a house and brought Norma Jeane to live with her. A few months after moving in, however, Gladys suffered a mental breakdown, beginning 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. Norma Jeane was declared a ward of the state, and Gladys' best friend, Grace McKee, became her guardian. It was Grace who had 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.
Grace McKee married Ervin Silliman (Doc) Goddard in 1935, and nine-year-old Norma Jeane was sent to the Los Angeles Orphans Home (later renamed Hollygrove), and then to a succession of foster homes.During the time at Hollygrove, several families were interested in adopting her; however, reluctance on Gladys' part to sign adoption papers thwarted those attempts. In 1937, Grace took Norma Jeane back to live with her, Goddard, and one of Goddard's daughters from a previous marriage. This arrangement did not last for long, as Doc Goddard attempted on several occasions to sexually assault her. Disturbed by this, Grace sent her to live with her great-aunt, Olive Brunings in Compton, California. This arrangement also did not last long, as 12-year-old Norma Jeane was assaulted (some reports say sexually) by one of Olive's sons. 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 the Van Nuys section of Los Angeles. The time with Lower provided the young Norma Jeane with one of the few stable periods in her life. Years later, she would reflect fondly about the time that she spent with Lower, whom she affectionately called "Aunt Ana". By 1942, the elderly Lower developed serious health problems, and thus Norma Jeane went back to live with the Goddards. It was there where she met a neighbor's son, James Dougherty, and began a relationship with him.
Her time with the Goddards would once again prove to be short. At the end of 1942, Grace and Doc decided to relocate to Virginia, where Doc had received a lucrative job offer. The Goddards decided not to take Norma Jeane with them (the reasoning why was never made clear); thus Grace needed to find a home for her before they moved. An offer from a neighborhood family to adopt Norma Jeane was proposed but Gladys still would not allow it. 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. Dougherty was initially reluctant because Norma Jeane was only sixteen years old, but he finally relented and married her in a ceremony, arranged by Ana Lower, after graduating from high school in June 1942. Monroe would state in her autobiography that she did not feel like a wife; she enjoyed playing with the neighborhood children until her husband would call her home. In 1943, with World War II raging, Dougherty enlisted in the Merchant Marine and was shipped out to the Pacific. Frightened that he might not come back alive, Norma Jeane 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. After he shipped out, Norma Jeane moved in with Dougherty's mother.
Modeling and early film workRadioplane Munitions Factory. She sprayed airplane parts with fire retardant and inspected parachutes. During this time, Army photographer David Conover snapped a photograph of her for a Yank magazine article. 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.
Norma Jeane Dougherty became one of Blue Book's most successful models, appearing on dozens of magazine covers. Jim Dougherty was oblivious of his wife's new job and only became aware of it when he discovered a shipmate of his admiring a photo of a sexy model in a magazine who turned out to be Norma Jeane. Dougherty wrote her several letters telling her that once he returned from service, she would have to give up her modeling. A dissatisfied Norma Jeane, who now saw the possibilities of a modeling and acting career, decided then to divorce Dougherty. The marriage ended when he returned from overseas in 1946.
20th Century Fox contractHer 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 her name and chose "Carole Lind" as a stagename, after Carole Lombard and Jenny Lind, but he soon decided it was not an appropriate choice. Norma Jeane 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, Norma Jeane 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 that he wanted her to have a new name as there were many actresses with the name Jean, or a variation of it such as Jean Peters, Gene Tierney, Jeanne Crain, and Jean Arthur. Wanting a more alliterative sounding name, Lyon suggested "Marilyn", commenting that she reminded him of Marilyn Miller, the sexy 1920's Broadway actress. Norma Jeane 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. After she changed her name, the newly named Marilyn Monroe dyed her dark brown hair blonde. The Internet Movie Database lists Marylin Monroe in an uncredited role as a telephone operator in "The Shocking Miss Pilgrim" in 1947. She had brief roles in Scudda Hoo! Scudda Hay! and Dangerous Years (both 1947), but when her contract was not renewed, she returned to modeling. She attempted to find opportunities for film work, and while unemployed, she posed for nude photographs. That year, she was also crowned the first "Miss California Artichoke Queen" at the annual artichoke festival in Castroville.
Columbia Pictures contractIn 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. Monroe was capitalized as one of the film's bright spots, but the movie didn't bring any success for Columbia or for Marilyn. During her short stint at Columbia, studio head Harry Cohn softened her appearance somewhat by correcting a slight overbite she had.
Other workMarx Brothers film Love Happy (1949). She 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 of Monroe for 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.
Monroe enrolled at UCLA in 1951 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 and Gregg Palmer both unsuccessfully auditioned for roles as Daisy Mae and Abner in a proposed Li'l Abner television series based on the Al Capp comic strip, but the effort never materialized.
Career developmentTom 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 that she should 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 actress.
She 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.
Film successRKO 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.
This 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 comedy directed by Howard Hawks starring Cary Grant and Ginger Rogers, was released in September. This movie was a huge success. This was the first movie Marilyn appeared in 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 received top billing alongside him and the film's other stars, including Anne Baxter, Farley Granger, Jean Peters and Richard Widmark.
NiagaraDarryl 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.
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.
Gentlemen Prefer BlondesGentlemen 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 set.
At 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 MillionaireHow to Marry a Millionaire was a comedy about three models scheming to attract a wealthy husband. 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.
Acting ambitionsNatasha Lytess, tells everybody that I have a great soul, but so far nobody's interested in it. 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 suspended her.
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.
The Seven Year ItchThe Seven Year Itch 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. Among the crowd was Joe DiMaggio, who was reported to have been 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.
Acting career evolvesMilton 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 in 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.
On April 8, 1955, veteran journalist Edward R. Murrow interviewed Greene and his wife Amy, as well as Monroe, at the Greene's home in Connecticut on a live telecast of the CBS program Person to Person. The kinescope of the telecast has been released on home video.
The Actors StudioTruman 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 student.
In May 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 1955, 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 Marilyn Monroe."
20th Century Fox returnThe 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.
Bus StopBus Stop directed by Joshua Logan. Logan had studied under Konstantin Stanislavsky, 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.[
In Bus Stop, Monroe played Chérie, a saloon singer with little talent who falls in love with a cowboy. 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 Globe nomination.
During this time, 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". The 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 cowards". The 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.They were married on June 29, 1956.
The Prince and the ShowgirlThe 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."
Despite Monroe and Olivier clashing, 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 the Academy Award, as well as the French Crystal Star Award. She was also nominated for a BAFTA.
Later filmsIt was more than a year before Monroe began her next film. During her hiatus, she summered with Miller in Amagansett, Long Island. She suffered a miscarriage on August 1, 1957.
Some Like it HotSome 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.
Some 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."
Let's Make LoveBy this 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 Signore 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.
The MisfitsArthur Miller had lived briefly 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 costarring 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.
Within 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 mediocre reviews, and was not a commercial success, though some praised the performances of Monroe and Gable. 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."
During 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 gall bladder surgery. She returned to California and lived in a rented apartment as she convalesced.
Something's Got to GiveIn 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."
On May 19, 1962, she attended the 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."
Monroe 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.
New directionsFollowing 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."
In the final weeks of her life, Monroe engaged in discussions about future film projects, and firm arrangements were made to continue negotiations. Among the projects was a biography of Jean Harlow later filmed 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 did not occur. 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. Also on the table was an Italian film offer worth several 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 aftermathLAPD police sergeant Jack Clemmons received a call at 4:25 a.m. 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 percent 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 Marilyn called was The President.
On August 8, 1962, Monroe was interred in a crypt at Corridor of Memories #24, at the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Westwood, Los Angeles. Lee Strasberg delivered the eulogy. The crypt space immediately to the left of Monroe's was bought and reserved by Hugh Hefner in 1992.
In 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"
Administration of estatewill, Monroe left 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. Mrs. Strasberg 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 US $13,405,785.
Mrs. Strasberg then 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.
On 4 May 2007, a New York judge ruled that Monroe's rights of publicity ended at her death.In October 2007, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed Senate Bill 771. The legislation was supported by Anna Strasberg and the Screen Actors Guild, and 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. In 2010, Monroe's Brentwood home was put up for sale by Prudential California Realty.
Personal lifeMonroe had three marriages, first to James Dougherty, then to Joe DiMaggio, and lastly Arthur Miller. Monroe is alleged to have had affairs with the both Kennedy brothers. Marlon Brando, in his autobiography Songs My Mother Taught Me, also claimed that he had had a relationship with her.
James DoughertyMonroe married James Dougherty on June 19, 1942, at the home of Chester Howell in Los Angeles. 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. 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".
Dougherty's actions seem to contradict these claims: he remarried months after Monroe divorced him; his sister told the December 1952 Modern Screen Magazine that he left Monroe because she wanted to pursue modeling, after he initially gave her permission to do so; he confirmed Monroe's version of the beginning of their relationship in an A&E Network Monroe documentary that his mother had asked him to marry her so that she would not be returned to an orphanage. On Monroe's death, August 5, 1962, one of the responding officers who knew Jim Dougherty phoned him at 4:00 a.m. with the news. Dougherty turned to his wife and said, "Say a prayer for Norma Jean. She's dead." Most telling, on August 6, The New York Times reported that, on being informed of her death, Dougherty replied "I'm sorry" and continued his LAPD patrol. He did not attend Monroe's funeral.
Joe DiMaggioJoe DiMaggio saw a picture of Monroe with Chicago White Sox players Joe Dobson and Gus Zernial, but did not ask the man who arranged the stunt to set up a date until 1952. Monroe wrote in My Story that she did not want to meet him, fearing a stereotypical jock. They eloped at San Francisco City Hall on January 14, 1954. During 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 274 days after the wedding.
In 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."
Arthur MillerOn June 29, 1956, Monroe married playwright Arthur Miller, whom she first met in 1950, in a civil ceremony in White Plains, New York. City 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, NY. Some 30 friends and relatives attended the hastily arranged party. Less 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. 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 adolescence." Nominally raised as a Christian, she converted to Judaism before marrying Miller. 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.
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 death.
The KennedysHappy 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 USD $1.26 million.
Monroe did reportedly have an affair with President John F. Kennedy and his brother Senator Robert Kennedy. JFK's reputed mistress Judith Exner, in her 1977 autobiography, also wrote about an affair that she said the president and Monroe had.
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, the sister of John and Robert; Lawford was very close to the Kennedy family for over a decade, including the time of Monroe's death.
PsychoanalysisMonroe 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.
- River of No Return: "I'm Gonna File My Claim", "One Silver Dollar", "Down In The Meadow", "River Of No Return"
- There's No Business Like Show Business: "Heatwave", "Lazy", "After You Get What You Want", "A Man Chases a Girl"
- Bus Stop: "That Old Black Magic"
- Some Like It Hot: "Runnin' Wild", "I Wanna Be Loved By You", "I'm Through With Love"
- Let's Make Love: "My Heart Belongs To Daddy", "Specialization", "Let's Make Love"
Awards and nominations
- 1951 Henrietta Awards: The Best Young Box Office Personality
- 1952 Photoplay Award: Fastest Rising Star of 1952
- 1952 Photoplay Award: Special Award
- 1952 Look American Magazine Achievement Award: Most Promising Female Newcomer of 1952
- 1953 Golden Globe Henrietta Award: World Film Favorite Female.
- 1953 Sweetheart of The Month (Playboy)
- 1953 Photoplay Award: Most Popular Female Star
- 1954 Photoplay Award for Best Actress: for Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and How to Marry a Millionaire
- 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.
- 1999 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.