Monroe (born Norma Jeane Mortenson; June 1, 1926 –
August 5, 1962) was an American actress, model, and singer. Famous for
playing comic "blonde bombshell" characters, she became one of the
most popular sex symbols of the 1950s and was emblematic of the era's
attitudes towards sexuality. Although she was a top-billed actress for
only a decade, her films grossed $200 million by the time of her
unexpected death in 1962. More than half a century later, she
continues to be a major popular culture icon.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Monroe spent most of her childhood in
foster homes and an orphanage and married at the age of sixteen. While
working in a radioplane factory in 1944 as part of the war effort, she
was introduced to a photographer from the First Motion Picture Unit
and began a successful pin-up modeling career. The work led to
short-lived film contracts with Twentieth Century-Fox (1946–1947)
(1948). After a series of minor film roles, she
signed a new contract with Fox in 1951. Over the next two years, she
became a popular actress and had roles in several comedies, including
As Young as You Feel
As Young as You Feel
and Monkey Business, and in the dramas Clash by
Night and Don't Bother to Knock. Monroe faced a scandal when it was
revealed that she had posed for nude photos before becoming a star,
but rather than damaging her career, the story resulted in increased
interest in her films.
By 1953, Monroe was one of the most marketable
had leading roles in the noir film Niagara, which focused on her sex
appeal, and the comedies Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and How to Marry a
Millionaire, which established her star image as a "dumb blonde".
Although she played a significant role in the creation and management
of her public image throughout her career, she was disappointed at
being typecast and underpaid by the studio. She was briefly suspended
in early 1954 for refusing a film project, but returned to star in one
of the biggest box office successes of her career, The Seven Year Itch
When the studio was still reluctant to change her contract, Monroe
founded a film production company in late 1954; she named it Marilyn
Monroe Productions (MMP). She dedicated 1955 to building her company
and began studying method acting at the Actors Studio. In late 1955,
Fox awarded her a new contract, which gave her more control and a
larger salary. Her subsequent roles included a critically acclaimed
performance in Bus Stop (1956) and the first independent production of
The Prince and the Showgirl
The Prince and the Showgirl
(1957). Monroe won a Golden Globe for
Best Actress for her work in
Some Like It Hot
Some Like It Hot
(1959), which was a
critical and commercial success. Her last completed film was the drama
The Misfits (1961).
Monroe's troubled private life received much attention. She struggled
with substance abuse, depression, and anxiety. She had two highly
publicized marriages, to retired baseball star
playwright Arthur Miller, both of which ended in divorce. On August 5,
1962, she died at age 36 from an overdose of barbiturates at her home
in Los Angeles. Although Monroe's death was ruled a probable suicide,
several conspiracy theories have been proposed in the decades
following her death.
1 Life and career
1.1 Childhood and first marriage (1926–1944)
1.2 Modeling and first film roles (1944–1949)
1.3 Breakthrough years (1950–1952)
1.4 Rising star (1953)
1.5 Conflicts with 20th Century-Fox and marriage to Joe DiMaggio
1.6 Critical acclaim and marriage to
Arthur Miller (1956–1959)
1.7 Career decline and personal difficulties (1960–1962)
3 Screen persona and reception
9 External links
Life and career
Childhood and first marriage (1926–1944)
Monroe as an infant, c. 1927
Monroe was born Norma Jeane Mortenson at the
Los Angeles County
Hospital on June 1, 1926 as the third child of Gladys Pearl Baker
(née Monroe, 1902–1984). Gladys, the daughter of two poor
Midwestern migrants to California, was a flapper and worked as a film
negative cutter at Consolidated Film Industries. When she was
fifteen, Gladys married a man nine years her senior, John Newton
Baker, and had two children by him, Robert (1917–1933) and
Berniece (born 1919). She filed for divorce in 1921, and Baker took
the children with him to his native Kentucky. Monroe was not told
that she had a sister until she was twelve, and met her for the first
time as an adult. In 1924, Gladys married her second
husband—Martin Edward Mortensen—but they separated before she
became pregnant with Monroe by a different man; they divorced in
1928. The identity of Monroe's father is unknown and Baker was most
often used as her surname.[a]
Monroe's early childhood was stable and happy. While Gladys was
mentally and financially unprepared for a child, she was able to place
Monroe with foster parents Albert and Ida Bolender in the rural town
of Hawthorne soon after the birth. They raised their foster
children according to the principles of evangelical Christianity.
At first, Gladys lived with the Bolenders and commuted to work in Los
Angeles, until longer work shifts forced her to move back to the city
in early 1927. She then began visiting her daughter on weekends,
often taking her to the cinema and to sightsee in Los Angeles.
Although the Bolenders wanted to adopt Monroe, by the summer of 1933,
Gladys felt stable enough for Monroe to move in with her and bought a
small house in Hollywood. They shared it with lodgers, actors
George and Maude Atkinson and their daughter, Nellie. Some months
later, in January 1934, Gladys had a mental breakdown and was
diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. After several months in a
rest home, she was committed to the Metropolitan State Hospital.
She spent the rest of her life in and out of hospitals and was rarely
in contact with Monroe.
"When I was five I think, that's when I started wanting to be an
actress. I loved to play. I didn't like the world around me because it
was kind of grim, but I loved to play house. It was like you could
make your own boundaries... When I heard that this was acting, I said
that's what I want to be... Some of my foster families used to send me
to the movies to get me out of the house and there I'd sit all day and
way into the night. Up in front, there with the screen so big, a
little kid all alone, and I loved it."
—Monroe in an interview for Life in 1962
Monroe became a ward of the state, and her mother's friend, Grace
McKee Goddard, took responsibility over her and her mother's
affairs. In the following four years, she lived with several
foster families, and often switched schools. For the first sixteen
months, she continued living with the Atkinsons; she was sexually
abused during this time.[b] Always a shy girl, she now also
developed a stutter and became withdrawn. In the summer of 1935,
she briefly stayed with Grace and her husband Erwin "Doc" Goddard and
two other families, until Grace placed her in the Los Angeles
Orphans Home in
Hollywood in September 1935. While the orphanage
was "a model institution", and was described in positive terms by her
peers, Monroe found being placed there traumatizing, as to her "it
seemed that no one wanted me".
First husband James Dougherty and Monroe, c. 1943–1944
Encouraged by the orphanage staff who thought that Monroe would be
happier living in a family, Grace became her legal guardian in 1936,
although she was not able to take her out of the orphanage until the
summer of 1937. Monroe's second stay with the Goddards lasted only
a few months, as Doc molested her. After staying with various of
her and Grace's relatives and friends in
Los Angeles and Compton,
Monroe found a more permanent home in September 1938, when she began
living with Grace's aunt, Ana Atchinson Lower, in the Sawtelle
district. She was enrolled in
Emerson Junior High School
Emerson Junior High School and was
taken to weekly
Christian Science services with Lower. Monroe was
otherwise a mediocre student, but she excelled in writing and
contributed to the school's newspaper. Due to the elderly Lower's
health issues, Monroe returned to live with the Goddards in Van Nuys
in either late 1940 or early 1941. After graduating from Emerson,
she began attending Van Nuys High School.
In early 1942, the company that Doc Goddard worked for required him to
relocate to West Virginia.
California laws prevented the Goddards
from taking Monroe out of state, and she faced the possibility of
having to return to the orphanage. As a solution, she married
their neighbors' son, 21-year-old factory worker James "Jim"
Dougherty, on June 19, 1942, just after her 16th birthday. Monroe
subsequently dropped out of high school and became a housewife; she
later stated that the "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." In 1943, Dougherty enlisted in the Merchant Marine.
He was initially stationed on Catalina Island, where she lived with
him until he was shipped out to the Pacific in April 1944; he would
remain there for most of the next two years. After Dougherty's
deployment, Monroe moved in with his parents and began a job at the
Radioplane Munitions Factory in Van Nuys, both as part of the war
effort and to earn her own income.
Modeling and first film roles (1944–1949)
Monroe photographed by Conover while working at a radioplane factory
in mid 1944
In late 1944, Monroe met photographer David Conover, who had been sent
by the U.S. Army Air Forces'
First Motion Picture Unit
First Motion Picture Unit (FMPU) to the
factory to shoot morale-boosting pictures of female workers.
Although none of her pictures were used by the FMPU, she quit working
at the factory in January 1945 and began modeling for Conover and his
friends. She moved out of her in-laws' home, defying them and
her husband, and signed a contract with the Blue Book Model Agency in
August 1945. As a model, she occasionally used the name Jean
Norman. She straightened her curly brunette hair and dyed it
blonde to make her more employable. Her figure was deemed more
suitable for pin-up than fashion modeling, and she was featured mostly
in advertisements and men's magazines. The agency's owner,
Emmeline Snively, said that Monroe was one of its most ambitious and
hard-working models; by early 1946, she had appeared on 33 magazine
covers for publications such as Pageant, U.S. Camera, Laff, and
Impressed by her success, Snively arranged a contract for Monroe with
an acting agency in June 1946. After an unsuccessful interview
with producers at Paramount Pictures, she was given a screen-test by
Ben Lyon, a 20th Century-Fox executive. Head executive Darryl F.
Zanuck was unenthusiastic about it, but he was persuaded to give
her a standard six-month contract to avoid her being signed by rival
studio RKO Pictures.[c] Monroe's contract began in August 1946, and
she and Lyon selected the stage name "
Marilyn Monroe". The first
name was picked by Lyon, who was reminded of Broadway star Marilyn
Miller; the last was picked by Monroe after her mother's maiden
name. In September 1946, she divorced Dougherty, who was against
her having a career.
Monroe posing for a photo during her modeling career, c. 1940
Monroe in a studio publicity photo taken when she was a contract
player at 20th Century-Fox in 1947. She appeared in two small film
roles during the contract and was let go after a year
Monroe had no film roles during the first months of her contract and
instead dedicated her days to acting, singing and dancing classes.
Eager to learn more about the film industry and in order to promote
herself, she spent time at the studio lot to observe others
working. Her contract was renewed in February 1947, and she was
soon given her first two film roles: nine lines of dialogue as a
waitress in the drama
Dangerous Years (1947) and a one-line appearance
in the comedy
Scudda Hoo! Scudda Hay! (1948).[d] The studio also
enrolled her in the Actors' Laboratory Theatre, an acting school
teaching the techniques of the Group Theatre; she later stated that it
was "my first taste of what real acting in a real drama could be, and
I was hooked". Monroe's contract was not renewed in August 1947,
and she returned to modeling while also doing occasional odd jobs at
Determined to make it as an actress, Monroe continued studying at the
Actors' Lab, and in October she appeared as a blonde vamp in the
short-lived play Glamour Preferred at the Bliss-Hayden Theater, but
the production was not reviewed by any major publication. To
promote herself, she frequented producers' offices, befriended gossip
columnist Sidney Skolsky, and entertained influential male guests at
studio functions, a practice she had begun at Fox. She also became
a friend and occasional sex partner of Fox executive Joseph M.
Schenck, who persuaded his friend Harry Cohn, the head executive of
Columbia Pictures, to sign her in March 1948.
While at Fox, her roles had been that of a "girl next door"; at
Columbia, she was modeled after Rita Hayworth. Monroe's hairline
was raised by electrolysis and her hair was bleached even lighter, to
platinum blonde. She also began working with the studio's head
drama coach, Natasha Lytess, who would remain her mentor until
1955. Her only film at the studio was the low-budget musical
Ladies of the Chorus
Ladies of the Chorus (1948), in which she had her first starring role
as a chorus girl who is courted by a wealthy man. During the
production, she began an affair with her vocal coach, Fred Karger, who
paid to have her slight overbite corrected. Despite the starring
role and a subsequent screen test for the lead role in Born Yesterday
(1950), Monroe's contract was not renewed. Ladies of the Chorus
was released in October and was not a success.
After leaving Columbia in September 1948, Monroe became the protégée
of Johnny Hyde, who was the vice president of the William Morris
Agency. Hyde represented her and their relationship soon became
sexual, although she refused his proposals of marriage. To advance
Monroe's career, he paid for a silicone prosthesis to be implanted in
her jaw and possibly for a rhinoplasty, and arranged a bit part in the
Marx Brothers film
Love Happy (1950). Monroe also continued
modeling, and in May 1949 she posed nude for photos taken by Tom
Kelley. Although her role in
Love Happy was very small, she was
chosen to participate in the film's promotional tour in New York that
Breakthrough years (1950–1952)
Monroe as gangster's moll Angela in John Huston's The Asphalt Jungle
(1950), one of her first performances to be noted by the critics
Monroe appeared in six films that were released in 1950. She had bit
parts in Love Happy, A Ticket to Tomahawk,
Right Cross and The
Fireball, but also made minor appearances in two critically acclaimed
films: John Huston's crime film
The Asphalt Jungle
The Asphalt Jungle and Joseph
Mankiewicz's drama All About Eve. In the former, Monroe played
Angela, the young mistress of an aging criminal. Although only on
the screen for five minutes, she gained a mention in
according to Spoto "moved effectively from movie model to serious
actress". In All About Eve, Monroe played Miss Caswell, a naïve
Following Monroe's success in these roles, Hyde negotiated a
seven-year contract with 20th Century-Fox in December 1950. He
died of a heart attack only days later, which left her devastated.
Despite her grief, 1951 became the year in which she gained more
visibility. In March, she was a presenter at the 23rd Academy Awards,
and in September,
Collier's became the first national magazine to
publish a full-length profile of her. She had supporting roles in
four low-budget films: in the
MGM drama Home Town Story, and in three
moderately successful comedies for Fox, As Young as You Feel, Love
Nest, and Let's Make It Legal. According to Spoto all four films
featured her "essentially [as] a sexy ornament", but she received some
praise from critics:
Bosley Crowther of
The New York Times
The New York Times described
her as "superb" in As Young As You Feel and Ezra Goodman of the Los
Angeles Daily News called her "one of the brightest up-and-coming
[actresses]" for Love Nest. To further develop her acting skills,
Monroe began taking classes with
Michael Chekhov and mime Lotte
Goslar. Her popularity with audiences was also growing: she
received several thousand letters of fan mail a week, and was declared
"Miss Cheesecake of 1951" by the army newspaper Stars and Stripes,
reflecting the preferences of soldiers in the Korean War. In her
private life, Monroe was in a relationship with director Elia Kazan,
and also briefly dated several other men, including director Nicholas
Ray and actors
Yul Brynner and Peter Lawford.
Monroe as a mentally disturbed babysitter in the thriller Don't Bother
to Knock (1952)
Monroe became a top-billed actress in the second year of the Fox
contract. Gossip columnist
Florabel Muir named her the "it girl" of
Hedda Hopper described her as the "cheesecake queen" turned
"box office smash". In February, she was named the "best young
box office personality" by the Foreign Press Association of
Hollywood, and began a highly publicized romance with retired New
York Yankee Joe DiMaggio, who was one of the most famous sports
personalities of the era.
The following month, a scandal broke when she revealed in an interview
that during 1949 she had posed for nude pictures, which were featured
in calendars. Fox had learned of the photographs some weeks
earlier, and to contain the potentially disastrous effects on her
career, the studio and Monroe had decided to talk about them openly
while stressing that she had only posed for the photos while she was
in a dire financial situation. The strategy succeeded in getting
her public sympathy and increased interest in her films: the following
month, she was featured on the cover of Life as "The
Hollywood". Monroe added to her reputation as a new sex symbol
with other publicity stunts that year, such as wearing a revealing
dress when acting as Grand Marshal at the
Miss America Pageant
Miss America Pageant parade,
and by stating to gossip columnist Earl Wilson that she usually wore
Monroe with co-star
Keith Andes in
Clash by Night
Clash by Night (1952). The film
allowed Monroe to display more of her acting range in a dramatic role
Regardless of her popularity and sex appeal, Monroe wished to present
more of her acting range, and in the summer of 1952 she appeared in
two commercially successful dramas. The first was Fritz Lang's
Clash by Night, for which she was loaned to RKO and played a fish
cannery worker; to prepare, she spent time in a real fish cannery in
Monterey. She received positive reviews for her performance: The
Hollywood Reporter stated that "she deserves starring status with her
excellent interpretation", and Variety wrote that she "has an ease of
delivery which makes her a cinch for popularity". The second
film was the thriller Don't Bother to Knock, in which she starred as a
mentally disturbed babysitter and which Zanuck had assigned for her to
test her abilities in a heavier dramatic role. It received mixed
reviews from critics, with Crowther deeming her too inexperienced for
the difficult role, and Variety blaming the script for the film's
Monroe's three other films in 1952 continued typecasting her in comic
roles that focused on her sex appeal. In We're Not Married!, her
starring role as a beauty pageant contestant was created solely to
Marilyn in two bathing suits", according to its writer
Nunnally Johnson. In Howard Hawks' Monkey Business, in which she
was featured opposite Cary Grant, she played a secretary who is a
"dumb, childish blonde, innocently unaware of the havoc her sexiness
causes around her". In O. Henry's Full House, her final film of
the year, she had a minor role as a prostitute.
During this period, Monroe gained a reputation for being difficult on
film sets; the difficulties worsened as her career progressed. She was
often late or did not show up at all, did not remember her lines, and
would demand several re-takes before she was satisfied with her
performance. Monroe's dependence on her acting coaches—first
Natasha Lytess and later Paula Strasberg—also irritated
directors. Monroe's problems have been attributed to a
combination of perfectionism, low self-esteem, and stage fright; she
disliked the lack of control she had on her work on film sets, and
never experienced similar problems during photo shoots, in which she
had more say over her performance and could be more spontaneous
instead of following a script. To alleviate her anxiety and
chronic insomnia, she began to use barbiturates, amphetamines and
alcohol, which also exacerbated her problems, although she did not
become severely addicted until 1956. According to Sarah
Churchwell, some of Monroe's behavior especially later in her career
was also in response to the condescension and sexism of her male
co-stars and directors. Similarly,
Lois Banner has stated that
she was bullied by many of her directors.
Rising star (1953)
Monroe as Rose Loomis in the film noir Niagara (1953), which dwelt on
her sex appeal
Performing "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" in Gentlemen Prefer
Monroe starred in three movies that were released in 1953 and emerged
as a major sex symbol and one of Hollywood's most bankable
performers. The first of these was the
Technicolor film noir
Niagara, in which she played a femme fatale scheming to murder her
husband, played by Joseph Cotten. By then, Monroe and her make-up
Allan "Whitey" Snyder had developed the make-up look that
became associated with her: dark arched brows, pale skin, "glistening"
red lips and a beauty mark. According to Sarah Churchwell,
Niagara was one of the most overtly sexual films of Monroe's career,
and it included scenes in which her body was covered only by a sheet
or a towel, considered shocking by contemporary audiences. Its
most famous scene is a 30-second long shot of Monroe shown walking
from behind with her hips swaying, which was heavily used in the
When Niagara was released in January, women's clubs protested that the
film was immoral, but the movie proved popular with audiences and
grossed $6 million at the box office. While Variety deemed it
"clichéd" and "morbid",
The New York Times
The New York Times commented that "the falls
and Miss Monroe are something to see", as although Monroe may not be
"the perfect actress at this point ... she can be seductive –
even when she walks". Monroe continued to attract attention
with her revealing outfits in publicity events, most famously at the
Photoplay awards in January 1953, where she won the "Fastest Rising
Star" award. She wore a skin-tight gold lamé dress, which
prompted veteran star
Joan Crawford to describe her behavior as
"unbecoming an actress and a lady" to the press.
While Niagara made Monroe a sex symbol and established her "look", her
second film of the year, the satirical musical comedy Gentlemen Prefer
Blondes, established her screen persona as a "dumb blonde". Based
on Anita Loos' bestselling novel and its Broadway version, the film
focuses on two "gold-digging" showgirls, Lorelei Lee and Dorothy Shaw,
played by Monroe and Jane Russell. The role of Lorelei was originally
intended for Betty Grable, who had been 20th Century-Fox's most
popular "blonde bombshell" in the 1940s; Monroe was fast eclipsing her
as a star who could appeal to both male and female audiences. As
part of the film's publicity campaign, she and Russell pressed their
hand and footprints in wet concrete outside Grauman's Chinese Theatre
in June. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes was released shortly after and
became one of the biggest box office successes of the year by grossing
$5.3 million, more than double its production costs. Crowther of
The New York Times
The New York Times and William Brogdon of Variety both commented
favorably on Monroe, especially noting her performance of "Diamonds
Are a Girl's Best Friend"; according to the latter, she demonstrated
the "ability to sex a song as well as point up the eye values of a
scene by her presence".
Monroe, Betty Grable, and
Lauren Bacall in How to Marry a Millionaire
(1953), her biggest box office success of the year
In September, Monroe made her television debut in the Jack Benny Show,
playing Jack's fantasy woman in the episode "Honolulu Trip". She
Betty Grable and
Lauren Bacall in her third movie of
the year, How to Marry a Millionaire, which was released in November.
It featured Monroe in the role of a naïve model who teams up with her
friends to find rich husbands, repeating the successful formula of
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. It was the second film ever released in
CinemaScope, a widescreen format that Fox hoped would draw audiences
back to theaters as television was beginning to cause losses to film
studios. Despite mixed reviews, the film was Monroe's biggest box
office success at that point in her career, earning $8 million in
Monroe was listed in the annual
Top Ten Money Making Stars Poll in
both 1953 and 1954, and according to Fox historian Aubrey Solomon
became the studio's "greatest asset" alongside CinemaScope.
Monroe's position as a leading sex symbol was confirmed in December
Hugh Hefner featured her on the cover and as centerfold in
the first issue of Playboy. The cover image was a photograph
taken of her at the
Miss America Pageant
Miss America Pageant parade in 1952, and the
centerfold featured one of her 1949 nude photographs.
Conflicts with 20th Century-Fox and marriage to Joe DiMaggio
Joe DiMaggio after getting married at San Francisco City
Hall, January 1954
Posing for soldiers in Korea after a
USO performance in February 1954,
during her suspension by the studio
Although Monroe had become one of 20th Century-Fox's biggest stars,
her contract had not changed since 1950, meaning that she was paid far
less than other stars of her stature and could not choose her projects
or co-workers. She was also tired of being typecast, and her
attempts to appear in films other than comedies or musicals had been
thwarted by Zanuck, who had a strong personal dislike of her and did
not think she would earn the studio as much revenue in dramas.
When she refused to begin shooting yet another musical comedy, a film
version of The Girl in Pink Tights, which was to co-star Frank
Sinatra, the studio suspended her on January 4, 1954.
The suspension was front-page news and Monroe immediately began a
publicity campaign to counter any negative press and to strengthen her
position in the conflict. On January 14, she and Joe DiMaggio, whose
relationship had been subject to constant media attention since 1952,
were married at San Francisco City Hall. They then traveled to
Japan, combining a honeymoon with his business trip. From there,
she traveled alone to Korea, where she performed songs from her films
as part of a
USO show for over 60,000 U.S. Marines over a four-day
period. After returning to
Hollywood in February, she was awarded
Photoplay's "Most Popular Female Star" prize. She reached a
settlement with the studio in March: it included a new contract to be
made later in the year, and a starring role in the film version of the
Broadway play The Seven Year Itch, for which she was to receive a
bonus of $100,000.
Monroe's next film was Otto Preminger's Western River of No Return,
which had been filmed prior to her suspension and featured Robert
Mitchum as her co-star. She called it a "Z-grade cowboy movie in which
the acting finished second to the scenery and the CinemaScope
process", although it was popular with audiences. The first film
she made after returning to Fox was the musical There's No Business
Like Show Business, which she strongly disliked but the studio
required her to do in exchange for dropping The Girl in Pink
Tights. The musical was unsuccessful upon its release in
December, and Monroe's performance was considered vulgar by many
Posing for photographers while filming the subway grate scene for The
Seven Year Itch in September 1954
In September 1954, Monroe began filming Billy Wilder's comedy The
Seven Year Itch, in which she starred opposite
Tom Ewell as a woman
who becomes the object of her married neighbor's sexual fantasies.
Although the film was shot in Hollywood, the studio decided to
generate advance publicity by staging the filming of a scene on
Lexington Avenue in New York. In the shoot, Monroe is standing on
a subway grate with the air blowing up the skirt of her white dress,
which became one of the most famous scenes of her career. The shoot
lasted for several hours and attracted a crowd of nearly 2,000
spectators, including professional photographers.
While the publicity stunt placed Monroe on international front pages,
it also marked the end of her marriage to DiMaggio, who was furious
about the stunt. The union had been troubled from the start by
his jealousy and controlling attitude; Spoto and Banner have also
asserted that he was physically abusive. After returning to
Hollywood, Monroe hired famous attorney
Jerry Giesler and announced in
October 1954 that she was filing for divorce. The Seven Year Itch
was released the following June, and grossed over $4.5 million at the
box office, making it one of the biggest commercial successes that
After filming for
The Seven Year Itch
The Seven Year Itch wrapped in November, Monroe
began a new battle for control over her career and left
the East Coast, where she and photographer
Milton Greene founded their
own production company,
Marilyn Monroe Productions (MMP) – an
action that has later been called "instrumental" in the collapse of
the studio system.[e] Announcing its foundation in a press
conference in January 1955, Monroe stated that she was "tired of the
same old sex roles. I want to do better things. People have scope, you
know." She asserted that she was no longer under contract to Fox,
as the studio had not fulfilled its duties, such as paying her the
promised bonus for The Seven Year Itch. This began a year-long
legal battle between her and the studio. The press largely
ridiculed Monroe for her actions and she was parodied in The Seven
Year Itch writer George Axelrod's Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?
(1955), in which her lookalike
Jayne Mansfield played a dumb actress
who starts her own production company.
Monroe at the Actors Studio, where she began studying method acting in
Monroe dedicated 1955 to studying her craft. She moved to New York and
began taking acting classes with
Constance Collier and attending
workshops on method acting at the Actors Studio, run by Lee
Strasberg. She grew close to Strasberg and his wife Paula,
receiving private lessons at their home due to her shyness, and soon
became like a family member. She dismissed her old drama coach,
Natasha Lytess, and replaced her with Paula; the Strasbergs remained
an important influence for the rest of her career. Monroe also
started undergoing psychoanalysis at the recommendation of Strasberg,
who believed that an actor must confront their emotional traumas and
use them in their performances.[f]
In her private life, Monroe continued her relationship with DiMaggio
despite the ongoing divorce proceedings; she also dated actor Marlon
Brando and playwright Arthur Miller. She had first been
introduced to Miller by Kazan in the early 1950s. The affair
between Monroe and Miller became increasingly serious after October
1955, when her divorce from DiMaggio was finalized, and Miller
separated from his wife. The
FBI also opened a file on her.
The studio feared that Monroe would be blacklisted and urged her to
end the affair, as Miller was being investigated by the
allegations of communism and had been subpoenaed by the House
Un-American Activities Committee. Despite the risk to her
career, Monroe refused to end the relationship, later calling the
studio heads "born cowards".
By the end of the year, Monroe and Fox had come to an agreement about
a new seven-year contract. It was clear that MMP would not be able to
finance films alone, and the studio was eager to have Monroe working
again. The contract required her to make four movies for Fox
during the seven years. The studio would pay her $100,000 for
each movie, and granted her the right to choose her own projects,
directors and cinematographers. She would also be free to make
one film with MMP per each completed film for Fox.
Critical acclaim and marriage to
Arthur Miller (1956–1959)
Arthur Miller at their wedding in Westchester County on
June 29, 1956
Monroe began 1956 by announcing her win over 20th Century-Fox; the
press, which had previously derided her, now wrote favorably about her
decision to fight the studio. Time called her a "shrewd
businesswoman" and Look predicted that the win would be "an
example of the individual against the herd for years to come". In
March, she officially changed her name to
Marilyn Monroe. Her
relationship with Miller prompted some negative comments from the
press, including Walter Winchell's statement that "America's
best-known blonde moving picture star is now the darling of the
left-wing intelligentsia." Monroe and Miller were married in a
civil ceremony at the Westchester County Court in White Plains, New
York, on June 29, and two days later had a Jewish ceremony at his
agent's house at Waccabuc, New York. Monroe converted to
Judaism with the marriage, which led Egypt to ban all of her
films.[g] The media saw the union as mismatched given her star
image as a sex symbol and his position as an intellectual, as
demonstrated by Variety's headline "Egghead Weds Hourglass".
Monroe's dramatic performance in Bus Stop (1956) marked a departure
from her earlier comedies
The drama Bus Stop was the first film that Monroe chose to make under
the new contract; the movie was released in August 1956. She played
Chérie, a saloon singer whose dreams of stardom are complicated by a
naïve cowboy who falls in love with her. For the role, she learnt an
Ozark accent, chose costumes and make-up that lacked the glamour of
her earlier films, and provided deliberately mediocre singing and
dancing. Broadway director
Joshua Logan agreed to direct, despite
initially doubting her acting abilities and knowing of her reputation
for being difficult. The filming took place in Idaho and Arizona
in early 1956, with Monroe "technically in charge" as the head of MMP,
occasionally making decisions on cinematography and with Logan
adapting to her chronic lateness and perfectionism.
The experience changed Logan's opinion of Monroe, and he later
compared her to
Charlie Chaplin in her ability to blend comedy and
tragedy. Bus Stop became a box office success, grossing $4.25
million, and received mainly favorable reviews. The Saturday
Review of Literature wrote that Monroe's performance "effectively
dispels once and for all the notion that she is merely a glamour
personality" and Crowther proclaimed: "Hold on to your chairs,
everybody, and get set for a rattling surprise.
Marilyn Monroe has
finally proved herself an actress." She received a Golden Globe
for Best Actress nomination for her performance.
Laurence Olivier during a press conference to announce
their joint project,
The Prince and the Showgirl
The Prince and the Showgirl (1957)
In August 1956, Monroe began filming MMP's first independent
production, The Prince and the Showgirl, at
Pinewood Studios in
England. It was based on Terence Rattigan's The Sleeping Prince,
a play about an affair between a showgirl and a prince in the 1910s.
The main roles had first been played on stage by
Laurence Olivier and
Vivien Leigh; he reprised his role and directed and co-produced the
film. The production was complicated by conflicts between him and
Monroe. He angered her with the patronizing statement "All you
have to do is be sexy", and by wanting her to replicate Leigh's
interpretation. He also disliked the constant presence of Paula
Strasberg, Monroe's acting coach, on set.
In retaliation to what she considered Olivier's "condescending"
behavior, Monroe started arriving late and became uncooperative,
stating later that "if you don't respect your artists, they can't work
well." Her drug use escalated, and according to Spoto she became
pregnant and miscarried during the production. She also had
arguments with Greene over how MMP should be run, including whether
Miller should join the company. Despite the difficulties, the
film was completed on schedule by the end of the year. It was
released in June 1957 to mixed reviews, and proved unpopular with
American audiences. It was better received in Europe, where she
was awarded the Italian
David di Donatello
David di Donatello and the French Crystal Star
awards, and was nominated for a BAFTA.
After returning to the United States, Monroe took an 18-month hiatus
from work to concentrate on married life on the East Coast. She and
Miller split their time between their Manhattan apartment and an
eighteenth-century farmhouse that they purchased in Roxbury,
Connecticut; they spent the summer in Amagansett, Long Island.
She became pregnant in mid-1957, but it was ectopic and had to be
terminated. She suffered a miscarriage a year later. Her
gynecological problems were largely caused by endometriosis, a disease
from which she suffered throughout her adult life.[h] Monroe was
also briefly hospitalized during this time due to a barbiturate
overdose. During the hiatus, she dismissed Greene from MMP and
bought his share of the company as they could not settle their
disagreements and she had begun to suspect that he was embezzling
money from the company.
Tony Curtis and
Jack Lemmon in Billy Wilder's Some Like It Hot
(1959), for which she won a Golden Globe
Monroe returned to
Hollywood in July 1958 to act opposite Jack Lemmon
Tony Curtis in Billy Wilder's comedy on gender roles, Some Like It
Hot. Although she considered the role of Sugar Kane another "dumb
blonde", she accepted it due to Miller's encouragement and the offer
of receiving ten percent of the film's profits in addition to her
standard pay. The difficulties during the film's production have
since become "legendary". Monroe would demand dozens of re-takes,
and could not remember her lines or act as directed – Curtis
famously stated that kissing her was "like kissing Hitler" due to the
number of re-takes. Monroe herself privately likened the
production to a sinking ship and commented on her co-stars and
director saying "[but] why should I worry, I have no phallic symbol to
lose." Many of the problems stemmed from a conflict between her
and Wilder, who also had a reputation for being difficult, on how she
should play the character. Monroe made Wilder angry by asking him
to alter many of her scenes, which in turn made her stage fright
worse, and it is suggested that she deliberately ruined several scenes
to act them her way.
In the end, Wilder was happy with Monroe's performance, stating:
"Anyone can remember lines, but it takes a real artist to come on the
set and not know her lines and yet give the performance she did!"
Despite the difficulties of its production,
Some Like It Hot
Some Like It Hot became a
critical and commercial success when it was released in March
1959. Monroe's performance earned her a Golden Globe for Best
Actress, and prompted Variety to call her "a comedienne with that
combination of sex appeal and timing that just can't be
beat". It has been voted one of the best films ever made in
polls by the BBC, the American Film Institute, and Sight
Career decline and personal difficulties (1960–1962)
Yves Montand and Monroe in the musical comedy
Let's Make Love
Let's Make Love (1960),
which she agreed to make only to fulfill her contract with Fox
After Some Like It Hot, Monroe took another hiatus until late 1959,
when she returned to
Hollywood and starred in the musical comedy Let's
Make Love, about an actress and a millionaire who fall in love when
performing in a satirical play. She chose
George Cukor to direct
and Miller re-wrote portions of the script, which she considered weak;
she accepted the part solely because she was behind on her contract
with Fox, having only made one of four promised films. The film's
production was delayed by her frequent absences from the set. She
had an affair with Yves Montand, her co-star, which was widely
reported by the press and used in the film's publicity campaign.
Let's Make Love
Let's Make Love was unsuccessful upon its release in September
1960; Crowther described Monroe as appearing "rather untidy" and
"lacking ... the old Monroe dynamism", and
Hedda Hopper called
the film "the most vulgar picture she's ever done". Truman Capote
lobbied for her to play Holly Golightly in a film adaptation of
Breakfast at Tiffany's, but the role went to
Audrey Hepburn as its
producers feared that Monroe would complicate the production.
The last film that Monroe completed was John Huston's The Misfits,
which Miller had written to provide her with a dramatic role. She
played Roslyn, a recently divorced woman who becomes friends with
three aging cowboys, played by Clark Gable,
Eli Wallach and Montgomery
Clift. The filming in the Nevada desert between July and November 1960
was again difficult. The four-year marriage of Monroe and Miller
was effectively over, and he began a new relationship with set
photographer Inge Morath. Monroe disliked that he had based her
role partly on her life, and thought it inferior to the male roles;
she also struggled with Miller's habit of re-writing scenes the night
before filming. Her health was also failing: she was in pain from
gallstones, and her drug addiction was so severe that her make-up
usually had to be applied while she was still asleep under the
influence of barbiturates. In August, filming was halted for her
to spend a week detoxing in a
Los Angeles hospital. Despite her
problems, Huston stated that when Monroe was playing Roslyn, she "was
not pretending to an emotion. It was the real thing. She would go deep
down within herself and find it and bring it up into
Estelle Winwood, Eli Wallach, Montgomery Clift, Monroe, and Clark
Gable in The Misfits. It was last completed film for both Monroe and
Monroe and Miller separated after filming wrapped up, and she was
granted a quick divorce in Mexico in January 1961. The Misfits
was released the following month, but it failed at the box
office. Its reviews were mixed, with Variety complaining of
frequently "choppy" character development, and Bosley Crowther
calling Monroe "completely blank and unfathomable" and stating that
"unfortunately for the film's structure, everything turns upon
her". Despite the film's initial failure, it has received more
favorable reviews from critics and film scholars in the twenty-first
Geoff Andrew of the
British Film Institute
British Film Institute has called it a
classic, Huston scholar Tony Tracy has described Monroe's
performance the "most mature interpretation of her career", and
Geoffrey McNab of
The Independent has praised her for being
"extraordinary" in portraying Roslyn's "power of empathy".
Monroe was next to star in a television adaptation of W. Somerset
Maugham's short story Rain for NBC, but the project fell through as
the network did not want to hire her choice of director, Lee
Strasberg. Instead of working, she spent the first six months of
1961 preoccupied by health problems. Monroe underwent surgery for her
endometriosis, had a cholecystectomy, and spent four weeks in hospital
care – including a brief stint in a mental ward – for
depression.[i] She was helped by her ex-husband Joe DiMaggio,
with whom she now rekindled a friendship. In spring 1961, Monroe
also moved back to
California after six years on the East Coast.
Frank Sinatra for several months, and in early 1962
purchased a house in Brentwood, Los Angeles.
Monroe on the set of Something's Got to Give. She was absent due to
illness for most of the production and was fired by Fox in June 1962,
two months before her death
Monroe returned to the public eye in spring 1962: she received a
"World Film Favorite" Golden Globe Award and began to shoot a new film
for 20th Century Fox, Something's Got to Give, a re-make of My
Favorite Wife (1940). It was to be co-produced by MMP, directed
George Cukor and to co-star
Dean Martin and Cyd Charisse. Days
before filming began, Monroe caught sinusitis; despite medical advice
to postpone the production, Fox began it as planned in late
April. Monroe was too ill to work for the majority of the next
six weeks, but despite confirmations by multiple doctors, the studio
tried to put pressure on her by alleging publicly that she was faking
it. On May 19, she took a break to sing "Happy Birthday" on stage
at President John F. Kennedy's birthday celebration at Madison Square
Garden in New York. She drew attention with her costume: a beige,
skintight dress covered in rhinestones, which made her appear
nude.[j] Monroe's trip to New York caused even more irritation
for Fox executives, who had wanted her to cancel it.
Monroe next filmed a scene for
Something's Got to Give
Something's Got to Give in which she
swam naked in a swimming pool. To generate advance publicity, the
press was invited to take photographs of the scene, which were later
published in Life; this was the first time that a major star had posed
nude while at the height of their career. When she was again on
sick leave for several days, Fox decided that it could not afford to
have another film running behind schedule when it was already
struggling to cover the rising costs of Cleopatra (1963). On June
7, Fox fired Monroe and sued her for $750,000 in damages. She was
replaced by Lee Remick, but after Martin refused to make the film with
anyone other than Monroe, Fox sued him as well and shut down the
production. The studio blamed Monroe for the film's demise and
began spreading negative publicity about her, even alleging that she
was mentally disturbed.
Fox soon regretted its decision and re-opened negotiations with Monroe
later in June; a settlement about a new contract, including
Something's Got to Give
Something's Got to Give and a starring role in the black
What a Way to Go!
What a Way to Go! (1964), was reached later that summer.
To repair her public image, Monroe engaged in several publicity
ventures, including interviews for Life and Cosmopolitan and her first
photo shoot for Vogue. For Vogue, she and photographer Bert Stern
collaborated for two series of photographs, one a standard fashion
editorial and another of her posing nude, which were both later
published posthumously with the title The Last Sitting. In the
last weeks of her life, she was also planning on starring in a biopic
of Jean Harlow.
Main article: Death of
Front page of the New York Mirror on August 6, 1962
Monroe's housekeeper Eunice Murray was staying overnight at Monroe's
12305 Fifth Helena Drive
12305 Fifth Helena Drive in Brentwood on the evening of August
5, 1962. Murray awoke at 3:00 a.m. on August 6 and sensed
that something was wrong. Although she saw light from under Monroe's
bedroom door, she was unable to get a response and found the door
locked. Murray then called Monroe's psychiatrist, Dr. Ralph Greenson,
who arrived at the house shortly after and broke into the bedroom; he
found Monroe deceased in her bed. Monroe was pronounced dead by
her physician, Dr. Hyman Engelberg, who arrived at the house at around
3:50 a.m. At 4:25 a.m., they notified the Los Angeles
Los Angeles County Coroners Office was assisted in their
investigation by psychiatrists from the
Los Angeles Suicide Prevention
Team, who had expert knowledge on suicide. It was estimated that
Monroe had died between 8:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. on August
5, and the toxicology report later revealed that the cause of
death was acute barbiturate poisoning. She had 8 mg% (milligrams
per 100 milliliters of solution) chloral hydrate and 4.5 mg% of
pentobarbital (Nembutal) in her blood, and a further 13 mg% of
pentobarbital in her liver. Empty bottles containing these
medicines were found next to her bed. The possibility that Monroe
had accidentally overdosed was ruled out, because the dosages found in
her body were several times over the lethal limit. Her doctors
stated that she had been "prone to severe fears and frequent
depressions" with "abrupt and unpredictable mood changes", and had
overdosed several times in the past, possibly intentionally.
Due to these facts and the lack of any indication of foul play, the
coroner classified her death as a probable suicide.
Monroe's crypt at Westwood Memorial Park in Westwood Village
Monroe was an international star and her sudden death was front-page
news in the United States and Europe. According to Lois Banner,
"it's said that the suicide rate in
Los Angeles doubled the month
after she died; the circulation rate of most newspapers expanded that
month", and the
Chicago Tribune reported that they had received
hundreds of phone calls from members of the public who were requesting
information about her death. French artist
Jean Cocteau commented
that her death "should serve as a terrible lesson to all those, whose
chief occupation consists of spying on and tormenting film stars", her
Laurence Olivier deemed her "the complete victim of
ballyhoo and sensation", and Bus Stop director
Joshua Logan stated
that she was "one of the most unappreciated people in the world".
Her funeral, held at the
Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery
Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery on
August 8, was private and attended by only her closest
associates. The service was arranged by
Joe DiMaggio and her
business manager Inez Melson. Hundreds of spectators crowded the
streets around the cemetery. Monroe was later entombed at crypt
No. 24 at the Corridor of Memories.
In the following decades, several conspiracy theories— including
murder and accidental overdose—have been introduced to contradict
suicide as the cause of Monroe's death. The speculation of murder
first gained mainstream attention with the publication of Norman
Mailer's Marilyn: A Biography in 1973, and in the following years
became widespread enough for the
Los Angeles County District Attorney
John Van de Kamp
John Van de Kamp to conduct a "threshold investigation" in 1982 to see
whether a criminal investigation should be opened. No evidence of
foul play was found.
Screen persona and reception
"I never quite understood it, this sex symbol. I always thought
symbols were those things you clash together! That's the trouble, a
sex symbol becomes a thing. I just hate to be a thing. But if I'm
going to be a symbol of something I'd rather have it sex than some
other things they've got symbols of."
—Monroe in an interview for Life in 1962
When 20th Century-Fox began to develop Monroe's star image, they
wanted her to replace the aging Betty Grable, who was their most
popular "blonde bombshell" of the 1940s. The 1940s had been the
heyday of actresses who were perceived as tough and smart, such as
Katharine Hepburn and Barbara Stanwyck, film stars who had appealed to
women-dominated audiences. The studio wanted Monroe to be a star of
the new decade who would draw men to movie theaters. From the
beginning, she played a significant part in the creation of her public
image, and towards the end of her career Monroe exerted almost full
control over it. Monroe devised many of her publicity
strategies, cultivated friendships with gossip columnists such as
Sidney Skolsky and Louella Parsons, and controlled the use of her
images. In addition to Grable, she was often compared to another
iconic blonde, 1930s film star Jean Harlow. The comparison was
prompted partly by Monroe, who named Harlow as her childhood idol,
wanted to play her in a biopic, and even employed Harlow's hair
stylist to color her hair.
In Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), one of the films in which Monroe
portrayed a sexually attractive and naïve "dumb blonde"
Monroe's screen persona centered on her blonde hair and the
stereotypes associated with it, especially dumbness, naïveté, sexual
availability and artificiality. She often used a breathy,
childish voice in her films, and in interviews gave the impression
that everything she said was "utterly innocent and uncalculated",
parodying herself with double entendres that came to be known as
"Monroeisms". For example, when she was asked what she had on in
the 1949 nude photo shoot, she replied, "I had the radio on".
Monroe began her career as a pin-up model, and her hourglass figure
was often one of her most noted features. Film scholar Richard
Dyer wrote that Monroe was often positioned so that her curvy
silhouette was on display, and that she often posed like a pin-up in
her publicity photos. Her distinctive, hip-swinging walk also
drew attention to her body and earned her the nickname "the girl with
the horizontal walk".
Clothing played an important factor in Monroe's star image. She often
wore white to emphasize her blondness, and drew attention by wearing
revealing outfits that showed off her figure. Her publicity
stunts often revolved around her clothing that exposed large amounts
of her body or even a wardrobe malfunction, such as when one of
the shoulder straps of her dress suddenly snapped during a press
conference. In press stories, Monroe was portrayed as the
embodiment of the American Dream, a girl who had risen from a
miserable childhood to
Hollywood stardom. In her studio
biographies, stories of her time spent in foster families and an
orphanage were exaggerated and even partly fabricated.
Although Monroe's typecast screen persona as a dim-witted but sexually
attractive blonde was a carefully crafted act, audiences and film
critics believed it to be her real personality and that she was not
acting in her comedies. This became an obstacle in her later career,
when she wanted to change her public image and pursue other kinds of
roles, or to be respected as a businesswoman. Academic Sarah
Churchwell studied narratives about Monroe and has stated:
The biggest myth is that she was dumb. The second is that she was
fragile. The third is that she couldn't act. She was far from dumb,
although she was not formally educated, and she was very sensitive
about that. But she was very smart indeed – and very tough. She had
to be both to beat the
Hollywood studio system in the 1950s. [...] The
dumb blonde was a role – she was an actress, for heaven's sake! Such
a good actress that no one now believes she was anything but what she
portrayed on screen.
Lois Banner wrote that she often subtly parodied her status as a sex
symbol in her films and public appearances. Monroe stated that
she was influenced by Mae West, saying that she "learned a few tricks
from her – that impression of laughing at, or mocking, her own
sexuality". In the 1950s, she also studied comedy in classes
given by mime and dancer Lotte Goslar, famous for her comic stage
performances, and had her accompany her on film sets to instruct
her. In Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, one of the films in which she
played an archetypal dumb blonde, Monroe had the sentence "I can be
smart when it's important, but most men don't like it" added to her
character's lines in the script.
Monroe arriving at a party celebrating
Louella Parsons at Ciro's
nightclub in May 1953
Dyer has stated that Monroe's star image was created mainly for the
male gaze and that she usually played "the girl", who is defined
solely by her gender, in her films. Her roles were almost always
chorus girls, secretaries, or models; occupations where "the woman is
on show, there for the pleasure of men." Film scholar Thomas
Harris, who analyzed Monroe's public image in 1957, wrote that her
working class roots and lack of family made her appear more sexually
available, "the ideal playmate", in contrast to her contemporary,
Grace Kelly, who was also marketed as an attractive blonde, but due to
her upper-class background came to be seen as a sophisticated actress,
unattainable for the majority of male viewers.
According to Dyer, Monroe became "virtually a household name for sex"
in the 1950s and "her image has to be situated in the flux of ideas
about morality and sexuality that characterised the fifties in
America", such as Freudian ideas about sex, the Kinsey report (1953),
and Betty Friedan's
The Feminine Mystique
The Feminine Mystique (1963). By appearing
vulnerable and unaware of her sex appeal, Monroe was the first sex
symbol to present sex as natural and without danger, in contrast to
the 1940s femme fatales. Spoto likewise describes her as the
embodiment of "the postwar ideal of the American girl, soft,
transparently needy, worshipful of men, naïve, offering sex without
demands", which is echoed in Molly Haskell's statement that "she was
the fifties fiction, the lie that a woman had no sexual needs, that
she is there to cater to, or enhance, a man's needs." Monroe's
Norman Mailer wrote that "
Marilyn suggested sex might be
difficult and dangerous with others, but ice cream with her", while
Groucho Marx characterized her as "Mae West, Theda Bara, and Bo Peep
all rolled into one". According to Haskell, due to her status as
a sex symbol, Monroe was less popular with women than with men, as
they "couldn't identify with her and didn't support her", although
this would change after her death.
Dyer has also argued that platinum blonde hair became such a defining
feature of Monroe because it made her "racially unambiguous" and
exclusively white just as the civil rights movement was beginning, and
that she should be seen as emblematic of racism in twentieth-century
popular culture. Banner agrees that it may not be a coincidence
that Monroe launched a trend of platinum blonde actresses during the
civil rights movement, but has also criticized Dyer, pointing out that
in her highly publicized private life Monroe associated with people
who were seen as "white ethnics", such as Joe DiMaggio
Arthur Miller (Jewish). According to
Banner, she sometimes challenged prevailing racial norms in her
publicity photographs; for example, in an image featured in Look in
1951, she was shown in revealing clothes while practicing with
African-American singing coach Phil Moore.
Monroe advertising shampoo in 1953
Monroe was perceived as a specifically American star, "a national
institution as well known as hot dogs, apple pie, or baseball"
according to Photoplay. Banner calls her the symbol of populuxe,
a star whose joyful and glamorous public image "helped the nation cope
with its paranoia in the 1950s about the Cold War, the atom bomb, and
the totalitarian communist Soviet Union". Historian Fiona
Handyside writes that the French female audiences associated
whiteness/blondness with American modernity and cleanliness, and so
Monroe came to symbolize a modern, "liberated" woman whose life takes
place in the public sphere. Film historian
Laura Mulvey has
written of her as an endorsement for American consumer culture:
If America was to export the democracy of glamour into post-war,
impoverished Europe, the movies could be its shop window ...
Marilyn Monroe, with her all American attributes and streamlined
sexuality, came to epitomise in a single image this complex interface
of the economic, the political, and the erotic. By the mid 1950s, she
stood for a brand of classless glamour, available to anyone using
American cosmetics, nylons and peroxide.
Twentieth Century Fox profited from Monroe's popularity by cultivating
several lookalike actresses that included
Jayne Mansfield and Sheree
North. Other studios also attempted to create their own Monroes:
Universal Pictures with Mamie Van Doren,
Columbia Pictures with
Kim Novak, and
Rank Organisation with Diana Dors.
Marilyn Monroe in popular culture
Monroe in 1953
According to The Guide to United States Popular Culture, "as an icon
of American popular culture, Monroe's few rivals in popularity include
Elvis Presley and Mickey Mouse ... no other star has ever
inspired such a wide range of emotions – from lust to pity,
from envy to remorse." Art historian Gail Levin stated that
Monroe may have been "the most photographed person of the 20th
century", and The
American Film Institute
American Film Institute has named her the sixth
greatest female screen legend in American film history. The
Smithsonian Institution has included her on their list of "100 Most
Significant Americans of All Time", and both Variety and
placed her in the top ten in their rankings of the greatest popular
culture icons of the twentieth century. Hundreds of books
have been written about Monroe, she has been the subject of films,
plays, operas, and songs, and has influenced artists and entertainers
Andy Warhol and Madonna. She also remains a valuable
brand: her image and name have been licensed for hundreds of
products, and she has been featured in advertising for multinational
corporations and brands such as Max Factor, Chanel, Mercedes-Benz, and
Monroe's enduring popularity is linked to her conflicted public
image. On the one hand, she remains a sex symbol, beauty icon and
one of the most famous stars of classical Hollywood
cinema. On the other, she is also remembered for her
troubled private life, unstable childhood, struggle for professional
respect, as well as her death and the conspiracy theories that
surrounded it. She has been written about by scholars and
journalists who are interested in gender and feminism; these
writers include Gloria Steinem, Jacqueline Rose, Molly
Haskell, Sarah Churchwell, and Lois Banner. Some, such
as Steinem, have viewed her as a victim of the studio
system. Others, such as Haskell, Rose, and
Churchwell, have instead stressed Monroe's proactive role in her
career and her participation in the creation of her public persona.
Left panel from pop artist James Gill's painting
Due to the contrast between her stardom and troubled private life,
Monroe is closely linked to broader discussions about modern phenomena
such as mass media, fame, and consumer culture. According to
academic Susanne Hamscha, Monroe has continued relevance to ongoing
discussions about modern society, and she is "never completely
situated in one time or place" but has become "a surface on which
narratives of American culture can be (re-)constructed", and
"functions as a cultural type that can be reproduced, transformed,
translated into new contexts, and enacted by other people".
Similarly, Banner has called Monroe the "eternal shapeshifter" who is
re-created by "each generation, even each individual ... to their
While Monroe remains a cultural icon, critics are divided on her
legacy as an actress. David Thomson called her body of work
Pauline Kael wrote that she could not act,
but rather "used her lack of an actress's skills to amuse the public.
She had the wit or crassness or desperation to turn cheesecake into
acting – and vice versa; she did what others had the 'good taste'
not to do". In contrast, according to Peter Bradshaw, Monroe was
a talented comedian who "understood how comedy achieved its
Roger Ebert wrote that "Monroe's eccentricities and
neuroses on sets became notorious, but studios put up with her long
after any other actress would have been blackballed because what they
got back on the screen was magical". Similarly, Jonathan
Rosenbaum stated that "she subtly subverted the sexist content of her
material" and that "the difficulty some people have discerning
Monroe's intelligence as an actress seems rooted in the ideology of a
repressive era, when superfeminine women weren't supposed to be
Marilyn Monroe performances and awards
Dangerous Years (1947)
Scudda Hoo! Scudda Hay! (1948)
Ladies of the Chorus
Ladies of the Chorus (1948)
Love Happy (1949)
A Ticket to Tomahawk
A Ticket to Tomahawk (1950)
The Asphalt Jungle
The Asphalt Jungle (1950)
All About Eve
All About Eve (1950)
The Fireball (1950)
Right Cross (1951)
Home Town Story
Home Town Story (1951)
As Young as You Feel
As Young as You Feel (1951)
Love Nest (1951)
Let's Make It Legal
Let's Make It Legal (1951)
Clash by Night
Clash by Night (1952)
We're Not Married!
We're Not Married! (1952)
Don't Bother to Knock
Don't Bother to Knock (1952)
Monkey Business (1952)
O. Henry's Full House
O. Henry's Full House (1952)
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)
How to Marry a Millionaire
How to Marry a Millionaire (1953)
River of No Return
River of No Return (1954)
There's No Business Like Show Business (1954)
The Seven Year Itch
The Seven Year Itch (1955)
Bus Stop (1956)
The Prince and the Showgirl
The Prince and the Showgirl (1957)
Some Like It Hot
Some Like It Hot (1959)
Let's Make Love
Let's Make Love (1960)
The Misfits (1961)
Something's Got to Give
Something's Got to Give (1962 - unfinished)
^ Gladys named Mortensen as Monroe's father in the birth certificate
(although the name was misspelled), but it is unlikely that he was
the father. Biographers Fred Guiles and
Lois Banner have stated
that her father was most likely Charles Stanley Gifford, a co-worker
with whom Gladys had an affair in 1925, whereas
Donald Spoto thinks
another co-worker was most likely the father.
^ Monroe spoke about being sexually abused by a lodger when she was
eight years old to her biographers
Ben Hecht in 1953–54 and Maurice
Zolotow in 1960, and in interviews for
Paris Match and
Cosmopolitan. Although she refused to name the abuser, Banner
believes he was George Atkinson, as he was a lodger and fostered
Monroe when she was eight; Banner also states that Monroe's
description of the abuser fits other descriptions of Atkinson.
Banner has argued that the abuse may have been a major causative
factor in Monroe's mental health problems, and has also written that
as the subject was taboo in mid-century United States, Monroe was
unusual in daring to speak about it publicly. Spoto does not
mention the incident but states that Monroe was sexually abused by
Grace's husband in 1937 and by a cousin while living with a relative
in 1938. Barbara Leaming repeats Monroe's account of the abuse,
but earlier biographers Fred Guiles, Anthony Summers and Carl Rollyson
have doubted the incident due to lack of evidence beyond Monroe's
^ RKO's owner
Howard Hughes had expressed an interest in Monroe after
seeing her on a magazine cover.
^ It has sometimes been erroneously claimed that Monroe appeared as an
extra in other Fox films during this period, including Green Grass of
Wyoming, The Shocking Miss Pilgrim, and You Were Meant For Me, but
there is no evidence to support this.
^ Monroe and Greene had first met and had a brief affair in 1949, and
met again in 1953, when he photographed her for Look. She told him
about her grievances with the studio, and Greene suggested that they
start their own production company.
^ Monroe underwent psychoanalysis regularly from 1955 until her death
in 1962. Her analysts were psychiatrists Margaret Hohenberg
Anna Freud (1957), Marianne Kris (1957–61), and Ralph
^ Monroe identified with the Jewish people as a "dispossessed group"
and wanted to convert to make herself part of Miller's family.
She was instructed by Rabbi Robert Goldberg and converted on July 1,
1956. Monroe's interest in Judaism as a religion was limited: she
referred to herself as a "Jewish atheist" and after her divorce from
Miller, did not practice the faith aside from retaining some religious
items. Egypt also lifted her ban after the divorce was finalized
^ It also caused her to experience severe menstrual pain throughout
her life, necessitating a clause in her contract allowing her to be
absent from work during her period, and required several
surgeries. It has sometimes been alleged that Monroe underwent
several abortions, and that unsafe abortions made by persons without
proper medical training would have contributed to her inability to
maintain a pregnancy. The abortion rumors began from statements
made by Amy Greene, the wife of Milton Greene, but have not been
confirmed by any concrete evidence. Furthermore, Monroe's autopsy
report did not note any evidence of abortions.
^ Monroe first admitted herself to the Payne Whitney Psychiatric
Clinic in New York, at the suggestion of her psychiatrist Marianne
Kris. Kris later stated that her choice of hospital was a
mistake: Monroe was placed on a ward meant for severely mentally ill
people with psychosis, where she was locked in a padded cell and was
not allowed to move to a more suitable ward or to leave the
hospital. Monroe was finally able to leave the hospital after
three days with the help of Joe DiMaggio, and moved to the Columbia
University Medical Center, spending a further 23 days there.
^ Monroe and Kennedy had mutual friends and were familiar with each
other. Although they sometimes had casual sexual encounters, there is
no evidence that their relationship was serious.
^ Hertel, Howard; Heff, Don (August 6, 1962). "
Marilyn Monroe Dies;
Los Angeles Times. Tribune Publishing. Retrieved
September 23, 2015.
^ Chapman 2001, pp. 542–543; Hall 2006, p. 468.
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 3, 13–14; Banner 2012, p. 13.
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 9–10; Rollyson 2014, pp. 26–29.
^ Miracle & Miracle 1994, p. see family tree.
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 7–9; Banner 2012, p. 19.
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 7–9.
^ Spoto 2001, p. 88, for first meeting in 1944; Banner 2012,
p. 72, for mother telling Monroe of sister in 1938.
^ Churchwell 2004, p. 150, citing Spoto and Summers; Banner 2012,
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 17, 57.
^ Churchwell 2004, p. 150, citing Spoto, Summers and Guiles.
^ Churchwell 2004, pp. 149–152; Banner 2012, p. 26; Spoto
2001, p. 13.
^ Churchwell 2004, p. 152; Banner 2012, p. 26; Spoto 2001,
^ a b c Spoto 2001, pp. 17–26; Banner 2012, pp. 32–35.
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 16–17; Churchwell 2004, p. 164; Banner
2012, pp. 22–32.
^ Banner 2012, pp. 32–33.
^ Banner 2012, p. 35.
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 26–28; Banner 2012, pp. 35–39.
^ Churchwell 2004, pp. 155–156.
^ Churchwell 2004, pp. 155–156; Banner 2012, pp. 39–40.
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 100–101, 106–107, 215–216; Banner 2012,
pp. 39–42, 45–47, 62, 72, 91, 205.
^ Meryman, Richard (September 14, 2007). "Great interviews of the 20th
century: "When you're famous you run into human nature in a raw kind
of way"". The Guardian. Guardian Media Group. Retrieved October 21,
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 40–49; Churchwell 2004, p. 165; Banner
2012, pp. 40–62.
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 33–40; Banner 2012, pp. 40–54.
^ Banner 2012, pp. 48–49.
^ Banner 2012, pp. 40–59.
^ Banner 2012, pp. 7, 40–59.
^ Spoto 2001, p. 55; Churchwell 2004, pp. 166–173.
^ Churchwell 2004, pp. 166–173.
^ Banner 2012, pp. 27, 54–73.
^ Banner 2012, pp. 47–48.
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 44–45; Churchwell 2004, pp. 165–166;
Banner 2012, pp. 62–63.
^ Banner 2012, pp. 60-63.
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 49–50; Banner 2012, pp. 62–63 (see
also footnotes), 455.
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 49–50; Banner 2012, pp. 62–63, 455.
^ Banner 2012, pp. 62–64.
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 51–67; Banner 2012, pp. 62–86.
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 68–69; Banner 2012, p. 75–77.
^ Banner 2012, pp. 73–76.
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 67–69; Banner 2012, p. 86.
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 67–69.
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 70–75; Banner 2012, pp. 86–90.
^ Banner 2012, pp. 86–90.
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 70–75.
^ Spoto 2001, p. 70–78.
^ a b c Spoto 2001, pp. 83–86; Banner 2012, pp. 91–98.
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 90–91; Churchwell 2004, p. 176.
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 90–93; Churchwell 2004, pp. 176–177.
^ "YANK USA 1945". Wartime Press. Archived from the original on August
7, 2017. Retrieved January 13, 2012.
^ Banner 2012, pp. 103–104.
^ a b Spoto 2001, pp. 93–95; Banner 2012, pp. 105–108.
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 95–107.
^ Spoto 2001, p. 95, for statement & covers; Banner 2012,
p. 109, for Snively's statement.
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 110–111.
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 110–112; Banner 2012, pp. 117–119.
^ Banner 2012, p. 119.
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 112–114.
^ Spoto 2001, p. 114.
^ Spoto 2001, p. 109.
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 118–119.
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 119–120; Banner 2012, pp. 130–131.
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 120–121.
^ a b Churchwell 2004, p. 59.
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 122–126.
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 120–121, 126; Banner 2012, p. 133.
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 122–129; Banner 2012, p. 133.
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 130–133; Banner 2012, pp. 133–144.
^ Churchwell 2004, pp. 204–216, citing Summers, Spoto and
Guiles for Schenck; Banner 2012, pp. 141–144; Spoto 2001,
^ Banner 2012, p. 139.
^ a b Spoto 2001, pp. 133–134.
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 141–144.
^ Banner 2012, p. 148.
^ Summers 1985, p. 43.
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 145–146; Banner 2012, pp. 149, 157.
^ Spoto 2001, p. 146; Banner 2012, pp. 148–149.
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 151–153.
^ Banner 2012, p. 149.
^ Churchwell 2004, pp. 59–60.
^ a b Spoto 2001, pp. 159–162.
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 168–170.
^ Riese & Hitchens 1988, p. 228; Spoto 2001, p. 182.
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 175–177; Banner 2012, p. 157.
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 183, 191.
^ Churchwell 2004, p. 60.
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 179–187; Churchwell 2004, p. 60.
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 188–189; Banner 2012, pp. 170–171.
^ Spoto 2001, p. 192.
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 180–181; Banner 2012, pp. 163–167,
181–182 for Kazan and others.
^ Muir, Florabel (October 19, 1952). "
Marilyn Monroe Tells: How to
Deal With Wolves". Chicago Tribune. Tribune Publishing. Retrieved
October 18, 2015.
^ Hopper, Hedda (May 4, 1952). "They Call Her The Blowtorch Blonde".
Chicago Tribune. Tribune Publishing. Retrieved October 18, 2015.
^ a b Kahana, Yoram (January 30, 2014). "Marilyn: The Globes' Golden
Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA). Retrieved September
^ Spoto 2001, p. 201; Banner 2012, p. 192.
^ Summers 1985, p. 58; Spoto 2001, pp. 210–213.
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 210–213; Churchwell 2004, pp. 224–226;
Banner 2012, pp. 194–195.
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 210–213; Churchwell 2004, pp. 61–62,
224–226; Banner 2012, pp. 194–195.
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 224–225.
^ Churchwell 2004, p. 61 for being commercially successful;
Banner 2012, p. 178 for wishes to not be solely a sex symbol.
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 194–195; Churchwell 2004, pp. 60–61.
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 194–195.
^ "Clash By Night". American Film Institute. Retrieved August 8,
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 196–197.
^ Crowther, Bosley (July 19, 1952). "Don't Bother to Knock". The New
Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr.
Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr. Retrieved August 8,
^ Churchwell 2004, p. 61; Banner 2012, p. 180.
^ "Review: Don't Bother to Knock". Variety. Penske Media Corporation.
December 31, 1951. Retrieved August 8, 2015.
^ Spoto 2001, p. 200.
^ a b c Churchwell 2004, p. 62.
^ Churchwell 2004, p. 238.
^ Spoto 2001, p. 139, 195, 233–234, 241, 244, 372.
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 328–329; Churchwell 2004, pp. 51–56;
238; Banner 2012, pp. , 188–189; 211–214.
^ "Filmmaker Interview — Gail Levin". PBS. July 19, 2006. Retrieved
June 28, 2016.
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 328–329; Churchwell 2004, p. 238; Banner
2012, pp. 211–214, 311.
^ Churchwell 2004, pp. 257–264.
^ Banner 2012, pp. 189–190, 210-211.
^ Spoto 2001, p. 221; Churchwell 2004, pp. 61–65; Lev
2013, p. 168.
^ a b "The 2006 Motion Picture Almanac, Top Ten Money Making Stars".
Quigley Publishing Company. Archived from the original on December 21,
2014. Retrieved August 25, 2008.
^ Churchwell 2004, p. 233.
^ Churchwell 2004, pp. 25, 62.
^ a b Churchwell 2004, p. 62; Banner 2012, pp. 195–196.
^ Spoto 2001, p. 221; Banner 2012, p. 205; Leaming 1998,
p. 75 on box office figure.
^ "Niagara Falls Vies With
Marilyn Monroe". The New York Times. Arthur
Ochs Sulzberger, Jr. January 22, 1953. Retrieved October 18,
^ "Review: 'Niagara'". Variety. Penske Media Corporation. December 31,
1952. Retrieved October 18, 2015.
^ a b Spoto 2001, pp. 236–238; Churchwell 2004, p. 234;
Banner 2012, pp. 205–206.
^ Spoto 2001, p. 231; Churchwell 2004, p. 64; Banner 2012,
p. 200; Leaming 1998, pp. 75–76.
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 219–220; Banner 2012, p. 177.
^ Spoto 2001, p. 242; Banner 2012, pp. 208–209.
^ Solomon 1988, p. 89; Churchwell 2004, p. 63.
^ Brogdon, William (July 1, 1953). "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes".
Variety. Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved October 18, 2015.
^ Crowther, Bosley (July 16, 1953). "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes". The
New York Times.
Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr.
Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr. Retrieved October 18,
^ Spoto 2001, p. 250.
^ Spoto 2001, p. 238; Churchwell 2004, pp. 64–65.
^ Solomon 1988, p. 89; Churchwell 2004, p. 65; Lev 2013,
^ Solomon 1988, p. 89.
^ a b Churchwell 2004, p. 217.
^ Churchwell 2004, p. 68.
^ Churchwell 2004, pp. 68, 208–209.
^ Summers 1985, p. 92; Spoto 2001, p. 254–259.
^ Spoto 2001, p. 260.
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 262–263.
^ Churchwell 2004, p. 241.
^ Spoto 2001, p. 267.
^ a b Spoto 2001, p. 271.
^ Churchwell 2004, pp. 66–67.
^ Riese & Hitchens 1988, pp. 338–440; Spoto 2001,
p. 277; Churchwell 2004, p. 66; Banner 2012, p. 227.
^ a b Spoto 2001, pp. 283–284.
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 284–285; Banner 2012, pp. 8–9.
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 208, 222–223; 262–267, 292; Churchwell
2004, pp. 243–245; Banner 2012, pp. 204; 219–221.
^ Summers 1985, pp. 103–105; Spoto 2001, pp. 290–295;
Banner 2012, pp. 224–225.
^ Spoto 2001, p. 331.
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 295–298; Churchwell 2004, p. 246.
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 158–159, 252–254.
^ Spoto 2001, p. 303.
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 302–303.
^ a b Spoto 2001, pp. 301–302.
^ Spoto 2001, p. 338.
^ Spoto 2001, p. 302.
^ Spoto 2001, p. 327.
^ Spoto 2001, p. 350.
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 310–313.
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 312–313, 375, 384–385, 421, 459 on years
^ a b Spoto 2001; Churchwell 2004, p. 253, for Miller; Banner
2012, p. 285, for Brando.
^ a b Spoto 2001, p. 337; Meyers 2010, p. 98.
^ Summers 1985, p. 157; Spoto 2001, pp. 318–320;
Churchwell 2004, pp. 253–254.
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 336–345.
^ Summers 1985, p. 157; Churchwell 2004, pp. 253–254.
^ a b c Spoto 2001, pp. 339–340.
^ a b Banner 2012, pp. 296–297.
^ a b Spoto 2001, p. 341.
^ Spoto 2001, p. 345.
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 343–345.
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 364–365.
^ Schreck, Tom (November 2014). "
Marilyn Monroe's Westchester Wedding;
Plus, More County Questions And Answers". Westchester Magazine.
^ a b c d Meyers 2010, pp. 156–157.
^ Banner 2012, p. 256.
^ Churchwell 2004, pp. 253–257; Meyers 2010, p. 155.
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 352–357.
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 352–354.
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 354–358, for location and time; Banner 2012,
p. 297, 310.
^ Banner 2012, p. 254.
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 358–359; Churchwell 2004, p. 69.
^ Spoto 2001, p. 358.
^ Spoto 2001, p. 372.
^ a b Churchwell 2004, pp. 258–261.
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 370–379; Churchwell 2004, pp. 258–261;
Banner 2012, pp. 310–311.
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 370–379.
^ a b Spoto 2001, pp. 368–376; Banner 2012, pp. 310–314.
^ Churchwell 2004, p. 69; Banner 2012, p. 314, for being on
^ Churchwell 2004, p. 69.
^ a b Banner 2012, p. 346.
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 381–382.
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 392–393.
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 406–407.
^ a b Churchwell 2004, pp. 274–277.
^ Churchwell 2004, pp. 271–274; Banner 2012, pp. 222, 226,
329–30, 335, 362.
^ a b Churchwell 2004, pp. 271–274.
^ Banner 2012, p. 321.
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 389–391.
^ Banner 2012, p. 325 on it being a comedy on gender.
^ Banner 2012, p. 325.
^ Churchwell 2004, p. 626.
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 399–407; Churchwell 2004, p. 262.
^ Banner 2012, p. 327 on "sinking ship" and "phallic symbol";
Rose 2014, p. 100 for full quote.
^ a b Churchwell 2004, pp. 262–266; Banner 2012,
^ Spoto 2001, p. 406.
^ Spoto 2001, p. 406; Banner 2012, p. 346.
^ "Review: 'Some Like It Hot'". Variety. Penske Media Corporation.
February 24, 1959. Retrieved October 21, 2015.
^ "The 100 greatest comedies of all time". BBC. August 22, 2017.
Retrieved January 21, 2018.
^ "Some Like It Hot". American Film Institute. Retrieved September 5,
^ Christie, Ian (September 2012). "The top 50 Greatest Films of All
Time". British Film Institute. Retrieved September 5, 2015.
^ a b Churchwell 2004, p. 71.
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 410–415.
^ Churchwell 2004, p. 72.
^ Riese & Hitchens 1988, p. 270; Churchwell 2004,
p. 266; Solomon 1988, p. 139.
^ Crowther, Bosley (September 9, 1960). "Movie Review: Let's Make Love
(1960)". The New York Times.
Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr.
Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr. Retrieved
October 18, 2015.
^ Hopper, Hedda (August 25, 1960). "Hedda Finds Marilyn's Film 'Most
Vulgar'". Chicago Tribune. Tribune Publishing. Retrieved October 18,
^ Banner 2012, p. 335.
^ a b Churchwell 2004, p. 266.
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 429–430.
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 431–435; Churchwell 2004, pp. 266–267;
Banner 2012, p. 352.
^ a b Spoto 2001, pp. 435–445; Banner 2012, pp. 353–356.
^ Tracy 2010, p. 109.
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 450–455.
^ a b Spoto 2001, p. 456; Banner 2012, p. 361.
^ "The Misfits". Variety. December 31, 1960. Retrieved November 16,
^ Crowther, Bosley (February 2, 1961). "Movie Review: The Misfits
(1961)". The New York Times.
Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr.
Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr. Retrieved
October 18, 2015.
^ Andrew, Geoff (June 17, 2015). "A Film That Fate Helped Make a
Classic: The Misfits". British Film Institute. Retrieved September 10,
^ Tracy 2010, p. 96.
^ McNab, Geoffrey (June 12, 2015). "The Misfits, film review: Marilyn
Monroe gives an extraordinary performance". The Independent. Retrieved
November 16, 2016.
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 453–454.
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 453, for a new role, 466–467 for operations,
456–464 for psychiatric hospital stays.
^ a b c Spoto 2001, pp. 456–459.
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 464–465, 483, 594–596; Churchwell 2004,
^ a b Spoto 2001, pp. 465–470, 484–485.
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 495–496; Churchwell 2004, pp. 74–75.
^ Churchwell 2004, p. 258, for the involvement of MMP.
^ a b Spoto 2001, pp. 524–525; Banner 2012, pp. 391–392;
Rollyson 2014, pp. 264–272.
^ a b Spoto 2001, pp. 520–521; Churchwell 2004,
^ Churchwell 2004, pp. 291–294; Rollyson 2014, p. 17;
Spoto 2001, pp. 488–493.
^ Banner 2012, p. 398.
^ Spoto 2001, p. 523.
^ Churchwell 2004, p. 74.
^ Spoto 2001, p. 535.
^ a b Churchwell 2004, p. 75.
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 535–536.
^ Rollyson 2014, p. 273–274; 279; Spoto 2001, pp. 537,
545–549; Banner 2012, p. 402.
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 538–543; Churchwell 2004, p. 285.
^ Banner 2012, p. 401.
^ Summers 1985, p. 301; Spoto 2001, pp. , 537, 545–549;
Banner 2012, pp. 401–402.
^ a b c d Spoto 2001, pp. 574–577; Banner 2012,
^ a b Spoto 2001, pp. 580–583; Banner 2012, pp. 411–412.
^ Banner 2012, p. 411.
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 580–583; Churchwell 2004, p. 302; Banner
2012, pp. 411–412.
^ a b Kormam, Seymour (August 18, 1962). "
Marilyn Monroe Ruled
'Probable Suicide' Victim". Chicago Tribune. Tribune Publishing.
Retrieved October 21, 2015.
^ Banner 2012, pp. 411–413.
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 580–583; Banner 2012, pp. 411–413.
^ a b Banner 2012, p. 427.
^ Hopper, Hedda (August 6, 1962). "Pill Death Secret Goes With
Marilyn". Chicago Tribune. Tribune Publishing. Retrieved September 23,
^ "Brilliant Stardom and Personal Tragedy Punctuated the Life of
Marilyn Monroe". The New York Times. Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr.
August 6, 1962. Retrieved September 23, 2015.
^ a b c Spoto 2001, pp. 594–597; Banner 2012,
^ "Top 10 Celebrity Grave Sites:
Marilyn Monroe". Time. Time Inc.
Retrieved October 15, 2015.
^ Churchwell 2004, pp. 297–318, for different theories proposed
by Spoto, Summers, Brown & Barham, and Donald Wolfe.
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 605–606; Churchwell 2004, pp. 88, 300.
^ Spoto 2001, p. 606.
^ Churchwell 2004, p. 33.
^ a b Banner 2012, pp. 124, 177.
^ Banner 2012, pp. 172–174; Hall 2006, p. 489.
^ Stacey, Michelle (May 2008). "Model Arrangement". Smithsonian
Institution. Retrieved September 11, 2015.
^ Spoto 2001, pp. 172–174, 210–215, 566; Churchwell 2004,
p. 9; Banner 2012, pp. 172–174.
^ Banner 2012, p. 238.
^ Banner 2012, pp. 38, 175, 343.
^ Churchwell 2004, pp. 21–26, 181–185.
^ Dyer 1986, pp. 33–34; Churchwell 2004, pp. 25, 57–58;
Banner 2012, p. 185; Hall 2006, p. 489.
^ Banner 2012, p. 194.
^ a b Dyer 1986, pp. 19–20.
^ Churchwell 2004, p. 25; Banner 2012, pp. 246–250.
^ a b Spoto 2001, pp. 224–225, 342–343; Churchwell 2004,
^ Dyer 1986, p. 45; Harris 1991, pp. 40–44; Banner 2012,
pp. 44–45, 184–185.
^ Banner 2012, pp. 44–45.
^ Banner 2012, pp. 273–276.
^ Dotinga, Randy (August 3, 2012). "
Marilyn Monroe: Anything but a
dumb blonde". The
Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved June 16,
^ Banner 2012, p. 244.
^ Churchwell 2004, p. 63 for West; Banner 2012, p. 325.
^ Banner 2012, pp. 170–171.
^ Banner 2012, p. 201.
^ a b Dyer 1986, pp. 19, 20.
^ Harris 1991, pp. 40–44.
^ Dyer 1986, p. 21; Dyer 1991, p. 58.
^ Dyer 1986, pp. 29–39.
^ Haskell 1991, p. 256; Spoto 2001, p. 249.
^ Dyer 1986, p. 39; Churchwell 2004, p. 82.
^ Dyer 1986, p. 57, quoting Haskell.
^ Dyer 1986, p. 40.
^ Banner 2012, pp. 254–256.
^ Banner 2012, p. 184.
^ Banner 2012, p. 8.
^ Banner 2012, pp. 239–240.
^ Handyside 2010, pp. 1–16.
^ Handyside 2010, p. 2, quoting Mulvey.
^ Spoto 2001, p. 396; Belton 2005, p. 103.
^ Spoto 2001, p. 396.
^ Solomon 2010, p. 110.
^ "From the archives: Sex Symbol
Diana Dors Dies at 52". The Guardian.
May 5, 1964. Retrieved September 11, 2015.
^ Chapman 2001, pp. 542–543.
^ "Filmmaker interview – Gail Levin". Public Broadcasting Service.
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^ Frail, T.A. (November 17, 2014). "Meet the 100 Most Significant
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September 10, 2015.
^ "The 200 Greatest Pop Culture Icons Complete Ranked List" (Press
release). VH1. Retrieved September 10, 2015 – via PR Newswire.
^ Churchwell 2004, pp. 12–15; Hamscha 2013, pp. 119–129.
^ Schneider, Michel (November 16, 2011). "Michel Schneider's Top 10
Marilyn Monroe". The Guardian. Guardian Media Group.
Retrieved August 30, 2015.
^ "The Blond
Marilyn Monroe". Time. June 14, 1999. Retrieved August
30, 2015. (Subscription required (help)).
^ Churchwell 2004, pp. 33, 40.
^ a b c Churchwell, Sarah (January 9, 2015). "
Max Factor Can't Claim
Marilyn Monroe". The Guardian. Guardian Media Group.
Retrieved August 30, 2015.
^ Fuller & Lloyd 1983, p. 309; Marcus 2004, pp. 17–19,
309; Churchwell 2004, pp. 21–42.
^ Churchwell 2004, p. 8.
^ Stromberg, Joseph (August 5, 2011). "Remembering
Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved September 10, 2015.
^ Wild, Mary (May 29, 2015). "Marilyn: The Icon". British Film
Institute. Retrieved September 10, 2015.
^ Fuller & Lloyd 1983, p. 309; Steinem & Barris 1987,
pp. 13–15; Churchwell 2004, p. 8.
^ a b "Happy Birthday, Marilyn". The Guardian. Guardian Media Group.
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^ a b Rose 2014, pp. 100–137.
^ Haskell 1991, pp. 254–265.
^ Banner, Lois (July 21, 2012). "
Marilyn Monroe: Proto-feminist?". The
Guardian. Guardian Media Group. Retrieved November 7, 2015.
^ Steinem & Barris 1987, pp. 15–23; Churchwell 2004,
^ Haskell, Molly (November 22, 1998). "Engineering an Icon". The New
Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr.
Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr. Retrieved August 30,
^ a b Hamscha 2013, pp. 119–129.
^ Banner, Lois (August 5, 2012). "
Marilyn Monroe, the Eternal Shape
Los Angeles Times. Tribune Publishing. Retrieved August 30,
^ Thomson, David (August 6, 2012). "The Inscrutable Life and Death of
Marilyn Monroe". New Republic. Retrieved August 30, 2015.
^ Kael, Pauline (July 22, 1973). "Marilyn: A Rip-Off With Genius". The
New York Times.
Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr.
Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr. Retrieved August 30,
^ Bradshaw, Peter (May 9, 2012). "Cannes and the Magic of Marilyn
Monroe". The Guardian. Guardian Media Group. Retrieved August 30,
^ Ebert, Roger (January 9, 2000). "Some Like It Hot". Roger Ebert.com.
Retrieved July 11, 2016.
^ Rosenbaum, Jonathan (December 1, 2005). "
Marilyn Monroe's Brains".
Chicago Reader. Retrieved August 30, 2015.
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Dyer, Richard (1991) . "Charisma". In Gledhill, Christine.
Stardom: Industry of Desire. Routledge.
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Hamscha, Susanne (2013). "Thirty Are Better Than One:
and the Performance of Americanness". In Rieser, Klaus; Fuchs,
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Cleanliness and Sexuality in the French Reception of
European Journal of Cultural Studies. 3 (13): 1–16.
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of Desire. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-05217-7.
Haskell, Molly (1991). "From Reverence to Rape: The Treatment of Women
in the Movies". In Butler, Jeremy G. Star Texts: Image and Performance
in Film and Television. Wayne State University Press.
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1935–1965. University of Texas Press.
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Sixties in Contemporary Popular Culture. Rutgers University Press.
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Arthur Miller and
Marilyn Monroe. University of Illinois Press.
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Algonquin Books. ISBN 0-595-27671-7.
Marilyn (2010). Comment, Bernard, ed. Fragments: Poems,
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Find more about
Marilyn Monroeat's sister projects
Media from Wikimedia Commons
Quotations from Wikiquote
Data from Wikidata
Marilyn Monroe at Encyclopædia Britannica
Marilyn Monroe at Curlie (based on DMOZ)
Marilyn Monroe on IMDb
Marilyn Monroe at the TCM Movie Database
Marilyn Monroe discography at Discogs
Marilyn Monroe at the British Film Institute
Monroe's file at the
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Federal Bureau of Investigation website
Marilyn Monroe: Still Life" A website containing clips and essays
related to PBS's
American Masters documentary on Monroe
Marilyn Monroe at Find a Grave
Performances and awards
In popular culture
"Candle in the Wind"
"Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend"
"Happy Birthday, Mr. President"
"My Heart Belongs to Daddy"
"That Old Black Magic"
"You'd Be Surprised"
Marilyn: The Untold Story
My Week with Marilyn
John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy document hoax
The Last Sitting
12305 Fifth Helena Drive
Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Comedy or
Judy Holliday (1950)
June Allyson (1951)
Susan Hayward (1952)
Ethel Merman (1953)
Judy Garland (1954)
Jean Simmons (1955)
Deborah Kerr (1956)
Kay Kendall /
Taina Elg (1957)
Rosalind Russell (1958)
Marilyn Monroe (1959)
Shirley MacLaine (1960)
Rosalind Russell (1961)
Rosalind Russell (1962)
Shirley MacLaine (1963)
Julie Andrews (1964)
Julie Andrews (1965)
Lynn Redgrave (1966)
Anne Bancroft (1967)
Barbra Streisand (1968)
Patty Duke (1969)
Carrie Snodgress (1970)
Liza Minnelli (1972)
Glenda Jackson (1973)
Raquel Welch (1974)
Barbra Streisand (1976)
Diane Keaton /
Marsha Mason (1977)
Ellen Burstyn /
Maggie Smith (1978)
Bette Midler (1979)
Sissy Spacek (1980)
Bernadette Peters (1981)
Julie Andrews (1982)
Julie Walters (1983)
Kathleen Turner (1984)
Kathleen Turner (1985)
Sissy Spacek (1986)
Melanie Griffith (1988)
Jessica Tandy (1989)
Julia Roberts (1990)
Bette Midler (1991)
Miranda Richardson (1992)
Angela Bassett (1993)
Jamie Lee Curtis
Jamie Lee Curtis (1994)
Nicole Kidman (1995)
Helen Hunt (1997)
Gwyneth Paltrow (1998)
Janet McTeer (1999)
Renée Zellweger (2000)
Nicole Kidman (2001)
Renée Zellweger (2002)
Diane Keaton (2003)
Annette Bening (2004)
Reese Witherspoon (2005)
Meryl Streep (2006)
Marion Cotillard (2007)
Sally Hawkins (2008)
Meryl Streep (2009)
Annette Bening (2010)
Michelle Williams (2011)
Jennifer Lawrence (2012)
Amy Adams (2013)
Amy Adams (2014)
Jennifer Lawrence (2015)
Emma Stone (2016)
Saoirse Ronan (2017)
ISNI: 0000 0003 6863 9110
BNF: cb11916572r (data)