Born as Norma Jeane Mortenson, Marilyn Monroe was an American actress, singer and model. Famous as the comic ‘blonde bombshell’ of the roaring 50s, Monroe brought the ‘hourglass’ figure to the forefront of Hollywood and continues to be a famous popular culture icon even today.
Married at the age of 15 to John Newton Baker, who was nine years older than her, Monroe was raised in several foster homes in Los Angeles (LA). The couple later divorced.
As part of the war effort in 1944, Monroe started to work at the Radioplane Munitions Factory, just after her second marriage with Jim Dougherty.
Later in the same year, she met photographer David Conover and in 1945 Monroe began modelling for him and later signed a modelling contract, against her husband’s wishes, with Blue Book Model Agency in August of the same year.
By early 1946, Marilyn had appeared on at least 33 United States (US) magazine covers.
Following an unsuccessful interview with Paramount Pictures, she landed a standard six-month contract with 20th Century Fox.
Ben Lyon and Moroe chose the screen name ‘Marilyn Monroe’ after she signed the contract.
After several months of initial acting and singing classes, Marilyn was finally given her first acting role in Dangerous Years in 1947 and her second role in Scudda Hoo! Scudda Hay! in 1948.
Marilyn became Johnny Hyde’s protégée, who later secured a seven-year contract for her with 20th Century Fox.
The 50s brought the limelight to Marilyn and she secured parts in The Fireball, A Ticket To Tomahawk and Right Cross.
At the 23rd Academy Awards in 1951, she was chosen as a presenter for the evening.
In her contract’s second year she became a ‘top-billed’ actress.
Florabel Muir called Marilyn the ‘It Girl’ of 1952 and Hedda Hopper said that Marilyn was a “cheesecake queen” who transformed into a “box office smash”.
The studio suspended Marilyn’s services in 1954 because she had refused to star in another musical comedy, The Girl in Pink Tights with Frank Sinatra as co-star, instead of a serious drama film.
The year 1956 saw Time refer to the ‘it girl’ as a “shrewd businesswoman” because she had successfully secured another seven-year contract with Fox which allowed her to choose her own films, cinematographers, directors and projects.
Munroe’s last film was The Misfits by John Huston. Although the movie was what she wanted, a drama, it failed miserably at the box office.
At 3 am on August 6, 1962 Marilyn’s housekeeper, Eunice Murray, woke up and upon getting no response from her, even though she saw light coming out from under her bedroom called Monroe’s psychiatrist Dr Ralph Greenson.
The doctor broke through a window to get into Marilyn’s bedroom and found her dead in her bed.
Marilyn’s physician, Dr Hyman Engelberg, pronounced her dead shortly afterwards.
Empty medicine bottles were found at her bedside and the possibility of accidental overdose was defeated because the toxicology report revealed that the chemicals in her body were several times more than the lethal limit.
Several conspiracies regarding her death sprung up and a later threshold investigation by police revealed that no evidence of foul play was found.