Marilyn Monroe is not only an enduring symbol for Hollywood but also a sign that the Great American Dream exists. Her life stands testimony to the fact that if someone is determined enough, nothing can get in the way of success.
Born as Norma Jeane Mortenson on June 1, 1926 in Los Angeles General Hospital, her mother, Gladys, listed the father's address as 'unknown'. Due to her mother's mental instability and the fact that she was unmarried at the time, Norma Jeane was placed in the foster home of Albert and Ida Bolender. It was here she lived the first 7 years of her life.
Her life has been characterized by the presence of multiple marriages and a string of lovers. The first among these was James Dougherty. She married James when she was sixteen. He was five years older than her. He was over in the war when Marilyn (then Norma Jean) was discovered and offered a modeling career. Jim wanted Marilyn to stay home and take care of the house and have babies but Norma Jean was more interested in modeling. They divorced soon after his return from abroad.
On July 23, 1946 she signed a contract with Twentieth Century-Fox Studios. She selected her mother's family name of Monroe. From this point on, she would be known as Marilyn Monroe to all her fans. She had a minor part in the movie "Scudda-Hoo! Scudda-Hay!" and was dismissed as a contract player in August. Rehired in 1948, Marilyn sang her first song in the movie "Ladies of the Chorus".
She has been accused of using her talents at seduction to get ahead in the Hollywood rat race. It has been noticed throughout her career that she always has had the right man by her side. Johnny Hyde, of the William Morris Agency, became her mentor and lover in 1949. Also, in 1949, Marilyn agreed to pose nude for a calendar. Her first serious acting job came in 1950 when she had a small but crucial role in "The Asphalt Jungle." This ensured that she had the approval of the critics.
"Clash By Night" in 1952 earned her several favorable notices. Monroe's first leading part in a serious feature was to be in "Don't Bother to Knock", also filmed in 1952. In 1952 Marilyn began filming "Niagara" with Joseph Cotton, a film that was to establish her stardom. After her next big film, "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes", she and Jane Russell signed their names and placed their hands and feet in the wet cement in front of the Chinese Theater on Hollywood Boulevard.
Once her modeling career turned into a movie career she caught the eye of the famous baseball player, Joe DiMaggio. After a two year courtship they got married. But the personality clash was very apparent, she loved the spotlight but Joe had retired from it. Joe took special offense at her performances for the U.S. troops. Her marriage to Joe DiMaggio lasted for nine months.
Fox suspended Marilyn in 1954 for failure to appear on the set of "Pink Tights". The studio had refused to let her look at the script prior to accepting the part. She felt that due to her star status, she should have the right to script approval. Soon after her divorce from DiMaggio, she met and married playwright author Arthur Miller. Monroe captured Hollywood in a nut shell with her quote that "Hollywood is a place where they'll pay you a thousand dollars for a kiss and fifty cents for your soul."
On June 29, 1956, Marilyn wed playwright Arthur Miller. While they were married, Arthur wrote the part of Roslyn Taber in 1961's The Misfits for Marilyn. The movie co-starred Clark Gable and Montgomery Clift. Her constant dependence on pills and constant overdoses ensured that her marriage with Miller ended in failure. But the one man that outshines all the other men in the glamor stakes was John F Kennedy.
There are rumors that the President of the United States of America was Marilyn Monroe's lover. Unfortunately, in a shocking turn of events on the early morning of August 5, 1962, 36-year-old Marilyn died in her sleep at her Brentwood, California home. Every day since her death, Joe DiMaggio sent a dozen red roses to her grave. And it is also been said that DiMaggio's last words were that he would finally be with Marilyn again.
Elton John recorded the song "Candle in the Wind" as a tribute to Marilyn Monroe. In 1999, Marilyn was voted the 'Sexiest Woman of the Century' by People Magazine. Issued on June 1, 1995, Marilyn was featured on a 32-cent US commemorative postage stamp.