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Marilyn Monroe (June 1, 1926 - August 5, 1962) was an American film actress. She was born Norma Jean Mortenson in Los Angeles, California, but later took her mother's name Baker and called herself Norma Jean Baker. Marilyn Monroe was her screen name.
Passed among several homes as a girl, sexually abused as a teenager, Norma Jean thought little of herself. Yet she also had a gritty, opportunistic side, and dreamed of being a big movie star. She knew she had a soft voice and she climbed the ladder. She was both more intelligent and more unhappy than her screen goddess image ever suggested.
Marilyn Monroe was Playboy's first centerfold. She did not pose for Playboy, however. The photos were taken for a calendar several years earlier and Hugh Hefner purchased them for his men's magazine. A successful cinema career followed (after posing of the calendar—they were not featured in Playboy until after she was a movie star) where she co-starred with such big-screen stars as Cary Grant, Clark Gable, Laurence Olivier, Joseph Cotten, Richard Widmark, Jane Russell, Laurene Bacall, Ethel Merman, Charles Laugthon, Tony Curtis, french actor Ives Montand and Dean Martin.
Marilyn died in her Los Angeles home at age 36, supposedly a suicide from a overdose of sleeping pills, but circumstances surrounding her death have led many to believe that her death was not a suicide. Rather, some believe that she was killed because of her involvement with members of the Kennedy family. Nothing has ever emerged to prove this.
Gladys Baker, Marilyn's mother, was released from a sanitarium years after Marilyn's death. After her release she moved into her daughter Berniece's house in Florida. Afterward she moved to a nursing home where she died on congestive heart failure on March 11th, 1984 at eighty-two years old. She was never certain who Marilyn Monroe or Norma Jeane were when asked. A woman so fascinated by movie stars did not even know she gave birth to one of the most famous women in history.
Marilyn was married three times throughout her life. The first was to Jim Dougherty when she was 16 years old. Marilyn's guardian, Grace Goodard, who was moving away with her own new husband, wanted Marilyn to get married so she would not go back to an orphanage. She later divorced him in 1946, as she wanted to create a career for herself in movies and Jim did not want her to.
In 1952 she married baseball great Joe DiMaggio. That union lasted 9 months. Joe wanted Marilyn to be a housewife and have children. Marilyn always wanted children, but did not want to give up her career.
It's indicated by some that Joe had beaten Marilyn a number of times during their short marriage. One incident happened after her skirt blowing scene in The Seven Year Itch. After storming off the set during the scene, Joe returned home and after Marilyn's arrival later that evening, he allegedly assaulted Marilyn for the humiliation he felt during her "display."
Monroe and Miller on the set of The Misfits
Monroe's last husband was playwright Arthur Miller. To save their marriage, Arthur created the movie The Misfits as a Valentine for Marilyn. Shooting the movie was rough, and soon after the film wrapped they divorced. Arthur went on to marry Inge Morath, a photographer who was on the set of the movie to document its creation.
Death and Legacy
After Marilyn's death, Arthur opened a play called After the Fall with a character named Maggie who was very similar to Marilyn. The play upset all of Arthur and Marilyn's friends. Arthur's career in America was soon shattered. He now has a play in the works called Finishing the Picture which is centered around the making of The Misfits. Marilyn's character spends the play in a tranquillised haze in a hotel room, drinking and suffering a nervous breakdown.
DiMaggio never stopped loving Marilyn, and after she died, he sent fresh roses to her crypt 3 times a week for 20 years. He took over her funeral arrangements, and refused to allow her 'killers' to attend. No Hollywood figures attended, and no Kennedys were invited. Her first husband, Jim Dougherty, was working for the Los Angeles Police Department that day, and Arthur Miller did not attend.
Joe DiMaggio's last words were, "I'll finally get to see Marilyn."
Marilyn's make-up stylist, Whitey, promised Marilyn that he would make her up when she died. Marilyn even gave him a money clip with the words, "Whitey Dear, While I'm still warm, Marilyn." Joe reminded him of his promise when she died. He fulfilled that promise with the help of a bottle of whiskey.
Numerous books with photographs of Marilyn have been published over the years and once every two or three years "new, never before published" photos surface. For those interested not only in photos but in her life, Goddess, the Secret Lives of Marilyn Monroe, written by Anthony Summers is suggested reading ISBN 0451407474.
A myth that Marilyn Monroe was born with six toes resulted from the publication of photographs taken by the photographer Joseph Jasgur in March 1946. The pictures were published in the book The Birth of Marilyn: The Lost Photographs of Norma Jean (1991) by Jasgur and Jeannie Sakol. Two of the pictures can be interpreted as showing six toes, although they can also be explained as tricks of the light. Since there is no corroborating evidence from other photographs or written records, the story is commonly dismissed as an urban legend.
See also: List of celebrities with illicit drug history