Date of Birth
1 June 1926, Los Angeles, California, USA
Date of Death
5 August 1962, Los Angeles, California, USA (drug overdose)
Norma Jeane Mortenson
The Blonde Bombshell
5' 5½" (1.66 m)
Her mother was a film-cutter at RKO Studios who, widowed and mentally ill, abandoned her to sequence of foster homes. She was almost smothered to death at two, nearly raped at six. At nine the LA Orphans' Home paid her a nickel a month for kitchen work while taking back a penny every Sunday for church. At sixteen she worked in an aircraft plant and married a man she called Daddy; he went into the military, she modeled, they divorced in 1946. She owned 200 books (including Tolstoy, Whitman, Milton), listened to Beethoven records, studied acting at the Actors' lab in Hollywood, and took literature courses at UCLA downtown. 20th Century Fox gave her a contract but let it lapse a year later. In 1948, Columbia gave her a six-month contract, turned her over to coach Natasha Lytess and featured her in the B movie Ladies of the Chorus (1948) in which she sang two numbers. Joseph L. Mankiewicz saw her in a small part in The Asphalt Jungle (1950) and put her in Totul despre Eva (1950), resulting in 20th Century re-signing her to a seven-year contract. Niagara (1953) and Domnii prefera blondele (1953) launched her as a sex symbol superstar. When she went to a supper honoring her The Seven Year Itch (1955) she arrived in a red chiffon gown borrowed from the studio (she had never owned a gown). The same year she married and divorced baseball great 'Joe Dimaggio' (their wedding night was spent in Paso Robles, CA). After The Seven Year Itch (1955), she wanted serious acting to replace the sexpot image and went to New York's Actors Studio. She worked with director Lee Strasberg and also underwent psychoanalysis to learn more about herself. Critics praised her transformation in Bus Stop (1956) and the press was stunned by her marriage to playwright Arthur Miller. True to form, she had no veil to match her beige wedding dress so she dyed one in coffee; he wore one of the two suits he owned. They went to England that fall where she made Printul si dansatoarea (1957) with Laurence Olivier, fighting with him and falling further prey to alcohol and pills. Two miscarriages and gynecological surgery followed. So did an affair with Yves Montand. Work on her last picture The Misfits (1961), written for her by departing husband Miller was interrupted by exhaustion. She was dropped from the unfinished Something's Got to Give (1962) due to chronic lateness and drug dependency. Four months later she was found dead in her Brentwood home of a drug overdose, adjudged "probable suicide".
IMDb Mini Biography By: Ed Stephan
Probably the most celebrated of all actresses, Marilyn Monroe was born Norma Jeane Mortenson on Tuesday, June 1st, 1926, in Los Angeles General Hospital. Prior to her birth, Marilyn's father bought a motorcycle and headed north to San Francisco, abandoning the family in Los Angeles. Marilyn grew up not knowing for sure who her father really was. Her mother, Gladys, had entered into several relationships, further confusing her daughter as to who it was who fathered her. Afterward, Gladys gave Norma Jeane (Marilyn) the name of Baker, a boyfriend she had before Mortenson. Poverty was a constant companion to Gladys and Norma. Gladys, who was extremely attractive and worked for RKO Studios as a film cutter, suffered from mental illness and was in and out of mental institutions for the rest of her life, and because of that Norma Jeane spent time in foster homes. When she was nine she was placed in an orphanage where she was to stay for the next two years. Upon being released from the orphanage, she went to yet another foster home. In 1942, at the age of 16, Norma Jeane married 21-year-old aircraft plant worker James Dougherty. The marriage only lasted four years, and they divorced in 1946. By this time Marilyn began to model swimsuits and bleached her hair blonde. Various shots made their way into the public eye, where some were eventually seen by RKO Pictures head Howard Hughes. He offered Marilyn a screen test, but an agent suggested that 20th Century-Fox would be the better choice for her, since it was a much bigger and more prestigious studio. She was signed to a contract at $125 per week for a six-month period and that was increased by $25 per week at the end of that time when her contract was lengthened.
Her first film was in 1947 with a bit part in The Shocking Miss Pilgrim (1947). Her next production was not much better, a bit in the eminently forgettable Scudda Hoo! Scudda Hay! (1948). Two of the three brief scenes she appeared wound up on the cutting room floor. Later that same year she was given a somewhat better role as Evie in Dangerous Years (1947). However, Fox declined to renew her contract, so she went back to modeling and acting school.
Columbia Pictures then picked her up to play Peggy Martin in Ladies of the Chorus (1948), where she sang two numbers. Notices from the critics were favorable for her, if not the film, but Columbia dropped her. Once again Marilyn returned to modeling. In 1949 she appeared in United Artists' Love Happy (1949). It was also that same year she posed nude for the now famous calendar shot which was later to appear in Playboy magazine in 1953 and further boost her career. She would be the first centerfold in that magazine's long and illustrious history. The next year proved to be a good year for Marilyn. She appeared in five films, but the good news was that she received very good notices for her roles in two of them, The Asphalt Jungle (1950) from MGM and Totul despre Eva (1950) from Fox. Even though both roles were basically not much more than bit parts, movie fans remembered her ditzy but very sexy blonde performance.
In 1951, Marilyn got a fairly sizable role in Love Nest (1951). The public was now getting to know her and liked what it saw. She had an intoxicating quality of volcanic sexuality wrapped in an aura of almost childlike innocence. In 1952, Marilyn appeared in Don't Bother to Knock (1952), in which she played a somewhat mentally unbalanced babysitter. Critics didn't particularly care for her work in this picture, but she made a much more favorable impression later in the year in Monkey Business (1952), where she was seen for the first time as a platinum blonde, a look that became her trademark. The next year she appeared in Domnii prefera blondele (1953) as Lorelei Lee. It was also the same year she began dating the baseball great Joe DiMaggio.
Marilyn was now a genuine box-office drawing card. Later, she appeared with Betty Grable, Lauren Bacall and Rory Calhoun in How to Marry a Millionaire (1953). Although her co-stars got the rave reviews, it was the sight of Marilyn that really excited the audience, especially the male members. On Thursday, January 14th, 1954, Marilyn wed DiMaggio, then proceeded to film There's No Business Like Show Business (1954). That was quickly followed by The Seven Year Itch (1955), which showcased her considerable comedic talent and contained what is arguably one of the most memorable moments in cinema history: Marilyn standing above a subway grating and the wind from a passing subway blowing her white dress up.
By October of 1954, Marilyn announced her divorce from DiMaggio. The union lasted only eight months. In 1955 she was suspended by Fox for not reporting for work on How to Be Very, Very Popular (1955). It was her second suspension, the first being for not reporting for the production of The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing (1955). Both roles went to others. Her work was slowing down, due to her habit of being continually late to the set, her illnesses (whether real or imagined) and generally being unwilling to cooperate with her producers, directors, and fellow actors.
In Bus Stop (1956), however, Marilyn finally showed critics that she could play a straight dramatic role. It was also the same year she married playwright, Arthur Miller (they divorced in 1960). In 1957 Marilyn flew to Britain to film Printul si dansatoarea (1957) which proved less than impressive critically and financially. It made money, but many critics panned it for being slow-moving. After a year off in 1958, Marilyn returned to the screen the next year for the delightful comedy, Unora le place jazz-ul (1959) with Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon. The film was an absolute smash hit, with Curtis and Lemmon pretending to be females in an all-girl band, so they can get work. This was to be Marilyn's only film for the year.
In 1960 Marilyn appeared in George Cukor's Let's Make Love (1960), with Tony Randall and Yves Montand. Again, while it made money, it was critically panned as stodgy and slow-moving. The following year Marilyn made what was to be her final film. The Misfits (1961), which also proved to be the final film for the legendary Clark Gable, who died later that year of a heart attack. The film was popular with critics and the public alike.
In 1962 Marilyn was chosen to star in Fox's Something's Got to Give (1962). Again, her absenteeism caused delay after delay in production, resulting in her being fired from the production in June of that year. It looked as though her career was finished. Studios just didn't want to take a chance on her because it would cost them thousands of dollars in delays. She was only 36.
Marilyn made only 30 films in her lifetime, but her legendary status and mysticism will remain with film history forever.