Marilyn Monroe was an American model and an actress. Famous for playing “dumb blonde” characters, she became one of the most popular sex symbols of the 1950s, 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. She continues to be considered a major popular culture icon.
Let’s find out some rather interesting facts about her!
1. Norma Jeane Mortenson was born June 1, 1926, in Los Angeles.
2. She spent most of her childhood in foster homes and an orphanage.
3. A 15-year-old Baker had been staying with family friend Grace Goddard, but they decided to move to West Virginia, and couldn’t take Baker. Unless she married, the teenager would have been turned back over to an orphanage.
4. She married for the first time at the age of sixteen to 20-year-old James Dougherty.
5. James Dougherty was serving in Merchant Marine during the Second World War.
6. Norma Jeane worked in Van Nuy’s Radioplane factory. Here she was tasked with coating airplane/ drone parts with fire-resistant sprays and inspecting parachutes for any faults.
7. She never knew her father, and her mother had been committed to a psychiatric facility.
8. While working in a factory as part of the war effort in 1944, she met a photographer and began a successful pin-up modeling career.
9. The work led to short-lived film contracts with Twentieth Century-Fox (1946–47) and Columbia Pictures (1948).
10. After a series of minor film roles, she signed a new contract with Fox in 1951.
11. Over the next two years, she became a popular actress with roles in several comedies, including As Young as You Feel and Monkey Business, and in the dramas Clash by Night and Don’t Bother to Knock.
12. 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 increased interest in her films.
13. By 1953, Monroe was one of the most marketable Hollywood stars, with leading roles in three films: the noir 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”.
14. Even though 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.
15. Jane Russell was paid around 10 times as much as Marilyn when they co-starred in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Her salary for her final unfinished film, Something’s Got to Give, was $100,000.
16. Compare that with Elizabeth Taylor, who was getting a million dollars for Cleopatra; or even Marilyn’s co-star in the film, Dean Martin, who was on $500,000.
17. Today, her estate makes around five million dollars a year.
18. 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 (1955).
19. When the studio was still reluctant to change her contract, Monroe founded a film production company in late 1954, Marilyn Monroe Productions (MMP).
20. She dedicated 1955 to building her company and began studying method acting at the Actors Studio.
21. In late 1955, Fox awarded her a new contract, which gave her more control and a larger salary.
22. After a critically acclaimed performance in Bus Stop (1956) and acting in the first independent production of MMP, The Prince and the Showgirl (1957), she won a Golden Globe for Best Actress for Some Like It Hot (1959).
23. Her last completed film was the drama The Misfits (1961).
24. Monroe’s troubled private life received much attention. She struggled with addiction, depression, and anxiety. She had two highly publicized marriages, to baseball player Joe DiMaggio and playwright Arthur Miller, which both ended in divorce.
25. She died at the age of 36 on August 5, 1962 from an overdose of barbiturates at her home in Los Angeles.
26. The death was ruled a probable suicide.
27. But, several conspiracy theories have been proposed in the decades following her death.
25. Several of the burial vaults near to Marilyn’s have been put on sale.
26. When Elsie Poncher, the widow of the man in the vault above Marilyn’s, put his space up for sale on eBay, she received dozens of bids, including one for £2.8million.
27. In 1962 she was fired by Twentieth-Century Fox from the production of Something’s Got to Give because of her chronic lateness and no-shows (she didn’t appear for the first two weeks of filming).
28. But on August 1, four days before her death, she was rehired by Fox on a $1million, two-picture deal.
29. There was an open casket at her funeral. She wore an apple green Pucci sheath dress made of nylon jersey and a platinum wig (her head had been partially shaved during the autopsy).
30. She found it almost impossible to learn lines, and took 60 takes to deliver the line “It’s me, Sugar”, in Some Like it Hot.
31. She often referred to Marilyn Monroe in the third person. Actor Eli Wallach once recalled that Monroe seemed to flip an inner switch and turn “Marilyn” on and off. He had been walking on Broadway with her one evening, totally incognito, and the next minute, she was swarmed with attention. “‘I just felt like being Marilyn for a minute,’”
32. Wallach remembers her saying. Photographer Sam Shaw often heard her critiquing “Marilyn’s” performances in movies or at photo shoots, making comments like, “She wouldn’t do this. Marilyn would say that.”
33. Hugh Hefner owns the burial vault next to Marilyn at the Westwood Memorial Park in Los Angeles. He bought it in 1992 for £50,000.
34. She went by many names. On her birth certificate she is Norma Jeane Mortenson; she was baptised Norma Jeane Baker; she modelled under the names Jean Norman and Mona Monroe.
35. Her initial idea for a screen name was Jean Adair. she signed into hotels as Zelda Zonk and into a psychiatric clinic as Faye Miller.
36. She only legally changed her name to Marilyn Monroe in March 1956, when she was already a star.
37. Truman Capote had Monroe in mind for the lead role Breakfast at Tiffany’s—and she even performed two scenes for him. “She was terrifically good,” Capote later said.
38. In the end, she didn’t take the part because her advisor and acting coach didn’t think it was the type of character she should be playing.
39. Her Family has a history of suicidal depression. This is a problem that runs in the family history with Gladys’ grandmother and brother having suffered suicidal depression.
40. Her weight went up and down so dramatically during the filming of The Prince and the Showgirl that the costume designer, Beatrice Dawson, had to create facsimile dresses in different sizes.
41. She was rarely without an acting coach. Her first, Natasha Lytess, worked with her for six years and 22 films, clashing with directors, whose authority she challenged, and studio heads, who paid her bills.
42. Marilyn also paid her a wage and settled her £11,000 debt at the dentist..
43. Paula Strasberg took Lytess’s role; unlike Lytess, who tried to direct Marilyn’s every movement from behind the camera, Strasberg was consulted between takes.
44. To coach Marilyn in The Prince and the Showgirl, she was paid $25,000 – as much as some of the featured actors were getting.
45. Monroe states in her memoir that she was sexually abused by several people when she lived in foster care.
46. In January 2011, Authentic Brand Groups bought the licensing rights to the Marilyn Monroe estate, for a price in the range of $30million.
47. The first name Marilyn she borrowed from Marilyn Miller, a 1920s performer, and the second Monroe was her mother’s maiden name.
48. The stage name MM was made up by Ben Lyon who signed this talented girl to studio after seeing her pin-ups.
49. Marilyn’s life would take a paradoxical turn when she got married to Arthur Miller and her legal name became Marilyn Miller.
50. This was after divorcing her husband Dougherty in 1946 while he was still overseas.
51. The reason she gave for filing for divorce was that Fox refused to sign her as long as she was married. They could just not risk having a pregnant starlet.
52. Dougherty, who later became a detective in the LAPD, was forbidden by his second wife from going to see any of Marilyn’s films.
53. Marilyn’s beaded Jean Louis gown, worn when she sang Happy Birthday to President Kennedy, was sold in 1999 for £820,000.
54. Marilyn owned many dogs during her life; her last was a Maltese terrier given to her by Frank Sinatra, which she named Maf (short for Mafia Honey).
55. At the Christie’s sale in 1999, two Polaroids of Maf sold for £220,000.
56. Marilyn whitened her skin with hormone cream, one side effect of which was to encourage the growth of blonde down on her face
57. She would not remove this peach fuzz, believing that it gave her face a soft glow on camera.
58. She was an early devotee of yoga, and was taught by Indra Devi, a Swedish-Russian Bollywood film star who also taught Greta Garbo and Gloria Swanson.
59. Marilyn was only the second woman to head her own production company (Mary Pickford was the first).
60. Monroe’s bookshelf was exceedingly impressive. At the time of her death, she owned more than 400 volumes, including several first editions.
61. Of the thousands of photographs taken of her, she was especially fond of ones that showed her reading.
62. Marilyn Monroe Height: 5’5″.
63. Marilyn Monroe Weight: 118 lbs.
64. Marilyn Monroe Waist: she measured out to be a 22″ waist.
65. She dated Frank Sinatra and Marlon Brando.
66. Her affair with John F. Kennedy happened at least once according what she has said.
67. After she sung happy birthday to JFK, she would call JFK several times and then stopped after he ignored her calls.
68. Senator Smathers said that “He wanted to stop it, because it got to be a point where it was somewhat embarrassing. She stopped bothering him, because he quit talking to her.”
69. It’s been said that Marilyn would attend sex parties and orgies with the Kennedy Brothers.
70. Later there came out a Sex Orgy Tape of the Kennedy’s and Marilyn that was put up on auction. Nothing has been submitted to the public or the acknowledgment of whether or not it was a fake or not.
71. Hollywood PI confirms that he listened in on JFK and Marilyn Monroe having sex.
72. Monroe had an affair with Bobby Kennedy, JFK’s younger brother as it was revealed in 2016 by a letter sent from Jean Kennedy Smith to Marilyn at that time.