Marilyn Monroe (born Norma Jeane Mortenson; June 1st 1926 - August 5th 1962)
Marilyn Monroe is one of the most iconic Hollywood actresses to have ever lived and is best known for starring in 'Gentlemen Prefer Blondes' and 'Some Like It Hot' among others, as well as for being one of the most beautiful women in the world.
Marilyn Monroe: Net worth
Marilyn Monroe's net worth was around $370,000 at the time of her death ($2.17 million in today's money) (Forbes).
Marilyn Monroe: Childhood
Marilyn Monroe was born in LA. Her parents were Gladys Baker and, according to Marilyn's birth certificate, her ex husband Martin Mortensen - though Marilyn had always denied he was her biological father, instead believing that it was Charles Gifford.
Marilyn was in and out of foster care all her childhood due to her mother's mental health problems, being cared for first by Albert and Ida Bolender before returning to her mother who was quickly sectioned. She later lived with her mother's friend Grace McKee, who introduced her to the world of cinema, but she left to live with her great-aunt Olive Brunings due to Grace's husband attempts to sexually abuse Marilyn. However, she was once again attacked by family members. She had a positive life living with her Aunt Ana, but she then went back to Grace.
During that time she met her first boyfriend Jim Dougherty who she was forced to marry due to her unstable living arrangements.
She attended Van Nuys High School, before working at the Radioplane Munitions Factory while husband Jim served in the Merchant Marine during World War II. She then joined the Blue Book Modeling Agency, dying her brunette hair blonde.
Her modelling success attracted the attention of film executive Ben Lyon, who encouraged Marilyn's name change. She chose 'Monroe', her mother's maiden name, while Lyon decided on 'Marilyn' because she reminded him of Marilyn Miller.
During her early acting career, she enrolled at the University of California studying literature and art appreciation.
Marilyn Monroe: Film career
Marilyn Monroe's first credited movie role was in 1947's 'Dangerous Years'.
In 1948, she signed a contract with Columbia Pictures and subsequently appeared in the musical 'Ladies of the Chorus'. She went back to modelling after her film career then began to wane, and posed nude for photographer Tom Kelly.
Things started to look up in 1949 when she appeared in the Marx Brothers' 'Love Happy' and, after a few more brief screen roles, she landed her breakthrough role in 'The Asphalt Jungle' opposite Louis Calhern and later appeared in the comedy 'All About Eve'.
In 1952, a nude photograph of Marilyn leaked, but there was much speculation over whether or not it was her. She admitted to posing for the pictures to pay her rent, prompting much sympathy from the media and the public, and the photo later featured in Playboy.
There was much interest in Marilyn and her unhappy background thence forth making her 1952 film 'Clash by Night' rather popular.
In 1953, she appeared in 'Niagara', where it started to become clear that she was not the easiest person to work with due to her erratic behaviour caused by her stage fright. Though her performance was well reviewed, many commented negatively on what they viewed as 'vulgarity' during promotional events.
Later that year, she starred alongside Jane Russell in 'Gentlemen Prefer Blondes' in which she sang the famous song 'Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend'. Despite her dedication to the role, she was increasingly late to the set annoying director Howard Hawks.
'How to Marry a Millionaire' came next, also starring Betty Grable and Lauren Bacall. She had further director struggles during the filming of 'River Of No Return' with Otto Preminger becoming annoyed by Marilyn's acting coach Natasha Lytess' constant presence, and thus the actress refused to speak to him.
In 1954, she appeared in the poorly reviewed 'There's No Business Like Show Business'. The following year, she landed a role in 'The Seven Year Itch' which featured the famous scene depicting Marilyn in a white dress with her skirt blown up.
She subsequently had a close friendship with photographer Milton Greene, who advised her to break away from her financially crippling contract with 20th Century Fox and even mortgaged his home to help fund her career as well as offering her accomodation.
After briefly being mentored in acting by Constance Collier before his death, she went on to study under Lee Strasberg who became extremely impressed with her progress.
She appeared in 'Bus Stop' in 1956 opposite Don Murray and, while impressing critics with her much improved acting performance, subsequently landed a Golden Globe nomination.
She co-starred with Laurence Olivier in the following year's 'The Prince and the Showgirl' which landed her a BAFTA nomination. Olivier later admitted that he, like 'River Of No Return' director Preminger, found the presence of her acting coach (now Paula Strasberg) irksome.
She was in 1959's 'Some Like It Hot' which also starred Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis. While it was expected that she would be suffering stage fright and would often be late, director Billy Wilder did not expect her behaviour to be so aggressive as it turned out to be. However, despite her unpredictability, she won a Golden Globe for her role.
Her penultimate film was 'Let's Make Love' in which she starred alongside Yves Montand. Her tardiness became a problem during the filming once again, but Montand was able to improve her attitude.
Her last completed film was 1960's 'The Misfits' starring Clark Gable, during which she was frequently ill. She was later hospitalised for undisclosed reasons, while some of the other actors also took ill from exhaustion.
Before her death, she began filming 'Something's Got to Give' with Dean Martin, though she was still getting sick a lot. 20th Century Fox attempted to sue her due to her lack of attendance in filming, as she often appeared in the media and magazines looking perfectly well. She famously sang 'Happy Birthday' to President John F. Kennedy at Madison Square Garden in 1962.
Marilyn Monroe: Personal life
Marilyn Monroe had surgery to 'soften' her appearance at the suggestion of her early associates. She had a bump removed from her nose and her slight overbite corrected.
In the early fifties, she dated baseball player Joe DiMaggio whom she married in 1954. They divorced that same year.
She soon re-married to director Arthur Miller but their marriage also ended in 1961. She suffered two miscarriages during their marriage. She also had an affair with actor Yves Montand, which ended when he refused to leave his wife.
There are claims that she was also very briefly married to Bob Slatzer, as well as that she had an affair with both John and Robert Kennedy.
In her final years, she began seeing a psychiatrist while suffering from insomnia. She began taking prescription medication from several doctors, while refusing any help from her husband. She also developed a dependence on alcohol. Following her second divorce, she attended the Payne Whitney Psychiatric Clinic before transferring to Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center. She took a break from acting as she recovered in hospital, during which time she had surgery on her fallopian tubes and gallbladder.
Marilyn died on August 5th 1962 from 'acute barbiturate poisoning' in what was thought to be suicide. There has, however, been much speculation surrounding her death, particularly with her last phone call being to President John F. Kennedy.