Marilyn Monroe was born to be an actress. Although she was used to reinventing herself on screen, somewhere along the line she was able to build herself an off screen persona. Even though she made headlines as Marilyn Monroe, the notorious and curvaceous blonde bombshell, in reality she began her life as a brunette named Norma Jean Baker.
Born in Los Angeles on June 1st, 1926, Marilyn spent the bulk of her childhood in foster care. When she was sixteen years old, she married her neighbour in order to escape living in an orphanage. Soon her husband left to join the Marines, and Marilyn decided she needed to earn her own money. In 1944, she was scouted by a modelling agency. Her career flourished immediately, landing her magazine covers and editorials throughout the country. Her love for the camera soon translated to an acting career – by 1948, Marilyn had dyed her hair, changed her name, and divorced her husband to focus on a career in film.
Her acting career proved to be very successful. She landed leading roles in memorable movies such as Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, How to Marry a Millionaire, the Seven Year Itch and Some Like it Hot. She also married twice following her first divorce, first to baseball player Joe Dimmagio in 1954 and then to playwright Arthur Miller in 1956.
Fashion wise, Marilyn took her beauty cues from her fellow iconic blonde Jean Harlow. Her curvy body (described like “Jell-o on springs” in Some Like it Hot) and sex appeal helped separate her from other willowy stars. No matter what she dressed in, be it form fitting dresses or slacks and a blouse, she managed to draw attention to her figure without being provocative. She remained very aware of her sultriness, taking advantage of it by appearing on the very first cover of Playboy in 1953 to singing “Happy Birthday” to president Kennedy in 1962 while wearing an extravagant rhinestone covered gown.
Only a couple of months after Kennedy’s birthday, Marilyn’s dead body was found in her home, a result of a drug overdose. Reports are still undecided if the overdose was accidental or intentional. She was only thirty-six years old.