Marilyn Monroe: Her Life Essay, Research Paper
Marilyn Monore: Her Life and Times
Marilyn Monroe personified Hollywood glamour with an unparalleled glow and energy that enamored the world. An alluring beauty with voluptuous curves and a generous pout, she was more than a 50 s sex goddess. Her vulnerability and innocence
in combination with an innate sensuality has endeared her to global consciousness for
more than half a century. Marilyn s life demonstrated the effects of her personal struggles as well as the triumph of her spirit, a part of her that continues to survive alongside her image as the legendary Hollywood diva. Her career as an actress spanned 16 years. She made 29 films, 24 in the first 8 years of her career. If she had finished Something s Got to Give , she would have made 30 films.
Marilyn Monroe was born on June 1, 1926 at 9:30 am in the Los Angeles General Hospital under the name of Norma Jeane Mortenson. She was later baptized as Norma Jeane Baker. Her mother, Gladys, had little money, suffered from mental problems, and the identity of Marilyn s father is unknown. Grace McKee, her mother s friend, had Gladys declared insane, committed to a psychiatric hospital. She then took custody of
Norma Jeane where was then given to a foster family, Albert and Ida Bolender, until she was 7 years old.
In 1933, Norma Jeane lived briefly with her mother, but in 1934 Gladys again began to show signs of depression and was admitted to a rest home in Santa Monica. When Gladys was admitted to the rest home Grace came and got Norma Jeane. Jean Harlow, a superstar of the twenties, captivated Grace and Marilyn would later say and
so Jean Harlow was my idol. When Grace married Ervin Silliman Goddard in 1935, Norma Jeane was sent back to an orphanage from September 1935 to June 1937. She returned to Grace but when Goddard brought one of his 3 daughters to live with them, Grace sent Norma Jeane away again to the Los Angeles Orphans Home for several years.
Grace finally brought Norma Jeane home but Goddard tried to molest her so she went to live with Gladys stepmother, Olive Brunings. Just after her 12th birthday she was assaulted by one of Olive s sons and went to live with Grace McKee s aunt, Ana Lower. Ana soon developed health problems and Norma Jeane went back to the Goddard s where she met a neighbor s son, Jim Dougherty.
After her 16th birthday, Norma Jeane married him. Dougherty joined the Merchant Marines in 1943,and in 1944 he was sent overseas and she went to live with her mother-in-law. Norma Jeane got a job at an airplane factory. The Army sent a photographer (David Connover) to take pictures of women helping with the war effort where he took photographs of Norma Jeane. The photographer was impressed by Norma Jeane and suggested she apply for a modeling job at the Blue Book model agency.
By 1945, Norma Jeane Dougherty s glowing beauty had made her immensely popular, and she graced the covers of 33 major magazines. Three years after her marriage to Jim began; Norma Jeane and Grace arranged a divorce from Jim Dougherty. In July 1946 Norma Jeane did a screen test at Twentieth-Century Fox and got a contract for $125 a week, signing the name Marilyn Monroe. The last name was her
grandmother s and the first name were copied from the actress Marilyn Miller. In the fall of 1946 her divorce was granted. She said, My marriage didn t make me sad, but it didn t make me happy either. My husband and I hardly spoke to each other, and I was dying of boredom.
Marilyn s first screen role was a bit part in the 1947 film The Shocking Miss Pilgrim . She then got a role in Scudda-Hoo! Scudda-Hay! and her only words in the film were Hi Rad! . She then went on to get a bit part in Dangerous Years . Twentieth-Century Fox opted to not renew her contract in 1947. She would later sign a contract with Columbia but did not get any roles. In 1949, after searching for movie roles, Marilyn agreed to pose nude for a calendar.
She had an affair with Johnny Hyde, executive vice-president of William Morris Agency. When Hyde died in 1950, Marilyn went to Famous Artists who soon got her a seven-year contract with Fox. She continued to play inconsequential characters until 1950 when John Huston s thriller Asphalt Jungle provided her with a small but influential role.
By the end of 1951 Marilyn was receiving 2000 to 3000 fan mail letters per week. She was so popular the studio gave her a starring role in Don t Bother to Knock and Monkey Business . In 1952 she began an affair with baseball great Joe DiMaggio. When she met Joe DiMaggio she was 25 and he was 37.
The film Niagara with Joseph Cotton was the film to establish her to stardom.
In June of that year she co-starred with Jane Russell in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes . After filming, she and Jane Russell signed their names and placed their hands and feet in wet cement in front of the Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard. On June 25, 1952, Marilyn went to court to deny ever sending letters soliciting sales of pornographic pictures of herself, or that she had ever posed for anything but that calendar. The letters and pictures were exposed as fakes, and two men were found guilty of misdemeanor charges in the scam.
On January 14, 1954 she married Joe DiMaggio in San Francisco. Because of their stardom the wedding captured headlines worldwide. Joe was an extremely jealous guy and desired a housewife, not a star of such magnitude; the marriage was in trouble from the beginning. After their honeymoon Marilyn started work on The Seven Year Itch but she was frequently late and unproductive on the set. She went on a USO tour of Korea in February, for four days, to entertain the troops. She entertained over 60,000 soldiers; many had never seen a Monroe film. Throughout the summer after filming There s No Business Like Show Business , she was ill with bronchitis and anemia.
Fox suspended Marilyn in 1954 for failure to appear on the set of Pink Tights. She finally began to show serious side effects of the many sleeping pills she had been taking. The famous skirt blowing scene was a hit with both amateur and professional photographers. Over 2,000 spectators gathered outside the Trans Lux Theater in New York City in the early morning hours of September 15th to see and record her as she posed for over two hours for her adoring fans.
She started having problems with her marriage and she and Joe divorced on October 27, 1954. Monroe s attorney attributed the split between her and Joe to be a conflict of careers. At Christmas time, Marilyn moved into a New York City apartment and enrolled at Lee Strasberg s Actor s Studio. Mr. Strasberg and his family would play an important role in her life. She also started a relationship with playwright Arthur Miller around this time.
On June 1, 1955 The Seven Year Itch premiered and became the biggest movie
of the summer. After making several movies that cast her as just another Hollywood pretty face, Monroe was ready to shed her shallow blonde image to purse serious acting.
On June 29, 1956 she married Arthur Miller and on July 1, 1956 they again wed in a traditional Jewish ceremony. They then traveled to England, where she began work on Marilyn Monroe Productions first independent movie, The Prince and the Showgirl. Marilyn Monroe Productions was launched with Milton Greene. After she completed the film, she went back to Hollywood to work on the movie Bus Stop. She had more problems on the movie set and was often taking large doses of sleeping pills.
July 2, 1957, a pregnant Marilyn arrived two hours late to help break ground for
the Time-Life Building near Rockefeller Center. On August 1, 1957, Marilyn suffered the first of three tragic miscarriages. The baby was lost because of a rare complication, the fetus developed in the Fallopian tube instead of descending into the womb. Marilyn s inability to have children would haunt her the rest of her life.
She was released from the hospital on August 8th and went back home to rest and recuperate. She would make no further public appearances for the rest of the year. Considering adopting a child, Marilyn visited an orphanage in Mexico, but she never went through with the adoption plan. Marilyn donated $1,000 to a local children s welfare institute that gave breakfast to needy children. I know what it is like to go without breakfast , she said. After Bus Stop she started working on the movie Some Like it Hot even though her problems continued, she finished it, and it became the biggest hit of 1959.
Early in 1960, Marilyn was consulting with Dr. Ralph Greenson, a prominent
psychoanalyst. He relied heavily on drug therapy, routinely prescribing barbiturates and tranquilizers in addition to his psychotherapy. In July of 1960 Marilyn went to Nevada to film The Misfits. The movie was a disappointment and Marilyn was depressed.
The day of Kennedy s inauguration, January 20, 1961, she divorced Arthur
Miller. Marilyn s therapist had her committed to the New York Hospital, while she was there she smuggled out a note to Joe DiMaggio who came from Florida the next evening and got her released. Marilyn was with him from then until April of 1961, when she returned to Los Angeles to start work on Something s Got to Give but after the first day she was home sick in bed.
In May 19, 1961, she went to Madison Square Garden and sang Happy Birthday
Mr. President to President Kennedy then went back to L.A. and the movie set. That same day Marilyn almost overdosed on drugs and Joe DiMaggio came to her rescue again. A reported affair with John F. Kennedy began in late 1961. Bobby Kennedy was
also reported to have had an affair with Marilyn shortly before her death.
In 1962, Golden Globe named Monroe World s Most Popular Star ,
demonstrating her widespread appeal. Fox fired Marilyn in June due to her inability to show up at the set on time. She was rehired on August 1st to complete Something s Got to Give with a salary of $250,000. Marilyn and Joe decided to remarry on August 8th but on the evening of August 4th, Marilyn died. There was no suicide note, she was found naked in bed with no signs of violence, according to the police investigation. She died in her sleep in her Brentwood, California home at the age of 36. Marilyn was laid to rest in Westwood Memorial Park in Los Angeles Corridor of Memories, #24. Marilyn said, I knew I belonged to the public and to the world, not because I was talented or even beautiful, but because I had never belonged to anything or anyone else.
Spada, James. Marilyn Monroe:Her Life in Pictures. Doubleday and Company, Inc.
Garden City, New York: 1982.
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