The Tragically Beautiful Life of Marilyn Monroe

By: Isabel Sociedade | Last updated: May 23, 2022

Marilyn Monroe was arguably the most famous woman of the 20th century, and is one of the most iconic women to grace this planet today. Thousands upon thousands of articles have been written about her, ranging from conspiracy theories to odd tidbits about her life.

Although Marilyn died under what some believe to be mysterious circumstances, there was much more about her that was interesting than the way she died. Read below to learn more about the famed and tragic life of Marilyn Monroe.

Marilyn Had a Rough Childhood

Marilyn Monroe was born as Norma Jean Baker and lived in an orphanage. Her mother had to give her up after being institutionalized due to her paranoid schizophrenia. In total Marilyn had 11 sets of foster parents. Her constant moving around made it hard to get a real education.

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After her 16th birthday, her then-foster parents decided to move to California. To avoid having to go back into the system, Norma Jean/ Marilyn decided to get hitched to a man named James Dougherty. However, the marriage ended after he joined the marines in 1943.

Before Fame She Had a Stutter

From the time Marilyn was a child up until she was into her teenage years, young Marilyn had a stutter. Eventually it disappeared. But that wasn’t the end of it.

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While filming for the movie Something’s Got to Give she became so overwhelmed and stressed that her stutter returned.

She Made Ella Fitzgerald a Star

According to the legend herself, Marilyn Monroe was a huge part in getting Ella Fitzgerald to the top. Ella is quoted as saying, “I owe Marilyn Monroe a real debt…she personally called the owner of the Mocambo, and told him she wanted booked immediately, and if he would do it, she would take a front table every night.”

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Ella Fitzgerald called Marilyn “ahead of her time.” Marilyn did show up every night, the press went wild, and Ella “never had to play a small jazz club again.”

She Only Got $50 for Her Nude Photographs

Marilyn’s famous nude photographs, which went on to make Hugh Hefner millions of dollars, only got Marilyn back $50. The photos were originally taken in 1949 by a photographer named Tom Kelly and were then used in a calendar.

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Years later, Hugh Hefner bought the photographs for $500 and then profited back millions. Hefner ran them in the inaugural issue of Playboy Magazine.

Her House Was Wiretapped

Marilyn Monroe had a file with the FBI. The Federal Bureau of Investigation kept a file on the famed superstar due to her relationship with the popular writer, Arthur Miller. Arthur Miller had communist inclinations and so she was suspected of having them too, as she had married him in 1956.

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Furthermore, her house was wiretapped. Her Brentwood house was bought by Michael Irving and Veronica Hamel who then decided to renovate it. During the makeover they discovered that there was a government phone tapping system in her house.

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There Was Speculation About Her Relationship With Then President, JFK

Marilyn Monroe famously gaved a sexy performance to then president, JFK. If the public did not already think the two were involved before, this turned up the heat. The two would be under intense speculation for decades to come.

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Following Marilyn’s untimely death at 36, many conspiracy theorists turned towards the president. The wire taps found in her home did not help. While some reports say she wanted to marry him, others say she had no interest.

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She Had a Large Collection of Books

Marilyn Monroe had over 400 books in her personal library, including several first editions. Once, director R.M. Rilke’s happened upon Marilyn reading a copy of Letters to a Young Poet. When asked how she chose it she gave a very charming reply.

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She said: On nights when I’ve got nothing else to do I go to the Pickwick bookstore on Hollywood Boulevard,” she told him. “And I just open books at random – or when I come to a page or a paragraph I like, I buy that book. So last night I bought this one. Is that wrong?”

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She Ensured Flowers Would Be Delivered to Her Own Grave

Before her death, Marilyn Monroe made a pact with Joe DiMaggio that if she died before he did, that he would keep fresh flowers on her grave each week. Joe DiMaggio was true to his word, and had a half dozen red roses delivered three times a week to be sat outside her crypt for two decades.

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However, Joe DiMaggio stopped sending the roses after they became too much of a sensation within the media. He stopped sending them in 1982.

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She Referred to Herself in the Third Person

According to actor Eli Wallach, Marilyn Monroe seemed to have a flip that she would flip on and off from “Marilyn” to (presumably) Norma Jean. He relayed a story of when he was walking on Broadway with Marilyn one night without being noticed, when she switched on, and became swarmed with fans.

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“I just felt like being Marilyn for a minute,” the actor remembered her saying. A photographer named Sam Shaw also claimed that he would hear her criticizing “Marilyn’s” performances, saying “Marilyn wouldn’t say that.”

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Marilyn Had Slight Cosmetic Surgery

In 1950, Marilyn Monroe had slight cosmetic surgery. She had a slight rhinoplasty (a nose job procedure). In it, she had her nose slightly lifted.

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She also decided that she wanted to have her chin line stronger. To achieve this, she put a soft bone into her jaw. This is what made her feel beautiful and like she had achieved the face that she wanted.

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She Died Young

Marilyn Monroe died on August 4th, 1962 at the age of 36. Her autopsy revealed a barbiturate overdose (sleeping pills) in her Brentwood home. Marilyn had been dead for 6-8 hours before she was discovered.

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She was found face down with a phone in her hand. The LA Times said of her death at the time:

“It was learned that medical authorities believed Miss Monroe had been in a depressed mood recently. She was unkempt and in need of a manicure and pedicure, indicating listlessness and a lack of interest in maintaining her usually glamorous appearance, the authorities added.”

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“Marilyn Monroe” Was Not Her First Stage Name

If Marilyn Monroe (also known as Norma Jean Baker) had gone with her first stage name, Jean Adair would be a household name. According to Marilyn Monroe’s sister, the choice of “Jean Adair” was a play off her real name.

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Marilyn chose the last name Monroe because it was her mother’s maiden name. There are conflicting stories of how she got the name “Marilyn” but some say it was given to her by a studio executive because she looked like another actress, Marilyn Miller. 

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She Was The First Choice For Breakfast At Tiffany’s

Truman Capote reportedly wanted Marilyn Monroe first and foremost for the now iconic starring role in Breakfast At Tiffany’s. Marilyn even performed two scenes for Truman, who later said she was “terrifically good.”

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Afterall, she didn’t take the part on the advice of her advisor and acting coach, who didn’t think the role matched her brand. Truman Capote was not pleased with Audrey Hepburn as a choice.

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Marilyn Reportedly Hated Being In Front Of The Camera

Actor Don Murray worked with the blonde bombshell on the set of Bus Stop. Don noted that while Marilyn Monroe was undeniably talented in her acting skills, she could never fully relax in front of the camera.

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Apparently, Marilyn would miss her marks, stand in the wrong places, and generally give off an energy of discomfort, even breaking out in rashes.

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Marilyn’s On-Camera Glow Was Not A Natural One

Before makeup was applied, Marilyn had a small trick up her sleeve to ensure she had the optimal glow for her onscreen look. She would apply Nivea Creme or Vaseline, which would in turn make her appear more luminous on film.

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Marilyn also would stay out of the song as much as possible to avoid getting any kind of tan. She is quoted saying “Despite its great vogue in California, I don’t think suntanned skin is any more attractive…or any healthier, for that matter.”

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She Had A Thing For Intellectual Men

If you didn’t guess from her marriage to writer Arthur Miller, Marilyn Monroe was attracted to intellects. Former roommate and fellow actress Shelley WInters said that she and Marilyn once made a list of men that they would like to sleep with, just for fun.

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Apparently there was “no one under 50 on hers,” Winter is quoted as saying. Her list included Albert Einstein, of whom she also had a silver-framed photograph of him atop her white piano.

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Joe DiMaggio And Frank Sinatra Tried To Catch Marilyn Cheating

In 1954, Frank Sinatra and Joe DiMaggio were having dinner when a private investigator that was hired by Joe arrived. He told them that Marilyn was in a house nearby with another man right that second.

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The duo assembled a crowd (yes a crowd) and stormed into the wrong home. Turns out, they broke into the wrong house. The homeowner sued and was awarded $7,500 for trauma inflicted.

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People Pay The Big Bucks To Be Buried Above Her…

Marilyn Monroe was buried at Westwood Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles. Her ex-husband Joe DiMaggio was the original owner of the grave, but sold it when they divorced.

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A buyer named Richard Poncher, a fan, bought it and requested that he be flipped face down so he could lay on top of Marilyn Monroe forever. Yuck. Though his wife obliged him while alive, once he passed she changed her mind. The plot then sold on eBay for $4.6 million, however the buyer backed out.

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Marilyn’s Idol Was Actress Jean Harlow

Marilyn Monroe’s idol was Jean Harlow, who was another blonde bombshell and Hollywood starlet who died young. Marilyn had been planning on creating a biopic of the deceased actress with her friend, Sidney Skolsky.

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The plan was for Marilyn to act in it while Sidney Skolsky was to produce the film. Both Marilyn and Jean Harlow died young.

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Marilyn And Joe DiMaggio’s Marriage Was Short Lived

The marriage between Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe only lasted a mere 274 days. There were many factors that led to their demise, however the “subway scene” in The Seven Year Itch where Marilyn’s white dress flies up was the final straw.

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The scene was filmed amongst a large crowd of bystanders and media, which caused Joe to become irate with Marilyn at how much she was exposing herself. Monroe filed for divorce shortly after. 

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Marilyn Divorced Joe DiMaggio For “Mental Cruelty”

Marilyn filed for divorce from Joe DiMaggio due to mental cruelty she says he inflicted upon her. In a twist of irony, the final straw of the infamous scene in The Seven Year Itch was not even used in the movie.

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The scene had to be reshot due to the noise pollution of the first try. The scene was re-shot on a closed soundstage.

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