Marilyn Monroe: The Life of a Beautifully Broken Blonde Bombshell

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By: Calla Conway | Published: Jan 21, 2023

Had Marilyn Monroe been a superstar of today rather than the 50s, her oeuvre of at least forty-eight films would have broken the two billion dollar mark at the least. Yet, despite all her hard work and many off-screen appearances and sponsorships, Marilyn’s studio grossly underpaid her. As a top-billed actress with cross-generational appeal, she deserved more than the hand life dealt her. 

 

 

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Were she still alive still today, Marilyn Monroe would want her fans to see a different side of her public persona. Behind the scenes, when the spotlights were switched off, Marilyn wanted to be admired for who she really was, not the person projected on the silver screen. So who was the real Marilyn? Read on to find out. 

Norma Jean Baker Was an Orphan 

Marilyn’s birth name was Norma Jean. Her mother, Gladys Pearl Baker, came from a low-income family and worked for a film studio cutting film negatives after her divorce. She took care of Norma Jean alone until she suffered a mental breakdown.  

 

 

 

 

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Without a mother to care for her, Norma Jean had to move from one foster family to the next. In the end, she went through eleven sets of foster parents. It was a period of endless adjustments, dealing with different people, and getting a proper education. Finally, to free herself from the endless cycle of moving from state to state, she married James Dougherty at 16. 

Marilyn’s Speech Disorder

Monroe was not always as flawless and fluent as she was on the silver screen. Long before her giggling evoked oohs and aahs from her male audience, Marilyn dealt with an endless series of setbacks. She rarely got to see her mother, and Gladys was unable to be the guiding figure she needed.

 

 

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Marilyn’s suffering manifested in a stutter. She knew what she wanted to say, but she was so shy and burdened with insecurities that she couldn’t get it out. Thankfully, she was able to overcome this stammer, but it tended to return when, as an adult, she became too stressed. She reportedly stammered during the filming of Something’s Got to Give.

Easing Ella Fitzgerald into Stardom

Before Ella Fitzgerald could build a crowd in any venue, Marilyn Monroe was among her staunchest believers. For that, Fitzgerald said she owed the Blonde Bombshell a colossal debt. 

 

 

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Monroe reportedly told the Mocambo bar owner that if he’d hire Ella Fitzgerald, now popularly known as the Queen of Jazz, she’d sit at a front table each night. Marilyn followed through on this promise, lending her unwavering support to Ella. The jazz club was always packed after that, and as we all know, Ella’s career took off. 

Below Par Payments for Sexy Stills

Marilyn Monroe was a natural in front of the camera, and this effortless quality translated to photogenic pictures that magazine publicists would die for at the time. She was beginning to step into her sex symbol persona, and she was all over the moving pictures and magazines. 

 

 

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Tom Kelly took photos of Monroe in 1949, and most of them were destined to become calendar art. Shockingly, she was only paid $50 for modeling nude. One of her stills was used by Playboy as the cover of its first publication in 1953. Hugh Hefner paid $500 for this photo that would eventually earn him millions in return. 

Possible Ties with Communists

Marilyn’s marriage to James Dougherty ended as swiftly as it had started when her husband joined the Marines. After her second marriage to baseball star Joe DiMaggio, she got hitched to American writer Arthur Miller. The playwright was a member of the League of American Writers, many members of which were affiliated with the communist party. This made the couple a target of the FBI. 

 

 

 

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Consequently, Marilyn and Arthur Miller were under surveillance by the authorities. When the house they lived in was sold and renovated in the 1970s by its new owners, a phone wiretapping system was discovered.

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JFK’s Other Woman

Marilyn Monroe and John F. Kennedy were the subjects of hot gossip during their heyday, tailed by reporters and talked about by people who had connections to their inner circles. And they did have mutual friends, as Monroe was introduced to JFK by his brother-in-law. 

 

 

 

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Marilyn was asked to sing at JFK’s birthday party at Madison Square Garden, sparking rumors that they were having an affair. Marilyn flamed the fire by wearing a “nude dress” with gems all over it. She then sang “Happy birthday Mr. President” in a most intimate voice.

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Marilyn’s Personal Library

To a prejudiced person, books would be a surprising feature to find in Marilyn Monroe’s home. Reading doesn’t seem like it would be her kind of pastime, so many people are surprised to see how many photographs there are of her reading books. Such pictures are only surpassed by her nudes. 

 

 

 

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She had a personal library – a huge one, in fact, with more than 400 books. Among the authors found there were Edgar Allan Poe, James Joyce, and Gustave Flaubert. She clearly loved literature. With time on her hands, she said she liked visiting Pickwick Bookstore and sometimes bought books at random. 

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Joe Dimaggio’s Promise to Monroe

When Marilyn Monroe’s marriage to her third husband, Arthur Miller, came to an end, she grew closer to her former flame, Joe DiMaggio. They became good friends, and there were rumors that they might be planning to remarry. 

 

 

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Often seen together, they were the picture of peace and quiet. At this time, for some reason, she made him promise to continue sending flowers to her grave if she died first. Heartbreakingly, she passed away the following year, and Joe DiMaggio kept his promise by sending fresh roses to her grave for twenty lonely years.  

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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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“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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