"I used to say to myself, 'What the devil have you got to be proud about, Marilyn Monroe?' And I'd answer, 'Everything, everything.'" Find out more about the extraordinary life of the most iconic Hollywood figure here. See anecdotes and quotes as well as previously unpublished photos, like Marilyn's pre-blonde pics, poolside nudes, and even a Beatles album cover appearance!
Where do we even begin with the colorful yet tragic life of Marilyn Monroe? She is certainly one of the most interesting, documented, and talked about personalities of the 20th century so we’ve compiled some of the must-know info about the Hollywood sex symbol.
- Born Norma Jeane Mortensen Baker on June 1, 1926
- Came from a family with a long history of depression. Her biological mother was forcibly institutionalized, the reason for her living with one foster family to another.
- Married Jim Dougherty at age 16 to escape being sent to another orphanage/foster home. She divorced him when she was 20.
- A natural brunette, her agency advised her to go lighter as it would lead to more jobs in Hollywood. She tried 12 different shades of gold before settling on her trademark shade of platinum blonde.
- Had vital statistics of 37-23-36, according to her dressmaker
- Was paid $1250 per week to film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953). She was pregnant during the shooting but unfortunately had a miscarriage.
- She was Playboy first “Playmate,” although the section was called “Sweetheart of the Month” in the magazine’s maiden issue from December 1953. Marilyn did her famous nude photoshoot in 1947, six years before the photos were used for Playboy’s first edition. The rights to the photos were purchased for $500 by Hugh Hefner. Her first modelling job only paid $5.
- Married baseball player Joe DiMaggio in 1954. The marriage lasted nine months. It’s been said that he was Marilyn’s greatest love. When they were married, Joe was intensely jealous of the attention showered on Marilyn Monroe by men everywhere.
- When the The Seven Year Itch was filmed in New York, featuring the infamous subway grating scene, Joe watched Marilyn’s skirt fly up again and again, revealing her white panties before thousands of enthusiastic photographers and fans. Jealous Joe angrily stormed off. Later the couple had a huge fight in the hotel. Two weeks later they separated and eventually divorced.
- About her beauty regimen, it’s been said that she would sometimes take ice baths, prepared by her masseur into which she would add Chanel No. 5.
- She thought her right side was her “best side.”\
- Married Arthur Miller in 1956. Divorced him in 1961.
- Would usually add drugs to her wine, often remarked as the controversial cause of her death.
- Died from “drug overdose” on August 4, 1962, at the age of 36, in her Hollywood home.
- Was rumored to have a torrid affair with former US President John F. Kennedy, who she infamously sang a sultry “Happy Birthday” to on his 45th birthday celebration in Madison Garden, New York. He also passed away that year.
- For 20 years after her death he had a dozen red roses delivered to her crypt three times a week. He never remarried. It is claimed that Joe’s last words were: “I’ll finally get to see Marilyn.”
About the nude photoshoot with Marilyn (seen below), photographer Lawrence Schiller shared, “I photographed some women who were extraordinary — but nobody that could turn it on like a light switch as Marilyn did." Schiller told her that she would make him famous, to which Marilyn shot back “Don’t be so cocky. Photographers can easily be replaced.”
- “In Hollywood a girl’s virtue is much less important than her hairdo. You’re judged by how you look, not by what you are. Hollywood’s a place where they’ll pay you a thousand dollars for kiss, and fifty cents for your soul. I know, because I turned down the first offer often enough and held out for the fifty.”
- “I’m not interested in money, I just want to be wonderful.”
- “A career is wonderful, but you can’t curl up with it on a cold night.”
- “I love a natural look in pictures. I like people with a feeling one way or another – it shows an inner life. I like to see that there’s something going on inside them.”
- “A sex-symbol becomes a thing, I just hate being a thing. But if I’m going to be a symbol of something I’d rather have it sex than some other things we’ve got symbols of.”
If you liked this feature, check out more Marilyn Monroe articles from the Magazine:
- Today in History: Marilyn Monroe is Born (1926)
- Influential Photographs: Marilyn Monroe in The Seven Year Itch, 1954 by George Zimbel
- Rare Photos of Marilyn Monroe with a Rolleiflex
- Marilyn Monroe Combines Lifting Weights, Wearing Jeans and Still Looking Classy
- Last But Not the Least: Marilyn Monroe’s Last Photo
- Cannes Favorite: My Week with Marilyn by Simon Curtis
- Two Weeks with Marilyn: The 65th Cannes Film Festival