Give a girl the right shoes and she can conquer the world.
She certainly did! Marilyn Monroe is the most recognised actress of the 20th Century … and for a lot of reasons. She had a meteoric rise to fame and experienced the bitter-sweetness of the American dream. She was talented and could look stunning in a bin-bag. As we approach 50 years since her death (5th August), we are all still as captivated by her as ever.
Here are some things that you might not know about Marilyn, and you can find out more in Marilyn Remembered by Cindy De La Hoz:
As a child Norma Jeane didn’t know who her father was. She was placed in a foster home for the first seven years of her life, until her mother’s friend Grace became her guardian. When Grace married she left little Norma Jeane in another orphanage. Before she was 18 she married James Doherty to stop her entering yet another orphanage –
“SHE WAS SO SENSITIVE AND INSECURE I REALIZED I WASN”T PREPARED TO HANDLE HER … SHE SEEMED TO BE PLAYING SOME KIND OF PART, REHEARSING FOR A FUTURE I COULDN’T FIGURE OUT.” – James Doherty
Marilyn was spotted by an army photographer at her job in a munitions factory, where she began her modelling career. James didn’t approve and they divorced.
This was the point at which she was told to bleach her hair and the transformation was made, turning a frizzy-haired brunette into nothing short of an icon.
Only when she signed a contract with Fox did she change her name to Marilyn Monroe. Marilyn after the actress Marilyn Miller and Monroe was chosen because it was her mother’s maiden name. The first time she was asked for an interview she had to check the spelling!
Marilyn picked up whatever work she could in between film contracts. She appeared in the first ever issue of Playboy posing nude! A photo shoot that she agreed to do only if the photographer’s wife was present!
As her success in films grew, so did her fan base. Marilyn knew how to dress to shock people. Her designer and friend throughout the years was William Travilla and he certainly helped her out there. He was behind creations such as the gold lamé which caused such a huge scandal when Marilyn wore it to the 1953 Photography Awards that she was catapulted to international stardom. Though she was instructed not to wear it she was the queen of self-publicity and knew exactly what would happen.
Whilst dealing with her troubled marriages, Marilyn was also making brave career moves. She felt cheated by Fox often having to bargain with them for key roles, so she set up her own production company Marilyn Monroe Productions. She also took sabbatical leave to work on her craft as an actress – she didn’t want to be limited to the comedy roles. She took a massive risk in 1962 when Fox told her she couldn’t leave the set of Something’s Got to Give to give her monumental performance at President Kennedy’s birthday wearing a skin-toned and skin-tight dress covered in sequins.
“IF I’D OBSERVED ALL THE RULES I’D NEVER HAVE GOT ANYWHERE.” – Marilyn