Actress Marilyn Monroe overcame a difficult childhood to become one of the world's biggest and most enduring sex symbols. She died of a drug overdose in 1962.
Actress Marilyn Monroe was born on June 1, 1926, in Los Angeles, California. During her all-too-brief life, Marilyn Monroe overcame a difficult childhood to become one of the world's biggest and most enduring sex symbols.
During her career, Monroe's films grossed more than $200 million. Monroe died of a drug overdose on August 5, 1962, at only 36 years old.
Monroe had three husbands in her lifetime. As a teen, she wed merchant marine Jimmy Dougherty. In 1954 she was briefly married to baseball great Joe DiMaggio, and two years later, she married playwright Arthur Miller.
The year 1946 brought a lot of changes for Monroe. She not only divorced her husband, Jimmy Dougherty, but she also signed her first movie contract.
With the movie contract came a new name and image; she began calling herself "Marilyn Monroe" and dyed her hair blonde, though her acting career didn't really take off until a few years later.
'All About Eve' to 'Gentleman Prefer Blondes'
Monroe's small part in John Huston's crime drama The Asphalt Jungle (1950) garnered a lot of attention. That same year, she impressed audiences and critics alike with her performance as Claudia Caswell in All About Eve, starring Bette Davis.
She would soon become one of Hollywood's most famous actresses; though she wasn't initially considered to be star acting material, she later proved her skill by winning various honors and attracting large audiences to her films.
In 1953, Monroe delivered a star-making turn in Niagara, as a young married woman out to kill her husband with help from her lover. The emerging sex symbol was paired with another bombshell, Jane Russell, for the musical comedy Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953).
The film was a hit and Monroe continued to find success in a string of light comedic fare, such as How to Marry a Millionaire, with Betty Grable and Lauren Bacall; There's No Business like Show Business (1954), with Ethel Merman and Donald O'Connor; and The Seven Year Itch (1955).
With her breathy voice and hourglass figure, Monroe became a much-admired international star, despite her chronic insecurities regarding her acting abilities. Monroe suffered from pre-performance anxiety that sometimes made her physically ill and was often the root cause of her legendary tardiness on film sets, which was so extreme that it often infuriated her co-stars and crew.
"She would be the greatest if she ran like a watch," director Billy Wilder once said of her. "I have an aunt Minnie who's very punctual, but who would pay to see Aunt Minnie?" Throughout her career, Monroe was signed and released from several contracts with film studios.
Tired of bubbly, dumb blonde roles, Monroe moved to New York City to study acting with Lee Strasberg at the Actors' Studio. She returned to the screen in the dramatic comedy Bus Stop (1956), playing a saloon singer kidnapped by a rancher who has fallen in love with her. She received mostly praise for her performance.
In 1957, Monroe starred in The Prince and the Showgirl with Laurence Olivier, who also directed and produced the film. She often didn't show up for filming and her erratic behavior on set created a tense relationship with her co-stars, the crew and Olivier.
The film received mixed reviews and was a box office hit in Britain, but not as popular in the United States. The troubled production was the backdrop for the 2011 film My Week with Marilyn, starring Michelle Williams as Monroe.
In 1959, Monroe returned to familiar territory with the wildly popular comedy Some Like It Hot, with Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis. She played Sugar Kane Kowalczyk, a singer who hopes to marry a millionaire in this humorous film, in which Lemmon and Curtis pretend to be women.
They are on the run from the mob after witnessing the St. Valentine's Day Massacre and hide out with an all-girl orchestra featuring Monroe. Her work on the film earned her the honor of "Best Actress in a Comedy" at the 1959 Golden Globe Awards.
Reunited with John Huston, Monroe starred opposite Clark Gable and Montgomery Clift in The Misfits (1961). Set in Nevada, this adventure drama features Monroe, who falls for Gable's cowboy but battles him over the fate of some wild mustangs. This was her last completed film.
In 1962, Monroe was dismissed from Something's Got to Give — co-starring Dean Martin — for missing so many days of filming. According to an article in The New York Times, the actress claimed that the absences were due to illness. Martin declined to make the film without her, so the studio shelved the picture.
At the time, Monroe's professional and personal life seemed to be in turmoil. Her last two films, Let's Make Love (1960) and The Misfits (1961) were box office disappointments.
n her personal life, Monroe had a string of unsuccessful relationships: Her 1954 marriage to baseball great Joe DiMaggio only lasted nine months. Later, she was married to playwright Arthur Miller from 1956 to 1961.