Marilyn Monroe was born Norma Jeane Mortenson on June 1, 1926 in Los Angeles, California. Her mother was a film-cutter at RKO Studios who, widowed and mentally ill, abandoned her to sequence of foster homes. She was almost smothered to death at two, nearly raped at six.
At nine, the LA Orphans’ Home paid her a nickel a month for kitchen work while taking back a penny every Sunday for church. When she was nine, she was placed in an orphanage where she was to stay for the next two years. Upon being released from the orphanage, she went to yet another foster home.
In 1942, at age 16, Norma Jeane married 21-year-old aircraft plant worker James Dougherty. The marriage only lasted four years, and they divorced in 1946. By this time, Marilyn began to model swimsuits and bleached her hair blonde.
In 1951, Marilyn got a fairly sizable role in Love Nest (1951). The public was now getting to know her and liked what it saw. She had an intoxicating quality of volcanic sexuality wrapped in an aura of almost childlike innocence. In 1952, Marilyn appeared in Don’t Bother to knock (1952), in which she played a somewhat mentally unbalanced babysitter.
Critics didn’t particularly care for her work in this picture, but she made a much more favourable impression later in the year in Monkey Business (1952), where she was seen for the first time as a platinum blonde, a look that became her trademark.
After a brief absence in 1958, Marilyn returned to the silver screen for smash comedy ‘Some like It Hot’. In 1960, she appeared in ‘Let’s Make Love’, with Yves Montand, with whom she had an affair. ‘The Misfits’, written by husband Miller, was to be her final film. Work was interrupted by exhaustion, and she was then fired from ‘Something’s Got to Give’ for not turning up for filming.
The final years of Monroe’s life were marked by illness, personal problems, and a reputation for unreliability and being difficult to work with. The circumstances of her death, from an overdose of barbiturates, have been the subject of conjecture. Though officially classified as a “probable suicide”, the possibilities of an accidental overdose or a homicide have not been ruled out.
In 1999, Monroe was ranked as the sixth-greatest female star of all time by the American Film Institute. Monroe’s relationships have garnered much press. Author Anthony Summers, in his biography of J. Edgar Hoover, concluded that Monroe was in love with President Kennedy and wanted to marry him.
In 1962, she called the White House frequently, and when the married president ended their affair, Monroe became even more depressed. She turned to Robert Kennedy, who reportedly visited Monroe in Los Angeles the day that she died.
Her casket was solid bronze and was lined with champagne colour silk. In her hands was a small bouquet of pink teacup roses, for the next 20 years, red roses were placed in a vase attached to the crypt, courtesy of DiMaggio.