Norma Jeane Mortenson was born at 9:30, on 1 June 1926, at the Los Angeles General Hospital, in Los Angeles, California. She was the daughter of Gladys Pearl Baker (1902-1984) and Edward Mortenson. She was baptized as Norma Jeane Baker. Gladys Baker married Martin E. Mortenson in 1924, but they were separated before her birth. Her siblings were: half-brother, Hermitt Jack Baker and half-sister, Berniece Miracle. Her mother left her in the care of Ida and Albert Bolender, in Hawthorne, California. Edward Mortenson died in a motorcycle accident in 1929. In 1933, Norma Jeane moved to her mother. In 1935, Grace McKee had Gladys Baker committed to a psychiatric hospital, and took custody of Norma Jeane. Grace McKee married Ervin Silliman Goddard in 1935. Norma Jeane was then sent on 13 September 1935, to the Los Angeles Orphans Home, where she became occupant number 3463. She later said; "Everything around me then was kind of grim. I had to learn to pretend in order to... I don't know... block the grimness. The whole world seemed sort of closed to me... I felt on the outside of everything, and all I could do was to dream up any kind of pretend-game." And; "No-one ever told me I was pretty when I was a little girl. All little girls should be told they are pretty, even if they aren't." Norma Jeane left the orphanage to live with Grace McKee on 26 June 1937. She then lived with Olive Brunings. In November 1938, Norma Jeane went to live with Ana Lower. In September 1941, she returned to Grace and Ervin Goddard. She recalled; "They were terribly strict... they didn't mean any harm... it was their religion." And; "I was never used to being happy, so that wasn't something I ever took for granted. I did sort of think, you know, marriage did that. You see, I was brought up differently from the average American child because the average child is brought up expecting to be happy - that's it, successful, happy, and on time." Norma Jeane married Jim Dougherty on 19 June 1942. She said; "Grace McKee arranged the marriage for me, I never had a choice. There's not much to say about it. They couldn't support me, and they had to work out something. And so I got married." During World War II, while her husband was in the Merchant Marine, Norma Jeane moved in with her mother-in-law. In April 1944, Norma Jeane was employed in the Radioplane Munitions Factory. David Conover photographed her on 26 June 1946, for a magazine article. Conover encouraged her to apply to The Blue Book modeling agency. When she signed with the agency she was told that they were looking for models with lighter hair, so Norma Jeane dyed her brunette hair to a golden blonde. She was interviewed on 17 July 1946, at Twentieth Century Fox. She did a screen test on 19 July 1946, at Twentieth Century Fox. She was offered a six-month contract on 26 August 1946, with Twentieth Century Fox. She reminded Ben Lyon of the actress Marilyn Miller and with her grandmother's name Monroe, she signed the contract, Marilyn Monroe. Monroe was granted a divorce from Dougherty on 13 September 1946. She recalled; "My marriage didn't make me sad, but it didn't make me happy either. My husband and I hardly spoke to each other. This wasn't because we were angry. We had nothing to say. I was dying of boredom."
"I want to be a big star more than anything. It's something precious."
In 1947, Marilyn Monroe appeared in The Shocking Miss Pilgrim, Dangerous Years and Scudda-Hoo! Scudda-Hay! opposite Natalie Wood (1938-1981). She later said; "There was my name up in lights. I said, 'God, somebody's made a mistake.' But there it was, in lights. And I sat there and said, 'Remember, you're not a star.' Yet there it was up in lights." Also in 1947, Marilyn Monroe was crowned Miss California Artichoke Queen. When her contract was not renewed on 25 August 1947, she returned to modeling while she attempted to find opportunities for film work. In February 1948, she met Joseph M. Schneck. Marilyn Monroe signed a six-month contract on 9 March 1948, with Columbia Pictures. Natasha Lytess became her acting coach. In 1948, she starred in Green Grass of Wyoming and the musical, Ladies of the Chorus with Adele Jergens (1917-2002). Her contract was not renewed with Columbia on 8 September 1948. Marilyn Monroe posed on 16 November 1948, for Earl Moran. In 1949, she posed nude for a calendar. She later said; "That's the trouble, a sex symbol becomes 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." And; "I used to think as I looked at the Hollywood night, 'there must be thousands of girls sitting alone like me, dreaming of becoming a movie star. But I'm not going to worry about them. I'm dreaming the hardest." In 1949, Marilyn Monroe appeared in the Marx Brothers film Love Happy. Johnny Hyde of the William Morris Agency agreed to represent her. He soon became her mentor and lover. Marilyn Monroe posed on 27 May 1949, in Los Angeles for photographer Tom Kelley. She started on 15 August 1949, filming A Ticket To Tomahawk. In October 1949, Marilyn Monroe signed a contract with MGM for her role as Angela Phinlay in The Asphalt Jungle. Marilyn Monroe started on 5 January 1950, filming The Fireball. In April 1950, she completed the filming in All About Eve opposite Bette Davis (1908-1989) and Anne Baxter. Marilyn Monroe signed a new contract with Twentieth Century Fox on 10 December 1950. Johnny Hyde died on 18 December 1950. Marilyn Monroe was a presenter at the 23rd Academy Awards ceremony on 29 March 1951. She started filming Love Nest on 18 April 1951. Her contract with Twentieth Century Fox was converted to seven year deal on 11 May 1951. In 1951, she starred as Iris Martin in Home Town Story, Harriet in As Young as You Feel, Roberta Stevens in Love Nest and Joyce Mannering in Let's Make It Legal opposite Claudette Colbert (1903-1996). In March 1952, Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio went out on their first date. She later said; "I was surprized to be so crazy about Joe. I expected a flashy New York sports type, and instead I met this reserved guy who didn't make a pass at me right away! He treated me like something special. Joe is a very decent man, and he makes other people feel decent, too!" One of her nude photographs from 1949, was featured in a calendar on 13 March 1952. According to Marilyn Monroe; "My sin has been no more than I have written posing for the nude picture because I need fifty dollars desperately to get my car out of hock." Marilyn Monroe was told on her birthday 1 June 1952, that she was to be Lorelei Lee in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, opposite Jane Russell. In 1952, she starred as Lois Laurel in Monkey Business opposite Ginger Rogers (1911-1995) and We're Not Married, also with Ginger Rogers. Niagara was released on 21 January 1953. In February 1953, Marilyn Monroe was named The Most Advertised Girl in the World by the Advertising Association of the West. She received the Photoplay magazine award on 9 March 1953.
"I don't understand why people aren't a little more generous with each other."
Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell signed their names and placed their hands and feet in the cement in front of the Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard on 26 June 1953, at the Los Angeles premiere of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. She later said; "I remember when I got the part in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Jane Russell, she was the brunette in it and I was the blonde. She got $200,000 for it, and I got my $500 a week, but that to me was, you know, considerable. She by the way, was quite wonderful to me." Russell described Monroe as; "Very shy and very sweet and far more intelligent than people gave her credit for." In October 1953, Marilyn Monroe met Milton Greene at a party. Also in October 1953, she signed a recording contract with RCA.
"The only people I care about are the people in Times Square, across the street from the theatre, who can't get close as I come in. If I had light make-up on, they'd never see me. This make-up is for them..."
Marilyn Monroe appeared opposite Lauren Bacall and Betty Grable in How to Marry a Millionaire which premiered on 4 November 1953. In December 1953, Marilyn Monroe was Playboy Sweetheart of the Month. Monroe was suspended by Twentieth Century Fox on 4 January 1954. Marilyn Monroe married her second husband, Joe DiMaggio on 14 January 1954, at San Francisco City Hall. Marilyn Monroe started on 16 February 1954, her tour of the troops in Korea. She later said; "Gee, I never thought I had an effect on people until I was in Korea." And; "Standing in the snowfall facing these yelling soldiers, I felt for the first time in my life no fear of anything, I felt only happy." DiMaggio did not accompany her on this trip. She explained; "Joe hates crowds and glamour." In March 1954, Monroe returned to Twentieth Century Fox. She began filming There's No Business Like Show Business on 29 May 1954. In 1954, she started filming Seven Year Itch. Over 2000 spectators gathered in the early hours of 15 September 1954, outside the Trans-Lux Theater, in New York City, to see Marilyn Monroe as she posed in the "skirt blowing" scene. Monroe was officially separated from DiMaggio on 5 October 1954. She said; "I didn't want to give up my career, and that's what Joe wanted me to do most of all." And; "When I married him (Joe), I wasn't sure of why I married him, I have too many fantasies to be a housewife." Marilyn Monroe and Milton Greene formed Marilyn Monroe Productions on 31 December 1954.
"What do I wear in bed? Why, Chanel No.5, of course."
Fox suspended Monroe on 15 January 1955. According to Marilyn Monroe; "My illusions didn't have anything to do with being a fine actress. I knew how third rate I was. I could actually feel my lack of talent, as if it were cheap clothes I was wearing inside. But, my God, how I wanted to learn, to change, to improve!" And; "If I play a stupid girl and ask a stupid question I've got to follow it through. What am I supposed to do - look intelligent?" In February 1955, Marilyn Monroe was introduced to Lee Strasberg. Marilyn Monroe rode a pink elephant for arthritis benefit on 31 March 1955, in Madison Square Garden. In May 1955, Marilyn Monroe started dating the playwright, Arthur Miller. Joe DiMaggio accompanied Marilyn to the premiere of The Seven Year Itch on 1 June 1955, in New York City. Monroe was granted final divorce from Dimaggio on 31 October 1955. Throughout 1955, Marilyn Monroe studied with the Actors Studio. According to Lee Strasberg, "I have worked with hundreds and hundreds of actors and actresses, and there are only two that stand out way above the rest. Number one is Marlon Brando, and the second is Marilyn Monroe." In 1956, Marilyn Monroe was nominated for the British Academy Award for Best Foreign Actress in the Seven Year Itch. Press conference with Laurence Olivier to announce The Prince and the Showgirl on 9 February 1956. She legally changed her name from Norma Jeane to Marilyn Monroe on 23 February 1956. Marilyn Monroe married Arthur Miller on 29 June 1956, in a civil ceremony in White Plains, New York. They were married on 1 July 1956, in a Jewish ceremony.
"It's all make believe, isn't it?"
Marilyn Monroe arrived on 14 July 1956, in London, England, to work with Laurence Oliver in The Prince and the Showgirl. In August 1956, Marilyn became pregnant, but sadly lost the baby. Marilyn Monroe was presented to Queen Elizabeth II at the Royal Command Film Performance on 29 October 1956. After she finished shooting The Prince and the Showgirl the couple returned to the United States. Marilyn Monroe had a photo session on 6 May 1957, with Richard Avedon. The Prince and the Showgirl premiered on 13 June 1957. Once she said; "With fame, you know, you can read about yourself, somebody else's ideas about you, but what's important is how you feel about yourself -for survival and living day to day with what comes up." In 1958, Marilyn returned to Hollywood to make Some Like It Hot. She said; "Hollywood's a place where they'll pay you a thousand dollars for a kiss, and fifty cents for your soul. I know, because I turned down the first offer often enough and held out for the fifty cents." She started to work on her role as Sugar Kane Kowalczyk in Some Like it Hot on 4 August 1958. Her health continued to deteriorate due to increased dependency on drugs and involvement in an unhappy marriage. She said; "I am invariably late for appointments... sometimes, as much as two hours. I've tried to change my ways but the things that make me late are too strong, and too pleasing." During filming, Marilyn discovered that she was pregnant. She finished Some Like it Hot on 6 November 1958. Marilyn suffered another miscarriage on 17 December 1958. Marilyn Monroe posed on 22 December 1958, as Theda Bara (1885-1955), Lillian Russell (1860-1922), Marlene Dietrich (1901-1992), Clara Bow (1907-1965) and Jean Harlow (1911-1937) for the photographer Richard Avedon.
"Only the public can make a star. It's the studios who try to make a system out of it."
Some Like it Hot premiered on 29 March 1959. Marilyn Monroe received a Golden Globe Award for Best Comedy Actress for Some Like it Hot on 8 March 1960. According to Marilyn Monroe; "An actor is supposed to be a sensitive instrument. Isaac Stern takes good care of his violin. What if everyone jumped on his violin?" In June 1960, she began seeing psychoanalyst Ralph Greenson on a daily basis. Once she said; "It's not that I object to doing musicals and comedies... in fact, I rather enjoy them... but I'd like to do dramatic parts too." She started filming her role as Roslyn Taber in The Misfits, on 18 July 1960, in Nevada. She once said; "Everybody is always tugging at you. They'd all like a sort of chunk out of you. I don't think they realize it, but it's like "grrrr do this, grrrr do that... " But you do want to stay intact... intact and on two feet." She finished The Misfits on 4 November 1960. Public announcement that Monroe and Miller were to divorce on 11 November 1960. Clark Gable died of a heart attack on 16 November 1960. In 1960, Monroe appeared as Amanda Dell in Let's Make Love. She once said; "Men who think that a woman's past love affairs lessen her love for them are usually stupid and weak. A woman can bring a new love to each man she loves, providing there are not too many." Monroe was granted a Mexican divorce from Miller on 20 January 1961. She stated; "Mr. Miller is a wonderful man and a great writer, but it didn't work out that we should be husband and wife." The Misfits premiered on 31 January 1961. She entered Payne Whitley Psychiatric Clinic on 7 February 1961, in NY. She entered Columbia Presbyterian Hospital on 11 February 1961. She was discharged from Columbia Presbyterian Hospital on 5 March 1961. In 1961, Marilyn purchased a house in Brentwood, Los Angeles. In October 1961, Marilyn met Robert Kennedy at Peter Lawford's beach house. Marilyn attended a dinner at Peter Lawford's house with President Kennedy on 19 November 1961. Dinner in honour of Robert Kennedy on 1 February 1962. In February 1962, Marilyn moved into the house she has bought in Brentwood, LA. Marilyn Monroe won Golden Globe Award, Worlds Film Favorite on 5 March 1962. Marilyn and John F. Kennedy spent a weekend together from 24 March 1962, in Palm Springs. Marilyn began to work on Something's Got to Give on 23 April 1962. At the urging of her psychoanalyst, Dr Greenson, she hired Eunice Murray as housekeeper. Marilyn Monroe sang "Happy Birthday, Mr. President" and "Thanks for the Memory" at a televised birthday party for President John F. Kennedy on 19 May 1962, at Madison Square Garden. She then went back to L.A.
"Fame is fickle and I know it. It has its compensations, but it also has its drawbacks and I've experienced them both."
Marilyn Monroe filmed the pool sequence on Something's Got to Give on 28 May 1962. She had her last day at work at Twentieth Century Fox and final public appearance on 1 June 1962. Twentieth Century Fox fired Monroe on 7 June 1962.
"It stirs up envy, fame does. People... feel fame gives them some kind of privilege to walk up to you and say anything to you - and it won't hurt your feelings - like it's happening to your clothing."
Bert Stern began his first photo session of Marilyn Monroe on 23 June 1962. George Barris photographed her on 29 June 1962. She spent the weekend from 28 July 1962, at Cal-Neva Lodge. According to Marilyn Monroe; "Some people have been unkind. If I say I want to grow as an actress, they look at my figure. If I say I want to develop, to learn my craft, they laugh. Somehow they don't expect me to be serious about my work." She continued; "I feel stronger if the people around me on the set love me, care for me, and hold good thoughts for me. It creates an aura of love, and I believe I can give a better performance." And; "Unfortunately, I am involved in a freedom ride protesting the loss of the minority rights belonging to the few remaining earthbound stars. All we demanded was our right to twinkle." Fox rewrote the contract with Marilyn Monroe on 1 August 1962, for double the salary and restart production of Something's Got to Give. Marilyn and Joe DiMaggio decided to remarry and set the date for 8 August 1962. Once she said; "I want to grow old without face-lifts... I want to have the courage to be loyal to the face I have made. Sometimes I think it would be easier to avoid old age, to die young, but then you'd never complete your life, would you? You'd never wholly know yourself." And; "You have to start all over again. But I believe you're always as good as your potential. I now live in my work and in a few relationships with the few people I can really count on. Fame will go by, and, so long, I've had you fame. If it goes by, I've always known it was fickle. So at least it's something I experienced, but that's not where I live." Marilyn Monroe was aged 36, when on the evening of 5 August 1962, was found dead in the bedroom of her home in Brentwood, California. She was interred in the Corridor of Memories, crypt 24, at Westwood Memorial Park, in Los Angeles, California. For over 20 years flowers were delivered weekly to her crypt from Joe DiMaggio, just as he had promised Marilyn Monroe when she told him of William Powell's pledge to the dying Jean Harlow. Any attempt to unmask the truth about her last hours remains futile, Marilyn Monroe took her secrets with her.
Marilyn Monroe's favourite poets were John Keats and Walt Whitman. She not only enjoyed reading poetry, but wrote some of her own. Always fearful of harsh judgement, she only showed her poetry to a selected few.
Poems by Marilyn Monroe
I am of both your directions
Existing more with the cold frost
Strong as a cobweb in the wind
Hanging downward the most
those beaded rays have the colours
I've seen in paintings -
they have cheated you
Thinner than a cobweb's thread
sheerer than any -
but it did attach itself
and held fast in strong winds
and singed by the leaping hot fireslife -
of which at singular times
I am both of your directions -
somehow I remain hanging downward the most
as both of your directions pull me
I could have loved you once
and even said it
But you went away,
When you came back it was too late
And love was a forgotten word.
From time to time
I make it rhyme
but don't hold that kind
of thing against me-
Oh well, what the hell,
so it won't sell.
What I want to tell-
is what's on my mind:
before I die-
and to think
I left my home of green rough wood,
A blue velvet couch.
I dream till now
A shiny dark bush
Just left of the door.
Down the walk
As my doll in her carriage
Went over the cracks -
"We'll go far away."
To the weeping willow
I stood beneath your limbs
and you flowered and finally clung to me
and when the wind struck...
and sand -
you clung to me.
Help this weary being
To forget what is sad to remember
Lose my loneliness,
Ease my mind,
While you eat my flesh.
Don't cry my doll
I hold you and rock you to sleep
I'm pretending now
I'm not your mother who died.
Help I feel life coming closer
When all I want to do is die.
Night of the
No eyes nor no one
except to the
and sweet repose
Where ever you lay your head -
hope you find your nose
"I knew I belonged to the public and to the world, not because I was talented or even beautiful, but because I had never belonged to anything or anyone else." Marilyn Monroe