Marilyn Monroe: biography of the American movie star

Absolute and immortal myth, unfortunate and unhappy young woman. In this double role , Marilyn Monroe, who was actually called Norma Jean Baker, will be remembered forever

World symbol of the “beautiful and foolish” blonde of the Sixties, in reality Marilyn Monroe could have become something else, but she was satisfied with the role that American and world cinema imposed on her at the time.

A role that was close to her but made her the star par excellence. Being an icon that it is not known to what extent she had a weight in the tragic end that of August 5, 1962, when she is found dead in her villa. An unsolved mystery , which hides disturbing shadows behind the very essence of a provincial girl who, despite her, has made the history of cinema.

An unhappy childhood: the beginnings as Norma Jeane

Norma Jean Baker Monroe was born on June 1, 1926 in Los Angeles, to Gladys Pearl Monroe , a mentally unstable single woman who could not take care of her. Her father, however, still remains a mystery today: biographers think it is Martin Edward Mortenson , a baker of Norwegian origin, who at that time was married to Marilyn’s mother, but separated from her at the moment of her conception. For some biographers of her her father and instead Charles Stanley Gifford , a sales employee of the company where Marilyn’s mother worked (Consolidated Film Industries), who, however, would have left Gladys after learning of her pregnancy. Even some of her risk a rape suffered by Marilyn’s mother which led her to conceive the actress. 

The whole childhood of little Marilyn Monroe is not the easiest: she lives as a child passing from one foster family to another (up to the age of seven with Wayne and Ida Bolender, a couple who took care of children in exchange for money ), until the mother’s best friend becomes  her guardian . It is she who transmits her passion for cinema and acting, which Marilyn adores right away.

When Norma’s guardian moves to the eastern United States, Virginia , the then very young Marilyn meets her first husband. In fact, the then Norma Jeane in 1941, moving from Emerson junior High School to Van Nuys High School, meets the son of a neighbor, James Dougherty , with whom she begins a relationship that later turns into marriage on June 19, 1942 (Norma she was 16), celebrated for not letting her return to the institute, since the guardian could no longer be with her.

Subsequently, many declare that it is a marriage of pure convenience and not of love, as instead claimed from the beginning James.

With the war, James enlisted in the navy, and after living for a time together on Santa Catalina Island, James left Norma and left for the Pacific. The same year, Norma Jeane moves to Los Angeles from her mother-in-law, and she works first as a parachute packer, then in charge of painting aircraft fuselages.

From worker to model: the transformation into Marilyn Monroe

But Norma’s career as a worker did not last long: in 1945 the photographer David Conover met the young girl and saw in her a future in the world of fashion. He immortalizes her in this way for the magazine Yank for a photo shoot and those images make Norma Jeane “ Miss flamethrower “.

At that point the girl realizes that she has the potential to break into the world of entertainment and leaves James in 1946.

And here is that from this fortuitous experience begins her successful modeling career that takes her in less than two years to Hollywood as an actress. In 1947 she made her first film: George Seaton’s The Shocking Miss Pilgrim and in the meantime she also became  Miss California Artichoke Queen.

Here begins Marilyn Monroe’s career in the world of cinema.

Marilyn Monroe becomes a world star of American cinema

After having participated as an extra or protagonist of some low-cost films, he begins acting in Hollywood. For example, she stars in  John Huston’s Asphalt Jungle  , where she plays Marilyn the part of Angela Phinlay, the mistress of a wealthy lawyer. Or she still plays the part of a theater critic’s lover in Eve Against Eve . In 1950 the film that consecrates Norma, who in the meantime has changed her name to Marilyn, as an absolute star, comes out: Born Yesterday . She gets that role thanks to Johnny Hyde , her time agent she met at a party hosted by producer Sam Spiegel, who also became her lover.

Marilyn Monroe is bored with Playboy

Before this film the parenthesis of Marilyn Monroe naked: it was in fact 1949 and the American actress to pay the rent decides to pose naked (but with her face covered) for Tom Kelley for the sum of $ 50. But that photograph is resold for $ 900 and placed on a sexy calendar called Miss Golden Dreams.

Years after the story unfolds, revealed by Marilyn herself, Hugh Hefner buys the rights to use those same nude photographs of Marilyn Monroe , for the first issue of his new Playboy magazine .

Since then , the sensational success of the blonde actress is unstoppable. Her films alternate with loves, lovers and depressive states, with several suicide attempts. 

Among his most famous films are: Niagara, Men Prefer Blondes , Magnificent Prey .

But also hits that cross the borders of the United States, such as When the Wife is on Vacation , The Red Velvet Swing, Bus Stop, The Prince and the Dancer (with which he won the David di Donatello in 1958) .

Receives good reviews and numerous Oscar nominations also for the film ” Some Like It Hot ” in 1959, which however does not turn into the much-hoped-for success and the coveted statuette of the actress. But the film will forever remain in the minds of all film buffs for its interpretation of Marilyn Monroe.

His last complete film and the 1961 film ” The Misfits “.

Some like it hot

Marilyn Monroe film

Here is all the official filmography, that is all the films of Marilyn Monroe:

  1. The Shocking Miss Pilgrim, directed by George Seaton – uncredited (1947)
  2. The Green Pastures of Wyoming, by Louis King – uncredited (1948)
  3. You Were Meant for Me, by Lloyd Bacon – uncredited (1948)
  4. Dangerous Years, regia Arthur Pierson (1948)
  5. Scudda Hoo! Scudda Hay !, directed by F. Hugh Herbert – uncredited (1948)
  6. Blonde Orchid (Ladies of the Chorus), directed by Phil Karlson (1948)
  7. Love Happy, directed by David Miller and, uncredited, Leo McCarey (1950)
  8. A Ticket to Tomahawk, by Richard Sale – uncredited (1950)
  9. The Asphalt Jungle, by John Huston (1950)
  10. Eva contro Eva (All About Eve), directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz (1950)
  11. The Fireball, directed by Tay Garnett (1950)
  12. The Mexican (Right Cross), by John Sturges – uncredited (1950)
  13. Home Town Story, regia di Arthur Pierson (1951)
  14. As Young as You Feel, by Harmon Jones (1951)
  15. The Memoirs of a Love Nest, directed by Joseph M. Newman (1951)
  16. My wife is getting married (Let’s Make It Legal), by Richard Sale (1951)
  17. The Confession of Mrs. Doyle (Clash by Night), by Fritz Lang (1952)
  18. Matrimoni a sorpresa (We’re Not Married!), regia di Edmund Goulding (1952)
  19. Your Mouth Burns (Don’t Bother to Knock), by Roy Ward Baker (1952)
  20. Monkey Business, by Howard Hawks (1952)
  21. The Cop and the Anthem, episode of O. Henry’s Full House, directed by Henry Koster (1952)
  22. Niagara, regia at Henry Hathaway (1953)
  23. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, by Howard Hawks (1953)
  24. How to Marry a Millionaire, by Jean Negulesco (1953)
  25. River of No Return, directed by Otto Preminger and, uncredited, Jean Negulesco (1954)
  26. There’s No Business Like Show Business, by Walter Lang (1954)
  27. The Seven Year Itch, by Billy Wilder (1955)
  28. Bus Stop, directed by Joshua Logan (1956)
  29. The Prince and the Showgirl, by Laurence Olivier (1957)
  30. Some Like It Hot, by Billy Wilder (1959)
  31. Let’s Make Love, directed by George Cukor (1960)
  32. The Misfits, by John Huston (1961)
  33. Something’s Got to Give – incompleto, regia di George Cukor (1962)

Marilyn’s fear of the stage

Although you see in the movies, Marilyn Monroe bold, perturbing, sexy and flirty, her real personality was not very suitable for the world of cinema and the stage. In fact, Marilyn has an innate fear of performance, which causes her not a little stress and many problems with the directors and staff of the films she decides to shoot. This phobia of her is noticed by Allan Snyder, the makeup artist of Monroe.

The private life of Marilyn Monroe, between loves, fears and drug abuse

All the terrible events Monroe experienced have marked her. In fact, an unhappy childhood, a rape suffered at an early age, some pathologies of a psychological nature (many think she was Bipolar) made Marilyn very unstable and suffering, unable to build solid foundations from a sentimental point of view.

The terror of abandonment will always follow her. In fact, in an interview she declares:

“I’m afraid that if I begin to love children or animals, they will tire of me and abandon me. God, I can’t bear the idea of ​​someone leaving me! ”.

To soothe her sense of insecurity and find a balance, Marilyn will turn to many psychoanalysts, including Anna Freud, who defines her:

Emotionally unstable, highly impulsive, in need of constant approval from the outside world; she can’t stand loneliness, she tends to get depressed in the face of waste: paranoid with schizophrenic traits “.

(extracted from

In her private life, unfortunately, Marilyn Monroe is unable to be happy, so she also begins to abuse psychotropic drugs. In fact, she first marries baseball player Joe Di Maggio in 1951 (but separates after only a year of marriage), then and Frank Sinatra’s lover a few years later, and finally marries Arthur Miller in 1956 but who leaves shortly before his death. , in 1961.

She never had children (despite fourteen pregnancy interruptions) and perhaps this was weighing on her in the end. Her life as an American star of the time for a star like her did not quite fit that of her mother.

In addition, in the last years of life there are rumors of a relationship with the president of the USA John Fitzgerald Kennedy , something never completely ascertained and covered up by the authorities of the time. She later also dates the president’s brother, Bob Kennedy , who turns out to be her latest lover unofficially.

His video will remain in the story, in which he sings to the President of the USA at Madison Square Garden in New York and in front of 15,000 people, the song ” Happy Birthday “, which becomes a symbol of eroticism, sensuality and also of sweetness, traits that characterize the personality of the actress.

Marilyn Monroe morte

Too fragile to withstand sentimental failures and too much fame, he begins to abuse drugs and alcohol. It seems that his death, on the morning of August 5, 1962 , declared official at 4:25 in the morning, is due to an overdose of tranquilizers but the mystery around that fact still remains intense today. In those years it was suspected of a relationship between Monroe and the then president John Kennedy as well as with his brother Bob , which would have created uncomfortable scandals. This is why we talk for a long time about murder, a theory which, however, was never verified. What remains, for sure, is the immortal memory of a beautiful woman and an actress who still makes men dream today. 

Marilyn Monroe’s funeral was  organized by her ex-husband Joe Di Maggio at Westwood Memorial Park on August 8, 1962 in front of a few close friends, and her body was interred in a columbarium at  Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery.

Ritratto Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn Monroe is an artist who will remain immortal forever, also because beyond her beauty and acting skill, the actress was the protagonist of one of the most famous portraits of Pop Art, made by Andy Warhol in 1967. The painting is a repetition serial depicting the actress in different colors, consisting of 9 serigraphs with the face of Marilyn.The woman’s face thus also becomes an icon of contemporary art.

Andy Warhol, Marilyn Monroe, 1967, color screen printing, 91.5 x 91.5 cm each module. Colorado, Powers Art Center, John and Kimiko Powers Collection Source: