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"Story of my life. I always get the fuzzy end of the lollipop."

- as Sugar Kane Kowalczyk, Some Like It Hot (1959)

MARILYN MONROE

Batman writer/artist Bob Kane used Marilyn's likeness as a reference when he drew Vicki Vale.

During the filming of Niagara (1953), Marilyn was still under contract as a stock actor, thus, she received less salary than her make-up man.

Marilyn Monroe (June 1st, 1926 – August 5th, 1962) was an iconic American actress, singer and model. To this day, she is one of the 20th century's most famous movie stars, sex symbols and pop icons. After acting in small roles for several years, she gradually became known for her comedic skills, sex appeal and screen presence, going on to become one of the most popular movie stars of the 1950s. Later in her career, she worked towards serious roles with a measure of success. However, long standing problems were exacerbated by disappointments in both career and personal life during her later years. Her death, officially ruled to be probable suicide by drug overdose, has been the subject of much speculation and conspiracy theory.

Marilyn Monroe personified Hollywood glamour with an unparalleled glow and energy that enamored the world. Although she was an alluring beauty with voluptuous curves and a generous pout, Marilyn was more than a '50s sex goddess. Her apparent vulnerability and innocence, in combination with an innate sensuality, has endeared her to the global consciousness. She dominated the age of movie stars to become, without question, the most famous woman of the 20th Century.

Marilyn Monroe was born on June 1st, 1926, in Los Angeles County Hospital as Norma Jeane Mortenson (soon after changed to Baker), the third child born to Gladys Pearl Baker (née Monroe, May 27th, 1902 – March 11th, 1984). Monroe's birth certificate names the father as Martin Edward Mortensen with his residence stated as "unknown". The name Mortenson is listed as her surname on the birth certificate, although Gladys immediately had it changed to Baker, the surname of her first husband and which she still used. Martin's surname was misspelled on the birth certificate leading to more confusion on who her actual father was. Gladys Baker had married a Martin E. Mortensen in 1924, but they had separated before Gladys' pregnancy. Several of Monroe's biographers suggest that Gladys Baker used his name to avoid the stigma of illegitimacy. Mortensen died at the age of 85, and Monroe's birth certificate, together with her parents' marriage and divorce documents, were discovered. The documents showed that Mortensen filed for divorce from Gladys on March 5th, 1927, and it was finalized on October 15th, 1928. Throughout her life, Marilyn Monroe denied that Mortensen was her father. Marilyn said that, when she was a child, she had been shown a photograph of a man that Gladys identified as her father, Charles Stanley Gifford. She remembered that he had a thin mustache and somewhat resembled Clark Gable, and that she had amused herself by pretending that Gable was her father.

Gladys had been a film cutter at RKO studios, but psychological problems prevented her from keeping the job and she was unstable and financially unable to care for the young Norma Jeane, so she placed her with foster parents Albert and Ida Bolender of Hawthorne, California, where she lived until she was seven. In 1933, Gladys bought a house and brought Norma Jeane to live with her. A few months later, Gladys began a series of mental episodes that would plague her for the rest of her life. In her autobiography, My Story, Monroe recalls her mother "screaming and laughing" as she was forcibly removed to the State Hospital in Norwalk.

Norma Jeane was then declared a ward of the state. Gladys's best friend, Grace McKee, became her guardian. Grace was captivated by Jean Harlow, and told Monroe that some day she would become a movie star. When Norma Jeane was 9, McKee married Ervin Silliman "Doc" Goddard in 1935, and subsequently sent Monroe to the Los Angeles Orphans Home (later renamed Hollygrove), followed by a succession of foster homes. While at Hollygrove, several families were interested in adopting her, but reluctance on Gladys' part to sign adoption papers thwarted those attempts. In 1937, Monroe moved back into Grace and Doc Goddard's house, joining Doc's daughter from a previous marriage. Due to Doc's frequent attempts to sexually assault Norma Jeane, this arrangement did not last long.

Grace sent Norma Jeane to live with her great-aunt, Olive Brunings, in Compton, California; this was also a brief stint ended by an assault when one of Olive's sons had attacked the now middle-school-aged girl. Some biographers have questioned whether at least some of Monroe's later behavior (i.e., hyper-sexuality, sleep disturbances, substance abuse, disturbed interpersonal relationships), was a manifestation of the effects of childhood sexual abuse in the context of her already problematic relationships with her psychiatrically ill mother and subsequent caregivers. In early 1938, Grace sent her to live with another aunt, Ana Lower, who lived in the Van Nuys district of Los Angeles. Years later, Monroe would reflect fondly about the time that she spent with Lower, whom she affectionately called "Aunt Ana". She would explain that it was one of the few times in her life when she felt truly stable.

In 1942, Norma Jeane moved back to Grace and Doc Goddard's house. While attending Van Nuys High School, she met a neighbor's son, James "Jim" Dougherty, and began a relationship with him. Several months later, Grace and Doc Goddard relocated to West Virginia, where Doc had received a lucrative job offer and they decided not to take Monroe with them. A neighborhood family offered to adopt Monroe, but Gladys again rejected the offer. With few options left, Grace approached Dougherty's mother and suggested that Jim marry Norma Jeane so that she would not have to return to an orphanage or foster care.

Jim was initially reluctant, but he finally relented and married her in a ceremony arranged by Ana Lower on June 19th, 1942. Norma Jeane was 16 and Dougherty was 21 and they had been dating for six months. "She was a sweet, generous and religious girl," Jimmy said. "She liked to be cuddled." By all accounts Norma Jeane loved Jimmy, and they were happy together until he joined the Merchant Marines and was sent to the South Pacific in 1944. Frightened that he might not come back alive, Monroe begged him to try and get her pregnant before he left. Dougherty disagreed, feeling that she was too young to have a baby, but he promised that they would revisit the subject when he returned home. Subsequently, Monroe moved in with Dougherty's mother.

After Jimmy left, Norma Jeane took a job on the assembly line at the Radio Plane Munitions factory in Burbank, California. Several months later, photographer David Conover saw her while taking pictures of women contributing to the war effort for Yank magazine. He couldn't believe his luck. She was a "photographer's dream." Conover used her for the shoot and then began sending modeling jobs her way, encouraging her to apply to The Blue Book Modeling Agency. She signed with the agency and began researching the work of Jean Harlow and Lana Turner. She was told that they were looking for models with lighter hair, so Norma Jeane bleached her brunette hair a golden blonde.

Norma Jeane became one of Blue Book's most successful models, appearing on dozens of magazine covers. Her successful modeling career brought her to the attention of Ben Lyon, a 20th Century Fox executive, who arranged a screen test for her. Lyon was impressed and commented, "It's Jean Harlow all over again." She was offered a standard six-month contract with a starting salary of $125 per week. Norma Jeane was invited to spend the weekend with Lyon and his wife Bebe Daniels at their home. It was there that they decided to find her a new name. Following her idol Jean Harlow, she decided to choose her mother's maiden name of Monroe. Several variations such as Norma Jeane Monroe and Norma Monroe were tried and initially "Jeane Monroe" was chosen. Eventually, Lyon decided Jeane and variants were too common, and he decided on a more alliterative sounding name. He suggested "Marilyn", commenting that she reminded him of Marilyn Miller. Monroe was initially hesitant because Marilyn was the contraction of the name Mary Lynn, a name she did not like. Lyon, however, felt that the name "Marilyn Monroe" was sexy, had a "nice flow", and would be "lucky" due to the double "M".

"I never wanted to be Marilyn, it just happened. Marilyn's like a veil I wear over Norma Jeane."

- Marilyn Monroe

In September 1946, Monroe filed for divorce. Dougherty, served with divorce papers while aboard a ship on the Yangtze river in China, reported that he tried to persuade his wife against the divorce upon his return, but she refused. In a 1984 interview, he claimed, "She wanted to sign a contract with [20th Century] Fox and it said she couldn't be married, they didn't want a pregnant starlet."

During her first few months at 20th Century Fox, Monroe had no speaking roles in any films but, alongside other new contract players, took singing, dancing and other classes. She appeared as an extra in some movies, but no exact list exists; some film buffs claim she appears in the musical comedies The Shocking Miss Pilgrim and You Were Meant for Me, and in the Western, Green Grass of Wyoming, but these are unconfirmed. Her first credited role was as a waitress in Dangerous Years, released in December 1947, in which she had nine short lines. In March 1948, she appeared in a bit part as Betty in Scudda Hoo! Scudda Hay! (released after Dangerous Years but filmed before). Dressed in a pinafore and walking down the steps of a church, she says, "Hi, Rad" to the main character, played by June Haver, who responds, "Hi, Betty." After Monroe's stardom, 20th Century Fox began claiming that Monroe's only line in the film had been cut out, an anecdote Monroe repeated on Person to Person in 1955, but film historian James Haspiel says her line is intact and she also appears in a shot paddling a canoe with another woman.

In 1947, Monroe had been released from her contract with 20th Century Fox. She then met with Hollywood pin-up photographer Bruno Bernard, who photographed her at the Racquet Club of Palm Springs; and it was at the Racquet Club where she met Hollywood talent agent Johnny Hyde. In 1948, Monroe signed a six-month contract with Columbia Pictures and was introduced to the studio's head drama coach Natasha Lytess, who became her acting coach for several years. Monroe was soon cast in a major role in the low-budget musical Ladies of the Chorus (1948). Monroe was reviewed as one of the film's bright spots, although the film enjoyed only moderate success and she was dropped by Columbia. Monroe struggled to find film work but when the offers didn't come, she returned to modeling.

In 1949, she caught the eye of photographer Tom Kelley, who convinced her to pose nude. Monroe was laid out on a large fabric of red silk and posed for countless shots. She was paid $50 and signed the model release form as "Mona Monroe". This was the only time that Monroe was paid for her nude posing.

Soon thereafter she had a small walk-on role in the Marx Brothers film Love Happy (1949, above). Monroe impressed the producers, who sent her to New York City to be featured in the film's promotional campaign. While on the East Coast, she and Andre de Dienes, one of Norma Jeane's early photographers, shot a famous series of pin-up shots of her at Long Island's Tobay Beach, in Oyster Bay, New York.

After signing on with Johnny Hyde, Monroe had brief roles in three films, A Ticket to Tomahawk, Right Cross, and The Fireball, all of which were released in 1950 and brought no attention to her career. Hyde soon thereafter arranged for her to audition for John Huston, who cast her in the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer drama The Asphalt Jungle as the young mistress of an aging criminal (below).

Her performance brought strong reviews, and was seen by the writer and director, Joseph Mankiewicz. He accepted Hyde's suggestion to cast Monroe in a small comedic role in All About Eve as Miss Caswell (below right), an aspiring actress, described by another character, played by George Sanders, as a student of "The Copacabana School of Dramatic Art".

Mankiewicz later commented that he had seen an innocence in her that he found appealing, and that this had confirmed his belief in her suitability for the role. Following Monroe's success in these roles, Hyde negotiated a seven-year contract for her with 20th Century Fox, shortly before his death in December 1950.

In 1951, Monroe enrolled at University of California, Los Angeles, where she studied literature and art appreciation. During this time Monroe had minor parts in four films: the low-budget drama Home Town Story with Jeffrey Lynn and Alan Hale, Jr., and three comedies: As Young as You Feel with Monty Woolley and Thelma Ritter; Love Nest with June Haver and William Lundigan; and Let's Make It Legal with Claudette Colbert and Macdonald Carey, all of which were filmed on a moderate budget and only became mildly successful. In March 1951, she appeared as a presenter at the 23rd Academy Awards ceremony. In 1952, Monroe appeared on the cover of Look magazine wearing a Georgia Tech sweater as part of an article celebrating female enrollment to the school's main campus. In the early 1950s, Monroe unsuccessfully auditioned for the role of Daisy Mae in a proposed Li'l Abner television series based on the Al Capp comic strip.

In March 1952, Monroe faced a possible scandal when two of her nude photos from her 1949 session with photographer Tom Kelley were featured on calendars. The press speculated about the identity of the anonymous model and commented that she closely resembled Monroe. As the studio discussed how to deal with the problem, Monroe suggested that she should simply admit that she had posed for the photographs but emphasize that she had done so only because she had no money to pay her rent. She gave an interview in which she discussed the circumstances that led to her posing for the photographs, and the resulting publicity elicited a degree of sympathy for her plight as a struggling actress. One of these photographs was published in the first issue of Playboy in December 1953, making Monroe the first Playmate of the Month and contributing to the success of the magazine.

She made her first appearance on the cover of Life magazine in April 1952, where she was described as "The Talk of Hollywood". The following year, she was photographed by noted Life magazine photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt, considered "The father of photojournalism."

Stories of her childhood and upbringing portrayed her in a sympathetic light: a cover story for the May 1952 edition of True Experiences magazine showed a smiling and wholesome Monroe beside a caption that read, "Do I look happy? I should - for I was a child nobody wanted. A lonely girl with a dream - who awakened to find that dream come true. I am Marilyn Monroe. Read my Cinderella story." It was also during this time that she began dating baseball player Joe DiMaggio. A photograph of DiMaggio visiting Monroe at the 20th Century Fox studio was printed in newspapers throughout the United States, and reports of a developing romance between them generated further interest in Monroe.

In 1952. She had been lent to RKO Studios to appear in a supporting role in Clash by Night, a Barbara Stanwyck drama, directed by Fritz Lang. This was followed by two films released in July, the lightweight comedy We're Not Married!, and the drama Don't Bother to Knock, where she played the starring role of a babysitter who threatens to attack the child in her care.

Monkey Business (right with Cary Grant), a successful comedy directed by Howard Hawks starring Cary Grant and Ginger Rogers, was released in September and was the first movie in which Monroe appeared with platinum blonde hair. In O. Henry's Full House for 20th Century Fox, released in August 1952, Monroe had a single one-minute scene with Charles Laughton, yet she received top billing alongside him and the film's other stars.

Darryl F. Zanuck considered that Monroe's film potential was worth developing and cast her in Niagara, as a femme fatale scheming to murder her husband, played by Joseph Cotten. During filming, Monroe's make-up artist Whitey Snyder noticed her stage fright (that would ultimately mark her behavior on film sets throughout her career); the director assigned him to spend hours gently coaxing and comforting Monroe as she prepared to film her scenes.

Much of the critical commentary following the release of the film focused on Monroe's overtly sexual performance, and a scene which shows Monroe (from the back) making a long walk toward Niagara Falls received frequent note in reviews. After seeing the film, Constance Bennett reportedly quipped, "There's a broad with her future behind her." Whitey Snyder also commented that it was during preparation for this film, after much experimentation, that Monroe achieved "the look, and we used that look for several pictures in a row ... the look was established." While the film was a success, and Monroe's performance had positive reviews, her conduct at promotional events sometimes drew negative comments. Her appearance at the Photoplay awards dinner in a skin-tight gold lamé dress was criticized. Louella Parsons' newspaper column quoted Joan Crawford discussing Monroe's "vulgarity" and describing her behavior as "unbecoming an actress and a lady". Monroe had previously received criticism for wearing a dress with a neckline cut almost to her navel when she acted as grand marshal at the Miss America Parade in September 1952. A photograph from this event was used on the cover of the first issue of Playboy in December 1953.

Monroe next replaced Betty Grable in the musical film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) co-starring Jane Russell and directed by Howard Hawks. Her role as Lorelei Lee, a gold-digging showgirl, required her to act, sing, and dance. The two stars became friends, with Russell describing Monroe as "very shy and very sweet and far more intelligent than people gave her credit for". She later recalled that Monroe showed her dedication by rehearsing her dance routines each evening after most of the crew had left, but she arrived habitually late on set for filming. Realizing that Monroe remained in her dressing room due to stage fright, and that Hawks was growing impatient with her tardiness, Russell started escorting her to the set.

At the Los Angeles premiere of the film, Monroe and Russell pressed their hand and footprints in the wet concrete in the forecourt of Grauman's Chinese Theatre. Monroe received positive reviews and the film grossed more than double its production costs. Her rendition of "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" (below) became associated with her. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes also marked one of the earliest films in which William Travilla dressed Monroe.

Travilla dressed Monroe in eight of her films including Bus Stop, Don't Bother to Knock, How to Marry a Millionaire, River of No Return, There's No Business Like Show Business, Monkey Business, and The Seven Year Itch. How to Marry a Millionaire was a comedy about three models scheming to attract wealthy husbands. The film teamed Monroe with Betty Grable (below right, whom she replaced in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes) and Lauren Bacall (below center), and was directed by Jean Negulesco.

The producer and scriptwriter, Nunnally Johnson, said that it was the first film in which audiences "liked Marilyn for herself [and that] she diagnosed the reason very shrewdly. She said that it was the only picture she'd been in, in which she had a measure of modesty... about her own attractiveness."

Monroe's films of this period established her "dumb blonde" persona and contributed to her popularity. In 1953 and 1954, she was listed in the annual "Quigley Poll of the Top Ten Money Making Stars", which was compiled from the votes of movie exhibitors throughout the United States for the stars that had generated the most revenue in their theaters over the previous year. "I want to grow and develop and play serious dramatic parts. My dramatic coach, Natasha Lytess, tells everybody that I have a great soul, but so far nobody's interested in it." Monroe told the New York Times. She saw a possibility in 20th Century Fox's upcoming film, The Egyptian, but was rebuffed by Darryl F. Zanuck who refused to screen test her.

Instead, she was assigned to the western River of No Return, opposite Robert Mitchum. Director Otto Preminger resented Monroe's reliance on Natasha Lytess, who coached Monroe and announced her verdict at the end of each scene. Eventually Monroe refused to speak to Preminger, and Mitchum had to mediate.

Of the finished product, she commented, "I think I deserve a better deal than a grade Z cowboy movie in which the acting finished second to the scenery and the CinemaScope process." In late 1953 Monroe was scheduled to begin filming The Girl in Pink Tights with Frank Sinatra. When she failed to appear for work, 20th Century Fox suspended her.

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Monroe and Joe DiMaggio were married in San Francisco on January 14th, 1954. They traveled to Japan soon after, combining a honeymoon with a business trip previously arranged by DiMaggio. For two weeks she took a secondary role to DiMaggio as he conducted his business, having told a reporter, "Marriage is my main career from now on." Monroe then traveled alone to Korea where she performed for 13,000 American Marines over a three-day period. She later commented that the experience had helped her overcome a fear of performing in front of large crowds. Her presence caused a near-riot among the troops, and Joe was clearly uncomfortable with thousands of men ogling his new bride.

Returning to Hollywood in March 1954, Monroe settled her disagreement with 20th Century Fox and appeared in the musical There's No Business Like Show Business. The film failed to recover its production costs and was poorly received. Ed Sullivan described Monroe's performance of the song "Heat Wave" as "one of the most flagrant violations of good taste" he had witnessed. The reviews echoed Monroe's opinion of the film. She had made it reluctantly, on the assurance that she would be given the starring role in the film adaptation of the Broadway hit The Seven Year Itch.

Monroe won one of her most notable film roles as the Girl in The Seven Year Itch. In September 1954, she shot a skirt-blowing key scene for the picture on Lexington Avenue at 52nd Street in New York City. In it, she stands with her co-star, Tom Ewell, while the air from a subway grating blows her skirt up. A large crowd watched as director Billy Wilder ordered the scene to be refilmed many times.

Joe DiMaggio was reported to have been present and infuriated by the spectacle. After a quarrel, witnessed by journalist Walter Winchell, the couple returned to California where they avoided the press for two weeks, until Monroe announced that they had separated. Their divorce was granted in November 1954. The Seven Year Itch was completed in early 1955, and after refusing what she considered to be inferior parts in The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing and How to Be Very, Very Popular, Monroe decided to leave Hollywood on the advice of Milton Greene. After the film was released and became a success (earning an estimated $8 million) Monroe received positive reviews for her performance and was now in a strong position to negotiate with 20th Century Fox.

Milton Greene had first met Monroe in 1953 when he was assigned to photograph her for Look magazine. While many photographers tried to emphasize her sexy image, Greene presented her in more modest poses, and she was pleased with his work. As a friendship developed between them, she confided to him her frustration with her 20th Century Fox contract and the roles she was offered and he quoted her once as saying "I just want people to be happy to see me." Her salary for Gentlemen Prefer Blondes amounted to $18,000, while freelancer Jane Russell was paid more than $100,000. Greene agreed that she could earn more by breaking away from 20th Century Fox. He gave up his job in 1954, mortgaged his home to finance Monroe, and allowed her to live with his family as they determined the future course of her career.

On New Year's Eve 1955, they signed a new contract which required Monroe to make four films over a seven-year period. The newly formed Marilyn Monroe Productions would be paid $100,000 plus a share of profits for each film. In addition to being able to work for other studios, Monroe had the right to reject any script, director or cinematographer she did not approve of.

Monroe had met Paula Strasberg and her daughter Susan on the set of There's No Business Like Show Business, and had previously said that she would like to study with Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio. In March 1955, Monroe met with Cheryl Crawford, one of the founders of the Actors Studio, and convinced her to introduce her to Lee Strasberg, who interviewed her the following day and agreed to accept her as a student.

In May 1955, Monroe started dating playwright Arthur Miller; they had met in Hollywood in 1950 and when Miller discovered she was in New York, he arranged for a mutual friend to reintroduce them. On June 1st 1955, Monroe's birthday, ex-husband Joe DiMaggio accompanied Monroe to the premiere of The Seven Year Itch in New York City. He later hosted a birthday party for her, but the evening ended with a public quarrel, and Monroe left the party without him. A lengthy period of estrangement followed.

Throughout that year, Monroe studied with the Actors Studio, and found that one of her biggest obstacles was her severe stage fright. She was befriended by the actors Kevin McCarthy and Eli Wallach who each recalled her as studious and sincere in her approach to her studies, and noted that she tried to avoid attention by sitting quietly in the back of the class. When Strasberg felt Monroe was ready to give a performance in front of her peers, Monroe and Maureen Stapleton chose the opening scene from Eugene O'Neill's Anna Christie, and although she had faltered during each rehearsal, she was able to complete the performance without forgetting her lines. Kim Stanley later recalled that students were discouraged from applauding, but that Monroe's performance had resulted in spontaneous applause from the audience. While Monroe was a student, Lee Strasberg commented, "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."

The first film to be made under her new contract and production company was Bus Stop directed by Joshua Logan. Logan had studied under Constantin Stanislavski, approved of method acting, and was supportive of Monroe. Monroe severed contact with her drama coach, Natasha Lytess, replacing her with Paula Strasberg, who became a constant presence during the filming of Monroe's subsequent films.

In Bus Stop, Monroe played Chérie, a saloon singer with little talent who falls in love with a cowboy, Beauregard "Bo" Decker, played by Don Murray. Her costumes, make-up and hair reflected a character who lacked sophistication, and Monroe provided deliberately mediocre singing and dancing. Bosley Crowther of The New York Times proclaimed: "Hold on to your chairs, everybody, and get set for a rattling surprise. Marilyn Monroe has finally proved herself an actress." In his autobiography, Movie Stars, Real People and Me, director Logan wrote, "I found Marilyn to be one of the great talents of all time... she struck me as being a much brighter person than I had ever imagined, and I think that was the first time I learned that intelligence and, yes, brilliance have nothing to do with education." Logan championed Monroe for an Academy Award nomination and complimented her professionalism until the end of his life. Though not nominated for an Academy Award, she received a Golden Globe nomination.

Bus Stop was followed by The Prince and the Showgirl directed by Laurence Olivier, who also co-starred. Prior to filming, Olivier praised Monroe as "a brilliant comedienne, which to me means she is also an extremely skilled actress". During filming in England he resented Monroe's dependence on her drama coach, Paula Strasberg, regarding Strasberg as a fraud whose only talent was the ability to "butter Marilyn up". The relationship between Olivier and Monroe worsened when Olivier said "try and be sexy" to her and she never forgave him for it.

Olivier would later comment that in the film "Marilyn was quite wonderful, the best of all." Monroe's performance was hailed by critics, especially in Europe, where she won the David di Donatello, the Italian equivalent of an Academy Award, as well as the French Crystal Star Award. She was also nominated for a BAFTA. It was more than a year before Monroe began her next film. During her hiatus, she summered with Miller in Amagansett, New York. They married on June 29th, 1956, and she suffered a miscarriage on August 1st, 1957.

The production of The Prince and the Showgirl serves as the backdrop for the 2011 film My Week with Marilyn, a 2011 British drama directed by Simon Curtis and written by Adrian Hodges. It stars Michelle Williams as Marilyn, Kenneth Branagh as Olivier and Eddie Redmayne as Colin Clark. The film also starred Julia Ormond, Emma Watson and Judi Dench. Based on two books by Colin Clark, it depicts the making of the 1957 film and focuses on the week in which Monroe spent time being escorted around London by Clark after her husband, Arthur Miller had left the country.

With Miller's encouragement she returned to Hollywood in August 1958 to star in Some Like It Hot. The film was directed by Billy Wilder and co-starred Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis. Wilder had experienced Monroe's tardiness, stage fright, and inability to remember lines during production of The Seven Year Itch. However her behavior was now more hostile, and was marked by refusals to participate in filming and occasional outbursts of profanity. Monroe consistently refused to take direction from Wilder, or insisted on numerous retakes of simple scenes until she was satisfied. She developed a rapport with Lemmon, but she disliked Curtis after hearing that he had described their love scenes as "like kissing Hitler". Curtis later stated that the comment was intended as a joke. During filming, Monroe discovered that she was pregnant. She suffered another miscarriage in December 1958, as filming was completed.

Some Like it Hot became a resounding success, and was nominated for six Academy Awards. Monroe was acclaimed for her performance and won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy. Wilder commented that the film was the biggest success he had ever been associated with.

Monroe wasn't thrilled when she read the script for Some Like It Hot. The thirty-three-year-old star had left Hollywood partly because she had grown tired of stereotypical dumb blonde roles. Now they wanted her to appear as someone too dense to realize that Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis were disguised as women. Her acting coach, Lee Strasberg, reminded Monroe that she usually hadn’t been close with other ladies. Marilyn should play her character as someone who yearned for female companionship so much that she did not notice her new friends’ more masculine attributes. Armed with her teacher’s advice movie audiences totally fell for Marilyn’s sweet and sincere comic performance.

Wilder (with Monroe on set at left) discussed the problems he encountered during filming, saying "Marilyn was so difficult because she was totally unpredictable. I never knew what kind of day we were going to have... would she be cooperative or obstructive?" He had little patience with her method-acting technique and said that instead of going to the Actors Studio "she should have gone to a train-engineer's school... to learn something about arriving on schedule." One scene took Monroe sixty-five takes and her only line was, "It’s me, Sugar." Frustrated director, Billy Wilder, tried to calm her down, "Don’t worry, Marilyn." "Worry about what?" she replied. Monroe was very shrewd about her comic abilities and told friends later that she functioned as her own director. Once she thought all the elements in a scene were correct, she delivered her dialogue perfectly.

In hindsight, Wilder acknowledged Monroe's "certain indefinable magic" and "absolute genius as a comic actress."

She was a wonderful comedienne, and she had a charisma like no one before or since&ldots; Marilyn had kind of a built-in alarm system. It would ‘go off’ in the middle of a scene if that scene was not right for her, and she would just stop everything. She would stand there with her eyes closed, biting her lip, kind of wringing her hands until she had worked it out. Now this sounds like selfishness&ldots; But she didn’t mean to be selfish - it was the only way she could work. I didn’t necessarily approve of that tactic; it was not easy working with her, but it was fascinating.

- Jack Lemmon (Costar, Some Like It Hot)

By this time, Monroe had only completed one film, Bus Stop, under her four-picture contract with 20th Century Fox. She agreed to appear in Let's Make Love, (below) which was to be directed by George Cukor, but she was not satisfied with the script, and Arthur Miller rewrote it. Gregory Peck was originally cast in the male lead role, but he refused the role after Miller's rewrite; Cary Grant, Charlton Heston, Yul Brynner and Rock Hudson also refused the role before it was offered to Yves Montand. Monroe and Miller befriended Montand and his wife, actress Simone Signoret, and filming progressed well until Miller was required to travel to Europe on business. Monroe began to leave the film set early and on several occasions failed to attend, but her attitude improved after Montand confronted her. Signoret returned to Europe to make a film, and Monroe and Montand began a brief affair that ended when Montand refused to leave Signoret. The film was not a critical or commercial success.

Monroe's health deteriorated during this period, and she began to see a Los Angeles psychiatrist, Dr. Ralph Greenson. He later recalled that during this time she frequently complained of insomnia, and told Greenson that she visited several medical doctors to obtain what Greenson considered an excessive variety of drugs. Worried that she was progressing to the point of addiction Greenson stated that his main objective at the time was to enforce a drastic reduction in Monroe's drug intake.

In 1956, Arthur Miller had briefly resided in Nevada and wrote a short story about some of the local people he had become acquainted with, a divorced woman and some aging cowboys. By 1960 he had developed the short story into a screenplay, and envisaged it as containing a suitable role for Monroe. It became her last completed film, The Misfits, directed by John Huston and starring Clark Gable, Montgomery Clift, Eli Wallach and Thelma Ritter. Shooting commenced in July 1960, with most taking place in the hot Northern Nevada desert. Monroe was frequently ill and unable to perform, and away from the influence of Dr. Greenson, she had resumed her consumption of sleeping pills and alcohol. A visitor to the set, Susan Strasberg, later described Monroe as "mortally injured in some way," and in August, Monroe was rushed to Los Angeles where she was hospitalized for ten days. Newspapers reported that she had been near death, although the nature of her illness was not disclosed. Louella Parsons wrote in her newspaper column that Monroe was "a very sick girl, much sicker than at first believed", and disclosed that she was being treated by a psychiatrist. Monroe returned to Nevada and completed the film, but she became hostile towards Arthur Miller, and public arguments were reported by the press. Making the film had proved to be an arduous experience for the actors; in addition to Monroe's distress, Montgomery Clift had frequently been unable to perform due to illness, and by the final day of shooting, Thelma Ritter was in hospital suffering from exhaustion. Gable, commenting that he felt unwell, left the set without attending the wrap party. Monroe and Miller returned to New York on separate flights.

Within ten days Monroe had announced her separation from Miller, and Gable had died from a heart attack. Gable's widow, Kay, commented to Louella Parsons that it had been the "eternal waiting" on the set of The Misfits that had contributed to his death, though she did not name Monroe. When reporters asked Monroe if she felt guilty about Gable's death, she refused to answer, but the journalist Sidney Skolsky recalled that privately she expressed regret for her poor treatment of Gable during filming and described her as being in "a dark pit of despair". Monroe later attended the christening of the Gables' son, at the invitation of Kay Gable.

The Misfits received mixed reviews, and was not a commercial success. Despite on-set difficulties, Gable, Monroe, and Clift delivered performances that modern movie critics consider superb. Many critics regard Gable's performance to be his finest, and Gable, after seeing the rough cuts, agreed. Monroe received the 1961 Golden Globe Award as "World Film Favorite" in March 1962, five months before her death. Directors Guild of America nominated Huston as best director. The film is now regarded as a classic. Huston later commented that Monroe's performance was not acting in the true sense, and that she had drawn from her own experiences to show herself, rather than a character. "She had no techniques. It was all the truth. It was only Marilyn."

During the following months, Monroe's dependence on alcohol and prescription medications began to take a toll on her health, and friends such as Susan Strasberg later spoke of her illness. Her divorce from Arthur Miller was finalized in January 1961, and in February she voluntarily entered the Payne Whitney Psychiatric Clinic. Monroe later described the experience as a "nightmare". She was able to phone Joe DiMaggio from the clinic, and he immediately traveled from Florida to New York to facilitate her transfer to the Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center. She remained there for three weeks. Illness prevented her from working for the remainder of the year; she underwent surgery to correct a blockage in her Fallopian tubes in May, and the following month underwent gallbladder surgery. She returned to California and lived in a rented apartment as she convalesced.

In 1962, Monroe began filming Something's Got to Give, which was to be the third film of her four-film contract with 20th Century Fox. It was to be directed by George Cukor, and co-starred Dean Martin and Cyd Charisse. She was ill with a virus as filming commenced, and suffered from high temperatures and recurrent sinusitis. On one occasion she refused to perform with Martin as he had a cold, and the producer Henry Weinstein recalled seeing her on several occasions being physically ill as she prepared to film her scenes, and attributed it to her dread of performing. He commented, "Very few people experience terror. We all experience anxiety, unhappiness, heartbreaks, but that was sheer primal terror."

On May 19th, 1962, she attended the early birthday celebration of President John F. Kennedy at Madison Square Garden, at the suggestion of Kennedy's brother-in-law, actor Peter Lawford. Monroe sang "Happy Birthday" along with a specially written verse based on Bob Hope's "Thanks for the Memory". Kennedy responded to her performance with the remark, "Thank you. I can now retire from politics after having had 'Happy Birthday' sung to me in such a sweet, wholesome way."

Monroe returned to the set of Something's Got to Give and filmed a sequence in which she appeared nude in a swimming pool. Commenting that she wanted to "push Liz Taylor off the magazine covers", she gave permission for several partially nude photographs to be published by Life.

Having only reported for work on twelve occasions out of a total of 35 days of production, Monroe was dismissed. The studio 20th Century Fox filed a lawsuit against her for half a million dollars, and the studio's vice president, Peter Levathes, issued a statement saying "The star system has gotten way out of hand. We've let the inmates run the asylum, and they've practically destroyed it." Monroe was replaced by Lee Remick, and when Dean Martin refused to work with any other actress, he was also threatened with a lawsuit. Following her dismissal, Monroe engaged in several high-profile publicity ventures. She gave an interview to Cosmopolitan and was photographed at Peter Lawford's beach house sipping champagne and walking on the beach. She next posed for Bert Stern for Vogue in a series of photographs that included several nudes. Published after her death, they became known as 'The Last Sitting'.

In the final weeks of her life, Monroe engaged in discussions about future film projects, and firm arrangements were made to continue negotiations on Something's Got to Give. Among the projects was a biography of Jean Harlow filmed two years later unsuccessfully with Carroll Baker. Starring roles in Billy Wilder's Irma la Douce and What a Way to Go! were also discussed; Shirley MacLaine eventually played the roles in both films. Kim Novak replaced her in Kiss Me, Stupid, a comedy in which she was to star opposite Dean Martin. A film version of the Broadway musical, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and an unnamed World War I-themed musical co-starring Gene Kelly were also discussed, but the projects never materialized due to her death. Her dispute with 20th Century Fox was resolved, her contract was renewed into a $1 million two-picture deal, and filming of Something's Got to Give was scheduled to resume in early fall 1962. Marilyn, having fired her own agent and MCA in 1961, managed her own negotiations as President of Marilyn Monroe Productions. Also on the table was an Italian four-film deal worth 10 million giving her script, director, and co-star approval. Allan "Whitey" Snyder who saw her during the last week of her life, said Monroe was pleased by the opportunities available to her, and that she "never looked better [and] was in great spirits".

Marilyn Monroe was found dead in the bedroom of her Brentwood home by her psychiatrist Ralph Greenson after he was called by Monroe's housekeeper Eunice Murray on August 5th, 1962. She was 36 years old.

Dr. Thomas Noguchi (known as the "coroner to the stars") of the Los Angeles County Coroners office recorded cause of death as "acute barbiturate poisoning", resulting from a "probable suicide". Many detectives - including Jack Clemmons, the first Los Angeles Police Department officer to arrive at the death scene - believe that she was murdered via lethal injection through needles and an enema. The death of Monroe has been the subject of a number of conspiracy theories. Some conspiracy theories involved John and Robert Kennedy, while other theories suggested CIA or Mafia complicity. In 1973, Norman Mailer received much publicity for having written the first bestselling book to suggest that Monroe's death was a murder staged to look like a drug overdose.

Many questions remain unanswered regarding the circumstances and timeline of Monroe's death after her body was found. Many elements of this timeline have often been brought into question. Most notable are the discrepancies in exactly what time Monroe either made or received her last phone call and at what time during the late night and early morning hours of August 4th and 5th her body was discovered. It was reported that President Kennedy was the last person Monroe called.

According to a biography of the events leading up to Monroe's death written by Rachael Bell for Court TV's Crime Library, a sedative enema might have been administered on the advice of Monroe's psychiatrist, Dr. Ralph Greenson, as a sleep aid and as part of Greenson's larger project to wean his patient off barbiturates. If Greenson was unaware of the fact that his patient's internist, Dr. Hyman Engelberg, had refilled Monroe's prescription for the barbiturate Nembutal a day earlier, the actress may very well have ingested enough Nembutal throughout the day such that it would lethally react with the chloral hydrate later given to her, making Monroe's death a tragic medical mistake. Mickey Rudin claimed that Greenson said something very important the night of Marilyn's death: "Gosh darn it! He gave her a prescription I didn't know about!"

Monroe was interred on August 8th, 1962, in a crypt at Corridor of Memories No. 24, at the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles. Joe DiMaggio took control of the funeral arrangements, which consisted of only 31 close family and friends, excluding Hollywood's elite. Lee Strasberg, her acting teacher, delivered the eulogy. DiMaggio had a half-dozen red roses delivered to her crypt three times a week for the next 20 years. He never spoke publicly about his relationship with Monroe and never remarried for the remaining 37 years of his life.

During her career, Marilyn made 30 films and left one, Something's Got to Give, unfinished. She was more than just a movie star or glamour queen. A global sensation in her lifetime, Marilyn's popularity has extended beyond star status to icon.

    Selected Marilyn Monroe Filmography

1947

The Shocking Miss Pilgrim

1947

Dangerous Years

1948

Green Grass of Wyoming

1948

You Were Meant for Me

1948

Scudda Hoo! Scudda Hay!

1948

Ladies of the Chorus

1949

Love Happy

1950

A Ticket to Tomahawk

1950

The Asphalt Jungle

1950

All About Eve

1950

The Fireball

1950

Right Cross

1951

Home Town Story

1951

As Young as You Feel

1951

Love Nest

1951

Let's Make It Legal

1952

Clash by Night

1952

We're Not Married!

1952

Don't Bother to Knock

1952

Monkey Business

1952

O. Henry's Full House

1953

Niagara

1953

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

1953

How to Marry a Millionaire

1954

River of No Return

1954

There's No Business Like Show Business

1955

The Seven Year Itch

1956

Bus Stop

1957

The Prince and the Showgirl

1959

Some Like It Hot

1960

Let's Make Love

1961

The Misfits

1962

Something's Got to Give

    Marilyn Monroe links

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