She’s one of the most iconic stars that has ever been on the silver screen, and she’s one of our newest summer artworks. It’s none other than the Marilyn Monroe.
There’s more to Miss Monroe than her blonde locks, bold red lip and glamorous dresses – we’ve done the research. From her tumultuous childhood to the birth of a Hollywood legend, here are some fascinating facts about the ultimate blonde bombshell.
1. Marilyn was not her birth name.
Marilyn Monroe was born as Norma Jean Baker. When she was trying to make it into show business, her stage name was born. Fox Studios Head Talent executive, Ben Lyon, helped her brainstorm on a new alias.
He believed she bore a resemblance to stage actress Marilyn Miller. Monroe came from her grandmother’s maiden name. Despite living under her stage name for years, she legally changed her name to Marilyn Monroe in 1956.
2. She grew up as a foster child.
Monroe spent the majority of her childhood as a foster child. Her mother suffered from several mental health issues and eventually ended up being admitted into hospitals, leaving Monroe as an orphan. From nine years old, she moved in and out of many foster homes – 11 to be exact!
When she was 16, she decided to marry her neighbour’s son James Dougherty to avoid going back to the orphanage mainly.
3. She was the first cover star of Playboy in 1953.
Monroe became the first cover star and centrefold of the iconic Playboy Magazine in 1953. The nude images, however, were taken in 1949, just before Monroe made her big break in Hollywood. Playboy owner Hugh Hefner reportedly purchased the photographs for only $500, and the issue.
Hefner loved Monroe so much that he is now buried next to her at Westwood Village Memorial Park in Los Angeles. The burial spot came at a severe price of $75,000. But if we had a spare million dollars, I guess it’s not the worst thing to spend it on.
4. She had a passion for reading.
While she was often portrayed as a bit of a ditz, Monroe was very intelligent and a massive bookworm! Over her lifetime, the blonde bombshell had a library of over 400 books. She would often travel to bookstores, read a random book and if she liked it, it was hers.
Monroe considered reading her favourite hobby. The book that was reportedly her absolute favourite was Ulysses by James Joyce.
5. Monroe could have starred in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s author Truman Capote originally wanted Monroe to star as Holly Golightly in the classic film. The role would ultimately go to Audrey Hepburn, which catapulted her into stardom.
Monroe performed two scenes for Capote and absolutely nailed it, however, her acting coach and advisor didn’t think the role was suited for her. Capote was truly heart-broken that the studio went ahead and hired Hepburn without his permission.
6. She often struggled to be taken as a serious actor.
Due to playing “ditzes” and “dumb blondes” in her films, she struggled to be viewed as a genuine and serious actor. Despite being an incredible actress, she was often very nervous when filming. When she would step in front of the camera, she often forgot her lines. She took some time and studied acting with Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio in New York.
She wanted more dramatic roles, so she opened her own production company, called Marilyn Monroe Productions in 1955. The company produced two of her films – Bus Stop and The Prince and the Showgirl.
7. She stood up for discrimination.
One of Monroe’s favourite performers was the Queen of Jazz, Ella Fitzgerald. In the 1950s, Fitzgerald had national fans but was only booking small venues. The owner of one of the famous nightclubs in L.A. told Fitzgerald she wasn’t glamorous enough to draw a crowd to Mocambo.
Monroe took matters into her own hands. She told the owner that she would sit front row every night Fitzgerald performed and she stuck to her word. The deal was done, and Monroe’s continual presence brought the press and crowds to the gigs. Judy Garland and Frank Sinatra also attended the shows. Fitzgerald never played at small jazz clubs again.
8. Candle in the Wind is actually about Monroe.
Elton John’s classic hit “Candle in the Wind” gained global popularity when he released a newer version as a tribute to Princess Diana after her death. However, the original version is actually about Marilyn Monroe herself.
The song pays homage to her former name – Norma Jean Baker – and is sympathetic towards her short-lived existence. The song was released in 1973 on the Goodbye Yellow Brick Road album.