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Ilona Hobzová
August 4, 2022, 2:00pm
Reading time: 7:22

Marilyn Monroe Was A Sovereign Star But Also A Fragile Woman. There Are Speculations About Her Death To This Day.

We bring you the profile of Marilyn Monroe.

Ilona Hobzová
August 4, 2022, 2:00pm
Reading time: 7:22
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Marilyn Monroe Was A Sovereign Star But Also A Fragile Woman. There Are Speculations About Her Death To This Day.
Zdroj: Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images
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She was talented, admired and went from role to role. To this day, various charts rank her as the sexiest actress of all time. But she herself suffered from being seen by the public as just a pretty face. So did the directors who most often cast her in stereotypical roles as naive blondes.


Marilyn Monroe tried to break out of this box, but she was also burdened by the label of a late-coming, unreliable actress. Health problems and drug addiction were to blame. It seems to have been her undoing. Her death 60 years ago is still the subject of much speculation.

She spent her childhood in foster care and orphanages

Marilyn Monroe was born on June 1, 1926 in Los Angeles, her maiden name was Norma Jeane Baker Mortenson. She never knew her father, so she got her surname from her mother Gladys, who worked as an editor in a film studio. Gladys suffered from mental problems. She suffered from paranoid schizophrenia and physical exhaustion from trying to provide financially for her young daughter and herself. Eventually she was admitted to a mental institution. Norma Jeane thus spent most of her childhood in foster care and in orphanages.


When I was a kid, no one ever told me I was pretty. All little girls should be called pretty. Even if they're not. (Marilyn Monroe)



She was first taken in by her mother's best friend named Grace, who became her guardian. But she spent only two years with her. Grace got married and sent Norma to an orphanage. Although many people expressed interest in adopting the little girl, Gladys never gave her consent. She then lived alternately with several relatives, where she even experienced sexual harassment. In 1937, she returned to Grace and her husband. But the couple had to move five years later and could not afford to take the then 16-year-old Norma with them.


So the girl had two choices. Go back to the orphanage or get married. She chose the latter. For six months she dated her neighbor James Dougherty, five years her senior. They were married on June 19, 1942.

Marilyn Monroe is born

In the beginning, her marriage to James was happy. But World War II was underway and he enlisted in the Navy. In 1944, he was sent to the South Pacific. Norma began working in the Radioplane parachute factory. But she didn't enjoy it. Ever since she was a child, when she went to the movies with her babysitter, she longed for a career as an actor. Photographer David Conover helped her achieve her dream. He took her first pictures and began to set her up with more assignments. Norma became a sought-after model who appeared on the cover of many prestigious magazines.



She was still working on her dream of becoming an actress. She studied acting with then stars Jean Harlow and Lana Turner and enrolled in a drama course. In 1946, James returned and Norma had to decide between her career and marriage. Just about two months after her divorce, she signed her first contract with 20th Century Fox. She dyed her hair blonde and chose a pseudonym. That's when Marilyn Monroe was born.

The journey to the film top

The first films in which Marilyn Monroe appeared were not very successful. Everything changed in 1950, when director John Huston cast her in a small role in his thriller The Asphalt Jungle. Although she only glimpsed in the film and her name wasn't even mentioned in the end credits, it marked the opening of Hollywood's doors for her.


Due to her growing popularity, 20th Century Fox was forced to sign a new contract with Marilyn that was more profitable for her. Her star began to rise. In 1950, she made yet another film called All About Eve. Again, it was a cameo role, this time as a ditzy girl who longs for a career. But she starred alongside the stellar Bette Davis and George Sanders.


In the years that followed, she filmed more and more, helped to the acting heights by Niagara in 1953. The first time she had a leading role, her name was listed first in the credits. It was also essentially her first negative role as a cynical and philandering wife who, with her lover, is about to kill her husband.

Sexsymbol vs. the stupid blonde label

Marilyn Monroe has achieved what she's wanted since childhood. She was a famous and adored star. In subsequent films, however, she reverted to stereotypical roles of attractive, naive, even foolish women. These included Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and How to Marry a Millionaire (both 1953). This position bothered not only Marilyn herself, but also her second husband, New York Yankees baseball player Joe DiMaggio. She married him in January 1954, but the union lasted only nine months.



The main reason for the end of the marriage was Marilyn's fame and the sexual image she had in public. The problems started during their honeymoon in Asia, where Marilyn found time to sing to American soldiers deployed in Korea. "Her presence caused a near riot among the troops, and Joe was clearly uncomfortable with the thousands of men eyeing his newlywed wife," according to The Marilyn Monroe Collection. They divorced in October of that year, but remained good friends.


I would like to play a role that means something, that would give something to people, but my appearance contradicts that, I'm too one-sided. I feel people become hostile when I try to change. (Marilyn Monroe)


But it was Marilyn herself who was most bothered by the label of a dumb and sexy blonde. She was sorry that no one took her seriously as an actress. Nor was she comfortable with her seven-year contract with a movie studio. In Hollywood, she made another film in 1955, The Seven Year Widower, which includes the now iconic scene in which a jet of air lifts her white dress. She subsequently moved to New York to study acting with Lee Strasberg at his Actors' Studio.



Successes (and problems)

In 1956, Marilyn founded her own production company, Marilyn Monroe Productions. She was able to showcase her talent and versatility in the films A Stop in Kansas and The Prince and the Showgirl. The former in particular was met with universally praiseworthy reviews. Thanks to Strasberg, she was also able to try her hand at theatre acting.


In 1956 she also married for the third time. The playwright Arthur Miller became her husband. He left his family for her, she converted to Judaism. She stood by him when he was questioned by the House Un-American Activities Committee, which could have seriously jeopardized her career.



But in the second half of the 1950s, Marilyn's ideas of what and how she would play began to crumble. At first, she didn't want to accept the offer to make Some Like It Hot. She thought it was another stupid role because the character Sugar didn't even recognize men dressed as women. Eventually she agreed to do it, and Arthur convinced her. This led to one of her most famous roles and earned her a Golden Globe.

Problems but her health and reputation in danger

Even before filming Some Like It Hot, several health problems threatened Marilyn Monroe's career. In 1957, she had a miscarriage. Due to endometriosis, which she was diagnosed with, this was not her first loss of a child. Gynecological procedures didn't help either. In addition, she suffered from depression and insomnia, which she fought off with drugs and alcohol. She was often late for shoots, sometimes not at all.


She already had a reputation as an unreliable actress, and the film Some Like It Hot made things worse. She got pregnant again just before filming began. She was worried about her unborn child after the miscarriages she had suffered, and at the same time she was terrified of her third marriage falling apart. Late arrivals on the set were not unusual. Sometimes, on the other hand, she arrived in a terrible state and couldn't even remember short sentences from the script. The shot in which she says the line, "Where's the bourbon?" had to be filmed over 40 times.


Although the film was a huge success, no one remembered its making with much enthusiasm. Plus, Marilyn had another miscarriage just after filming.

Third divorce and last picture 

In an attempt to try and save his marriage, Arthur wrote The Misfits for Marilyn. But her reputation as an irresponsible actress made it difficult to find an acting partner. The male lead was eventually taken by Clark Gable, for whom it was his last film role. Just after its completion, he died unexpectedly of a heart attack.



Marilyn was devastated by his death. Her performance earned her rave reviews, but the film was not a hit at the time. Moreover, her marriage to Arthur fell apart anyway, and they divorced in 1961. She was also dogged by rumors of various love affairs at the time, including with President John F. Kennedy and his brother Robert F. Kennedy.

Hear death remains the subject of speculations to this day

She's started work on her next film, Something's Gotta Snap. Her late arrivals on set became more frequent, and her addictions worsened. She was fired from the set after a month, and the studio even sought damages for the botched shoot. She was hospitalized in a psychiatric hospital, but it scared her so much that she left after four days.


Marilyn Monroe had many other activities despite being fired. She was getting other job offers, shooting a series of pictures for a number of prestigious magazines. In June 1962, she sang for President John F. Kennedy at his 45th birthday party. With her seductive dress and rendition of Happy Birthday to You, she only stirred further speculation that there was a love affair between her and the country's most powerful man. But there was also talk that she had rekindled her relationship with her second ex-husband.



But she didn't manage to get any new promising film project. On August 4, 1962, her landlady found her dead in her Los Angeles apartment with an empty bottle of sleeping pills next to her body. According to the autopsy, the death was caused by an overdose of barbiturates and was a suicide.


But over the following years, the Hollywood idol's demise became the subject of much speculation. According to some, Marilyn Monroe was not the suicidal type. Thus, to this day, there are theories that she was killed by members of the Secret Service or by someone on the orders of the Kennedy brothers. Another conspiracy also claims that the actress was killed by the Mafia for the opposite reason, to hurt the Kennedy family.


Marilyn Monroe died at only thirty-six years old. Although she did not quite fulfil her own acting ambitions, she became a cultural symbol and icon for many generations and proof that if you really want something, you can achieve it, even if your starting line is not ideal.

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Thumbnail: Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images
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