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Marilyn Monroe

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Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe 1952.jpg
Marilyn Monroe in 1952
Born Norma Jeane Mortenson
(1926-06-01)June 1, 1926
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Died August 5, 1962(1962-08-05) (aged 36)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Cause of death Barbiturate overdose
Resting place Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery
Other names
  • Norma Jeane Baker
  • Actress
  • model
  • singer
Years active 1945–1962
Marilyn Monroe Signature.svg

Marilyn Monroe (born Norma Jeane Mortenson; June 1, 1926 – August 5, 1962) was an American actress, model, and singer. Famous for playing "dumb blonde" characters, she became one of the most popular sex symbols of the 1950s, emblematic of the era's attitudes towards sexuality. Although she was a top-billed actress for only a decade, her films grossed $200 million by the time of her unexpected death in 1962.[1] She continues to be considered a major popular culture icon.[2][3][4]

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Monroe spent most of her childhood in foster homes and an orphanage, and married for the first time at the age of sixteen. While working in a factory as part of the war effort in 1944, she met a photographer and began a successful pin-up modeling career. The work led to two short-lived film contracts with Twentieth Century-Fox (1946–1947) and Columbia Pictures (1948). After a series of minor film roles, she signed a new contract with Fox in 1951. She quickly became a popular actress with roles in several comedies, including As Young as You Feel (1951) and Monkey Business (1952), and in the dramas Clash by Night (1952) and Don't Bother to Knock (1952). Monroe faced a scandal when it was revealed that she had posed for nude photos before becoming a star, but rather than damaging her career the story made her a box office draw.

By 1953, Monroe was one of the most bankable Hollywood stars with leading roles in three films: the noir Niagara, which focused on her sex appeal, and the comedies Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and How to Marry a Millionaire, which established her star image as a "dumb blonde". Although she played a significant role in the creation and management of her public image throughout her career, she was disappointed by the studio's typecasting and underpaying of her. She was briefly suspended in early 1954 for refusing a film project, but returned to star in one of the biggest successes of her career, The Seven Year Itch (1955). When the studio was still reluctant to change her contract, Monroe founded a film production company in 1954, Marilyn Monroe Productions. While building her company she began studying method acting at the Actors Studio; in late-1955, Fox granted her more control and a larger salary. Her performances in Bus Stop (1956), The Prince and the Showgirl (1957), and Some Like It Hot (1959) earned praise as well as a Golden Globe award and a nomination for a BAFTA. Her last completed film was the drama The Misfits (1961).

Monroe's troubled private life has also received much attention. She experienced addiction and other mental health issues, and had two highly publicized marriages, to baseball player Joe DiMaggio and playwright Arthur Miller, which both ended in divorce. She died at the age of 36 from an overdose of barbiturates at her home on August 5, 1962. Although the death was ruled a probable suicide, several conspiracy theories have been proposed in the decades following her death.

Life and career

Childhood and first marriage (1926–1944)

A 1955 copy of Monroe's birth certificate, listing her name as Norma Jeane Mortenson

Monroe was born Norma Jeane Mortenson at the Los Angeles County Hospital on June 1, 1926 as the third child of Gladys Pearl Monroe (1902 –1984), a negative-cutter at Columbia Pictures.[5][6] Gladys' older children, Robert (1917–1933)[7] and Berniece (1919–), were from her first marriage to John Newton Baker in 1917–1923.[8][9] After she had filed for divorce in 1921, Baker had taken the children with him to his native Kentucky.[8] Monroe was not told that she had a sister until she was 12, and met her for the first time as an adult.[10][11] Gladys then married Martin Edward Mortensen in 1924, but they separated after only a few months and before she became pregnant with Monroe; they divorced in 1928.[12][13] However, in Monroe's birth certificate, Gladys named Mortensen as the father (although the name was misspelled), probably to avoid the stigma of illegitimacy.[14] The identity of Monroe's father is unknown.[15][a] During her childhood, Mortenson, Mortensen and Baker were all used as her surnames.[16]

Gladys was mentally and financially unprepared for a child, and therefore placed Monroe with evangelical Christian foster parents Albert and Ida Bolender in Hawthorne, California when she was only a few weeks old.[17][18][19] At first, she lived at the Bolenders to care for the infant herself, until longer work shifts forced her to move back to Hollywood in early 1927.[20] She then began visiting her daughter on the weekends and planned on taking her back once she felt more stable.[21][22] She was prompted to do this in June 1933, and later that summer bought a small house on Arbol Drive near the Hollywood Bowl, which they shared with lodgers.[23][24] However, only some months later in early 1934, Gladys had a mental breakdown and was hospitalized.[25] She was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and was institutionalized at the State Hospital in Norwalk in 1935.[26][25] She spent the rest of her life in and out of hospitals, and was only occasionally in contact with Monroe.[26]

Following her mother's hospitalization, Monroe was declared a ward of the state, and her mother's friend, Grace McKee Goddard, took responsibility over her and her mother's affairs; she became Monroe's legal guardian in 1936.[27][28][29] She was however often unable to foster Monroe herself, and placed her in other families, most of them her friends and family members, although she would visit her often.[30][31][32] As an adult, Monroe stated publicly that she was sexually abused as a child, but it is unclear who the perpetrator was and whether it took place just before Gladys' hospitalization or in the following years.[33][b]

Monroe attended Emerson Junior High School in Los Angeles in 1939–1941

In September 1935, Monroe was placed in the Los Angeles Orphans Home Society and began attending nearby Vine Street Elementary School.[30][34][35] Biographers disagree on how long she spent at the orphanage, with accounts varying from nine months to two years.[30] Spoto and Banner agree that after briefly staying with Grace and her husband Erwin "Doc" Goddard, she lived for several months from November 1937 onwards with her maternal uncle's wife Olive Monroe and their children in North Hollywood, and for over two years from September 1938 onwards with Grace's aunt, Ana Atchinson Lower, in West Los Angeles.[36][37] While living with Lower, Monroe began attending weekly Christian Science services with her. She was enrolled in Emerson Junior High School, where she wrote for the school's newspaper and was elected "the Oomph Girl" by her classmates.[38][39] Due to elderly Lower's health issues, Monroe returned to live with the Goddards in Van Nuys in either late 1940 or early 1941.[40][41] After graduating from Emerson, she began attending Van Nuys High School.[40]

In early 1942, the company that Doc Goddard worked for required him to relocate to West Virginia.[42][43] California laws prevented the Goddards from taking Monroe out of state, and she faced the possibility of having to return to the orphanage.[43] As a solution, it was decided that she would marry the neighbors' 21-year-old son, James "Jim" Dougherty, a worker at the Lockheed Corporation.[42] Biographers disagree on whether they had already been dating or whether the marriage was entirely arranged by Grace.[44][42] They married on June 19, 1942, just after Monroe had turned 16, and she subsequently dropped out of high school.[42] She disliked being a housewife and later stated that the "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."[45] In 1943, Dougherty enlisted in the Merchant Marine.[46][47] He was initially stationed on Santa Catalina Island off California's coast, where she lived with him for several months until he was shipped out to the Pacific in April 1944, where he would remain for most of the next two years.[48][49] Monroe then moved in with Dougherty's parents, and began working at the Radioplane Munitions Factory as part of the war effort.[50][51]

Modeling and first film roles (1945–1949)

Photographed by David Conover while she was still working at the Radioplane factory in late 1944

In late 1944, Monroe met photographer David Conover, who had been sent by the U.S. Army Air Forces' First Motion Picture Unit (FMPU) to the factory to shoot morale-boosting pictures of female workers.[52][53] Although none of her pictures were used by the FMPU, she quit working at the factory in January 1945 and began modeling for Conover and his friends.[54][55][56] He also encouraged her to apply to the Blue Book Model Agency, run by Emmeline Snively, to which she was signed in August 1945.[52] She began to occasionally use the name Jean Norman when working, and had her curly brunette hair straightened and dyed blond.[57][58] As her figure was deemed more suitable for pin-up than fashion modeling, she was employed mostly for advertisements and men's magazines.[59] According to Snively, Monroe was one of the agency's most ambitious and hard-working models; by spring 1946, she had appeared in 33 magazine covers for publications such as Pageant, U.S. Camera, Laff, and Peek.[60][61]

Impressed by her success, Snively arranged a contract for Monroe with an acting agency in June 1946.[62] Through them, she met Ben Lyon, a 20th Century-Fox executive, who arranged a screen test for her.[62][63] The studio's head executive Darryl F. Zanuck was unenthusiastic about her.[64][65] He was persuaded to give her a standard six-month contract in order to avoid her being signed by rival studio RKO Pictures, whose owner Howard Hughes had expressed interest in her after seeing her on a magazine cover.[65] Monroe began her contract in August 1946, and together with Lyon selected her the screen name of "Marilyn Monroe".[66] The first name was picked by Lyon, who was reminded of Broadway star Marilyn Miller; the last was picked by Monroe after her mother's maiden name.[67] In September 1946, she was granted divorce from Dougherty, allowing her to concentrate fully on her acting career.[68]

In a studio publicity photo taken when she was a minor contract player at 20th Century-Fox in 1947. She appeared in two small film roles during the contract and was let go after a year.

Monroe had no film roles in the first months of her contract and instead dedicated her days to acting, singing and dancing classes.[69] Eager to learn more about the film business and to promote herself, she also spent time at the studio lot to observe others working.[70][71] Her contract was renewed in February 1947, and during that spring she was given her first two film roles: a one-line appearance in the comedy Scudda Hoo! Scudda Hay! (1948), and nine lines of dialogue as a waitress in the drama Dangerous Years (1947).[72][c] The studio also enrolled her in the Actors' Laboratory Theatre, an acting school teaching the techniques of the Group Theatre.[73] However, her contract was not renewed for a second time and she was let go in August 1947.[72] Following her dismissal, Monroe returned to modeling.[74][75] She continued taking classes at the Actors' Lab, and in October appeared as a blonde vamp in the short-lived play Glamour Preferred at the Bliss-Hayden Theater, but it was not reviewed by any major publication.[75][76]

Monroe landed her second film contract in March 1948, this time with Columbia Pictures.[77] According to Spoto, Summers and Banner, it was arranged for her by Fox executive Joseph M. Schenck, whose mistress she was at the time, and who was friends with Columbia's head executive, Harry Cohn.[78][79] At Columbia, Monroe began working with the studio's head drama coach, Natasha Lytess, who would remain her mentor until 1955, and had some modifications made to her appearance: her hairline was raised by electrolysis and her hair was bleached even lighter, to platinum blond.[77] Her only film at the studio was the low-budget musical Ladies of the Chorus (1948), in which she had her first starring role as a chorus girl who is courted by a wealthy man.[80] During the production, she began an affair with her vocal coach, Frederick M. Karger, who also paid for her to have her slight overbite corrected.[81] Despite the starring role, Monroe's contract was not renewed in September 1948.[82] Ladies of the Chorus was released the following month and was not a success.[83]

After leaving Columbia, Monroe became a protégé of Johnny Hyde, vice president of the William Morris Agency. He began representing her and their relationship soon became sexual, although she refused his proposals of marriage.[84][85] To advance her career, he paid for her to have a silicone prosthesis implanted in her jaw and possibly a rhinoplasty, and arranged for her a bit part in the Marx Brothers film Love Happy (1949).[86][87] Monroe also continued modeling, and in May 1949 posed for nude photos shot by photographer Tom Kelley.[88] Although her role in Love Happy was very small, she was chosen to participate in the film's promotional tour in New York in the summer.[89]

Breakthrough (1950–1952)

As gangster's moll Angela in John Huston's film noir The Asphalt Jungle (1950), one of her first performances to be noted by the critics

Monroe appeared in six films released in 1950. Four of them –Love Happy, A Ticket to Tomahawk, Right Cross and The Fireball– were unremarkable films in which she had only bit parts, but she also made minor appearances in two critically acclaimed films: John Huston's crime film The Asphalt Jungle and Joseph Mankiewicz's drama All About Eve.[90] In the former, Monroe played Angela, the young mistress of an aging criminal.[91] Although her on-screen time was only five minutes, she gained a mention in Photoplay and according to Spoto "moved effectively from movie model to serious actress".[91] In the latter, Monroe played Miss Caswell, a naïve young actress.[92]

Following Monroe's success in these roles, Hyde negotiated a seven-year contract with 20th Century-Fox in December 1950.[93][94] He died of a heart attack only days afterwards, leaving her devastated.[95][96] Despite her grief, 1951 turned out to be a year in which she started gaining more visibility. In March, she was a presenter at the 23rd Academy Awards and in September, Collier's became the first national magazine to publish a full-length profile of her.[97] She had supporting roles in four low-budget films released in 1951, in the drama Home Town Story, which she had filmed for MGM before her new contract, and in three moderately successful comedies for Fox, As Young as You Feel, Love Nest, and Let's Make It Legal.[98] Although all four films featured her "essentially [as] a sexy ornament", she received some good notices from the critics, with Bosley Crowther of The New York Times describing her as "superb" in As Young As You Feel and Ezra Goodman of the Los Angeles Daily News calling her "one of the brightest up-and-coming [actresses]" for Love Nest.[98][99] To develop her acting skills, she began taking classes with Michael Chekhov.[100] Her popularity with audiences was growing: she received several thousand letters of fan mail a week, and was declared "Miss Cheesecake of 1951" by the army newspaper Stars and Stripes, reflecting the preferences of soldiers in the Korean War.[101] Her popularity was also increasing outside the US, resulting in her being awarded the Henrietta Award as the "best new box office personality" by the Foreign Press Association of Hollywood.[102] In her private life, Monroe was in a relationship with director Elia Kazan, and also briefly dated several other men, including director Nicholas Ray as well as actors Yul Brynner and Peter Lawford.[103][104]

The second year of the contract saw Monroe become a top-billed actress. In early 1952, she began a highly publicized romance with retired New York Yankees player Joe DiMaggio, one of the most famous sports personalities of the era.[105] In March, a scandal broke when she revealed in an interview that she had posed for nude pictures in 1949, which were featured in popular calendars.[106][107] The studio had learnt of the photographs some weeks earlier, and in order to contain the potentially disastrous effects on her career, they and Monroe had decided to talk about them openly while stressing that she had only posed for them in a dire financial situation.[106][108][109] The strategy succeeded in gaining her public sympathy as well as increasing her popularity: the following month, she was featured on the cover of Life as "The Talk of Hollywood".[110] Monroe added to her reputation as a new sex symbol with other publicity stunts that year, such as by wearing a revealing dress when acting as Grand Marshal at the Miss America Pageant parade, and by stating to gossip columnist Earl Wilson that she usually wore no underwear.[111]

With co-star Keith Andes in Clash by Night (1952). The film allowed Monroe to display more of her acting range in a dramatic, unglamorous role.
Opposite Cary Grant in the screwball comedy Monkey Business (1952), one of the first films in which she played a "dumb blonde" character

The nude photo scandal ensured that all five films in which Monroe appeared in 1952 became popular with the public.[112] The first of these was the drama Clash by Night, directed by Fritz Lang and released in June. Monroe was loaned to RKO for the film, in which she was featured in an atypical role as a fish cannery worker, allowing her to show more of her acting range.[113][114] The performance gained positive reviews; the Hollywood Reporter stated that "she deserves starring status with her excellent interpretation," and the Daily Variety wrote that she "has an ease of delivery which makes her a cinch for popularity."[113][115] In July, Monroe starred in two films, as a beauty pageant contestant in the comedy We're Not Married! and as a mentally disturbed babysitter in the thriller Don't Bother to Knock. According to its writer, Nunnally Johnson, the former role was created solely to "present Marilyn in two bathing suits",[116] but the latter film was intended as a vehicle for her to show that she could act in heavier dramatic roles.[117] It received mixed reviews from critics, with Bosley Crowther deeming her too inexperienced for the difficult role, and Variety blaming the script for the film's problems.[112][118][119] Her next role as an attractive secretary opposite Cary Grant in Howard Hawks' screwball comedy Monkey Business was one of the first to feature her as a "dumb, childish blonde, innocently unaware of the havoc her sexiness causes around her", marking the beginning of typecasting in her career.[120] Monroe's final film of the year was O. Henry's Full House, in which she appeared in a minor role as a prostitute.[120]

It was during this period that Monroe also gained a reputation for being difficult on film sets, which would only get stronger as her career progressed: she was often late or did not show up at all, could not remember her lines, and would demand several re-takes before she was satisfied with her performance.[121] Her reliance on her acting coaches, first Natasha Lytess and later, Paula Strasberg, also irritated her directors, and biographers disagree on whether their advice improved her acting.[122] Monroe's problems and need for support have been attributed to a combination of perfectionism, low self-esteem, stage fright, and her gradually escalating use of barbiturates and amphetamines, which most likely began during this period, initially to aid with her general anxiety and chronic insomnia.[121] The use of medication to assist sleeping and to provide energy was not unusual in the 1950s, and was very common in the film industry.[123][124] They would however provide only temporary aid and as her use of them increased, her insomnia, anxiety and depressive moods worsened.[125][124] She would also sometimes use alcohol to manage her problems, often combining it with medication, although she was able control her drinking for several years.[125][124]

Establishment as a star (1953)

Wardrobe test photo of Monroe in her role as Rose Loomis in Niagara (1953)

Monroe starred in three films released in 1953, and emerged as one of the most bankable Hollywood stars as well as one of the biggest sex symbols of the 1950s.[126][127][128] The first of these was the Technicolor film noir Niagara, in which she played a femme fatale scheming to murder her husband, played by Joseph Cotten.[129] By then, Monroe and her make-up artist Allan "Whitey" Snyder had developed the iconic make-up look that would henceforth be associated with her.[120] Niagara was one of the most overtly sexual films of her career, and the film included scenes in which her body was covered only by a sheet or a towel, considered shocking by contemporary audiences.[120][130] However, its most famous scene is a 30-second long shot of Monroe shown walking from behind with her hips swaying, which was used heavily in the film's marketing.[120][130] Niagara became a box office hit upon its release in January. Reviews of the film dwelled on her sexually suggestive performance, and women's clubs protested against it as immoral.[131][127] Monroe also continued to attract attention with her revealing outfits in publicity events, most famously at the Photoplay awards in January 1953, where she won the "Fastest Rising Star" award.[132][133][134] She wore a skin-tight gold lamé dress, which prompted veteran star Joan Crawford to describe her behavior as "unbecoming an actress and a lady" to the press.[132][133][134]

If Niagara had made Monroe one of the biggest Hollywood sex symbols and established her "look", her second film of the year, musical comedy Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, established her star image as a "dumb blonde".[135][136][137] Based on Anita Loos' bestselling novel and its Broadway version, the film focuses on two "gold-digging" show girls Lorelei Lee and Dorothy Shaw, played by Monroe and Jane Russell. The role of Lorelei was originally intended for Betty Grable, who had been 20th Century-Fox's most popular "blonde bombshell" in the 1940s; Monroe was fast eclipsing her as a star who could appeal to both male and female audiences.[138] [139] The film included one of the most famous scenes of her career, a performance of "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" in a shocking pink dress. As part of the film's publicity campaign, she and Russell pressed their hand- and footprints in wet concrete in the forecourt of Grauman's Chinese Theatre in June.[140][141] Gentlemen Prefer Blondes was released shortly after and became one of the biggest box office successes of the year, earning more than double its production costs.[142]

With Betty Grable and Lauren Bacall in How to Marry a Millionaire (1953), her biggest box office success of the year

In September, Monroe made her television debut in the Jack Benny Show, playing Jack's fantasy woman in the episode "Honolulu Trip".[143] Her third film of the year, How to Marry a Millionaire, co-starred Betty Grable and Lauren Bacall and was released in November. It featured Monroe in the role of a naïve model who teams up with her friends to find rich husbands, thus repeating the successful formula of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. It was the second film ever released in CinemaScope, a widescreen format which Fox hoped would draw audiences back to the theaters as television was beginning to cause losses to film studios.[144][145] The film was Monroe's biggest box office hit so far, earning even more than Blondes and prompting the statement that "in 1953, Fox's two greatest assets were CinemaScope and Marilyn Monroe, in that order".[146] In both 1953 and 1954, she was listed in the annual Top Ten Money Making Stars Poll.[147]

Monroe's position as a leading sex symbol was further strengthened in December, when Hugh Hefner featured her in the cover and as centerfold in the first issue of Playboy.[148] The cover image was a shot of her at the Miss America Pageant parade in 1952, and the centerfold featured one of her 1949 nudes.[148]

Conflicts with 20th Century-Fox and marriage to Joe DiMaggio (1954–1955)

Although Monroe had become one of 20th Century-Fox's biggest stars, her contract had not changed since 1950, meaning that she was paid far less than other stars of her status and could not choose her projects or the people with whom she worked.[149] She was also tired of being typecast, and her attempts to be cast in films other than comedies or musicals had been thwarted by Zanuck.[149] In December 1953, she was scheduled to begin filming yet another musical comedy, The Girl in Pink Tights, with Frank Sinatra.[150] In protest, she did not show up on set, which resulted in the studio suspending her on January 4, 1954.[151][152]

With second husband Joe DiMaggio. They married in January 1954 and separated nine months later in October.
Posing for soldiers in Korea after a USO performance on February 1954, during her suspension by the studio

The suspension was front page news and Monroe immediately began a campaign of self-promotion to counter any negative publicity and to strengthen her position in the conflict. On January 14, she and Joe DiMaggio, whose relationship had been subject to constant media attention since 1952, were married at the San Francisco City Hall.[153] They then traveled to Japan, combining a honeymoon with his business trip.[154] From there, she traveled alone to Korea, where she performed songs from her films as part of a USO show for 60–70,000 American marines over a four-day period.[155] After returning to Hollywood in February, she was awarded Photoplay's "Most Popular Female Star" prize.[156] She reached a settlement with the studio in March: it included a new contract to be made later in the year, and a starring role in the film version of Broadway hit play The Seven Year Itch, for which she was to receive a bonus of $100,000.[157]

The following month saw the release of the Western River of No Return, in which Monroe appeared opposite Robert Mitchum. She called it a "Z-grade cowboy movie in which the acting finished second to the scenery and the CinemaScope process", although it was popular with the audiences.[158] The first film she made after returning to the studio was the musical There's No Business Like Show Business, which she strongly disliked but which the studio required her to do in exchange for dropping The Girl in Pink Tights.[157] During the filming, she had an affair with her vocal coach, Hal Schaefer.[159][160] The musical flopped upon its release in December.[161] Monroe's supporting role in the film was in particular singled out for negative notices.[162][163]

In September 1954, Monroe began filming Billy Wilder's comedy The Seven Year Itch, playing a girl who becomes the object of her married neighbor's (Tom Ewell) sexual fantasies. Although the film was shot in Hollywood, the studio decided to generate advance publicity by staging the filming of one scene on Lexington Avenue in New York.[164] In it, Monroe is standing on a subway grate with the air blowing up the skirt of her white dress; it became one of the most famous scenes of her career. The shoot lasted for several hours as the scene was re-taken multiple times, and attracted a crowd of nearly 2,000 spectators, including professional photographers.[164]

Posing for photographers while filming the iconic subway grate scene for The Seven Year Itch in September 1954

While the publicity stunt placed Monroe on the front pages of newspapers all over the world, it also marked the end of her marriage to DiMaggio, who was furious about it.[165][166] Their union had been troubled from the start. He was jealous and controlling, disliked her working or being more popular than him and resented her wearing of revealing clothes.[167][168][169] Spoto and Banner have also asserted that he was physically abusive.[170][171] After returning to Hollywood, she hired famous defense lawyer Jerry Giesler and announced that she was filing for divorce, citing "grievous mental suffering and anguish", in a press conference on October 5, 1954.[172][173][174] The divorce received additional media attention after DiMaggio and his friend Frank Sinatra were sued by a woman into whose apartment they had broken in an attempt to catch Monroe and Schaefer together.[175][176]

After filming wrapped in November, Monroe began a new battle for control over her career and left Hollywood for the East Coast, where she founded her own production company, Marilyn Monroe Productions (MMP), with photographer Milton Greene – an action that has later been called "instrumental" in the collapse of the studio system.[177][178][d] They asserted that she was no longer under contract to Fox, as the studio had not fulfilled its duties, such as paying her the promised bonus for The Seven Year Itch.[179] This began a year-long legal battle between her and the studio.[180] The press largely ridiculed Monroe for her actions and she was also parodied in Itch writer George Axelrod's stage hit, Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (1955), in which her lookalike Jayne Mansfield played a dumb actress who starts her own production company.[181]

Monroe dedicated 1955 to studying her craft. She moved to New York in early 1955 and began taking acting classes with Constance Collier and attending workshops on method acting at the Actors Studio, run by Lee Strasberg.[182] She became close to Strasberg and his wife Paula, receiving private lessons at their home due to her shyness, and soon became like a family member.[183] She dismissed her old drama coach, Natasha Lytess, and replaced her with Paula; the Strasbergs were to remain an important influence for the rest of her career.[184] Monroe also started undergoing psychoanalysis, as a method actor must construct their performance by using their own life experiences.[185][e]

With Tom Ewell in Billy Wilder's The Seven Year Itch, one of the most successful films of Monroe's career

In order to remain in the public eye, Monroe arranged publicity for herself throughout the year.[186][f] The Seven Year Itch was released in June, and became one of the highest-grossing films of the summer.[187] Despite the divorce proceedings, Monroe and DiMaggio had continued their relationship, and he accompanied her to the premiere.[188] She also occasionally dated actor Marlon Brando and began an affair with playwright Arthur Miller, whom she had first been introduced to by Kazan in the early 1950s.[189][190] Their relationship became increasingly serious after October 1955, when Monroe's divorce from DiMaggio was finalized, and Miller separated from his wife.[191][192] The studio urged Monroe to end the affair, as he was being investigated by the FBI for allegations of communism and had been subpoenaed by the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), and so she risked becoming blacklisted.[193][194][195] The FBI also opened a file on her.[196] Despite the risk to her career, Monroe refused to end the relationship, later calling the studio heads "born cowards".[194][193]

By the end of the year, Monroe and Fox had come to an agreement about a new seven-year contract. It was clear that MMP would not be able to finance films alone, and the studio was eager to have Monroe working again.[180] The contract required her to make four films for Fox during the seven years.[197] The studio would pay her $100,000 for each film, and granted her the right to choose her own projects, directors and cinematographers.[197] She would also be free to make one film with MMP per each completed film for Fox.[197]

Critical acclaim and marriage to Arthur Miller (1956–1959)

Monroe began 1956 by announcing her win over 20th Century-Fox, which prompted Time to call her a "shrewd businesswoman".[198] She also changed her name officially to Marilyn Monroe in March.[199] Her relationship with Miller prompted some negative comments from the press, as exemplified by Walter Winchell's statement that "America's best-known blonde moving picture star is now the darling of the left-wing intelligentsia."[200] They were married at the Westchester County Court in White Plains, New York on June 29, and two days later had a second, Jewish ceremony at his agent's house near Katonah, New York.[201] With the marriage, Monroe converted to Judaism, which led Egypt to ban all of her films.[202] The media saw the union as mismatched given her star image as a "dumb blonde" and his position as an intellectual, as demonstrated by Variety's headline "Egghead Weds Hourglass".[203][204]

Monroe's dramatic performance as Chérie in Bus Stop (1956), a saloon singer with little talent, marked a departure from her earlier comedies.

The first film that Monroe made under the new contract was Bus Stop, released in August 1956. She played Chérie, a talentless saloon singer whose dreams of stardom are complicated by a naïve cowboy (Don Murray) who falls in love with her. For the role, she learnt an Ozark accent, chose costumes and make-up that lacked the glamour of her earlier films, and provided deliberately mediocre singing and dancing.[205] Broadway director Joshua Logan was employed to direct, despite his initial doubt of her ability to act and knowledge of her reputation for being difficult on set.[206] The filming took place in Idaho and Arizona in spring 1956, and proceeded well after Logan adapted to her chronic lateness and perfectionism, and allowed her to run the production the way she wanted it.[207][208] Bus Stop became a box office hit, and received mainly favorable reviews, with Bosley Crowther of The New York Times proclaiming: "Hold on to your chairs, everybody, and get set for a rattling surprise. Marilyn Monroe has finally proved herself an actress."[209][210] She also received a Golden Globe nomination for her performance.[102]

In August 1956, Monroe began filming MMP's first independent production, The Prince and the Showgirl, at Pinewood Studios in England.[211] It was based on Terrence Rattigan's play about an affair between a show girl and a prince in the 1910s. The main roles had first been played on stage by Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh; he reprised his role and directed and co-produced the film.[198] The production was complicated by conflicts between him and Monroe.[212] He angered her with the patronizing statement "All you have to do is be sexy", and by wanting her to replicate Leigh's interpretation.[212][213][214] He also disliked the constant presence of Paula Strasberg, her acting coach, on set.[213] In retaliation, Monroe started arriving late and became difficult to work with.[212] Her drug use increased and according to Spoto, she had a miscarriage.[215][216] She also argued with Greene over the running of MMP and whether Miller should join it.[217][218] Despite the difficulties, the film was completed on schedule by the end of the year.[219][209] It was released in June 1957 to mixed reviews, and proved unpopular with American audiences.[209] It was however better received in Europe, where she was awarded the Italian David di Donatello and the French Crystal Star awards, and was nominated for a BAFTA.[220]

With third husband Arthur Miller at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York, 1957

After returning from England, Monroe took an 18-month hiatus from work to concentrate on married life on the East Coast. She and Miller split their time between New York and Roxbury, Connecticut, and spent the summer in Amagansett, Long Island.[221] She became pregnant in the summer of 1957, but it turned out to be ectopic and had to be terminated.[222] Her gynecological problems were most likely caused by endometriosis, a disease from which she suffered throughout her adult life.[223][g] During the hiatus, she dismissed Greene from MMP and bought his share of the company as they could not settle their disagreements.[224] Monroe returned to Hollywood in July 1958 to play the female lead opposite Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis in Billy Wilder's comedy Some Like It Hot. In the film, she performed one of her most famous songs, "I Wanna Be Loved by You". Although the role of Sugar Kane was another "dumb blonde", she accepted it due to Miller's encouragement and the offer of receiving ten percent of its profits in addition to her standard pay.[225]

With Tony Curtis in Some Like It Hot (1959), for which she won a Golden Globe. Although the film was one of the most successful of Monroe's career, its filming was fraught with difficulties.

The difficulties of the film's production have since become "legendary".[226] Wilder, Curtis and Lemmon found her difficult to work with: she would demand dozens of re-takes, and could not remember her lines or act as directed – Curtis famously stated that kissing her was "like kissing Hitler" due to the number of re-takes.[227][228] Many of the problems stemmed from a conflict between Wilder, who also had a reputation for being difficult, and Monroe on how she should play the role, whose stupidity she disliked.[229][230] Banner has stated that she triggered Wilder's anger by asking him to alter many of her scenes, which in turn made her stage fright worse, and Churchwell has suggested that she deliberately ruined several scenes in order to act it her way.[229][230] In the end, he was happy with her performance, stating: "Anyone can remember lines, but it takes a real artist to come on the set and not know her lines and yet give the performance she did!"[231] Monroe also encountered difficulties in her private life that autumn, as she became pregnant again during the production but miscarried soon after filming ended in November.[232] Despite the difficulties of its production, when Some Like It Hot was released in March 1959, it became one of the most successful films of the 1950s, and earned Monroe a Golden Globe.[220] It has been voted one of the best comedy films ever made in polls by the American Film Institute and Sight & Sound.[233][234]

Final films and personal difficulties (1960–1962)

After Some Like It Hot, Monroe took another hiatus from working until late 1959, when she returned to Hollywood to star in the musical comedy Let's Make Love, about an actress and a millionaire who fall in love when performing in a satirical play.[235] Monroe chose George Cukor to direct and Miller re-wrote portions of the script, which she considered weak; she had only accepted the part because she had so far only made one film out of the four stipulated by her contract with 20th Century-Fox.[236] The filming was again complicated by Monroe's behavior, and her absences caused delays in its production schedule.[235] While working on the film, she had an affair with her co-star, Yves Montand, which was widely reported by the press and used by the studio in the film's publicity campaign.[237] Let's Make Love flopped upon its release in September 1960.[238][239] Truman Capote lobbied for her to play Holly Golightly in Paramount's film adaptation of Breakfast at Tiffany's, but the role went to Audrey Hepburn as the studio feared that Monroe would complicate its production.[240]

With Clark Gable, Montgomery Clift and Thelma Ritter in The Misfits. It was both Monroe's and Gable's last completed film.

The last film that Monroe completed was The Misfits, based on a short story that Miller had developed into a screenplay with the idea of providing her with a role in a drama.[239] Directed by John Huston, it was filmed in the Nevada desert, and focused on the friendship between a recently divorced woman (Monroe) and three aging cowboys, played by Clark Gable, Eli Wallach and Montgomery Clift, who capture mustangs for a living. Its filming between July and November 1960 was again difficult.[241] Monroe and Miller's four-year marriage was effectively over, and he began a relationship with still photographer Inge Morath.[239] Monroe resented her character, which she thought was inferior to the male roles, and disliked that he had included elements of her life in it.[242][243][244] She also struggled with his habit of re-writing scenes the night before filming, forcing her to rehearse through the night.[242][243] In addition, her health was failing: she was in pain from gall stones, and her drug addiction was severe by this point, to the extent that her make-up had to usually be applied while she was still asleep under the influence of barbiturates.[245][246] In August, filming was halted for her to spend a week detoxing in a Los Angeles hospital.[247][248] Monroe and Miller separated after filming wrapped, and she was granted a quick divorce in Mexico in January 1961.[249] The Misfits was released the following month, receiving mixed reviews and failing at the box office.[250][251][252] In the decades after Monroe's death it has however become considered a classic.[253]

There were plans for Monroe to next star in a television adaptation of W. Somerset Maugham's short story Rain for NBC, but the project fell through as the channel did not want to hire her choice of director, Lee Strasberg.[254] Instead of new film projects, she spent a large part of 1961 preoccupied by her health problems, undergoing surgery for her endometriosis and a cholecystectomy, and spending four weeks in hospital care to overcome her depression.[255][256] At the suggestion of her psychiatrist Marianne Kris, she first admitted herself to the Payne Whitney Psychiatric Clinic in New York.[257] Kris later stated that her choice of hospital was a mistake: Monroe was placed on a ward meant for severely mentally ill people with psychosis, where she was locked in a padded cell and was not allowed to move to a more suitable ward or to leave the hospital.[257] In desperation, she reached out to the Strasbergs, but they were unable to secure her release as they were not family members.[257] Finally, after spending three days at the ward, she was released with the help of her ex-husband Joe DiMaggio and moved to the more suitable Columbia University Medical Center, where she spent a further 23 days.[257] They had not been in contact since the finalization of their divorce in 1955, but now rekindled their friendship.[258][259] In spring 1961, Monroe moved back to Los Angeles, where she began a relationship with Frank Sinatra, and in early 1962 purchased a house on 12305 Fifth Helena Drive in Brentwood.[260]

Monroe returned to the public eye in 1962; she received a "World Film Favorite" Golden Globe award in March and began to shoot a new film for 20th Century-Fox, Something's Got to Give, a re-make of My Favorite Wife (1940), in late April.[261][262] It was to be co-produced by MMP, directed by George Cukor and co-starred Dean Martin and Cyd Charisse.[263] Monroe was absent for the first two weeks of filming due to the flu; biographers have also attributed her absence to sinusitis or her ongoing drug addiction.[264] On May 19, she took a break from filming to sing "Happy Birthday" on stage at president John F. Kennedy's birthday celebration at the Madison Square Garden in New York.[264][265] She drew attention with her costume: a beige, skintight dress covered in rhinestones, which made her appear nude.[264][265] Most biographers agree that she had an affair with Kennedy at some point in the last two years of her life, although they disagree on its length and timing.[266] However, there is no consensus on whether she was also involved with his brother, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy.[266]

In one of her last photo shoots, by George Barris for Cosmopolitan in July 1962

After returning to work, Monroe filmed a scene in which she swam naked in a swimming pool.[267] To generate advance publicity, the press were invited to take photographs of the scene, which were later published in Life; this was the first time that a major star had posed nude while at the height of their career.[268] When she was again absent from set for several days, the studio fired her on June 7 and sued her for breach of contract, demanding $750,000 in damages.[269] She was replaced by Lee Remick, but after Martin refused to make the film with anyone other than Monroe, Fox sued him as well and shut down the production.[270]

The studio publicly blamed Monroe's drug addiction and alleged lack of professionalism for the demise of the film, even claiming that she was mentally disturbed.[269] Their version remained largely uncontested until 1990, when the surviving footage from Something's Got to Give was released, showing that unlike they had claimed, when Monroe had shown up on set, she had been coherent and able to film several scenes.[271] According to a later statement by the film's producer Henry Weinstein, her dismissal was linked to 20th Century-Fox's severe financial problems and the inexperience of head executive Peter Levathes, rather than solely caused by her being difficult to work with.[272]

To counter the negative publicity, Monroe engaged in several publicity ventures in her last weeks.[273] They included an interview with Richard Meryman for Life, a photo shoot by George Barris for Cosmopolitan, and her first photo shoot for Vogue.[274] For Vogue, Monroe and photographer Bert Stern collaborated for two series of photographs, one a standard fashion editorial, and another of her posing nude, which were both later published posthumously with the title The Last Sitting.[275] She was either in negotiations to be re-hired or had already made a new deal with the studio for Something's Got to Give in the final weeks of her life, and was also in talks about other possible film roles.[269][h]


Front page of the New York Daily Mirror on August 6, 1962

Monroe was found dead in the bedroom of her Brentwood home by her psychiatrist Dr. Ralph Greenson in the early morning hours of August 5, 1962. Greenson had been called to Monroe's house by her housekeeper, who was staying overnight.[276][277] The housekeeper had woken up at 3 AM "sensing that something was wrong", and had seen light from under Monroe's bedroom door, but had not been able to get a response and found the door locked.[276][277] The death was officially confirmed by Monroe's physician, Dr. Hyman Engelberg, who arrived at the house at around 3:50 AM.[276][277] At 4:25 AM, the Los Angeles Police Department was notified about the death.[276][277]

The Los Angeles County Coroners Office was assisted in their investigation by a team of experts from the Los Angeles Suicide Prevention Center, who interviewed Monroe's doctors and psychiatrists on her mental state[278][279] It was estimated that she had died between 8:30–10:30 PM,[280] and the toxicological analysis concluded that the cause of death was acute barbiturate poisoning, as she had 8 mg of chloral hydrate and 4.5 mg of pentobarbital (Nembutal) in her blood, and a further 13 mg of pentobarbital in her liver – dosages several times over the lethal limit.[278][279] Empty bottles containing these medicines were found next to her bed by the police.[278][279] Monroe's doctors and psychiatrists stated that she had been prone to depression, and had overdosed several times in the past, possibly intentionally.[279] Due to these facts and the lack of any indication of foul play, her death was classified a probable suicide.[278][279]

Monroe's crypt at the Westwood Memorial Park

Monroe's unexpected death was front-page news in the United States and Europe.[281] According to Lois Banner, "it's said that the suicide rate in Los Angeles doubled the month after she died; the circulation rate of most newspapers expanded that month",[281] and the Chicago Daily Tribune reported that they had received hundreds of phone calls from members of the public requesting information about her death.[282] French artist Jean Cocteau commented that her death "should serve as a terrible lesson to all those, whose chief occupation consists of spying on and tormenting film stars", her former co-star Laurence Olivier deemed her "the complete victim of ballyhoo and sensation", and Bus Stop director Joshua Logan stated she was "one of the most unappreciated people in the world".[283] Her funeral was held at the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery on August 8.[284][285] It was arranged by Joe DiMaggio and her business manager Inez Melson, who decided to invite only around thirty of her closest family members and friends, excluding most of Hollywood.[284][285] Police were also present to keep the press away and to control the several hundreds of spectators who crowded the streets around the cemetery.[284][285] Monroe was afterwards interred at crypt No. 24 at the Corridor of Memories.[284][285]

Several conspiracy theories about Monroe's death have been proposed in the decades afterwards, including murder and accidental overdose.[286] The murder speculations first gained mainstream attention with the publication of Norman Mailer's Marilyn: A Biography in 1973, and in the following years became widespread enough for the Los Angeles County District Attorney John Van de Kamp to conduct a "threshold investigation" in 1982 to see whether a criminal investigation should be opened.[287][288] However, no evidence of foul play was found.[289]

Public image and reception

"I never quite understood it, this sex symbol. I always thought symbols were those things you clash together! That's the trouble, a sex symbol becomes a thing. I just hate to be a thing. But if I'm going to be a symbol of something I'd rather have it sex than some other things they've got symbols of."[290]

—Monroe in an interview for Life in 1962

When beginning to develop her star image, 20th Century-Fox wanted Monroe to replace the aging Betty Grable, their most popular "blonde bombshell" of the 1940s.[291] While the 1940s had been the heyday of actresses perceived as tough and smart, such as Katharine Hepburn and Barbara Stanwyck, who appealed to women-dominated audiences, the studio wanted Monroe to be a star of the new decade that would draw men to the cinema.[291] She also played a significant part in the creation of her public image from the beginning, and towards the end of her career exerted almost full control over it.[292][293] Monroe was responsible for many of her publicity strategies, cultivated friendships with gossip columnists such as Sidney Skolsky and Louella Parsons, and controlled the use of her images.[292][294][295] Besides Grable, she was often compared to another iconic blonde, 1930s film star Jean Harlow.[296] The comparison was partly prompted by Monroe, who named Harlow as her childhood idol, wanted to play her in a biopic, and even employed Harlow's hair stylist to color her hair.[297] Monroe was also influenced by Mae West, stating: "I learned a few tricks from her – that impression of laughing at, or mocking, her own sexuality".[142]

A publicity photo showing the look associated with Monroe

Monroe’s star image was centered on her blondness, and the stereotypes associated with it, especially dumbness, sexual availability and artificiality.[298] Having begun her career as a pin-up model, this style carried over to her films, and she became noted for her hourglass figure.[299] Film scholar Richard Dyer has noted that in her films, Monroe was often positioned so that her curvy silhouette was on display, and in her publicity photos often posed like a pin-up.[299] Her distinctive, hip-swinging walk also drew attention to her body, earning her the nickname "the girl with the horizontal walk".[120] Monroe's clothing choices also played an important part in her star image. She often wore white to emphasize her blondness, and drew attention by wearing revealing outfits that showed off her figure.[300][301] Her publicity stunts often revolved around her clothing exposing too much of her body or even malfunctioning, for example when one of the shoulder straps of her dress suddenly snapped during a press conference.[132][302]

To emphasize her "innocence" and "dumbness", Monroe often used a breathy, childish voice in her films, and in interviews parodied herself with double entendres that came to be known as "Monroeisms".[303][304][305] For example, when she was asked whether she had anything on during the 1949 nude photo shoot, she replied that "I had the radio on".[306] She was portrayed as the embodiment of the American Dream, as a girl who had risen from a miserable childhood to Hollywood stardom.[307][308][309] Stories of her time spent in foster families and an orphanage were exaggerated and even partly fabricated in her studio biographies.[310] According to film scholar Thomas Harris, her working class roots and lack of family also made her appear more sexually available, "the ideal playmate", in contrast to her contemporary Grace Kelly, who was also marketed as an attractive blonde, but due to her upper-class background came to be seen as a sophisticated actress, unattainable for the majority of male viewers.[308]

In How to Marry a Millionaire (1953), one of the films which portrayed Monroe as a "dumb blonde", at the same time sexually attractive and childishly innocent

According to Dyer, Monroe became "virtually a household name for sex" in the 1950s and "her image has to be situated in the flux of ideas about morality and sexuality that characterised the fifties in America", such as Freudian ideas about sex, the Kinsey report (1953), and Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique (1963).[311][312] According to him, Monroe's star image was created mainly for the male gaze as characterized in her film roles where she almost always played "the girl", who is defined solely by her gender.[313] Her roles were almost always chorus girls, secretaries, or models; occupations where "the woman is on show, there for the pleasure of men."[313] Dyer also sees Monroe as the first sex symbol to combine "naturalness" and sexuality, in contrast to the 1940s femme fatales.[314] This alleged artlessness and lack of shame about her sexuality was closely linked to her image as a dumb and vulnerable woman.[314] According to Norman Mailer, "Marilyn suggested sex might be difficult and dangerous with others, but ice cream with her."[315] Similarly, Molly Haskell has written that "she was the fifties fiction, the lie that a woman had no sexual needs, that she is there to cater to, or enhance, a man's needs."[316] She has also stated that before her death, Monroe was less popular with women than with men, as they "couldn't identify with her and didn't support her".[317]

The importance of blondness to Monroe's star image has also been analyzed by film historians. Dyer has argued that platinum blonde hair became such a defining feature of her because it made her "racially unambiguous" and exclusively white, and that she should be seen as emblematic of racism in twentieth-century popular culture.[318] Lois Banner agrees that it may not to be a pure coincidence that Monroe launched a trend of platinum blonde actresses at the same time as the Civil Rights Movement was beginning, but has also criticized Dyer, pointing out that in her highly publicized private life Monroe associated with people who were seen as "white ethnics", such as Joe DiMaggio (Italian-American) and Arthur Miller (Jewish).[319] According to Banner, she sometimes challenged prevailing racial norms in her publicity photographs; for example, in an image featured in Look in 1951, she was shown in revealing clothes while practicing with African-American voice coach Phil Moore.[320]

In addition to being a sex symbol, Monroe was perceived as a specifically American star, "a national institution as well known as hot dogs, applepie, or baseball" according to Photoplay.[321] Historian Fiona Handyside writes that the French female audiences associated whiteness/blondness with American modernity and cleanliness, and hence Monroe came to symbolize a modern, "liberated" woman whose life takes place in the public sphere.[322] Film historian Laura Mulvey has written of her as an endorsement for American consumer culture:

"If America was to export the democracy of glamour into post-war, impoverished Europe, the movies could be its shop window [...] Marilyn Monroe, with her all American attributes and streamlined sexuality, came to epitomise in a single image this complex interface of the economic, the political, and the erotic. By the mid 1950s, she stood for a brand of classless glamour, available to anyone using American cosmetics, nylons and peroxide."[323]

Again, however, Mulvey states that this "democracy of glamour" was "essentially white and based on a near apartheid of the races," and "screen[ed] over rifts in American society".[324] To profit from Monroe's popularity, 20th Century-Fox cultivated several lookalike actresses, including Jayne Mansfield and Sheree North.[325] Other studios also attempted to create their own Marilyns: Universal Pictures with Mamie Van Doren,[326] Columbia Pictures with Kim Novak,[327] and Rank Organisation with Diana Dors.[328]


Monroe depicted in a painting

According to The Guide to United States Popular Culture, "as an icon of American popular culture, Monroe's few rivals in popularity include Elvis Presley and Mickey Mouse... no other star has ever inspired such a wide range of emotions – from lust to pity, from envy to remorse."[329] The American Film Institute has named her the sixth greatest female screen legend in American film history, The Smithsonian included her on their list of "100 Most Significant Americans of All Time",[330] and both Variety[331] and VH1[332] have placed her in the top ten in their rankings of the greatest popular culture icons of the twentieth century. Hundreds of books have been written about Monroe, she has been the subject of films, plays, operas, songs, and art, and has influenced entertainers such as Madonna.[333][334][335] She also remains a valuable brand:[336] her image and name have been licensed for hundreds of products, and she has been featured in advertising for multinational corporations such as Max Factor, Chanel, Mercedes Benz, and Absolut Vodka.[337][338]

Monroe's enduring popularity is linked to her conflicted public image.[339][340][341] On the one hand, she remains a sex symbol, beauty icon and one of the most famous stars of classical Hollywood cinema.[342][343][344] On the other, she is also remembered for her troubled private life, unstable childhood, struggle for professional respect, and her premature death and the conspiracy theories surrounding it.[342][341][345] She has been written about extensively by scholars and journalists interested in gender and feminism, such as Gloria Steinem, Jacqueline Rose,[346] Molly Haskell,[347] Sarah Churchwell, and Lois Banner.[348] Some, such as Steinem, have viewed her as a victim of the studio system and the objectification of women in mid-century United States.[348][349][350] Others, such as Haskell,[351] Rose,[346] and Churchwell,[352] have instead stressed Monroe's agency in her career. Due to the contrast between her stardom and troubled private life, Monroe is closely linked to broader discussions about modern phenomena such as mass media, fame, and consumer culture.[333] According to academic Susanne Hamscha, because of her continued relevance to ongoing discussions about modern society, Monroe is "never completely situated in one time or place" but has become "a surface on which narratives of American culture can be (re-)constructed", and "functions as a cultural type that can be reproduced, transformed, translated into new contexts, and enacted by other people".[333] Similarly, Banner has called Monroe the "eternal shapeshifter" who is re-created by "each generation, even each individual [...] to their own specifications".[353]

While Monroe remains an important cultural icon, critics are divided on her legacy as an actor. David Thomson called her body of work "insubstantial"[354] and Pauline Kael wrote that she could not act, but rather "used her lack of an actress's skills to amuse the public. She had the wit or crassness or desperation to turn cheesecake into acting--and vice versa; she did what others had the 'good taste' not to do".[355] In contrast, according to Peter Bradshaw, Monroe was a talented comedian who "understood how comedy achieved its effects",[356] and Jonathan Rosenbaum stated that "she subtly subverted the sexist content of her material" and that "the difficulty some people have discerning Monroe's intelligence as an actress seems rooted in the ideology of a repressive era, when superfeminine women weren't supposed to be smart".[357] Her films have been subject to retrospectives at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York in 2011[358] and at the British Film Institute in London in 2015.[359] In 2012, the 50th anniversary of her death, her image was used in the promotional posters for Cannes Film Festival, despite the fact that she never attended the festival and only one of her films, The Asphalt Jungle (1950), was ever screened there.[356]

See also


  1. ^ Biographers Fred Guiles and Lois Banner have stated that her father was most likely Charles Stanley Gifford, a co-worker with whom Gladys had an affair in 1925 and whose photograph she allegedly showed Monroe, telling her it was her father.Churchwell 2004, p. 152, citing Guiles, p. 152; Banner, p. 26 Donald Spoto disagrees; according to him, she never had any certainty on her father's identity, and any of Gladys' male acquaintances in 1925 may have been the father.Spoto 2001, p. 13.
  2. ^ Biographers have named several possible perpetrators: George Atkinson, who was a lodger at Arbol Drive with his wife and took care of Monroe when her mother became ill, Grace's husband Doc Goddard, and one of Monroe's cousins.Churchwell 2004, pp. 166–173 Due to lack of evidence to either prove or disprove the claims, biographers are divided in their opinions: Summers, Guiles and Carl Rollyson think Monroe was lying, while Spoto, Banner, Gloria Steinem, and Barbara Leaming believe she was speaking the truth.Churchwell 2004, pp. 166–173Banner 2012, pp. 48–58 In her analysis of the debate, Sarah Churchwell has stated that biographers' opinions on both sides have been "predetermined by what they already believe" about Monroe's personality and sexual abuse in general, and that "we simply don't know what happened".Churchwell 2004, p. 173.
  3. ^ It has sometimes been erroneously claimed that Monroe appeared as an extra in other Fox films during this period, including Green Grass of Wyoming, The Shocking Miss Pilgrim, and You Were Meant For Me, but there is no evidence to support this.Churchwell 2004, p. 59.
  4. ^ Monroe and Greene had first met and had a brief affair in 1949, and met again in 1953, when he photographed her for Look. She told him about her grievances with the studio, and Greene suggested that they start their own production company.Spoto 2001, pp. 158–159, 252–254.
  5. ^ From 1955 until her death in 1962, she was treated by several psychotherapists: Margaret Hohenberg (1955–1957), Anna Freud (1957), Marianne Kris (1957–1961), and Ralph Greenson (1960–1962).Spoto 2001, pp. 312–313, 375, 384–385, 421, 459 on years and names.
  6. ^ These included riding an elephant at the Ringling Brothers Circus Charity Gala in Madison Square Garden, appearing with Greene and his wife Amy in the television program Person to Person, and attending the centennial celebrations of Bement, Illinois, the site of the Lincoln-Douglas debates.Spoto 2001, pp. 321, 334–335.
  7. ^ It also caused her to experience severe menstrual pain throughout her life, necessitating a clause in her contract allowing her to be absent from work during her period, and required several surgeries.Churchwell 2004, pp. 274–277 It has sometimes been alleged that Monroe underwent several abortions, and that unsafe abortions made by persons without proper medical training would have contributed to her inability to maintain a pregnancy.Churchwell 2004, pp. 271–274 However, no evidence exists of her ever having had an abortion, and no scar tissue consistent with damage from an unsafe abortion was found in her reproductive organs in her autopsy.Churchwell 2004, pp. 271–274.
  8. ^ The terms of the alleged new contract included a larger salary and Cukor, with whom Monroe had had problems with since Let's Make Love, replaced with Jean Negulesco, the director of How to Marry a Millionaire. In exchange, she was to dismiss Paula Strasberg, whose involvement on film sets had often been a source of strife. The biographers to assert this are Peter Harry Brown and Patte Barham in The Last Take (1992) and Donald Spoto (1993); the documentaries Marilyn: Something's Got to Give (1990) and Marilyn Monroe: The Final Days (2001).Churchwell 2004, p. 75 According to earlier biographer Anthony Summers (1985), she was negotiating about resuming filming, but no contract had been made at the time of her death.Summers 1985, p. 301 The other film projects which Monroe was considering included a biography of Jean Harlow, Irma la Douce, What a Way to Go!, Kiss Me, Stupid, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and an unnamed World War I-themed musical co-starring Gene Kelly.Summers 1985, p. 301.



  1. ^ "Marilyn Monroe Dies; Pills Blamed". The Los Angeles Times. August 6, 1962. Retrieved September 23, 2015. 
  2. ^ Rollyson 2005, p. 2.
  3. ^ Hall 2006, p. 468.
  4. ^ Chapman 2001, pp. 542–543.
  5. ^ Churchwell 2004, pp. 150–1.
  6. ^ Banner 2012, p. 22.
  7. ^ Miracle and Miracle, see family tree
  8. ^ a b Spoto 2001, pp. 7–9.
  9. ^ Banner 2012, p. 19.
  10. ^ Banner 2012, p. 72, for mother telling Monroe of sister in 1938.
  11. ^ Spoto 2001, p. 88, for first meeting in 1944.
  12. ^ Banner 2012, pp. 24–25.
  13. ^ Churchwell 2004, p. 150, citing Spoto and Summers.
  14. ^ Churchwell 2004, p. 150, citing Spoto, Summers and Guiles.
  15. ^ Churchwell 2004, p. 149.
  16. ^ Spoto 2001, p. 17.
  17. ^ Spoto 2001, pp. 16–17.
  18. ^ Banner 2012, pp. 22–32.
  19. ^ Churchwell 2004, p. 164.
  20. ^ Banner 2012, pp. 32–33.
  21. ^ Banner 2012, pp. 32–35.
  22. ^ Spoto 2001, pp. 17–26.
  23. ^ Spoto 2001, pp. 26–28.
  24. ^ Banner 2012, pp. 35–39.
  25. ^ a b Churchwell 2004, pp. 155–156.
  26. ^ a b Banner 2012, pp. 39–40.
  27. ^ Churchwell 2004, p. 165, for consensus on becoming ward of state.
  28. ^ Spoto 2001, pp. 40–49, information on Goddard.
  29. ^ Banner 2012, pp. 40–62, for information on Goddard.
  30. ^ a b c Churchwell 2004, pp. 165–166.
  31. ^ Banner 2012, pp. 40–65.
  32. ^ Spoto 2001, pp. 33–49.
  33. ^ Churchwell 2004, pp. 166–173.
  34. ^ Spoto 2001, pp. 44–45.
  35. ^ Banner 2012, pp. 62–63.
  36. ^ Spoto 2001, pp. 51–67.
  37. ^ Banner 2012, pp. 62–86.
  38. ^ Spoto 2001, pp. 58, 68.
  39. ^ Banner 2012, pp. 69–75.
  40. ^ a b Spoto 2001, pp. 67-69.
  41. ^ Banner 2012, p. 86.
  42. ^ a b c d Spoto 2001, pp. 70–75.
  43. ^ a b Banner 2012, pp. 86–90.
  44. ^ Churchwell 2004, p. 173.
  45. ^ Spoto 2001, p. 78.
  46. ^ Spoto 2001, p. 83.
  47. ^ Banner 2012, p. 91.
  48. ^ Spoto 2001, pp. 83–86.
  49. ^ Banner 2012, pp. 91–98.
  50. ^ Spoto 2001, p. 86.
  51. ^ Banner 2012, p. 98.
  52. ^ a b Churchwell 2004, p. 176.
  53. ^ Spoto 2001, pp. 90–91.
  54. ^ Churchwell 2004, pp. 176–177.
  55. ^ Spoto 2001, pp. 90–93.
  56. ^ "YANK USA 1945". Wartime Press.Com. Retrieved January 13, 2012. 
  57. ^ Spoto 2001, pp. 93–95.
  58. ^ Banner 2012, pp. 105–108.
  59. ^ Spoto 2001, pp. 95–107.
  60. ^ Banner 2012, p. 109, for Snively's statement.
  61. ^ Spoto 2001, p. 95, for statement & covers.
  62. ^ a b Spoto 2001, pp. 110–111.
  63. ^ Banner 2012, pp. 117–118.
  64. ^ Spoto 2001, p. 112.
  65. ^ a b Banner 2012, p. 119.
  66. ^ Spoto 2001, pp. 112–114.
  67. ^ Spoto 2001, p. 114.
  68. ^ Spoto 2001, p. 109.
  69. ^ Spoto 2001, pp. 118–119.
  70. ^ Spoto 2001, pp. 119–120.
  71. ^ Banner 2012, pp. 130–131.
  72. ^ a b Spoto 2001, pp. 120–121.
  73. ^ Spoto 2001, pp. 122–126.
  74. ^ Spoto 2001, p. 126.
  75. ^ a b Banner 2012, p. 133.
  76. ^ Spoto 2001, pp. 122–129.
  77. ^ a b Spoto 2001, pp. 133–134.
  78. ^ Churchwell 2004, pp. 204–216, citing Summers and Spoto.
  79. ^ Banner 2012, pp. 141–144.
  80. ^ Churchwell 2004, p. 59.
  81. ^ Spoto 2001, pp. 141–144.
  82. ^ Banner 2012, p. 148.
  83. ^ Summers 1985, p. 43.
  84. ^ Spoto 2001, pp. 145–146.
  85. ^ Banner 2012, pp. 149, 157.
  86. ^ Spoto 2001, p. 146.
  87. ^ Banner 2012, pp. 148–149.
  88. ^ Spoto 2001, pp. 151–153.
  89. ^ Banner 2012, p. 149.
  90. ^ Churchwell 2004, pp. 59–60.
  91. ^ a b Spoto 2001, pp. 159–162.
  92. ^ Spoto 2001, pp. 168–170.
  93. ^ Spoto 2001, p. 182.
  94. ^ Riese & Hitchens 1988, p. 228.
  95. ^ Spoto 2001, pp. 175–177.
  96. ^ Banner 2012, p. 157.
  97. ^ Spoto 2001, pp. 183, 191.
  98. ^ a b Churchwell 2004, p. 60.
  99. ^ Spoto 2001, pp. 179–187.
  100. ^ Spoto 2001, pp. 188–189.
  101. ^ Spoto 2001, p. 192.
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  103. ^ Spoto 2001, pp. 180–181.
  104. ^ Banner 2012, pp. 163–167, 181–182 for Kazan and others.
  105. ^ Summers 1985, p. 67.
  106. ^ a b Spoto 2001, pp. 210–213.
  107. ^ Summers 1985, p. 58.
  108. ^ Churchwell 2004, pp. 224–226.
  109. ^ Banner 2012, pp. 194–195.
  110. ^ Spoto 2001, p. 213.
  111. ^ Spoto 2001, pp. 224–225.
  112. ^ a b Churchwell 2004, p. 61.
  113. ^ a b Spoto 2001, pp. 194–195.
  114. ^ Churchwell 2004, pp. 60–61.
  115. ^ "Clash By Night". American Film Institute. Retrieved 8 August 2015. 
  116. ^ Spoto 2001, p. 200.
  117. ^ Spoto 2001, pp. 196–197.
  118. ^ Banner 2012, p. 180.
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  121. ^ a b Churchwell 2004, p. 238.
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  123. ^ Banner 2012, pp. 211–213.
  124. ^ a b c Spoto 2001, pp. 328–329.
  125. ^ a b Banner 2012, pp. 213–214.
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  127. ^ a b Spoto 2001, p. 221.
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  131. ^ Banner 2012, p. 205.
  132. ^ a b c Churchwell 2004, p. 234.
  133. ^ a b Banner 2012, pp. 205–206.
  134. ^ a b Spoto 2001, pp. 236–238.
  135. ^ Churchwell 2004, p. 64.
  136. ^ Spoto 2001, p. 231.
  137. ^ Banner 2012, p. 200.
  138. ^ Spoto 2001, pp. 219–220.
  139. ^ Banner 2012, p. 177.
  140. ^ Spoto 2001, p. 242.
  141. ^ Banner 2012, pp. 208–209.
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  143. ^ Spoto 2001, p. 250.
  144. ^ Churchwell 2004, pp. 64–65.
  145. ^ Spoto 2001, p. 238.
  146. ^ Churchwell 2004, p. 65.
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  149. ^ a b Churchwell 2004, p. 68.
  150. ^ Spoto 2001, pp. 254–255.
  151. ^ Spoto 2001, pp. 258–259.
  152. ^ Summers 1985, p. 92.
  153. ^ Spoto 2001, p. 260.
  154. ^ Spoto 2001, pp. 262–263.
  155. ^ Churchwell 2004, p. 241.
  156. ^ Spoto 2001, p. 267.
  157. ^ a b Spoto 2001, p. 271.
  158. ^ Churchwell 2004, pp. 66–67.
  159. ^ Spoto 2001, pp. 274–279.
  160. ^ Banner 2012, pp. 220–222.
  161. ^ Churchwell 2004, p. 66.
  162. ^ Spoto 2001, p. 277.
  163. ^ Riese & Hitchens 1988, pp. 338–440.
  164. ^ a b Spoto 2001, pp. 283–284.
  165. ^ Banner 2012, pp. 8–9.
  166. ^ Spoto 2001, pp. 284–5.
  167. ^ Spoto 2001, pp. 208, 222-223; 262–267, 292.
  168. ^ Churchwell 2004, pp. 243–245.
  169. ^ Banner 2012, p. 204.
  170. ^ Spoto 2001, p. 262.
  171. ^ Banner 2012, pp. 219–221.
  172. ^ Banner 2012, pp. 224-225.
  173. ^ Spoto 2001, pp. 290–295.
  174. ^ Summers 1985, pp. 103-105.
  175. ^ Spoto 2001, pp. 294–295.
  176. ^ Banner 2012, pp. 225–226.
  177. ^ Spoto 2001, pp. 295–298.
  178. ^ Churchwell 2004, p. 246.
  179. ^ Spoto 2001, pp. 302–303.
  180. ^ a b Spoto 2001, pp. 301–302.
  181. ^ Spoto 2001, p. 338.
  182. ^ Spoto 2001, p. 302.
  183. ^ Spoto 2001, p. 327.
  184. ^ Spoto 2001, p. 350.
  185. ^ Spoto 2001, pp. 310–313.
  186. ^ Spoto 2001, pp. 321, 334–335.
  187. ^ Spoto 2001, p. 331.
  188. ^ Spoto 2001, pp. 319–332.
  189. ^ Churchwell 2004, p. 253, for Miller.
  190. ^ Banner 2012, p. 285, for Brando.
  191. ^ Spoto 2001, p. 337.
  192. ^ Meyers 2010, p. 98.
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  194. ^ a b Churchwell 2004, pp. 253–254.
  195. ^ Spoto 2001, pp. 318–320.
  196. ^ Spoto 2001, pp. 336–345.
  197. ^ a b c Spoto 2001, pp. 339–340.
  198. ^ a b Spoto 2001, p. 341.
  199. ^ Spoto 2001, p. 345.
  200. ^ Spoto 2001, pp. 343–345.
  201. ^ Spoto 2001, pp. 364–365.
  202. ^ Meyers 2010, pp. 156–157.
  203. ^ Meyers 2010, p. 155.
  204. ^ Churchwell 2004, pp. 253–257.
  205. ^ Spoto 2001, pp. 352–357.
  206. ^ Spoto 2001, pp. 352–354.
  207. ^ Banner 2012, p. 310, for Logan.
  208. ^ Spoto 2001, pp. 354–358, for location and time.
  209. ^ a b c Churchwell 2004, p. 69.
  210. ^ Spoto 2001, pp. 358–359.
  211. ^ Spoto 2001, p. 372.
  212. ^ a b c Churchwell 2004, pp. 258–261.
  213. ^ a b Spoto 2001, pp. 370–379.
  214. ^ Banner 2012, pp. 310–311.
  215. ^ Spoto 2001, pp. 375–376.
  216. ^ Banner 2012, pp. 311–312.
  217. ^ Spoto 2001, pp. 368–373.
  218. ^ Banner 2012, pp. 310–314.
  219. ^ Banner 2012, p. 314, for being on time.
  220. ^ a b Banner 2012, p. 346.
  221. ^ Spoto 2001, pp. 381–382.
  222. ^ Spoto 2001, pp. 392–393.
  223. ^ Churchwell 2004, pp. 274–277.
  224. ^ Spoto 2001, pp. 389–391.
  225. ^ Banner 2012, p. 325.
  226. ^ Churchwell 2004, p. 626.
  227. ^ Churchwell 2004, p. 262.
  228. ^ Spoto 2001, pp. 399–407.
  229. ^ a b Churchwell 2004, pp. 262–266.
  230. ^ a b Banner 2012, pp. 325–327.
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  232. ^ Spoto 2001, pp. 406–407.
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  234. ^ "The top 50 Greatest Films of All Time". British Film Institute. September 2012. Retrieved September 5, 2015. 
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  237. ^ Churchwell 2004, p. 72.
  238. ^ Riese & Hitchens 1988, p. 270.
  239. ^ a b c Churchwell 2004, p. 266.
  240. ^ Banner 2012, p. 335.
  241. ^ Spoto 2001, pp. 429–430.
  242. ^ a b Churchwell 2004, pp. 266–267.
  243. ^ a b Spoto 2001, pp. 431–435.
  244. ^ Banner 2012, p. 352.
  245. ^ Spoto 2001, pp. 435–441.
  246. ^ Banner 2012, p. 353.
  247. ^ Spoto 2001, pp. 443–445.
  248. ^ Banner 2012, pp. 355–356.
  249. ^ Spoto 2001, pp. 450–455.
  250. ^ Spoto 2001, p. 456.
  251. ^ Summers 1985, p. 196.
  252. ^ Banner 2012, p. 361.
  253. ^ "A film that fate helped make a classic: The Misfits". British Film Institute. June 17, 2015. Retrieved September 10, 2015. 
  254. ^ Spoto 2001, pp. 453–454.
  255. ^ Spoto 2001, pp. 453, for a new role, 466–467 for operations, 456–464 for psychiatric hospital stays.
  256. ^ Summers 1985, p. 202.
  257. ^ a b c d Spoto 2001, pp. 456–459.
  258. ^ Spoto 2001, pp. 464–465, 483, 594–596.
  259. ^ Churchwell 2004, p. 291.
  260. ^ Spoto 2001, pp. 465-470, 484–485.
  261. ^ Churchwell 2004, pp. 74–75.
  262. ^ Spoto 2001, pp. 495–496.
  263. ^ Churchwell 2004, p. 258, for the involvement of MMP.
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  265. ^ a b Spoto 2001, pp. 520–521.
  266. ^ a b Churchwell 2004, pp. 291–294.
  267. ^ Spoto 2001, p. 523.
  268. ^ Churchwell 2004, p. 74.
  269. ^ a b c Churchwell 2004, p. 75.
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  271. ^ Churchwell 2004, pp. 285–288.
  272. ^ Spoto 2001, p. 535.
  273. ^ Churchwell 2004, p. 285.
  274. ^ Spoto 2001, pp. 538–543.
  275. ^ Banner 2012, p. 401.
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  277. ^ a b c d Spoto 2001, pp. 574–577.
  278. ^ a b c d Spoto 2001, pp. 580–583.
  279. ^ a b c d e Banner 2012, pp. 411–412.
  280. ^ Banner 2012, p. 411.
  281. ^ a b Banner 2012, p. 427.
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  283. ^ "Brilliant Stardom and Personal Tragedy Punctuated the Life of Marilyn Monroe". The New York Times. August 6, 1962. Retrieved September 23, 2015. 
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  285. ^ a b c d Banner 2012, pp. 427–428.
  286. ^ Churchwell 2004, pp. 297–318, for different theories proposed by Spoto, Summers, Brown & Barham, and Donald Wolfe.
  287. ^ Churchwell 2004, pp. 88, 300.
  288. ^ Spoto 2001, pp. 605-606.
  289. ^ Spoto 2001, p. 606.
  290. ^ Churchwell 2004, p. 33.
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  292. ^ a b Banner 2012, pp. 172–174.
  293. ^ "Model Arrangement". The Smithsonian. May 2008. Retrieved September 11, 2015. 
  294. ^ Spoto 2001, pp. 172–174, 210–215, 566.
  295. ^ Churchwell 2004, p. 9.
  296. ^ Banner 2012, p. 238.
  297. ^ Banner 2012, pp. 38, 175, 343.
  298. ^ Churchwell 2004, pp. 21–26, 181–185.
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  303. ^ Churchwell 2004, pp. 25, 57–58.
  304. ^ Dyer 1986, pp. 33–34.
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  306. ^ Churchwell 2004, p. 57.
  307. ^ Banner 2012, pp. 44–45, 184–185.
  308. ^ a b Harris 1991, pp. 40–44.
  309. ^ Dyer 1986, p. 45.
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  312. ^ Gledhill 1991, p. 58, from inclusive work, "Charisma" by Dyer, Richard (1979).
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  320. ^ Banner 2012, p. 184.
  321. ^ Banner 2012, p. 8.
  322. ^ Handyside, pp. 1-16.
  323. ^ Handyside, p. 2.
  324. ^ Mulvey 2001, p. 13.
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  327. ^ Solomon 2010, p. 110.
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  331. ^ "Beatles name 'icons of century'". BBC. October 16, 2005. Retrieved September 10, 2015. 
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External links