An essay by Heather Lindley, Upland High School
In a quiet room the words “Marilyn Monroe” are muttered and heads turn, people suddenly reminded of the actress/ sex-symbol tune in to hear the gossip. Scenes like this would have been typical back in 1950’s, but even today people are still on the edges of their seats to hear more. The words Hollywood Glamour go along with Marilyn just as well as Bloomingdale’s and a credit card. Along with most people Marilyn did go through rough times, but most of the time she was the girl every girl wanted to be and the woman every man wanted to be with. From stardom to the Kennedy scandal, Marilyn believed in living life to its fullest.
Norma Jean Baker, better known as “Marilyn Monroe”, was born June 1,1926 in Los Angeles to Gladys Baker. Marilyn’s mom, Gladys, worked as a film cutter at RKO studios, soon people discovered Gladys had a physiological problem and admitted her into a mental institution, Gladys was not the first it ran in the family starting from Marilyn’s great grandfather. Gladys’s best friend, Grace McKee took Marilyn in. After several years Grace put Marilyn in an orphanage after her husband made sexual advances toward Marilyn. “Gladys had some how communicated the notion that as an illegitimate child Norma Jean was the embodiment of her own sins and had to be snuffed out”(Leaming, Barbara: Marilyn Monroe, 54). Marilyn started to believe her mom as time went by, Grace put Marilyn in a series of foster homes, a number of which she was sexually assaulted. After a while Grace gave up and took Marilyn in again, only this time she was going to teach Marilyn not only how to be sexy but how to be a star. For most of Marilyn’s childhood she dreamt of being on the big screen, Grace taught her that being sexy was okay, so Marilyn started to flirt and attract all men that had any connection to fame.
On June 19,1942 Marilyn married Jimmy Dougherty, whom she had been dating for six months. Jimmy and Marilyn stayed married for two years but then Jimmy joined the Merchant Marines and was sent off to the south pacific. After Jimmy left Marilyn started work at the Radio Plane Munitions factory in Burbank.
Several months later, photographer David Conover saw her while taking pictures of women contributing to the war for Yank magazine. He couldn’t believe his luck. “She was a photographer’s dream” (David Conover). He used her for the shoot and then began sending modeling jobs her way. The camera loved Marilyn, and within two years she was a highly regarded model with many popular magazine covers to her credit. When Jimmy returned in 1946 Marilyn had to make a choice, the family life she always wanted with Jimmy or the stardom she always dreamt of herself! Marilyn divorced Jimmy in June of 1946, and signed her first studio contract with Twentieth Century Fox on August 26, 1946. “My 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.”(Marilyn Monroe). Then Norma Jean dyed her hair blonde and then legally changed her name to Marilyn Monroe, Monroe being her grandmother’s maiden name. To Marilyn there was only one place to go, up!
Marilyn’s first major role was a small part in The Shocking Miss Pilgrim, in 1947. From then on Marilyn played small roles until The Asphalt Jungle in 1950. It provided her with enough media to get signed to All about Eve later that year. From then on Marilyn worked steadily in movies such as: Let’s Make It Legal, As Young As You Feel, Monkey Business and Don’t Bother to Knock.” It was her performance in 1953’s Niagara, however, that delivered her to stardom.” (Www.marilynmonroe.com/bio). Marilyn played Rose Loomis, a beautiful young wife who plots to kill her older, jealous husband. Marilyn’s success in Niagara was followed with lead roles in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and How to Marry a Millionaire. “ and at 27 years old she is undeniably the best-loved blonde bombshell in Hollywood.”(Photoplay magazine: 1953). Coming with Marilyn’s success of stardom came romance, during 1954-1962 Marilyn married Joe DiMaggio, famous baseball player, Arthur Miller, screenplay writer, and had plans to remarry Joe 2 days after her death, she even had alleged affairs with President Kennedy. On the early morning of August 5, 1962, 36-year-old Marilyn died in her sleep at her Brentwood, California home. The world was stunned. On August 8, 1962, Marilyn’s body was laid to rest in the “Corridor of Memories” at Westwood Memorial Park in Los Angeles, California.
Marilyn’s life is what inspires most actresses today; she had a vibrant spirit and true talent at just about anything she did. Today, the name “Marilyn Monroe” is equal with beauty, sensuality and sparkle. “I knew I belonged to the public and to the world, not because I was talented or even beautiful, but because I had never belonged to anything or anyone else.”(Marilyn Monroe)