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Marilyn Moroe (1926-1962) was an American film star, whose scarred and insecure life, amid worldwide adulation, ended tragically with her suicide. She was born to unwed parents in Los Angeles, Calif., on June 1, 1926, and was called Norma Jean Baker. After an unhappy childhood spent mostly in foster homes and orphanages, she found work as a model and later as a bit player in motion pictures.
In the movies, she was touted first as a "dumb blond" and later as a "sex goddess," though with an appealing wholesomeness and vulnerability. She made motion pictures for several years but did not really claim the public's attention until she appeared in the Bette Davis vehicle All About Eve (1950). Her career still did not seem headed much of anywhere, however, until she played a waiflike creature in Don't Bother to Knock (1952). Niagara (1952) was an important advance, and she attained stardom in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953).
A string of box-office successes followed: How to Marry a Millionaire (1953), The Seven year Itch (1955), and Bus Stop (1956). In Some Like It Hot (1959), she displayed a real flair for comedy. Marilyn Monroe's last film, The Misfits, was released in 1961.
Ambitious to be a serious actress, Marilyn Monroe studied at the Actors Studio in New York City. She was troubled, however, by deep-seated anxieties, and her three marriages - to seaman James Daugherty, big-league baseball player Joe DiMaggio, and playwright Arthur Miller - all ended in divorce. Suspended by her studio for chronic absences and lateness, she died from an overdose of sleeping tablets in Los Angeles on Aug. 5, 1962. She immediately became a legend in the Hollywood pantheon.