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The Influence of Marilyn Monroe

Updated on August 12, 2014
Marilyn Monroe photographed by Frank Powolny, 1953.
Marilyn Monroe photographed by Frank Powolny, 1953.

"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 anyone or anything else." -Marilyn Monroe

From Rags To Riches

Marilyn Monroe should be remembered for much more than her radiant beauty. Born Norma Jeane Mortenson (soon changed to Norma Jeane Baker) on June 1st, 1926 she had a very unstable childhood. The young girl never knew her father and Norma Jeane's mother Gladys was diagnosed with mental illness while Norma Jeane was still a child. Gladys was sent away to an institution and could not care for her daughter. Norma Jeane spent most of her childhood in and out of a variety of foster homes and orphanages. The only time Norma Jeane got to escape from that life was when she stayed with a friend of her mother's named Grace. Norma Jeane enjoyed her time with Grace but when Grace was married she could no longer care for Norma Jeane. Norma Jeane married at 16 years old and avoided being sent back to the foster home.

While working in a Radioplanes Munitions factory while her husband was away as a Merchant Marine during World War II young Norma Jeane caught the eye of a photographer. He asked Norma Jeane if she had ever thought about modeling. The young girl who would later be known to the world as Marilyn Monroe soon took modeling jobs which progressed into small film roles until her big break in 1953.

If that is not a rags to riches story I just don't know what is. Marilyn went from foster homes to being the most iconic star of the 20th century.

Talk about a bombshell!

Marilyn Monroe had a career full of big surprises, and what was deemed scandalous behavior for the 1950s. Let's look at a chronological list of things in Marilyn's career that sent shock waves and made headlines:

  • (1952) Marilyn Monroe wears a scandalously low neckline as the Grand Marshall of the Miss America pageant.
  • (1953) Nude photos of Marilyn are released in the first issue of Playboy magazine. This was the first time a big Hollywood star was ever associated with posing for nude photographs, even if they were taken years prior to fame.
  • (1954) Marilyn weds Yankee baseball legend Joe DiMaggio.
  • (1955) Marilyn Monroe performers her now iconic blowing skirt scene for the film "The Seven Year Itch". Men and photographers whistled and yelled as her skirt came flying up to her waist from a gust of wind from a grate. The scene didn't even make it into the film because the onlookers made too much noise for them to use the film. The scene for the film was shot again on a sound stage and her skirt only goes up to her ankles.
  • (1955) Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio divorce. The reason for the divorce was because of a fight the couple had after Marilyn performed her skirt scene. Her husband did not appreciate men hollering at his woman like that.
  • (1956) Marilyn weds playwright Arthur Miller.
  • (1957) Marilyn defends her husband against talk of past communist behavior.
  • (1957) She suffers a miscarriage while filming "The Prince and the Showgirl".
  • (1959) "Some Like It Hot" is released in which Marilyn stars along Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis who play two band players dressed in drag to hide from the mob.
  • (1960) Marilyn has an affair with costar Yves Montand during the filming of "Let's Make Love".
  • (1961) She is hospitalized at Payne Whitney Psychiatric Clinic but released thanks to Joe DiMaggio a few days later.
  • (1962) Marilyn is fired from 20th Century Fox after missing several days of shooting "Something's Got To Give" due to illness. She would later to rehired.
  • (1962) Marilyn Monroe sings 'Happy Birthday' to President Kennedy at Madison Square Garden. The public was shocked at the seductive nature of her singing to him.
  • (1962) Marilyn Monroe died in her Brentwood home.

Marilyn Monroe as Lorelei Lee performing 'Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend' in 20th Century Fox's 1953 film "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes".
Marilyn Monroe as Lorelei Lee performing 'Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend' in 20th Century Fox's 1953 film "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes".

Marilyn's Influence is Everywhere

If you walk through a busy mall or down a city street there is a good chance that you'll walk by and see somewhere wearing a shirt with Marilyn's face on it. If you go to any electric store for example Hot Topic or Spencer's you'll find a ton of memorabilia related to Marilyn....shirts, glasses, lamps, wallets, lunch boxes, light switch covers, you name it!

I have collected hundreds of Marilyn related items and have seen it all. I've even come across a 5 foot tall pepper with Marilyn's face on it to advertise how hot the restaurant's Hot Banana Pepper Sandwich is. Yeah, no joke....that really happened.

Here are a few of the strangest:

  • Metal Marilyn Monroe candy bar holder
  • Bedroom slippers with plastic Marilyn heads on them
  • Marilyn herb grinders
  • Marilyn shoelaces
  • A cardboard head and arm of Marilyn to stick in your passenger seat window.

See, I told you I wasn't kidding.
See, I told you I wasn't kidding.

Leaving her handprints at Gramaun's Chinese Theatre (1953)

Marilyn's Marriages

Husband
Occupation
Years of Marriage
Jim Dougherty
Merchant Marine
1942-1946
Joe DiMaggio
Baseball star
1954
Arthur Miller
Playwright
1956-1961

Why do you think we remember Marilyn Monroe so much?

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Marilyn Monroe performing the iconic skirt scene for "The Seven Year Itch" (1955).
Marilyn Monroe performing the iconic skirt scene for "The Seven Year Itch" (1955).

“Please don't make me a joke. End the interview with what I believe. I don't mind making jokes, but I don't want to look like one. I want to be an artist, an actress with integrity.” -Marilyn Monroe

Fun Facts

  • In her personal time Marilyn enjoyed gardening, reading and writing poetry.
  • She never had a father of her own so Marilyn chose her father figures; Abraham Lincoln and Clark Gable.
  • Her look was influenced by her idol, the original blonde bombshell, Jean Harlow.
  • Her favorite meal was steak and a baked potato.
  • At the beginning of her career while living in New York she ate a lot of hot dogs because they were one of the few things she could afford at the time.

Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio on their wedding day (January 14th, 1954).
Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio on their wedding day (January 14th, 1954).

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