Tuesday, July 3, 2012
History Lesson: Marilyn Monroe
I was watching the movie My Week With Marilyn a few weeks back and realized how little I actually know about the bombshell leading lady. She is, in fact, from an era long before our time (unless you were born before 1962).
Born Norma Jeane Mortenson in 1926 to an absent father and a mentally and financially unstable mother, Marilyn spent her childhood in various foster homes in the Los Angeles area. In order to prevent her from going back into the foster care system, in 1942 Marilyn married her then current boyfriend, James Dougherty, as her first of three marriages.
She began modeling while her husband was off at war, and dyed her natural brunette locks to her signature golden blonde. She caught the attention of a Twentieth Century Fox executive, who suggested changing her name to a more "sexy" and alliterative Marilyn Monroe. She and her husband divorced and shortly after in 1947, she landed her first small film role.
Marilyn quickly gained popularity among both producers and the public and continued her upward rise to fame in Hollywood. She starred in a number of big hit films that portrayed her as a "dumb blonde," catapulting her success as a comedienne and sex symbol. Her most notable films included How to Marry a Millionaire, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (in which she sang "Diamond's are a Girl's Best Friend"), The Seven Year Itch, Some Like it Hot, and The Prince and the Showgirl. She was briefly married to Joe DeMaggio in 1954, and then married playwright Arthur Miller in 1956.
While Marilyn's life seemed to be teeming with success and grandiose parties, there was an underlying negativity that pervaded her personal life and eventually lead to her death. She proved to be a rather difficult actress to work with, often having fits of stage fright and showing up late or not at all. In The Prince and the Showgirl, costar and director Laurence Olivier remarked that although Marilyn was quite the stunning actress, she was rather difficult to work with.
Despite winning an Academy Award for Some Like It Hot, Marilyn's health deteriorated and she began consuming large amounts of alcohol and seeing many different doctors to have access to a number of drugs. She and Arthur Miller divorced in 1961, and shortly after she spent some time in rehab facilities. On August 5, 1962, Marilyn was pronounced dead at her home in Los Angeles, with an autopsy confirming the death was due to acute drug poisoning and a probable suicide. She was 36 years old.
I put together a look based off the famous photo of her wearing a white plunge v-neck dress with the street vents blowing up the dress- yes, you know the one. Modern and classic at the same time, and with plenty of pretty baubles. It's perfect for a night of club hopping in Hollywood dodging paparazzi- or just drinks with the girls. Don't forget the red lipstick!