Born Norma Jean Baker (1926 – 1962), Marilyn Monroe began her career as a model and landed her first film contract in 1946. She made her first appearance on the cover of Life magazine in April 1952, where she was described as “The Talk of Hollywood”. Marilyn was catapulted to fame after her picture appeared on the cover of the first Playboy magazine in 1953.
Without any acting experience, Marilyn became a Hollywood media star and a legend in a career that spanned 16 years and 29 movies.
Her story book wedding to baseball great Joe DiMaggio ended in divorce after just 274 days. Marilyn then married playwright Arthur Miller in 1956. Their union ended in divorce five years later. In Marilyn’s last film, “Misfits” in 1960, she co-starred with Clark Gable.
In the video at left, In 1962, Monroe sings the traditional “Happy Birthday to You” lyrics, with “Mr. President” inserted as JFK’s name in honour of the US president’s 45th birthday. It was to be one of her last major public appearances.
In 1997, Elton John performed a remake of a 1973 song, written for Marilyn, “Candle in the Wind” with music by Elton John and lyrics by Bernie Taupin. The remake was written and performed as a tribute to Diana, Princess of Wales. This version of the song was released as a single, reached No. 1 in many countries, and was a greater success than the original.
In 1999, Monroe was ranked as the sixth greatest female star of all time by the American Film Institute. In the years and decades following her death, Monroe has often been cited as a pop and cultural icon as well as an eminent American sex symbol
“I don’t mind living in a man’s world as long as I can be a woman in it.”
She was found dead by her housekeeper in the bedroom of her home in California at the age of thirty-six. The cause of death was ruled to be an overdose of barbiturates. Conspiracy theories surrounding the circumstances of her death abound to this day.
Joe DiMaggio had re-entered her life as her marriage to Miller was ending. He resigned his job with a military post-exchange supplier on August 1, 1962 to ask her to remarry him. She was found dead on August 5. He blamed the Kennedy clan for her death. For 20 years he had a half-dozen red roses delivered 3 times a week to her crypt. DiMaggio never married again.