The Incredible Life Of Marilyn Monroe

The Incredible Life Of Marilyn Monroe

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"I want to grow old without face-lifts; I want to have the courage to be loyal to the face I have made. Sometimes I think it would be easier to avoid old age, to die young, but then you would never complete your whole life, would you? You would never wholly know yourself." (Monroe) Although this statement didn’t come true, Marilyn Monroe had a memorable life filled with many ups and downs. Who would think that such a successful young woman had such an unstable life?
On June 1, 1926 a baby girl was born to Gladys Mortensen at 9:30 a.m. in Los Angeles, California. No one is sure who her father is because her mother was with many men at the time she got pregnant, but believe it was either Martin Edward Mortensen or Charles Gifford. Her birth name was either Norma Jeane Baker or Norma Jeane Mortensen; know to us as Marilyn Monroe. She has two older half-siblings on her mothers side that she has never met.
Almost immediately after giving birth, Gladys Mortensen brought Norma to live with Ida and Albert Bolender, who raised her until she was seven years old. It isn’t clear why Gladys had someone else raise her little girl, but being a single mother working in the Great Depression wasn’t easy. Others believe she simply didn’t have the interest or commitment to raise a child.
In 1933, after Norma’s 7th birthday, her mother took her back from foster care and decided that she would try raising her on her own. They never had a stable place to live and Norma wasn’t used to the rowdiness and all the drinking in her new home. Several months later Gladys began to be very depressed and avoid all the people around her. She was unable to deal with her life and entered a rest home and then the hospital.
The rest of Norma’s life would now be filled with chaos since she didn’t have anywhere to go besides foster homes. In 1935, when Norma was nine her mother was declared legally insane. Grace McKee, Gladys’ best friend; applied to be Norma’s legal guardian. While waiting for the court to appoint a new guardian, she was sent to live in the Los Angeles Orphans Home until she was eleven.
In 1937, McKee and Ervin “Doc” Goddard married and became Norma’s guardian. After six months with “Aunt Grace” and family, she was sent to live with distant relatives in Compton.

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This was probably due to the speculations that Goddard may have attempted to molest her. “At first I was waking up in the morning at the Goddards’ and thinking I was still at the orphanage. Then, before I could get used to them I was with another aunt and uncle, waking up and thinking I was still at the Goddards.” (Monroe 25)
At age twelve she returned to Los Angeles and went to live with Grace (McKee) Goddard’s aunt, 58-year-old Ana Lower. “She was the first person in the world I ever really loved…She was the only one who loved and understood me.” (Monroe 26) At the end of her ninth grade Lower had developed health problems forcing Norma to go back and live with the Goddards. During her first year of high school, Doc Goddard was being transferred to West Virginia and the family was moving too. They decided it would be best to leave Norma, and since Aunt Ana’s health had improved she would move back in with her. She never returned to school after beginning the second semester.
In 1941 Norma became good friends with Jim Dougherty, her neighbor. They decided to begin dating even though he was five years older. After being together for six months and Norma finally reaching the legal age to marry (sixteen in the state of California at that time), they wed on June 19, 1942. “Our marriage may have been in some place short of heaven, like in the minds of two older ladies, but there was no pretense in how Norma Jeane and I felt about each other once we’d formed that partnership.” (Dougherty 28) She spent the first year of their marriage as a housewife, and then Jim joined the Merchant Marines so they moved to Catalina Island where he was stationed. In 1944, Jim was sent to the South Pacific with the other Merchant Marines.
With Jim gone she began to work at a manufacturer with Jim’s mother called the Radioplane Company. She worked in the “dope room” making twenty-dollars a week (the nations minimum wage). While working she was spotted by a photographer named David Convor who was taking pictures of women helping the war cause. He said that Marilyn was a “photographers dream.” Convor started sending her modeling jobs. Norma now had to choose between Jim and her career, she choose her career, causing them to get a divorce in 1946.
She began to model in 1946 to earn some extra money. Norma had been modeling for seven years, and then decided to move to Hollywood to further pursue her career. Two years later she became a popular model with many magazines.
Norma wanted to do something more with her career and enrolled in a drama class. She signed her first contract with Twentieth Century Fox on August 26, 1946 and decided to dye her hair blonde and changed her name to Marilyn Monroe. She was now making one hundred and twenty-five dollars a week. “She projected an enchanting contrariness on the screen; innocent one minute, naughty the next, and always desirable.” (Luce 32)
In 1947 she played in her first movie, “The Shocking Miss Pilgrim”. She played tiny parts in movies until the 1950’s when she played a small but important role in “The Asphalt Jungle”. Her role in the movie “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” brought her stardom in 1953. She then played in popular movies such as “All About Eve,” “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,” “Don’t Bother to Knock,” “The Seventh Year Itch,” “Some Like it Hot,” and “How to Marry a Millionaire.” Her first actual lead role was in “Don’t Bother to Knock”
Marilyn was in the first issue of Playboy, it sold 54,175 issues. This helped make her the premier sex symbol of the fifties.
After dating famous baseball star Joe DiMaggio for two years, they married on January 14, 1954. While they were on their honeymoon in Tokyo, Japan she preformed for the troops. Her presence almost caused a riot because it was during the war. This whole event made Joe uncomfortable and they decided to divorce on October 27, 1954, after nine months. It’s said that they divorced because of a “conflict between careers.” They stayed close friends after their divorce.
The “Seven Year Itch” was being shot in New York in 1955, thousands of fans gathered on a street corner at 2:00 a.m. to watch and cheer as they filmed and photographed the famous skirt blowing scene due to the air from a subway vent. Hundreds of professional photographers came to watch Marilyn pose. She continued to pose for more than two hours just for her fans to get a glimpse.
She then moved from Hollywood to New York to pursue a serious acting career. In 1956 Marilyn started her own motion picture company. “Hollywood’s a place where they will pay you a thousand dollars for a kiss, and fifty cents for your soul.” (Monroe)
In 1957 Monroe became pregnant by Arthur Miller and miscarries her baby and decided to take a break from acting. She then returned and started in “Some Like it Hot” and went on to win a Golden Globe award for her performance. She becomes pregnant by Miller in 1959 and miscarries again. Marilyn then married for the third time on June 29, 1956 to famous playwright Arthur Miller. In 1961, Arthur wrote a special part just for Marilyn in the film “The Misfits.” This would be Marilyn’s last movie. They then divorced on January 20, 1962. . “On-screen, she was usually happy and energetic; off-screen she was a complex, often unhappy young woman, obsessed with becoming a serious actress and uncomfortable with a public image that had become impossible to control.” (Unknown 36)
During 1962 Marilyn met John F. Kennedy. A relationship began to grow between Marilyn and John F. Kennedy. Later that year, Marilyn moved to a new home in Brentwood. She choose this home to be closer to JFK and her doctor. Marilyn’s doctor was delivering therapy for her abuse of sleeping pills. Marilyn had overdosed on sleeping pills before and had to be revived. She also had her stomach pumped for drugs frequently over the past few years. “Sometimes [fame] makes you a little bit sad because you’d like to meet somebody kind of on face value. It’s nice to be included in people’s fantasies, but you also like to be accepted for your own sake.” (Monroe 36)
Bobby Kennedy started to gain an attraction to Marilyn but she had her heart set on John Kennedy. John would go and visit her at her house and they would see each other at the Lawfords. They were caught by one of Kennedy’s advisor making love in a bathroom. They also talked frequently on the phone. Marilyn has hoped that JFK would divorce Jackie Kennedy. She had told her friends she imagined herself as the first lady.
In April of 1962 Marilyn began to work on the movie “Something’s Got to Give.” Monroe was fired from this movie due to a production disaster and the movie was never finished. She then performed for John F. Kennedy’s birthday at Madison Square Garden. Marilyn had to be sown into the dress that she would wear that night when she sang to JFK. He thanked Marilyn for singing to him in such a “sweet and wholesome way.”
During the summer of 1962 Marilyn was told to stop all contact and relationships with the Kennedy brothers. Marilyn was destroyed and her heart was shattered. She became extremely depressed and wanted to confess about her relationships with the brothers. The Kennedy’s paid her a million dollars to keep it a secret.
Marilyn’s career was said to be at the highest ever and she was working on a number of new film products that were thought to be very successful. She was extremely excited about working on these.
The weekend before her death she spent the weekend in Lake Tahoe with her second husband Joe DiMaggio. There was a rumor that they had planned to re-marry. Since the Kennedy brothers wanted to be sure Marilyn didn’t say anything to the press, they sent people to follow her and DiMaggio.
The following weekend after Lake Tahoe with DiMaggio, she was found dead in her Brentwood house. She had over dosed on fifty Nembutal sleeping pills that her doctor had prescribed the day before. Marilyn committed suicide at 3:50 a.m. on August 5, 1962 at the age of 36. Many believe she was murdered because she knew too much, but no one has been able to prove this to be true.
Marilyn Monroe was a beautiful and talented person, it’s a shame that her life came to end when she was so young and at such a high point in her career. “The curves, blonde hair, and enigmatic pout were part of Marilyn Monroe’s glamorous yet wistful appeal. Combined with her comedic talent in such films as “Some Like it Hot,” they made her an American legend.” (Unknown 36) She is now the most written about film star in history and it’s obvious why.

Works Cited
Monroe, Marilyn. “Icons of an Era: Unforgettable People.” The American Dream. Alexandria: Time-Life Books, 1998: 36
Unknown. “Icons of an Era: Unforgettable People.” The American Dream. Alexandria: Time-Life Books, 1998: 36
Monroe, Marilyn. Marilyn Monroe. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1995.
Luce, Henry R. “Marilyn Monroe.” This Fabulous Century 1950-1960. New York: Hornfischer Literary Management: 1970.
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