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Marilyn Monroe

On August 5, 1962, actress and blonde bombshell Marilyn Monroe was found dead in her Los Angeles home. Empty pill bottles scattered around the room and a brief investigation led police to conclude that Marilyn had purposefully overdosed on the sedative drugs prescribed to help her depression. The death was ruled a probable suicide.

Born 36 years earlier as Norma Jean Mortensen, Marilyn found herself raised by foster parents and orphanages—the result of having an emotionally unstable mother. She worked at an aircraft factory and at age 16 married a coworker, but they divorced only a few years later. 1944 saw Marilyn’s career begin in modeling. In 1946 she signed a contract with 20th Century Fox, taking the stage name Marilyn Monroe, but after acting a few bit parts she returned to modeling, famously posing nude for a calendar in 1949.

In 1950, her minor roles as a mistress in both The Asphalt Jungle and All About Eve finally brought attention her way. Her popularity as a beautiful blonde led Fox to sign a new contract with the actress, whose career began to skyrocket after performances in Love Nest (1951), Monkey Business (1952), and Niagara (1953). Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), How to Marry a Millionaire (1953), and There’s No Business Like Show Business (1954) secured her reputation as an international sex symbol. But she also demonstrated that she was more than just big blue eyes and a voluptuous figure; The Seven Year Itch (1955) showed off her comedic talents as well. It is in this movie that one can find Marilyn’s iconic scene: standing over a subway grate with her white skirt billowing around her.

Marilyn blown by the wind of a passing train

Marilyn married famous baseball player Joe DiMaggio in 1954, but the marriage only lasted eight months. Two years later she married playwright Arthur Miller, and in 1959 she gave a critically acclaimed performance in Some Like it Hot. Interestingly, her husband wrote The Misfits (1961), the movie in which Marilyn played her last role. She divorced Miller a week before the film opened. Throughout the rest of that year, Marilyn grew increasingly depressed and erratic, holing herself up in her LA home. Her maid and psychiatrist were the ones to find Marilyn sometime after midnight on August 5th, 1962. Despite her relatively short career, Marilyn Monroe still remains a huge cultural icon today.

Marilyn Monroe

For photos and more on Marilyn Monroe, check out this Fold3 page created by Clio. You can also read more about the details of her life here.