No matter how many try to take the mantle, Marilyn Monroe remains the ultimate classic Hollywood story, equal parts glamorous and tragic. Born Norma Jeane Mortenson in 1926, she had a heartbreaking childhood before bursting into the world of pin-up modelling and eventually, Hollywood. Although she only acted for about a decade, Monroe became incredibly famous—only to suddenly pass at just 36 years old.
This is the fast and furious life of Hollywood's most iconic star.
On June 1, 1926, Marilyn Monroe entered the world as little "Norma Jeane"—and even from the get go, she was already scandalous. Her mother, Gladys Mortenson, had already divorced one husband and separated from another before her daughter was conceived, meaning that young Norma was illegitimate. Fair warning, everyone, from here on out, Monroe's childhood just gets worse and worse. You've been warned.
Unfortunately for Monroe, even with her dad gone, she couldn't look to her mother for love and comfort. Gladys was not really prepared to be a single mother. As a soon-to-be-divorced lady in the 1920s, she struggled with paying her bills and, even worse, she also had numerous mental health issues. On top of these difficulties, taking care of a newborn was just too much for Gladys. Eventually, she placed her daughter in foster care.
Monroe spent her early childhood years with an evangelical Christian family, the Bolenders. Meanwhile, her mother supported her from afar by working odd jobs in Hollywood. After a few years of stability, when Marilyn was seven years old, Gladys re-entered her life and gave the single mom lifestyle a try. Unfortunately for both Marilyn and Gladys, this would prove to be a disastrous idea.
Gladys really tried to make things work. She used an assistance program to purchase a home and became a landlady, on top of working her other jobs. But, like her famous daughter, Gladys had severe mental health issues. When she learned that her young son from a previous marriage had passed at just 13 years old, Gladys began to break with reality. And from there, things only got worse.
Gladys's grief manifested in a heartbreaking form. Instead of drawing little Marilyn closer, she became angry that Marilyn had lived while Jackie had died. Then, because tragedies seem to come in threes, Gladys learned that her grandfather had hung himself and she lost her job. By 1934, when Marilyn was eight years old, her mother began ranting and raving. Eventually, someone called the authorities. They carted Gladys off to a psychiatric ward and left Marilyn to the foster home system.
While her mother was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and shuttled around various hospitals, Marilyn's already-tumultuous childhood became even more difficult. She lived at an orphanage, where she felt unwanted, and later on, with twelve sets of foster parents. If you think this means things get better for Marilyn, oof, think again. Young Monroe went from being neglected to receiving the absolute worst kind of attention.
Monroe's first new family was a complete nightmare. While under their "care", her foster father asked her to come see him in his room. Then he shut the door, said, "Now you can’t get out," and proceeded to abuse Marilyn. Understandably, this horrific trauma had profound effects on Monroe, who was only 10 at this time. After the attack, her grades began to slip and she developed a severe stutter.
Monroe moved around the foster system for the rest of her adolescence. In one home, a foster parent took her behind a barn and abused her. In another, she was attacked by one of her sibling's boyfriends. Then, when she was 16, even more unrest entered her life. Her current family needed to move and they couldn't take Marilyn with them. She had to make a tough choice: Go back into an orphanage, or strike out on her own.
Marilyn decided that she was done with being a foster kid. Instead, she used her good looks to her advantage and levelled up to become a wife. On June 19, 1942, she married her neighbor's son James Dougherty so that she wouldn't have to go back to an orphanage after her foster family left the state. But there was a catch to this Hail Mary of a marriage...
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Because she was just 16, Marilyn had to drop out of high school to become a wife. This was quite a sacrifice and it, uh, didn't work out long term. When Monroe followed her new Marine hubby to Catalina Island, she quickly took up weightlifting and surfing. Why? Because this girl needed a hobby. Marilyn later said that being married to James was like "dying of boredom."
But let's not be too harsh on James. After all, he's a big part of why we even know the name "Marilyn Monroe." While in Catalina, Monroe worked on an assembly line at a munitions factory. During a shift, she caught the eye of a visiting photographer who'd been hired to get some morale-boosting pics of the attractive young ladies supporting the war effort. For Monroe, this encounter was a date with destiny.
In the end, Monroe's pictures weren't used, but the experience lit a fire underneath her. She decided that she didn't want to spend her days mouldering away in Catalina with a dull husband. Instead, she set to work becoming a model. In 1945, she left her first husband and kicked off her career as a pin up girl. Though this was a dramatic move, Marilyn was finally doing what she wanted.
It's a shame, then, that her old demons were about to reappear.
By 1946, Monroe was a working model with her eyes set on fame and fortune. However, all that got derailed when her mother re-entered her life. Gladys had been released from her latest psychiatric facility and decided to pay her daughter a visit. Sadly, she brought her troubles with her. Despite being unemployed, Gladys decided to dress as a nurse. She also treated Marilyn coldly, an attitude that culminated when she suddenly abandoned her daughter to marry an already-married man in Idaho. Gladys sure knew how to pick 'em.
In 1946, Marilyn Monroe had a lot on her plate. Her unhinged mother was back in her life, she was in the middle of divorcing her teenage sweetheart, and she was busy working on her modelling career. All these things were tough, but Monroe's commitment to her career may have been the most gruelling. While Monroe was already pretty, she began to fixate on her appearance. She exercised to try to lose some of her baby fat and famously began to dye her auburn hair blonde.
With her glamorous makeover nearly complete, Monroe began to break into Hollywood. In the late 1940s, she booked tiny roles like "Secretary" and "Extra at Square Dance" in minor movies. To add insult to injury, her scenes in one of her early flicks were left on the cutting room floor. However, her on-screen snubs didn't mean that Monroe wasn't getting other kinds of attention in Hollywood...
According to Charlie Chaplin's autobiography, when Marilyn Monroe wasn't busy filming bit parts, she was dating his son Charlie Junior throughout 1947. However, it seemed like Marilyn inherited her mom's penchant for messy love affairs. Chaplin claimed that Marilyn's relationship with his son abruptly ended when Charlie Junior caught her in bed with another man: his own brother, Sydney Chaplin.
Monroe wasn't just seeing the Chaplin brothers around this time. According to some sources, she also had a far less appealing liaison with the 69-year-old chairman of 20th Century Fox. In 1948, he agreed to give her a contract under one sinister condition: Whenever he called, she had to come over and "service" him. And because old Hollywood was often horrible to up-and-coming actresses, that wasn't all...
After Monroe's initial six-month contract was up, she expected that her days of exchanging intimate activities for acting roles were over. She was wrong. In order to renew her contract at Columbia, another studio executive tried to get Marilyn to agree to the same deal. When she refused, the studio promptly "declined" to give her another six months in front of the camera.
It took until 1948 for Marilyn Monroe to even begin to succeed in Hollywood. She appeared in a hit musical romance, Ladies of the Chorus, opposite the famous actress Adele Jergens. Adele and Marilyn got along famously—maybe because they shared a similar taste in men. Yup, Adele's boyfriend at the time, Milton Berle, later claimed that he and Monroe had a brief affair while on set.
Despite her good looks and her current status as one of Hollywood's brightest stars, Monroe didn't have an easy ride to the top. In fact, in 1949, after years of modelling and bit parts in minor movies, she was broke. Desperate, Marilyn agreed to take some nude photographs. Remember this, reader, because these racy pictures will come back to haunt Monroe.
In 1950, Monroe fully committed herself to achieving fame. Under the guidance of her agent, she had her front teeth altered so that they would jut out less and she began to whiten her already fair skin with hormone cream. She also agreed to have not one but two painful plastic surgeries. Monroe underwent a tip rhinoplasty that reshaped the end of her nose and paid doctors to insert a chin implant.
Though drastic, most of these procedures went well. However, one had bizarre side effects. Monroe's skin bleaching routine caused light blonde hairs to grow all over her face. Even when it caused a pseudo-beard, she refused to stop applying the lotions.
One of Monroe's more prominent early film roles was as Miss Caswell in All About Eve. While audiences loved her, Monroe's experience of actually filming the flick was just plain stressful. She was incredibly nervous and would intensely over-prepare her scenes. But then, when it came time to shoot, she'd blank on her lines and need multiple takes to get through a single scene. And that wasn't the only kind of drama she caused on set.
Monroe was horribly insecure and often felt like she was doing a terrible job. However, her male co-stars were happy to let her nerves slide. While filming All About Eve, Monroe's beauty and vulnerable charm apparently made her irresistible to her co-star. So much so that his wife, the notorious glamazon and maneater Zsa Zsa Gabor, kept "visiting" the set to keep an eye on Marilyn and make sure she wasn't stealing her actor husband away. Hey, if you can intimidate Zsa Zsa, you can do anything.
During her early days in Tinseltown, Monroe hustled. She appeared in 16 movies in just four years, and understandably, all this work began to take a toll on Marilyn. Before auditioning for yet another movie, she told her acting coach that she was beginning to hear voices in her head. It was the first sign of the mental instability that would follow Marilyn Monroe for the rest of her life.
In 1950, Monroe underwent another personal trauma. She had been dating her agent, Johnny Hyde, for about two years when he suddenly perished of a heart attack. Monroe wrote that in losing Johnny, she lost "her greatest friend." She was completely distraught, weeping continuously in her bedroom and howling his name at the funeral. Then, according to Monroe's acting coach, things got even worse.
At one point after Hyde's demise, Monroe's acting coach returned to their shared apartment, where she made a horrific discovery. She found Marilyn unconscious on her bed with thirty sleeping pills in her mouth. Thankfully, Monroe hadn't swallowed enough to harm herself. However, this wouldn't be Marilyn's only brush with a self-inflicted death.
Amidst all this turmoil, Marilyn was also hard at work filming what would be her true breakout movie: Clash By Night. She was poised for superstardom after she landed the lead role in the flick—only for everything to derail. Reporters got their hands on Monroe's risqué photos from 1949 and the press had an absolute field day. After the leak, Monroe was definitely famous—but not for being a great actress.
After the provocative photos caused such a splash, Monroe became an overnight screen siren. While the scandal would have sunk anyone else's career, Monroe took her new seductress image in stride. When reporters asked her, "Marilyn, is it true that you had nothing on?", she cleverly quipped, "No, that's not true. I had the radio on."
Looking back, maybe the reason that the photos didn't trouble Monroe more was because she had to deal with a far more heartbreaking event.
As Monroe's star ascended, she decided to finally reach out to the man that she believed to be her biological father: Charles Stanley Gifford. After searching for him for months, Monroe finally managed to get in touch, only for Gifford to brutally shut down her attempt at a family reunion. When he picked up the phone, he simply said, "Look, I’m married and I have a family. I don’t have anything to say to you. Call my lawyer." Thanks, dad.
Poor Marilyn. Even though her career was sky-rocketing at this time, her personal life was in a tailspin. In 1952, after years of suffering from incurable endometriosis, Monroe's pain was so unbearable that she had to have surgery. This was already scary enough, but it was even worse for Monroe, who was desperate to have children.
In a last-ditch plea to her doctor, she taped a note to her stomach, ensuring that he'd read it before he made the first incision. The letter begged Monroe's doctor not to remove her ovaries during the procedure.
While Monroe grappled with health issues and family drama, the public simply thought of her as the latest bombshell movie star. In 1953, Marilyn appeared in three hit movies and officially entered Hollywood's A List. However, despite all her success, she wasn't exactly raking in the dough. In Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Monroe made just 10% of her co-star Jane Russell's salary. Ouch. And that wasn't the only downside to Monroe's newly-hot career.
The studios wanted Monroe to be their new "blonde bombshell" but back in the 1950s, this was just code for "act like a dumb blonde." Monroe absolutely hated being typecast as a ditz because in reality, she was extremely intelligent. She had an IQ of 168 and spent most of her free time reading. But Marilyn knew that to become a star, she'd have to play along.
She leaned into her new image as a breathy sexpot, but she occasionally let her true feelings be known. She suggested a tart line in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes: "I can be smart when it's important, but most men don't like it." Tell em, Marilyn.
At this time, Monroe gained a bad reputation around the studio lots. Even though everyone like Marilyn, no one found it easy to work with her. Despite being a huge star, Monroe was still incredibly vulnerable and insecure. She had to have her overbearing acting coach with her all the time. If the coach didn't give Monroe's performance her seal of approval, Monroe would demand to re-shoot the scene up to forty times.
Amidst all this drama, Marilyn was busy in the romance department too. After her agent sent her up on a blind date with the baseball player Joe DiMaggio, Monroe fell fast and hard for the hunky athlete. On January 14, 1954, they headed to City Hall and tied the knot. Though they had a happy honeymoon, the couple would soon learn that they were a match made in hell.
DiMaggio was a homebody. Monroe liked going to classes and staying busy. This fundamental mismatch, along with their incredibly busy schedules, already strained their new marriage. But the real breaking point came when DiMaggio started interfering with Marilyn's films. He hated seeing her acting in highly sexualized roles and became so upset that he would just plain refuse to let her act in certain movies. And then things got worse.
While filming The Seven Year Itch, Monroe had a famous scene where she wears a white dress on top of a subway grate. As the train rushes by, the air lifts her skirt, leading to an iconic moment in cinema history. Because the crew shot the scene on a busy New York street, a crowd assembled and men hooted as Monroe revealed her legs and hips. The onlookers were delighted—but Joe DiMaggio was furious.
When DiMaggio saw his wife filming the provocative sequence, he became so angry that he could barely speak. He spluttered out, "What the hell is going on here?" When Monroe finished shooting, the couple went back to their nearby hotel room and immediately got into a screaming match that was so loud it woke their neighbors. When Monroe arrived on set the following morning, her arms were covered in bruises.
Despite her rocky marriage, Marilyn Monroe absolutely adored children and was actively trying to conceive a baby with DiMaggio. She already suffered from endometriosis and had an increased risk to miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies, so she knew conceiving would be hard. Given this background, DiMaggio's violent outbursts definitely didn't help Marilyn's attempts to get pregnant.
There was a huge mismatch between Monroe's sexpot image and her sad real life. While on the set of one of her movies, she became attached to one of her castmates—not a person, but a little raccoon named Bandit. During her breaks, Monroe would spend time cuddling the animal and chatting about her love of horses and dogs with the raccoon's trainer. There are many stories like this, all suggesting that Monroe was a sensitive and kind-hearted person. It's too bad that people treated her so poorly.
After spending just nine months married to Joe DiMaggio, Monroe called time on their relationship. When she filed for divorce, she cited a chilling reason for the split: "mental cruelty." When Monroe made the announcement to her adoring public, she was clearly distraught and began to cry in front of the crowd that had gathered to hear her speak.
Joe DiMaggio didn't want to end his marriage to Marilyn. He still loved her but he sure had a funny way of showing it. After they divorced, DiMaggio began to stalk Monroe. He'd wear disguises and wait in hotel lobbies, hoping to keep an eye on his ex. Then he went even further. He had Monroe’s phones tapped and would show up to her house at random intervals, just to see if she was with other men. Not cool.
In 1954, DiMaggio took his obsession with Monroe to the next level. He got in touch with a private investigator and tried to raid Monroe’s apartment, thinking he'd catch her with another man. However, DiMaggio's PI wasn't the sharpest tool in the shed. He and DiMaggio accidentally raided the wrong place and invaded the home of a 50-year old secretary named Florence Kotz. Nailed it, gents.
While DiMaggio was busy stalking Monroe and bashing in the doors of middle-aged secretaries, Marilyn Monroe was keeping busy with a far more pleasant activity. According to rumors, she rebounded by dating the hottest young actor in Hollywood: Marlon Brando. Get it, Marilyn!
In the same year, Monroe also took a stand against discrimination. When segregation laws barred the jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald from performing at Los Angeles nightclubs, Marilyn went out of her way to lend Fitzgerald a hand. She said that if management at a high-profile establishment let Fitzgerald perform, she'd sit in the front row for a week. Her plan worked: Fitzgerald and the club received tons of publicity. But soon enough, Marilyn's dramatic personal life would be back in the center of attention.
In 1956, just a year after divorcing Joe DiMaggio, Marilyn walked down the aisle for the third time. And no one could have seen her groom coming. Against all odds, the playwright Arthur Miller became Monroe's next husband—even leaving his previous wife to do so. The public was shocked by the mismatched new couple, which was the old Hollywood equivalent of the nerd marrying the prom queen. However, more surprises were in store...
1956 marked a major milestone for Marilyn Monroe. Not only was this the year that she finally dumped her overbearing acting coach, it was also the year that she officially went from Norma Jeane to Marilyn Monroe. She legally changed her name—but despite the fact that she'd been living as Monroe for years, the transition wasn't smooth. When a fan asked her to sign an autograph, Monroe had to ask how to spell her own name.
Most people thought that Arthur Miller was the luckiest guy in the world. But one person disagreed with them: Arthur Miller himself. He quickly regretted his marriage to Hollywood's most desirable woman, writing cruel things about Marilyn in his journal. Miller found his bride to be disappointing, clingy, unpredictable, and embarrassing. From there, things only got worse.
Unfortunately, Monroe found Miller's open notebook and gave into her curiosity. She read his real thoughts about their marriage felt heartbroken. And that's not all: According to some sources, Miller wanted to hurt his new wife. He purposely left the journal open to that specific page precisely so that Marilyn would know what he truly thought of her.
During this unhappy time, Monroe was still continuing her acting career. She filmed The Prince and the Showgirl, and while on set, her distress about her failing marriage was easy to see. Monroe's costumes had to be created in multiple sizes because her weight fluctuated wildly from one week to the next. The costume designer even credited Monroe's changing waistline with giving her "two ulcers." With the designer upset, Monroe proceeded to irritate the most important person on set: Her co-star and director, Sir Laurence Olivier.
Monroe and Olivier did not get along. From Olivier's side, Monroe was constantly late and had extreme trouble remembering her lines. From Monroe's side, Olivier was cold and judgmental. When he got fed up with her one day, he yelled at her, "Just be sexy!" and hit her where it hurt. Monroe was trying to be a real actress, not just a bimbo. The insult cut her to the quick.
Monroe's experiences on set were only made more turbulent by recent developments in her personal life. In 1956, 1957, and 1958, she and Arthur Miller conceived three times. Sadly, Monroe miscarried twice and suffered an ectopic pregnancy once. After her third failed pregnancy, she officially stopped trying to have a baby. For a girl who had always wanted to be a mother, the loss was earth-shattering.
Even as Monroe's personal life spiralled out of control, she continued to work. In 1958, she filmed one of her most famous movies: the acclaimed comedy Some Like It Hot. While the movie is a joy to watch, it was a complete disaster to film. Monroe was taking multiple medications to cope with her fragile emotional state and her insomnia, and the pills had a huge impact on her ability to work. It took her 60 takes to deliver the single line, "It's me, Sugar."
Unsurprisingly, Monroe's troubles made life hard for the cast and crew, and they quickly started to hate the blonde star. Monroe wasn't stupid and she could tell that people weren't exactly happy to see her. This, in turn, just made her even more erratic. Marilyn would refuse to come out of her trailer and dissolve into tormented wails while on set.
Worst of all, when it was time for a kissing scene between Monroe and actor Tony Curtis, he cruelly said that he’d “rather be kissing Hitler.” Jeez, tell me how you really feel Tony.
Somehow, the crew saved their biggest insult for after filming ended. When the director Billy Wilder threw a party for everyone involved in making the movie, he snubbed his star, Marilyn Monroe, by pointedly failing to send her an invitation. He then rubbed salt in the wound by talking smack about Monroe during press interviews for the film. In retaliation, Monroe called Wilder's home and asked his wife to deliver a brief message to the director: Billy Wilder could "go f*** himself." Iconic.
While Wilder and the crew of Some Like It Hot were definitely mean to Marilyn, they weren't completely wrong about her behavior. She was spiralling out of control and her erratic outbursts caused real trouble. Over the course of filming, her tardiness and lack of preparation had cost the studio half a million dollars. While she was still a huge box office draw, filmmakers were getting weary about hiring Monroe. In fact, she was supposed to play the lead in Breakfast at Tiffany's—but because of her behavior on other sets, the studio refused to hire her.
Amidst all this, Monroe was still a kind-hearted soul. While filming her next movie, Let's Make Love, she heard a crew member worrying about how he would manage to pay for his wife's funeral. Monroe quickly found a way to anonymously give the man $1,000 so that he could grieve his wife without worrying about the cost. However, good deeds weren't the only things Monroe gave out on the set of the movie...
By this point, Monroe's marriage to Arthur Miller was on its last legs. Feeling alone, unstable, and unloved, it's not surprising that Monroe fell into an affair with her married co-star Yves Montand. As though that wasn't scandalous enough, according to some sources, Monroe actually became pregnant with Montand's baby. Sadly, like all her other pregnancies, Marilyn never gave birth.
Somehow, even after this rollercoaster of a shoot, the on-set drama would be even wilder on Monroe's next film.
From the beginning, The Misfits was a disaster waiting to happen. The film's director, John Huston, was struggling with rampant alcoholism and often showed up to work already intoxicated. Two of the stars, Marilyn Monroe and Montgomery Clift, had mental health issues and depended on plentiful pills to get them through the day. Oh, and the film's writer was Arthur Miller—meaning that the shoot also made a deeply unhappy married couple spend a lot of time together.
With this set up, everything that could go wrong did go wrong.
To his credit, Miller wrote The Misfits in the hopes that working together would help him and Monroe reconcile. Instead, filming the movie broke them up for good. Just a couple weeks after they started filming, Miller and Monroe stopped sleeping in the same room and eventually refused to speak to each other altogether. If they absolutely had to talk, they would do so through Monroe's acting coach.
Monroe may have had an affair on the set of her last movie, but at least she had the decency not to flaunt it in front of her husband. While filming The Misfits, poor Marilyn had to watch her husband strike up a romance with the photographer Inge Morath. And that wasn't Miller's only "screw you" to his estranged bride...
According to some sources, Miller made Monroe's life miserable with a cruel betrayal. He allegedly exploited her insecurity and nervousness by waiting until the last possible second to give Monroe revised scripts. She already struggled with remembering her lines and these late deliveries didn't help matters. Without enough time to prepare, Monroe would panic and become distraught.
Monroe was already vulnerable at this point, and filming The Misfits may have pushed her over the edge. During production, Marilyn told her psychiatrist that she was hearing disembodied voices. To cope with her deteriorating mental state, she over-medicated and took three times the maximum dose of the sleeping pill Nembutal. The results of this prescription were catastrophic.
Marilyn Monroe always longed for a father figure, and during her time filming The Misfits, her one bright spot was in believing she had finally found one. While the crew treated Monroe horribly, her co-star Clark Gable, was always kind and generous. When he sadly passed just a few days after filming ended, Monroe wept for two days straight.
Shocker: By November 11, 1960, Miller and Monroe finally threw in the towel and announced that they had divorced. The split should have marked a new beginning for Marilyn, but unfortunately, things just devolved even more. A few months later, in February of 1961, Monroe told a friend that she had thought about ending her own life by jumping off her apartment balcony.
Shortly after Monroe began to experience suicidal thoughts, she hit yet another low. Her psychoanalyst had her committed to a psychiatric ward against her will. Monroe thought she was headed to a place where she could rest and recuperate. Instead, she was forced into a padded cell and threatened with a straightjacket. Instead of helping Monroe, her experience at the institution was one of the darkest moments in her life.
In recently uncovered letters, Monroe wrote about the "inhumanity" she discovered in the psychiatric ward. According to Monroe, she was treated like she was sub-human. In a desperate attempt to escape, she had to break a glass pane and threaten to harm herself unless the staff released her. While her gesture didn't work, Monroe thankfully did get out. Her ex-husband Joe DiMaggio rescued her in her time of need.
Marilyn Monroe seems to have led two completely different lives. In one, she's a struggling addict with a dark history. In another, she's a glamorous movie star with an endless list of lovers. Case in point: while Monroe plunged into a deep depression, she also found time to go on dates with Frank Sinatra (who was, awkwardly, the best friend of her ex-husband Joe DiMaggio) and even to pursue the most famous man in America: the President himself.
In May of 1962, the blonde bombshell serenaded President John F. Kennedy with a famously breathy version of "Happy Birthday", immediately launching rumors that the two were more than friends. Nowadays, most historians believe that the gossip got it right. According to multiple sources, Kennedy and Monroe really did have a passionate affair—and soon it culminated in a dramatic face-off between JFK's wife and mistress.
A recent book on Jackie Kennedy claims that Monroe called the First Lady and told her that JFK had promised to marry her. Jackie played it cool, saying, “Marilyn, that’s great . . . you’ll move into the White House and you’ll assume the responsibilities of first lady, and you’ll have all the problems.” Well, that didn't end up happening—but not for the reason you might expect.
Monroe and Kennedy's affair didn't result in a long-term relationship for many reasons—but the juiciest of all just has to be this: Marilyn was keeping a secret. She wasn't just romancing John F. Kennedy; she was also seeing his younger, more sensitive brother Bobby Kennedy at the same time. Remember the Chaplin boys back in the 1940s? It looks like Marilyn has a thing for brothers.
Despite her breakdowns, Marilyn Monroe never fully let her sultry persona slip. Among female studio employees–wardrobe mistresses, hairdressers, make-up artists–Monroe often preferred to walk around in the nude. She also gave interviews without any clothing on and often went out wearing nothing under the black mink coat that Joe DiMaggio had given her during their marriage.
Despite the brief uptick in Monroe's love life, in the early 1960s, her mental health issues were as bad as ever. Her makeup artist revealed that when Monroe felt especially bad, she couldn't bear to even sit up. He would apply Marilyn's makeup as she lay, listless, in her bed. Even in this state, though, Monroe forced herself to work: She signed on for Something's Got To Give.
Monroe had no idea that it would be her very last film.
In 1962, Twentieth Century-Fox fired Marilyn Monroe from the production of Something’s Got to Give. Her chronic lateness and frequent absences (she didn’t actually show up for the first two weeks of filming) had already cost the movie thousands of dollars. As a sign of her continuing star power, Monroe signed another contract with Fox immediately after getting booted from the set—but sadly, she'd never make another movie.
Warren Beatty was one of the last people to see Marilyn Monroe alive. A 25-year-old Beatty met her at a producer’s home during a party. According to a 2016 interview with Beatty, the two of them spent the evening together, which involved Beatty playing piano for Monroe and the pair taking moonlit walk along the shore. The very next day, Monroe was gone.
On August 5, 1962, Marilyn Monroe's lifeless body was discovered at her home on in Brentwood, California. She was lying in her bed with a phone in one of her hands. At the time of her demise, Monroe was just 36 years old. While the coroner believed that Monroe had "probably" took her own life by overdosing on barbiturates, some details have made people wonder if the star suffered a darker fate.
Technicians only tested the toxicology of Monroe's liver. When the deputy coroner tried to obtain her other organs for testing, he was told they’d been destroyed. Strange details like this have become part of the many conspiracy theories surrounding the star's untimely death. Some sources (including her old friend Marlon Brando) believe that she was murdered.
The most well-known theories are that Bobby Kennedy or the CIA ended Monroe's life. Kennedy's motivation would have been to keep Marilyn quiet about her affairs with him and his brother. The CIA's motivation would have been to punish Bobby Kennedy over how he handled the Bay of Pigs disaster. However, as of 2020, these remain conspiracies, not proven statements.
There was an open casket at Monroe's 1962 funeral. In her coffin, Monroe wore an apple green dress made of nylon jersey and carried pink roses. Sadly, because her head had been partially shaved during the autopsy, Monroe's signature platinum blonde hair could note be displayed. Instead, the star wore a wig. Only around 30 people saw Monroe in this state, as she requested that her funeral be limited to her close friends and family.
Remember when DiMaggio stalked Monroe and accidentally kicked in the door of an innocent secretary? Well, to DiMaggio's credit, this dark episode scared him straight. He began to confront his personal demons and eventually, he and Monroe became close friends. When she passed in 1962, he was completely devastated. He'd always thought that they'd eventually reconcile and be together again. Instead, he was the one who arranged her funeral.
For twenty long years after Marilyn’s death, Joe DiMaggio sent roses to her crypt three times a week. He outlived her by 36 years but in all that time, he never married again. His last words were apparently, “I’ll finally get to see Marilyn.” As if this story needed to get even sadder, there's a heartbreaking reason for DiMaggio's lifelong inability to get over Marilyn. Apparently, at the time of her demise, they had gotten back together and even planned to remarry.
In the years after Monroe's demise, many artists have paid tribute to the star. Some are sweet, like Elton John's song "Candle In The Wind" and the many homages to Marilyn's hot pink dress in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Some are a little creepy, like Hugh Hefner buying the crypt next to Monroe's grave. But one "homage" was just plain mean.
Arthur Miller’s 1964 play After the Fall is thought to be a thinly veiled portrayal of his marriage to Marilyn. Suffice it to say that Miller's portrayal of his ex-wife wasn't exactly generous. In fact, the writer James Baldwin walked out of the show because he thought that “Maggie,” the character that was clearly based on Monroe, was written so cruelly.
The bombshell revelations about Monroe's tragic final years didn't end with her demise. In 1972, an actress named Veronica Hamel bought Marilyn’s old house. She claimed that when she was renovating the home, she made a shocking discovery. She uncovered an extensive system of wire-taps. For years, people had wondered if the FBI, CIA, and/or the Mafia had bugged Monroe's home. With this discovery, it looked like at least one of them had.
The beaded gown Marilyn wore when she sang Happy Birthday to President Kennedy sold in 1999 for £820,000. At the time, it was the record price for a single item of clothing. Over a decade later, though, Monroe broke her own record when her billowing white Seven Year Itch dress sold for £2.8 million. Later on, Mariah Carey bought her white baby grand piano for $662,500.
Many, many, many books have been written about Marilyn Monroe. But only one penned by her old friend Charles Casillo, contains this claim. It's common knowledge that Monroe was obsessed with meeting her biological father—but few people realize just how twisted her fixation really was. Once, at a party, Monroe told Casillo that she wanted to put on a black wig, pick up her father in a bar, and make love to him.
After the deed was done, she planned to ask him, “How do you feel now that you have a daughter that you’ve made love to?”
My mom never told me how her best friend died. Years later, I was using her phone when I made an utterly chilling discovery.
Madame de Pompadour was the alluring chief mistress of King Louis XV, but few people know her dark history—or the chilling secret shared by her and Louis.
I tried to get my ex-wife served with divorce papers. I knew that she was going to take it badly, but I had no idea about the insane lengths she would go to just to get revenge and mess with my life.
Catherine of Aragon is now infamous as King Henry VIII’s rejected queen—but few people know her even darker history.
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