"It seems to me you lived your life like a candle in the wind
Never knowing who to cling to when the rains set in
And I would've liked to know you, but I was just a kid
Your candle burned out long before your legend ever did"
The most famous of the "Blonde Bombshells".
Born in 1926 to a mentally unstable mother and a missing father, she was placed with foster parents and lived there until she was seven. Her mother was bizarre and once tried to kidnap her from her foster parents by stuffing her in a bag. A few years later her mother bought a house and they lived together, but a few months later her mother had a mental breakdown (the first of many). She was then moved into foster care as a ward of the state and her later guardian Grace McKee was the one who got her into movies. However her guardian got married and she was sent to an orphanage, and then to a string of foster homes (it is unclear how many).
Several families wanted to adopt her but she ended up going back with Grace. Grace's new husband repeatedly attempted to sexually assault her and she was sent to her great-aunt Olive's. This didn't last long either because one of Olive's sons sexually assaulted her. She was moved to her aunt Ana's, who she had a good relationship with, but Ana had health problems and went back to live with Grace. This was also short since Grace's husband found a job elsewhere and wanted to move without her, and they ended up approaching her current boyfriend's mother so she could get married.
At 16 she married, but her husband was a Marine and was shipped to the Pacific, so she moved in with his mother.
Before then, she took up a successful modeling career after having dyed her brunette hair to blonde. She got some small acting jobs, but nothing big, although she did agree to change her name, which included taking on her grandmother's surname. At one point she posed nude for photos when she had no other jobs. These photos would end up on a calender, and eventually the first issue of Playboy. Marilyn headed off a scandal by admitting she posed, because she had no other way to pay her bills.
Her career took off over a number of films, but she also suffered from stage fright which eventually led to taking pills and booze to relax her.
She was briefly married to baseball star Joe DiMaggio and later to playwright Arthur Miller. Allegedly, she had an affair with John F. Kennedy. Her singing "Happy Birthday, Mr. President" in a slinky dress in 1962 is commonly referenced/parodied.
Behavior aside, she was also noted to be far more intelligent than people gave her credit for, and made sure she learned drama (she studied acting at The Actor's Studio). The Dumb Blonde persona she had on film was, in fact, acting.
During her marriage to Arthur Miller, she converted to Judaism, and may have continued her religious observance after the divorce.
She died in 1962 from an overdose of barbiturates. Her death was officially classified as a "probable suicide", but it would spark Conspiracy Theories for years to come.
- All About Eve
- Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
- How to Marry a Millionaire
- The Misfits
- The Seven Year Itch
- Some Like It Hot
- Abusive Parents: One day her mother returned and demanded her back and was refused because of her mental state. Her mother took her foster mother into the yard, ran in the house and locked the door. She stuffed Norma in a bag and tried to walk out with her, but her foster mother attacked her and Norma fell out during the fight, and her foster mother carried her back in the home. One of her foster parents sexually assaulted her.
- Alter Ego Acting: Allegedly, she could go out in public unnoticed until she needed to "switch on" her movie persona.
- There's no "alleged" about it - she really could switch her movie-star persona on and off at will. Several movie stars of the period, in their own autobiographies, have recounted how, the first time they met Marilyn at a party or some such event, they didn't know who the shy, quiet, pretty girl was until she was identified and introduced.
- One reason Marilyn loved New York City so much was that she could walk around in her "natural" persona, completely incognito.
- One interviewer was walking with her down the street, confused that no one seemed to recognize her. She then said, "Do you want to see her?" and changed her walk and the way she carried herself, and suddenly people were surrounding her.
- Audio Erotica: Marilyn Monroe had a whole persona she would put on not only to impress people, but help overcome a stutter she had. This famous voice was sometimes mocked during her early days, but is now ubiquitous with this trope.
- "Happy Birthday, Mister President..."
- Listen to her sing "Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend." She is able to do both the sweet Betty-Boop voice and the more husky type as well.
- "I wanna be loved by you, just you... nobody else but you..."
- Beauty Mark
- Brainy Brunette: Her natural hair color, and more or less actual her (she may not have been to college, but she wasn't stupid, and was actually an early film practitioner of Method Acting).
- Broken Bird: Considering everything that happened to her, this is understandable.
- Brother-Sister Incest: She was sexually assaulted by who could be considered her foster brother.
- Dark and Troubled Past
- Disappeared Dad: Her father seems to have been absent from her life.
- Dumb Blonde: Just on screen.
- She gravitated to intellectuals (including, of course, Arthur Miller), and was something of an autodidact. For instance, she was quite well-read on Abraham Lincoln, and befriended Carl Sandburg, the author of the classic Lincoln biography. And let us not forget the photo of Albert Einstein signed with "Thank you for everything" found in her belongings after her death.
- Though there is the story of her having incredible trouble remembering her lines for one scene of Some Like It Hot, until Billy Wilder arranged for them to be written inside drawers she was opening.
- Dye Hard
- Even the Girls Want Her: According to Marilyn, including Joan Crawford.
- Everything's Sparkly with Jewelry: "Diamonds are a girl's best friend"
- Foster Kid: Was one.
- Fur Bikini: Modeled in an ermine bikini as publicity for the film Love Happy.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: A radio interview asked "What do you have on when you go to bed?" Monroe: "The radio." (This quote is also attributed to her description of her nude photo shoot; see below.)
- Hair of Gold
- Hello, Nurse!: For a time, she was the number one sex symbol anywhere.
- Hidden Depths: She didn't keep it a secret in any way, a lot of people cannot see that Marilyn studied at the famed Actor's Studio which has trained some of the finest actors like Sally Field and Dustin Hoffman.
- Hollywood Pudgy: The heaviest she ever was (toward the end of her career) was 140 pounds, which for an average-sized woman is only slightly overweight.
- Informed Attractiveness/Seinfeld Is Unfunny: Some modern people look at a picture of her and wonder why older folks consider her to be so hot. This is for one reason: Monroe was mainly hot because of her personality and the way she moved, which you don't get from a picture. As always, Your Mileage May Vary. To many people, she remains one of the most beautiful women who ever lived.
- I Was Young and Needed the Money: Why those nude photos exist.
- Looking for Love In All the Wrong Places: Her three marriages.
- Joe DiMaggio certainly loved her; after she died, he would place fresh flowers on her grave every week, for twenty years. He never married again, never spoke to the press about her, and his last words were "I'll finally get to see Marilyn."
- Marilyn Maneuver: The Trope Namer.
- Ms. Fanservice: Often cast as such.
- Opera Gloves: The "Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend" production number in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is, along with Rita Hayworth's turn in Gilda, probably the most famous example of this trope in live-action film.
- Pretty in Mink: Had numerous furs, with photos of her in mink, fox, chinchilla, and ermine.
- Sexy Backless Outfit: Several costumes, including in Some Like It Hot and the famous "Happy Birthday" dress (you know, the one in the Smithsonian...).
- Sexy Walk: Her swaying walk was renowned (see her first scene in Some Like It Hot for a particularly good example). There's a pretty well-substantiated story that she would sometimes cut a small piece off the tip of one of her high-heeled shoes to accentuate that sexy wobble.
- Showgirl Skirt
- So Beautiful It's a Curse
- Someone to Remember Him By: Marilyn wanted to get pregnant before her first husband shipped out for World War II in case something happened to him. Fortunately, since this was before Babies Make Everything Better was popularized, he convinced her that this was in fact a terrible idea and that if anything did happen to him both she and the baby would be completely screwed over.
- Stage Name: Although Norma Jeane is a pretty glamourous name in its own right...
- What Could Have Been: Something's Got To Give, her last film project. While the studio did find a replacement actress after personal problems forced Monroe to quit, the entire production was canceled after she died.
- She and DiMaggio were in the middle of repairing their relationship when she died, and if she'd lived they could have remarried. This is one of the many reasons why some people don't believe she committed suicide.
- Wrench Wench: She first came to the public's attention after someone snapped a picture of her for a magazine while she was working in a factory in World War II.