Marilyn Monroe was born in 1926 as Norma Jeane Mortensen. At the age of sixteen she married her fist husband, James Dougherty. When he was away in the Merchant Marines, Marilyn was discovered at a Munitions Factory where she was working. The rest, as they say, is history.
Marilyn’s film career began in 1947 with a minor role in “The Shocking Miss Pilgrim”. She was shown on film in a few other minor roles before she landed Peggy Martin in “Ladies of The Chorus”. This film didn’t faire well, and when Marilyn went on to appear in “Love Happy” in 1950 with the Marx Brothers, she was finally noticed. Agent Johnny Hyde signed her.
Johnny was able to line up many films for Marilyn, landing her a seven-year contract with 20th Century Fox. She was in several films from 1950 through 1961. These included blockbusters: “The Asphalt Jungle”, “All About Eve”, “Some Like It Hot”, “Misfits” and “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes”.
In 1950 “The Asphalt Jungle” was released. The film was directed by John Huston, starred such Hollywood alum as Louis Calhern and Sam Jaffe, as Marilyn portrayed Angela Phinlay. Based on a novel, Jaffe’s character, Doc, was a burglar who worked with Calhern’s crooked lawyer to arrange a grand heist. It takes a bit of convincing to get his old gang together. With a music-less soundtrack, this film brings the viewer along for the caper and consequential capture of the gang one by one. “Asphalt Jungle” won several awards including Best Director and Best Motion Picture.
Also in 1950 Marilyn appeared as Claudia Caswell in “All About Eve”. Starring Ann Baxter and Bette Davis, this time-sequence film shows how monroe roofers Eve got to the point of winning an award. This film had the record of fourteen Academy Awards, winning six. The record held until 1997’s “The Titanic”. “All About Eve” remains in the top 100 movies of all time on many lists after receiving many other awards.
The musical “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” was released in 1953. Marilyn’s “Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend” was introduced here through her character Lorelei Lee. Jane Russell starred as Lorelei’s best friend Dorothy. The showgirls end up on an adventure through love, Paris, betrayal, theft, and finally marriage. The best reviews that Marilyn ever received were for this film.
Six years later the public was introduced to “Some Like It Hot”. Directed by Billy Wilder and co-starring Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis, the filming was plagued with problems from Marilyn. She would show up late, or not at all, became hostile and refused direction. She also suffered her second miscarriage. Despite all its problems, the film was voted Funniest Film of the 20th century by AFI. Marilyn, as Sugar Kane, sang “I Wanna Be Loved By You” in this film. The boys join an all girls’ band as they try to hide from the mob after witnessing a massacre.
The last film Marilyn Monroe was able to complete in her short life was 1961’s “The Misfits”. Playing a part strictly written for her by former husband Arthur Miller, Marilyn starred as Roslyn Taber. During filming in the Nevada desert, she kept coming down ill. Her co-star, Clark Gable, also made this movie his last as he died of a heart attack not soon after filming was finally completed. Cinematic reviews weren’t that flattering, however the acting reviews were superb. Roslyn was a divorcee on the rodeo circuit looking for employment.
All in all Marilyn Monroe completed thirty films in her career with the run ending with the uncompleted “Something’s Got To Give” in 1962. August of that year she was found dead in her home by a reported drug overdose. She was thirty-six years old.