Creator / Marilyn Monroe

"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"
Elton John, Candle in the Wind

The most famous of the "Blonde Bombshells".

Born Norma Jeane Mortenson 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.

Norma Jeane was working in a factory during World War II when someone took a picture of her for a magazine. This small event would eventually lead to her fame as the actress "Marilyn Monroe".

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 calendar, 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. She was also romantic penpals with Portuguese dictator Antonio De Oliveira Salazar.

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.

See also: actress Jayne Mansfield.

Do NOT confuse her with Marilyn Manson. Although, funny story, he DID actually take his first name from her.

Partial filmography:

"Tropes Are A Girl's Best Friend":

  • Alliterative Name
  • Aroused by Their Voice: Marilyn intentionally invoked this in all of her movies, and occasionally mocked at the time as being over the top. Nowadays, when a character speaks in a breathy, low voice, they're mimicking Marilyn whether they know it or not.
  • Beauty Mark
  • Conspiracy Theory: Her death is seen as a suicide, or in more extreme cases, i.e. Norman Mailer, a hit ordered by the Kennedy brothers. The sane consensus is that she died as a result of her dependancy on sleeping pills which she had taken as part of her acting regiment and she overdosed by mistake.
  • Short-Lived Big Impact: As Billy Wilder said, "There has never been a face with such voltage on screen with the exception of Garbo. We just happen to miss her like hell."
  • Dye Hard: Natural brunette, but she's probably the most famous blonde ever.
  • Everything's Sparkly with Jewelry: "Diamonds are a girl's best friend".
  • 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.) She would also sometimes respond, "Chanel No. 5", when asked similar questions.
  • Fountain of Expies: She's an iconic actress, to say the least.
  • Lady Snarker: Proof of her Hidden Depths, she'd sometimes give a quick and witty send-up of her sexualized public image. (See Getting Crap Past the Radar, above.)
  • Marilyn Maneuver: The Trope Namer, courtesy of The Seven Year Itch.
  • Method Acting: In 1955, she started attending Lee Strasberg's Actor's Studio and annoyed several directors with her personally selected acting coach appearing on set and directing her instead of the film-makers. Several commentators note that this stemmed from her self-imposed insecurity of wanting to break from her stereotypical "dumb blonde" image but they also state that her underrated talent as a natural actress (notably her gift for comic timing and slapstick) was hampered by the Method training. Her husband Arthur Miller in an interview with Peter Bogdanovich note  blamed the Method for her addiction to sleeping pills and eventual death.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Often cast as such.
  • Nice Girl: Aside from her personal issues and troubling behavior on sets, she was a genuinely kind person. Likewise, she also played nice girls in movies, her only villainous role being Niagara and she generally played sweet Innocent Fanservice Girl in films like Some Like it Hot, Let's Make Love, The Misfits.
  • 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: Wore several furs in her films.
  • Real Women Have Curves: As Cybil Shepherd famously said about her:
    "She had curves in places most other women don`t even have places."
  • 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.
  • Stage Name: Although Norma Jeane now has a glamorous connotation because of her.
  • The Woobie: invoked How Ray Davies describes her in "Celluloid Heroes"
    "But please don't tread on dearest Marilyn
    'Cos she's not very tough,
    She should have been made of iron or steel,
    But she was only made of flesh and blood."