The most famous of the Blonde Bombshells.
Marilyn Monroe (June 1, 1926 August 5, 1962) was born Norma Jeane Mortenson 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 at Reginald Denny's aviator factory during World War II when someone (apparently Ronald Reagan's photographer) 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 caused a scandal and nearly ruined her career when it ended up on a calendar, and eventually the first issue of Playboy. Marilyn headed off the scandal by admitting she posed, because she had no other way to pay her bills and by her natural charm and innocence winning everyone over.
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.
See also: actress Jayne Mansfield.
Do NOT confuse her with Marilyn Manson. Although, funny story, he DID actually take his first name from her.
Marilyn Monroe films with pages on TV Tropes:
- Love Happy (1949)
- All About Eve (1950)
- The Asphalt Jungle (1950)
- Clash by Night (1952)
- Monkey Business (1952)
- Niagara (1953)
- Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)
- How to Marry a Millionaire (1953)
- The Seven Year Itch (1955)
- The Prince and the Showgirl (1957)
- Some Like It Hot (1959)
- The Misfits (1961)
"Tropes Are A Girl's Best Friend":
- Alliterative Name: Invoked. When she was advised to change her name upon becoming an actress, she chose her mother's maiden name of Monroe, and although she wanted to base her first name on her actual first names, Norma Jeane, 20th Century Fox head of production Ben Lyon suggested "Marilyn Monroe", partly in homage to early 20th century Broadway actress Marilyn Miller and partly because he felt an alliterative name was more attention-grabbing.note
- Aroused by Their Voice: Marilyn intentionally invoked this in many 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.
- Ms. Fanservice: Films would often play up her sexiness, from focusing on her hip swaying walk, to putting her in outfits that emphasized her curves.
- In Gentlemen Prefer Blondes she tries to distract a court trial by doing Sexy Coat Flashing.
- The Seven Year Itch has a scene where she stands over a grate, and there is a gust of air making her skirt fly up. She revels in it instead of being embarrassed.
- In Some Like It Hot she is introduced from the waist down doing her sexy walk.
- Nice Girl: She played nice girls in movies, her only villainous role being Niagara and she generally played sweet Innocent Fanservice Girls in films like Some Like it Hot, Let's Make Love, The Misfits.
- Pretty in Mink: Wore several furs in both her films and publicity pictures.
- She wore a white fox wrap in How to Marry a Millionaire.
- In Gentlemen Prefer Blondes she wears a mink coat to a trial, just to flash everyone as a form of courtroom antics.
- In publicity pictures for Love Happy, Marilyn wore an ermine bikini. It wasn't shown in the film, but sure helped the marketing.
- Sexy Walk: Her swaying walk was renowned, and often given focus in films, such as her introduction in Some Like It Hot. 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: Born Norma Jeane Mortenson, known as Marilyn Monroe.
- The Woobie: Eli Wallach, her friend for several years, noted that she had this quality about her in her film roles: "As an actress she has lots of imitators - but only Marilyn survives. Why? Because people sense something real and helpless from her on that screen; they want to protect this girl and she makes them ashamed for having thought any dirty thoughts about her."