Below are 50 facts on MM that you may or may not have already known. Marlin Monroe would have ben 89 today.
1 Marilyn Monroe seemed to have a lot of names. She was baptised Norma Jeane Baker, but the name on her birth certificate was Norma Jeane Mortenson. Later, when she married James Dougherty, she became Norma Jeane Dougherty. The star didn’t change her name legally to Marilyn Monroe until 1956, although she’d been known publicly by the moniker since 1946. And when she married playwright Arthur Miller she liked to be called Marilyn Monroe Miller. The initials MMM appeared a lot at that time.
2 In December 1953, she appeared smiling and waving on the cover of the first ever edition of Playboy.
3 Marilyn largely made her own path to stardom through dedication and hard work. But the first step came when she was pictured by photographer David Conover who was taking pictures of pretty girls helping the war effort in 1944. She was working at a munitions factory and soon after, she was on the road to becoming a model.
4 From August to November 1962, pop art legend Andy Warhol made more than 20 silk screen paintings of Marilyn, all based on the same photograph.
5 It’s widely said that Marilyn’s career encompassed 30 movie roles. In fact, she never finished the 30th, Something’s Got to Give. She was sacked after failing to turn up for filming the summer she died, although bosses re-hired her just days before her death.
6 Marilyn’s father deserted the family before her birth so she spent most of her childhood not knowing her father’s identity. There are two possibilities – Edward Mortenson, who was named on her birth certificate, and Stanley Gifford, who worked with her mother Gladys. Marilyn believed that Gifford was her father.
7 Depression ran in the family – her uncle and greatgrandfather both committed suicide.
8 People often think Marilyn was curvier than she really was. In fact, she was petite and weighed just 8st 3lb and was 5ft 5in tall. Her weight fluctuated, but her measurements are most often given as 36-24-34 or 38-23-36 for bust-waist-hips.
9 Marilyn Monroe’s films grossed more than a whopping £127million.
10 A romantic, Marilyn first married when she was just 16. It was said she married James Dougherty in a bid to get out of foster care. They married shortly after her 16th birthday in June 1942 and divorced in September 1946.
11 The beauty was so paranoid about sweat and spots that she washed her face up to 15 times a day.
12 After her marriage to Arthur Miller in 1956, the FBI suspected that Monroe was a communist sympathiser. They filed a 30-page report on her links to the party.
13 Marilyn met the Queen at the Royal Film Show in Ocotber 1956. The women, who were just two months apart in age, were 30 at the time.
14 The night she sang Happy Birthday to President Kennedy at the old Madison Square Garden on May 19, 1962, Marilyn was wearing a sheer, flesh-coloured dress in marquisette fabric with a huge 2,500 rhinestones. The exquisite gown was so tight she had to be sewn into it, stitch by stitch. She wore nothing under it.
15 Her dress from that night, which went for £730,000 at an auction in 1999, was the most expensive piece of clothing ever sold.
16 The young star’s first modelling job paid only five dollars.
17 Marilyn married her second husband, baseball star Joe DiMaggio, in January 1954. She asked Joe to promise to leave flowers on her grave every week if she died before him. He later kept his promise.
18 When she wasn’t wearing make-up, Marilyn would put olive oil on her face as a protecting agent. She was always reluctant to share details of her beauty regime.
19 Joe’s jealousy meant their relationship was fraught and possibly violent. Just nine months after the wedding, the actress told a court her husband had become “cold and indifferent” and a divorce was granted.
20 When Prince Rainier III of Monaco was looking for a wife, Marilyn was considered. In the end, he opted for Grace Kelly instead.
21 Marilyn biographer Norman Mailer claimed the star had at least 12 abortions – and all before she was 29. But there are no medical records to support this.
22 One of her favourite novels was the notoriously complicated Ulysses by James Joyce. She said she read it aloud to herself because she loved the sound of it.
23 Marilyn converted to Judaism in 1956, before marrying Jewish playwright Arthur Miller. They married on June 29 in a civil ceremony and had a second, Jewish ceremony on July 1.
24 Santa Baby, commonly believed to have been sung by her, was actually recorded by Cynthia Basinet as a Christmas gift for Jack Nicholson.
25 In her classic 1959 film Some Like It Hot, Marilyn needed 47 takes to get the phrase “It’s me, Sugar” right. She kept switching from “Sugar, it’s me” to “It’s Sugar, me” and the director, Billy Wilder, had to write the line on a blackboard.
26 Her favourite drink was Champagne and she acquired a penchant for notoriously pricey Dom Perignon.
27 Marilyn fell pregnant to Arthur Miller in 1957. Tragically, despite motherhood being her biggest dream, it was an ectopic pregnancy and she lost the baby.
28 On September 12, 1958, after months consumed by depression, she took an overdose of sleeping pills. Her drama coach Paula Stra her Strasberg saved her life.
29 Just three months later, she lost another baby.
30Marilyn wasn’t one to forget about her peers. She had great respect for them and her favourite actresses were Ginger Rogers, Greta Garbo and Marie Dressler. She also admired Marlon Brando, Clark Gable and Charlie Chaplin.
31 She shaved half an inch off one heel to perfect her trademark wiggle.
32 It was rumoured the star married long-term friend Bob Slatzer in Mexico for a few days in October 1952, but no marriage certificate exists to prove it.
33The blonde bombshell wasn’t just a pretty face. She owned 200 books, including Tolstoy and Whitman, listened to Beethoven and took a course in literature at UCLA.
34 At the 1950 Academy Awards, she broke down in tears when she realised her dress had ripped.
35 Marilyn had her front teeth fixed in 1948 before Ladies of the Chorus was filmed. Orthodontist Dr Walter Taylor did the work.
36 Her masseur Ralph Roberts would often prepare her ice baths and Marilyn would add some drops of Chanel No5.
37 Marilyn was a huge fan of Nivea moisturiser and one of her make-up kits picked up £169,000 when sold at auction in 1999.
38 She won a Golden Globe in 1960 for her performance in Some Like It Hot. She was never nominated for an Oscar.
39 Joe DiMaggio’s last words were “I’ll finally get to see Marilyn”.
40 The star tried, unsuccessfully, to convert to Catholicism after divorcing Arthur Miller.
41 In her first contract with Fox in 1945, she was paid £48 per week. When she filmed The Misfits in 1961, she was paid a more A-list £190,000. Miller created the film as a Valentine’s gift for his wife.
42 Playboy creator Hugh Hefner paid £54,000 to reserve a crypt next to Marilyn’s.
43 More than 2,000 people gathered to watch as she filmed her famous skirt blowing scene for The Seven Year Itch in September 1954.
44 In 1946, her modelling agency told her she would be more successful in Hollywood if she dyed her hair blonde.
45 When she wasn’t acting, Marilyn preferred to wear nothing but a bathrobe and occasionally a bikini.
46 FBI documents accused her of having sex parties with JFK and his brothers Robert and Edward, plus members of The Rat Pack.
47 Frank Sinatra gave Marilyn a white French poodle which she called Maf, apparently in reference to the singer’s alleged links to the mafia.
48 Monroe asked her personal make-up artist, Allan “Whitey” Snyder, to make sure he did her make-up when she died.
49 Marilyn featured on a USA postage stamp back in 1995.
50 The beauty was well-known for her ability to get a laugh. Actor and musician Jack Lemmon said: “She was a wonderful comedienne and she had a charisma like no one before or since.”