It has been nearly 55 years since the death of the iconic Marilyn Monroe. Her life is constantly analysed by academics, critics, film historians and masses of her fans. Even though there have been many biographies, Internet websites, films and documentaries on Monroe, she still remains an enigmatic figure. But why is this? Why are people still so fascinated by Marilyn?
Marilyn Monroe was born Norma Jeane Mortenson/Baker. Just after her birth, her mother was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic and was institutionalised as a result. Her father remains unknown. Young Monroe was forced to move from one foster home to another.
At age 16 she chose to marry to avoid the orphanage or a new foster family. However, after four years the marriage fell apart. Even though she suffered these hardships, she continued with her passion to be an actress.
In 1944 Monroe began work at a factory helping out with the war effort. It was at this factory that she met photographer David Conover who took a series of morale boosting pictures. The photographer was so impressed with Monroe that he persuaded her to sign with the Blue Book Model Agency. From there, she caught the eye of a 20th Century Fox executive and the rest was history.
She would constantly go to acting classes and read many books on the topic of the performing arts. This brought her success and respect. People loved her (and still do) and she captured the hearts of many people. Men wanted to be with her and women wanted to be her.
Monroe was definitely a very complex person. She was more than just any average actress and was anything but a ‘dumb blonde’. She always wanted to improve her skills and focused on who she could become. She herself said: “Why haven’t I got the right to grow and expand like everybody else?” Although she was often made fun of, she pressed on and the public loved her for it.
Monroe is often thought of as just a sex symbol, but she was also incredibly insecure. To some extent Marilyn Monroe wasn’t even a real person. It could be argued that this persona was just a mask that she put on to hide her troubles and worries. A close friend of Monroe once found her staring at a bathroom mirror. When he asked what she was doing, she replied “just looking at her.”
Monroe was still a very business minded woman. She was an actress, model, and singer and even owned her own production company in Hollywood, which was largely dominated by men. Monroe herself said, “If I’d observed all the rules, I wouldn’t have got anywhere.”
I think she was trying to say that you should not be scared of doing something that makes you happy.
However, behind closed doors, Monroe was often lonely and felt depressed. After her difficult childhood, she found it hard to feel loved by anyone and tried to commit suicide at least two times in her life. One time she was rescued and another time she called for help herself.
Unfortunately, on the 5th of August 1962, Monroe lost her battle with depression and passed away. An empty pill bottle found in her room led people to believe that she committed suicide, or that she was murdered. We may never know what really happened that night.
Fans of Monroe were so affected by her death that, according to The New York Times, the number of suicides a week after she died hit a record high of 12 in one day. One suicide note read: “If the most wonderful, beautiful thing in the world has nothing to live for, then neither must I.”
In a 2015 survey, Glamour Magazine asked the UK public to name the “biggest beauty icon of all time”. Not surprisingly, Marilyn Monroe popped up at number 2. According to The Guide to United States Popular Culture, “as an icon of American popular culture, Monroe’s few rivals in popularity include Elvis Presley and Mickey Mouse.”
I’m sure that people will always be familiar with Marilyn Monroe and consider her an American icon. This is because she is still being used in advertising and creative arts; in 2015 she became the global ambassador for make up brand Max Factor.
Even though she is dead she will forever outlive us all in some way.