The myth. The star. The legend. Marilyn Monroe. Sixty years after her death, her name is still associated with the endless glamour of old Hollywood. Her blonde, fluffy hair and infamous figure have become a symbol of sex appeal and a beauty standard. She was the mortal goddess of her time, and she set the bar high for generations ahead. We all know that one iconic scene with her white dress graciously flowing into the air, and because of her, we all know that diamonds are a girl’s best friend. The image of Marilyn Monroe is one of the diamonds, sparkle, and bright lights. When you look at her, you can only stare and admire. Her dreamy aura and fiery appearance captivate you, and suddenly you can’t move your eyes away. That’s what she’s known for – her timeless beauty A ballad for Marilyn Monroe.
However, nothing is the same behind the camera. Hollywood taught us that. There is always something else that you, as a regular viewer, can’t even understand. Without lights and sparkles, white becomes black, and pretty becomes ugly. That’s what the movie industry does – it creates something fictional that you fall in love with. The horror of reality often stays hidden in the dark. Not that you would want to see it, anyway. Everyone prefers beauty, and due to the laws of supply and demand, the industry offers beauty.
That’s what it did with Marilyn, at least. And oh boy, was she beautiful. Everywhere she went, she made head turns. Her smile could light up a room. But in reality, the stunning Marilyn had quite an ugly life.
She spent her childhood as little Norma Jean. A little girl longing for stability with her mother often being confined to a psych ward and her father unknown. She swung back and forth in a total of 12 foster families where she was repeatedly beaten and sexually abused. In the end, when she had nowhere to go, she married at 16, so she would stay off the streets.
Despite her difficulties growing up, she was driven and ambitious. In 1945 she was discovered by a photographer – Tom Kelley, who had offered her to model for him. On one condition, though. She had to be nude. She agreed. For 50 dollars and the promise of anonymity from Kelley, Norma Jean took her clothes off for a picture. She was so ashamed of what she had done that she signed on the photographs with a fake name – Mona Monroe. All that Marilyn did, because of a car payment that she desperately needed to pay. Poor Norma Jean, the girl, didn’t even know what was coming.
A few years later, a promising publisher at the time – Hugh Hefner, bought the pictures’ rights and put them in Playboy’s first issue. He never asked for her consent as he was not legally obliged to do so, and she never even met him. This is the equivalent of getting your nudes posted on social media today. Even though her situation was not perfect and exposed in such an intimate matter, she hurt her deeply. She gained a lot of recognition from the pictures.
That’s when the little girl Norma Jean was reborn into the aspiring actress Marilyn Monroe. She changed her hair, her name, and her whole personality. Monroe signed a contract with 20th Century Fox and appeared in movies like All About Eve and The Asphalt Jungle.
Marilyn became a much-admired international star despite her constant insecurities regarding her acting abilities. She suffered from pre-performance anxiety that sometimes made her physically ill. Her anxiety was often the root cause of her legendary tardiness on film sets, which was so extreme that it often infuriated her co-stars and crew. The actress was unprofessional, late, and not so perfect after all. Due to that fact, she changed quite a few agencies throughout her career.
However, wherever she went, she was always cast in the beautiful but not intelligent blonde. That’s what people began to know her for.
At some point, she got tired of the bubbly, dumb persona and pursued more serious acting with Lee Strasberg in New York. She insisted on getting more challenging roles that would show off her dramatic skills A ballad for Marilyn Monroe.
Unfortunately, instead of getting her dream role, she experienced life turmoil. Her marriage with Arthur Miller fell apart; she suffered from severe anxiety and depression, being constantly on antidepressants. She drank, she smoked. While people were addicted to her, she became an addict. Those her were last years.
She didn’t get the white picket fence ending with the sun setting on the horizon. Her last chapter was filled with grief, alcohol, and sleeping pills on the bedside cabinet. Still, she kept up the happy front, and her picture-perfect smile was gleaming on magazines. That was also the time she sang that infamous happy birthday song to JFK. She made it seem like everything was okay while her life was falling apart. That love goddess you saw in movies was, in reality, a miserable woman A ballad for Marilyn Monroe.
All she wanted was stability, a family, love. And she got neither. All her three marriages ended with a divorce. She never got a kid – she had several abortions and two miscarriages. Her first husband left her, the second one hurt her physically, and the last one hurt her emotionally. All she had ever known ultimately was pain and loneliness. Surprisingly, one of her best-known attributes was her smile A ballad for Marilyn Monroe.
Shortly after her last film, “The Misfits,” she died.
In 1962 she was found dead in her room. The autopsy showed that she probably overdosed on sleeping pills. Even though there is evidence that her death was a probable suicide, many conspiracies claim she was murdered by one of the Kennedys. But in the end, what does it matter? She died alone and unhappy in her room. Murder, or suicide, she was probably dead long before she stopped breathing.
So dear Marilyn, I am so sorry.
You didn’t get to tell your story. Lights surrounded you, and still, your identity remained in the dark. All people knew of you was a carefully crafted Hollywood persona. Sure, the persona was beautiful, charming, bubbly, and people loved her. But as we know, there is always something behind the scenes. Marilyn, you left a piece of yourself behind the curtain. You left Norma Jean.
And for that, we never really got to know her. We never got to know YOU.