Due to her mother's history of mental instability, and her being single with a young daughter, she decided it best to place her baby in a foster home. Norma Jeane lived in the home of Albert and Ida Bolender for the first 7 years of her life. In 1933, Norma Jeane was taken from the only home she had ever known, to live with her mother. Gladys soon began to show signs of mental depression in 1934 and was admitted to a rest home in Santa Monica, California. Once again the young Norma Jeane was transfered to a new home. Grace McKee, a close friend of her mother, took over the care of Norma Jeane. She spoiled Norma Jeane with new dresses, candy, and a trip to the movies every time a new Harlow movie came out. Grace often told Norma Jeane that if she worked hard enough, she could be a very important woman like Miss Jean Harlow. So began Norma Jeane's fixation on Jean Harlow.
Grace was to marry a man named Ervin Goddard in 1935 and due to financial difficulties, Norma Jeane was placed in an orphanage from September 1935 to June 1937. Grace would occasionally stop by and take her to the movies, buy her clothes and teach her how to apply make-up. Eventually, Norma Jeane moved back into the home of Grace and Ervin. But within a few months, she was sent to live with several of Grace's relatives after accusations she had made after Ervin's attempt to rape her. After a stay with Grace's relatives, Norma Jeane was sent to the home of Ana Lower. Norma Jeane remembered her stay with Ana as the happiest time in her childhood. She lived with Ana until the elderly woman could no longer care for her.
In September 1941 Norma Jeane was again living with Grace. There she met Jim Dougherty,a young man 5 years her senior. Grace and her husband learned that they would be moving to the East Coast later in the year. Grace decided to try to get Norma Jeane and Jim to marry eachother, rather than take her with them. The couple were married on June 19, 1942, just sfter her 16th birthday.
After a year of marriage, Dougherty joined the Merchant Marines and in 1944 Jim was sent overseas. Norma Jeane began working in a parachute factory for some extra money, and was photographed by the Army as a promotion to show women on the assembly line contributing to the war effort. One of the photographers, David Conover, asked to take further pictures of her. By spring of 1945, she was quickly becoming known as the "MMMMMM Girl" and had appeared on 33 covers of national magazines.
After 2 years of having only letters, phone calls, and the occasional visit to keep in touch, the couple grew apart. They hardly spoke to each other, and in 1944 they divorced.
On July 23, 1946 she signed a contract with Twentieth Century-Fox Studios. She was given a new name, "Marilyn Monroe." Monroe from her mother, and Marilyn from the actress Marilyn Miller. So began Norma Jeane's career as Marilyn Monroe. She was dismissed as a contract player after two films, then rehired in 1948.
In 1949, Marilyn hired an agent, Johnny Hyde, of the William Morris Agency. He became her mentor and father figure she had been lacking for so long. Hyde's death sent the actress into a severe case of depression. Lack of work was hard on the young starlett, and in 1949 Marilyn agreed to pose nude for a photographer named Tom Kelly as long as his wife was present. A few years later, this caused a big controversy in her career as a Hollywood superstar.
Her first serious acting job came in 1950 when she had a small but crucial role in "The Asphalt Jungle" and received favorable reviews. "Clash By Night" in 1952 earned her several favorable notices as well. Monroe's first leading part in a serious feature was to be in "Don't Bother to Knock", also filmed in 1952.
Marilyn met baseball hero Joe DiMaggio in early 1952. DiMaggio, recently retired from baseball, had expressed a desire to meet this famous star after seeing a picture of her posed at a baseball plate. By February the romance was in full bloom.
In 1952, Marilyn began filming "Niagara" with Joseph Cotten. After her next big film, "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes", she and Jane Russell were immortalized in the wet cement in front of Grauman's Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard.
In 1954, Fox suspended her for failure to appear on the set of "Pink Tights". The studio had refused to let her look at the script prior to accepting the part. She was sick of the sexy dumb-blonde characters she was forced to play, and she felt that she should have the right to script approval. She wanted to expand her acting talents, and the studio was holding her back.
On January 14, 1954 Joe and Marilyn were married in San Francisco. Marilyn carried 3 white orchids, and when they began to wither in the heat, she aked Joe if she died before him, would he place flowers on her grave every week as William Powell had done for Jean Harlow. The wedding captured the headlines worldwide. Joe was extremely jealous of her popularity among other men. He had retired and wanted to avoid public attention, yet she was at the beginning of her rise to stardom.
She and Joe went to Japan for their honeymoon, and Marilyn was asked to go on a USO tour of Korea to entertain the troops. Despite the freezing weather, Marilyn entertained the 60,000 soldiers. She was a huge success. Joe did not accompany her on this trip, instead he stayed in Japan and awaited her return.
On May 29, Marilyn began filming "There's No Business Like Show Business". Throughout the summer she was ill, and she began showing serious side-effects of the prescription sleeping pills she had been taking for the last few years.
When the famous ventilator scene from "The Seven Year Itch", was filmed in New York, Joe watched as Marilyn's skirt flew up again and again, revealing her white panties. Several hundred photographers, along with 2,000 spectators gathered outside the Trans-Lux Theater in New York City in the early morning hours of September 15th to see and record her as she posed for over two hours for her adoring fans. Joe sat on the side of the shoot with his close friend Walter Winchell, and brooded over the public display of his wife's underwear. Finally, he left the scene furious. Later, shouts were heard from the Dimaggio's hotle suite. Two weeks later, Marilyn and Joe separated and later divorced.
In 1956, after another battle with Fox over the casting of her as a dumb-blonde, Marilyn broke her contract and returned to New York and joined the Actors Studio, in pursuit of becoming a serious actress. There she met Lee Strasberg, head of the Studio and drama coach. Mr. Strasberg and his family soon adopted Marilyn as one of their own.
She met playwright Arthur Miller through the Strasbergs, and they become close over a year's time. Marilyn returned to Hollywood in February 1956, after forming her own movie studio MM Productions. She had been absent from Hollywood for over a year, and had returned to film "Bus Stop". After completing the film she returned to New York in June. Miller also returned to New York and they where married June 29 in White Plains, NY.
The Millers departed for London soon after their marriage so that Marilyn could start production on "The Sleeping Prince" later renamed "The Prince and the Showgirl" with Lawrence Olivier. "Bus Stop" opened in London in October 1956, and "The Sleeping Prince" soon afterwards.
Marilyn Monroe returned to Hollywood in 1958 to make "Some Like It Hot" with Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis. She and Miller had been trying to concieve, and she was pregnant during the shooting. She often came to the set late and was unable to remember her lines. Director, Billy Wilder later said..."Anyone can remember lines, but it takes a real artist to come on the set and not know her lines and yet give the performance she did." The movie got great reviews, and did extremely well in the box office. Marilyn recieved a Golden Globem for the picture. However, she miscarried their child, a little boy, and she bagan her road back to sleeping pills and alcohol. Her next film "Let's Make Love" flopped, and the only publicity over it was a rumored affair between her and co-star Yves Montand.
Early in 1960, Marilyn was consulting with Dr. Ralph Greenson, a prominent psychoanalyst to Hollywood stars. As common during this period, he relied heavily on drug therapy, prescribing 300 milligrams of barbiturates and tranquilizers in addition to his psychotherapy for Marilyn. And again she miscaried another child.
July 1960 marked the start of filming "The Misfits" a short story Arthur Miller wrote for Marilyn and adapted for film. While on location the Millers lived in separate quarters and were barely speaking. Meanwhile, pills for Marilyn were regularly flown in from her Los Angeles doctors, including Dr. Greenson.
On November 5th, the day after "The Misfits" was completed, co-star Clark Gable suffered a serious heart attack and died on November 16, 1960. Marilyn felt a great deal of guilt for bringing her personal problems to the set. The truth was, that Gable had done all of his own stunts, and caused the heart-attack himself. All of her problems were exaggerated to cover up for Director John Huston's gambling and the terrible waste of money on the production.
Marilyn divorced Arthur Miller in January of 1961, the same month that "The Misfits" was released. Another unhappy marriage was ended.
In 1961 Marilyn purchased a house in the Brentwood section of Los Angeles. At the urging of her psychoanalyst, she hired Eunice Murray as housekeeper. Murray, calling herself a nurse, had neither the training or credentials. It is suspected that she was a "spy" for Dr. Greenson who continued to have more and more control over Marilyn's life, seeing her almost daily when she was in Los Angeles.
A reported affair with President John F. Kennedy began after the President's gala birthday celebration in Madison Square Garden on May 19, 1962. Here, Marilyn sang her now famous " Happy Birthday" tribute to JFK. The Attorney General, Bobby Kennedy was also reported to have had an affair with Marilyn shortly before her death.
In April 1962, production began on "Something's Got to Give". Marilyn had lost weight, weined herself off of sleeping pills after a stay in Payne Whitney, and sported a "new look". However, Fox was deeply in debt over their production of "Cleopatra" starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. The filming was way behind schedule and costing millions over budget. Marilyn had bronchitis off and on, and was still late to the set. If Fox scrapped the Marilyn Monroe film with far fewer expensive sets and actors, they possibly could have been reimburse by the insurance company for losses due to a star's illness, and recoup monies spent. Fox fired Marilyn and filed suit against Marilyn Monroe Productions on June 7, but the suit was later dropped.
Marilyn had been seeing Joe DiMaggio frequently during this time and had finally agreed to remarry him. Elizabeth Courtney fit her for a wedding gown, and she was extremely happy. The wedding date was set for August 8, 1962. Fox rehired her to complete "Somethings Got to Give" with a salary two and a half times the original amount. She had just bought her first home at 12305 Fifth Helena Drive in Brentwood, and was in the process of decorating it. She had sat dinner dates, and made plans with friends. Of course these events would never come to pass due to her untimely death. Marilyn was found dead in the nude by her housekeeper early on the morning of August 5, 1962. The stories of exactly what happened make little sense to anyone. There was a period of 3 hours between her being found, and the police being called. Anything could have happened in these "missing" hours, and there are many theories as to what did.
Two days later, a saddened Joe DiMaggio made arrangements for the funeral. He invited no one from the Hollywood scene or press. Only close friends and relatives were allowed to pay their respects to Marilyn. Arthur Miller refused to attend. In all the years since Marilyn's death, Joe never remarried. He has delivered red roses to her crypt every week for years, just as he had promised Marilyn when she told him of William Powell's pledge to the dying Jean Harlow.
There are stories of ambulances, Kennedys, mafia, and phone calls, but they are all contradictory. Through the years, witnesses have lost credibility and/or died. The sad truth is, the world will never know for certain how or why Marilyn died until someone speaks up.
© 1996 By: Brandon H.