Culture & Literature
LIFE Marilyn Monroe

LIFE Marilyn Monroe

LIFE Marilyn Monroe

More than fifty years after her death, Marilyn Monroe remains as famous as ever. Rediscover the screen legend with dozens of intimate photos from the archives of LIFE magazine. Insightful text reveals Monroe’s journey from Norma Jeane to international star and American icon. Includes special access to the famous “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” performance for John F. Kennedy as well as the more than 30 movie roles that made her an icon. Some Like It Hot . . . The Seven-Year Itch . . . Gentlemen Prefer Blondes . . . The Misfits . . . these classic movies and her performances in them made her one of Hollywood’s most glamorous stars. Her personal life, with marriages to Arthur Miller and Joe DiMaggio, and rumored affairs with John F. Kennedy and Bobby Kennedy, made her fascinating. LIFE Remembering Marilyn lets readers see Monroe’s remarkable life both in front of the cameras and behind the scenes.

United States
Meredith Corporation
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$20.81(Incl. tax)

in this issue

1 min.
candle in the wind

2 min.
marilyn and myth

The term screen legend has been applied to Marilyn Monroe perhaps more often than to any other star in the vast Hollywood firmament. That is proper, for legend implies a story not only larger than life but also in some ways unbelievable. Chapters in her biography are certainly that. Even after the life story of Marilyn Monroe has been retold a thousand times, we are not absolutely sure which parts are precisely true and which are not, what really happened and what did not, what is fact and what is hyperbole or even fiction. Monroe willingly contributed to the legend herself; just as one example, she certainly pumped up the woebegone-orphan aspect of her childhood. And studio publicists were only too happy to heap on enough additional baloney to satisfy the…

14 min.
norma jeane

Her story is hazy from the first and involves at the outset a troubled mother and an absent father. Gladys Monroe, who would give birth to Norma Jeane at Los Angeles General Hospital on June 1, 1926, was herself the product of an unstable home. She was born in 1902 and, as a little girl, witnessed the mental erosion of her father when syphilis attacked his brain and sent him to the hospital where he died, according to Donald Spoto’s Marilyn Monroe: The Biography. Gladys was thereafter raised by a mother who eventually suffered from hallucinations and displayed erratic behavior, perhaps also caused by a physical illness. Gladys married for the first time at age 14; this husband, Jasper Newton“Jap” Baker, was more than a decade her senior. Together they…

38 min.

Emmeline Snively, who ran the modeling agency that employed Norma Jeane Dougherty, commented years later that girls would often ask her how they could be more like the woman who had become Marilyn Monroe. “I tell them, if they showed one tenth of the hard work and gumption that that girl had, they’d be on their way. But there will never be another like her.” While that is no doubt true, Monroe’s singularity wasn’t immediately apparent to Twentieth Century-Fox’s filmmakers, who used her for small parts in a couple of forgettable vehicles, Scudda Hoo! Scudda Hay! and Dangerous Years, both filmed in 1947. After one year, Fox declined to renew Monroe’s contract. She signed a six-month deal with Columbia Pictures and was given a big role in a bad film, the…

19 min.
the fall

“A brilliant comedienne” was Laurence Olivier’s assessment of his costar Marilyn Monroe before they began filming The Prince and the Showgirl in London in 1956. “And therefore an extremely good actress,” he added. A few weeks into production, Olivier, who directed as well as acted in the movie, may have been somewhat less gracious with his words. Not that Monroe showed any glaring lack of talent, but her behavior—and especially the conduct of her entourage—made for a tense, unhappy set. Beginning with Bus Stop, Monroe had replaced drama coach Natasha Lytess with Paula Strasberg, and the new tutor’s ubiquity would factor into all of Monroe’s final movies, much to the dismay of a string of directors. Olivier considered Strasberg a sycophant, a buttinsky and even a no-talent phony. There was also…