Marilyn Monroe photographed by Bert Stern, 1962.
“Keep smiling, because life is a beautiful thing and there’s so much to smile about.”

– Marilyn Monroe


Marilyn Monroe was born 91 years ago today, June 1, 1926 in Los Angeles California.

She is pictured here at home on her patio in Hollywood in 1953.

Photography: Alfred Eisenstaedt
The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell  
Marilyn Monroe photographed by Bert Stern, 1962
“I don’t want to make money, I just want to be wonderful.”

– Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn Monroe (born Norma Jeane Mortenson; June 1, 1926 – August 5, 1962) was an American actress and model. Famous for playing comic “dumb blonde” characters, she became one of the most popular sex symbols of the 1950s, emblematic of the era’s attitudes towards sexuality.
 Although she was a top-billed actress for only a decade, her films grossed $200 million by the time of her unexpected death in 1962. She continues to be considered a major popular culture icon.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Monroe spent most of her childhood in foster homes and an orphanage and married at the age of sixteen. 
While working in a factory in 1944 as part of the war effort, she was introduced to a photographer from the First Motion Picture Unit and began a successful pin-up modeling career. 

The work led to short-lived film contracts with Twentieth Century-Fox(1946–1947) and Columbia Pictures (1948). 

After a series of minor film roles, she signed a new contract with Fox in 1951. 

Over the next two years, she became a popular actress with roles in several comedies, including As Young as You Feel and Monkey Business, and in the dramas Clash by Night and Don’t Bother to Knock
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) dir. Howard Hawks
Monroe faced a scandal when it was revealed that she had posed for nude photos before becoming a star, but rather than damaging her career, the story resulted in increased interest in her films.

By 1953, Monroe was one of the most marketable Hollywood stars, with leading roles in three films: the Noir Niagara, which focused on her sex appeal, and the comedies Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and How to Marry a Millionaire, which established her star image as a “dumb blonde”. 

MARILYN MONROE, NEW YORK, 1954, ELLIOTT ERWITT
Although she played a significant role in the creation and management of her public image throughout her career, she was disappointed at being typecast and underpaid by the studio. 

She was briefly suspended in early 1954 for refusing a film project, but returned to star in one of the biggest box office successes of her career, The Seven Year Itch (1955).

When the studio was still reluctant to change her contract, Monroe founded a film production company in late 1954; she named it Marilyn Monroe Productions (MMP). She dedicated 1955 to building her company and began studying method acting at the Actors Studio. 
Ceremonial kick-off by Marilyn Monroe at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn before a soccer game between Israel and the US. 
The Boston Globe reported that she scored a “direct hit, smack on the head of United Press photographer Joel Landau.” May 12, 1957.
In late 1955, Fox awarded her a new contract, which gave her more control and a larger salary. After a critically acclaimed performance in Bus Stop (1956) and acting in the first independent production of MMP, The Prince and the Showgirl (1957), she won a Golden Globe for Best Actress for Some Like It Hot (1959). Her last completed film was the drama The Misfits (1961).



Marilyn Monroe photographed by Bert Stern, 1962.
Monroe’s troubled private life received much attention. She struggled with substance abuse, depression, and anxiety. She had two highly publicized marriages, to retired baseball star Joe DiMaggio and playwright Arthur Miller, both of which ended in divorce. 


Marilyn Monroe in The Seven Year Itch (1955) dir. Billy Wilder

“If you can make a woman laugh, you can make her do anything.”

– Marilyn Monroe


“If I’d observed all the rules I’d never have got anywhere.”

– Marilyn Monroe


“How To Marry A Millionaire”


“You never know what life is like, until you have lived it.”

– Marilyn Monroe


Marilyn Monroe during hair tests for Something’s Got to Give (1962). 
Marilyn Monroe photographed by Bert Stern, 1962.


“Sometimes things fall apart so that better things can fall together.”

– Marilyn Monroe
“How To Marry A Millionaire”

Eve Arnold, Marilyn Monroe during the shooting of the Misfits, 1960
A portrait of Marilyn Monroe in 1950. 

Photography: Ed Clark
The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images


Photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt and Marilyn Monroe 1953
 Affectionately known as “Eisie,” he was one of the four original LIFE photographers and kept an office at the TIME & LIFE Building until the very end.
Alfred Eisenstaedt—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
Marilyn Monroe at the Actors Studio, 1955.
Marilyn Monroe photographed by Bert Stern, 1962.
In the August 3, 1962 issue, LIFE magazine ran the last interview with Marilyn Monroe. She would die only a few days after the magazine hit the stands. This image appeared (small) in the article with the caption: “On the brink of fame, Marilyn at age...
In the August 3, 1962 issue, LIFE magazine ran the last interview with Marilyn Monroe. 
She would die only a few days after the magazine hit the stands. 
This image appeared (small) in the article with the caption: “On the brink of fame, Marilyn at age of 24 was catching the public’s imagination in a small, wordless part in The Asphalt Jungle.”
 (Ed Clark—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
Marilyn Monroe at the Golden Globe Awards, 1962.
“Just because you fail once doesn’t mean you’re gonna fail at everything.”

– Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe and Marlon Brando at the premiere of The Rose Tattoo, 1955.
Marilyn Monroe photographed by Bert Stern, 1962.
“It’s better to be unhappy alone than unhappy with someone.”

– Marilyn Monroe


“Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.”

– Marilyn Monroe


Marilyn Monroe during hair tests for Something’s Got to Give (1962). 


Marilyn Monroe photographed by Bert Stern, 1962
Marilyn Monroe by Douglas Kirkland (1961)
“How To Marry A Millionaire”

Marilyn Monroe photographed by Bert Stern, 1962.

“In spite of everything life is not without hope.”

– Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe modelling a black Dior gown.

Marilyn Monroe arriving at JFK’s birthday gala, 1962.
“Fear is stupid. So are regrets.”

– Marilyn Monroe



Marilyn Monroe fotografiada por Philippe Halsman, 1952
On August 5, 1962, she died at age 36 from an overdose of barbiturates at her home in Los Angeles. 

Although Monroe’s death was ruled a probable suicide, several conspiracy theories have been proposed in the decades following her death.



“We are all of us stars, and we deserve to twinkle.”

– Marilyn Monroe


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