Essay, Research Paper: Marilyn Monroe

Literature: Arthur Miller

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When someone mentions Marilyn Monroe, one usually thinks off the seductive
all-American sex goddess who captured the world with her woman-childlike charm.
Yet not many know her as the illegitimate child who endured a childhood of
poverty and misery, sexual abuse, and years in foster home and orphanages. Most
people don’t realize that her disrupted loveless childhood may been the main
reason to her early death. Norma Jeane Baker’s father, Edward Mortenson, had
deserted her mother, Gladys Baker neč Monroe, before she was born on June, 1
1926, in the charity ward of Los Angeles General Hospital. Due to Gladys’
instability and the fact that she was unmarried at the time, Norma Jeane was
placed in a foster home. At the age of 7, Norma Jeane lived briefly with her
mother. Gladys began to show signs of mental depression, and a year later she
was admitted to a rest home. Norma Jeane was then placed with a family friend
for a year until being placed in another orphanage for another two years. Norma
Jeane was once heard to reflect on this time and say: “The world around me
then was kind of grim...I had to learn to pretend in order to...I don’t know..
block the grimness. The whole world seen sort of closed to me..(I felt) on the
outside of everything, and all I could do was to dream up any kind of pretend
game.” (MarilynMonroe,http://www.ionet.net/~jellenc/mmbio3.html) In 1941,
Norma Jeane again lived with a family friend when she met Jim Dougherty, who was
5 years older than her. They then married on June 19, 1942. “Grace Mckee
(family friend she was living with) arranged the marriage for me, I never had
much of a choice. There’s not much to say about it. They couldn’t support
me, and they had to work out something. And so I got married.” (Marilyn
Monroe) Jim joined the Marines in 1943 and was send overseas. Norma Jeane, while
working in a factory inspecting parachutes in 1944, was photographed by the army
as a promotion to show women on the assembly line contributing to the war
effort. One of the photographers asked to take further pictures of her. She
began modeling bathing suites and, after bleaching her hair blonde, began posing
for pinups and glamour photos. By spring of 1945, she was quickly known as a
“photographers dream” and had appeared on 33 covers of national magazines.
She then enrolled in a 3 month modeling course, and in 1946, aware of her
considerable charm and the potential it had for a career in films, Norma
obtained a divorce. “Howard Hughes saw some of her photographs and expressed
an interest in giving her a screen test for RKO, but Ben Lyon of 20th
Century-Fox beat Hughes to the punch.” (MarilynMonroeBiography,wysiwg://main.13/http:www.geocities.com/hollywood/bungalow/9690.bio.html)
Ben Lyon arranged a screen test and on August 26, 1946, Norma Jeane signed a
$125 a week, one year contract with the studio. Ben Lyon was the one who
suggested the new name for the fledging actress, Marilyn Monroe. Along with this
name change came a personality change. Her voice was lightened to speak in a
whispery tone, and her nose was stretched to get rid of the pudgy look. She was
no longer Norma Jeane the troubled orphan, she was now Marilyn Monroe the
superstar. Marilyn met Joe Dimaggio in early 1952, she was 25 and he was 37. By
February the romance was in full bloom. After appearing in small parts of films
including Happy Love, and All About Eve, Monroe achieved celebrity with starring
roles in three 1953 features, Niagara, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, and How to
Marry a Millionaire. In 1948 she began to make a series of nude calendar photos,
which appeared in the December 1953 debut issue of Playboy magazine. By the end
of the year, Monroe had been voted the top star of 1953 by American Film
Distributors. On January 14, Joe and Marilyn were married. The wedding captured
the headlines worldwide. Joe was extremely jealous type of a guy and resented
her popularity among other men. “He desired a housewife, not a star if such
magnitude.... the marriage was doomed from the beginning.” (MarilynMonroe,http://www.ionet.net/~jellenc/mmbio3.html)
Marilyn was asked to go on a USO tour of Korea in February to entertain the
troops, beginning on the 16th for four days. She entertained over 60,000
soldiers, many of who had never seen a Monroe film...having been in the service
during her rise to stardom. Through the summer of 1954, Marilyn was “ill with
bronchitis and anemia.” (MarilynMonroe) For the time, she began showing
serious side effects of the many sleeping pills she had been taking for the past
few years; often groggy, lethargic, and crying on the set. The famous skirt
blowing scene from the “Seven Year Itch”, filmed in 1954 was to be a hit
with both amateur and professional photographers. Several hundred, along with
2000 spectators gathered around 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. In the fall of 1954 Marilyn and Joe
separated... later to divorce. Two years later she married again to a newly
divorced Arthur Miller. Soon after her marriage they departed for London so
Marilyn could start production on “The Prince and the Showgirl.” She did not
return to Hollywood until 1958 to make “Some Like it Hot”. Her heath began
to deteriorate due to increased dependency on drugs and involvement in an
unhappy marriage. She often came late and was unable to remember her lines.
Early in 1960, Marilyn began consulting a prominent psychoanalyst to Hollywood
stars. He relied heavily on drug therapy, routinely prescribing barbiturates and
tranquilizers in addition to his psychotherapy. Pills for Marilyn began to be
regularly flown in from her Los Angeles doctors. In January of 1961, Marilyn
divorced Arthur Miller. Later in the same year she was reported to be having an
affair with John F. Kennedy. She was also reported to have an affair with Bobby
Kennedy, the Attorney General. Soon after in 1962, Marilyn began seeing Joe
DiMaggio frequently during this time and had finally agreed to remarry him. The
wedding date was set for August 8, 1962. Fox rehired her on August 1 to complete
“Somethings Got to Give” with a salary of $250,000, which was two and a half
times the original amount. On August 5, 1962, she was found dead of an overdose
of sleeping pills at the early age of 36. There has been much speculation about
the events surrounding Marilyn’s death. “The drug overdose was probably
accidental and possibly administered by someone other than
Marilyn.”(MarilynMonroeBiography,-http://tombtown.com/bios/marilyn.htm.) In
conclusion, Monroe’s was a tragedy in which her public, the media, and the
Hollywood power brokers all share blame.

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