50 Rare Historical Photos of Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe is no doubt one of the most iconic female celebrities this world has ever seen. During the 50s and 60s, she changed the way women were portrayed and made "sexy" a powerful tool that could be used to catapult one into stardom. Monroe was both a model and an actress and she excelled in both. She made such a cultural impact that the American Film Institute rated her as the sixth greatest female screen legend from the Golden Age of Hollywood. You can say what you want about Monroe but no one could deny her beauty. Scroll through this gallery if you want to see some rare historical photos from the "blonde bombshell" known as Marilyn Monroe.
Never on Time
Despite being relatively underpaid compared to other stars of her era, Marilyn Monroe was a million-dollar movie star before she died. She lost her job at Twentieth-Century Fox in 1962; Monroe was working with the studio to produce Something’s Got to Give which was a remake of My Favorite Wife.
However, she couldn’t compromise well enough for the movie as she was eventually fired for showing up to the movie set late. She also hit the movie with a couple of no-shows, including the first two weeks of filming. Fortunately for the star, she landed a $1 million contract before she died.
Other Stars Earned More
Just like we mentioned in the previous slide, Marilyn Monroe’s star power wasn’t enough to separate her from other stars, at least in terms of earnings. Reports from her years of fame paint a picture of a star that was relatively underpaid, especially when you compare her earnings to what other stars took home.
Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell co-starred in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, a 1953 American musical comedy film, but Russell was paid ten times what Monroe took home for that project. For Something’s Got to Give, which was her final movie, she earned only $100,000.
She had Many Names
Marilyn Monroe’s influence on pop culture and American entertainment at large remains glaring many decades after she passed away. But she was just as enigmatic when she was alive; her real name confused a lot of people at her peak as she was known by many names.
Monroe’s birth certificate has her birth name as Norma Jeane Mortenson, which you’d assume is her real name. However, she was baptized Norma Jeane Baker and she was known by different names as a model, including Mona Monroe and Jean Norman.
She Spent a lot of Time in Foster Care
Marilyn Monroe’s mother, Gladys, was institutionalized at a point during the young Monroe’s life, causing Marilyn to be placed in the foster care system. According to reports, once Monroe was placed in the system, finding the perfect home for her proved a difficult challenge as she went through 11 sets of foster parents and houses looking for the right match.
Monroe was also in the Children’s Aid Society Orphanage in Los Angeles for a year. She wasn’t free of whatever condition caused her mother to be institutionalized as Marilyn Monroe also spent time at a psychiatric clinic where she was known as Faye Miller.
Monroe had Different Acting Coaches
One of the things that people knew Marilyn Monroe for was the fact that she was often around one acting coach or the other. Rarely was Monroe seen without an acting coach; her first acting coach was Natasha Lytess with whom she worked on 22 films over the course of six years.
Natasha wasn’t the most peace-loving coach though as she often clashed with directors and studio heads alike after challenging their authority. Paula Strasberg became Monroe’s acting coach after Lytess; Strasberg did a better job at prioritizing coaching the star actress.
Mariah Carey bought her Piano for $662,500
In 1999, Marilyn Monroe’s personal possessions were auctioned; naturally, the auction was graced by famous faces, including Mariah Carey who bought Marilyn’s famous piano for a whopping $662,500. Estimates of the piano’s value had put it at between $10,000 to $15,000, meaning Carey paid several times the piano’s estimated value.
The item itself had an interesting backstory to it; the piano was originally Marilyn’s mother’s but it was sold after she had a breakdown. Marilyn bought it back after finding it and kept it around until she passed away. Glad to see it went to someone who could appreciate it.
She might have Remarried Joe DiMaggio
Marilyn Monroe’s first marriage to Joe DiMaggio didn’t exactly go as planned partly because of his episodes and alcohol problem. That marriage failed and the lovers went their separate ways but apparently, they were a thing again shortly before Monroe died.
According to reports from the time, DiMaggio turned a new leaf by addressing his alcohol addiction and expanding his interests to include poetry. He and Monroe reportedly read poetry together in her final years, and he also underwent therapy. Monroe was thought to be planning another marriage to DiMaggio when she died.
Her Beaded Jean Louis Gown was auctioned for around 1 million dollars
One of the fondest memories about Marilyn Monroe was when she sang Happy Birthday to President Kennedy. She wore a beaded Jean Louis gown while doing so; that gown’s value multiplied severalfold as a result of her performance.
It was sold for around 1 million dollars at an auction in 1999; the gown’s auction price was the record price for a single piece of clothing at the time. That record was only broken by Monroe’s white Seven Year Itch dress which was sold by Debbie Reynolds for $2.8 million in 2011.
She married James Dougherty at 16
Marilyn Monroe was only a teenager when she first walked down the aisle; she was married to James Dougherty before she married Joe DiMaggio and Arthur Miller. Marilyn was only 16 when she tied the knot with Dougherty; their union didn’t last long though as she became a successful movie star and he became an LAPD detective.
Dougherty got remarried and his second wife was quite the hot head; she didn’t want any association with Marilyn Monroe and she even forbid Dougherty from seeing any movie that featured her. Can you blame her though? When your husband's ex-wife is Marilyn Monroe, jealousy is sure to be in the picture.
Monroe was the Most Advertised Girl in the World
You can make a case for Marilyn Monroe setting the trend for movie stars making a sizable portion of their income from endorsements and advertising campaigns for brands. In 1953, she was named the Most Advertised Girl in the World by the Advertising Association.
Over the course of her illustrious career and to date, Marilyn Monroe found a lot of fame and became a household name. A couple of brands recognized the potential represented by all that fame and therefore approached her to represent them; brands like Pabst Beer, American Airlines, and Tan-Tan Suntan Lotion all had her represent them.
Her Book Collection Included over 400 Books
Despite how the media would sometimes portray Marilyn Monroe as an unintelligent person, she was actually quite smart and had a high IQ. You can credit her love for reading for some of that intelligence though; a lot of people don’t know that Marilyn was an avid reader of books and had a large collection in her home library.
Marilyn Monroe’s personal book collection had more than 400 books on different topics, proving that she was far from being shallow, she was a model of substance. She reportedly got the hang of most books by reading only the first 10 pages.
She was Born a Brunette
Marilyn Monroe’s signature blonde look is how most people remember the entertainment icon but that wasn’t her natural hair color. Many people don’t know that Marilyn was born a brunette; when she began modeling in 1947, her hair was the curly brown type.
Marilyn was quite beautiful even without her signature blonde hair; she, however, began to dye her hair after she landed her first studio contract. Monroe wanted to be blonde like her idol, Jean Harlow, so she bleached her hair blonde and had it straightened.
Howard Hughes put her in the Limelight
When she was starting out, Monroe was advised by the head of a modeling agency called Emmeline Snively to alter her facial appearance by tweaking her hair a bit in order to succeed in show business. She obliged and had it bleached and straightened as we said earlier but she also had electrolysis performed to remove her widow’s peak.
Safe to say her rebranding worked because her pictures were sent out after and she was discovered by Howard Hughes as a result of it. It was Hughes who put her in the spotlight by landing her a screen test and finding her a place in Hollywood.
She had a Frightening encounter with a Police Officer
At one point when Monroe was starting out, money was tight so she was desperate to get a $40 check cashed. While going around different stores looking to get the check cashed, Monroe encountered a police officer and asked him to help.
He, however, became interested in her and he mentally recorded her name and home address when she wrote it on the check. That same officer would later invade her home that evening; fortunately, there were other Policemen around the second time he invaded her property.
She was Incredibly Self-Conscious
Marilyn Monroe’s love for books, her ability to grab novel concepts quickly, and her high IQ all painted a picture of a highly intelligent personality. However, the thing with intelligent people is that they also tend to be quite conscious of themselves; Marilyn Monroe was no different herself.
According to reports, Marilyn thought the right side of her face was prettier than her left side so she would often ask her photographer to only take pictures of that side. To most people though, she looked fine from every angle.
Monroe endured a Stutter and serious Nerves throughout her career
Even after she had appeared in so many movies, Marilyn Monroe still had to deal with serious nerves. Her co-star on Bus Stop, Don Murray, claimed she would break into rashes every time they had to do a scene together. Makeup artists were tasked with concealing her rashes whenever they popped up.
Monroe also had a stutter as a child, and as a high school student. She overcame the stutter at points but it would often resurface, and it eventually became her trademark; it was there when she was filming Something’s Got to Give.
She was a Huge Fan of Ella Fitzgerald
Ella Fitzgerald wasn’t very fortunate in her career at first; the super-talented jazz singer struggled to get bookings to perform at events. Some sources claim she couldn’t get gigs because she was black, while others credited her lack of sex appeal for her inability to get gigs.
Fortunately for Fitzgerald, Marilyn Monroe was a huge fan; she was an active fan as well, as she convinced the Mocambo nightclub to let Fitzgerald perform her jazz music there. That gig became the turning point in her career as she landed other gigs as a result of it.
She started Marilyn Monroe Productions in 1955
As one of the most famous and successful entertainers in the world, Marilyn Monroe broke new ground in entertainment and recorded several feats no other female had managed. When she wanted to do more dramatic movie roles, she started her own production company known as Marilyn Monroe Productions in 1955.
Twentieth Century Fox wasn’t thrilled by her decision and therefore sued her before they settled on a deal. She also negotiated her way out of being underpaid as she fought for a higher salary and backpay in the 1950s.
Monroe was Politically Active
Marilyn Monroe was highly cerebral and she was quite active politically as a result; many people don’t remember just how politically active she was. Monroe was actually one of the founding members of the Hollywood branch of the Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy.
She was quite vocal about her stance on nuclear bombs, claiming that the H-bomb was her nightmare during an interview. Monroe was also an alternate delegate in the Connecticut Democratic caucus and she was a supporter of the civil rights movement and Fidel Castro.
Her Death was Shrouded in Mystery
Marilyn Monroe’s death was officially ruled as a barbiturate overdose but there are a couple of suspicious circumstances surrounding her death. A Chicago Tribune article claimed that the first police officer that responded to the scene thought it was a case of murder.
The article also claimed that the coroner that signed her death certificate was under duress during the signing. The conspiracy theories were fed with speculation that there were no pills in Monroe’s stomach when she was found, and she was holding a telephone. However, no evidence of murder was ever found.
She left a quarter of her Assets to her Psychiatrist
Because Marilyn Monroe’s mother was institutionalized for most of her daughter’s childhood, Monroe grew up with a fear of ending up like her mother in mental institutions. She broke the jinx though because although she periodically saw a psychiatrist, she was rarely institutionalized.
But apparently, Monroe developed a real bond with her psychiatrist, Dr. Marilyn Kris, during all those sessions so she left 25% of all her possessions to the psychiatrist in her will. Monroe wanted the money to be used for further psychiatric research.
Hugh Hefner paid $75,000 to buy the Crypt next to Monroe’s
In order to buy the crypt next to the one Marilyn Monroe was buried in, Hugh Hefner paid $75,000 for it in 1992. Hefner had never met Monroe but he still thought it would be symbolic to spend the rest of eternity next to her, and he didn’t mind parting with so much money in order to do so.
Hefner felt connected to her in weird ways; he had also paid $500 for some nude photos she had taken when she needed some money early in her career. Those nudes were featured in the first Playboy issue without her permission.
Success didn’t come easy for her
While she was starting out in the movies, Marilyn Monroe was left with no choice but to submit to the casting couch. Even though she would eventually become a well-paid and successful actress, success didn’t come easy for her.
She grinded it out by taking lessons, working hard, and doing what she could with the opportunities she got. At one point, she performed in a show called "Mona Monroe" in a bid to gain the required experience to do a role in the B movie Ladies of the Chorus.
She was Institutionalized after separating from Arthur Miller
It was ironic that Marilyn Monroe was institutionalized after she and her third husband, Arthur Miller, got separated. She converted to Judaism and had to testify at multiple hearings before she married Miller so separating from him after all that must have triggered something in her.
She suffered insomnia and unrest as a result of the separation. Monroe was locked in a padded room where she struggled to get loose for a couple of days; eventually, it was her second husband, Joe DiMaggio, that got her away from the ward.
She was Incredibly Generous
One thing you can’t take away from Marilyn Monroe is her incredible generosity when she was alive; the star was quite generous throughout her years. Even when she was in foster homes or institutions, her generosity was evident.
At one point an acting teacher got an expensive fur coat from her, another time it would be her shopping companions receiving something she bought for herself that she didn’t need. Children got to enjoy Monroe’s generosity the most because she had a couple of charities focused on children.
Part of her Wealth went to the Anna Freud Centre
In furtherance of the discussion of Marilyn Monroe’s incredible generosity towards kids, the story of children benefitting from the star actress’ kindness didn’t end with her death; it continued even after she died.
After she died, a portion of her estate was given to Dr. Kris who, in 1980, decided to give her part of Monroe’s estate to the Anna Freud Centre in England. The decision was one Monroe herself would have smiled upon because the Anna Freud Centre is an organization that caters to children with mental health problems.
Her honeymoon was interrupted So she could Visit American Troops
During the early days of the Second World War, Marilyn Monroe was a young housewife going by the name of Norma Jeane Dougherty. She worked in a military drone-producing factory where she was found by a photographer on a mission to find ways to inspire the American troops.
She became a model at that point and took a couple of photos that became a hit among the troops in Korea. As a result of it, she cut her honeymoon with Joe DiMaggio short so she could visit American soldiers in Korea in 1954. Once she got there, she had a routine that involved her getting on stage in a sparkling purple dress. Monroe performed in 10 shows in only four days; the temperatures were freezing at this point so that period certainly played a part in her pneumonia.
Her First Marriage was Arranged
In her younger years, Marilyn Monroe was known as Norma Jean Baker, a youngster that was in and out of foster homes. She was also under the guidance of family friends at different points because her mother was institutionalized and she never knew who her father was.
She was staying with a family friend named Grace Goddard at one point when Goddard had to move to West Virginia without Baker. Her only options at that point were to get married or return to an orphanage; it was primarily because of this that she got married to James Dougherty.
Her Mother’s maiden name was Monroe
Although she will forever be remembered as Marilyn Monroe, this wasn’t her first choice. Her first choice of a stage name was Jean Adair, which was played off her real name, Norma Jeane. However, her mother’s maiden name was Monroe so she chose Monroe for this reason.
According to her autobiography, Monroe was told that she was a relative of President James Monroe but proof of that was never shown to her. She got Marilyn from a studio exec that said she looked like Marilyn Miller.
She would often refer to Herself in the third person
Eli Wallach was an actor that was closer to Marilyn Monroe than a lot of other actors; according to him, Monroe had an on and off inner switch which she seemed to flip whenever she wanted. He described walking on Broadway with Monroe one day before she became swarmed with attention.
Her next words surprised Wallach; Monroe said she felt like being Marilyn for a moment, just then she flipped on the switch and it seemed like she was a new person. Photographer Sam Shaw also recalled her criticizing Marilyn’s efforts at photoshoots and movies.
She was Truman Capote’s first choice to play Holly Golightly
While casting for the lead role of Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Truman Capote had Marilyn Monroe in mind as his first choice. Capote even had her perform two scenes for him to see if it was what he pictured.
He described her as being terrifically good but in the end, she didn’t do the role because her advisor thought the role wasn’t the kind she should have been doing at that stage of her career. In the end, the studio went with Audrey Hepburn, a decision that didn’t thrill Capote in the least bit.
She had an On-Camera Glow
Marilyn Monroe was known for her on-camera glow and talent among other things, but her on-camera glow wasn’t quite natural. According to reports, she went to considerable lengths to achieve the glow; she would slather on a layer of Vaseline or Nivea Crème before getting her makeup applied in order to look more luminous on film.
She also did her best to stay out of the sun even though suntanned skin was in vogue in California at the time. Monroe didn’t think the practice was healthy or made skin more attractive. One could only imagine how Vitamin D deficient she was.
Monroe was Attracted to Intellectual Men
Talk about like minds attracting each other; it has been established many times that Marilyn Monroe was quite intelligent and possessed a high IQ so it isn’t surprising that she was drawn to intellectual men. Her marriage to writer Arthur Miller proves this fact but it wasn’t the only indication.
Her one-time roommate, actress Shelley Winters, described a scenario in which they both had a list of men they wanted to sleep with and Monroe had Albert Einstein on hers. She also had a framed photograph of Albert Einstein on her piano.
Her House was Bugged
As a result of her marriage to Arthur Miller, the FBI had a file on Marilyn Monroe and they continued to keep tabs on her, especially after she requested to visit the Soviet Union. As a result of it, her only house, a Brentwood, California hacienda was bugged; after she died, her home was purchased by Veronica Hamel and Michael Irving.
The decision of the married couple to remodel the house led to the discovery of an advance, government-grade phone tapping system throughout the house, an indication that her home was bugged. No recorded tapes of what was overheard have ever been released.
She had a hard time Memorizing her Lines
One problem that plagued Marilyn Monroe throughout her career was her inability to memorize her lines. Monroe had a tough time keeping her lines at heart, and as a result, there were jokes that she couldn’t make two lines meet.
This much was confirmed by Don Murray, an actor and her co-star in Bus Stop. The reason she struggled to remember her lines remains mysterious because she was quite intelligent. And although some people thought she lacked the professionalism required, the truth is she was mostly just nervous.
Monroe was gifted a dog named Maf by Frank Sinatra
Marilyn Monroe owned a Maltese Terrier called Mafia Honey which was a gift from Frank Sinatra. The dog’s name was apparently inspired by Sinatra’s apparent criminal ties; the dog itself was taken in by Gloria Lovell after Monroe’s death.
Maf the dog was quite famous in its own right; he even had a book written about him in 2010. That book was The Life and Opinions of Maf the Dog, written by Andrew O’Hagan; it is basically a fiction story from the perspective of the dog.
She was married to Joe DiMaggio for only 8 months
Joe DiMaggio had an infamous romance that had been sparked again for a while before she died but when it comes down to it, they were married for only 8 months. A lot of factors contributed to their short marriage, but the popular subway scene in The Seven Year Itch must have played a part.
The skirt of Monroe’s white dress billowing up might have been the last straw for the celebrity couple. DiMaggio wasn’t pleased with the way Monroe’s body was exposed and it didn’t help that the controversial scene was shot in front of a sizable audience.
She had a lot in common with Jean Harlow
Jean Harlow was Marilyn Monroe’s idol; just like Monroe, Harlow was a beautiful actress that died young. Monroe was even planning to do a Jean Harlow biopic in which she would star as her idol. The two actresses had a lot in common, even in death.
When Jean Harlow died, her fiancé William Powell had flowers sent to her grave every week for many years, much like Joe DiMaggio had roses delivered to Monroe’s grave every week for 20 years. According to reports, Monroe wanted the morbid act like her idol.
Her Estate has been making more money since she died
The irony of Marilyn Monroe’s passing is the fact that her estate has earned a lot more money since she died than when she was alive. At the peak of her career, she had two films with million-dollar contracts each; she was also paid $1 million for her performance in Cleopatra in the same period.
When she died, her estimated worth was only about $20 million, which wasn’t exactly remarkable. However, since the star actress passed away, her estate has made more and it currently makes about $30 million a year.
Joe DiMaggio once Tried to Catch her with another man
Joe DiMaggio’s marriage to Marilyn Monroe ended after only eight months but apparently, he remained stuck on her after their union ended. DiMaggio hired an investigator to follow Marilyn at one point; the investigator turned up at his dinner one day to inform DiMaggio and his companion, Frank Sinatra, that she was with another man.
This made the men storm out to the house he described with an assembled crowd; unfortunately, things didn’t go as they planned because they broke into the wrong house and were eventually sued by the homeowner.
She was a Sex Symbol
Marilyn Monroe was quite the bombshell even before she dyed her hair blonde, but once she went blonde, men everywhere couldn’t resist her. As a result, the blonde bombshell became a sex symbol among men of her era.
Her appearance in the popular musical romance, Ladies of the Chorus is credited for boosting her career. However, from that point on, Monroe became involved with nearly all the leading men in the movies she was featured in. She was married three times in addition to all her affairs.
Monroe had Two Plastic Surgeries
In order to become incredibly famous and enjoy a thriving career as an actress, Marilyn Monroe had two plastic surgeries and even had her front teeth modified so they wouldn’t stick out as much, something that most people don't know since she always looked so natural.
The first of the two painful plastic surgeries that Monroe had was a tip rhinoplasty to modify the shape of the end of her nose; the second was to have a chin implant inserted. Monroe also whitened her skin with hormone cream but this bleaching routine had the unintended effect of making light blonde hairs grow on her face.
She did 16 Movies in less than 4 Years
Before she became super famous, Marilyn Monroe grinded it out and worked her butt off to find success and fame; she was featured in sixteen movies in less than four years in that period. Unfortunately, she wasn’t built to cope with the mental stress of it.
She confided in her coach that she could hear voices in her head. Among the many movies that Monroe did in those early years are Let’s Make it Legal, Don’t Bother to Knock, Monkey Business, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, and many others.
One Loss Shook her more than the Others
1950 wasn’t a great year for Marilyn Monroe because she suffered personal trauma when Johnny Hyde died. Hyde was her agent and her lover as they had been together for about two years before he died of a heart attack. According to reports from that time, Monroe was terribly shaken by Hyde’s death.
She felt terrible that she had lost her greatest friend and wept uncontrollably in her bedroom as a result. His funeral wasn’t any different as the actress was quite emotional at the event too, and was heard yelling his name.
She had Three failed Pregnancies
There was nothing that Marilyn Monroe desired more than children; she loved children and was quite desperate to have her own. While she was married to DiMaggio, she tried to have children but she had an increased risk of ectopic pregnancies and miscarriages because of her endometriosis.
Although she never got pregnant by DiMaggio, Monroe eventually conceived with Arthur Miller; once in 1956, 1957, and 1958. Unfortunately, she miscarried twice and the third was an ectopic pregnancy; the failed pregnancies made her quit trying to have children altogether.
Her Movie was Terrible
After launching her own production company, Marilyn Monroe Productions, Monroe proceeded to produce her own movie, The Misfits which was a real disaster. First, the movie director was addicted to alcohol and so he was drunk on the set most of the time.
Then, the pair of Montgomery Clift and Marilyn Monroe both struggled with their mental health so they both took pills every day. And finally, the movie was written by Monroe’s husband, Arthur Miller; the appalling movie proved to be the final straw for that union.
Monroe had Many Affairs
Marilyn Monroe was involved in messy love affairs like her mother was; the actress was known for her many affairs, and she was even involved with an older 20th Century Fox chairman. Charlie Chaplin’s autobiography described Marilyn Monroe’s affair with his son Charlie Junior in 1947.
That affair was short-lived because Charlie caught her in bed with another man that happened to be his own brother, Sydney Chaplin. She also reportedly seduced President Kennedy while being obsessed with Albert Einstein.
She wasn't afraid of HUAC
In the 50s and 60s, some celebrities were accused of being Communist and therefore had to go on trial. Arthur Miller, Monroe's husband at the time, was one of these celebrities, and so he was made to testify to reveal others who had been involved in Communist activities.
Arthur Miller refused to testify which meant he could face time in prison. However, Marilyn stood by Author the entire time even agreeing to marry him when he announced his plans to marry her in his testimony. This led to the entire conviction being overturned.
She left her handprints at the Grauman's Chinese Theater
Lots of people have received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, but not many have had their actual body parts immortalized in cement. In 1953, Marilyn Monroe and her co-star, Jane Russell, placed their hands and feet in wet cement in front of the Grauman's Chinese Theater in Los Angeles.
To this day their handprints can be found in the forecourt of the theatre and this is still one of the most popular photos in Grauman's Chinese Theater. This was in honor of their new film, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, which was set to come out in July of 1953. The duo was known as “Filmdom’s first blonde and first brunette.”