Sex symbol, icon and Hollywood superstar, Marilyn Monroe is one of the most recognizable faces of all time, but life wasn't all glitz and glamor for this troubled starlet. Here we show you some rarely seen photos of the legend in her home and working life before her untimely end at the age of just 36-years-old.
Born Norma Jeane Baker, this baby photo shows the star as a happy, smiling child. Norma Jeane never knew her father, and although her surname was Baker, her mother had separated from husband John Newton Baker years before Norma was born and the identity of her father was never known. She also did not know her mother had a family with her first husband until she was 12-years-old and would not meet her half-sister until adulthood.
At just five years old, a young Marilyn already knows where the camera is and is confident of holding herself. Marilyn's mother was financially unable to support her, and so she was placed with foster parents who raised her as an evangelical Christian, with her mother visiting on weekends and often taking her to the cinema.
However, Monroe endured a troubled childhood that saw her taken away from her mother and bounced around care homes. By 1933, with Marilyn being 7, her mother felt stable enough to take her back but in January 1934, her mother, Gladys, had a mental breakdown and was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and taken back to hospital.
Star In The Making
The air of glamor followed Marilyn from an early age. Here we see her with a darker style to her characteristic bright blonde that she became known for. Sadly, whilst under the care of a family Marilyn was sexually abused and then moved to the Los Angeles Orphans Home in Hollywood in September 1935. A shy girl, she also developed a stutter and became withdrawn.
On The Rise
Whilst working in a munitions factory during the war effort, Marilyn was spotted by a photographer who was there to document the work going on. Marilyn then quit the factory and signed up to the Blue Book Model Agency in August 1945, dying her hair blond and straightening it to find greater success.
Impressed by her success as a model, the agency arranged for her to have acting auditions and Marilyn gained short-lived film contracts with Twentieth Century-Fox (1946–47) and Columbia Pictures (1948) before re-signing for Fox in 1951 and going on to become one of their biggest stars.
Her Second Husband
At just 16, Marilyn married Jim Dougherty, a member of her foster parent's next door neighbors. While odd, this allowed her to avoid going into care as her foster-father wanted to relocate to California, so Marilyn married to avoid that outcome. She would later divorce Jim Dougherty as he opposed her having a career. Married more than once, New York Yankee baseball player Joe DiMaggio was her second and was said to always have been madly in love with her apparently saying on his deathbed that he would "finally be with Marilyn."
Keeping The Allure
Another candid shot that showed how Marilyn tiptoed on the line between outrage and allure, it was this playful sensibility that would endear her to millions. and for a decade she was a top-billed actress with her films grossing $200 million by the time of her unexpected death in 1962. She remains a major pop-culture icon around the world.
By 1953 she was one of the most marketable movie stars around but was disappointed at being typecast and even refused a movie project in 1954 which got her briefly suspended from the studio. Realizing her immense power in a male-dominated industry, Monroe was one of the first female actresses to champion equality in an industry that still comes under attack for the pay gaps between men and women.
Keeping Up Morale
Known for her personable nature, here Marilyn is pictured entertaining troops on a trip to keep up morale. In the 1950's Monroe was a huge star and immensely popular with the troops, receiving several thousand letters of fan mail a week, and being declared "Miss Cheesecake of 1951" by the army newspaper Stars and Stripes.
Friends In High Places
Marilyn had many celebrity friends within the industry and can be seen here with Sophia Loren. Monroe also dated socialite Peter Lawford around 1951, and after being introduced to many of his industry friends, she fell in with the Hollywood crowds as her stardom continued to rise.
Starting out her career as a model, this early shot shows the youth and beauty she always had long before she became a household name. By early 1946, she had appeared on 33 magazine covers for publications such as Pageant, U.S. Camera, Laff, and Peek and she was considered one of the most ambitous and hardworking models on her agency's books.
Smiling for the Fans
It is clear Marilyn always knew how to pose and look great for the camera lens. Modeling herself after Rita Hayworth, on her second contract for Columbia Pictures, Marilyn's hair was lifted by electrolysis and further lightened to a platinum blond. Once released from Colombia, Marilyn had silicone prosthesis implanted in her jaw and rumour of rhinoplasty as well.
A Beautiful Face Working In An Ugly Industry
Despite her effortless beauty and mass fandom spawned from it, Marilyn was unhappy with a lack of control in her work as well as condescension from directors and male performers, and it is this that is believed to have led her to use of barbiturates, amphetamines and alcohol to alleviate anxiety and insomnia.
Controversial Beach Wear
Two-piece bathing suits and bikinis are fairly commonplace nowadays but this was another revealing shot (taken at Jones Beach in 1949) that had many tongues wagging. Later in her career, 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 increased interest in her films.
Marilyn became well known for pushing boundaries and though probably quite tame by today's standards, the famous skirt scene in the 1954 movie, The Seven Year Itch shocked and outraged many at the time, and that included her then-husband Joe DiMaggio who assaulted her after filming had wrapped because he grew jealous of the gawping crowds.
A Private Moment with her make-up artist
Allen 'Whitey' Snyder was a famed make-up artist to the stars and was responsible for Monroe's signature look: dark arched brows, pale skin, "glistening" red lips and a beauty mark.
An Industry Icon
By the time of her suicide from a barbiturate overdose in the early morning hours of Monday, August 6, 1962, the all-conquering blonde had already cemented herself as a game-changing actress who not only wowed the public with her immense gifts, but also went onto star in movies, grace magazine covers and even start her own production company after being dissatisfied with the level of pay being offered by unscrupulous studio executives.
She was also known to subtly subvert the sexist content of her material, leading noted film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum to write, "the difficulty some people have discerning Monroe's intelligence as an actress seems rooted in the ideology of a repressive era when superfeminine women weren't supposed to be smart".
A starlet in every sense of the word, Monroe's image has since been immortalized on everything from mugs and cups to T-shirts and shower curtain and remains one of Hollywood's most iconic actresses.