Monroe: More Than Just a Pretty Face

by admin - November 19th, 2013

A woman who defied the stereotypes of her time was Marilyn Monroe. Born as Norma Jean Mortenson in 1926, she grew up in orphanages and foster homes as her mother, Gladys Baker, was institutionalized due to mental illness. Monroe was living with her mother’s best friend, Grace Mckee, while she was nine years old. At this young age, Marilyn was allowed to wear makeup and curl her hair. Once Mckee married, however, Monroe was sent to an orphanage. After the orphanage, she was sent to live with her great aunt Olive Brunings where she was allegedly sexually assaulted by Olive’s son. Many experts question if Monroe’s later behavior such as sleep disturbances, substance abuse, etc. were due to the sexual abuse she encountered during her childhood. At age sixteen, she married a 21-year-old aircraft worker, Jim Dougherty. The couple divorced four years later. It was during this time that Monroe began modeling bathing suits, dyed her hair blonde and began to pose for pin-ups and photos.

Monroe was given a contract with 20th Century-Fox, where she appeared in small parts of films and soon changed her name to Marilyn Monroe. In 1953, Playboy magazine was created by Hugh Hefner, which featured “a nude photo of Marilyn Monroe that he had purchased for $500” as the centerfold of the debut magazine (Dunar 188). Causing an outrage with 20th Century-Fox, Monroe admitted she had posed for the photo at a time when she was struggling to pay her rent. She eloped with baseball player Jo DiMaggio in 1954, however, the marriage only lasted eight months.

Towards the end of the 1950s, Monroe’s work production slowed down and she underwent psychoanalysis. In 1956, she married playwright, Arthur Miller, however their marriage only lasted for four years. After the divorce, she voluntarily entered Payne Whitney Psychiatric Clinic. Due to this, Monroe fell victim to pills and alcohol and also suffered two miscarriages. “The Misfits” written by Miller, was her final film. Her work was interrupted by exhaustion and she was fired from another movie for not showing up for filming. Monroe attended the birthday celebration of President John F. Kennedy at Madison Square Garden on May 19, 1962 where she personally sang “Happy Birthday” to the president in an iconic manner.

On August 5, 1962, at thirty-six-years-old, Monroe was found dead in her home in Los Angeles. Monroe’s psychiatrist was the one who called the LAPD sergeant, Jack Clemmons. After an autopsy, it was concluded that she had overdosed on sleeping pills. It was determined that she was committing suicide, however, this assumption has been endlessly disputed. Many conspiracy theories include the CIA or Mafia or even brothers John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy, with whom she had alleged affairs.

Despite her rapid decline at the end of her career, as Haley W. mentions in her “Hefner and Friends” post, “Monroe’s fame as shown to be long lasting”. Naïve teenagers often post about Monroe and idolize her as being more fabulous and more of a role model than she actually was. Teenagers of our time period should not adore a woman who was involved in affairs, divorces, and posed for vulgar photography. I agree with Haley when she says that women “praise a woman they don’t know much about, based upon her looks and what she had to say”. I believe that teenagers and young adults of our time should realize who they are worshipping and claiming as their role model. Many teens probably do not know the indecent doings of Monroe and if they did, they probably would worship her in a different light. Perhaps, teens would view her as someone who played an important role in the acceptance of sexuality and the sexual revolution. Teenagers who claim Monroe as their role model should be aware of the fact that she is more than just a pretty face.

Overall, Marilyn Monroe is an icon that will forever be remembered. As she was unlike any women of her time, Monroe helped create a break through of sexuality acceptance and the sexual revolution. Having to deal with issues that were not typically discussed during this time period, Marilyn Monroe is a figure of great significance. Her troubled home life as a child led her to multiple divorces, affairs, and eventually to her self-destructive death at age thirty-six. In my opinion, her actions and life remind me of the story Peyton Place. As Selena Cross is beaten and sexually abused by her father, she is constantly haunted by this and eventually grows up to not be as successful as her friend, Allison, who was brought up in a more stable home. As a real-life version of Selena Cross, Marilyn Monroe was forced to live unlike the other women of this time period, and is therefore someone who sticks out during this time period as someone who defied the traditionalism of the 1950s.

Looking for more information on Marilyn Monroe? Click here

–Janelle P.

5 Responses to “Monroe: More Than Just a Pretty Face”

  1. Allie DiTomasso says:

    Janelle did a good job of showing how Monroe’s past affected how she acted once she was older. I did research on Monroe before and I was shocked to hear how hard her past was. I also thought the comparison of Monroe to Selena was interesting, because they did have similar struggles. I wonder if Selena would have had a similar lifestyle as Monroe.

  2. Page says:

    I enjoyed reading this post. I was shocked by almost every statement in this passage. I, probably like most other girls, just saw Marilyn Monroe as a pretty, talented face. I had no idea of the hardships she went through or the trouble she was involved in. I agree that young girls should not look at her as a role model for her life style but I can still see her as a good role model. Monroe went through a lot growing up, and although she may not have had any stable relationships and struggled, but she still persevered and did what she wanted to do. Monroe worked for her place in the spotlight. Some of her methods of getting there may not have been the best choices but she did what she felt necessary to get by. Monroe pushed the bounds of sexuality and for this she deserves credit.

  3. Erin Rice says:

    Like Page and Allie, I was also shocked at how difficult Monroe’s past had been. Oftentimes, she is depicted as someone who rose to stardom simply by her looks, when in fact she openly admitted, as Janelle says, that she once posed nude because she was struggling to pay her rent.” Overall, I liked how Janelle related her post to Haley’s previous post while also bringing in the perspective of Peyton Place in her comparison of Monroe to Cross.

  4. Courtney Mullin says:

    This post gave an eye opening view of what Marilyn Monroe’s life really was. Most people just see her pretty face and blonde hair and want to be just like her but their were many deeper issues in her life. It is sad how much her life declined and that she died at such a young age. I like that Janelle related Monroe to Selena Cross. It is an idea I never would have thought of, but they are very similar women who have learned how to care for themselves.

  5. Kate Massoud says:

    This post does a great job at uncovering the unknown struggles Marilyn Monroe dealt with. As the post discussed, many people just know of Marilyn’s scandals and gorgeous looks rather than the real person she was. Well done!