Norma Jeane Mortensen Baker was born on June 1, 1926. Back then, she was far from the bleached blonde sex symbol that we have come to know as Marilyn Monroe
. Marilyn's life was anything but lighthearted. With a mentally unstable mother and abusive upbringing, she was the girl nobody wanted. Her relationship with Jim Dougherty, a high school friend, resulted in marriage when his family threatened to move away from their hometown without her. She was 16. Jim joined the Merchant Marines and Norma Jeane supported the family by working in an airplane munitions factory. She once commented, "Before marriage, a girl has to make love to a man to hold him. After marriage, she has to hold him to make love to him."
An Army photographer snapped some pictures of the young beauty and suggested she take modeling classes. Wisely deciding to emulate Jean Harlow
and Lana Turner
, Marilyn bleached her hair blonde, changed her name, and her career took off. Financially independent, she divorced Dougherty, admitting "First, I'm trying to prove to myself that I'm a person. Then maybe I'll convince myself that I'm an actress."
By 1952, she was "the talk of Hollywood," sought after not just for films, but for the sexuality she exuded both on and off the screen. She was remarkably realistic about the public's perception of her and candid about the burden of being one of the most sought-after women in the world. Her numerous illicit romances have been alluded to in many Marilyn Monroe quotes
, most memorably, "Husbands are chiefly good as lovers when they are betraying their wives."
Marilyn's search for true love
led to many unlikely relationships. Her first date with Joe DiMaggio was in 1953; he was immediately dazzled and Monroe was attracted to the rugged and much beloved baseball star. Their common thread of life in the limelight seemed like a good match; however, he thought he could tame the wild Marilyn and make her a housewife in San Francisco. Perhaps he should have paid more attention to Marilyn's quote: "I'm selfish, impatient, and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control, and at times hard to handle. But if you can't handle me at my worst, then you sure as well don't deserve me at my best."
The marriage ended in less than a year, although DiMaggio left flowers at her grave for decades after her death.
Perhaps the superficial adoration by the general public spawned her search for relationships that were more than just physical, reflected by her assertion, "The real lover is the man who can thrill you just by touching your head or smiling into your eyes or by just staring into space."
This may have been the source of her attraction to playwright Arthur Miller. Some of her greatest performances were under his tutelage, and for a time, she had brief happiness with a man she may have looked on primarily as a father figure and mentor. However, Marilyn suffered from overuse of alcohol and drugs, the 5-year marriage deteriorated, and the couple was divorced in 1961. Marilyn admitted, "I guess I have always been deeply terrified to really be someone's wife since I know from life one cannot love another, ever, really."
One of the most enduring sex symbols of our time, Marilyn continues to capture the imagination of the world, as reflected by Michelle Williams' Oscar nominated role in "My Week with Marilyn". Marilyn Monroe quotes
are witty and insightful, reflecting a sensitive and beautiful woman who truly lived her life like a candle in the wind.