Marilyn Monroe is possibly the most well known actress of all time, and a woman who led a troubled life. Marilyn, or Norma Jean as she was originally known, was born in 1926. Abandoned by her mother, she grew up in the foster care system. At 16 she escaped into a marriage which ended in divorce five years later. During that marriage she broke into modeling; longing for something more, she submerged herself in classic literature and music, then enrolled in acting classes. After a short contract with 20th Century Fox, Columbia Pictures took an interest in her, casting her in her first film, 1948’s Ladies of the Chorus Line.
After two more films with Columbia, 20th Century Fox picked her up again, and it was there that her most famous films were made. Niagara and Gentlemen Prefer Blonds were both released in 1953, and began Marilyn’s surge to fame. In Gentlemen Prefer Blonds, Marilyn was able to show off her numerous talents, singing and dancing, and performing her most famous tune, “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend.”
The film Niagara saw Marilyn exploring an entirely different role – an unfaithful woman, plotting to murder her husband. Also that year, Marilyn appeared in How to Marry a Millionaire, playing beside box office sensations Lauren Bacall and Betty Grable. In 1955, Marilyn had a brief marriage to baseball superstar Joe Dimaggio. That same year, perhaps her most famous film, The Seven-Year-Itch, was released; it was in this film that the famous photo of Marilyn with her white skirt blowing up in the air was taken. A few years later, Marilyn was in another great comedy, 1959’s Some Like It Hot. In 1962, Marilyn died of a drug overdose, in her California home, under what many consider to be suspicious circumstances.