“Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius, and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.” – A legend from the 50s, Marilyn Monroe is an unforgettable sex-icon from past times. She is known for her fascinating beauty and her intriguing personality. And while she may be lots of things, one thing’s for certain: Marilyn is never boring. Read on to learn 50 interesting facts about this famous “blonde bombshell”.
Fact 1: She was born as Norma Jeane Mortenson.
- But she was later baptized as Norma Jeane Baker by her grandmother, Della Monroe.
Fact 2: Norma Mortenson was born on June 1st, 1926.
- She was born in Los Angeles County Hospital in California.
Fact 3: The stage name “Marilyn Monroe” was picked by Ben Lyon.
- Ben Lyon was the studio executive at 20th Century Fox, whom Marilyn Monroe signed a contract with. He was reminded of a famous Broadway star in the ’20s, Marilyn Miller, so he took the first name and added ‘Monroe,’ which was the surname of Norma’s mother, and created the stage name for her.
Fact 4: The identity of Norma Jeane’s father is unknown.
- Marilyn only knew her mother, Gladys Pearl Monroe Baker, who lived a large part of her life in a mental institution. She had 2 stepbrothers from her mom’s first husband, John Newton Baker. But she wasn’t able to meet them since the brothers were taken away by their father to Kentucky.
Fact 5: Norma Jeane bounced between foster homes in her early childhood years.
- Her mother, Gladys Baker, wasn’t capable of taking care of a child. She placed an infant Norma into the care of the Bolender’s (a couple in Hawthorne, California), only 12 days after her birth. Gladys went back to work and paid the Bolenders $5 per week to look after her baby Norma.
Fact 6: In 1935, Monroe’s mother became increasingly depressed and was institutionalized for the rest of her life.
- Grace Goddard, a friend of Monroe’s mother, became the legal guardian of her in 1936. When she could not financially support the young Marilyn, she sent her to the Los Angeles Orphans Home Society.
Fact 7: Monroe had a fixed marriage to prevent her from going back into the foster care system.
- Grace Goddard and her family decided to move to West Virginia, but the California Child Protection Laws prevented the Goddards from taking Monroe out of the state. This meant there was a strong possibility that Monroe would return to an orphanage. It was Grace who suggested the union of her next-door neighbour, James Dougherty, and young Marilyn to prevent this from happening.
Fact 8: Norma Jeane Baker was only 16 years old when she was first married.
- James Dougherty was the first of Monroe’s 3 husbands. He was a police officer in Los Angeles. They were married 18 days after she celebrated her 16th birthday, when James was 21 years old.
Fact 9: Norma Jeane’s first marriage lasted for 4 years.
- They started dating in January 1942 and married on June 19th of the same year. They got divorced in 1946. She said, “Marriage didn’t make me sad, but it didn’t make me happy, either. My husband and I hardly spoke to each other. This wasn’t because we were angry. We had nothing to say. I was dying of boredom.”
Fact 10: Marilyn Monroe had a dreadful fear of genetic insanity.
- Gladys’s family had a history of mental instability. She was a manic depressive (while some diagnosed her with paranoid schizophrenia). Both of her parents spent their lives in mental facilities, and her brother was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.
Fact 11: Marilyn was rumoured to be related to the 5th U.S. President, James Monroe.
- This was also reflected in her ghost-written autobiography. However, this has never been conclusively proven to this today.
Fact 12: Marilyn Monroe viewed Abraham Lincoln as a father figure.
- Growing up without knowing her father, she searched out a father-figure to help her through the hard times. She said, “Most people can admire their fathers, but I never had one. I need someone to admire. My father is Abraham Lincoln…I mean I think of Lincoln as my father. He was wise and kind and good. He is my ideal, Lincoln. I love him”
Fact 13: Before she was discovered in 1945, Marilyn worked on a munitions assembly line.
- During World War II, women were recruited for important factory jobs to supply the forces abroad. Marilyn was one of those women who served their patriotic duty in the many munition factories.
Fact 14: Marilyn’s popularity began after posing for the Blue Book.
- She was discovered by David Conover, who was looking to shoot morale-boosting photos of young women, to help with the war effort. She’s the most successful model for the Blue Book, and her photos appeared on a variety of magazine covers.
Fact 15: She was naturally brunette.
- Marilyn started bleaching her hair to a golden blonde when she signed up for the Blue Book Modeling Agency (because the agency wanted models with lighter hair).
Fact 16: Marilyn Monroe was crowned as California’s first “Artichoke Queen” in 1948.
- The 22-year-old Marilyn was hailed as the Artichoke Queen in Castroville, one of the largest farming community of artichokes in the U.S. This helped propel the popularity of artichokes in California.
Fact 17: She saw “Marilyn Monroe” as a ‘third person’.
- Whenever she criticized her performances, she would say comments like, “She wouldn’t do this. Marilyn wouldn’t say that.”
Fact 18: She had 2 sessions of plastic surgery in 1950.
- She lifted her nose a bit and made her chin line appear stronger.
Fact 19: Marilyn’s medical reports were sold for $25,600.
- Her plastic surgery medical reports were sold at an auction.
Fact 20: She attempted suicide after the death of Johnny Hyde in 1950.
- Johnny Hyde was her agent and romantic partner. He played a major role in Marilyn’s success, and died of a heart attack on December 1950. Marilyn was severely affected by his passing, and this was the first known suicide attempt of the actress.
Fact 21: Marilyn was also known for her legendary lateness.
- She seldom came to appointments on time. She said in an interview, “I am invariably late for appointments–sometimes as much as two hours. I’ve tried to change my ways but the things that make me late are too strong and too pleasing.”
Fact 22: She had a special shooting schedule.
- When Marilyn rose to fame, her behaviour was unpredictable. For example, nobody knew when she’d actually turn up for work.
Fact 23: Marilyn Monroe was the 2nd woman to have her own production studio.
- The “Marilyn Monroe Productions” was established in December 1954.
Fact 24: She was a great cook.
- The famous star has a surprising list of delicious recipes to her name. Writers from The New York Times mentioned that her dishes were complex and delicious.
Fact 25: Marilyn often called herself many names.
- Besides her real name, Norma Jeane, she also called herself Mona, Faye, and Zelda.
Fact 26: Besides her Academy Award, Marilyn had earned other fun titles.
- In 1941, she received the award as the “Oomph Girl” in Emerson Junior High. In 1950, she was awarded as the “Miss Cheesecake”. In 1953, she was recognized as the “Most Advertised Girl in the World”.
Fact 27: Marilyn was a dog lover.
- Little Norma Baker had a dog named Tippy. It was also the same name as the dog in her film, ‘Something’s Got to Give’.
Fact 28: Frank Sinatra gave her a Maltese terrier.
- She named it Mafia, or Maf for short. Some said that the dog’s full name was Mafia Honey.
Fact 29: Marilyn Monroe had an IQ score of 168, beating Einstein and Hawking.
- In real life, Marilyn was far from her usual portrayed characters as a “dumb blonde”. Many people simply took her at face value and failed to recognize her intelligence and wit. She was business-oriented, politically savvy, and socially grounded. She was the epitome of beauty and brains in her heyday.
Fact 30: Marilyn was a sapiosexual.
- She and actress Shelly Winters made a list of who they wanted to sleep with. One name on Marilyn’s list was Albert Einstein. Her thing for intellectual men was also evident in her marriage with Arthur Miller.
Fact 31: Marilyn Monroe was a bookworm.
- She was often seen reading books and was described as a wide reader. At the time of her death, she was reading one of Harper Lee’s classics, “To Kill A Mockingbird”.
Fact 32: Marilyn owned over 400 books.
- Some of them were first editions. She had a very impressive bookshelf at home she was proud of. Out of the thousands of pictures, she was especially fond of those showing her reading.
Fact 33: She was a student at UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles).
- She studied literature and history.
Fact 34: Marilyn earned her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1960.
- It was the same year when she won a Golden Globe for the film ‘Some Like It Hot’.
Fact 35: She was the 6th greatest female star of all time.
- The American Film Institute ranked Marilyn Monroe in their highly acclaimed list in 1999.
Fact 36: She was sexually assaulted several times in her early years when she was in and out of foster care.
- Marilyn’s psychologists believed that these traumas affected her later behaviour (sleep disturbances, disturbed interpersonal relationships, substance abuse, and hypersexuality).
Fact 37: Marilyn sang “Happy Birthday” for President Kennedy’s 45th birthday.
- She made history when she sang the song provocatively to the President on May 19th, 1962, at Madison Square Garden.
Fact 38: The Sex Symbol and Young President reportedly had an affair.
- Although these claims were not supported by evidence, some say that the actress had an affair with the 2 Kennedy brothers.
Fact 39: Marilyn Monroe’s first television appearance was on September 13th, 1953.
- It was on The Jack Benny Show in 1953, where she sang “Bye Bye Baby.”
Fact 40: Marilyn has been on the front cover of over 100 magazines worldwide.
- She appeared on 33 magazine covers in 1946 alone. Every front cover of the sex symbol ensured sky-rocket sales for the magazine companies.
Fact 41: She had a hard time memorizing lines.
- This was mainly because of her struggles with stage fright.
Fact 42: Marilyn Monroe was married to second husband Joe DiMaggio for only 8 months.
- The actress filed for divorce on the grounds of “mental cruelty”.
Fact 43: The dress Marilyn wore when she sang the iconic “Happy Birthday” song to JFK in 1962, is one of the most expensive pieces of clothing ever sold.
- The nude-coloured, sheer, spangled dress was sold at $1,267,500 in 1999 Christies auction.
Fact 44: Her first major role was in 1948.
- It was in the low-budget musical ‘Ladies of the Chorus’.
Fact 45: Marilyn Monroe was the first choice for ‘Holly Golightly’ in ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’.
- Truman Capote, the writer for ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’, had Marilyn in mind for the lead role. But the actress turned down the offer, and Audrey Hepburn became Holly instead.
Fact 46: She had 3 miscarriages.
- The superstar had a condition called endometriosis. This made conceiving and carrying a child difficult for her.
Fact 47: She was paid $50 for a nude photoshoot in 1949.
- Marilyn struggled financially, and she couldn’t find work to support her needs. These photos were featured in a calendar in 1952, for which the actress was criticized.
Fact 48: Marilyn Monroe made Playboy popular.
- Playboy magazine debuted in 1953 with Marilyn as the cover. It also included a nude picture of her, taken in 1949. This made the magazine both popular and successful.
Fact 49: Marilyn Monroe died on August 5, 1962, at the age of 36.
- The whole world was shocked by the passing of the iconic actress – apparently by her own hand – due to a barbiturate overdose.
Fact 50: In 1973, Elton John and Bernie Taupin released a song in Marilyn Monroe’s honour.
- It was entitled “Candle in the Wind”.