Marilyn Monroe became one of the most popular sex symbols of the 1950s and early 1960s and was emblematic of the era’s changing attitudes towards sexuality. Although she was a top-billed actress for only a decade, her films grossed $200 million (equivalent to $2 billion in 2018).
Her mother Gladys had a turbulent mental state and struggled to cope with bringing up her children. For the first six years, Marilyn was brought up by foster parents, Albert and Ida Bolender in the town of Hawthorne, California.
To earn a living, Marilyn took a job at a local munitions factory in Burbank, California. It was here that Marilyn got her first big break. Photographer David Conover was covering the munitions factory to show women at work for the War effort.
He was struck by the beauty and photogenic nature of Norma, and he used her in many of his photographs. This enabled her to start a career as a model, and she was soon featured on the front of many magazine covers.
1946 was a pivotal year for Marilyn, she divorced her young husband and changed her name from, the boring, Norma Baker to the more glamorous Marilyn Monroe (after her grandma).
She took drama lessons and got her first movie contract with Twentieth Century Fox. Her first few films were low key, but from these beginnings, it gained her more prominent roles in films such as All About Eve, Niagara and later Gentleman Prefer Blondes and How To Marry A Millionaire.
These successful film roles thrust her into the global limelight. She became an iconic figure of Hollywood glamour and fashion. She was an epitome of sensuality, beauty and effervescence and was naturally photogenic. But she often found the trappings of fame difficult to deal with.
“When you’re famous you kind of run into human nature in a raw kind of way. It stirs up envy, fame does. People you run into feel that, well, who does she think she is, Marilyn Monroe? They feel fame gives them some kind of privilege to walk up to you and say anything to you, of any kind of nature — and it won’t hurt your feelings — like it’s happening to your clothes not you.”
– Marilyn Monroe (A Life of the Actress, 1993)
In 1954, she married baseball star Joe DiMaggio, a friend of over two years. Monroe was now one of biggest box-office draws of Hollywood, but her contract, negotiated in 1950, left her paid less than other stars. Also, Monroe didn’t wish to be typecast as a ‘blonde bombshell’ – just playing simple roles in comedies and musicals.
In a dispute over pay and choice of acting, she was temporarily suspended by 20th Century Fox, but eventually, they acceded to some of Monroe’s demands and gave her higher pay.
In September 1954, she starred in The Seven Year Itch, which was released to widespread media interest – after a successful media stunt on Lexington Avenue, New York.
In 1955, she sought greater independence from Fox, and began her own movie production and began studying method acting. Despite the media often being dismissive of Monroe’s potential, her efforts to improve acting paid off, and later films received critical acclaim for her wider scope of acting.
She was nominated for Golden Globe Best Actress Award for Bus Stop (1956). In 1959, she won a Golden Globe for her role in ‘Some Like It Hot‘.
Her relationship with Joe DiMaggio was quickly strained, due to his jealous and controlling nature. Monroe soon filed for divorce, though the couple retained a friendship despite the divorce. Monroe began dating playwright Arthur Miller and in 1956 married. To get married, Monroe converted to Judaism.
The marriage received significant media interest for the combination of Miller the left-wing intellectual and Monroe, the perceived ‘dumb blonde’. The marriage was sometimes referred to, rather unkindly, as “Egghead Weds Hourglass”.
To complicate matters, Miller was under investigation for his alleged “Communist sympathies”, and media bosses encouraged Monroe to end the relationship, but Monroe was unmoved. The FBI opened a file on her, worried about the political views of her husband.
In the late 1950s, and early 1960, her health began to deteriorate. She suffered from a Barbiturate addiction and experienced periods of depression. Her marriage to Miller broke down, and she had affairs with Yves Montand, Frank Sinatra and others.
During the 1960s, her ill health made shooting films challenging, and production was often delayed. She was still in great demand and often appeared on the front cover of glossy magazines. In 1962, she was invited to the White House to sing for J.F. Kennedy’s birthday.
Marilyn Monroe Tragic Death
Marilyn Monroe, a troubled beauty who failed to find happiness as Hollywood’s brightest star, was discovered dead in her Brentwood home of an apparent overdose of barbiturates (sleeping pills) aged just 36, in 1962
The blond, 36-year-old actress was nude, lying face down on her bed and clutching a telephone receiver in her hand when a psychiatrist broke into her room at 3:30 a.m.
She had been dead an estimated six to eight hours.
About 5:15 p.m. Saturday she had called the psychiatrist, Dr. Ralph Greenson, and was told to go for a ride when she complained she could not sleep, police reported.
Her body was taken to the County Morgue, where Coroner Theodore J. Curphey said after an autopsy that he could give a “presumptive opinion” that death was due to an overdose of some drug.
He said a special “suicide team” would be asked to investigate Miss Monroe’s last days to determine if she took her own life.
Further medical tests as to the nature of the suspected killer drug will be completed in 48 hours, he said.
An empty bottle found among several medicines beside her bed had contained 50 Nembutal capsules. The prescription was issued only two or three days ago and the capsules were to be taken in doses of one a night, said Dr. Hyman Engelberg.
Believed in Depressed Mood
It was learned that medical authorities believed Miss Monroe had been in a depressed mood recently. She was unkempt and in need of a manicure and pedicure, indicating listlessness and a lack of interest in maintaining her usually glamorous appearance, the authorities added.
The coroner’s office listed the death on its records as possible suicide while the police report said death was possibly accidental.
No suicide note was found.
Dr. Robert Litman, a psychiatrist serving on the suicide team, said notes are left by less than 40% of those who take their own lives. Miss Monroe’s body was discovered after her housekeeper and companion, Mrs. Eunice Murray, awoke about 3 a.m. and saw a light still burning in the actress’ room.
Mrs. Murray found the bedroom door locked. She was unable to arouse Miss Monroe by shouts and rapping on the door, and immediately telephoned Dr. Greenson.
Broke Bedroom Window
Dr. Greenson took a poker from the fireplace, smashed in a window and climbed into the room.
He told Det. Sgt. R. E. Byron that Miss Monroe was under a sheet and champagne-colored blanket which were tucked up around her shoulders.
Dr. Greenson took the telephone receiver from her hand and told Mrs. Murray, “She appears to be dead.”
He called Dr. Engelberg, who had prescribed the sleeping pills for the actress, who pronounced her dead on his arrival at the house a short time later. Dr. Engelberg called police at 4:20 a.m. and two officers arrived in five minutes, followed by Sgt. Byron at 5 a.m.
Bryon said he learned that Miss Monroe had called Dr. Greenson Saturday night and talked with him for about an hour. He quoted the psychiatrist as saying: “I was under the impression she was going to take a ride . . . to the beach or something like that.”
Byron said he went through the rambling Spanish style home at 12305 5th Helena Dr. and found “nothing unusual or amiss.”
He reported there were between 12 to 15 medicine bottles on Miss Monroe’s bedside stand, some with prescription labels.
Miss Monroe only recently bought the $75,000 house and it was only partially furnished.
By dawn reporters and photographers were milling around its lawns and swimming pool, silent in the morning quiet as officials closed out the life of one of filmland’s most glamorous stars.
Home Sealed Up
Miss Monroe’s body was wrapped in a pale blue blanket and strapped to a stretcher as it was removed from the home. Seals were placed on entrances to the home with the notice:
“Any person breaking into or entering these premises will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
A special guard was hired to watch the home.
Miss Monroe’s body was loaded into the back of a station wagon and transported to the Westwood Village Mortuary, just yard away from the gravesites of her grandmother and one of her guardians in early life.
The body later was transferred to the County Morgue where the nation’s No. 1 glamour girl became Coroner’s Case No. 81128 and the body was placed in Crypt 33.
Rites Tentatively Set
Funeral services are tentatively scheduled Wednesday afternoon at Westwood Village Mortuary chapel.
Her mother, Mrs. Gladys Baker Eley, 59, is a patient in the Rockhaven Sanitarium in Verdugo City.
News of Miss Monroe’s tragic death quickly circulated to much of the world. Even Moscow Radio made mention of it.
Friends of the actress were stunned, unbelieving and saddened.
Joe DiMaggio, baseball hero and the actress’ second husband, flew here from San Francisco as soon as he heard. His face was lined and he appeared deeply saddened when he alighted from a United Air Lines plane.
First Husband Silent
DiMaggio checked into a Santa Monica hotel, where he declined to talk with reporters or pose for pictures.
He and Miss Monroe had been seeing each other recently since her third attempt at marriage, with playwright Arthur Miller, collapsed in 1961.
In Woodbury, Conn., Miller replied “I don’t, really” when asked if he had any comment.
Her first husband was Jim Dougherty, now a Los Angeles policeman. His only comment was, “I’m sorry.” One of the first friends to arrive at the home Sunday morning was Pat Newcomb, a close friend of the actress and her press agent. Miss Newcomb, nearly hysterical with grief, sobbed:
“When your best friend kills herself, how do you feel? What do you do?”
She said she spent Saturday evening with Miss Monroe, had a quiet dinner and left the home about 7 p.m.
Marilyn Death is Believed to be Accidental
“This must have been an accident,” she said. “Marilyn was in perfect physical condition and was feeling great.
“We had made plans for today. We were going to the movies this afternoon.”
Milton Rudin, Miss Monroe’s attorney, also went to the house and told reporters he had talked with the star Saturday
“She appeared to be happy,” he said. “She wanted to see me in my office Monday.”
Miss Monroe was hopeful she could settle her difficulties with 20th Century-Fox Studios which earlier this summer fired her from the movie, “Something’s Got to Give.”
The studio claimed she refused to report for work costing it $2 million because of delays. It sued her for a half million dollars.
Despite this, Rudin said Miss Monroe hoped to work out a settlement with the studio and get the picture back in production.
Miss Monroe claimed throughout the dispute with 20th Century-Fox that she was ill and unable to report for work.
“She wanted to finish everything she started,” said Rudin.
Some believed Miss Monroe was depressed because her career was supposedly on the skids after two straight movie flops in “Let’s Make Love” and “The Misfits” – her last two movies.
But friends were nearly unanimous in believing her death was accidental.
They said two motion pictures executives were bidding for her services at the time of her death. One of them was reportedly J. Lee Thompson, director of the film “The Guns of Navarone,” who planned to meet with her Tuesday.
Producer Sam Spiegel also wanted her to star in a picture for him, it was reported.
Miss Monroe had received an offer of $55,00 a week to star in a night club appearance in Las Vegas recently, but she turned it down.
Further evidence that her career was on the upswing was indicated by a typewritten message on a table in her home.
It was from a representation of Anita Loos, creator of “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,” and said:
“Dear Miss Monroe: On behalf of Anita Loos, now in Europe, we would like to know if you would be interested star role new musical based on French play ‘Gogo.’ Book by Anita Loos, lyrics by Gladys Shelley and enchanting music by Claude Leville. Can send you script and music if you express interest. (signed) Natalia Danesi Murray.”
Grossed $200 Million
An associate of Miss Monroe said her 23 pictures since 1950 when she had a bit role in the “Asphalt Jungle” have grossed $200 million.
“Does that sound like she was depressed about her career?” he asked.
By mid-morning Sunday the crowds of reporters, photographers and friends cleared away from the officially sealed home where the tormented actress had spent her last hours.
Miss Newcomb took the housekeeper home and carried with her Miss Monroe’s small white dog “Moff,” All that was left behind for the eye of the curious were the dog’s two stuffed toys, a tiger and lamb, lying in the rear yard.
Although Monroe cultivated an image of the ‘dumb blonde’ – in fact, her image and persona was something she took care to cultivate and develop – through the media and the strength of her acting.
Although many were dismissive at the time, she took on the powerful Hollywood studio system and, against expectations, developed her acting career with her own intentions.
However, behind her confident public persona, she struggled with relationships and resorted to a heavy drug use, which had a damaging impact on both her mental and physical health.
In one sense, Monroe lived the American dream – rising from anonymity to become a famous actress, but it was a dream tinged with sadness for fame did not bring peace of mind or happiness.
Richard Poncher wanted to be entombed face down in his casket in the crypt he purchased above Marilyn Monroe’s.
Richard Poncher was an entrepreneur who sold every thing from army surplus supplies to bullet proof cars for Al Capone. He also bought a lot of things including a mansion in Beverly Hills and the crypt located right above one where the body of Marilyn Monroe lies today.
When Joe DiMaggio divorced Marilyn Monroe in 1954 he put one of the crypts he purchased for himself and Marilyn up for sale. Elsie Poncher, Richard’s wife, doesn’t know how her husband had come to know DiMaggio but her husband ended up purchasing the crypt and also bought the one beside it for her.
He actually beat out Hugh Hefner who also wanted the crypt above Monroe by offering to pay more. Hefner settled for one beside her instead, “Spending eternity next to Marilyn is too sweet to pass up.”
Accordingly, before Richard Poncher died in 1986 at the age of 81 he told his wife, “If I croak, if you don’t put me upside down over Marilyn, I’ll haunt you for the rest of my life.”
After the funeral service was ended, Elsie told the funeral director that her husband had to be turned face down in his casket before being put into the crypt and he was.
Though Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park cemetery is the eternal home to Dean Martin, Merv Griffin, Farrah Fawcett and countless other stars, it is Marilyn’s crypt that is still the most visited. Fans continue to leave roses and lipsticked kisses even though it’s been more than 50 years since the actress died.
In 2009, 25 years after her husband passed away, Elsie was in need of about $1.6 million to pay the mortgage off on her Hollywood mansion. So she decided to put the crypt where her husband rested, up for sale on eBay. His remains would be moved to the crypt next to it which was purchased for her and she decided she would be cremated when the time came and her ashes tucked in with her husband’s remains.
Bidding started at $500,000 and the crypt was sold for more than $4.6 million. Unfortunately, the winner was unable to pay and so Richard Poncher continues to gaze upon Marilyn Monroe. Elsie Poncher, now in her 70s was able to come up with the money she needed and still resides in her Hollywood home.
see also : Leonardo DiCaprio Childhood Bio & Net worth
Marilyn Monroe net worth:
Marilyn Monroe was an American actress, model, and singer who had a net worthequal to an inflation-adjusted $10 million at the time of her death in 1962.
“I am good, but not an angel. I do sin, but I am not the devil. I am just a small girl in a big world trying to find someone to love.”
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