The ultimately tragic figure of Marilyn Monroe became one of the most iconic images of the 20th century. But despite her extraordinarily successful career, Marilyn’s personal life was dogged by misfortune and unhappiness, and even today, the circumstances of her untimely death at the age of 36 are still shrouded in mystery.
1. Although Marilyn Monroe was famous for her blonde bombshell looks and curvaceous figure, she was also a talented actress with several award nominations to her name. Her role in Bus Stop won her a Golden Globe nomination and she received a BAFTA nomination for The Prince and the Showgirl.
2. Marilyn’s public persona as a sex symbol was very different to the person she was in private. She was intensely ashamed of her lack of formal education and went to great lengths to improve her mind, reading works of literature and studying every spare moment she could. When she died, there were more than four hundred books in her library.
3. Hugh Hefner owns the lot next to Marilyn’s tomb in the Westwood Memorial Park in Los Angeles and he fully intends on being buried next to her when he dies.
4. Marilyn was not always a blonde bombshell—when she was first discovered working at the Radioplane Company in Burbank, she was a pretty brunette, but by the time she starting appearing on the silver screen, she had dyed her hair blonde and the rest is history.
5. Marilyn enjoyed jogging as exercise long before jogging became fashionable. She was a keen fitness enthusiast and regularly went out in the morning for a slow run.
6. After Marilyn’s death, the new owners of her home discovered a highly sophisticated surveillance system in every room, lending credence to all the conspiracy theorists who believed Marilyn had been killed to protect the Kennedy family and the Mafia.
7. One of the most iconic images of Marilyn is the scene from the Seven Year Itch when she stood over an air vent and her dress wafts up—unfortunately, the lengthy filming of this scene spelt the end of Marilyn’s marriage to her then husband, Joe di Maggio. After her death, di Maggio arranged for red roses to be delivered to her crypt three times per week for the next twenty years.
8. Marilyn suffered from painful endometriosis, a condition that caused her a great deal of pain and even led to the insertion of a clause in film contracts specifying she could not work during her period.
9. Marilyn was brought up by a succession of foster parents and spent several years in orphanages because of her mother’s mental illness. Marilyn herself was also institutionalised for a time and she spent many years in psychoanalysis trying to deal with her many personal problems.
10. Marilyn suffered from terrible stage fright. This led to her gaining a reputation for unreliability as she frequently hid in her dressing room due to nerves.