Marilyn Monroe (1926-1962)
Marilyn Monroe was born as Norma Jean Mortenson (Baker) on June 1, 1926 in Los Angeles, California. Marilyn’s childhood consisted of her being passed around between countless family members, family friends and orphanages. She finally found a stable home with a family friend and stayed with them for a few years. But Doc (the husband) got a new job out East and couldn’t afford to take Marilyn, leaving her again living in foster care homes. To escape the life of bouncing around from place to place, she married her boyfriend Jimmy Dougherty in 1942 at the age of 16. Dougherty was a merchant marine and was sent to the South Pacific, leaving Marilyn behind. During this time, Marilyn worked in a factory and worked to become a model and an actress. Throughout her life Marilyn became a very successful model and actress and icon for the American society. But on August 5, 1962 she died of a drug overdose at the age of 36.
Her Claim to Fame
While working in that factory, a famous photographer snapped a picture of her. The photographer visited many factories to take pictures of women at work and he was mesmerized by Marilyn’s beauty and grace. Her picture circulated through the Hollywood scene and within months her modeling career took off and she was the face of many magazine covers. She divorced her husband in 1946 and changed her name from what she called, “the boring Norma Baker” to the more glamorous Marilyn Monroe, after her grandmother. She also changed her hair color from subtle brunette, to platinum blonde. While her modeling career was in motion, so was her acting career. She began taking drama lessons and got her first movie contract with Twentieth Century Fox. While most of her first films were low key, she was getting attention and was being exposed to the atmosphere of Hollywood. With more publicity, she landed roles in films called, All About Eve, Niagara, Gentleman Prefer Blonds and How to Marry a Millionaire. Audiences loved her breathy, blonde bombshell appeal and her the acting characteristics she displayed, which lead her to more high key roles, more important roles and made her even more famous.
Her Influence on American Society
People of the American society not only noticed and loved her strong and relatable acting characteristics, they were in love with her personal appearance and personal characteristics. As Marilyn made great strides on the film screen she also made great strides in her public appearance. She became an iconic figure of Hollywood glamour and fashion and was an epitome of sensuality, beauty and effervescence, and was also naturally photogenic. She became an icon for the women in the American society of that time and today. Her modeling tactics opened up many new doors in the modeling world and many young models are using her techniques today. She was portrayed as a sex symbol of that time, which has influenced America in many different ways. Even though she was sex symbol and a little edgier than many people of America of that time, she also displayed a sense of talent and class on film and on the runway.
“A Candle in the Wind”
By: Elton John
This song was written by Elton John after Marylin Monroe had passed away from a drug overdose. In the song, Elton sings about how Marylin had a certain grace about her, and even though she experienced hardships in her childhood as well as the pressures of being in the public eye, she held herself, while many other people would not have had that same ability. He also explains that while her career was booming, it was like the public was “putting her on a treadmill” and they made her change her name. As the song continues and it comes to the chorus, he is implying that she is like “a candle in the wind,” meaning she is just barely hanging on because she has really had no one to turn to in her life and she is just barely hanging on from all the public attention and criticisms she was getting. The last aspect of Elton John’s song that was very meaningful was when he states: “your candle burned out long before, your legend ever did” and this quote holds true to today. Marilyn Monroe died way before her legend ever did, because her legend and influence on the American society and the women of America still lives on today.