Today is a very special day, it’s Marilyn’s Birthday! Can you believe that if she were still alive, Marilyn would have been turning 94 years old today – just two months younger than the Queen herself! With each year I always try and write a special post about this amazing woman, who has helped me so much and achieved more than anyone could have imagined in her 36 years. Therefore, I decided to write 94 facts about the Birthday Girl – some you may know, some you may not, all in the hope that genuine things will be learnt and the real Marilyn will be more understood and appreciated.
Gladys and baby Norma Jeane spend some quality time together on the beach in 1929.
Little Norma Jeane, aged seven, in 1933.
Norma Jeane photographed by David Conover whilst working at the Radio Plane Munitions Factory in either the Fall of 1944 or Spring of 1945.
Norma Jeane by Andre de Dienes in late 1945.
Marilyn by Richard Miller in 1946.
Marilyn on Tobey Beach by Andre de Dienes on July 23rd 1949.
Marilyn by Ed Clark in Griffith Park in August 1950.
Marilyn attends a Party in Ray Anthony’s home, organized by 20th Century Fox on August 3rd 1952.
Marilyn filming The Seven Year Itch on location in New York City by Sam Shaw on September 13th 1954.
Marilyn by Milton Greene on January 28th 1955.
Marilyn by Cecil Beaton on February 22nd 1956. This was her favourite photo of herself.
Marilyn attending the Premiere of The Prince In The Showgirl at the Radio City Music Hall on June 13th 1957.
Marilyn by Carl Perutz on June 16th 1958.
Marilyn by Philippe Halsman for LIFE Magazine in October 1959.
Marilyn attends a Benefit for The Actors Studio at the Roseland Dance City on March 13th 1961.
Marilyn on Santa Monica Beach for Cosmopolitan Magazine by George Barris on July 1st 1962.
1. Stood at a height of 5’5½”
2. Born in the charity ward of the Los Angeles County Hospital at 9:30 AM on June 1st 1926.
3. Married three times;
– Jim Dougherty: (June 19th 1942 – September 13th 1946)
– Joe Dimaggio: (January 14th 1954 – 31st October 1955) (Temporary divorce granted on October 27th 1954)
– Arthur Miller: (June 29th 1956 – January 20th 1961).
4. Suffered two confirmed miscarriages; an ectopic pregnancy on August 1st 1957 and miscarriage in December 16th 1958.
5. Suffered with endometriosis very badly, so much so that she had a clause in her contract which stated she would be unable to work whilst menstruating.
6. Starred in 30 films – her last being uncompleted.
7. Favourite of her own performances was as Angela Phinlay in The Asphalt Jungle (1950)
8. Winner of three Golden Globes; two for World Film Favourite – Female in 1954 and 1962 and one for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical for her performance as Sugar Kane in Some Like It Hot (1959) in 1960.
9. Her idol was the first Platinum Blonde Bombshell, Jean Harlow.
10. Amassed a collection of over 400 books in her library, ranging from Russian Literature to Psychology.
11. Favourite perfume was Chanel No.5
12. Had two half siblings; Robert “Jackie” Baker (1918 – 1933) and Bernice Miracle (1919) – the former she would never have the chance to meet and Bernice was not informed about Marilyn until she was 19 years old.
13. Former Actor and 20th Century Fox Studio Executive, Ben Lyon created the name Marilyn Monroe in December 1946 – Marilyn after fellow Actress, Marilyn Miller and Monroe after Marilyn’s mother’s maiden name. Ironically enough, Ben starred with Jean Harlow, in her breakout movie, Hell’s Angels (1930).
14. Legally changed her name to Marilyn Monroe ten years later, on February 23rd 1956.
15. Attended The Actors Studio.
16. Third woman to start her own Film Production Company – the first being Lois Weber in 1917 and the second being Mary Pickford in 1919.
17. First had her hair bleached in January 1946 at the Frank & Joseph Salon by Beautician Sylvia Barnhart, originally intended for a Shampoo Advert.
18. Contrary to popular belief, she was technically a natural blonde, not a redhead or brunette. She was born with platinum hair and was very fair until just before her teen years. Her sister described her with having dark blonde hair upon their first meeting in 1944.
19. Another myth debunked – she had blue eyes, not brown.
20. Was one of the few women in the 1950s to use weights when exercising.
21. Wore jeans before it was considered acceptable for women.
22. Her famous mole was real – albeit skin coloured, so she emphasized it using a brown eye pencil.
23. Was a Step-Mother in two of her three marriages to three children – Joe Dimaggio Jr. and Bobby and Jane Miller.
24. Found out she landed the lead role in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) on her 26th Birthday.
25. Another huge myth dispelled – only actually met President Kennedy four times from 1961 – 1962. Three of them were at public events, with the last being her performance at Madison Square Garden. One of them was at Bing Crosby’s Palm Spring house with various people, so at most (which again, is very unlikely) they had a one night stand – nothing more and nothing less.
26. Was the first Playboy Cover Girl, although she did not actually pose for them, nor give permission for them to be used. Hugh Hefner bought the photograph from a Chicago Calendar Company for $500 and the two never met.
27. Speaking of Playboy, the photo was taken by Photographer Tom Kelley on May 27th 1951 and Marilyn made a total of $50 for the photo shoot. The most famous photo then went on to cause a national sensation after being sold to the Calendar Baumgarth Company and became known as, “Golden Dreams“.
28. In 1955 it was estimated that over four million copies of the Calendar had been sold.
29. Favourite singers were Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald.
30. Attended the Academy Awards Ceremony only once on March 29th 1951 and presented the award for “Best Sound Recording” to Thomas Moulton for All About Eve (1951) which she also starred in.
31. Performed ten shows over four days to over 100,000 soldiers and marines in Korea in February 1954 – she actually ended up catching pneumonia because it was so cold.
32. Was one of the few Stars who had Director Approval in their Contracts. Some of the names included were, John Huston, Elia Kazan, Alfred Hitchcock, George Stevens, William Wyler, Joshua Logan and Sir Carol Reed.
33. Was pregnant during the filming of Some Like It Hot (1959) – filming finished on November 7th 1958 and she miscarried the following month on December 16th.
34. Featured on the cover of LIFE Magazine seven times during her lifetime;
– April 7th 1952
– May 25th 1953
– July 8th 1957 (International Edition)
– April 20th 1959
– November 9th 1959
– August 15th 1960
– June 22nd 1962
35. Favourite bevarage was Dom Perignon 1953 Champagne.
36. By the time of her death, her films had grossed over $200 million, when adjusted for inflation that is the equivalent of $2 billion in 2019.
37. Designer, William Travilla dressed Marilyn for seven of her films, two (*) of them received Oscar Nominations in, “Best Costume/Design, Color“;
– Monkey Business (1952)
– Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)
– How To Marry A Millionaire (1953) *
– River Of No Return (1954)
– There’s No Business Like Show Business (1954) *
– The Seven Year Itch (1955)
– Bus Stop (1956)
38. Spent 21 months of her childhood at the Los Angeles Orphanage, from September 13th 1935 until June 7th 1937.
39. Was one of the first Stars to speak out about child abuse, with her story appearing in movie magazines as early as 1954.
40. Fostered by her grandmother’s neighbours, Ida and Albert Bolender, for the first seven years of her life.
41. Lived in England for four months, during the period of filming for The Prince and The Showgirl (1957) from July 14th 1956 – November 20th 1956.
42. Her Production Company, Marilyn Monroe Productions produced only one film, The Prince and The Showgirl (1957) based on Terrance Rattigan’s play, The Sleeping Prince.
43. Was photographed by Gene Kornman on February 25th 1952 wearing a potato sack dress. This was after being criticized by the press for her outfit choice, a month earlier, at The Henrietta Awards in January 1952. A journalist wrote that Marilyn was “insignificant and vulgar“and “even in a potato bag, it would have been more elegant. Ironically enough, this was the second time Marilyn had donned a potato sack dress, the first was photographed by Earl Theisen and appeared in LOOK Magazine in October 1951 and Filmland Magazine in April 1952.
44. Was a huge supporter of LGBT+ rights, saying the following quote about fellow actor and friend, Montgomery Clift to journalist W.J. Weatherby in 1960,
“I was remembering Monty Clift. People who aren’t fit to open the door for him sneer at his homosexuality. What do they know about it? Labels–people love putting labels on each other. Then they feel safe. People tried to make me into a lesbian. I laughed. No sex is wrong if there’s love in it.”
45. Her measurements were listed as the following by her Dressmakers; 35-22-35 and 36-24-24 by The Blue Book Modelling Agency. For the majority of her life she weighed between 117-120 pounds, with her weight fluctuating around 15 pounds, during and after her pregnancies (1957-1960), although her waist never ventured past 28.5 inches and her dress size today would be a UK Size 6-8 and a US Size 2-4 as she was a vintage Size 12.
46. Her famous white halter dress from The Seven Year Itch (1955) sold for $4.6 million ($5.6 million including auction fees) on June 18th 2011, which was owned by Debbie Reynolds. The “Happy Birthday Mr. President Dress” originally held the record for the most expensive dress, when it was sold on October 27th 1999 for $1.26 million. It then went on to be resold for $4.8 million on November 17th 2016, thus regaining it’s original achievement.
47. Was discovered by Photographer, David Conover, whilst working in The Radio Plane Munitions Factory in the Fall of 1944 or Spring of 1945, depending on sources.
48. Now known as the, “Me Too” movement, Marilyn was one of the first Stars to speak out on the, “Hollywood Wolves” in a 1953 article for Motion Picture Magazine entitled, “Wolves I Have Known”. The most famous incident being with the Head of Columbia Studios, Harry Cohn, who requested Marilyn join him on his yacht for a weekend away in Catalina Island. Marilyn asked if his wife would be joining them, which, as you can imagine – did not go down well and her contract was not renewed with the Studio. Marilyn made only one film with Columbia during her six month contract, this being Ladies Of The Chorus (1948) which was shot in just ten days!
49. Loved animals dearly and adopted a variety of pets over the years. These included a basset hound called Hugo and parakeets, Clyde, Bobo and Butch with Husband Arthur Miller. A number of cats including a persian breed called Mitsou in 1955 and Sugar Finney in 1959. Her most famous pet was gifted to her in March or April of 1961 by friend, Frank Sinatra, a little white maltese named Maf. His full name was Mafia Honey, as a humorous reference to Sinatra’s alleged connections to the Mob. After Marilyn’s death, Maf went to live with Frank Sinatra’s secretary, Gloria Lovell.
50. The book she was reading at the time of her death was Harper Lee’s, To Kill A Mocking Bird.
51. One of the movies she starred in was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture and won, this being All About Eve (1950) at The 23rd Academy Awards on March 29th 1951. It ended up being nominated for 14 Oscars, a record at the time and has only been matched by Titanic (1997) and La La Land (2016).
52. Her first magazine cover was photographed by Andre de Dienes in December 1945 for Family Circle, released on April 26th 1946.
53. Joined The William Morris Agency on December 7th 1948.
54. Was right handed, not left as often believed.
55. Third Husband Arthur Miller wrote the screenplay for Marilyn’s last completed film, The Misfits (1961) which was originally written as a short story for Esquire Magazine in 1957. After the tragic ectopic pregnancy Marilyn endured in August of 1957, friend and Photographer, Sam Shaw suggested to Miller he alter his short story specifically for her. Ironically the making of this film culminated in their divorce and Marilyn stating,
“He could have written me anything and he comes up with this. If that’s what he thinks of me then I’m not for him and he’s not for me.”
56. Was Author, Truman Capote’s original choice for the role of Holly Golightly in Breakfast At Tiffany’s (1961) however, she was advised to turn it down by her Acting Coach, Paula Strasberg, who did not think the role of a prostitute would be good for her image. Writer George Axelrod, who wrote the Screenplay for Bus Stop (1956) and the play, The Seven Year Itch, ironically ended up being the Screenwriter for this movie.
Capote said this regarding Marilyn,
“I had seen her in a film and thought she would be perfect for the part. Holly had to have something touching about her . . . unfinished. Marilyn had that.”
57. Second Husband Joe Dimaggio had The Parisian Florists deliver red roses on Marilyn’s grave twice a week, for twenty years, from August 1962 until September 1982. Marilyn had told him how William Powell used to do this for Jean Harlow after her death and he reportedly vowed to do the same after their Wedding Ceremony. After the 20 years he then donated to a children’s charity, as he thought it would be a nice way to honour her memory. They also created the flower arrangements for her casket at her funeral.
58. The following five Directors directed Marilyn in more than one movie;
– John Huston; The Asphalt Jungle (1950) and The Misfits (1961)
– Richard Sale; A Ticket To Tomahawk (1950) and Let’s Make It Legal (1951)
– Howard Hawks; Monkey Business (1952) and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)
– Billy Wilder; The Seven Year Itch (1955) and Some Like It Hot (1959)
– George Cukor; Let’s Make Love (1960) and Something’s Got To Give (1962)
59. Was an illegitimate child, which unfortunately was attached with a lot of stigma in the 1920s. Her mother, Gladys, listed her then husband Edward Mortenson on the Birth Certificate, although it is commonly accepted that her real father was Charles Stanley Gifford, as Gladys left Edward on May 26th 1925. Gladys had an affair with him, which ended when she announced her pregnancy and he never acknowledged or met Marilyn, although she tried multiple times over the years to speak with him.
60. Stayed in a number of foster homes during her childhood,
– George and Emma Atkinson; February 1934 – September 1934
– Enid and Sam Knebelcamp; Fall of 1934
– Harvey and Elsie Giffen; January 1935 – March 1935
– Grace and “Doc” Goddard; April 1935 – September 1935 and June 1937 – November 1937 and end of 1940 – February 1942
– Ida Martin; November 1937 – August 1938
– “Aunt Ana” Lower; August 1938 – End of 1940 and February 1942
61. Had her hand and footprints immortalized in cement at Graumans Chinese Theatre on June 26th 1953, with Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) co-star, Jane Russell. Marilyn would place a rhinestone in the dot of the letter “i” as a reference to her character, “Lorelei Lee” but it was sadly stolen. This was an incredibly special moment for her, as she often talked about placing her hands and feet in the many prints there, when she spent her weekends at the Theatre as a child, especially in 1933 and 1934.
“When I was younger, I used to go to Grauman’s Chinese Theatre and try to fit my foot in the prints in the cement there. And I’d say “Oh, oh, my foots too big. I guess that’s out.” I did have a funny feeling later when I finally put my foot down into that wet cement, I sure knew what it really meant to me, anything’s possible, almost.”
62. The famous gold lamé dress worn in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) and designed by William Travilla, was deemed too risqué by the censors. Unfortunately for fans, this meant that the musical number, “Down Boy” was cut from the film and we only glimpse a few seconds of the dress from behind, on screen.
63. Due to the censors, the original, “Diamond’s Are A Girl’s Best Friend” costume was changed to the now iconic pink dress with black bow. Originally it was to be a diamond encrusted two piece, which was extremely daring for the then Motion Picture Hays Code.
64. Loved Erno Lazlo Skin Cream, Vaseline and Nivea Moisturizer.
65. Had she completed Something’s Got To Give (1962), Marilyn would have been the first Star in a major Motion Picture to appear nude on film. As she passed before it was completed the achievement went to fellow Blonde Bombshell, Jayne Mansfield in, Promises! Promises (1963).
66. Met Queen Elizabeth II in England at the Empire Theater in Leicester Square whilst attending the Premiere of, “The Battle Of The River Plate“ on October 29th 1956.
67. The Misfits (1961) was both Marilyn and Clark Gable’s last completed films. Clark died 12 days after filming finished, on November 16th 1960. The film was released on Clark’s would be 60th Birthday, February 1st 1961 and Marilyn passed 18 months later.
68. As Marilyn died before the completion of Something’s Got To Give (1962) it ended up being remade with Doris Day and James Garner, entitled, Move Over Darling! (1963). The film was originally intended to be a remake of, My Favourite Wife (1940) which starred Cary Grant.
69. Signed a recording contract with RCA Records on September 1st 1953. One of her songs from River of No Return (1954) entitled, “File My Claim” sold 75,000 copies in its first three weeks of release.
70. Was admitted to the Payne Whitney Psychiatric Clinic on February 10th 1961 by her then Psychiatrist, Marianne Kris. Originally thought to be for rest and rehabilitation, following her divorce from Arthur Miller and the strain of filming The Misfits. However, Marilyn was placed on the security ring and held against her will. Thankfully, she was able to contact ex Husband, Joe Dimaggio, who stated he would, “Take the hospital apart brick by brick” if she was not released and after three days of emotional trauma, she left.
71. Visited the following Countries;
– Canada – (July – August 1953)
– Japan (February 1954)
– Korea (Feburary 1954)
– England (July – November 1956)
– Jamaica (January 1957)
– Mexico (February 1962)
72. Purchased her only home, 12305 Fifth Helena Drive on February 8th 1962, where she would tragically pass just under 6 months later.
73. The home had the following tile located on the front paving entrance saying, “cursum perficio” meaning, “my journey ends here.” The title is still there to this day.
74. Her final interview was published in LIFE Magazine on August 3rd 1962 and was written by Richard Meryman.
75. Aside from her millions of fans, had a staunch group of supporters affectionately known as, “The Monroe Six” who followed Marilyn around New York during her time there. Their nickname for Marilyn was, “Mazzie” and they became so acquainted that Marilyn actually once invited them for a picnic at her home.
76. First married at just sixteen years old, this was to avoid returning to the Orphanage she had spent almost two years in as a child.
77. Supported numerous charity events, most famously riding a pink elephant in Madison Square Garden, to support the Arthritis and Rheumatic Affections Association on March 30th 1955.
78. Left 25% of her Estate to her then Psychiatrist, Marianne Kris and 75% to mentor and friend, Lee Strasberg. For reference, her Will was last updated on January 1961 – a month before she entered the Payne Whitney Hospital on the advice of Marianne Kris.
79. At the time of it’s release, The Misfits (1961) turned out to be the most expensive black and white movie ever made, costing a budget of $4 million dollars.
80. The Premiere of The Seven Year Itch was held on her 29th Birthday, on June 1st 1955, she attended with ex Husband, Joe Dimaggio.
81. Laid to rest at Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery on August 8th 1962 at 1:00 PM, with friend and mentor Lee Strasberg delivering the Eulogy.
82. Although so often associated with diamonds, actually wasn’t that fond of jewellery stating, “People always ask me if I believe diamonds are a girl’s best friend. Frankly, I don’t.”
83. Spent her 36th Birthday filming Something’s Got To Give (1962) and then attending a Charity Event for muscular dystrophy at the Chavez Ravin Dodger Stadium, which also happened to be her last public appearance.
84. Whilst recovering in hospital from an appendectomy in April 1952, Marilyn asked long time Makeup Artist and friend, Allan “Whitey” Snyder to do her makeup, should she pass before him. She gave him a gold money clip with the inscription, “Whitey Dear, while I’m still warm, Marilyn” and he did fulfill this promise to her.
85. Converted to Judaism for third husband, Arthur Miller on July 1st 1956.
86. Despite appearing in 30 films, she only actually dies in one, that being her breakout movie, Niagara (1953) where her character Rose Loomis, is strangled by her Husband George, played by Joseph Cotten.
87. Moved to New York City in 1955 and attended The Actors Studio, after breaking her Film Contract with 20th Century Fox. This was for a number of reasons, mainly years of low pay, unsatisfactory scripts and lack of creative control. A new contract would finally be reinstated on December 31st.
88. Repurchased a white Baby Grand Piano that her mother, Gladys, owned during their time living together in 1933. After Marilyn passed it would then be sold at the Christies Auction of her Estate in 1999 to none other than, Mariah Carey for $632,500.
89. Wore long hair pieces in River of No Return (1954) and a medium length wig in The Misfits (1961). The first I can only assume was due to the time period and setting of a Western and the second was due to the bleach damage her hair had suffered. After the filming in 1960, she wore the wig a couple of times in public events and then reverted back to her normal hair.
90. Like all students, it was tradition to perform in front of each other in The Actors Studio and on February 17th 1955, Marilyn acted out a scene from “Anna Christie” with Maureen Stapleton. Although it was an unwritten rule that students were not meant to applaud one another, an eruption of cheers and clapping happened after Marilyn had finished.
“Everybody who saw that says that it was not only the best work Marilyn ever did, it was some of the best work ever seen at Studio, and certainly the best interpretation of Anna Christie anybody ever saw. She achieved real greatness in that scene.”
– Actor Ellen Burstyn, on recalling Marilyn’s performance.
91. Used the pseudonym, “Zelda Zonk“, when trying to remain incognito.
92. Marilyn’s mother, Gladys Baker, suffered from Paranoid Schizophrenia and after various stays in institutions, was declared insane on January 15th 1935, when Marilyn was just 8 years old. After 10 years she was released and managed to retain various cleaning jobs and had developed an intense interest in Christian Science. However, by 1951 she was back in various institutions and would stay in the Rockhaven Sanitarium until 1967. Even after death, Marilyn continued to cover her mother’s care payments and Gladys would go on to outlive her for 22 years.
93. Favourite photograph of herself was taken by Cecil Beaton on February 22nd 1956.
94. Last professional photos were taken by Bert Stern, famously known as “The Last Sitting” for Vogue Magazine on June 23rd, July 10th and 12th 1962. Allan Grant took the LIFE Magazine interview pictures in her home, on July 4th and 9th 1962. Whilst George Barris took his photos for Cosmopolitan Magazine, the previous weekend on the 29th and 30th of June, until July 1st 1962.
To those of you who took the time to read through all 3000+ words, thank you! It truly means more to me than you know and I really hope it’s shed some light on the truly special person Marilyn was and made you hold a good thought for her on her big day.
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